Posts tagged ‘covenant of grace’

Does Dispensationalism Teach TWO Methods of Salvation?

Regardless of how often Scofield’s note has been clarified, for some it just doesn’t matter. Dispensationalism is often accused of “hiding” its real meaning, under a blanket of subterfuge. Sadly, this is essentially the only note that Scofield wrote that was questionable. His entire body of work (not only in the remaining notes and articles found within the 1909 edition of the Scofield Study System Bible), but all told, clearly indicate Scofield’s believes regarding grace and salvation.

Ryrie has tried his hand at clarifying, as has Walvoord, as has Chafer and others, yet the deliberate failure to understand persists. This same situation exists regarding the Dispensation of Grace.

Continue Reading February 14, 2017 at 9:09 AM

Two New Books

Two new books are available: “A Deceptive Orthodoxy: The End Times “Gospel” and “Christianity, Practically Speaking.”

Continue Reading January 6, 2010 at 4:54 PM

Truth Be Told! Podcasts

Truth Be Told! video podcasts, from StudyGrowKnow.com

Continue Reading December 11, 2009 at 11:58 AM

For the Sake of His Name

Will you understand the Scripture to be literal only when it speaks of punishments against Israel, or will you understand the Scriptures to be literal when referencing God’s punishments and His rewards where Israel is concerned?

Continue Reading October 25, 2009 at 10:48 PM

Still MORE Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 3 – Yee Haw!

Most people who are anti-Semitic do not even think they are and believe they are simply “defending God.” These people need to ask themselve why they hate the Jewish people so much.

Continue Reading June 25, 2009 at 6:23 PM

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

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

June 25, 2009 at 9:28 AM

The Problem with Dispensationalism? Part 1

I’ve been doing a great deal of research for an upcoming book I’m writing concerning various views of Dispensationalism.  What is absolutely amazing to me is how often people misrepresent not only aspects of Dispensationalism, but misunderstand what people like Ryrie, Chafer, Walvoord and of course Scofield and others have said.

I went to one site today and it was anti-Dispensational in many ways.  However the most intriguing aspect of the site was when a line of text that connected to the cursor which said, “Premillennial Dispensationalism is a False Religion.”  Wherever you moved the cursor, that line of text would follow.

I’m used to being referred to as a heretic, etc.  However, if people really understood Dispensationalism, as opposed to commenting or critiquing it based on their misconceptions, there would be much less vitriol spewed from those who are opposed to Dispensationalism.

I’ve decided to take a few Blogs and post some of my thoughts regarding some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations that I’ve run across either in books or here on theh ‘Net.

In this Blog, I’m going to take up the alleged problem regarding salvation as understood by Dispensationalism.

The specific charge is that Dispensationalism teaches two methods of salvation.  This is based primarily on two things:

  1. one note from Scofield’s Study System Bible on John 1:17
  2. the naming of the Dispensation of Grace, which seems to suggest that grace was not involved (as much, or at all), in previous Dispensations.

Regardless of how often Scofield’s note has been clarified, for some it just doesn’t matter.  Dispensationalism is now accused of “hiding” itsreal meaning, under a blanket of subterfuge.  Sadly, this is essentially the only note that Scofield wrote that was questionable.  His entire body of work (not only in the remaining notes and articles found within the 1909 edition of the Scofield Study System Bible), but all told, clearly indicate Scofield’s believes regarding grace and salvation. 

Ryrie has tried his hand at clarifying, as has Walvoord, as has Chafer and others, yet the failure to understand persists.  This same situation exists regarding the Dispensation of Grace.

Because it is named thusly, it appears to say that no grace (or much less) was available in previous Dispensations.  This is patently untrue.  However, rather than present the same arguments that have been presented by others in attempts to help those with a lack of understanding understand, I’m going to try a different tact.  I am going to take a quick look at Covenant Theology and see where we end up.

Covenant Theology has at its core, two specific covenants (some opt for three).  They are:

  1. The Covenant of Works
  2. The Covenant of Grace

It is also understood that theologians like Berkhof break these covenants down into subdivisions so that by the time he is done, there are actually four or five covenantal parts he relates to various aspects of Scripture.

Be that as it may, for the Covenant of Works, the belief is that Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden and given one rule.  It was that rule that had to be obeyed.  Failure to obey would cost them eternal life.  Berkof also states that though there is no explicitly stated reward (eternal life), it is implied in the covenant.

