In Part 1, a dispensation was defined as the way which God administers His rule over the world. Historically seven dispensations have been identified: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom. Each dispensation has a distinct ruling factor and test for man.
In Part 3 the distinctiveness of the fifth dispensation, the Mosaic Law, ended with Israel rejecting her Messiah. Their rejection resulted in the sixth dispensation, Grace.
The New Covenant was ratified through the shed blood of Christ (Luke 22:20) and is the beginning of the grace administration. John stated the transition this way, “For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
During this dispensation God is using grace as a ruling factor. Grace affects believers in two ways. First it causes the believer to have a favorable disposition toward God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Secondly, it enables the Christian to do the will of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. “I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Since the believer is no longer under the Mosaic Law (Galatians 5:18, Romans 6:14, Romans 7:1-4), he/she is controlled by a better way, grace.
Living under the grace administration does not give the believer a license to sin. (Romans 6:1) Grace actually instructs the believer to live a godly life. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age…” (Titus 2:11,12) As grace teaches the believer and the Spirit provides the power, he/she will produce the righteous fruits that the law could not produce. (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9, Romans 7:4-6)
A second distinctive element of the grace administration is the church. The church had her beginning on the day of Pentecost after Jesus ascended into heaven. (Acts 2, 11:15, 20:28; Ephesians 3:1-10, Colossians 1:18) The Church is not to be confused with the nation of Israel. Israel is a sovereign nation set apart by God that included both believing and unbelieving people. The Church consists only of saved people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Man, as a whole, fails the test in the dispensation of grace. Most people reject God’s gracious offer of salvation through His Son. (Matthew 22:14) False teachings permeate the church and most do not contend earnestly for the true faith. (II Tim 3:1-6,13; I Tim 4:1,2; Jude 3,4,18)
Next time – the seventh and final dispensation.