Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "ESCHATOLOGY
SECTION 1B - THE AGES AND
DISPENSATIONS COMPARED AND RELATED
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
Edited by Dr. Clarence
E. Mason, Jr.
- THE AGES AND DISPENSATIONS
COMPARED AND RELATED
The difference between ages and dispensations could be simply expressed
in the single words "time" and "teaching." The chart
on page 15 will illustrate the close relationship between "ages"
and "dispensations. " The age, being a period of time, comes to
an end but the dispensation or stewardship of light, which had been the
distinctive feature of the previous age and whose institution coincided
with the beginning of that new age, continues on into succeeding ages in
some or all of its principles, although certain accompanying details of
the dispensation often are limited to and end with the age.
It will readily be seen that this thought of a continuing principle of God'
s dealings with man can be equated usually with the carry-over of one or
more of the covenants of God which have often been part of or associated
with the distinguishing stewardship of light with which the preceding ages
were initially instituted. But the idea that the covenants can be equated
one by one with each specific dispensation is an incorrect rationalization.
For instance, the Edenic covenant lapses with Adam's failure, and the period
instituted with the giving of the Law has associated with it not one covenant
only (Mosaic), but three (Mosaic. Palestinian, and Davidic). Likewise, the
Church Age has no one exclusive covenant, for although the New Covenant
has special relation to the Church, it has as specific or more specific
a relation to the Kingdom Age, Certainly the Abrahamic covenant is not changed
one iota or eclipsed by the introduction of the Mosaic covenant. Both run
side by side till the Seed (Christ) completes the major aspects of the Mosaic
covenant, leaving the Abrahamic and New Covenants a free field (cp. Gal.
3:15-26). In further distinction, covenants emphasize what God says He will
do; dispensations emphasize man's responsibility to God.
As to format, observe that in the chart on page 15 the age is represented
by the rectangular solid-line box, while the dispensation is indicated by
the dash lines as continuing on into later ages and culminating in the millennial
(kingdom) age, Likewise, since the dispensation, economy, or stewardship
of light features in each age represents an expansion and heightening of
God's revelation, this progress of revelation is illustrated by ascending
"stairs" from the early and elementary revelation to fuller and
climactic revelation, with added responsibility.
Later in this course (Section II), more technical distinguishing names will
be used for each age and dispensation. But at this point the more familiar
Scofield names are used in the chart (except that the word church is substituted
for Grace), because it is the principles of interpretation, not mere titles,
which are the important issue under discussion. (These more familiar names
arc' also used in the charts at the close of Section III.)
It should be noted that we are accustomed to emphasizing the Church Age
as a parenthesis between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9:24-27, in relation
to God's dealings with ISRAEL, thus:
However, if one is thinking of the ages and dispensations from the perspective
of God's total dealings with the world, during which time there is the expanding
revelation of God, the Church Age is not properly conceived of as parenthetic
in that context. The Church Age is a foreknown part of the plan of God which,
like the other ages. represents an advance in spiritual light (dispensation).
The fact that God pleased to reserve announcement of the age until Israel's
rejection of Messiah does not in any way affect the fact that the Church
Age takes its place with the other ages in the methodical and prepurposed
expansion of Divine truth and fulfillment of the Divine purpose, as illustrated
on page 15. This line of thinking would go far to explode the charge of
.opponents that, in asserting Christ's rejection by Israel led to the "postponement"
of the kingdom He offered to them, we dispensationalists ignore the redemptive
purpose of Christ's first advent and fail to see a unity in the plan of
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