Dispensations Lesson 3- Introduction Chapter 3: The Divine Institutions

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Updated 6/2013

Lesson 3

  Chapter 3: The Divine Institutions


God introduced two divine institutions during the Era of Positive Volition. Let’s take a moment to talk about the divine institutions: God has ordained four divine institutions by which the human race is preserved and perpetuated as an extension of the prehistoric angelic conflict. God started the human race with only one person, so the first institution God gave to the human race at this point in history is the individual. Having just been created, this individual, Adam, was alone and had perfect happiness.  (Don’t take any implications from that status just yet!) In relationship to the angelic conflict, this creation signaled to Satan, that the door to the courtroom of heaven was now open for Satan’s appeal trial. This one man Adam, who was the ruler of the world, was given a soul life much like the soul life of angels.  Both people and angels have mentality and volition as a part of soul life.  In Gen 2:7, Moses described Adam as being “a living soul.” Though he was under God’s authority he still possessed the authority of his own soul.


There are two factors here: first, Adam had a mentality enabling him to understand, to the degree God allowed, His character.  He also needed his mentality to understand divine mandates.  He was able to gather facts, to hear and to understand divine mandates. And secondly, he possessed the ability to accept or reject those mandates. That ability or, the authority of the first divine institution is volition. God gave a command to Adam, even before the woman was created, to not eat from the tree of conscience.  That divine mandate involved the imperative mood which was directed toward the volition of his soul.  In the same way, every Biblical mandate is from God and directed toward your volition.  You have the authority of soul, the volition to accept or reject all of them.  Of course, rejection carries discipline with it while compliance carries blessing with it!

The first mandate to Adam, his first volitional test, appears in Gen 2:16-17:

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Every tree in the garden you may freely eat, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will not eat, for in the day that you eat from it dying you will die.’ Genesis 2:16-17

This command, this mandate, was the key in the Angelic Conflict because it awakened Adam’s volition.  You see, God did not create Adam with knowledge of conscience which volition requires.  The soul does not have a conscience as created. The function of conscience must be taught.  This was knowledge that Adam had to learn, just as children must learn the difference between right and wrong.  The conscience is created by mentality and then functions under volition.  You have to have vocabulary to know the difference between right and wrong.

The death mentioned here as “dying” is the process of dying physically while “you will die” refers to spiritual death which they immediately became subject to.  Adam’s spiritual death is further described in Romans 5:12:

For as by one man sin entered into the world and spiritual death by sin, for all sinned when Adam sinned.  Romans 5:12

And in 1 Corinthians 15:22:

“In Adam all die…” 1 Corinthians 15:22

God created an authority in our soul, and that authority is called volition. Volition always involves choices.  The choices you make determine the life that you lead.


The second divine institution God gave to the human race at this time was marriage.  Marriage, like volition, involves the principle of authority: it involved Adam’s authority over his wife.

God took Adam from the first divine institution, an individual with volition, to the second divine institution, marriage.  He did this by creating the woman and presenting her to Adam as his wife.  He had created the perfect counterpart for him:

…but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:20-24

Jesus Christ performed the first marriage in the Garden of Eden when He brought her to Adam.  God ordained monogamy, which He designed to be a permanent relationship between one man and one woman.  Many people in this country need to be reminded of this fact!  Now, understand that this is a basic principle: Don’t get into operation over-think here. We’re not going to go deeply into the doctrine of marriage at this point.  You need to take into account that some choose not to marry while others have the gift of celibacy and so on.  Marriage is not for everyone.  Yet, Paul presented the principle of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.

So, Adam was given his individual status, having mentality and volition when God brought him the woman.  By this He introduced the institution of marriage.  We’ll continue our study with some principles related to marriage.  Now, this isn’t a full blown study of marriage, just some principles relating to it’s being one of the divine institutions.

When Jesus Christ created Adam He said, “not good that man should be alone,” so He constructed the female, providing a wife for him. He created her specifically for Adam.  He didn’t bring a couple of dozen women around for him to choose!  You, unmarried persons, need to use your discernment in this: Make sure the person you choose fulfills your doctrinal norms and standards!  God will bring the right person to you.  It’s a part of His plan for you, unless other factors over ride that.  Once you are married, don’t keep looking for anyone else!  The relationship that God had planned for them, including all of its factors which were established in the garden, was to be continued after the fall.  It has never been cancelled in any generation, so they all apply to every successful marriage since.

Marriage is the most basic and fundamental organization in the human race.  Even the unbeliever, whose life is a total failure, can have great temporary happiness by marrying the right person:

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. Ecclesiastes 9:9

The analogy to the monogamous marital relationship is found in the relationship of the Church to our Lord.

…so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:26-33.

Under the authority of the laws of divine establishment, marriage is the normal, legitimate expression of love between a man and woman.  Because marriage is an organization of two people, authority must exist in it.  By Biblical mandate, the husband has all the authority; there are no exceptions or rationalizations.  A husband, however, may delegate certain areas of marital authority to his wife.  But the husband is still responsible for those decisions.  Violations of this principle do not negate the structure that God has ordained in marriage.  The violation of any divinely mandated principle does not change the principle.  For example, God continues to use the local church as the institution for spiritual growth no matter how badly it fails.  We cannot deny the principle of marriage just because we’ve made a bad marriage.

As a divine institution, the structure of marriage is the basis for stability in society and for the formation of civilization. Marriage rejects the theory of revolution, anarchy, promiscuousness, or communal living.  It is the protection for the home where the parents exercise authority over the children.  God ordained the function of these two divine institutions in the perfect environment of the Garden of Eden.  The fall of the human race in no way negates the validity of these two divine institutions.


God added two more institutions during the next era, the era of negative volition. During this period, God added two more divine institutions: the family and nationalism.  Again, let’s take some time to look at each of these carefully

Now, what forms a family from a married couple?  The birth of a child.  A child is born to a couple.  That child is born physically, and God imputes human life human life at the moment of birth to its soul.  Not only is human life imputed but also imputed is Adam’s original sin. So the human child is born both helpless and hopeless.  God condemns every human being immediately, upon birth. We learn from this that our personal sins, the personal sins of any human being, do not condemn but are free to be imputed to our Lord on the cross.

When we or any human being believes in Christ, God’s imputes His perfect righteousness to that person.  As a result, every human to whom God has made that imputation has a wonderful purpose in life: to be the recipient of the imputation of blessing to that perfect righteousness.

The laws of divine establishment provide for us freedom to exercise our positive volition toward doctrine so that we can develop the capacity for these blessings. God has provided certain divine laws, such as the authority of parents, to protect, care, nourish, provide, train, and discipline children to prepare them for life.  Not only prepare them for life but to prepare them for belief in Christ at the moment of Gospel hearing.  What prepares a human child for positive volition at the moment of Gospel hearing? Humility developed from authority orientation. Under authority orientation, a person accepts the authority of the Holy Spirit when confronted with the truth of the Gospel and then will believe.  This is the importance of parental authority in the divine institution of family.

So, parental authority is the way of preparing children for a normal life.  Permissiveness in child rearing destroys this.  A child must be raised to recognize proper and bona fide authority (remember we talked about how to recognize bona fide authority) and therefore, to be oriented to certain principles in life.  The highest expression of parental love is to inculcate through the forms of discipline.  Children must be trained to respect the privacy, property, and rights of others, not to abuse freedom, and to have respect for authority.  Adjustment to life and orientation to circumstances demand authority training.  Parents must teach poise, objectivity, and respect for police, patriotism, and willingness to serve to protect freedom.  Christian parents must also evangelize and provide doctrinal training for their children:

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Parents are responsible to instill respect for the Word of God, the teaching of Bible doctrine, as well as the recognition as bona fide the spiritual authority of the pastor-teacher.  This is a spiritual responsibility over and above their establishment responsibility.