First of all, it is not universally agreed that this was a covenant at all.  A conditional covenant (which is what Covenant Theology teaches), has TWO parties to the covenant.  Also in a conditional covenant is such that BOTH parties are given the opportunity to agree or disagree.  This is the case when Moses presented the aspects of the Law.  In the book of Exodus 19-24, we see the entire process, which covers numerous chapters.  It is essentially a ceremony and it ends with the opportunity of the Israelites to agree or disagree with the tenets of the covenant.  They did so, and Moses sprinkled them with blood.  The people had said “Everything the LORD has said we will do,” (Exodus 24:3b).    Immediately after this, Moses wrote down everything the Lord had said.  This clearly a covenant.

The situation with Adam and Eve was not a covenant, but simply a rule that God gave to Adam.  It was no different than a parent setting down the rules for their child.  A rule does not a covenant make.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Covenant Theology is correct and this was a Covenant of Works.  In that case, according to Covenant Theology, Adam and Eve were required to earn their salvation.  Did you catch that?  Adam and Eve needed to gain salvation through their own work.  Interestingly enough, this is the exact same charge that Covenant Theology directs at Dispensationalism; that Dispensationalism teaches two methods of salvation.

So the question really becomes whether or not Adam and Eve actually had to earn their salvation at all?  Let’s see…Adam and Eve were given instructions about what to do in the garden, to subdue the earth and have dominion over it.  They were also told to avoid eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Covenant Theologian states that they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, and because of that, they lost their chance at eternal life.  So because of their failed effort here, they lost out.  It was truly based on work.  Covenant theologians such as Berkhof and Shedd believe that this was a one of a kind test that required work on the part of Adam and Eve.  Immediately after this, God instituted grace, from that point onward, which of course led up to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However, if we look closely at Adam and Eve, I would submit that while they did disobey, the reason they disobeyed was due solely to their lack of belief.  In other words, at first, they believed that God was truthful regarding the forbidden fruit.  Their belief in His Word of truth kept them from transgressing His law.

Then Satan comes along and gets them to doubt God’s stated Word.  They caved in and wound up disbelieving God’s spoken Word.  The One who had created all, and cannot lie, was now being called a Liar by Satan.  This was believed by Adam and Eve.  Because their belief was no longer based in God and His Word, the action of disobedience was simply a natural outworking of their lack of faith in God’s Word.

The sin of disobedience then, was the result of their lack of faith.  James makes this clear in James 1:15 “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

Eve lusted after the fruit, then wound up following the desire that lust produced.  The outward sin was a foregone conclusion, because it had begun within.

So in actuality, Dispensationalism believes that Adam and Eve sinned because the faith (or belief)  they had in God had been questioned, and their allegiance changed from God to Satan.  That was actually the sin and it went to its natural conclusion.

Yet, there is no doubt whatsoever that within Covenant Theology, the Covenant of Works is just that; salvation is based on human effort.  After this, things changed so that grace became the essential principle since.

Because Dispensationalism chose the name the Dispensation of Grace for the time of Christ, it appears implicitly stated that grace was absent prior.  This is not at all true, and all that is required is to read notes and articles in Scofields Study System Bible, as well as Chafer’s and Ryrie’s books on salvation, and grace.  Beyond that, Chafer’s Systematic Theology makes it absolutely clear what his beliefs are regarding grace, and salvation.

In spite of the charges put forth by Covenant Theology, it would appear that two methods of salvation, are clearly taught within that system, as opposed to Dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism does not, nor has it ever taught two methods of salvation. 

Next up, we will discuss the actual various meanings of the Dispensations (as opposed to what Covenant Theology believes they stand for).

June 23, 2009 at 11:56 PM 4 comments

Covenant of Works

How many things seem to be occurring today that can easily be described as things which only take place during the End Times?  Now I realize that of course not everyone believes in the End Times.  Many think it’s all a bunch of nonsense, created by people who want nothing more than to either 1) make a fast buck feeding on people’s fears, or 2) feed on people’s fears.

However, some things simply cannot be ignored and for the astute individual who tends to notice things in society, it would appear that the world is in a bit of an upheaval.  There are many opinions and searching hard enough will allow anyone to find an opinion with which they agree.  The reality though is that I do not want an opinion.  I want to know what the Bible teaches and to me, it certainly appears as though many aspects of God’s Word are coming to fruition.  Only time will tell if it is the Bible that’s coming true, or simply the overworked imagination of people who want to believe it.

Preterists are individuals who believe that much of prophetic discourse has already occurred, with the Tribulation/Great Tribulation having occurred in A.D. 70, when forces of Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple.  If that’s the case, then we have nothing to worry about, do we?  Preterists (and many Covenant Theologians) also believe that Jesus “returned” during that period of time, in judgment against Israel and the Jewish people.  This is one of the large reasons these folks also believe that God has washed His hands of Israel completely and permanently.  In so doing, He is now concerned with the Church, which is believed by many to be the New Israel.

