Category Archives: Lesson 1: General Subjects Concerning God’s Plan for Man

God’s Plan for Man – Reasons for God’s Dispensational Dealings

This morning our family completed a two-day consideration of the reasons for God’s dispensational dealings given by Finis Jennings Dake in his God’s Plan for Man (Lawrence, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1949), which we are studying in our after breakfast Bible reading time. This report consists of a brief summary of Lesson 1, sections VII and VIII, of God’s Plan for Man supplemented in square brackets by comments from our discussion or by me personally. Biblical quotations are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

VII. Reasons for God’s Dispensational Dealings

1. God created moral agents with a free choice instead of creating mere machines that could run forever without any choice of their own. Thus He also imposed some restrictions and limited the acts of created beings so that they would not rebel and destroy Him and rule in His place.
2. The wills of all free moral agents must be tested before those agents are entrusted with the eternal administration of the universe.
3. The wills of all free moral agents must be purged of all possibility of falling.
4. Free wills must be put through all possible tests so that there can be no possible transgression against any part of God’s plan at any time.
5. Free wills must eventually learn many lessons about God. [Dake lists twelve on pages 8-9.]
6. God wants to bring man back to the place that he was before the fall of having dominion over all things.
7. God’s dealing with free moral agents in holiness and justice gives Him a sound basis for punishing those who refuse to conform to His plan and for blessing those who do conform. [Dake argues at length that God’s plan of punishment and blessing is the only one that could be used with free moral agents, concluding “Everyone can be blessed if he so desires, or can be cursed if that is his choice. Therefore, punishment is not compulsory for anyone. It is the free choice of the individual, and he alone is to blame for his eternal choice and destiny. God’s will is that none should be lost (1 Tim. 2:4-6; 2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 3:16)” (Dake, page 9).]
8. God’s dispensational dealings are necessary to guarantee God’s eternal purpose as expressed by Paul in Ephesians 1:10; 3:1-11. This will be considered fully in Lessons Forty-nine through Fifty-two.
9. God’s present dealings with man make it eternally possible for Him to be all-in-all.

VIII. God’s Plan Is Eternal

The fall of man didn’t do away with God’s original plan. It merely postpones it until the restitution of all things after the Millennium. [Dake lists some of the many passages in the Bible that teach an everlasting plan for man on Earth, beginning with Genesis 8:22 and ending with Revelation 22:3-5. Although I looked up all the passages in preparing for our reading of the section, we looked up only the first and last ones in our reading of the section.]

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God’s Plan for Man – The Dispensations

This morning our family read and discussed the sections on the dispensations in Lesson One of Finis Jennings Dake’s God’s Plan for Man (Lawrence, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1949), which we are studying in our after breakfast Bible reading time. This report consists of a brief summary of sections III-V of the lesson supplemented in square brackets by comments from our discussion or by me personally. Biblical quotations are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

A dispensation is a moral or probationary period in human and angelic history. In each period God tests free moral agents according to a fixed standard of conduct or responsibility.

IV. The Dispensation of Angels

The dispensation of angels was before the days of Adam and included rulership of the Earth and other planets in the heavens. The Heaven in which God dwells is a real place, “a better country” than Earth (Hebrews 11:14-16).

