The Dispensation of the Law

The Dispensation of the Law

Moses and The Law by Philippe de Champaigne 1602

Moses and The Law by Philippe de Champaigne 1602

Keep this in mind as we go through the dispensations:  The interpretation of Scripture is a fundamental factor in understanding the Dispensations. Proper Scriptural interpretation follows standard dictates of grammar. If there is any confusion about this issue there is a great-unbiased pamphlet by Mr. Frank X. Braun available for Bible students on Amazon and elsewhere. It is called “English Grammar for Language students”. Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek an understanding of grammar is indispensable to understanding the Bible. Don’t make the mistake of listening to others tell you that basic nouns actually mean something other then their normal commonly accepted definition. Therefore Israel and the Church are two separate entities. Don’t be misled into believing that Israel is the so-called Church of the Old Testament.

One New Testament verse that some use as a “proof text” affirming that the term Israel is the Church is found in Acts 7:38. In this text we find Stephen’s address to the council.

 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us (KJV).

There are other verses used as a “proof text” and all fail to persuade when examined in the light of proper grammar. The term used here is ekklesia. It is a feminine Greek noun meaning an assembly. Vines describes this as such:

An Assembly:

From ek, “out of,” and klesis, “a calling” (kaleo, “to call”), was used among the Greeks of a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of State, Act 19:39. In the Septuagint it is used to designate the “gathering” of Israel, summoned for any definite purpose, or a “gathering” regarded as representative of the whole nation. In Act 7:38 it is used of Israel; in 19:32, 41, of a riotous mob.

It has two applications to companies of Christians,

(1)  To the whole company of the redeemed throughout the present era, the company of which Christ said, “I will build My Church,” Matthew 16:18, and which is further described as “the Church which is His Body,” Ephesians 1:22; 5:23,

(2)   In the singular number (e.g., Matthew 18:17, RV marg., “congregation”), to a company consisting of professed believers, e.g., Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13; 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1Tiothy 3:5, and in the plural, with reference to churches in a district.

For each dispensation there are 7 aspects.

1)    Each dispensation has a “Name”

2)    Each dispensation has a “Chief Person”

3)    Each dispensation has been provided a “responsibility” to God.

4)    Each dispensation has been given a “Test” from God.

5)     In each dispensation man has “Failed” the test.

6)    For each dispensation God has provided a “judgment”.

7)    God has provided a measure of “grace” for each dispensation.

Further, a new covenant is often the basis for a new dispensation. We will look at the covenants at the conclusion of the Dispensations.

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The Law

THE LAW

 There are four aspects of the Law that the Christian needs to understand in order to form a sound basis for understanding what the Law is and what its intent was as given by God.

  1. There are a total of 613 Laws

The first 10 that commonly are referred to as the Ten Commandments are not the Law. The Law is a singular word and it is used in Scripture to refer to this unit of 613.

  1. The Law was given by angels to Moses.

The angelic delivery was not revealed in the O.T. but was always in Jewish lore. It does appear in the N.T in three places.

Act 7:53  Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept [it].

 Galatians 3:19 b [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

 Hebrews 2:2  For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;

  1. The Law had five purposes.

We will examine each in light of the Scripture that explains the purposes to us.  First we must fully understand that the Law was never a means of salvation. If that were true then salvation would be achieved by works and not by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Scripture is very clear on this point. Further if one in any dispensation could perform some human act to achieve salvation there would be no need for Christ to have come to earth and shed His blood. Now the content of faith changes from dispensation to dispensation or administration to administration. By content we mean that the level of revelation that God has made available to the particular dispensation. The individual’s faith can only be up to the level or content of what God has revealed within that dispensation. We believe in progressive revelation whereby God has chosen to reveal increasingly more about Himself as human history advances over time. The person who believes then is responsible to the “content” of faith that is available to him in each dispensation. We call them saints.

When an Old Testament Saint died, his body went into the ground and his soul went to Abraham’s Bosom because the sacrifices required by the Law were insufficient to get him into Heaven. They were sufficient to keep him out of Hell. Sin in every dispensation have to be removed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament unsaved who died went to Hell. When Christ died he went to Hades (side 1), not Hell to free the captives. Today when a New Testament saint dies his body goes into the ground and his soul goes straight to Heaven. The unbelievers go straight to Hell. After the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth (Millennium), the inhabitants of Hell, Tartarus, and the Abyss will be cast into the Lake of Fire. (The Greek word for the Lake of Fire is Gehenna, which means a burning garbage dump)

The Five Purposes are:

    1. To reveal the holiness of God and the standard of righteousness that God demanded.
    2. To Provide a conduct of life for the Old Testament Saint. The Law then was give to those who loved God and wanted to keep His commandments as much as humanly possible. Those who did not love God would have no desire to keep the law and fulfill its obligation. Eli’s sons are an example of this. The outward demonstration of a believer’s faith in the O.T. was to keep the Law.

Romans 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    1. To reveal sin.

 Romans 3:19-20  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

 Romans 7:7  What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

    1. To make one sin more. The sin nature uses the Law as a basis of operation. So as the Law becomes known humans have a tendency to want to challenge the Law by increased sin. One statement that helps to clarify this is when one it told to follow the Law that person will say, “Oh yeah? Well make me!’ Therefore the level of sin grows and becomes more evident.

Romans 4:15  Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, [there is] no transgression.

Romans 7:8  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead.

Romans 7:9-13  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

 I Corinthians 15:56  The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law.

    1. To lead us to faith. It did this as our tutor or teacher as the Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:24.

Galatians 3:24  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 

4. THE LAW HAS COME TO AN END

We must realize that the Mosaic Law has come to an end. It is no longer operative and it has fulfilled its purpose. Some believe that there are three sections of the Law; the ceremonial, the moral and the civil; and the moral is continued in the New Testament. The moral aspects of God’s desire for us have been restated in the N.T. It is not a rehashing of the Law nor has the Law passed through to the N.T. We must realize that the Law expired and is no longer operative at all. As mentioned earlier the Law had 613 individual components but they were regarded as one unit. Therefore if one of the 613 was broken then the entire Law was violated. Because the blood of Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Law it provides the believer all that is necessary for righteous behavior and salvation as well.

Romans 10:4  For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

So Christ give us His righteousness at the moment of salvation.

Of the various components of salvation there are two that need to be noted.

Justification and Sanctification

The Law justifies no one.

Romans 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.

The Law also sanctified no one. It made nothing perfect.

Hebrews 7:19  For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

The Law was temporary until the Seed would come. (the seed of the woman is Christ)

Galatians 3:19a Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made;

 With the change from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ came a change in the priesthood.

Hebrews 7:11-14  If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need [was there] that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For [it is] evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

 The O.T priest had to be of the tribe of Levi and the Kings all had to be of the tribe of Judah. Since Christ is of the tribe of Judah the New Covenant accommodates this by annulling the Law. Christ is a King and a Priest after the order of Melchisedec.

 Hebrews 7:18-19  For there is verily an (annulling) of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope [did]; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

 The Law was a wall of separation between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Ephesians 2:11-15  Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;

 Ephesians 3:5-6  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

There are four unconditional covenants that God made with the Jews.

  1. The Abrahamic
  2. The Land (Palestine)
  3. Davidic
  4. New Covenant

Each had spiritual and material blessings. As long as the Mosaic Covenant was in effect there was no way for Gentiles to enjoy the blessings of the Covenants. The only way for them to join in these blessings was to become proselytes. This was the legal separation between the two groups.

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

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