It is with extreme difficulty that one tries to follow the Dispensational presentation of the “seven dispensations.”
The difficulty of understanding this hodge-podge of teaching is that it is a very confusing presentation of the most simple and lucid Bible truths. It is a veritable heterogeneous mixture of truth and error. One thing is clear, that it stems from a refusal to believe all the prophetic Scriptures.
We believe that we have demonstrated this in connection with each of the “dispensations” which we have considered and analyzed, and on which we attempted to pass a basic critique measured by the clear teaching of the Word of God. We have shown that to teach a dispensation of “innocence,” of “conscience,” of “human government,” of the “promise,” of “law,” of “grace” is pure fancy. It does not fit the pattern of sound doctrine. The pattern of sound doctrine is that there are two and only two “dispensations” of the grace of God, to wit, the dispensation of the Old Testament shadows, which were promisory of better things to come, and the dispensation of the fullness of times. Briefly stated: The Old Testament and the New Testament. And each of these are Testaments of grace. The Old Testament is the time of the promised and the New Testament is the time of the promises fulfilled unto the children which were made unto the fathers (Acts 13:32, 33).
Such is the rightly dividing of the Word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). We shall study to shew ourselves also such a workman in this our consideration of the Dispensational presentation of the “Kingdom.”
There is only one Kingdom of God in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. The Kingdom is the LORD’S (Ps. 22:28). It is the Kingdom of JEHOVAH, Who is the “‘I AM THAT I AM,” the mighty God of Jacob in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord (Exodus 3:14). He is this in JESUS, Who shall save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). He is the Immanuel-child in Whom David has a Son on his throne forever (Luke 1:31-33). It is the prediction of the LORD through Isaiah to Israel in the darkest night of her life in the days of the wicked and unbelieving King Ahaz (Isaiah 7:1-16). God’s oath to David, that a son from his loins would sit on this throne forever, stands (II Sam. 7:12-17). And this is the kingdom spoken of by Gabriel to the virgin Mary in Nazareth when the birth of Jesus is announced. It is the same identical eternal kingdom spoken of by God in the night visions to Daniel (Dan. 7:14, 18). Such is the current teaching of Scripture everywhere (Luke 1:31-33; II Sam. 7:11;Ps. 132:11; Is. 9:6, 7; Is. 16:5; Jer. 23:5; Dan. 2:44; Obadiah 21; Micah 4:7;John 12:34; Heb. 1:8; cf. Psalm 45:6, 7).
It is well to keep this correct teaching in mind when we try to follow the presentation of Scofield which he constructs of the Kingdom of God. For the Bible is our guide alone. And Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture! Both Scofield and I are subject to that rule. We must follow the axiom of Paul uttered in II Corinthians 10:3-5, where we read, “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh . . . casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
We must also do such with our own thoughts!
God is no respecter of persons; He is not mocked; and every man’s work is tried whether he is truly building upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone (I Cor. 3:10-17; Eph. 2:19-22).
Let us attempt to understand the presentation of Scofield.
We must remember that when Scofield speaks of the kingdom he takes the doctrinal position that the “kingdom” is and remains for national Israel forever. If we do not keep this clearly before our mind’s eye we will be led astray in our judging of his position. And when we criticize this position we are not casting stones at a mere figment of our imagination, or, to use a figure of speech, casting stones at a straw doll. The kingdom, according to Scofield, belongs to the Jewish nation. The “church” and the “kingdom” are not and never will be the same. And, what is more, it is the contention of all Dispensationalism that the “church” is not in the Old Testament, and that the prophets really never speak of the church of the New Testament dispensation. The clock of prophecy stopped at Calvary, the kingdom ceased, and the predictions concerning the Kingdom will not be fulfilled until the time of the one thousand years reign of Christ in the “Millennium” period. It is alleged that at that time the promises concerning David’s kingdom will be fulfilled for the Israel of God, as represented by the Jewish Nation.
The “kingdom” is Jewish!
The “church” is the body of Christ, and this is really for the Gentiles, the “Goyim,” according to Scofield!
This we must keep in mind when we attempt to understand the various theses and propositions which Scofield distills from the sacred Scriptures.
Let us keep this straight in mind. Dispensationalism teaches that Christ is King of the kingdom, and He isHead of the church.
But let us listen to Scofield himself.