If the entire human race were under one rule prior to the Millennium, it would self-destruct. So God has outlawed internationalism as being evil.  To perpetuate the human race and bring history to its logical conclusion, God has designed the nation to protect the freedom and rights of the people who live in it.  We call this principle nationalism.  Only one language should be recognized in a given nation.  With the divine judgment of the original United Nations at the tower of Babel, the human race was then divided into nations.  This division was originally based on racial, geographical and linguistic norms. As the human race continues in history, true racial distinctions are continuously obliterated so racial purity is a myth except in pristine areas.  Race is often used by politicians to create false issues.  Race is no longer an issue in the formation of nations. The formation of the Jewish nation set up the perfect standard of what a national entity should be.  The proof that God authorized nationalism is found in the Word of God:

From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations. Genesis 10:5

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. Deuteronomy 32:8

Our next point deals with the reason God made nations.  Two verses indicate this reason very clearly:

…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:26-28

All nations who follow the norms and standards of divine establishment possess the following characteristics.  Interior protection of freedom is provided through a proper system of law enforcement, jurisprudence, and a system of law whereby a person is innocent until proven guilty, where only proper testimony is allowed and no hearsay is permitted, and where double jeopardy does not exist. There must be a system of common law which prohibits crime and thereby protects the freedom, rights, life, and property of individuals.  It must be a system of law which does not overstep the law by using the law to try to solve social problems.  Law, therefore, must always be objective.  Subjective distortion of the law uses legislation to invade individual rights, to steal personal property, and to erode human freedom, all in the name of the common good. Exterior protection of freedom must come through a strong, well-prepared military.

A government of whatever category must protect the freedoms and rights of its citizens without interfering with those rights by the illegal use of power. There should be a system of government which functions under its power without abusing its power to destroy freedom and establishment.  There should be an administrative body to represent the functions of taxation, law enforcement, honorable jurisprudence, maintenance of the military, and enforcement of law and order without the destruction of human freedom.

An economy must be based on free enterprise and capitalism. Labor has no right to dictate the policy of management but smart management always takes good care of its workers.  Government, labor, or criminals do not have the right to superimpose their policy on management.  The separation of business and state is an important distinction.

There must be a common culture which reflects the spiritual life, morality, esprit-de-corp, nobility, patriotism, and integrity of a nation through its literature, art, music, and drama.

God has designed all of this so He can always have a client nation.  Bottom line with nationalism: it will not function without integrity. So God gave the principle of nationalism to provide freedom for evangelism and spiritual growth.  (Thieme: Divine Establishment)


Every divine institution relates to the human race in general.  They are not for believers only.  The believer is always given higher standards to uphold.  For people in general, to preserve the human race, God has given us the four divine institutions:

1. The Individual: Where the authority lies in the volition of the soul.

2 Marriage: The husband is authority in the divine institution of marriage.

3. Family is composed of parents and their children.  The ultimate authority is the man, but the woman is included in the authority as a parent.  All mandates for the family are directed toward the man.

4. The Nation: A national entity is people living within boundaries under a common language, separating one unit from another unit, so that one group would not overrun and destroy the other group or create a system of tyranny. The authority in the divine institution of the nation is government.


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Dispensations Lesson 2- Introduction Chapter 2: Summary of the Dispensations

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Chapter 2  Summary of the Dispensations

Next, let us look at a categorical outline of the dispensations. We will, as we mentioned in the doctrine outline, be looking closely at each dispensation after this general look at them. At that time, our emphasis will be upon events and teachings which relate directly to our spiritual growth as Church Age believers. Right now, we’ll establish an outline.

The dispensations can be broken down into three general categories: the Theocentric, Christocentric and Eschatological. The first category, the Theocentric dispensations include the Age of the Gentiles and the Age of Israel. Both of the Theocentric Dispensations occurred before our Lord was revealed in Hypostatic Union; as the God-Man. The Old Testament records both. The dispensation of the Gentiles began with the creation of the human race, as delineated in Gen 1, as the sixth day of creation. Adam was the first human God created. Scripturally, Genesis 1 through Exodus 11 covers this first era of human history.

A. The Theocentric Dispensations

1. The Age of Gentiles

The Age of Gentiles began with the creation of the human race and ends with the establishment of the Nation of Israel. It is subdivided into three categories.

a. The first of these is the Era of Positive Volition. It designates the period from the creation of the human race until the fall of the human race, all of which took place in the Garden of Eden. It lasted for an indeterminate period of time. Adam and his wife, that is Ish and Ishah, were created perfect in body, soul, and spirit. They lived in perfect environment in the Garden of Eden. They received direct revelation from God because the deity of Christ, who is the revealed member of the Godhead (John 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-3), walked with them in the evenings (Genesis 3:8). No written canon of Scripture existed because none was then needed. Nor was there need for salvation because humanity had not yet fallen. The historical record of this period is found in Genesis 1-3:6, written retrospectively by Moses under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, who insured the perfect accuracy of the record (1 Peter 1:21). During this first dispensation, God introduced two of the four divine institutions.

b. The second division of the Age of Gentiles is the Era of Negative Volition. This era began with Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden. It is characterized by great disasters on the earth, such as the angelic infiltration of the human race which is delineated in Gen 6. The Great Worldwide Flood and the Tower of Babel also occurred during this era.

c. The third era in this dispensation, the Era of the Jewish Patriarchs, began with Abraham and concluded with Moses. During this era, the patriarch, the leader of his household, was responsible for gospel dissemination and doctrinal inculcation to those under his authority. This era saw the creation of the new racial species, the Jewish race, which began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This period includes the history of the Jews from Abraham to Moses. This dispensation included both Jews and Gentiles without any client nations and ended with the creation of a new concept, the Client Nation to God. The first client nation was Israel having been formed as the Israelites left Egypt. So this dispensation ends with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

2. The Age Of Israel

The Age of Israel began with the Exodus, at which point, Israel became a nation, the first client nation to God in history. The dispensation of the Jews, or Israel, runs from the Exodus to the birth of Christ, B.C. 1441 until 4 B.C. However, God gave Israel an additional seventy-four years into the Christocentric dispensations. The Passover, God’s last curse on Egypt, when the Israelites left Egypt, was the sign which ushered in the Age of Israel, the new dispensation. The age of Israel formally ended with the birth of Christ, though, as I just mentioned, there was a period of overlap into the next two dispensations, though Israel had ceased to be an independent nation and was not functioning as a client nation. The sign that the nation Israel, though it was no longer a client nation, was about to be destroyed under the fifth cycle of discipline was the initial distribution of the gift of tongues or of foreign languages to the disciples which started on the Day of Pentecost. This spiritual gift evangelized Jews in Gentile languages.

B. The Christocentric Dispensations

The next general category of dispensations is the Christocentric dispensations. They are described in the New Testament. The main factor which separates the Christocentric from the Theocentric Dispensations is the fact of our Lord’s incarnation as the Hypostatic Union and the precedent He set during His life on earth for those in the next dispensation. The Christocentric Dispensations include the Age of the Hypostatic Union and the Church Age. Thieme, emphasizing the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit during these dispensations, calls these the Great Power Experiment of the Hypostatic Union and the Great Power Experiment of the Church Age respectively. The first Christocentric dispensation is also called The First Advent of Christ.

1. The First Advent of Christ.

The First Advent began with the birth of our Lord in 4 B.C. This is the time of the incarnation or First Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ which ran for a period of 33 years and is written about in the Gospels. It ended with the resurrection and ascension of Christ in A.D. 30.

2. The Church Age

The Church Age, our present age, runs from the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. until the Rapture or the Exit Resurrection of the Church, time unknown to all but God. It is divided into two parts: The pre-Canon period, the time of the Book of Acts and temporary spiritual gifts, which runs from 30 – 96 A.D. The New Testament was in the process of being written at that time but was not competed until the 96 A. D. This was the era of temporary spiritual gifts which took up the slack for the incomplete Canon. The distribution of the completed Canon of the New Testament occurred during post-Canon period, our present historical era. It runs from 96 A.D. to the Rapture of the Church. This is the era of the mystery doctrine, delineated in the New Testament Epistles. This is also the era of permanent spiritual gifts. This age is primarily characterized by the unique spiritual life of the Church Age, the protocol plan of God. It ends with the Rapture or the Exit Resurrection of the Church just prior to the next dispensation of human history.

C. The Eschatological Dispensations

There are two Eschatological dispensations: The Period of Great Tribulation and the Millennium.

1. The Great Tribulation

The Great Tribulation or Doomsday dispensation goes from the Rapture of the Church to the Second Advent. It is also called Daniel’s 70th week. It must also be classified as the time of Satan’s desperation. Lasting seven years, the tribulation is technically the last 7 years of the Age of Israel. It was prophesied about in the Old Testament as well as by our Lord in the Olivet Discourse of Mt 24-25, in most of His parables, and by John in the Book of Revelation, chapters 6-19.

2. The Millennium

The Millennial reign of Christ runs from the Second Advent of Christ to the end of human history, lasting 1000 years. During this period, our Lord rules on the earth as King. It is the time of the restoration of Israel and the fulfillment of their unconditional covenants. Israel will again be the client nation in history for the last 1000 years. It is a time of perfect environment on the earth. It is preceded by the judgment of the Baptism of Fire, so that only believers will enter the Millennium. However, even with perfect environment, dissatisfaction and revolution occurs. At the end of the Millennium God will judge unbelievers and fallen angels.

The Eternal State

After the completion of the Millennial Reign of our Lord, He will usher in the Eternal State. All believers will be in resurrection bodies forever. Mature believers will receive their eternal rewards and blessings. The destruction of the present universe and the creation of a new universe will begin the entry into eternity for the entire regenerate human race.

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Dispensations Lesson 1- Introduction: Chapter 1- Points of Definition

Updated 6/2013

1. God’s Organization of Human History:

A dispensation is a period of time, an epoch in human history which is defined in terms of divine revelation.  This is how God has organized and categorized human history. With the dispensations we can both outline and interpret human history from God’s perspective.  There are many interpretations of history, but the only accurate interpretation is dispensational, that is, the divine interpretation.  Dispensations constitute the divine administration of history.  In fact, the Greek word translated “dispensations” also refers to the administration of some organization.  Dr. H.A. Ironside has defined dispensations: “It is an economy or a particular order or a condition of things prevailing in a special age which does not necessarily prevail in another age.”

2. Study Sources for Dispensations:

The Word of God, which is without error, is the only source for looking at history from the God’s point of view.

3. A Technical Theological Term:

The term “dispensation” is a technical theological term.  It was used primarily by the apostle Paul when he presented the mystery doctrines of this Church Age.  Now, by mystery, I mean doctrines which were hidden from the past.  But they shouldn’t be a mystery to you!  The categorical study of dispensations is the means by which we orient to God’s will, plan, and purpose for our lives.  God’s plan is not the same for every dispensation. In fact, God’s plan for believers is very different in each age of history.  The most difficult and subtle plan to learn is this one, God’s protocol plan for this Church Age. It requires us each to do a lot of thinking!

4. Distinguishing Between Dispensations:

One of the most important distinctions to make regarding the dispensations is the separation between the Age of Israel and the Church. Paul, in Roman 11:25, warns us of what happens when we…or Israel…rejects this separation between the dispensations.

This contrast is a recurring theme in the New Testament.  Paul wrote:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; Romans 11:25   

Paul warns us here: against arrogance on our part as Church Age believers, and against partial “hardening of heart” on the part of Israel.  Now there is more to this verse, obviously.  It is preceded by 24 fantastic verses!  But this will suffice for now.  So, what makes the separation of Israel and the Church so significant? The phenomenon that divides these two dispensations is the first advent of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ makes all the difference. He is the key to the divine interpretation of history!

…so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord… Ephesians 3:10-11 NASB

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 NASB

5. Dispensations Spotlight our Lord:

The doctrine of dispensations spotlights Him, as we shall see, over and over again.  Old Testament believers, under the ritual plan of God, received knowledge of the work and person of our Lord by means of ritual.  Our Lord Jesus Christ was under the incarnation plan of God, during which time He accomplished His work on earth and on the cross, bearing the sins of the world. During His sojourn, walking as a man on the earth, He lived a unique life, empowered by the Spirit.  That Spirit empowered system serves as the basis for our lives.  So, as believers in this dispensation, we live by the mystery doctrine.  We live life empowered by the Spirit by means of which we fulfill God’s plan for our lives.  And as I mentioned a few minutes ago, this system by which we live requires thought.  We must orient to where we are in human history because without that orientation we cannot think what we are supposed to.  Disorientation leads to total disorientation to how are to live in this life.

6. Revelation of God’s Plan:

A dispensation is defined traditionally as a period of time during which a particular revelation of God’s mind and God’s will is operative, and during which person is tested as to his obedience to that specific manifestation of God’s will, purpose, and plan.  Your orientation to both time and to human history is vitally necessary for you to understand God’s plan and purpose for your life.  While there is a different plan for believers in each dispensation, there is only one way of salvation throughout human history; that is personal faith in Jesus Christ.  In all of human history, there is only one Savior, Jesus Christ, though He is revealed in different ways in different dispensations.

And there is salvation in no one else: for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

7. Dispensations Glorify God:

Why did God design human history in dispensations?  It is for the revelation of God’s Glory.  There are those who look at human history, its violence, hatred and conflicts and ask how God can be in any of this.  It is only through looking at history though His eyes that you can see and understand the final unfolding of God’s incredible greatness, grace and unlimited, unfathomable wonderful glory.  Glory, that, I might add, He has chosen to share with each one of us! Many principles, policies, and procedures that God establishes remain constant throughout history. But no careful student of the Bible can overlook certain changes that distinguish one epoch of biblical history from another. Why does God alter His administration of human history? He does so to reveal His unchanging glory, wisdom, and power under different conditions. From God’s eternal perspective the ultimate in this long and varied demonstration of His character is the relationship between Christ and the Church, in which the believer is in union with Christ.

…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  Ephesians 1:17-23 NASB

…so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 3:10 NASB

…to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:21 NASB

8. Dispensations are related to the Angelic Conflict:

Explanation for this multifaceted divine revelation which unfolds throughout human history lies in an ancient conflict; the satanic revolution against God: We have just noted, just briefly, in our partial study of the Angelic conflict that Satan rebelled against God.

“But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”  Isaiah 14:13-14 NASB

Satan has been tried and sentenced:

By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.  Ezekiel 28:16-18

Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41

Satan’s sentence, though not yet fulfilled is the subject of Revelation 20:10:

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10

Satan objected to God’s verdict then, and he continues to contend against God now. Any objection to perfect divine judgment slanders God’s character. However, in an incredible gracious action, God convened an appeal trial in which He would demonstrate His perfect character even while allowing Satan every opportunity to prove his own case.  The bottom line is this: God created the human race to resolve this ancient conflict. In human history, for our benefit and for the benefit of the angels, God magnificently answers every aspect of Satan’s objection in the prehistoric trial. At the same time, Satan attempts to prove himself equal to God, but he displays only arrogance, incompetence, and evil, which confirm his guilt.

The Book of Job and the narrative of Satan’s testing our Lord in the desert demonstrate how members of the human race, upon spiritual maturity, become witnesses of God’s perfect character to Satan and his fallen angels.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:1-4

Our purpose as believers is also to serve as witnesses to our God’s perfect integrity.

And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory… Romans 9:23

9. Biblical Dispensational Vocabulary:

We will look at four Greek words which are used in the Bible to describe the dispensational concept.  The first of these is the word, CHRONOS, (Strongs: 5550), which generally refers to a succession of events.  I say, generally, because the context within which a word is used really determines its meaning.  That is an important factor to remember whenever you look at word definitions and build concepts or doctrines around those definitions.  The second word is KAIROS, (Strongs: 2540), which refers to a segment of time.  Our Lord used both of these words while teaching His apostles.  Luke wrote in the Book of Acts:

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times [CHRONOS] or epochs [KAIROS] which the Father has fixed by His own authority…”  Acts 1:7

The word CHRONOS certainly has a dispensational connotation:

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times [CHRONOS] for the sake of you. 1 Peter 1:20

KAIROS also has dispensational connotations.  It refers also to an era, a system of chronology as well as to the organization of historical events into their dispensational categories.  Paul used this word in Romans 8:18 to refer specifically to the Church Age:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time [KAIROS] are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

In other passages, such as in Ephesians 2:12, this word refers to the age of Israel:

…remember that you were at that time [KAIROS] separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12 NASB

Another is the word, AION αἰών (Strong’s 165). It refers to an age of history, a period of extended time:

…that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages [AION] and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, Colossians 1:26

The most descriptive word for dispensations is OIKONOMIA οἰκονομία (Strong’s 3622). Both Xenophon and Plato used the term to refer to a household administration. Perhaps you need to have run a household to understand the full meaning of this concept. Each household has its culture, its own policies, priorities and way of doing things.  It involves how parents relate to each other as well as how children relate to their parents. In the New Testament, it describes a household management as well as to the administration of a business or estate.  Further, certain implications are present in its New Testament use.  It implies order rather than chaos, a distinctive plan instead of confusion, an arrangement in place of disarray. If you remember, possibly from high school studies, that the second law of entropy deals with this concept: that for order to come out of chaos, a great deal of energy must be expended.  This is no surprise, again, to those who live in a household with multiple little personalities and energy levels.  For this dispensation, God has provided a unique energy system or power for this age which He did not for other ages.  This power is the filling of God the Holy Spirit.  By means of His power in our thinking we are to bring doctrine and the power of the Spirit to bear upon the chaos of our human viewpoint thinking and have it changed to divine viewpoint, in order to glorify the Creator of the Universe! OIKONOMIA does not refer to a period of time necessarily; however, the King James Version writers translate OIKONOMIA as “dispensation” because it describes the divine administration of the human race during certain historical eras. There are a number of passages where it refers specifically to this Church Age, wherein God has set up unique policies and provisions for every believer:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration [OIKONOMIA] suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  Ephesians 1:7-10 NASB

10. Pauline Dispensational Teaching:

Even though Paul was not a believer during the first advent of our Lord, he became the only apostle to thoroughly understand the issue of dispensations.  This is not to say that the others didn’t because Jesus certainly taught them.  But their perception of dispensations was blurred by the fact that Israel was looking for a temporal Messiah who would release them from Roman domination, perhaps in the same manner that Moses removed the Children of Israel out from under Egyptian domination. Their discernment was clouded by the fact of all of this political turmoil, not the mention our Lord’s crucifixion.  Jesus, before He ascended, understanding their limited capacity for instruction at that time just told them that it was “not for [them] to know.”

