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.