And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Invites you to
April 1st at 9:30 and 10:30 AM; 6:00 PM
Hear these gospel lessons:
Bring your Bible and join us in learning God’s word and will for our lives!
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
The word translated “dispensation” in our English Bibles (oikinomia) means the management of a stewardship (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, #3622, BDAG, 697). Vine’s Dictionary says the word oikinomia “primarily signifies ‘the management of a household or of household affairs’ (oikos, ‘a house,’ nomos, ‘a law’); then the management or administration of the property of others, and so ‘a stewardship,’ Luke 16:2–4” (Vine, II:174). So, a dispensation is a stewardship, the management and dispensing of the goods of the householder.
Dispensation is frequently (yet incorrectly) used to mean an age or a period time. W. E. Vine notes: “A ‘dispensation’ is not a period or epoch (a common, but erroneous, use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement or administration of affairs” (Ibid). As brother Raymond Harris observed, “The words dispensation and age have very different meanings” (“The Patriarchal Age,” Truth Magazine, XLVIII:11:1, June 3, 2004). Let us be careful not to confuse the two (1 Pet. 4:11).
Paul had a dispensation or stewardship given to him, namely his work of preaching (and thus dispensing the blessings of) the gospel (1 Cor. 9:17, 16-18). He amplified the nature of this dispensation in Ephesians 3:1-2: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you…” Paul’s charge as a “chosen vessel” of Christ (an apostle) was t0 preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 26:17-20). The apostolic gospel is how God dispenses His grace to the lost (Acts 22:14-15). Any attempt to separate God’s grace from the new covenant that came through the apostles is false, futile and doomed to fail (Gal. 1:6-9).
In Ephesians 3:3-7, Paul explained the dispensation of the grace of God he had been given. Since we require God’s grace to be saved, it is essential that we understand how God dispenses His grace. Christians are the beneficiaries of this dispensation (Eph. 2:5, 8-9).
The dispensation of the grace of God was given by God to the apostles through divine revelation: “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery” (Eph. 3:3). The gospel they preached provides grace and is from God, not men (Gal. 1:11-12). Any message that fails to conform to God’s revelation given them, is not the gospel they preached (Gal. 1:6-7).
The dispensation of the grace of God involved apostolic preaching (1 Cor. 2:10-13; Heb. 2:3-4). From Pentecost, when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, the apostles spoke “all the words of this life” (Acts 2:1-4, 14, 22, 40; 5:20).
The dispensation of the grace of God preserved the inspired writings of the apostles: “as I have briefly written already” (Eph. 3:3). The writings of Paul in Ephesians 1 and 2, along with the writings of Christ’s apostles and prophets, are the word of God and constitute “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Without their inspired writings, God’s grace would not be available today.
The benefit of dispensing the grace of God through a written revelation (inspired Scripture) is explained: “by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). The Scriptures are to be read, understood and followed for our growth “in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:16-18). Only by the Scriptures do we learn of God’s grace that saves sinners. Only by the Scriptures are we instructed by God’s grace in holy living (Titus 2:11-15). Only by knowing the Scriptures do we understand the apostles’ knowledge in the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:4).
The dispensation of the grace of God explains the mystery of Christ (Eph. 3:5-6). The “mystery of Christ” is God’s plan to redeem sinners according to “His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph. 3:5-6). More to Paul’s point, it contains God’s plan to save Gentiles by the grace that is in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10-11; 3:5-6; Rom. 1:15-17).
As ministers of the gospel, the apostles fulfilled their dispensation of the grace of God. Their dispensation was to preach the gospel of God’s grace (Eph. 3:8; Acts 20:24). Through their gospel, the powerful work of God saves the lost (Eph. 3:6-7; Rom. 1:16-17).
And so, the apostles were given the dispensation of the grace of God to preach the gospel to the world (Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8). Their stewardship, to reveal the mystery of Christ to the world, has been fulfilled (Col. 1:25). Through the gospel, the apostles faithfully administered the distribution of God’s grace to the world. In this gospel age, the dispensation of God’s grace is provided through their teachings, the New Testament. As we believe and follow the apostles’ teachings, we receive Christ, and stand in the grace of God (Jno. 13:20; Rom. 5:1-2).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:31-38
cross was rugged, raw, rough, 1 Pet. 2:24.
I. CRUELTY AT THE CROSS.
Crucifixion was Execution by Torture.
II. CONFRONTATION AT THE CROSS.
Must Confront Jesus at the Cross, Jno. 19:21-22; Matt. 27:54. Who was Jesus?
III. CONVERSION AT THE CROSS.
Thief, Matt. 27:38-44; Lk. 23:39-43.
1. God in
Christ defeated sin at cross, Rev. 5:8-9.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
What's in a Name?
Neutral naming is in vogue, especially among millennial parents. “Unisex names for babies are on the rise among parents more willing than ever to embrace the possibility of gender fluidity in their children and attempt to head off sexism on their behalf” (“What’s in a name: Gender-neutral baby names are on the rise,” LeAnne Italie, AP). “This generation is truly interested in gender neutral names,” said Linda Murray, global editor-in-chief of BabyCenter.com. An increasing number of parents, like San Antonio psychologist Lori Kinkler, are choosing gender-neutral names for their babies. “We chose a gender-neutral name, Riley, for my daughter,” she said. “We knew her sex, but gender is fluid and yet to be determined. Of all the difficulties faced by those who live beyond, or across, the binary, we didn’t want name-changing to be one of them. ... I like that she feels she has options and knows she’ll be accepted by us no matter what.” Riley is 3.” “We wanted to set up Avery with an opportunity to not be limited as much as possible by a name and be able to choose an identity as much as possible, given the confines that are forced upon them,” said Alicandro, a 31-year-old social worker.” (Ibid)
Gender is biological, not psychological. From the day God created man and woman, gender has been defined biologically, not emotionally (Gen. 1:27). Genetics establish gender, not the guesswork of self-discovery. Gender is fixed, not fluid – no matter how or what one thinks and feels.
Gender does not confine. Gender identity is part of how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa. 139:13-14). Males and females have different, yet each are vital (Gen. 2:18-24; 1 Cor. 11:11-12). Transgenderism displays a longing for self-worth and self-acceptance by those who do not know their value before God. Each person is immortal, precious and defined by far more than gender (Matt. 16:26).
Names are important. Identity is in a name. The name of Christ’s church is important (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16). The church is not named for a person (Lutheran), its government (Presbyterian) or its doctrine (Baptist). The church of Christ belongs to Christ, and its name identifies that relationship.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/25/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA