Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 06/29/08
The Theocentric dispensations: The dispensation of the gentiles, the period of positive and negative volition.
We have noted the importance of understanding the dispensation of the mystery of the Church-age. Before we go on with our main passage in Rom 9, we need to note some of the differences between the other dispensations.
We begin with the first of the two dispensations called Theocentric Dispensations.
Theocentric dispensations: The dispensation of the Gentiles is broken down into three parts:
1. The Period of Positive Volition.
2. The Period of Negative Volition.
3. The Period of the Patriarchs.
The age of positive volition begins with the creation of mankind and ends with the fall of Adam and the woman, an unknown period of time. It started off with man and woman as trichotomous beings, that is having a body, soul and a human spirit. Both Adam and the woman (Ishshah) were created and placed in a perfect environment. Ishshah is an interesting name, it means woman, wife, or female, and because she was created perfect it is actually a compliment. It is an honor for any woman to be referred to as an Ishshah). She is described as the soulish and physical counterpart of man, deserving of his unwavering loyalty.
And the Lord God fashioned into a [la'ishshah] woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called [ishshah].Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (GEN 2:22-24)
The Bible holds women in the highest regard, and sets forth their graciousness, and worth as womanly virtues. Many women in the Old Testament were spiritual champions, and held positions of prestige, especially those who were faithful to their husbands who were winner believers as well. Shiphrah and Puah, of the Book of Exodus, were valiant women who put their own lives at risk by defying the Pharaoh's law of death in order to uphold God's law of life. There was also Deborah, Ruth, Huldah, Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Miriam, Hanna, Abigail, Batsheba, Esther. These are just a few of the many women, or ishshah's of influence in Old Testament history. We are told that he who finds a true Ishshah finds one who becomes a source of blessing and honor to him in PRO 18:22 and PRO 12:4. A fruitful wife is a sign of the blessing of God upon you in PSA 128:3.
In the first dispensation, they (Adam and Ishsah) were involved in two categories of perfection. The first was that they were created perfect beings, created with body, soul and human spirit. With the human spirit they had the ability to have fellowship with God every day even though there was no Bible. Because of their perfect soul they also had wonderful interaction, and a wonderful relationship with each other. In addition to a perfect soul and spirit, they were also perfect physically. They had everything that one could imagine or wish for in life; plus they were both geniuses. The second category of perfection was the fact that they were placed in perfect environment: the Garden of Eden. When the Lord Jesus Christ came in the garden to teach them, He taught them directly; this was an age of positive volition. However, certain negative vibes began to develop. This illustrates that even in perfect environment mankind had problems.
In the age of positive volition, they had two divine institutions already established; they had free-will and they had marriage. They had perfect environment and total freedom. They were married by God; they had great sex, marvelous conversations, and total admiration for each other's beauty. However, they both soon discovered that neither perfect environment nor marriage is a source of happiness or the means to solve the desires and needs of mankind. God has made everything meaningful for mankind in its time. He has also set the desire for eternity in their heart [right lobe-brain] (ECC 3:11).
In the first dispensation we have one man and one woman, both perfect in body, soul and spirit and in perfect environment. In the Garden of Eden, marriage, a divine institution, failed under perfect environment. Proving that a change of environment is not the solution to any problems you may be facing. Perfect environment, body, soul and spirit, and marriage were all tested in the Garden of Eden. While there was no written canon of Scripture during this dispensation, there was positive volition for a certain period of time. The point is that God's plan, pattern and policy toward them was totally different then as it is toward us. They were perfect, we are fallen sinners. They were in perfect environment, we are in the devil's world. They were under only one negative mandate (GEN 2:17), we are under grace along with many commands.
The dispensation of the Gentiles is broken down into three parts: the period of positive volition, negative volition and the patriarchs. The age of negative volition is a part of the dispensation of the Gentiles. It began with the fall of Adam and the woman, and continued to Abraham. There was no written canon of Scripture during this dispensation. This period of time is covered for us later on by Moses in Gen 4 - 9. Moses lived around 1440 BC and God revealed to him what He wanted us to know about these early dispensations. Just like God revealed to Paul what he wanted us to know about the dispensation of the mystery of the Church-age.
