I think it’s pretty clear that I am not a fan of Dispensationalism. I simply cannot arrive at ‘Dispensational’ conclusions when I read Scripture. That said, there are many things I appreciate about Dispensationalism. Here’s a list…
- Literal approach to Scripture.
- Emphasis on the Inspiration of Scripture.
- Godly lives of many Dispensationalists (produced by view of the imminence of Christ’s return).
- Mission-mindedness (produced by view of the imminence of Christ’s return).
- Distinction between Law and Gospel.
But probably the one point of Dispensationalism that I am most thankful for is the system’s approach to the Gospel of ‘grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone’ that saves. And let me be unequivocalwhen I say this, most Dispensationalists believe and preach the true Gospel. All of the Dispensationalists that I know have always believed right about Forgiveness of sins, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. They have all believed that Christ’s work on the cross was God’s way of saving all who come to Him in faith and repentance.
Perhaps that’s why I get worked up when I read that a church feels the need to bar Dispensationalists from membership. Or why another church feels to need to bar Covenant Theology guys from membership. Or why both of those churches feels the need to bar New Covenant guys from membership. These are matters of difference, yes, but which of them has rejected the Gospel? Did MacArthur ever preach ‘another’ Gospel? Did Sproul ever preach ‘another’ Gospel? How about John Reisinger? None of these men ever preached a Gospel that the other would condemn as ‘not the gospel’. To be sure there are other things that would keep these men from being members in the same church. MacArthur and Reisinger believe in believer’s baptism by immersion while Sproul does not.
But now take me and my fellow Elders at our church for example. I lean more towards the New Covenant understanding of Scripture while another leans more towards a Dispensational understanding. Another can’t really even be pinpointed to that degree. But here is where we agree, the Bible is God’s Word, it should be preached as He inspired it, and we should take each word seriously. So in the end our messages sound a lot alike in the sense that we are studying and preaching the same Bible. And as long as we keep this expositional method of preaching we will become closer and closer in our understanding of Scripture.
Unity does not exist in conformity to one another’s particular views in this regard. Unity exists in our conformity to Scripture as the Holy Spirit uses Scripture to mold us into the image of God’s Son. Unity does not exist in our particular understandings of the Second Coming of Christ. Unity exists in our belief that Scripture says that Christ is returning, that He will resurrect the dead, and that believer’s will have glorified bodies while unbeliever’s will be punished for their sins. Unity does not exist in our views on Law, but in the Gospel of Christ.
If Jesus does not exclude Dispensationalists, or Covenantalists, or New Covenantalists from the Body of Christ, then neither should we exclude them from our local extension of the Body of Christ. To do so is to divide the Body of Christ and to fall under the condemnation of Christ as His Word is revealed to us in Scripture through Paul when he says,
“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:9-11
And this will blow your mind…You don’t even have to be a Calvinist to join our church (although you will get it preached to you whenever it comes up in Scripture). Calvinists and Noncalvinists can worship God together in harmony. And each will be united in the same way we all are, through the Gospel and the ministry of the Word.
So who can’t join our church? Unbelievers because we believe in regenerate church membership, the unbaptized because we believe immersion upon profession of faith is prerequisite to church membership, the unorthodox because we believe the Trinity matters, and the ungodly because we believe that all true Christians will be sanctified.