by Jerry Shugart
III. The Beginning of the "Dispensation of Grace"
In an effort to attempt to prove that the "dispensation of grace" could not have had its beginning at any time after the Day of Pentecost Dr. Ryrie poses the following question:
"In this book a dispensation has been defined as a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God's purpose. In relation to ultradispensationalism the definition raises this most pertinent question: Is something distinguishably different being done since Paul came on the scene that was not being done from Pentecost to the time of Paul? [emphasis added] (Ibid.,p.201).
The answer is "yes." Paul began to exercise the dispensational responsibility given to him by the Lord to preach the "gospel of grace." Here are three different quotes from the pen of Paul, and in each instance he refers to a "dispensation" that has been "given" or "committed" to him:
"If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me toward you " (Eph.3:2).
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God " (Col.1:25).
"...a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me " (1Cor.9:17).
The "dispensation" which was committed to Paul is in regard to "God's grace",a "ministry",and a "gospel."
Roy L. Aldrich quotes these three verses and then says, "These passages use the word 'dispensation' (or 'stewardship') to describe the sacred commission or trust to preach the gospel" (Aldrich, "A New Look at Dispensationalism," Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March, 1963, Vol.120, Number 477, p.43).
Here Paul sums up the dispensational responsibility that was given to him by the Lord:
"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts20:24).
Paul says that the "dispensation of the grace of God" was given to him. He received the ministry to testify the "gospel of grace" from the Lord Jesus. From this we can understand that the Lord set up a new dispensational arrangement between Himself and men, and in this new arrangement the responsibility of man is to preach the "gospel of grace."
It is the "gospel of grace" that Paul took to the whole world:
"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col.1:5-6).
This is the same "gospel" whereby sinners are begotten of God. Paul also told Christians to "follow him" in preaching this gospel:
"For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me" (1 Cor.4:15-16).