by Jerry Shugart
As already demonstrated, the term "dispensation of grace" refers to the stewardship given to Paul by the Lord to preach the "gospel of grace". In the first chapter of the epistle to the churches in Galatia Paul speaks of the gospel and he says that he received that gospel from the Lord Jesus for the express purpose to preach it among the Gentiles:
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ...But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen" (Gal.1:11-12; 15-16).
We can understand that the gospel of which Paul is speaking is strictly for the Gentiles by his remarks later in the same epistle:
"And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain" (Gal.2:2).
If there were only "one" gospel then there would be absolutely no reason for Paul to specify that the gospel that he was speaking of is the one "which I preach among the Gentiles." Paul would not qualify the gospel of which he spoke as "that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles" if there was only one gospel.
If the gospel he preached among the Gentiles was the same gospel which he preached among the Jews then why would he need to go to Jerusalem in order to see if that gospel was compatible with the gospel which he had preached earlier in the company of some of the Apostles (Acts 9:27-29)? Of course there would be no reason for him to do that if the gospel which he earlier preached with other apostles was the same one that he was preaching to the Gentiles.
In The Bible Knowledge Commentary written by the Dallas Seminary faculty we read Donald K. Campbell say that "there was one gospel" but then he turns around and says:
"Paul seized this oppurtunity to consult with the other apostles 'privately' connerning the message he was preaching to the Gentiles. This does not mean that Paul sought their approval of its truth and accuracy, for he had received the gospel from God by revelation. Rather, he wanted them to consider its relationship to the gospel they were proclaiming" (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament, pp.593-594).
If the gospel which Paul "preached among the Gentiles" was the same one that the other Apostles were preaching then why would Paul want those Apostles "to consider its relationship to the gospel they were proclaiming"? That would make no sense.
Confusion From the Beginning
We can see that from the beginning of the dispensational movement in the United States there was confusion in regard to the beginning of the "dispensation of grace". We read the following in the Scofield Study Bible; 1917: "As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3. 24-26; 4. 24, 25) " (Scofield, Scofield Study Bible, footnote at John 1:17).
C.I.Scofield was the mentor of Lewis Sperry Chafer, and "the fruit of that mentoring relationship was the founding of Dallas Seminary as the fulfillment of a dream of Scofield....Chafer's Systematic Theology (1948) was the culmination of Scofield's tutelage " (John Hannah, Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson, "The Dictionary of Premillenial Theology").
However, at a later time Dr. Chafer realized that the present "dispensation of grace" did not began with the death and resurrection of Christ and he began teaching that the dispensation of the law "was not concluded until the day of Pentecost, when the dispensation of Grace began...The age of grace is a different dispensation in that it concerns the church comprising Jewish and Gentile believers " (Chafer, Major Bible Themes, Revised by John F. Walvoord, [Academie Books], p.134-135).
Dr. Chafer equated the "new purpose of God" in forming the Body of Christ to the beginning of the "dispensation of grace": "The new purpose of God in this age is seen to be the out-calling of a heavenly people...This heavenly body is being formed by a process...'The church which is his body' began to be formed at Pentecost through the new ministries of the Spirit...Thus the formation of the body began at Pentecost and since that time the Lord has 'added unto the church daily such as should be saved' " (Chafer, The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, "The Church Which is His Body", [New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1915]).
So Dr. Chafer believed that the "dispensation of grace" concerns the Body of Christ and therefore the beginning of the Body is the same thing as the beginning of the present dispensation.
We have seen that when Dr. Ryrie attempts to defend Dr. Chafer's idea that the present dispensation began on the Day of Pentecost he must twist the basic dispensational arrangement by saying that it is God who is running the affairs of the household-world despite the fact that it is man who is given the responsiblity of running the household-world. We also saw how Dr. Ryie contradicted himself by saying that a dispensation could begin without God revealing anything to man despite the fact that earlier he said that a new revelation from God was necessary in order to effect a change from one dispensation to another. All of Dr. Ryrie's teaching in regard to the beginning of the present dispensation deny the Biblical facts that the present "dispensation of grace" did not begin until Paul began to preach the "gospel of grace."
The complete and total agreement of the idea that the present "dispensation of grace" began on the day of Pentecost in almost all the great dispensational seminaries becomes a strong confirmation of that idea. But unanimity does not make the idea Scriptual. After two hours of crying out that "great is Diana of the Ephesians" the worship of Diana is raised to such a height that it becomes "things that cannot be spoken against" (Acts19:34-36). Today this teaching that the beginning of the "dispensation of grace" occured on the day of Pentecost has become one of the "things that cannot be spoken against."