The Three Distinctives

Oct 8, 2011
Winfield, Mo.
There are three distinct administrations in the Word, consisting of Israel up to the Cross, the Church from Pentecost to the Rapture, and the Millennial Kingdom. These three systems set up conflicting and opposing principles; but since these difficulties appear only when an attempt is made to coalesce systems, elements, and principles which God has separated, the conflict really do not exist outside these unwarranted unifying efforts. In fact, they rather demonstrate the necessity of a due recognition of all of God’s different and distinct administrations.

The true unity of the Scriptures is not discovered when one blindly seeks to fuse these opposing principles in one system, but rather it is found when God’s plain differentiations are observed. The dispensationalist does not create these differences as he is sometimes accused of doing. The conflicting principles, in the text of Scripture, are observable to all who penetrate deep enough to recognize the essential features of divine administration. Instead of creating the problems, the dispensationalist is the one who has the solution to them.

If the ideals of an earthly people for long life in the land which God unto them (Ex 20:12; Mat 5:5) do not articulate with the ideals of a heavenly people* who in respect to the earth are “strangers and pilgrims” and who are enjoined to be looking for and loving the imminent appearing of Christ, the problem is easily solved by the one whose system of interpretation is proved rather than distressed by such distinctions.

All Scripture is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim 3:16), but all Scripture is not of primary application to a particular person or class of persons which the Bible designates as such. All Scripture is not of the angels, nor is it of the Gentiles. In like manner, all Scripture is not addressed to the Jew nor is it all addressed to the Christian.

These are obvious truths and the dispensationalist’s plan of interpretation is none other than an attempt to be consistent in following these distinctions in the primary application of Scripture as far as, and not further than, the Bible carries them. However, all Scripture is profitable, that is, it has its moral, spiritual, or secondary application.

To illustrate this: Much valuable truth may be gained from the great body of Scripture bearing on the Jewish Sabbath; but if that body of Scriptures has a primary application to the Church, then the Church has no Biblical ground for the observance of the first day of the week (which she certainly has) and she could offer no excuse for her disobedience—hence her individual members, like all Sabbath breakers, should be stoned to death (Num 15:32-36). In like manner, if all Scripture is of primary application to believers of this age then they are in danger of hell fire (Mat 5:29, 30), and to have the blood of lost souls “required at their hands” (Eze 3:17, 18).

Moral and spiritual lessons are to be drawn from God’s dealings with Israelites, quite apart from the necessity being imposed upon Christians to comply with all that a primary application of the Scriptures specifically addressed to Israel would demand. Of the believer of this age it is said that “he . . . shall not come into condemnation (judgement)” (Jhn 5:24), and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). These latter promises are disannulled by diametrically opposite declarations if all Scripture applies primarily to the Christian.

- L S Chafer

Poster’s Comment:

*”If the ideals of an earthly people . . . do not articulate with the ideals of a heavenly people”: One of the most speculative (but likely true in my opinion) concepts concerning the end-time Jew is that they will inherit the New Earth, and the Church of Christ, the New Heaven. Some are of the thought that the land of Canaan is meant for an earth inheritance, but I believe it is not a natural, temporal inheritance but an eternal one, isolated to the Jewish nation, after they have been brought to faith by seeing Christ.
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