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  Bible Question: What are the differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology?
 
Bible Answer: Both dispensational and covenant theology are of recent origin. Neither can honestly claim to nave been fully developed in the early church. Between the two, dispensational theology has greater roots in the early church, but that does not give it greater authority. Ultimately the Word of God is the real authority and not one's developed theology. A great tragedy occurs on occasions when a person insists the theology he or she was taught is biblically correct and then depends on this theology for understanding scripture. To say, I am a Calvinist; I follow Luther; I am of Darbe; I follow my pastor is a serious error. To quote Calvin as your authority or to quote Luther as authoritative places them above scripture. When we come to the Word of God, we must always be willing to reevaluate what we believe when we find a verse or passage that might change what we were taught or believe. To do otherwise reveals a heart that does not have a passion to know the truth - God's Word.
     Covenant Theology. Covenant theology believes there are two covenants or promises of God: Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Works refers to God's arrangement with Adam before he sinned. Because Adam sinned, God then made another covenant with man - the Covenant of Grace by which the human race is able to be saved by grace because of Jesus Christ.
      Most Covenant theologians believe the nation of Israel and the church share the same promises about salvation and the the future. They do not believe there is a difference between Israel and the church. They base this belief on a number of passages such as Galatians 3:29.
 
  But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe . . . And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (NASB) Galatians 3:22, 29
 
They understand this passage to mean that Christians are offspring of Abraham - if we are in the body of Jesus, we are descendants of Abraham. So they believe the promises of both the Promised Land and salvation through Jesus as given to Abraham in Genesis 12 belong to all New Testament Christians. They do not see any difference between a physical or a spiritual descendant of Abraham.

 
  . . . That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. (NASB) Romans 9:8
 
But Romans 9:8 says physical descendants of Abraham are not automatically children of God or Christians. Only those who are children by promise - faith in Jesus (see Gal. 3:22) - are descendants of Abraham. The word descendant has either a physical or spiritual meaning. Gentiles who become Christians are not physically Jews - physical descendants of Abraham - but spiritual descendants of Abraham. To say that the church inherits the promises to Israel blurs the physical and spiritual aspects of the promises given to Abraham.

     
 
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