Contend Earnestly: My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

I grew up in the SBC, and therefore, have always believed in what is called dispensationalism. I will admit though, I believe it more on the basis of what was told to me, instead of true study of the facts found in the Bible. My journey from semi Arminianism to Calvinism started about 6 years ago, so I am seeing the same things happen within this transformation as well. I am right in the middle of this, so I cannot say I am fully amillennial and covenantal, but that is probably just a matter of time now. I first started looking into this as I noticed that all those that I respected to teach me about the truth of Scripture was in one way or another amillennial and covenantal. Not only that, but I had a couple of buddies in Josh Follansbee and David Ponter who kept hammering away at me and then David Drake entered the fray as well to challenge me. David challenged me in saying, "Dispensationalists make Israel and charts and maps the hero of the book of Revelation, instead of Christ being the center and the hero." This hit me hard. Not only that but what was funny is that Josh actually predicted about 4 years ago that if I truly loved Scripture, I would naturally change my views. What did these guys all have in common with me? They all were in some sort dispensationalists as well before making the switch to the historical team of the total Reformed.

One of the first things that caught me off guard, and one that made me start to think was when Josh told me that the Bible records Israel as taking the land promised to them through Abraham from God. The prophecies concerning national Israel were always a big deal for me in why there was dispensations and why there was a literal 1000 year reign of Christ. Some things really started to ramp up when some reading started to happen. These were:

1. A Reading of the Bible (I started a Bible Reading plan that showed me some of the fulfillments that had literally happened for Israel)

2. Reading The Returning King by Vern Poythress which was recommended to me by David Drake

3. Reading A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger which was recommended by Josh Follansbee

4. Reading Biblical Studies in Final Things by William E. Cox which was recommended by David Ponter and was the clincher.

In this post, I want to simply put forth those things that have been literally fulfilled for national Israel that dispensationalists still hold out hope for in the 1000 year reign of Christ. Here are those things that have actually already been fulfilled and are over and done with:

1. The land promise to Abraham pertaining to the land of Palestine have already been literally fulfilled through Joshua. Look specifically to Joshua 11:23 and 21:43

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.
Joshua 11:23

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it.
Joshua 21:43

a. The proofs that Israel became a great nation, are too numerous and well known are well documented and one doesn't need simple biblical proof to see this fact

b. The promise that the descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky has been fulfilled when seeing Nehemiah 9:23:

You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, And You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.

c. The promise to Abraham that the Messiah would include all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12:3) was fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ and the book of Acts

2. After the return from the bondage in Egypt other prophecies concerning the nation of Israel included returning to the land, rebuilding the temple and the reinstitution of sacrifices (this is where dispensationalists become close, if not full, heretics). This has already been fulfilled both historically and biblically. The temple was literally rebuilt in 516 B.C. and so the sacrificial system was also back in place. One need only read such books as Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zachariah to find that there is no need for such prophecies to be for the End Times. Remember that all the prophecies concerning the return to the land, the temple being rebuilt and the sacrificial system being reinstated were all made before 516 B.C. Since this time of fulfillment in 516 B.C. there have been no further mention of these prophecies, including Malachi and the New Testament.

3. Since the above mentioned have been fulfilled, all other prophecies were to include the New Covenant of believers which would include Gentiles into God's people and therefore all further unfulfilled prophecies, such as the second Advent, the judgment seat, which includes the Day of the Lord, will include all believers in the Lord Jesus, not merely national Israel. This is known as the New Covenant that was prophecied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31 and will be carried out by those who believe, the church. Both Jews and Gentiles without distinction.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
John 10:16

For these reasons, I have departed dispensationalism and have been doing much study to find what I honestly believe. This has put the right focus back in my study, which is off Israel and back to the true Israel, which is Christ. He should always be our focus and our hero in all of the Bible. When we start to cloud him with other issues, we start to fall into idolatry.


Douglas Kofi Adu-Boahen said...

I quite remember moving from a dispensational stance to a more covenantal approach. Loads of tradition to wade through, but we got there in the end. Very excited to read this :)

Arthur Sido said...

Good thoughts Seth. I didn't grow up in the church and therefore I have never really understood the appeal of dispensationalism. It certainly is a distraction in the church from our focus on Christ.

Anonymous said...

"EDWARD IRVING IS UNNERVING" proves with quotes that Darby should never have been credited with the pretrib rapture concept. I ran into it while reading the Nov. 12th installment of "Our Daily Bread" owned by media luminary Joe Ortiz. Any reactions?

Jacob A. Allee said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I am in the process of trying to understand eschatology better for myself. I am definitely uncomfortable with some of the major tenets of dispensationalism, but I am not sure I am convinced of an amillennial position either. I have had growing interest in Historic premillennialism as of late. I'm not sure if I'll end up there, but it has grabbed my attention.

Joshua Parker said...

Great thoughts. I will be interested in where you finally end up (post or amill).

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