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” Acts 1:7

Peter, late in his ministry, understanding his own deficit in the area of dispensations, pointed the way to Paul for accurate and complete instruction:

…our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things (dispensations: specifically the eschatological dispensations), in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 Peter 3:15-16 NASB

Paul always taught the doctrine of dispensations.  This doctrine is, as we have noted, integral to understanding where the Church Age believer stands in history and his relationship to the 2nd coming of our Lord.  He used a term, a concept that was very well understood in that era to teach the dispensations: It very clearly points to the existence of this unique dispensation.  That word is MUSTERION μυστήριον (Strong’s 3466), which is translated, transliterated, “mystery.”

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory. 1 Corinthians 2:6-7

For this reason, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles since you have heard about the dispensation of the grace of God [Church Age] which was given to me for your benefit, that through revelation, the mystery [unique Church Age doctrines] was made known to me, as I have already written briefly [in Romans 16:25-26 and Ephesians 1:9]. By reading this you ought to be able to understand my technical knowledge about the mystery of Christ [and other Church Age doctrines] which was not made known to other ages [dispensations prior to the Church Age] so that now [the new dispensation] it has been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets [apostles to the Church, who recorded the New Testament] by means of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 3:1-5 RBT

Of which I have become a minister on the basis of this dispensation from God, which has been given to me for your benefit, that I might implement your deficiency of the Word of God, that is, the mystery  [Church Age doctrine], which has been hidden from past ages and generations [dispensations], but now has been revealed to the saints [Church Age believers],’ to whom God has decreed to make known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles [differentiation of the Church from Israel] [mystery is] Christ in you [indwelling of Christ in every believer, unique to the Church Age],’ the hope of glory [believer’s confidence of fulfilling the plan of God for this dispensation].” Colossians 1:25-27 RBT

11. Biblical Documentation:

In this next section, we’re going to look at several passages in which Paul teaches the existence of the dispensations.  These passages specifically teach about the new dispensation, the Church Age, as being separate from the Age of Israel.  Most of the information in the section is also covered in R. B. Thieme’s book, “The Divine Outline of History.”  The expanded translations, indicated by brackets also are R. B. Thieme’s.  Each one of these passage are rich with doctrine.  My only intent here in looking at these is to document the fact of the dispensations, not to undertake a full study of each.  That will have to wait until we study the entire book from which these passages come.  I will simply present the passage and make a comment or two regarding its significance to dispensations.

From which riches of grace He has made us [Church Age believers] super-rich by means of all wisdom and application when He revealed to us the mystery of His will according to His gracious intention which He planned in Him [Jesus Christ], with reference to the dispensation of the fullness of times [Church Age] to gather under one Head [Jesus Christ] the entire royal family in Christ, those that are in heaven and those that are on earth in Him. Ephesians 1:8-10 RBT

Paul used the word, mystery, here, to indicate that what God had revealed to Church Age believers far superseded that which was given to prior dispensations.  This current dispensation is superior to past dispensations because it is called, “the fullness of times.”  In this age, God revealed a new power source for the application of new doctrines which pertain only to the Church Age.

For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you, the Gentiles — inasmuch as you have heard about the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for your benefit… Ephesians 3:1-2

Though a fantastic genius and having been given the best education those times had to offer, Paul could not have understood this dispensation on his own.  God had to reveal to him the “mystery” of the Church Age for him to be able to understand it.  This knowledge was given to him, as it is to us, through grace.  The study of dispensations will greatly benefit you, as a Church Age believer, by alleviated confusion.  Your knowledge about the dispensations will prevent you from trying to apply principles of other dispensations to the current one.

…that through revelation the mystery doctrine was made known to me, just as I have already written you briefly.  By reading this, you ought to be able to understand my technical knowledge about the mystery of Christ, Ephesians 3:3-4 RBT

This Church Age requires a greater technical understanding of Biblical concepts and the application of them to life.  This is the first time in history that every ordinary believer must learn to think in terms of doctrine, that is, divine thought.  You must learn to think technically, like the prophets or apostles of past eras did. You must reconstruct your entire mental attitude and thinking processes, basing them solely upon Bible doctrine.  To accomplish this, you have been given the filling of the Holy Spirit so that you can think in terms of doctrine.  You have been given the complete Canon of Scripture, the Word of God, so that you know what to think.  In order to think you must know the doctrine and be able to think in terms of its application.  You must think for yourself so you do not need others to think for you.

…which was not made known to mankind in other ages [dispensations], so that now it has been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by means of the Spirit. Ephesians 3:5, RBT

“Now” is the time!  Now is the greatest opportunity in history.  You have been given more tools and assets to succeed in God’s plan than ever before.  These tools and assets are invisible, only gained and understood by means of the mystery doctrine.  As you grow up spiritually, your progress and spiritual accomplishments will be invisible to others, but you will have an incredible impact in the invisible angelic conflict.  You will become an invisible hero benefiting your nation more than anyone who appeared in a history book!  So what Paul and the other apostles started communicating in the first century must now be the major issue in your life.  Whether you will have a significant life or not, whether you save this nation by your advance to spiritual maturity all depends on what you think, now!

To me, the very least of all the saints, this grace has been given to preach [teach] to the Gentiles the unfathomable wealth of Christ, and to make perspicuous to all what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been concealed from the ages in the God [Jesus Christ] who created all things. Ephesians 3:8-9, RBT

Paul is saying here that in this dispensation we have access to something past dispensations did not even know about: the wealth of Christ.  This wealth involves the fact that He is the one who created everything that has ever been created. This wealth is found in only one place: in Christ.

That is, the mystery which has been hidden from past dispensations and generations [within those dispensations], but now has been revealed to the saints [royal family of God]. Colossians 1:26 RBT

The mystery doctrines of the Church Age were never revealed in the Old Testament.  Those believers would have been distracted with envy at the incredible assets and tools you possess!  As a member of the royal family of God, you have greater privileges than have ever existed before because you have these mystery doctrines.    These doctrines comprise the greatest plan of all history.

To whom God has decreed to make known what is the wealth [riches] of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you [indwelling of Christ], the hope [confidence] of glory. Colossians 1:27 RBT

You actually have the greatest individual wealth ever given to any believer in any time of human history.  But, without understanding the mystery doctrine, you are wealthy without knowing it.  “The glory” is Jesus Christ Himself, who set up all precedence for this Church Age during His first advent: during His life on earth, he was supported and empowered by God the Holy Spirit, and He lived by doctrine. So, Paul named just one of the many aspects of your wealth: “Christ in you.”  Jesus Christ lives in you as the Shekinah Glory just as He lived in the Temple during a period during the Age of Israel!  Because He lives in you, Jesus Christ guarantees the existence of your escrow blessings.  Hope actually means confidence, unshakable confidence upon which you place your life and eternity!  Christ in you is your confidence of glory!  You have a glory that is found in immeasurable wealth; in these things God has provided for you your own portfolio of assets, herein, everything you need to glorify Him.

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Dispensations: Outline and Forward

Updated 6/2013

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Dispensations: The Divine Plan for Human History

A Teaching Manuscript by Pastor Jim Oliver
Presented to Teleios Bible Church
2004 – 2005 Study Incomplete
My thanks to RB Thieme Jr. who taught me the Dispensations.




