Dispensational theology is multifaceted and can be difficult to explain. This was my response when someone asked me to explain Dispensationalism…
“You understand the errors of Catholicism, well Dispensationalism, like Catholicism, is a theology composed of a group of teachings that are superimposed on Scripture, thereby distorting Scripture. The sum of it’s parts make the whole.”
It seemed that statement brought some clarity. What are the parts, or separate teachings, that when put together can be labeled Dispensationalism? The following is by no means a comprehensive explanation, just an attempt at a general outline to give some idea of what these teachings are about. There are variations within Dispensationalism. Dispensationalists do not agree on every point, and the Ultra or Hyper-Dispensational teachings are the extreme.
1. Dispensational teachings gained popularity in the 1800’s through the ministry of a man named John Nelson Darby. They were further popularized by Cyrus I. Scofield, especially through the very popular Scofield Study Bible. The Scofield Study Bible is used by many Pastors and in many Bible Schools today. The footnotes of the Scofield Study Bible contain Dispensational theology. That would be like having a Study Bible with footnotes containing Roman Catholic theology.
2. Dispensationalists teach that there are two separate people of God, Israel and the Church.
The Bible teaches the exact opposite.
Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
3. Some Dispensationalists teach that Jewish believers were saved by keeping the law, and the Church is saved by grace through faith.
The Bible teaches that salvation has always been by grace through faith.
Galatians 3:6-9 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.
Romans 4:1-7 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Romans 11:1-6 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
4. Dispensationalists teach that Jesus Christ came to set up an earthly kingdom but the Jewish people refused His offer, therefore God paused his original plan, and put a temporary “plan B” into effect. “Plan B” we are told is the Church and the Cross. (The secret rapture is based on this false teaching. See link below)
The idea that God’s plan was interrupted, and the idea that the Church and the Cross were deviations from God’s original plan is found nowhere in Scripture. The Bible tells us cross was foreordained before the foundation of the world. The Bible also tells us that the Jewish people wanted and were mistakenly expecting an earthly Messianic kingdom. Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world.
1 Peter 1:19-20 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
John 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
5. Dispensationalism secret rapture.
6. Hyper-Dispensational’s more extreme false teachings consider that certain Scriptures are not for the Church because they consist of “law” and not grace. For example…
(a) The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the words of Jesus Christ are not for the Church.
(b) Baptism and the Lord’s supper are not for the Church.
(c) Repentance is not for the Church.
(d) The Lord’s Supper is not for the Church.
(e) The new birth teaching in John chapter 3 is not for the Church.
In contrast the Bible teaches…
(a) The four Gospels and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ are for the Church.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
(b) Baptism is evangelical, not legal, and is for the church.
(c) Repentance is for the church.
Luke 24:46-47 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(d) The Lord’s Supper is evangelical, not legal, and is for the church.
1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
show: proclaim, declare, preach, speak of, teach and promulgate
(promulgate: to announce, circulate, declare, proclaim, promote, publicize).
(e) The words and teaching of Jesus regarding the need to be born again is for every living person today or they will never see heaven.
See… John chapter 3
7. Dispensationalists teach that the Jewish people are still God’s chosen people even though they reject their Messiah and do not believe the Gospel.
See… A CUP OF COLD WATER
8. More on the topic at the links below…
Dispensationalism’s false teaching, like leaven, permeates where the true Gospel is preached. It’s teachings, at least in part, are within many of today’s mainstream “born again” Churches and Bible Schools.