April 8, 2010

Ephesians 3:2-6 The Dispensation of Grace

"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men..."- Titus 2:11

Let's set the stage with a passage of scripture:

Ephesians 3:2-6 (NKJV) 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

Now for a definition of the highlighted word, dispensation:

Main Entry: dis·pen·sa·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌdis-pən-ˈsā-shən, -ˌpen-\Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 a : a general state or ordering of things; specifically : a system of revealed commands and promises regulating human affairs b : a particular arrangement or provision especially of providence or nature
2 a : an exemption from a law or from an impediment, vow, or oath b : a formal authorization
3 a : the act of dispensing b : something dispensed or distributed

Ephesians 3:2-6 (Amplified) 2Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace (His unmerited favor) that was entrusted to me [to dispense to you] for your benefit,
3[And] that the mystery (secret) was made known to me and I was allowed to comprehend it by direct revelation, as I already briefly wrote you.
4When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.
5[This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles (consecrated messengers) and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit.
6[It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel).

The Age of innocence: Man created by God in the garden ,male and female , he created, pure, undefiled, free from sin and guiltiness
The Age of conscience: Knowledge of Good and Evil 
The age of the Law/Old Testament ( covenant): God's word that governed Israel [619 laws of ceremonial morality]
The Age of Grace/New Testament ( covenant): Free gift of salvation to all who believe

Each age or dispensation had a distinct method of atonement (process to restore or oneness , harmony, with our creator)
  1. The first humans being free from sin did not need saving; this was the age of innocence
  2. When they began dying, after they sinned, the age of consciousness was ushered in.
    • blood  & sacifice was immediately introduced for covering and payment ( Gen. 3:21)
  3. The dispensation of the Law required precise ceremonial methods for atonement
    • unblemished animal blood sacrifice
    • distinct priestly rituals punishable by death if taken lightly
      • washing at the bronze laver before entering (exodus 40:30, 2 chronicles 4:6)
      • blood applied to the body for consecration ( exodus 29:20)
      • annointed by oil- drenched from head to toe(Psalm 133:2)
  4. The dispensation of Grace was under the new testament, ushered in after Christ's death ,burial, and resurrection: Hebrews 9:16-19 16 In the case of a will,[a] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimedevery command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people.
    • while christ was on the cross the law was still in effect as he had not yet died, so the method of atonement under  the dispensation of grace (Acts 2:38) was not yet in effect. The man on the cross could be granted salvation by Jesus himself under the law, for the blood of the sacrificial lamb, Christ himself, was being spilled  that very moment, as he spoke. Yet, Christ still had not died, been buried, or ressurected( which is the Gospel that men must believe unto salvation).
    • Under grace the requirements remain the same
      • blood
      • water
      • annointing
    • the application of atonement changed to make it available to all who believe, but the process had not changed. No more animal sacrifices, no more salvation to the rich only--
      • Jesus was the lamb who shed his blood
      • blood provides the remission of sins ( Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 9:22); Peter says baptism in the name of the lamb who died, Jesus Christ, is for remission of sins ( Acts 2:38). So the blood, is the cleansing agent that is applied to the old man by water baptism in Jesus Christ's name
      • the annointing is the indwelling spirit of the holyghost- the Spirit  Baptism  ( John 3:5)which drenches the believer
It was after Jesus died and buried and was resurrected that he instructed his disciples  what he did in Matthew 28:19-20, and Mark 16:15-16

 Points to Remember:
Grace offers salvation to all men ( titus 2:11) We are saved by Grace, through Faith (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:8) Faith helps us to respond to God (Hebrews 11:6) Baptism is the believer's reponse  or answer to Grace's offer , after repentance(1 Peter 3:21). Spirit Baptism is God's response to the believer- dwelling in our mortal bodies ( Acts 10:44-48).
Gace is still offering. God has already paid the blood price, and has already supplied a measure of faith to every man. So how will you respond?
2 Corinthians 4:2-5 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

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