Part I :Introduction

  Chapter 1: Points of Definition

    a. God’s Organization of Human History

    b. “Dispensation” is a Technical Theological Term

    c. Distinguishing Between Dispensations

    d. Dispensations Reveal God’s Plan

    e. Dispensations Glorify God

    f. Dispensations Spotlight our Lord

    g. Dispensations Relate to the Angelic Conflict

    h. Biblical Dispensational Vocabulary: Lesson 3

     i. Pauline Dispensational Teaching

     j. Biblical Documentation of the Dispensations

   Chapter 2:  Summary of the Dispensations: Lesson 4

  Chapter 3: The Divine Institutions Lesson 5

    a. Introduction

    b. Individual/Volition

    c. Marriage

    d. Family

    e. Nationalism

Part II / The Creation of the Human Race begins the Age of the Gentiles Lesson 6

  Chapter 1: The Era of Positive Volition

    a. Introduction

    b. Humans Did Not Evolve

    c. The Image of God Lesson 7

    d. Creation of the Woman & Marriage Lesson 8

  Chapter 2: Era of Negative Volition

    a. The Fall of the Human Race

      1) The Prohibition – Genesis 2:17
      2) The Deception Genesis 3:1-5
      3) The Sin and Immediate Consequences
      4) The Divine Interrogation
      5) The Punishments/ Promise of Salvation
        a) The Serpent is Cursed
        b) Prophecy of Satan’s Defeat and the Promise of Salvation
        c) The Woman is Cursed
        d) The Man is Cursed
      6) Isha Renamed Genesis 3:20
      7) Adam and Eve Believe – Genesis 3:21
      8) Expulsion from the Garden – Genesis 3:22

    b. Results of the Original Sin

      1) “Dying you shall die…”
      2) The Curse Punishments
      3) Loss of World Rulership
      4) Natural Consequences

    c. Anatomy of a Personal Sin: Cain & Abel Genesis 4:2-10

      1) Introduction
      2) The Brothers’ Sacrifices
      3) Cain’s Anger
      4) The Lord Intervenes
      5) Commentary: James 1:14-15
      6) Categories of Death
      7) Death Processes

Pertinent Passages

“For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you, the Gentiles — inasmuch as you have heard about the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for your benefit that through revelation the mystery doctrine was made known to me, just as I have already written you briefly.  By reading this, you ought to be able to understand my technical knowledge about the mystery of Christ which was not made known to mankind in other ages, so that now it has been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by means of the Spirit …” Ephesians 3:1-5 RBT


This study began as a short introductory study, designed to introduce the concept of the dispensations, then to outline them.  However, due to a request from a member of the congregation, I have undertaken to include more detail.  The study has turned into an exploration of the dispensations, emphasizing and detailing narratives which directly impact the spiritual life of the Church Age believer.  Paul wrote that the Old Testament holds many important lessons for Church Age believers.  It is these lessons that we are studying as we move through the dispensations.

I also want to acknowledge the fact that the information I am presenting to you in this study was given to me for your benefit from many sources.  My own pastor, RB Thieme, Jr. taught me much of what I know about the dispensation.  I also stand upon the shoulders of many spiritual teachers who I have tried to give credit due them in the course of this study.  Because I did not intend to write this information down, I have not given credit to many of those from whose studies I have benefited.

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Lesson 29 B. Cain and Abel/ The Anatomy of a Personal Sin/ Processes of Death

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

8.   Processes of Deaths

Now, let’s look at some of these categories of death from another viewpoint.  As we wrap up our study of sin, which leads to carnality or more commonly known as loss of fellowship with the Trinity, I want to personalize it.  We need to make sure that we can take this study from an academic study to one which is applicable.  I had originally prepared this study by simply listing the categories of death, 1-8, as an academic subject.  Academics are fine for other subjects, but when it comes to Bible doctrine, academic understanding of it will do you no good at all.  You must be able to take up every doctrine, internalize it, making it your own, as a part of the very fiber of your being.  A good way to do this, in addition to believing it while empowered by God the Holy Spirit, is to identify with it.  Take it off the shelf of academia and place yourself with in its various categories.  With that in mind, I reorganized the study, adding an addendum, a flow chart, a road map of a progression through life, or the process of getting to where you are going.  The term I want to emphasize is process though the various road maps of life.  To that end, I have put together some flow charts to illustrate the process of progression through your spiritual life.

When we get our eyes off of the end product of our labors, but on the process by which we get to where we are going through life, only then can we begin to understand that our progress is what is important.  Without that process and being able to identify where within that progression you are can you put yourself on the road you want to be on.

An artist friend and I used to get into fairly involved debates on progress versus end product or work of art.  As a result of those discussions I became more interested in the process of what I was doing instead of the finished work of art because without the process the end product would never be realized.  What I would become as an artist would never become realized. Growth is always a result of your exploration though process.  My photography began to take on new dimensions as I began to emphasize the process because then I was able to explore every aspect of the process.  My work began to take on a dynamic as I explored every aspect of light, from moving it, reflecting to coloring it.  Many photographers set up a flash and illuminate an object, poof, when the flash pops, the photo is taken! But, light can be delivered on to a piece of film in many different ways, giving many different effects.  Compare an old sitcom with a modern movie and you can see the result of this exploration on the part of cinematographers.  My photography became much more than just taking a picture to represent what was in front of me.  It became exploration of expression and interpretation of my subjects.  So should our spiritual lives be.

Indeed, we need to be cognizant and have in view our end goal of love for Christ, but on the way, we need to understand where within that process of coming to love Him we are.  We need to look at every aspect of every doctrine we come across and thoroughly understand how to apply every aspect of it.  There is no doctrine that we can afford to gloss over and not to explore thereby understanding its full application.  Think about the few doctrines that we’ve studied since the New Year: say, the doctrine of the local church.  If you are listening to these words and are not a part of a local body of the Royal Family, that is, a local church, from the study of that doctrine you should ask yourself if being a part of a local congregation is part of God’s plan and provision for you.  From the scriptures we studied, you shouldn’t have to pray about this but simply obey the mandate to gather yourself with a local congregation!  If you are a member of a local church, ask yourself if you are fulfilling the ministry of your spiritual gifting within that congregation?  Every doctrine or even part of a doctrine requires that you, the parishioner in the pew, give it careful thought in order to apply it to your life!  Or how about the importance of doctrine in your life: are you doing everything possible to gain momentum in your spiritual life that you can fulfill the tactical victory of the angelic conflict?

So getting back to the flow charts, I realized that my reorganization of the study of deaths took on the outline of the process with which we can place ourselves.  So without further ado, we start with the process of the unbeliever toward the lake of fire, then progress to the believer on his way to the eternal state, and finally the believer’s progress to sin.

Deaths: The Process

Deaths: The Process

The journey or road map for the unbeliever is pretty cut and dried.  Remember that this is the path that the unbeliever chooses for himself.  Every human being is given the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ.  Now, this diagram deals with two categories of death: physical death and the second death.  So we begin with an unbeliever who, though given ample opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ, rejects the Gospel.  It may be that this person has never been open to the Gospel, being steeped in arrogance and self-righteousness his entire life, never becoming humble enough to accept the authority of the Spirit with respect to common grace.  This person may have never have heard the Gospel because God isn’t responsible for Gospel communication to those who reject the entire concept of God. These people are said to be negative at the point of God-consciousness.  A person who is negative can develop humility through undergoing disaster or personal disaster.  But, the result of negative volition at either God-consciousness or Gospel hearing will take this path:

 …being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.  Ephesians 4:18

First, as the Scripture says, every unbeliever will die physically somehow. Upon physical death, the unbeliever’s body returns to the ground, while his soul goes into a compartment of Hades, known as Torments for temporary existence. A person’s soul, as we indicated earlier in this study, is immortal.  The question is where this soul will reside for eternity. At the end of human history, this soul will be resurrected:

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.  Daniel 12:2

After this resurrection, this soul will be judged, not for sins committed, for Jesus Christ has died as a substitute for every human being, paying the price for every sin committed.  The issue in this judgment will be righteousness.  Has this unbeliever accomplished the good works in his life to meet God’s perfect standard of ultimate righteousness?  Of course not!  The only way to acquire His righteousness is to be the grace beneficiary of it at the moment of salvation.  Because this unbeliever’s soul has not been imputed God’s righteousness, his name will have been blotted out of the Book of Life.  His destination is the eternal Lake of Fire.

