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Dispensationalism -- Is there a progressive plan?

Acts 10:43
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

See Acts 10:43. Noting the development of systems such as "Dispensationalism," discuss whether or not the Bible recognizes the progressive development of God's plan through various dispensations. If not, explain your view of salvation.   If so, explain how people were saved in the Old Testament, noting specifically how salvation in that dispensation relates to the salvation of this dispensation, the Church Age. Were there different plans of salvation for different dispensations?

While it may appear these commands are contradictory, they are actually examples of progressive revelation. God commanded Adam to eat no meat as an initial condition of creation. Following the flood, God expanded man’s diet by adding meat. God used the Mosaic law teach man about holiness by declaring certain animals unclean for food. Jesus being the fulfillment of the law, it was no longer necessary to use the animal kingdom as a teaching example. Thus, “modern” man is free to eat all meat.

From the perspective of the Old and New Testaments, the Old Testament merely contained hints of the full plan of God. These hints are the “secrets” and “mysteries” revealed at different times and for different purposes by God. For example, the eating meat was used as a picture of holiness in the Scriptures. The church is only vaguely hinted at in the Old Testament by very general references to the Gentiles coming to know God. God coming in the form of Jesus is another concept clearly not fully explained in the Old Testament. The Trinity is yet another example. 

Since God is unchangeable, “the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb 13:8), the modifications from one dispensation to the next never are moral in nature. They are, as indicated by the above examples, either related to “teachable moments” or are designed for some still undisclosed purpose. They never modify a moral commandment. Even the allowance of divorce or multiple marriages (Matt 19:3) was for teaching the nature about holiness and allowed because the of hardness of the Israelites heart (Matt 19:8). They were “ignorant” and God treated them as children (Acts 17:30).

God’s plan, as stated above, is one that “unfolds.” This is a major reason changes that occur from one period or economy to the next. The requirements of each stage vary. Some terms are required and others are not in any given period. Once a prophecy “type” has been fulfilled by the reality, the type is no longer needed and God is “free” to modify the conditions. An example of this is the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament economy being replaced by the death of Jesus on the Cross. Another example is the need for apostles. Once the foundation of the church was laid by the apostles (Eph. 2:20), the office was no longer needed.


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