June 14, 2010
A Plan for the Ages
We know that the only way for a being whose nature is NOT right and just (us) to be completely righteous is to choose to take direction from a being who IS always and completely right and just (God). The only way to do this would be for us be humble and reject comparative thinking (pride). When we are humble/contrastive, we choose God’s way over our own and justify Him over ourselves when a conflict occurs. When we are proud/comparative, we choose our own way and justify ourselves when we are wrong.
What’s the plan?
God has a plan for humanity that is right and just. As we saw in the last post, a righteous God would have to show that His plan is the only one that is completely right by using a contrastive process to prove that all other possibilities are wrong.
So how does God do this? He presents a just scenario wherein man has the option to:
a) Contrastively choose God’s way over his own, or
b) Choose to be comparative and justify himself over God
If and when man chooses to be comparative, God can then eliminate that failed scenario and replace it with a new one that gives man another just opportunity to choose to be comparative or contrastive, (to either choose God, or justify himself), until man either proves that he is capable of choosing righteousness on his own, or shows that he cannot be righteous outside of God’s ultimate plan. In each of these scenarios, God progressively deals with mankind in a different way based on what occurred in the previous scenario. These scenarios are commonly referred to as “dispensations”.
Religious jargon alert!
Now I know that “dispensation” is a word that carries a lot of religious baggage that goes above and beyond just being a moniker for the different scenarios in which God has dealt, (and will deal) with man. But I’m only using it is because it is convenient. If the word and its various religious connotations makes you uncomfortable, then just substitute the word “ages” where appropriate.
The Bible seems to depict seven such dispensations. Five of them have been tried, and man has failed to choose God in each one. We are currently in the sixth dispensation (and there is reason to believe that we are nearing its end). There will be one more dispensation following this one, after which all just and reasonable scenarios will have been presented and God can justly implement the meaning of life (Heaven). For the next major section of this blog, we will be exploring these dispensations in detail.
Each dispensation is unique and non-repeatable for reasons that we will discuss as we progress.
So what qualities should the first dispensation have? Since it is the first one, it should be the simplest. It should give man the purest and simplest opportunity to choose God. It should have minimal people, minimal outside influences, minimal information, minimal choice, and maximum innocence.
The first dispensation started with the first two people that God created. The outcome of this scenario obviously had a dramatic impact on the rest of history. Although it is a familiar narrative, some very important details are usually missed or misunderstood in popular culture. We’ll examine it next week.
Related podcast: Is God Humble?
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My God does not react to the choices or will of man. He ordained his Way from the foundation of the World. We still have free will but it does not change the plan of God. He sees all things, past, present and future. He knows what is going to happen before it happens. There is no evidence in the Bible that shows any different than an all knowing, powerful God. His Grace by His Love is the only thing that saves all of us from the fate of those in Noah’s time. Albeit he would not use a worldwide Flood. But he will destroy the Earth by Fire at the time of Judgement were His justice is reserved.
I am not a Calvinist. God Bless.
Thank you for your comments. I think you may have misunderstood me. God has an ultimate plan for humanity that I discuss in the May 4th post. Man cannot change this plan because it is right. The dispensations are God’s process of showing that no other plan for righteousness will work. I disagree that God does not react to man’s choices. Much of Bible is built around God’s reactions to man’s choices. As we’ll see next week, God reacted to Adam and Eve’s choice with a judgment (if they had made a different choice, His reaction would have been different). The Bible is full of if/then statements from God regarding man’s choices. The book of Deuteronomy is essentially 34 chapters of God saying IF you choose to obey my commandments, THEN I will bless you. IF you choose not to, THEN you will be cursed. The entire book of Judges is the application of these if/then statements.
God’s willingness to react to our choices does not diminish Him in any way. In fact it proves that He is loving.
Is this a typo:
“When we are humble/comparative, we choose God’s way over our own and justify Him over ourselves when a conflict occurs.”
Wouldn’t we want to be humble/contrastive to choose God’s way?
Yes Tom, that was definitely a typo! I fixed it. Thanks for catching it.