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:46

Now, I know that this road map doesn’t apply to any of you, here.  But, if you are an unbeliever, you can take this as a road map to your eternity.  You are in the process of moving to the Lake of Fire.  Put yourself on map and make your own application.  Be aware that you don’t have to follow this road map because,

God loved the world so much that He gave His uniquely born Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16


 God demonstrated His very own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for us. Romans 5:8

Now, let’s assume that this unbeliever from the last road map was humble, either stemming from establishment orientation or from crisis, and heard the Gospel then, responded to it, believed in Christ and became a believer in Him.  For this chart’s purpose, we’ll assign that believer as the last person to believe at the end of the Church Age and was caught up in the Rapture or Exit Resurrection of the Church.  I don’t think that path applies to any of us, since we’re here growing in grace and the Church has not yet been resurrected.  We’ll catch up with this believer in a minute.  Now let’s go down a different path.  This one did become a believer earlier in the Church Age, but became distracted from the spiritual life.  Perhaps this one let emotion become the criteria for life and refused to learn doctrine, or rejected doctrine for whatever reason…perhaps too busy.  His path to physical death is characterized by the sin unto death or sin face to face with death.  This is one of those categories of death we spoke of last week:

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. Philippians 3:18-19

At the conclusion of that last punishment or discipline this believer receives, the believer will die physically.  He will, at last, understand the issue of the spiritual life. This believer will die with regrets of having failed to live his spiritual life.  If, however, this believer has maintained his humility, understanding the importance of his spiritual life, has made learning and applying doctrine the most important thing in his life, and built his life around it, this one will leave this life under dying grace and go though physical death in a blaze of glory, glorifying God to the maximum as he dies.  Now, both believers, the one who has died the sin unto death and the believer who has gone out in a blaze of glory will proceed into the interim state where they both will be face to face with our Lord

” …and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

This interim state will last until the church age terminates with her resurrection.  This is also where we pick up the believer who was resurrected at the end of the Church Age. He will join believers from the interim state in the sky where the entire royal family will bow before the Son, acknowledging and worshipping His incredible Person.  Then, while the earth is undergoing the doomsday dispensation or the Great Tribulation, all members of the Royal Family will appear before the BEMA Seat or Evaluation Seat of Christ.  At this point, what equality there was during the interim state will vanish.  All believers will be called to task regarding their use of the fantastic power God gave to them for their spiritual growth, for experiencing a personal, tactical victory in the angelic conflict.  If our believer died the sin unto death because he did not utilize the invisible assets God provided him, then what works he had accomplished will be considered to be wood, hay and stubble and will be burned up, losing the rewards and blessings God had placed into escrow for him.  What a pity, not to claim all of those rewards!  So he will arrive receive no rewards for the eternal state.

This one will enter into eternity with egg on his face, having suffering shame and embarrassment before the Lord.  This one will have no rewards and no eternal blessing but will live in a state of eternal contentment and happiness.  On the other hand, for that believer who has built his life around doctrine that one will be evaluated as having fulfilled God’s plan for his life. He will be rewarded, having been told by our Lord,

 ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21

The first believer, the one who failed to live his spiritual life will be in Heaven for eternity, eternally content.  But the believer who has fulfilled God’s plan will live eternally with the many rewards and blessings the Father placed into escrow for him.

Now, again, why bother with this flow chart?  I want to make sure that you see where you are in this chart.  Bring this doctrine off of the pages of your note-book and place yourself in it as the journey you have chosen for yourself.  Are you on the road to the golden eternal state or just the silver?  Are you on your way to taking possession of every escrow blessings God has prepared for you? It takes daily decisions to learn the Word and to apply each doctrine to its fullest to be able to hear Him say: “Well done good and faithful servant!”

The last flow chart I’ve prepared takes us back to James 1:14-15.  You should also take this doctrine from your page of notes and put yourself within the flow of the doctrine to asses yourself as to your tendency within the process of sin.  The questions you need to ask yourself with regard to this diagram is this: Where do I have a tendency to find myself in it?  Do I recognize temptation for what it s and resist it at that point?  Or do I carry many temptations to the point of conception before I get wise and resist committing the sin.  If you take it to the point of conception, you are courting danger.  At this point, you can also identify what categories of temptation you carry on to the point of conception and beyond.  Or do you habitually carry most of your temptations on to committing the sin? When you get to the point of sinning, do you do so frequently?  Or do you resist, knowing that you are on your way to carnal death?When you sin, just how high a priority do you place on your spiritual life?  Do you immediately recognize that you are out of fellowship, rebound and regain you spirituality.  Or are you out of fellowship for quite a while, wallowing in the cosmic system, having entered into the realm of cosmic death before you rebound?  These are very important questions you need to ask yourself in order to be able asses your place on the road map leading to sin or to continued spirituality.

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Dispensations Lesson 20/ Results of the First Sin

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

1.      Results of the First Sin

The ramifications of that one sin are absolutely incredible!  Thoroughly understanding the fall should answer many questions about our lives today.  In our next extended point we are going to categorically discuss the results of Adam’s sin.  Four general categories emerge from this study.  These are categorically related to, first, the phrase, “dying you shall die,” secondly, the curse punishments, thirdly, physical death, and fourthly, natural consequences. We’ll be looking at each of these categories, studying what effects each had on the human race, then the solution or solutions God enacted to resolve them.

a)      “Dying You Shall Die”

The first category deals with the warning God gave Adam concerning eating from the Tree of Knowledge.  He said, “Dying, you shall die,” which is recorded in Genesis 2:17.  Three things happened to Adam and his wife immediately upon eating from that tree.  First, they became separated from God because of spiritual death.  Secondly, they lost their trichotomy, becoming dichotomous.  And finally their day-to-day contract of the physical life which God had provided them ended with the eventuality of their physical death.  When they lived in the Garden, they did not have eternal life but a day by day contract with God for another day of life.  Their sin ended that contract.  It is interesting to note, that even though they were created perfect, possessed a perfect soul and a human spirit; they still did not possess eternal life.

                                                        i.            Separation from God:

As we discussed earlier in our study, “dying” refers to their eventual physical death and “you will die” refers to their immediate spiritual death.  Both Adam and Ishah first died spiritually, immediately upon the first sin.  We have discussed spiritual death at some length already in this study.  The first result of their spiritual death was separation from God. Spiritual death created a barrier of antagonism between every member of the human race and God.  The main point in our discussion was that separation from God means that all members of the human race are totally helpless to establish any kind of relationship with Him.God has had to do all the work, which He, incredibly graciously, has.  God has always provided everything we need to gain a relationship with Him despite our inherited spiritual death.  He graciously provided and offered the solution to our separation from Him, which was caused by spiritual death: The solution in every case is related to the various facets of our Lord’s work on the cross.  For separation from Him, God provided reconciliation, which is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross that removes the barrier between God and members of the human race.  By His work on the cross, by being judged for our sins, our Lord brought peace between God and the human race, removing the barrier of enmity.  This treaty of reconciliation, which our Lord as already accomplished, is ratified, on person by person basis, when anyone believes in the Person and Work of Christ.

Namely that God, by means of Christ, reconciled the world to Himself by not imputing their sins to them.  2 Corinthians 5:1

For if, while we were enemies [being spiritually dead], we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more now being reconciled, we shall be delivered by His life.  Colossians 1:20

And through Him [Jesus Christ] to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of the cross.  Romans 5:10

                                                      ii.            Dichotomy:

The second result of “dying you shall die” was dichotomy.  Again, we’ve discussed this issue in a fair amount of detail.  The main point in this issue is that Adam and Eve who were created trichotomous, having a body, soul and human spirit, lost their human spirit upon sinning and became dichotomous, having only a body and soul.  Every human being since is born having only a body and soul because spiritual death is propagated by the normal human propagation process.  We’ll discuss the propagation issue in a few minutes.  Now, the Word calls the dichotomous person “natural” or “soulish.”

But a natural or soulish man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14

The grace solution to dichotomy is regeneration, once again, provided by our Lord by His work on the cross. Regeneration is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation whereby He creates for every new believer a human spirit. At the moment of physical birth, we receive the imputation of human life to our soul.  But at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit creates a human spirit. Once we receive a human spirit, we become trichotomous having a body, a soul, and a human spirit. God designed the human spirit as the immaterial part of a person for the purpose of receiving, converting, storing, and utilizing spiritual phenomena, that is Bible Doctrine.  The human spirit receives spiritual information which the Holy Spirit converts into gnosis (knowledge). So, when anyone believes in Christ, the omnipotence of the Spirit restores the status quo of trichotomy, which was Adam’s status before the fall. Once we receive a human spirit, we become trichotomous having a body, a soul, and a human spirit. Actually, we as Church Age believers receive both the human spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit at the same time.  Both the human spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit are necessary for the function of grace perception.  That believers have human spirits is documented in two passages:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”  Philemon 25

The Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder between the soul and the spirit . . .   Hebrews 4:12

                                                    iii.            Physical Death:

The third aspect of “dying you shall die” is physical death, which is defined as separation of the soul from the body so that the person no longer lives on planet earth.  The soul, however, actually never dies, living forever. As per the Angelic Conflict, we as human beings are given two options while on this earth.  The first is to continue our lives in spiritual death which results in the transfer of our souls to Torments when our soul separates from our temporal body.  This was vividly portrayed, Hollywood style, in the film “Ghost” which portrayed a “bad” person’s soul being escorted down below the earth by some demonic looking apparitions.  Torments is the temporary abode of those who choose to die in a state of spiritual death.