V. The Seven Dispensations of Man between the Two Eternities

There are seven dispensations in human history between the eternal past and the eternal future. They are:
1. The Dispensation of Innocence (Genesis 2:15-3:21). This period was from the creation of man and his commission to rule the Earth to the fall of man and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. It will be studied in Lesson Nine.
2. The Dispensation of Conscience (Genesis 3:22-8:14). This period is from the fall of man and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden to the flood of Noah, 1,656 years. It will be studied in Lesson Eleven.
3. The Dispensation of Human Government (Genesis 8:15-11:32). This period is from the flood of Noah to the call of Abraham, 427 years. It will be studied in Lesson Thirteen.
4. The Dispensation of Promise (Genesis 12:1-Exodus 12:37), This period is from the call of Abraham to the exodus of Israel from Egypt under Moses, 430 years. It will be studied in Lesson Fifteen.
5. The Dispensation of Law (Exodus 12:37; Luke 16:16). This period is from the exodus of Israel under Moses to the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven by John the Baptist or to the first coming of Jesus Christ, 1,718 years. It will be studied in Lesson Seventeen.
6. The Dispensation of Grace (Matthew 3:1-Revelation 19:10). This period has already lasted nearly 2,000 years from the first coming of Jesus Christ, and it will continue until his second coming in the near future. It will be studied in Lesson Nineteen.
7. The Dispensation of Divine Government—The Millennium (Revelation 19:11-20:15). This period will go from the second coming of Jesus Christ to the last rebellion of Satan and man on the earth, 1000 years. It will be studied in Lesson Forty-nine.
[I first learned of these seven dispensations from the Scofield Reference Bible which my parents gave me on my tenth birthday. It gives the same names as above to dispensations 1-5 but calls dispensations 6-7 the dispensations of Church and Kingdom. The replacement for that Bible which my first wife, Esther, gave to me when it fell apart, The New Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), will be one of my extra resources in this family study of God’s Plan for Man. Others will be the copy of Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible (Lawrenceville, New Jersey: Dake Bible Sales, 1963) which I gave to my second wife, Leonora, during our engagement and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), which each member of our family has a copy of and which we read through and discussed a few years ago (see https://opentheism.wordpress.com/category/systematic-theology/).]

VI. The Dispensation of the Redeemed and Faithful Angels

The final dispensation will be after the Millennium in the new heavens and the new earth. “God’s original purpose will then be fully realized as it was before rebellion started in the kingdom of God by Lucifer and Adam. He will then have a universe free from any possibility of rebellion in all the eternal future, governed solely by Himself and the redeemed human beings and the faithful angels” (Dake, God’s Plan for Man, page 7).

God’s Plan for Man – Definition of Terms and Expressions

This morning our family completed a two-day consideration of some words and expressions used by Finis Jennings Dake in his God’s Plan for Man (Lawrence, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1949), which we are studying in our after breakfast Bible reading time. This report consists of a brief summary of Lesson 1, section III, of God’s Plan for Man supplemented in square brackets by comments from our discussion or by me personally. Biblical quotations are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.

1. AGE. The Greek word for “age” means a period of time. In the Bible it refers to numerous periods of time. The five main ages connected to God’s plan for man are:
A. The Anti-chaotic Age – from the original creation (Genesis 1:1) to its chaotic state (Genesis 1:2). We shall study it in Lesson 7.
B. The Antediluvian Age – from the six days of re-creation (Genesis 1:3-2:25) to the flood of Noah (Genesis 6-8).
C. The Present Age – from the flood of Noah (Genesis 6-8) to the Millennium (Revelation 19:11-20:7).
D. The Age to Come – from the second coming of Christ and the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21) to the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21-22).
E. The Age of Ages – eternity, time without end. We shall study it in Lessons 49-52.

2. WORLD. There are ten Hebrew and Greek words translated by “world” in the Bible. How a word is used and its context will help a reader determine its meaning.The most important words translated “world” are:
(1) The Hebrew word olam means “time defined limits as to a beginning or an end.”
(2) The Greek word aion means “a period of time,” whether short or long.
(3) The Greek word oikoumene means “the inhabited Earth” or “the world of men” or a part of it.
(4) The Greek word kosmos means “the social system or order in the Earth.”
(5) The Greek word aionios corresponds to the Hebrew word olam (see 1).

3. TIMES AND SEASONS. There are twenty-eight Greek words translated “time” and “times” and eight Greek words translated “season” or “seasons” in the Bible, but only two need to be listed here to get a background for our future studies:
(1) Chronos, time unlimited unless specifically defined.
(2) Kairos, a certain limited or definite portion of time.
[Dake gives several references for each.]
Besides the natural times and seasons, there are certain times and seasons for preordained events in God’s eternal plan for man. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not discerning the signs of the time as well as they could discern the natural seasons, saying “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3), [Dake gives additional examples.]

4. THE ETERNAL PAST, the dateless past before the beginning of time as we know it since the six days of Genesis 1:3-2:25.

5. THE ETERNAL FUTURE, the eternal continuation of time after the Millennium.

6. THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES, the administration of the Gentiles from Israel’s oppression beginning with Israel’s oppression by them in Egypt and continuing with the history of Israel until Christ’s second coming.

