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What is Mid-Acts Dispensationalism?

Mid-Acts Dispensationalism teaches that God began working with Jews and Gentiles alike and made them members of the Church, the Body of Christ, after the salvation of Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the Apostle. With the beginning of the Body of Christ the laws and promises given specifically for the nation of Israel were set aside until the time when God once again restores his special relationship with it. Because these events took place at about half way through the book of Acts this theological position is called Mid-Acts Dispensationalism.

The Bible is God’s revealed Word to mankind. It is in the Bible that we learn about the nature, plan and will of God for each of us. It is also where were learn what God expects of us and how we are to live our lives so that we can please Him. However, the Bible can also be a very confusing book if it is not interpreted properly. Therefore, it is extremely important that every believer be able to understand the Bible and what God’s clear instructions for His people are for today.

Most Christians recognize that not every commandment in the Bible is meant to be followed today. There are laws and commandments in the Old Testament that were clearly written for the Jews that Christians today do not obey. That is why we are allowed to eat pork (which is forbidden in the Old Testament), why we don’t require that baby boys to be circumcised on the eighth day and why men are not required to wear beards and not shave their sideburns. The laws of the Old Testament were given for to a specific group of people; the Jews, and for a specific purpose; to set them apart from other people on earth as God’s chosen nation. The Law also showed that mankind could not keep God’s commandments completely and that they needed a Savior (Galatians 3:21-25). Since God is the One who gave the commandments of the Law He has the right to change them as well. At certain points God has made changes in the way He expects people with faith to serve Him. These changes are called dispensations. To know God’s will at any point in history it is important for us to know which dispensation the people were living in, and most importantly which dispensation we are living in today.

When God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, and put them in the Garden of Eden He commanded them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was the first dispensation and is called the “Dispensation of Innocence” since they had not yet experienced sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed the commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree they were sent out of the Garden and they were then guided by their conscience, thus the second dispensation.

Later in the Bible we read about how God called Abraham (Genesis 12:1-2) from all the people on Earth and gave him a special promise that he would be the father of a great nation and through his offspring the world would be blessed with a Savior. Later he commanded Abraham that he and all his children and his entire household must be circumcised as a sign of God’s special relationship with Abraham’s descendants.

Many years later God freed Abraham’s descendants from slavery and had Moses lead them out of Egypt. Then while they are in the desert God gave them many laws that they were to obey. For the Jews to show the sincerity of their faith they had to obey over 600 specific laws that included not eating pork, worshipping on Saturday, not cutting sideburns and many others. They also received many moral laws and instructions for religious worship. This was called the Dispensation of Law. At this time Israel had a very special relationship with God and when non-Jews (gentiles) wanted to be in fellowship with God they had to follow the laws of the Jews and the Jewish priests had to offer sacrifices for them.

God also revealed a future dispensation to the Jewish prophets which was a promise that there would be a special Savior called the Messiah that would come to Earth in two stages. First, he would come as a servant and the second time he would return as conquering King who would set up his throne in Jerusalem. This is the promise of the Dispensation of the Kingdom.

Even while on Earth the Lord Jesus Christ observed every part of the Jewish law, and he never tried to do away with it. Even after his death on the cross, his followers continued to tell new believers to obey the law that was given to Moses.

After Jesus had ascended to heaven his followers were preaching to the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah and they needed to believe in him. Most of the Jews did not believe in Jesus but according to God’s plan the Jews needed to accept Jesus as Messiah before the gospel could go to the gentiles. Because God wanted the gentiles to be saved he interrupted his plan with Israel and started a new dispensation when Saul of Tarsus was saved. Saul’s name was changed to Paul and he became the apostle to the Gentiles. Because everyone can be saved during this dispensation by God’s grace through faith in the death of Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin it is called the Dispensation of Grace.

During the Dispensation of Grace there is no difference between Jews and gentiles in the way God deals with people. We are no longer required to obey the ritual laws of Moses. Our righteousness is based entirely on the work of Christ and is not based on any good works. This unique program was never mentioned in the Old Testament and is referred to by Paul as the “mystery” which means it was a secret not previously revealed.

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