It is significant that the very first words of Jesus in answer to the question, "What shall be the sign of Thy coming ?" were, "Take heed that no man deceive you." The last days were to be marked by multiplied deceptions in regard to the manner of Christ's coming. The one word that marks every deception is the word "secret." The second coming of our Lord is with open "power" and "great glory," as the "lightning" which streaks across the heavens.
In recent years a most dangerous deception known as the "secret rapture" has captivated many foremost ministers and teachers of the popular churches. This heresy is grouped with other pernicious teachings, equally dangerous and deceptive, in what is known as "modern dispensationalism." Many of the so-called Fundamentalist Bible schools sponsor the sevenfold errors of dispensationalism. The chief agency in its promulgation is the Scofield Reference Bible.
Near the beginning of the present century, this new and "strange" doctrine was first brought to America by Malachi Taylor, one of the Plymouth Brethren. Among those captivated by it was Dr. C. I. Scofield, who became its leading exponent. He prepared a new edition of the Bible, and with notes, headings, subheadings, and summaries, imposed upon the Bible a system of error as subtle and Satanic as any that has ever been invented by the master deceiver. The very fact that these errors are bound together in one volume with the Scriptures of truth, may account for the rapidity with which the fire of evil has spread.
Seven So-Called Dispensations
The Scofield Bible divides the history of the world into periods of time, known as "dispensations :" (I) Innocence, (2) Conscience, (3) Human Government, (4) Promise, (5) Law, (6) Grace, (7) Kingdom.
In each of these periods, the Lord "deals with man upon a plan different from the plan of the other dispensations." For example, the period from Sinai to Calvary was "the dispensation of Law;" from the cross to the second coming, "the dispensation of grace;" and from the second coming to the close of the millennium, "the dispensation of the kingdom." There is no "mingling" of methods of salvation during these periods, according to the Scofield scheme. There was "no grace" in the dispensation from Moses to the cross; "no law" in our present period of "grace." Moreover, our era is the era of the church, and has nothing to do with the kingdom. The age to come ushers in the kingdom. This "kingdom" belongs to the Jewish nation, which will be restored and its people converted during the millennium.
These seven dispensations are fittingly labeled as "arbitrary, fanciful, and destitute of Scriptural support." There is no Scriptural mention of a dispensation of human conscience during the period before the flood. Neither is there mention of the reign of human government during the period from the flood to Abraham. And while promises were made to Abraham, precious promises are likewise made to the children of Abraham, who are the blood-bought of the ages. But the most serious evils are found in the so-called fifth, sixth, and seventh dispensations. Every lover and teacher of truth ought to know the magnitude of these errors and battle against them, using the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The seven principal errors of the Scofield Reference Bible may be listed as follows:
3. False ideas of the antichrist.
4. The "secret rapture."
5. The return of the Jew to Jerusalem.
6. False teachings in regard to the kingdom.
7. False hope of a second chance.
It is impossible to give an exhaustive study of these errors in The Ministry. More complete study was given them in a series of articles in the Review and Herald, starting Nov. 13, 1941. An exposure of the heresy in all its aspects is given by Philip Mauro, noted Fundamentalist, member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, in his book, "The Gospel of the Kingdom, With an Examination of Modern Dispensationalism." We are limited here to but a few comments and texts on each of the seven points, as an incentive to further study.
1. Meaning of Dispensationalism. — In the Bible the word "dispensation" never refers to a period of time. Invariably its meaning is "a stewardship," "the act of dispensing," "an administration." Read the four New Testament texts in which the word "dispensation" is found: 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; 3:2; and Colossians 1:25. Weymouth's translation of 1 Corinthians 9:17 reads: "A stewardship has nevertheless been entrusted to me."
