Understanding The Bible
STUDY REFERENCE
Clarence E. Mason's "ESCHATOLOGY 1"
SECTION 1B - THE AGES AND DISPENSATIONS COMPARED AND RELATED

 

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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
1970

Edited by Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.


  1. 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 God. 


 

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