The Dispensation of Grace
Dispensations are periods of time in which God is related to man in a certain way to carry out His purpose. From Adam to Moses, God was related to man in a certain way — without law. From Moses to Christ, He was related to the people under law while His purpose was reaffirmed and typified. Now, during this period of Christ’s first coming to His second coming, we are in the dispensation of grace. This is the period when you can get everything from God — free. Amen!
The period where God does it all
The dispensation of grace is the period where you do not do one thing in yourself. It is not your works. It is not your keeping of the law, but it is you and I opening up, and out of His fullness keep on getting loaded up. Just get loaded up. That means enjoy God. Draw from Him. Yell to Him. Cry to Him. Complain to Him. Tell Him He has to do it. Grace means God does it all and then dumps it all out. Amen! This is the period of grace.
I do not care who you are, what your situation is, what your problem is, what your hang-up is, there is no excuse. Grace is here. Out of His fullness, it is grace in exchange for grace. You do not start with law. You start with grace. And then you get more and more grace. It is all grace. It is a whole dispensation of grace. We are under grace (Rom. 6:14). So it means He has provided everything to carry out His purpose — His image and dominion.
The dispensation of grace means that everything comes out of His fullness. Second Corinthians tells us that we are beholding Him and are being transformed into His very image. In Hebrews 2:8-9 we do not yet see everything under His feet, but we see
Jesus. And then we see dominion coming in, and then the church. Oh, this is too good. It is all grace.
God does not know how to relate to us apart from grace
Grace is how we are related to God in this hour (2 Cor. 6:1-2). This is not the dispensation of law. It is not a matter of our flesh being energized to make deals with God anymore. This is the time of grace. It is the time you draw, you take, you let your spirit drink from His fullness. It is the time to expect Him to do it in you. It is the time to put it on Him — everything. This is grace. We are now experiencing a foretaste of the next dispensation — the dispensation of the kingdom. The next dispensation will be a compounded dispensation of grace. Ephesians 2:7 says, “That He might display in the ages to come the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Since Christ has come, God does not know how to relate to His chosen ones apart from grace. It is grace in this dispensation of grace, and it will be multi- plied grace in the next dispensation. So now, this is presently how we are related to God and how God is related to us. We are just under grace. That means everything is freely given to us. Amen!
The church life — a foretaste of the full taste
In this dispensation of grace the kingdom has drawn near. Romans 14:17 says that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. He is talking about the church life there. So that means the kingdom is right now. When the Spirit is here among us and there is peace between us and there is joy in the church, in the Spirit, and righteousness, that is the sum and substance of the kingdom. The joy we have here will just be magnified in the coming age. And it is going to be more inclusive. We are going to sit down at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are
going to say, “Abraham! Oh, Abraham. I have wanted to talk to you for a long time.” Amen! Praise the Lord! Oh, we are going to enjoy the reality of the whole family of God. Isn’t that incredible? And we are going to be in resurrected bodies. We are not going to be ethereal spirits flying in the air. We are going to have actual, resurrected bodies. So I am going to look like me, and you are going to look like you. And we are going to see all the saints that have ever lived throughout the ages.
Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit will be a full taste in the kingdom age, but now in the church we have it as a foretaste. This is the present reality of the kingdom. But at the same time there is a present reality of the kingdom, there is also an outward appearance of the kingdom that is false. This matter is not so much understood by believers. Nevertheless, the false appearance of the kingdom is revealed in the Lord’s parables in Matthew chapter 13 — the tares, the mustard seed, the big tree, and the leaven.
The appearance of the kingdom
The Lord prophesied that there would be a false appearance of the kingdom under the umbrella of the name of Christianity. So we need to see the difference between the reality of the kingdom and the outward appearance of the kingdom. The appearance of the kingdom is in the form of a professing Christianity (2 Tim. 3:5). That is, it is a Christian world which often causes great offense to the world itself because of some abominable things that are coming out under the name of Christ. We are not just making this up, the Lord and the apostles foretold that this would happen. In Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43 the Lord talked about tares among the wheat. That is, false believers under the banner of Christianity. Even so much so that you have things like the judgment seat of Christ and some come and say, “Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name?” This is
something of a charismatic nature. “Did we not cast out demons in Your name? And did we not do miracles in Your name?” indicating that even in that realm the Lord said, “I never knew you, you that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). This speaking comes following Matthew 5— 7. There He talked about the inward life. He talked about our disposition. He talked about lust. He talked about anger, hatred. He talked about having a capacity to be inconvenienced — going the second mile. He talked about relationships, forgiving. He talked about an inner life.