The period of negative volition is the dispensation of the first murder in history, when Cain murdered his brother Abel, GEN 4:8. Cain was religious and he typifies the self-righteous, jealous, petty type of person who thinks more highly of himself than what he ought to. Cain and Abel were brothers. Cain turned out to be a murderer and a loser in life. Abel turned out to be a winner and a visible hero. They both came from the same home, had the same parents, and came from the same environment. Just like Abraham and Terah, his father, Issac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers. There are many other examples, but the point is that there is no place for blaming spouses, parents, children, family or nation. Instead, everything depends upon free will. Cain was a product of his own decisions not his genes. He was the first recorded unbeliever in history. He was also the first criminal in history. Adam and the woman were right man and right woman, designed for each other by God, and, in spite of that, not all of their children turn out right.
The difference between the first two individuals mentioned in the period of negative volition is found in HEB 11:4 when it says "by faith." This is from the Greek noun Pistei, which in the instrumental case means through the instrument of faith. It means that which is believed, or the body of faith and belief, and therefore translated as doctrine. That is the meaning in HEB 4:11, By means of doctrine [and the implication is doctrine resident in the soul] Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain.Every sacrifice that Abel ever made portrayed doctrine resident in his soul. Cain offered certain types of gifts and sacrifices, but they had no meaning. There was no doctrine in Cain's soul, he was an unbeliever, and therefore was minus the appropriate doctrine. Abel is a picture of the believer who has positive volition towards doctrine and does the right thing in the right way. Cain is a picture of an individual who is minus doctrine and tries to impress God with his works.
The sacrifice of Abel was greater for two reasons. First, Abel was a believer, Cain was not. It is impossible for anyone who is an unbeliever to enter into any ritual that will worship God. The ritual is meaningless because the person is not born again. Secondly, Abel offered a sacrifice that was accurate because of doctrine resident in the soul. He was constantly taking in doctrine as it was made available to him in that particular era or dispensation. Abel is one of the first cases in history of a believer who had positive volition toward doctrine and became a spiritual champion and a visible hero.
The period of negative volition of the antediluvian age (before the flood) was a very peculiar time. One of the greatest cultures of all time occurred during this period, the music, literature, and drama was far greater than anything produced since. Yet the greatest violence also existed. Culture and violence always go together. When a population gets to this point of saturated evil and violence, God intervenes with judgment.
It's interesting to note some of the things about the people who lived during this dispensation before the flood. They possessed some skills that compare with modern technology. Cain built cities according to (GEN 4:17). Jubal was a musician, and Tubal-Cain was an "instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron" (GEN 4:22). The fact that Noah could construct his huge ark is also a witness to the engineering skills, and tools that were available. The antediluvian civilization began with Adam and the woman in the Garden of Eden in a state of perfect environment, and ended with the flood. Perfect environment was denied to them as a result of the fall, because mankind in the state of sin has no capacity for perfect environment.
So He [the Lord] drove the man out; and at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life. (GEN 3:34).
In this civilization brothers and sisters married without any genetic problems. The animals were also different. All animals, reptiles and birds were to be destroyed, except for those preserved in the ark. Weather was different, there was no bacteria; and because of that people lived for 700-800 years. Adam lived 930 years; Seth 912 years; Mahalaleel 895 years; Jared 962 years; Methuselah 969 years; Lamech 777 years (GEN 5:5-31). The women were also breathtakingly beautiful.
That the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. (GEN 6:2)
This civilization degenerated due to the fallen angels having sexual relations with the females of the human race. This produced a super race of heroes, who were the subject of mythology (Gen 6; JOB 1:6; JOB 2:1; JOB 38:7; PSA 29:1; PSA 89:6), The Hebrew phrase BENI HA ELOHIM refers to angels. The world was also filled with the NEPHILIM, the half angel half human creatures. This was Satan's strategy to destroy true humanity on the earth and prevent the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This super race was characterized by two things: degeneracy and self-destruction, and negative volition and spiritual death. We are told that both Noah and Enoch preached to the antediluvian.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness [note that Noah was a preacher, therefore preaching was one of the ways that they received doctrine during the antediluvian period], with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. (2PE 2:4-5)
Because true humanity on the earth was in jeopardy, God administered the great judgment of the universal flood which destroyed the half human half angelic creatures plus all unbelievers. Only eight believers still existed on the earth, Noah and his family. The other believers had already died. God also took away all sexual ability from angels as part of this judgment. The demons involved in that sexual attack are now incarcerated in the compartment of Hades called Tartarus.
"For God did not spare the angels when they sinned [GEN 6:2] but incarcerated them in Tartarus with chains of thick darkness, He delivered them over to judgment, being constantly guarded." (2PE 2:4)
The only demons operational today are disembodied spirits, so that any such sexual attacks can never occur again. During the antediluvian civilization, the earth was also not yet tilted on its axis; there was no bacteria, therefore, there was perfect climate. Mankind has a different life span in each civilization.
