"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testifed in due time." I Timmothy 2:5,6

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  • Introduction

Dispensationalism...

Dispensationalism

By Rev. R. C. Harbach

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Introduction to the series

By Rev. Thomas Miersma

A Subtle and Serious Error

Dispensationalism, in its modern form, is the repackaging of a system of error that has appeared from time to time in the Christian church. It is a subtle and serious error, a departure from the Word of God. It is:

  • Subtle, for it comes with the false appearance of taking Scripture seriously while destroying the unity of the Word of God and corrupting the gospel.

  • Subtle, because it claims to take Scripture literally while it ignores the Holy Spirit's own explanation of His own Word and is the invention of men.

  • Subtle, as it takes the unfolding of God's Word through the history of the people of God and its elements, and instead of setting forth its unity in the work of grace in Christ, cuts it asunder and fragments it.

Serious, because it destroys the truth of God and His Christ. Rev. R.C. Harbach, who himself grew up under dispensationalist teaching, writes in the last article of the series,

"This writer, while being taught the whole scheme of Dispensationalism, was so instructed as to see great diversity in Scripture, but was never grounded in the underlying unity of Holy Writ. In those days, his teachers did not inculcate the truth that the Bible contains one system of truth, one doctrine, one salvation, one standard of righteousness, one rule of faith and conduct, one God, one Mediator, one divine covenant, one divine purpose, one people, one promise, one Gospel, one general assembly and church, one election of grace, one true Israel, one Zion, one nation, and one kingdom. The Scripture with its different parts is one organic whole. It originated with one controlling Mind. God used many mouthpieces and many pens to produce it (Heb. 1:l; II Pet. 1:21), yet He is its sole Author: The light is manifold in its many constituent colors, yet is one. God is a trinity, which means that He is a tri-unity and a unity that is trinal. Christ has two natures, the humanity and the Deity united in one Person. The Scripture has two testaments forming the one Word of God. Its message is therefore one!"

The series by Rev. Harbach

The series by Rev. R. C. Harbach is a thorough treatment of dispensationalism from the scriptures. As the author indicates he grew up under dispensational teaching in a Presbyterian church. He knows the dispensational system from the inside, so to speak. Written almost forty years ago, largely in 1967, for the Standard Bearer, Volume 43, the articles particularly address the underpinnings of dispensationalism as taught by Scofield and those who followed him. In many respects this fact makes the material even more relevant to today. Dispensationalism has not stood still. Doctrinal systems develop either in error or in truth but they do so out of their root. Rev. Harbach in his discussion of dispensationalism's treatment of the law, is almost prescient, as the issues he discusses would later arise in the Lordship controversy years later.

The material itself was not written as a book but a series of magazine articles. This gives to the material a certain character. Writing in such a context limits the length of one's article and requires that it be to the point. It means that one cannot explain everything in detail and that matters must sometimes be compressed. Some review is necessary for the writer, from article to article, at the beginning of a new aspect as he cannot assume that every reader has read all the preceding articles in the series. In many ways these boundaries also lend themselves well to the internet format.

In editing the material for the internet, the editor has introduced section headings into the articles, to serve as internal links. These are not part of the original articles but the work of the web editor. An attempt has been made to accurately reflect the contents and use the phrasing of the author in doing so.

Modern Dispensationalism

A study of this material also points out the difference between the dispensationalist of a generation ago and the modern form their error has taken. The Dispensationalist of a generation ago was largely focused on reading his system into Scripture. He was engaged in Bible study. He would not have presumed to become a political commentator on current world and middle eastern affairs. He was engaged in reading his Bible, not reading the newspaper into it. While this is a logical outworking of the dispensational system it is also a fundamental change.

Today dispensationalism has become a vocal political power group. It has become a means also to make merchandise of its "gospel," through sensationalism, novels, and movies. It is big business. It is also departing further and further from the true gospel of Christ. In some quarters its millennial expectations concerning Israel lead it to compromise the gospel and work with the unbelieving Jew who denies that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. Some scarcely feel the need to call such Jews, who are perishing in their sins, to repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. The study of world events has taken the place of the Scriptures.

Dispensationalism is becoming a cult, if it may not already be so labeled. And that is, a cult on the same order as the Mormons. Yet as Rev. Harbach points out, it is a "Minus-Proof Speculation." That is, it is without proof or support in the Scriptures. It is a system which treats the Scriptures as a jigsaw puzzle for the clever interpreter to piece together, rather than comparing Scripture with Scripture so as to learn the mind of the Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is the sole author of the Scriptures, and He alone has the right to tell us what He means in His own Word. Scripture is not a secret code; it is the Word of God, which is spiritually discerned, I Corinthians 2: 13, 15,16. It is the Word of God in Christ, I Peter 1:11.

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