In his “notes” (Scofield Bible, page 1226, a note underI Cor. 15:24) we read what Scofield denominates “The Kingdom-truth Developed In The New Testament.” We will follow Scofield’s numbering.
Proposition Number “1.”
“(1) The promise of the kingdom to David
and to his seed, and described in the Prophets
enters the N.T. absolutely unchanged.”
This is proposition number “1,” and it is really the basic thesis. And we do well to pause just a bit and ponder the implication of this statement. It is supposed to form the bedrock of Dispensational thinking. We would call attention briefly to the following:
a. That quite evidently Scofield implies that the message of Gabriel, spoken to Mary in Nazareth, must be exegeted to mean that the “kingdom” spoken of inLuke 1:32, 33 is and remains a Jewish Kingdom, and that such a kingdom was given to David, so that the “throne of David” is literally and exclusively the earthly throne in the earthly city of Jerusalem, which David wrested from the hands of the Jebusites. I suggest that the reader look up this text in his own Bible.
b. That when Scofield says that the kingdom of God entered the New Testament “absolutely unchanged” he has the unspoken assumption in mind that the kingdom spoken of in II Samuel 7:8, 17 to David, and the kingdom referred to in Zechariah 12:8 refer to the Old Testament kingdom, with its capital city in earthly Jerusalem. That kingdom has entered absolutely unchanged. However, the basic assumption of Scofield glosses over the pivotal question of the Biblical implication of the “New Testament” in Christ’s blood, as taught and delineated upon in nearly every page of the Scriptures, whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. It is one thing to say that at the “Annunciation” the promises of the “New Testament in Christ’s blood” were not yet fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection, but it is quite another to make the vague and sweeping statement that the “Kingdom entered the New Testament absolutely unchanged.” This entire proposition begs the question of the nature of the “Kingdom of God” even in the Old Testament already. We shall in another future installment in the Standard Bearer call attention to the spiritual nature of the Kingdom of God as spoken of inPsalm 22:27, 28.
c. The proposition of Scofield does not rest upon solid exegesis at all; it is a mere unproven assumption which instead of guiding good exegesis and sound interpretation, rather stymies and stifles all solid Biblical study and prevents the coming to sound doctrine and godly life.
We now turn to proposition #2 of Scofield in his notes under I Corinthians 15:24, page 1226. This proposition reads as follows:
“The kingdom announced us ‘at hand’
by John the baptist, by the King, by the twelve, was rejected by the Jews, first morally
and afterward officially
and the King crowned with thorns was crucified.”
What must we say of this proposition in all fairness and justice?
That this proposition must be read in the light of proposition #1. The plain truth of the matter is that the “kingdom” here is the Jewish kingdom of Scofield and dispensational teaching, but is not the kingdom which John the Baptist, Christ, and the Apostles preached as being “at hand.”
We hope to point out that we are here dealing with a very clever presentation of truth and error, with facts and fiction mixed together. In so doing the plain sense of the texts quoted is really denied.
This is a strong statement, we admit. We shall need to show cogently and conclusively that such is indeed the case. We call your attention to the following:
a. That the phrase “at hand” means something far more and different than what Scofield holds it does. Writes he, “At hand never is a positive affirmation that a person or thing said to be ‘at hand’ will immediately appear, but only that no known or predicted event must intervene.” And again he writes,” when Christ appeared, to the Jewish people, the next thing in the order of revelation as it then stood, should have been setting up of the David kingdom.”
I am certain that a brief study will show that we are here dealing with a basically erroneous statement concerning the purpose of the “appearing” of the Messiah, the Christ. If we had read nothing more than the words of Gabriel to Joseph in a dream this will be more than evident; for the Christ came and the Son of God is called Jesus, Jehovah saves. “For He shall save His people from their sins.” And this people (ton laon in Greek) is not a “Jewish people” at all, but they are what the Bible calls “My people” (Matt. 2:6). They were the “people who were praying in the temple,” a people who must be made prepared for the Lord. God sent His Son to visit and to redeem His people (Luke 1:10, 17, 68). For the Savior came to be the salvation, which God has prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel. Hence, the people is the Israel of God (Luke 2:30, 31; Is. 40:5; Is. 52:10; Luke 3:6; Is. 49:6, 8, 9).
(to be continued)