Dispensationalism is a theological approach to Bible study. Simply put, dispensationalism recognizes that the contents of scripture are separated into historical segments without any indication by the author of such segments.
For example, the Gospel of Matthew has at least three segments featuring Jewish information from the past, the present (i.e., at the time of Matthew’s writing), and the future as well as Gentile information from the past, present, and future. Identifying the segments cannot happen without acknowledging, recognizing, and applying dispensationalism.
Both the Old and New Testaments contain such separations. As a consequence, failure to recognize these separations by contemporary church preachers, teachers, and seminary professors causes erroneous application of some Old Testament contents—intended originally for Jews only—to their present-day congregants.
As an example, in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse to four of His disciples, Jesus taught about past, present and future events for Jews and for Gentiles as well (Matt. 24:1-25:26).
For much of the time in Christianity, dispensationalism per say is both ignored and berated.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: THE GREAT COMMISSION
Jesus’ ‘Great Commission’ in Matt. 28:16-20 is interpreted exclusively by Christians as pertaining to the church. However, for the twelve reasons below, Jesus’ commands to His disciples relate exclusively to the generation of Jews living in the land of Israel at the beginning of events leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming. At this point in time, the church no longer is on the earth.
- A mountain is symbolic for a kingdom and not the church.
- The church had not yet been formed when Jesus commanded this group of disciples.
- Everything in the church is done in Jesus’ name and not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Col. 3:17).
- Jesus is in church believers, not with church believers (Col. 1:27).
- Jesus is not with church believers even to the end of the age (1 Thess. 4:13-17).
- The end of the age is likely Jesus’ Second Coming.
- The disciples going into all the nations are likely all Jews who have been promised protection from death (12 thousand from each tribe for a total of 144,000; Rev. 7:4-8).
- The Jews going into all nations will preach to both Jews and gentiles. The believing Jews will migrate to the land of Israel as part of God’s second recovery of His people (Isa. 12:11) and will become part of the kingdom God restores to Israel. The believing gentiles will populate all the nations apart from Israel.
- The doubtful disciples on the mountain in Galilee likely didn’t believe the testimony of the three disciples who had been present at Jesus’ transfiguration.
- From the local church at Antioch, Saul and Barnabas were the only members sent to make disciples (Acts 13:1-5): John Mark tagged along as a helper). The entire membership was not sent by the Spirit.
- Evangelists were a small part of the church—the entire church was never commanded to be evangelists and make disciples (Eph. 4:11).
- No biblical evidence exists reporting that an entire local church departed their location and premises for another nation or nations to make disciples.