Summary: What is the purpose of the church? It’s 3 fold: • To magnify the Lord thru worship and the Word. • To move believers to maturity and ministry. • To make Jesus known to our neighbors and the nations. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint
Now we enter the church age, the “Dispensation of Grace.” What is a dispensation? It is a time period. In the Bible it is a specific period of time during which God administers His rule over the world in a certain way. And over the years God has dealt with man differently in different time periods.
“But I thought God was the same yesterday, today, and forever?” Yes, but that is not talking about the way God deals with man. It is talking about His character and nature. For instance, God is holy, righteous, and just ... He always has been and always will be. But He deals w/ man in different ways over the ages. His message has always been the same, but His methods change ... and so should ours, by the way.
A big danger in Bible interpretation is that of lifting out of scripture a verse where God does something and saying, there, that’s how God always handles that. He does not, necessarily. For instance, contrast these 2 texts:
2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Another example: 4 times in the book of Acts you see speaking in tongues. That’s over a 30 year period. But is that the normal Christian experience? That was a specific dispensation, and God worked in a certain way at that time. In this case, we’re in the book of Acts, which was a transitional time period...a bridge to the church age, but not the way the church age would be. It is not a basis for NT church doctrine.
But there is one thing that all dispensations have in common:
God gives man a responsibility, man fails to fulfill his responsibility, and God’s judgment comes.
1st dispensation: innocence. [Garden of Eden]
What was man’s responsibility? To abstain from the forbidden fruit. Man failed, and judgment came.
2nd dispensation: conscience.
Man was to follow God by the dictates of his God given conscience.
Man failed, and the world was filled w/ wickedness and Noah’s flood came.
3rd dispensation: human government.
Man was to establish human government according to the righteous standards of God. He was to scatter about on the earth.
Man failed, built the tower of Babel, and God judged that humanistic one world culture w/ confusion and dispersion.
4th dispensation: promise.
God said, I’m no longer going to deal with the world as a whole. I’m going to reach the world thru one nation, Israel. God made Abraham some promises. Man’s only responsibility was to stay in the Promised Land.
Man failed, famine came, they went to Goshen in Egypt and stayed there, and were eventually enslaved.
Do you see a pattern yet?
5th dispensation: Israel.
Israel was again to be the light of the world. It’s not that God had given up on the world, but that He chose to reach the world thru Israel.
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Israel failed to be the light of the world, and that brings us to this message.
God wanted Israel to reach the Gentiles. But Israel rebelled and even adopted other gods of the world. Then they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. They should have known from all the prophecies about Him, but they were way out of tune with God. They sinned against a flood of light.
And we can know God’s will. We could know and we should know, but we are out of tune and don’t walk in the light.
When Israel fails God will move on to another plan, which is the church. [6th dispensation] Let’s see what happens...
In Acts 7 it’s Israel’s last chance in this dispensation to do what God has said to do. A guy named Stephen preaches to the Jews on this subject:
This Moses whom they refused...
39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.