Dispensationalism A Minus-Proof Speculation
by Rev. R. C. Harbach
The Bible of modern Dispensationalism, of which C. I. Scofield was editor-in-chief, states in a footnote on Eph. 3:6 that “The mystery ‘hid in God’ was the divine purpose to make Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing, ‘the church, which is his (Christ’s) body’ . The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold but not explained by Christ (Mt. 16:18), was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk and destiny of the church.” This, however, is so far from the truth, as we have firmly demonstrated and will continue to do so, that one wonders whether dispensationalists ever give a careful reading to the Word of God. That the body of Christ is not at all to be found in the O.T., since it is with the N.T. “a wholly new thing” is a conjecture without the least support from Scripture. Nor does Scofield give any evidence for his strange hypothesis in the note where it is advanced.
But let us continue our examination of the O.T. on this score. In our last writing we left off at Psalm 40. We now .turn to Psalm 69. “O God, Thou knowest My foolishness, and My sins are not hid from Thee.”(v. 5) This is another well-known messianic Psalm, describing the Sin-bearer, Gethsemane, the Cross, those responsible for the crucifixion, and Judas, the betrayer. Here the sins of His people are referred to as His sins, so close the oneness He has with them in the imputation of their sin and condemnation to Him.
“His name shall endure forever: His name shall continue as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.” (Ps. 72:17) Notice, not blessed by Him, but “in Him,” or as in Eph. 1:3, “Blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.” Scofield, taking no note of all this, theorizes that “as the Israelite’s blessing was in the land, so the Christian’s blessing is ‘in Christ.’ ” For the “in Christ” truth actually was not only a favorite with Paul, but also with David before him. “All my springs are in Thee.” (Ps. 87:7)
“This He ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when He went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.” (Psalm 81:5) The personal pronouns here all refer to the, God of Jacob who affirms that the Egyptian language He understood not! How can the omniscient God speak in this manner of Himself, whose wisdom is unsearchable? He does so in His Son who, as so united with His people, so one with them, spoke as though their ignorance were His.
“O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer, give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. Behold, O God our Shield, and look upon the face of Thine Anointed.” (Ps. 84:8, 9) The Anointed is Christ, so that David pled that his prayer be heard for Christ’s sake! Daniel did, too. “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake.” (9:17) In the face of this Scripture it cannot be maintained that Israel was destined to receive earthly blessings, and not the spiritual blessings destined for the Church.
Psalm 89 is another messianic prophecy, as is evident in verse 27. Following this verse, the Father promises to preserve Christ’s “seed” and “children.” Then it is said, “If they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments, then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from Him,” not “them,” although He is speaking of them. The remarkable change in pronouns again reveals the oneness of the members of Christ’s body with their Head. Then it ought to be carefully noted how this section closes. “It (His throne) shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. ” (v. 37) How, in the light of this, can it be said that the true Israel of the O.T. was an earthly people? For here we have the character and locution of Christ’s throne! From this it is as clear as the sun that Christ’s kingdom is eternal and heavenly. (See II Peter 1:11, ASV).
“My substance was not hid from Thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes didst see My substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all My members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Ps. 139:15, 16) On this, in his magnum opus on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, Spurgeon said,
Now compare the following: “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is His name whereby HE shall be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ ” (Jer. 23:6) “In those days Judah shall be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is the name wherewith SHE shall be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.” (33:16) The fact is, the Bridegroom and the Bride are given the same name; or upon being married to Another (Rom. 7:14) she takes His name! Here the truth of the body of Christ in the O.T. is as plainly revealed, although, of course, not as fully, as in the N.T., where the Church and all its members are denominated Christ in I Cor. 12:12. For in that Pauline passage not Christ as an individual is meant, but Christ as identified and united with His covenant members ! There is not a man on earth able to refute this asseveration.
It is the plain teaching of plain Scripture that the Church is the body of Christ, and that this body embraces all who are representatively and organically united to Him. He is the Last Adam, and as such, the federal and vital Head of the whole Election of Grace. Read Eph. 5:23, where it is written, “Christ is the Head of the Church, and He is the Saviour of the Body.” What this irrefutably proves is that the Headship of Christ and His Saviourhood are coextensive, and that all saved by Him belong to and are members of the Church! Then if Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah and Abraham were saved, by God in view of Christ’s effectual atonement, then they are members of the Body!
The O.T. saints were not only members of the Church and body of Christ, but they also knew this and delighted in the spiritual and eternal, realities of the Gospel. For Moses and believers of the Mosaic dispensation “had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” They “did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ,:” (I Cor. 10:1-4) This idea is further proved in Heb. 11:24-26 where we read that Moses did “esteem the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” The O.T. saints, then, were not ignorant of their Savior, Christ. But what, at this place, is meant by “Christ,” or, as in the original, “the Christ?” Not merely Christ personally and individually considered, but Christ viewed as inseparably united with His people, or as the Puritans put it, Christ mystical, i.e., the Church. This is borne out by the words, “esteeming the reproach of Christ” which are parallel to the words “choosing rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God.” This is not the only parallelism in the passage, but is sufficient to show how “the. Christ” and “the people” are used practically synonymously! The “people of God” (v. 25) are in verse 26 designated “the Christ.” This, as we said, is the title given to the Church in I Cor. 12:12. Then the true Israel in the O.T. were members of Christ!
In view of all that we have up to this point set forth, it shocks our senses when Dispensationalists tell us that there was no such thing as an Old Testament Church, that it is therefore all wrong to speak of such. The writer himself once thus believed the Word of God, but did so ignorantly, not in the face of such evidence as has been thus far presented. The writer ’ in his dispensationalist days was something of the ignoramus he supposed the O.T. saint was. For any neophyte Bible student ought to be able to understand that in every age “the path of the just is (has been and shall be) as the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18); that therefore the O.T. Israel was not without the spiritual light of the gospel! Even a stripling in the faith ought to be able to see that the Bible cannot affirm that there was “the church in the wilderness,” (Acts 7:38) and then in one of the epistles declare there was no church in O.T. times. For the Bible does not contradict itself. Nor does it make such a statement in any of the epistles. This is dispensationalism, not Paul, nor his epistles. Also a sleepy Christian can wake up and see that when Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build My church” (Mt. 16:18), that He was not speaking of the body of Christ, or as we call it, the church triumphant, for He added, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He referred rather to the church as visible on earth, the church militant, for it would be pointless to speak of the gates of hell prevailing against the church triumphant, or against the body of Christ. Even a Sunday School pupil can see that not only did Stephen believe there was a “church in the wilderness,” but that the Messiah speaking out of the old congregation (Ps. 22:22), said, “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee.” (Heb. 2:12) Moses, Stephen and Christ -in the same Church!