According to “dispensationalists” a dispensation is a period of time during which God administers His program with humanity in a particular way. Commentators are in disagreement as to how many – if any – of these “administrations” can be supported by the Scripture (which must remain the final authority), but it seems most agree there are seven periods during which God related to man or will relate to man in the future.

The first dispensation is called the dispensation of “innocence.” Adam & Eve lived in a state of purity and innocence and enjoyed pure communion with God in the Garden. After the fall the dispensation of “Conscience” carried through to the time of the flood. God related His will to man through his conscience. After the flood commentators recognize the dispensation of “Human Government” where God committed the rule of man to “self-government.” But the dispensation of “promise” began with the call of Abraham. He was called upon to live a life of obedience while looking forward to a future fulfillment of a wonderful promise. The Dispensation of “Law” was administered to God’s people through Moses. It established God as the legitimate lawgiver for mankind. This period ended at the death of Jesus Christ, which ushered in the dispensation of “Grace.” God now relates to man solely through His Son, Jesus Christ, and all mankind can find complete forgiveness and wholeness with God. Some would argue that this period is followed by another dispensation called the “Great Tribulation” but I’d argue that the Tribulation period is a time in which man is also tested by God’s Grace. The 7th and final dispensation, according to classic dispensationalists is the dispensation of “Kingdom Rule.” Some argue it’s 1000 years in length during which time the Lord, Himself, will reign as King on earth.

Although the content of God’s revelation changes during various eras of human history, the basis upon which man relates to God never changes. That basis is FAITH! From Adam & Eve in the garden their relationship with God was determined by their trusting God and His word regarding the tree of good and evil. Noah and his family trusted God to be leading in healthy ways of relating to the world through their conscience. Abraham trusted God and acted on his faith. The law included the sacrificial system through which man could find forgiveness for sin if he believed. Today, in the era of Grace, we too can find all we need for a healthy and happy relationship with God through faith in what He has revealed to us in the Person of His Son.

“And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6