The Dispensations - Scripture Teaching Library Ltd
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The Dispensations by Mark Sweetnam



All of God's works display His glory and power. We often wonder at the magnificent expanses and intricate details of the physical creation and trace the fingerprints of God. It is just the same with history. The ages are not just the accumulation of random and meaningless events. In the passing of the centuries we see the working out of a great and inexorable purpose, and recognise the mighty power and boundless wisdom of God. This book presents the scriptural truth of the dispensations. It introduces the reader to the wonder of God's plan for the ages, and seeks to demonstrate how an understanding of the dispensations allows us to comprehend more of God's Word and more of His mighty ways.
About the author:

Mark Sweetnam

is in fellowship in the assembly at Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland. He is an Assistant Professor of English with Digital Humanities in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, specialising in seventeenth-century literature and the history of evangelicalism. He is the author of a number of books including Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth: God's Word in Human History (published by John Ritchie), The Dispensations: God's Plan for the Ages, Worship: The Christian's Highest Calling, and To the Day of Eternity: Future Events in Bible Prophecy (published by Scripture Teaching Library).

Book Reviews:

The Dispensations: God’s Plan for the Ages - By Mark Sweetnam

In a masterful way, Mark Sweetnam ably presents Dispensational teaching in a systematic and biblical manner.  He is simple without being simplistic.  The book claims to be a mere introduction to the subject, but it has greater depth than one expects.  Seizing on the expression in Hebrews 1:2: ‘by Whom also He made the worlds [ages]’, the writer claims, correctly, that God has organised history in discrete and distinctive ages. Care is taken to define in detail the meaning of ‘dispensation’ and how this is an apt description of the Creator’s ‘ages’. Derived from the Scriptures, four distinct characteristics of each dispensation are presented: revelation, responsibility, rebellion and retribution. Using this framework and an open Bible, Sweetnam analyses the Dispensations of Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace and Fulness of Times (Millennium). By using the popular titles for each dispensation, the reader is at once able to compare his or her current knowledge with what is presented.While much of the material confirms, convincingly from extensive quotations of Scripture, what others have taught (Chafer, Scofield, etc.), there are some thought-provoking exceptions. Claiming that some dispensations overlap each other, the rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea is presented as the close to the age of Promise, even though the Dispensation of Law had commenced earlier at Sinai. Even more controversial is the book’s claim that the Tribulation is the judgement (retribution) that finishes the Dispensation of Grace, even though the Rapture concluded the ‘Church Age’. Refreshingly, Mark Sweetnam defends with Scripture rather than dogmatism.

While the breadth of vocabulary is delightful, it is acknowledged that the reader might have to scramble for the dictionary on occasion! But that aside, the presentation is as lucid as it is lofty, leaving the reader with the satisfaction that not only is his mind being fed, but his soul nourished. Time and again, one is compelled to bow in contemplative worship to ‘bless the Hand that guided, bless the Heart that planned’. Brother Sweetnam has handled profound truth masterfully and reverently; this volume is highly recommended to both students and teachers of the Scriptures.

Review by Elton Fairfield

In The Dispensations – God’s Plan for the Ages (9781909789005) Dr Sweetnam explains that the course of Biblical history, from Eden to the future Millennial Kingdom, has been purposely divided by God into defined periods or ages, to each of which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles. Each of these seven dispensations is marked by a cycle. Firstly, God reveals His truth to humanity in a new way. Secondly, humanity is held responsible to conform to that revelation. Thirdly, humanity rebels against God and fails to live up to the revelation given. Fourthly, having failed the test, humanity is judged by God. Each dispensation ends in failure, before giving way to a new administration in God’s purpose. The ultimate end of this series of dispensations is described in Ephesians 1:9-10, where God has “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Christ, with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times [the Millennial Kingdom], that is, the summing up of all things in Christ.” In our opinion, this 253 page work by Mark Sweetnam is the best book on dispensationalism currently available.

Credits: Review by Michael Penfold
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