This book promotes a simple form of dispensationalism, yet one that has a sound biblical backing. I would hope most would see the wisdom of considering only three dispensations of time, as this is what jumps out at us from the Scriptures. The vast majority of God’s word, from Exodus to Revelation, is only occupied with three – the Jewish, the Christian, and the millennium.
In our system the three dispensations run successively – one ends and the other replaces it. So then, we are faced with the fact that the first two dispensations end in order to be supplanted by a new and final dispensation. This replacement leads us to consider the usual course of dispensations, and then, how a dispensation ends.
The Jewish dispensation is our teaching example. It has already traversed its wearisome course to its end. As known biblical history, it is the easiest dispensation to study. Its characteristics were outward, external, and more pictorial, permitting an easier apprehension of its significant elements. In the time of the Jewish dispensation there were two different Gentile armies which came and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple. It is hard to miss the significance of these events as being anything other than the judgment of God against His ancient people. Without repeating the details provided in previous chapters, it is sufficient to say Israel failed in their corporate responsibility as a nation, and God’s judgment came upon them as a result. This was the reason for God ending the Jewish dispensation.
In considering the present Christian dispensation, we have already noted many differences and contrasts it has with the previous one. Instead of being a walk by sight and physical senses, it has mysteries, things unseen and hidden. The significant elements of the Christian dispensation are matters of faith, which for many people only adds a level of difficulty they may not be willing to overcome. A walk of faith is far more subtle, obscure, and mysterious than a walk by sight – it is harder to comprehend and properly engage in. Therefore, it is far more difficult in respect of discipline and effort.
Knowing this, we should understand that the course and end of the Christian dispensation will be harder for us to accurately perceive and apprehend as well. The world easily sees the crop growing in the field and refers to it as Christianity – the sum of all professing Christians. What they fail to perceive is that the crop is spoiled by the addition of Satan’s work. The sad truth is that most of Christendom and its leaders fail to make the same perception, and in doing so, either deny or become blind to the evil and corrupting work the devil has brought in. The denial and blindness have a debilitating effect on our ability and willingness to accurately understand the course and end of the dispensation.
Consider these technical points – the dispensations are successive; the Christian dispensation will be replaced by the future millennium on the earth; Bible dispensations only end by the judgment of God. The conclusion must be that the present Christian dispensation will end by God’s judgment. And if Israel, God’s chosen and ancient people, were the object of God’s displeasure in ending the Jewish dispensation, by what means of reasoning may we justify thinking Christendom will not follow the same general course and suffer a similar fate? The Christian dispensation will end by the judgment of God coming on Christendom.
Matt. 13:30, 39-42 (NKJV)
Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn” …. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This parable, which is a simile of the “kingdom of heaven,” represents the prophetic history of the Christian dispensation. The spoiled crop of wheat mixed with tares depicts Christendom growing up in the world. No one can legitimately deny that evil has been allowed to enter the content of the crop, and that it grows up as impure and corrupted. The Lord saying, “Let both grow together until the harvest,” proves that the dispensation carries on, in its ruined condition, only by the mercy and long-suffering of God. But God’s patience has its limits. The dispensation ends in a time of harvest, a time of separation and judgment. This serves to end the age, to end the Christian dispensation.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17)
Certainly, Peter isn’t referring to the true church which the Lord previously had told Peter and the other disciples He would build (Matt. 16:18). The work that God does, He does alone, and it can never come under judgment. But men are responsible for the condition of the crop, its mixed and ruined state, during the time of the dispensation. God’s work is the wheat. Satan’s work is the tares. Men were responsible for allowing the corruption of the crop by God’s adversary (Matt. 13:24–26). The crop stays in its ruined condition for practically the entire time of the dispensation. The time of harvest at the end is a divine work by God, the separation and judgment of the crop. Peter’s “house of God” is nothing other than this spoiled crop growing in the world – it is Christendom.
The blindness I spoke of earlier refers to the willful denial of the biblical teaching that the general state and condition of the crop is one of ruin. Can we deny that the tares are the work of Satan? Are we blind to the fact that when the wheat sprouted and produced a crop, the tares also appeared? Can we deny that the crop sits in the world, in this condition, for the majority of the time of the dispensation? And are we not blind if we do not understand that men are responsible for the care of the crop and the condition it has come to? Isn’t God teaching these understandings from His word?
The conclusion is that Christendom is in ruin; that Satan has brought evil in for the particular purpose of corrupting the crop; men were given care for the crop and they failed in this responsibility. The corruption occurred early on in the dispensation, for when the wheat was just beginning to sprout, the tares appeared with them. But here, instead of depending on the wisdom or interpretation of man as proof, we again turn to the testimony of God’s word.
- Above, Peter declares that it was already time for judgment to begin at the house of God (I Pet. 4:17). In his second epistle he says there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…and many will follow their destructive ways…by covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words (II Pet. 2:1–3).
- John tells us that it is the last hour…even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us (I John 2:18–19).
- Jude says he wanted to write to them concerning their common salvation, but instead had to change his topic to encourage them about contending for the faith. Why? Because certain evil and ungodly men had crept in among them unnoticed (Jude 3,4).
- Paul says to the Thessalonians that the mystery of lawlessness is already at work (2 Thess. 2:7). This is in his day, in apostolic times. When he was to see the Ephesian elders for the last time before his death, he warns them that savage wolves will come in among them, not sparing the flock. Also, from among themselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29–31).
- To Timothy, Paul says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy (1 Tim. 4:1–3). Later, he tells Timothy that in the last days perilous times will come, and that Christendom will accommodate the behaviors of heathenism, having a form of godliness but denying its power (II Tim. 3:1–8). He mentions that evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13). And the time will come when Christendom, in general, will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:3–4). Paul describes Christendom to Timothy as a great house filled with vessels of honor and dishonor, but that the Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim. 2:19–21).
- When in chains in Rome, Paul admits to the Philippians that he has no one likeminded, who will sincerely care for their state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:20–21).
It was the wisdom of God to allow the evil to come in early in the dispensation, otherwise there would be no record of its true character found in God’s written word. Instead of having a walk before the Lord lacking discretion and prudence, by the Spirit’s testimony every believer can be made cautious and spiritually discerning. This is an important point. If not for this, the general blindness to the existence of evil and ruin in Christendom would be far greater than it is today. But by numerous apostles and their inspired writings, the Spirit of God makes sure that man’s failure and Satan’s corrupting work are documented in Scripture.200
200 [We could bring out more Scripture as proof of the ruin of Christendom and the failure of the Christian dispensation. When the Spirit through Paul speaks of the mystery of lawlessness already working, in the passage he implies that this hidden evil will eventually ripen to an open apostasy in Christendom, leading to the restricting influence of the Spirit being removed and the revealing of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:1–11). This open apostasy corresponds to the providential binding together the tares of Christendom and leaving them in the world to be burnt (Matt. 13:30). Also, we haven’t touched on the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. The details and explanations of all these passages would require a separate book. This detailed testimony of Scripture is organized and documented in my third book, The Corruption and Death of Christendom.]
The Christian dispensation follows the common course of Bible dispensations. Men were given responsibility to care for the testimony of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and the testimony of the Spirit from Scripture is that this has failed. Christendom has been corrupted; evil has been mixed in with God’s good work, and the light of its candlestick before the world has greatly diminished. It is only by the gracious patience of God that the dispensation continues, His long-suffering meaning salvation for some (II Pet. 3:9, 15). The Christian dispensation will of certainty end, and this by the judgment of God on Christendom. Can we agree with Peter that the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God?