7. DISPENSATION, a moral or probationary period in human and angelic history. Each dispensation begins under favourable circumstances, is characterised by God’s testing free moral agents according to a fixed standard of conduct or responsibility, and ends in failure and judgment. [Dake identifies the dispensations in sections IV-VI of Lesson 1 and considers them in detail in later lessons.]

God’s Plan for Man – Its Importance and Simplicity

Today my family and I began reading from and discussing Finis Jennings Dake’s “God’s Plan for Man” (Lawrence, Georgia: Dake Publishing, 1949) in our after breakfast Bible reading time. It considers God’s plan for man from the eternal past to the eternal future in four parts:
– Part I The Origin of All Things Lessons 1-8
– Part II God’s Historical Dealings with Man Lessons 9-18
– Part III God’s Present Dealings with Man Lessons 19-36
– Part IV God’s Future Dealings with Man Lessons 37-52
This will be our fourth reading of a comprehensive theology book, our having previously read Marion M. Schoolland’s “Leading Little Ones to God” (Eerdmans, 1981), William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton’s “Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective” (Logion, 1993), and Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” (Zondervan, 1994). I made brief daily reports on our reading and discussion of “Systematic Theology” at https://opentheism.wordpress.com/category/systematic-theology/, and I plan to do the same with our reading and discussion of “God’s Plan for Man.” Wikipedia gives a brief account of the life and writings of Finis Jennings Dake at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finis_Jennings_Dake, and Amazon.ca gives a brief description and customer reviews of “God’s Plan for Man” at https://www.amazon.ca/Gods-Plan-Man-Contained-Fifty-Two/dp/1558290265.
My reports will consist of brief summaries of what we read from “God’s Plan for Man” occasionally supplemented in square brackets by comments from our discussion or by me personally. Biblical quotations will be from the KJV, the version used by Dake, unless otherwise noted.

I. Importance of the Study of “God’s Plan for Man”

God’s Plan for Man covers all the ages and dispensations and all the important subjects of the Bible. [Dake defines “ages” and “dispensations” in section III, which we’ll read in the next two days.] Distinguishing the ages and dispensations enables one to harmonize the whole Bible and to realize God’s ultimate purpose with regard to man. Besides providing knowledge of the whole Bible in its 52 lessons, God’s Plan for Man provides a supplement after each pair of lessons that shows how to use the Bible in one’s daily life.

II. The Simplicity of the Plan of God for Man

Jesus attributed all error in understanding the Bible to lack of knowledge of it, answering his critics by saying, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). [Actually Jesus just said that the Sadducees erred in questioning the resurrection, not that they erred in all things.]
Paul taught that hearing the Word of God is sufficient to cause a person to believe, saying, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:11-14, emphasis added; most modern versions end the passage with “Christ” instead of with “God”). [Actually the passage just affirms that hearing the Word of God is necessary for a person to believe, not that it is sufficient to cause a person to believe.]
Nearly ninety times in the New Testament an appeal is made to readers to believe what “is written,” as if everything was simple enough to understand. Jesus taught that it was only because of the willfulness of men not to believe that it was hard to understand (Matthew 13:9-17). Thus there is no excuse for anyone to misunderstand God’s Word if he will accept the Bible for what it says and consecrate himself to obey it. [Actually the passage just affirms that the willfulness of men is a reason that people don’t understand, not that it is the only reason that they don’t understand.]
“Let us proceed with our study with an open Bible, an open heart, and an open mind to all that God says, and be honest enough to lay aside old theories for the plain, literal, and simple Word of God on all points discussed” (Dake, page 3).

When I created Bob’s Corner I intended to use it to introduce open theism to my family and friends and so called it Open Theism. At that time I observed that it was not intended for advanced discussion of open theism or for arguments between supporters and opponents of open theism, other sites being available for both of those activities, and thus that I would approve the publication of only those comments that were made in a non-technical and friendly manner. Later I widened the blog’s content to include reports on my family’s after-breakfast and our Life group’s weekly Bible studies and changed its name to Bob’s Corner. However, although comments from followers of and visitors to Bob’s Corner are encouraged, I’ve kept the same restriction on them: I will approve the publication of only those comments that are made in a non-technical and friendly manner.