Dispensations of the Church
The church age is ushered in with the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is some debate over the official start of this dispensation – whether it begins when Gentiles are first introduced, or when Paul declares that he would go to the Gentiles – but it is probably best understood to begin in Acts 2 on Pentecost with the giving of the Holy Spirit.
Without a doubt the most important revelation of this dispensation is the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is what every previous dispensation has lacked but has looked forward to. The church’s main responsibility can be best summed up in Matthew 28:18-20. Go, baptize, make disciples, teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament law. He did not come to do away with it but instead ushered in an era of grace. Jesus repeats nine of the ten commandments in the gospels. He also expands our understanding of what the law meant when He speaks about topics such as anger and lust. This means that the law does not need to be followed in the church age. Instead it means that God’s grace in salvation is extended to us when we do not follow the law. The point of the law was that we weren’t capable of following it and needed a savior. Every time we continue to sin today, we should be reminded that our forgiveness is only in Jesus’ blood and has nothing to do with our ability or attempt to follow the law.
The New Covenant is everything that the old covenants were not. It fixes the problems in the law, namely that we were incapable of following it. Hebrews 8:6 says that it is a “better” covenant than the Mosaic covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34 give the terms of the New Covenant. God will write His laws on the hearts of the people. He will be their God and they His people. Everyone will know the Lord. God will forgive wrongdoing and never again remember sin. These promises are unconditional. There is no requirement of obedience like the Mosaic Covenant, God has promised that these things will happen.
The New Covenant is made with Israel and is meant to replace the old covenant as Hebrews 8 tells us. The church has gained the benefits of the New Covenant as Israel is still currently in denial of their Messiah. Like other covenants, the New Covenant has not been completely fulfilled yet. We see parts of its fulfillment, but it has not been completely fulfilled in Israel yet.
The church dispensation fails because of the rejection of many. In no dispensation has God failed. In this dispensation it is certainly not that the work of Christ for the redemption of man has failed. Many who hear the gospel will reject the truth however instead of acting in faith and accepting it. Certainly the New Covenant has not reached anything more than a remnant of Israel to this point. We have not achieved the day when all know the Lord. But the day is coming and will arrive in the dispensation of the Kingdom.