Temple Baptist Church - 9-22-2010
A. As I begin this message, it is of the utmost importance that we understand the term “dispensation of the grace of God.”
1. Miriam-Webster defines a dispensation as: a general state or ordering of things, specifically: a system of revealed commands and promises regulating human affairs; a provision especially of providence or nature; a formal authorization; the act of dispensing something; distributed.
2. In theology, dispensationalism is defined as: a Protestant evangelical tradition and theology based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive “dispensations” or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants.
B. One of the books most noted for the teachings of dispensations in the Bible is “Dispensational Truth” by Clarence Larkin (copyrighted in 1918). Clarence Larkin broke down the 7,000 literal years of time into 7 different dispensations or periods of time where God dealt with man in different manners.
1. The Dispensation of Innocence – from the Beginning to the Fall
2. The Dispensation of Conscience – from the Fall to the Flood
3. The Dispensation of Human Government – Post Flood
4. The Dispensation of Promise – from the Call of Abraham to the Giving of the Law
5. The Dispensation of Law – from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Calvary
6. The Dispensation of Grace – from Resurrection to the Second Coming
7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom – Second Coming to the New Heaven and New Earth
C. I understand to a degree Larkin’s teaching but disagree with his conclusions. After the fall in Genesis 3, Innocence was gone but Conscience—Human Government—Promise—Law—and Grace were all together. Let me explain:
1. Adam and Eve had Conscience but so do we today.
2. Adam and Eve had Human Government and so do we today.
3. Adam and Eve had Promise and so do we today.
4. Adam and Eve had Law (though the written Law in its entirety came through Moses) and we still have Law today. The Bible; the Jewish Torah—“teaching,” “instruction,” or “law. The first 5 books of the Bible—Pentateuch.
5. Adam and Eve certainly had Grace (Noah had Grace in Genesis 6:8) and we have Grace today. Salvation is all of grace both now and in Adam’s day. Some teach salvation as works plus faith before the cross—grace from the cross to the Rapture—and then works plus faith again in both the Tribulation Period and the Kingdom Age. This is false theology! No man has or ever will be able to merit his salvation before a thrice holy God! In another of Clarence Larkin’s charts, he correctly called the “Dispensation of Grace” the “Ecclesiastical Dispensation,” which runs from Christ to Antichrist. I could agree to a greater degree with this title as we live in the “church age.”
D. I said all of that to say this: the dispensation of the grace of God is the dispensing of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It has and always will be grace. Eternity will be the “exceeding riches of his grace” in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 2:7)
E. Now let us look at these verses. The message is simple tonight.
1. The Messenger of Grace – vs. 1 Paul, the prisoner of the Lord and the Apostle of the grace of God. Paul was a Pharisee, who rejected the Gentiles before his conversion, whom God because of the Jews rejection of him. Paul knew what grace was all about.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (God saved the chief of sinners because He loved him. Paul also made a great trophy in God’s Trophy Case. God uses people who know what it is to be helplessly and hopelessly lost. What a work of Grace! God still uses “saved by grace sinners” who know and understand the grace of God to reach others. We have the responsibility of sharing the gospel to others.)
2. The Message of Grace – vs. 2 Salvation is all about grace! Paul, a Jew, was saved by grace and that same grace that he received was extended to the Ephesians, who were Gentiles.
Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (The message of grace is the message of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is both universal and inclusive. All are saved the same way and all are included. The Gospel of Grace is Grace, not Race. It is all inclusive, not exclusive!)
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Nothing else works. All of our methods and programs fail. They may add “church members” but not true conversions. God’s way still works in spite of us.)
3. The Mystery of Grace – vs. 3-6 Jews and Gentiles in one body. Again, this is certainly not a reference to the local church because the Ephesians were Gentiles, not Jews. The Holy Ghost referred to all of them being members of the same body.
Ephesians 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (“Of his flesh and his bones” refers to the body of Christ. Each time Paul wrote to a local church, he—though not a member—always included himself when speaking of the body of Christ. Ephesians 1:1-6. When the Lord comes for His Church, He will come for every born again believer—Jew or Gentile! He told the Jews in John 10 that)
John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.