So what we see in Matthew 5—7 is the burden of the Lord for an inner life where His very Self is lived out. That is His image. That is where the kingdom is and where His authority is. I do not mean there is no casting out of demons, or miracles, or prophesy. I am not saying that. But we must realize it is possible to be in the appearance of the kingdom without the reality of it. And so we need to understand that. So in this period of grace, we are reduced to the fullness of Christ, enjoying all that He is to us, and getting constituted and filled up with His life in our being. We are handling Him as our all- sufficient grace in every environment. It is in this way that we experience the grace of life and are responsible as stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 3:7; 4:10). A measure of the grace of God has been dealt out to every one of us (Eph. 4:7). We are responsible to multiply it, trade with it, and make a gain for the Lord’s interest (Luke 16:1-10). We will be accountable to the Lord as stewards at His coming, and we do not want to hear, “thou slothful servant,” but “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Enjoy grace and then employ it
So we have to see right now in this age, it is the age and dispensation of grace. So that in everything about our lives we can enjoy grace and then employ it. And then in the next
dispensation of the kingdom, the Lord will be related to the earth with His people by giving the rewards to all the believers that have used grace, employed grace, and enjoyed grace in this dispensation. The reward in the next age will be based upon how much we used grace in this age. It does not mean whether you are weak, whether you failed, whether you had this problem or that problem. That is not the question. Regardless of who you are, if there is just a little bit of meat on your bones and you are about ready to disintegrate, let me ask you, did you open your mouth and call, “Jesus!” and get the grace He has so freely given?
In our weakest moments, in our severest temptations, God is saying, “Use My grace. Employ My grace.” And in the next dispensation, at the judgment seat of Christ, we will be there and the Lord will say, “Well done, for what I have given you.” He gives us His possessions — His grace. He did not leave us without anything. He did not just say, “Make it on your own. Try it. When I come back, we will see how you did.” The Lord did not do that. What the Lord did is that He left His possessions, His grace, with us. Now trade with it. To one He gave five talents. To another He gave two. To another He gave one. So serve, multiply, extend yourself. Even our getting into the Word is an actual enjoyment of the grace of God to trade with what you have. Do not let your mind be dormant. Do not let your time be wasted. Employ grace to get the Word of God into you. Amen!
Grace and the kingdom
God’s original purpose is fully manifested in the dispensation of the kingdom. Hebrews 12:28 says, “There- fore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may serve God well-pleasingly with piety and fear; for our God is also a consuming fire.” So we are receiving an unshakable kingdom.
And the one word to us about the kingdom is, let us have grace. Let us enjoy grace.
As we enjoy this grace, God’s purpose will be fully manifested and the rewarding will be responsibility in the kingdom at the judgment seat of Christ. And the rewards are given on the basis of our enjoyment and employment of grace. So we need to know how we are related to God now and how we will be related in the kingdom. There are four discernible dispensations: from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, from Christ to His second coming, and from His second coming to the end of the thousand year kingdom where He reigns on this earth. Now we need to be dispensationally significant in this hour. And to be that now is to enjoy grace — grace for our experience and grace for the church. And then in the next age, the next dispensation, at the doorstep, the judgment seat, what He wants to know is “how much did you pump Me? How much did you use Me? How much did you receive from Me? I am not asking whether you were weak or you were strong, or whether you could make it our could not make it, you had this problem. No, how much did you use Me? I gave Myself to you. I made Myself a life-giving Spirit. I put My very life into your spirit. I am that close. I am in your mouth. I am in your heart. I am in your spirit. Did you use Me? That is all I want to know.”
Brothers and sisters, this is more than encouraging, that we could enter into the kingdom full steam ahead, like Peter says, and not stumble by looking at our- selves, considering our selves, but employing His multiplied grace.*
— Bill Freeman
* Spoken form retained