Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 2 (God’s Sovereignty)

June 25, 2009 at 9:28 AM

One of the constant hammerings that Dispensationalism takes is the charge that it impugns God’s sovereignty.  It apparently does this in a number of ways, but chiefly, it is alleged that Dispensationalism teaches that man has continually thwarted God’s plans.  Here is a quote from Bernie Gillespie’s site, in which he wrote an article about what he believes to be the problems with Dispensationalism:

[Dispensationalism] impugns the sovereignty of God. It teaches that most all of God’s plan(s) to save Mankind failed because it was thwarted by human inability. That’s why dispensationalism teaches that the Church age was a surprise to the prophets. They did not anticipate that when Israel failed to receive Christ that God would turn to the Gentiles. The truth is, the Old Testament does teach that salvation would come to the Gentiles. And the failure of Israel was not a surprise to God, but on the contrary, totally expected. He anticipated all Humanity to fall short of His glory. That is why He determined to the save the world, both Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, in and through Jesus Christ.”(1)

Of course, the tragedy here is that nowhere does Dispensationalism advocate that God has failed…ever.  Mr. Gillespie makes the same mistake others have made by assuming that God’s plan always equals His salvation.  Gillespie also assumes that he is correct in understanding God’s current dealings with Israel; that God has completely and forever rejected them and in its place, created the Church.  This is incorrect and what it says by implication is that God did fail.  Even though He created the nation of Israel, and made many promises to them that He said He would never break, it would appear as though He did break those promises, because according to the Covenant Theologian, Israel failed, so God with finality did what He said He would never do; gave them up.  Mr. Gillespie’s sentiment with respect to God and Israel is incorrect.  Paul makes this perfectly clear in Romans 9 – 11; something that Covenant Theologians have a very difficult time explaining. 

Gillespie further confuses the issue with his apparent limited understanding of the Church, believing as he does that the Church was actually revealed in the Old Testament.  He believes this because as he points out, the prophets knew that the gospel would eventually be extended to the Gentiles.  The truth of the matter though is actually different than what Mr. Gillespie believes.  The “mystery” of the Church in its entirety was revealed in the New Testament by Paul.  Gillespie is taking two completely different topics (1. the gospel to the Gentiles, and 2. the Church) and treating them as if they are one and the same, however, he has not shown that they are one in the same.  That is because he cannot, since Scripture is clear that any aspect of the Church was revealed only by Paul and no one before him.  

On the plus side, Gillespie is correct when he states that “the Old Testament does teach that salvation would come to the Gentiles.”  Certainly there is no question about that, nor should there be.  That is plain from numerous places in Scripture (cf. Genesis 8:20-21; 14:18; 17:4; 22:18; Leviticus 19:33ff; Jonah 3:1; Genesis 17:4; 22:18; Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 42:1, 6; 49:6; cf. Romans 11:1ff; Ephesians 2:11ff).  This in no way coincides with the revelation of the Church. 

Not one of the Old Testament prophets knew of this entity called the Church, nor did they know how the Church was designed to work spiritually.  Paul is the one who claims to be the revealer of that mystery (cf. Ephesians 3:1-6).  He makes special mention of the fact that “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” (Ephesians 3:6). 

In the verse immediately prior to the one quoted, referring to this same mystery, Paul unequivocally states, “the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” (emphasis added).  Here then, we see that Gillespie is in disagreement with Paul.  While Paul would agree that the prophets foretold of the extension of the gospel to Gentiles, he would unequivocally disagree that these same prophets knew of the Church.  In fact, there is no reason to believe that the prophets understood that the gospel would be offered to Gentiles outside of Israel.  That was being done then, in essence, though in a very limited fashion.  Since Israel was supposed to be the light of the world, it is natural to conclude that these prophets likely thought in terms of a greater number of Gentiles coming to salvation through the nation of Israel.  They had no idea that God’s plans and purposes included a new entity called the Church.  None whatsoever.

Because of the obvious nature of Paul’s claims, it is difficult to understand how Mr. Gillespie (or anyone else for that matter), would arrive at the conclusion that one of the main issue at hand between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism has to do with the gospel being extended to the Gentiles.  This is simply not the case in God’s sovereign plan.  The gospel was always intended to be extended to Gentiles, as stated.  The mystery that Paul reveals goes much further than simply the gospel being extended to the Gentiles, in which this new entity called the Church, would be composed of Jewish and Gentile individuals as fellow heirs, outside of the nation of Israel.  This is all part and parcel of God’s sovereignty.  He will accomplish His purposes in all of His Creation.

This leads us to this extremely important point.  Based on the fact that God is sovereign and according to the passages like Deuteronomy 32:39; Job 42:2; Psalm 2; 22:27-28; Proverbs 16:9; 19:21, and a host of others, God will bring about His purposes, it stands to reason then that man has two choices.  They are 1) to voluntarily, with fear and humility bow to God, delivering to Him all that you posses, and all that you are in order for His will to be accomplished in and through you, or 2)  resist God, attempting to keep for yourself all that you possess, and all that you are, but His will is still going to be accomplished through you, whether you like it or not.

I believe this is of supreme importance.  God’s will is going to be completed and we can be carried along by the scruff of our necks, kicking and screaming, all the while thinking that we are our own person.  We can do that, or we can humbly submit to Him, so that we are lining ourselves up with His will.  In doing the latter, we place ourselves in the place of blessing God has allotted for us.

All the people who choose hell as their final destination by ignoring God’s saving grace, still do God’s will, though they may think that they are doing their own.  This was the case with Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and countless other individuals who believed that they lived their life, doing what they wanted to do, accomplishing what they wanted to accomplish.  This is actually the furthest thing from the truth.  God used them for His purposes and plans.

Everyone who has ever lived, is living or will ever live, does what God wants them to do.  This is not mere “puppetry,” absolving man from any responsibility for his crimes and sin.  This is God’s sovereignty in action, fully in control of all aspects of His entire Creation.  How could it possibly be otherwise, if we are going to say that God is sovereign?

Each person has a choice, but the choice is not whether they will or will not do God’s will.  The choice is how will they do His will?  Will it be done while all the time believing that they control their own destiny, or will be done with the heart that is glad to give up their own life in order that His will be done in and through them knowingly?

No one is in reality their own god, even though they may come to believe it.  God’s purposes will not falter or fail.  His sovereignty has always been on display, but the problem is that some simply do not recognize this truth.

This will all be made clear for each and every individual – whether spirit being, or human being.  All will acknowledge that God is fully and absolutely sovereign, by Himself, with no one who has ever been, or will ever be a threat to His sovereignty.

Dispensationalism has no problem whatsoever understanding that God is fully sovereign over everything which He created.  This is overriding truth and highest purpose of all that He accomplishes.  His sovereignty is what Creation was made to recognize and understand.  It is in voluntarily recognizing and understanding His sovereignty that glory is given to Him.

May we endeavor to glorify Him more and more each and every day while we live.  May we seek His face, in order to understand the comprehensive quality of His sovereignty.  May we glorify Him through our adoration of Him, because He is sovereign.

God reigns.  He reigns supreme.  He will always reign supreme.  There is no other that deserves our love, our adoration and our worship.  He is God, the Sovereign Most High.  Holy is His Name and may He receive blessing and honor from all that we do, think and say.

(1) http://www.inchristalone.org/PDFiles/Everlasting.PDF

Entry filed under: dispensationalism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Revenge of the Fallen Still MORE Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 3 – Yee Haw!


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