The second choice involves a faith response to an accurate Gospel presentation which results in faith in Jesus Christ, then simultaneously receiving God’s solution to physical death.  You avoid going to Torments as your soul’s residence after physical death because God has imputed to eternal life to you.  Without a human spirit you do not qualify for this imputation.  This, again, is the result of our Lord’s work on the cross.  His work solved the problem of physical death. How?  At the moment of faith in Jesus Christ, God the Father imputes eternal life to your human spirit. If you’re going to live with God forever, you must have God’s life, which is eternal life.

As we noted in our study of sanctification, if you are a believer who is going to die in time prior to the resurrection of the Church, you are living in one of three categories of eternal life.  While living on this earth, you have two categories of life: earthly life and eternal life.  You, right now, have the mortality or earthly category of eternal life.  Mortality related to your physical body yet immortality of life related to your soul and human spirit. This stage of eternal life continues until your soul and spirit separate from your physical body.  At this point you will be promoted to the second category of eternal life: you are going to be living in Heaven, face to face with our Lord, awaiting your resurrection body.  My view is that we will have some sort of interim body, so we classify this as “Interim Eternal Life.”  Then at the time of the Church’s resurrection, you will be given a resurrection body at which point you be promoted to the immortality stage of eternal life.  If you are one of those believers alive at the time of the exit resurrection of the Church, the Rapture, then, of course, you will by-pass the interim stage and trade your physical body in for a resurrection body.  Each category of eternal life reveals a new aspect of God’s perfect integrity and plan!

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.  John 3:36

 …and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  John 10:28

At the moment you believe in Jesus Christ, God imputes eternal life to you which you will possess forever. No one ever earns it or deserves it. It is a matter of grace. The unbeliever has soul life, which is everlasting life, in the Lake of Fire forever. But spirit life is eternal, eternal life, living in the presence of God forever. Everlasting life is living in the lake of fire forever.  Note that often, in the Bible, the terms everlasting live and eternal life are used interchangeably.  In this study, everlasting life has a beginning, but no end.  Generally, human life is just that.  God creates your soul at your birth.  That life exists forever.  But when you believe in Jesus Christ, God imputes eternal life to you.  You are integrated into His life, which had no beginning and has no end.  Note that our life with God involves not only our soul but human spirit as well.

b)      The Curse Punishments

The second result of that first sin was the act of God toward the perpetrators: the curses upon the serpent, Ishah and Adam. We’ve talked about the serpent’s punishment: it crawls upon its belly and eats dirt.  Satan had his head crushed, indicating his defeat in the angelic conflict, by the work of our Lord on the cross.  We’ve also discussed Adam and Ishah’s curses in detail. Nature was cursed as well. Nature fell in order to fulfill Adam’s curse of human labor.  The cursing, however, is turned to blessing in every case.  Now, note something here: in contrast to the issue and resolution of spiritual death. Our Lord did not die as our substitute to resolve the issue of the curses.  The curses on the man and woman continue to this day, falling on both believer and unbeliever.  The curses continue as result of the original sin.  During the millennium, the human race continues to be perpetuated in the state of physical life and spiritual birth while economies continue as well, indicating some sort of human labor.  Whether or not the curses will be diminished then or removed in their effect is really a matter of speculation, although it would seem logical to assume so. The millennial rule of our Lord will bring in perfect environment but child-birth and human labor will continue as the angelic conflict plays out to its end.  The only difference in millennial child-birth and human labor is that it takes place in perfect environment!  As to the millennium resolving the issue of nature’s fall, the prophet Isaiah wrote:

…the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little boy will lead them.  Isaiah 11:6

c)      Loss of World Rulership

That fact that God had appointed given Adam and Ishah rulers of the world is delineated in two verses:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28

This rulership consisted of husbandry in the Garden, naming and care of the animals.  As we have already established, in every human relationship, one has to be in charge, so God gave Adam authority over his wife.  Note that Adam didn’t earn or deserve this authority, God gave it to him.  Nor did this authority require any training.  Adam just had to follow the system that God had already put into place.  As Creator, our Lord was the authority over the world and He delegated that authority to Adam.  Again, all Adam had to do was to follow the perfect plan that God had already put into place.  As long as Adam and his woman followed that system, everything would operate perfectly.  By the commission of sin, Adam rejected God’s perfect system, choosing instead Satan’s system of human good and evil.  He did this consciously by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  At that moment, Adam incorporated Satan’s cosmic system as his management system.

Have you ever worked for a corporation using one system of management, and then experienced a change in management systems?  That can give you professional whip-lash that can really disorient you.  A corporate owner becomes seduced by a management team that says, “Hey, we’ll double your profits if you will let us take over your company!”  Ok, fine! They involve the company into legal, but immoral accounting schemes that destroys its integrity, and then lay off half of the loyal staff who have built the company then over-work the rest of the staff and cut their benefits!  We’ve all seen that!  By his sin, Adam changed management systems.  He rejected God’s perfect system for Satan’s cheap substitute. What a disaster that was!

The fact that Satan is now the ruler of the world is clearly documented in the Scripture:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2

An expanded and interpretive translation of this passage may clarify it:

And you were [spiritually] dead in your trespasses and sin, in which [sphere of real spiritual death] you formerly walked [as an unbeliever] according to the lifestyle of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit [Satan] who is now operational working in the sons of disobedience.  Ephesians 2:2 RBT

Adam made a bad management decision, trading in God’s perfect system, in which he held the local (planetary) authority, of which Jesus Christ was really in charge, for Satan’s system of “good and evil” where instead of being in charge of things, he was made a slave to the system he allowed Satan to manage.  So, at the point of his original sin, Adam lost his rulership of planet earth to Satan, hence this world is referred to as cosmos diabolicus.

Even though Adam made this management decision, both he and his wife still had their volition intact, as per the Laws of Divine Establishment that we studied sometime ago.  One of the rules under which Satan operates in the angelic conflict is that human beings have to maintain their volition.  That, they had not given over to Satan.

When Adam sinned, he, as our Lord said he would, died spiritually. We studied “dying you will die.”  By being spiritually dead, he had destroyed his relationship with God.  God, because He is perfect, can do nothing less than to judge and condemn that which is imperfect.  This condemnation is really the bottom line in this point, but I’m going to expand on it a bit here!  So, Adam and his wife, who previously had an intimate relationship with our Lord entered into a state of total separation from God.  They were separated from God in a state of total helplessness; there was nothing he or his wife could do to regain that personal love relationship they shared with God.  That relationship, by the way, had fantastic dividends: a perfect system of administration by which Adam could rule the world, access to the Tree of Life, day by day life with perfect provision and environment (this was not eternal life, though), perfect bodies, perfect sex and daily bible doctrine classes taught by our Lord.  He gave all that up when he took the forbidden fruit from his wife.  Because he was no longer perfect, God could only judge and condemn him.  Satan depended upon that and was, I’m sure, convinced that at that point he had won the conflict.

But God, even after cursing Adam and his wife, came to them in the Garden, and offered the solution to their predicament.  They were helpless to do anything about their spiritual death, so He came to them when they had no way of going to Him.  He did the judging and then provided the solution for their and our spiritual death.  Adam demonstrated his spiritual death by hiding from our Lord when He came into the garden for their daily bible class.  Did God just decide that He could violate His perfect righteousness and seek out our original parents and restore that previous relationship with them on a whim?  How could He do this without violating His own integrity?  By dying as a substitute for our sins!  You see, God loved them so much that He sent his uniquely born Son so that who so ever believes on Him will not perish but have eternal life!  God demonstrated His very own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for us!  Man screws up yet God presents a solution that incredibly demonstrates His matchless and boundless grace!  Spiritual death, then, is defined as separation from God in a state of total helplessness with regard to any relationship with God. Because we, as human beings are born into this world as spiritually dead we are separated from God from birth, without any hope of having a relationship with Him.  The fallen angels are in a similar state, though we don’t refer to them as being spiritually dead.  Spiritual death can therefore be classified as judgment from God.