Preterism, an offshoot of Covenant Theology has only been around for a few decades.  Covenant Theology itself really began in earnest in the early 1600s and was popularized mainly by Louis Berkhof.  The main tenets consist of two covenants (some say a third is included, but this is rare):  Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace.  The former offered salvation to Adam and Eve based solely on works.  They were to obey God and had they done so, they would have been granted eternal life.  Once they fell through the sin of disobedience, Covenant Theologians say that God instituted the Covenant of Grace, which has been the overarching covenant since then.

The Dispensationalist, on the other hand, believes that God’s method of salvation has always been the same; based on faith and never works.  Adam and Eve transgressed God’s law outwardly (a work) due to what they believed inwardly.  At first, they believed God, evidenced by avoiding the forbidden fruit.  The Tempter came along and induced them to conclude that God was a liar.  At this point, they opted to believe Satan, while at the same time, choosing to disbelieve God.  This disbelief was an inward attitude, which merely manifested itself in the outward act of actually eating the fruit.

God’s salvation has always been based on faith.  It was never works.  I realize that Covenant Theologians often point to C. I. Scofield and his poorly worded note for John 1:17, in which he states, “As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3. 24-26; 4. 24, 25).  The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation…[1] (emphasis mine)

This particular (and unfortunate) bolded phrase was modified in later editions to reflect the truth of God’s Word and the actual meaning of Scofield.  It is extremely unfortunate that he wrote this as he did, without proper clarification, because it certainly appears as though he is stating that obedience directly connects to and results in, salvation.  This is not true and can be clearly seen by the rest of his study notes included throughout the Scofield Study System Bible.

It is unfortunate that his position was not clarified prior to the publication of the 1909 version of his study Bible.  It would have been good had he stated his position more unmistakably by making the distinction between obedience within the arena of, and because of the exercise of faith.  As I have shown throughout this book so far, the reason people were counted righteous at all had to do with their attitude before God, which was the result of their faith in Him and His Word.  This right attitude is what enabled God to credit their faith as righteousness, looking ahead to the cross of Christ.  It was also from this right attitude that the proper obedience flowed.  Obedience stems from having the right faith, not the other way around.  Scofield certainly knew and taught that and it is unfortunate that he failed to explain it more clearly in that note he wrote for John 1:17.

His verifiable understanding of salvation is seen at the front of this very same 1909 edition of the Scofield Study Bible.  In a short, one-page article he wrote titled “A Panoramic View of the Bible,” he states “(5) From the beginning to end the Bible testifies to one redemption. (6)  From beginning to end the Bible has one great theme – the person and work of the Christ.”[2] Here, as well as in other portions of his notes, his full understanding of salvation can be easily grasped.

The tragedy is that in spite of all attempts to prove that the Dispensationalist does not believe that God has two different methods of salvation, it seems to be to no avail, as many continue to assess and charge the Dispensationalist with believing just that.  It is clear however, that the Covenant of Works does express salvation in terms of man’s effort in having to earn it.  One wonders then, why there is such a seeming sanctimonious attitude with many Covenant Theologians regarding what they believe to be the error, or even heresy as some say, within Dispensationalism, when their own system is the one that actually teaches two methods?

In spite of this, things will continue most likely as they are, with many Covenant Theologians continuing to believe that Dispensationalism is heresy, in spite of the fact that it is the Covenant Theologian who believes and espouses two methods of salvation; one based solely on works (prior to the fall), and one based solely on grace (after the fall).

Like the error taught regarding salvation, many within the Covenant Theological system also err seriously when it comes to the area of Eschatology, or the study of End Times.  Their use of the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture, places them in the position of being the subjective determiner of Scriptural truth.  This is in spite of the fact, that the symbolism used within Scripture is either explained in that particular passage, or somewhere else in the Bible, leaving no room for idle imaginations.

In the end, each person must come to their own conclusions regarding what the Bible says about the End Times.  Has all of it already taken place except possibly the last few chapters of Revelation, or is much of is still ahead of us?  The way this world seems to be moving, appears to be a clear enough indication that it is yet before us.  Should this give rise to panic and fear?  Only if you are not a Christian.  Christian, what about your attitude and demeanor?  Now is the time to be about our Father’s business and this will not happen if we are concerned only about what the world has to offer us, which is nothing permanent.  We need to walk in the Spirit and seek to glorify Him.  This can only be done by submitting ourselves to Him in order that His will might be done in and through us.  That is our calling.  May we respond in humble submission.


[1] Rev. C. I. Scofield, D.D. Scofield Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1909, 1917), v


[2] Rev. C. I. Scofield, D.D. Scofield Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1909, 1917), 1115

June 20, 2009 at 12:37 PM


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