The plan of the ages is a gospel plan. God's dealings with man have been ever the same. Faithful Abel and Enoch, Abraham and Moses, were all "saved by grace." Their lives were marked by obedience to God's commandments. By "faith," they obeyed So, today God's remnant church is a church which keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
2. The Antinomian Error.—Says the Scofield Bible, "The law is a ministry of condemnation, death, and the divine curse." ( See note on Gal 3:24.) But your Bible and mine says that the "law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Three times Paul, exclaims "God forbid," as he guards against the error of antinomianism (Rom. 3:31; Gal. 3:21; Rom. 7:7). When the Holy Spirit declares that "the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul," how dare anyone call it a "ministry of condemnation"? Says Mr. Mauro:
"Here is where some of the most serious evils of dispensationalism come clearly into view; for the aspersions which the teachers of that system cast upon the holy law of God constitute in their totality a complete and grievous misrepresentation thereof."
3. Misconception of Antichrist.—The dispensationalist has reversed the historic Protestant position in regard to the antichrist, and is teaching the error that was invented by the doctors of the Catholic Church in order to combat the Reformation. Protestantism pointed the finger of prophecy at the Papacy; but Rome declared that the antichrist was a man yet to come who would rule for three and one-half years at a future period of "tribulation." Dispensationalists are the proponents of this papal error.
4. "Secret Rapture" Fallacy.—The teaching regarding "secret rapture," or the silent taking away of the church before the time of trouble, is a most serious error. Note well the sequence of events in verses 30 and 31 of Matthew 24. The gathering of the elect (verse 31) follows the coming of Christ in glory and power (verse 30). Do not be misled by the false use of the words "parousia" and "apokalupsis." The very word translated "coming" in Matthew 24:27 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15 is the Greek word "parousia." "Lightning," "voice," "shout" are words which describe the "parousia."
5. Return of Jews Illusion.—The illusory hope of the restoration of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem is destined to lure millions into the desert of destruction. The promises to the Jewish nation were all conditioned on obedience. God did all that He could ever do for the Jews in sending them His prophets and finally His Son. He did not cast away His people. The very first Christian churches in apostolic times were made up almost entirely of Jews. The Israel of God, to whom the promises are made, is spiritual Israel. To Abraham and his seed belong the promises. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Read Romans 4:13; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:29; Romans 4:8-12, 17; Galatians 3:7-9. Then read Hosea 13:9, 10, 14, and other Old Testament prophecies, to see that the hope of the ages for Israel was through the resurrection from the dead.
6. Postponement of the Kingdom.—More than one hundred times did the Lord Jesus refer to the kingdom; only twice to the church. His message was a kingdom message. "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2) was the message of John the Baptist. It was also the burden of Jesus, of the twelve, and of the seventy who were sent forth as the ministers of Jesus (Matt. 4:17; 10:7; Luke 10:9). The door of entrance into the kingdom is not through racial inheritance, but through the new birth (John 3:3, 5). Citizenship in the kingdom of grace belongs to Gentiles as well as to Jews. (Eph. 2:19). Even now we are translated into the kingdom of grace (Col. 1:13).
At the second coming, the saints enter the kingdom of glory (Dan. 7:27). The Scofield Bible, adding error to error, postpones the "kingdom" to an age to come and makes it a possession of natural Jews.
7. "Second Chance" Heresy.—If one error could be greater than another, then the doctrine of a more favorable opportunity for salvation during the millennium is the greatest of all. "Behold, now is the accepted time." The world is now having its "second chance." Beyond the grave there is no hope of salvation (Isa. 38:18). Before the second coming of Christ, probation's hour will have closed for eternity (Matt. 13: 38-43; 25:31-46; Rev. 22:11, 12). Truly, the heresy of a "second chance" is the capsheaf of error.
Many are not aware of the magnitude of the error of modern dispensationalism. Nor do they realize how widespread is the influence of the Scofield Reference Bible. Many teachers of truth are not alert to the trend of the times in the religious world. New issues must be faced. New errors must be exposed. Some of these errors are as old as sin, but clothed in new garb. This borrowed garment of "Fundamentalism" must be torn from the dark form of dispensational error. The Scofield Bible must be unmasked for what it is—a tree of knowledge of good and evil, with the good as the words of Scripture; the evil, the heretical notes of C. I. Scofield. There are thousands of earnest Christians who, like Philip Mauro, may be saved from error if the truth is brought home to their hearts.