Now, as a result of spiritual death, Adam became dichotomous, having only a body and soul. How do we know that dichotomy resulted from spiritual death?  Because regeneration resolves that issue!  Both he and his wife lost their human spirit, by means of which they had discerned spiritual phenomena, when they sinned.  Real spiritual death means loss of that so important human spirit, by which members of the human race have fellowship with God.  Again, how do we know this?  Paul calls unbelievers dichotomous or soulish.  The Greek word used is PSUCHIKOS which describes the human being who has no human spirit.  Human beings are born with only a body and human soul, but gain a human spirit at the moment of salvation.

But a natural or soulish man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14

Compare this passage with:

Jude 19, “These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”

So the unbelieving person is dichotomous, possessing only a soul and a spirit.  That soul, which God creates is immortal and will never cease to exist.  It will suffer eternal death in the lake of fire or go the Heaven to be face to face with our Lord. In practical terms, dichotomy means that we cannot comprehend any divine thought with the exception of those things categorized as general revelation.  Establishment principles fall under that category.  As dichotomous, we can’t even understand the gospel.  We can’t understand any divine phenomenon at all.  So there goes any hope of salvation for it is the Word comprehended in the soul of the human being which is the power of God for salvation.  We’ve discussed this in a fair amount of detail in our study of grace comprehension in our Faith Rest Drill study. So, because of dichotomy, we don’t have the ability, without the Spirit’s ministry, even to understand even the simplest divine thought.

Now the next direct result of spiritual death is God’s solution to spiritual death.  He solved the problem of spiritual death!  This was God’s ace, His trump in the angelic conflict which I’m sure, Satan did not, could not foresee!  Our Lord Jesus Christ agreed to go to the cross and provide salvation for the entire human race by dying as a substitute for every human being.  Now understand this: redemption only solves the problem of spiritual death, not of the curses.  We still live under the auspices of those curses, though God has turned those curses into incredible blessings in both cases!  Redemption does not solve the loss of world leadership.  We still, even as believers, live in the devil’s world.  Redemption does not solve the problem of natural consequences which resulted from the first sin, that of the old sin nature! Our Lord’s birth, that is the incarnation, His first Advent as the Hypostatic Union, only solved the problem of spiritual death.  To do this our Lord Jesus Christ entered the world as true humanity and undiminished Deity at the First Advent to provide the solution to spiritual death through His efficacious substitutionary spiritual death, His saving work on the cross.

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Lesson 28 B. Cain and Abel/ Anatomy of a Sin/ 7. Categories of Death

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

    7.  Categories of Death

                     a)      Spiritual Death

The first category of death is spiritual.  There are actually two categories of spiritual death. The first, real spiritual death, was what God used to penalize Adam and Ishah for eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  That penalty resulted in the existence of the old sin nature which is passed down through the father of every human being.  We’ve studied this is quite a bit of detail just recently.  Romans 5:12 talks about this:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death [spiritual death] through that sin, so [spiritual] death spread to all men because all sinned [when Adam sinned].   Romans 5:12 RBT

Real spiritual death originated with the first sin of humans in the Garden.  We know, also from past studies, that we don’t die spiritually upon committing a sin.  God redeems us from our spiritual death the moment we believe in Christ.  He even gives us 39 other things in the redemption process which seals us and never takes them away from us, no matter how badly we screw up.  We are eternally saved!  So we don’t lose our salvation when we are tempted, conceive then commit a sin.  Our Lord redeemed us from real spiritual death by the next category of spiritual death; His unique substitutionary spiritual death.  We’ve also spent a good deal of time on this as well, in our last Easter special.  His spiritual death consisted of being separated from God in a state of perfection (our spiritual death is characterized by separation from God in a state of corruption.) and bearing both the imputation and judgment for every sin ever committed in human history.  Paul wrote to the Romans that:

God demonstrated His very own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners (spiritually dead), Christ died as substitute for us. Romans 5:8

Now, there is no way we die a substitutionary spiritual death when we go through those steps to sin!  What a contradiction that would be!  So James is not referring to either category of spiritual death here.

                     b)      Positional Death

This category of death is quite complex.  We studied this is some detail in our Faith Rest or Building Your Faith Series.  We enter into this category of death the moment we believe in Jesus Christ by being identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.  The Apostle Paul taught this to the Romans.

Therefore, what are we to continue?  Are we to continue under [the authority of] the sin nature that grace might increase?  Emphatically not!  We who have died to the sin nature, how shall we still live in it?  Or are you ignorant that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His [spiritual] death?  Therefore, we have been buried together with Him through baptism into His death, that as Christ has been raised up from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.  So if we have become intimately united in the likeness of His death, not only this but also we shall be intimately united in the likeness of His resurrection. Romans 6:1-5

In the previous chapter, Paul taught about the incredible grace God has brought to bear on us through our Lord’s work on the cross to solve the sin problem.  Indeed, according to a fortiori, the most difficult thing God did was to send His Son to die upon the Cross.  In this passage, Paul is heading off a misapplication of that truth.  There are those who allege that the best way to bring grace our way is to keep on sinning!  His response to this?  Emphatically not!  Just as Christ rejected human good and evil at the cross, so we are to reject the authority of our old sin nature over us which results in sin as well as human good and evil.  So, positional death, also called retroactive positional truth, is our identification with Christ in His substitutionary spiritual death.  Therefore, we must avoid them by residence in the Spirit’s sphere of power.  So, this category of death doesn’t fit either!  As believers we are all, from the moment of salvation, in status quo positional death, being in union with Christ in His death.  This position becomes experiential as we gain spiritual momentum, living in God’s power system instead of living under the authority of our sin nature.

                   c)      Production Mortality or Dead Works

Dead works are everything you do apart from God’s operational power in your life.  We’ve discussed at length the importance of being filled, and therefore, empowered by God the Holy Spirit through the confession of sin or the rebound technique.  This is one more reason.  Everything you do while you are empowered by the Spirit is rewardable spiritual production.  Everything you do apart from this power is dead works.  You are wasting your time if you are not spiritual!  Listen to Hebrews 6:1:

 Therefore, graduating from the elementary teachings about Christ, let us advance to maturity, not laying again the foundation of a change of mind about dead works and faith toward God. Hebrew 6:1

Human good falls under the category of dead works.  Anytime you are not spiritual, you are operating in the cosmic system, under Satan’s thought pattern.  This is dead works, which is actually punishable because of your carnality and worldly function.  Just how much discipline depends upon your extent of cosmic or worldly involvement.  Are you consistently carnal? Have you graduated from the arrogance to the antagonism and hatred complex? Human morality is also dead works unless you are being moral and spiritual at the same time!  I’m not castigating morality here, we should all be moral, but be spiritually moral, otherwise, it becomes an arrogance trap!   Legalism and relative characterize morality without spirituality.

This brings up the subject of Christian service.  We are mandated to produce certain categories of service.  But, like morality, it can become a trap of arrogance unless you are spiritual!  So the bottom line issue here: Do everything in a status of spirituality!  What happens to these dead works?  God rewards bona fide production but dead works and production are all burned at the Evaluation Seat of Christ.

 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10

These deeds in the body are those things you do while on earth.  What separates good from bad deeds is your status while you are doing them, not what you are doing!  No matter what you are doing; pushing a pencil, witnessing, painting a wall, baking a loaf of bread, teaching a congregation, you are going to be rewarded for these things in eternity if you were spiritual when you were doing them!  Another passage deals with this:

 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Gold, silver and precious stones are those things you did while spiritual, that is, filled and therefore empowered by the Holy Spirit.  These things will last. However, wood hay and stubble symbolize those thing which were accomplished in the energy of the flesh.  These things are not rewardable, yet the person doing them will not lose his salvation!

                       d)     Sexual Death

The next category which James may have been speaking about is sexual death.  Let’s first define it:  If a man is sexually dead then he can’t have sex or take part in the process of conception.  In a woman, it refers to having a barren womb.  She can’t have babies for reasons which can be medically diagnosed.  Biblically this category of death is only used of Abraham and Sarah.  It was the result of their old age.  God, of course, restored their sexual vitality as a part of His promise to them.

 (as it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Romans 4:17-21

God restored Abraham’s sexual ability when he became a mature believer.  Now, not only did Abraham’s faith become complete, but so did his wife’s.  As a result of her spiritual maturity, God changed her name from Sarai, which means contentious, to Sarah, meaning princess.

 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of Heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.” Hebrews 11:11-12

Whereas, the Bible only mentions this twice with regard to one couple, today, it is the subject of thousands, if not millions of emails! The side effects of the drug people use to counter act modern sexual death are myriad: loss of sexual desire and sometimes even death!  Sexual death can be brought because of medical maladies as well as fornication and adultery.

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