The saturation of evil was so great that the human race had reached a point of total self-destruction. This was a part of the satanic plot to destroy true humanity on the earth so that Jesus Christ could not come in the flesh. Yet only as perfect true humanity could Jesus Christ come and be judged for our sins. Therefore, to protect the remnant of believers, God had to destroy the antediluvian civilization. The only way that God could keep his divine promise that there would be a savior, and that "whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life," was by destroying the corrupted part of the human race. This is how true humanity would be preserved beyond the great catastrophe of a universal flood. There will never again be a universal judgment of the earth, like the flood. The earth will only be destroyed once more in its entirety, and that will occur at the end of the Millennium. At that time, God will cause a nuclear explosion that will destroy the earth and universe entirely.
The Theocentric dispensation, the period of negative volition, the antediluvian period, was a time when God not only spoke audibly to believers, but also to unbelievers. We know that because God spoke to Cain in Gen 4. In this dispensation of negative volition, Abel communicates to us the importance of Bible doctrine resident in the soul; the importance of becoming an invisible hero and a spiritual champion. In every dispensation, even though the plan and policy of God may vary, we can still learn from the winner believers. This requires consistency with the intake of doctrine. Abel reveals that no matter what the dispensation may be like, Bible doctrine resident in the soul is what glorifies God. Cain was jealous of Abel, but jealousy did not stop the momentum of Abel. Jealousy is the epitome of selfishness and is incapable of true love. It is irrational in its resentment of others. It is an emotional sin, remember that emotion has no ability to think or to reason. Cain was jealous of Abel and he learned the hard way that jealousy like many of the mental attitude sins can produce physical sickness as well as mental disorder. A tranquil heart is life to the body, But jealousy is rottenness to the bones (PRO 14:30). Jealousy is self-destructive For jealousy slays the foolish man and anger kills the stupid (JOB 5:2). Jealousy is the strongest mental attitude sin.
Here is Abel, the recipient of jealousy, bitterness, implacability, and hatred, but it did not hinder his testimony or his spiritual growth. Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged or be petty. Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them in return. Life often demands very strong concentration from you. A concentration whereby you ignore the petty things around you. Do not let negative, critical, judgmental, pessimistic individuals drag you down to their level. This is why David was so great. His older brother Eliab criticized him. His brother made fun of him but he didn't stop to argue with his brother. David just went on out and killed himself a giant. That's the concentration that life often requires. Stay focused on the objective. Don't get side-tracked.
Cain murdered Abel but the death of Abel did not hinder the advance of doctrine or the importance of doctrine resident in the soul.
By means of doctrine [resident in the soul] Abel offered to God a greater sacrifice than Cain, through which [offering] he received confirmation that he was or kept on being righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through it [the doctrine resident in his soul], though he is dead, he still speaks. (HEB 11:4)
The tragedy was not the death of Abel, but Cain as a murderer going through life in misery and then as an unbeliever burning forever and ever in the lake of fire. Nothing can stop Bible doctrine, and that includes the lies, the jealousy, the hatred, the hypocrisy of those who try. Bible doctrine moves on and even increases more and more in spite of the attacks made upon by fools. EXO 1:12 says that the more you try to afflicted God's people and His word, the more they multiply and spread out.
Remember man in GEN 3:19 was to live by the sweat of his brow. And of course, in this immediate era following the fall we have envy, jealousy, arrogance and this was the motive for the first murder. This is a also the beginning in history of capital punishment. Capital punishment has been authorized form the time of the first murder, right down to this moment.
“And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man”
This is how crime must be controlled. This is the first statement of capital punishment. A murderer was to be executed, not rehabilitated, not counseled, but executed. The reason for all this is given in verse 6, for in the image of God He created man.A change in dispensation did not change this principle. In MAT 26:52 Peter intended to defend the Lord with his life, and when the temple policemen stepped forward to cease our Lord, Peter pulled out a sword and cut off a soldiers ear. In MAT 26:52Jesus tells Peter to put the sword away. It's the unlawful use of weapons, crime, violence, terrorism, rape, murder, all of these categories draw the sword illegally. All who draw the sword shall die by the sword. That means criminals who use weapons and kill must die by the sword. This is a perfect illustration of the fact that every dispensation has certain divine laws which apply to all of them.
Capital punishment began in Gen 9. It continued in the Mosaic Law in EXO 21:14. It continues into the church-age. In the tribulation, terrorism is dealt with by capital punishment. In REV 2:26-28, capital punishment will be practiced in the Millennium. Wherever people have old sin natures they will continue to commit murder.