But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation. It is likely that some of our own readers, when perusing the articles upon the interpretation of the Scriptures, felt more than once that we were taking an undue liberty with Holy Writ, that we made use of certain passages in a way altogether unjustifiable, that we appropriated to the saints of this Christian era what does not belong to them but is rather addressed unto those who lived in an entirely different dispensation of the past, or one which is yet future.
This modern method of mishandling the Scriptures—for modern it certainly is, being quite unknown to Christendom till little more than a century ago, and only within recent years being adopted by those who are outside the narrow circle where it originated—is based upon 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Very little or nothing at all is said upon the first two clauses of that verse, but on the third one, which is explained as "correctly partitioning the Scriptures unto the different peoples to whom they belong." These mutilators of the Word tell us that all of the Old Testament from Genesis 12 onwards belongs entirely to Israel after the flesh, and that none of its precepts (as such) are binding upon those who are members of the Church which is the Body of Christ, nor may any of the promises found therein be legitimately appropriated by them. And this, be it duly noted, without a single word to that effect by either the Lord or any of His Apostles, and despite the use which the Holy Spirit makes of the earliest Scriptures in every part of the New Testament. So far from the Holy Spirit teaching Christians practically to look upon the Old Testament much as they would upon an obsolete almanac, He declares, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the (Old Testament) Scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).
Before turning to the positive side of our present subject, it was necessary for us to expose and denounce that teaching which insists that much in the Bible has no immediate application unto us today. Such teaching is a reckless and irreverent handling of the Word, which has produced the most evil consequences in the hearts and lives of many—not the least of which is the promotion of a pharisaical spirit of self-superiority. Consciously or unconsciously, Dispensationalists are, in reality, repeating the sin of Jehoiakim, who mutilated God’s Word with his penknife (Jer 36:23). Instead of "opening the Scriptures," they are bent in closing the major part of them from God’s people today. They are just as much engaged in doing the devil’s work as are the Higher Critics, who, with their dissecting knives, are wrongly "dividing the word of truth." They are seeking to force a stone down the throats of those who are asking for bread. These are indeed severe and solemn indictments, but not more so than the case calls for. We are well aware that they will be unacceptable unto some of our own readers; but medicine, though sometimes necessary, is rarely palatable.
There is a pattern in the teaching and thoughts of modern dispensationalists. They rarely preach through books in the Old Testament; they do not write commentaries on the books of the old testament, they interpret all text literally and accuse men like Spurgeon, and many of the Puritans of "confusing people" and they say things like, "Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Pre-Millennialist. It's too late for Calvin, but it's not too late for you".
Kim Riddlebargers reaction to what he heard was (in brief):
As a Reformed amillennarian (who was raised a dispensationalist) I had a powerful gut-level reaction to Dr. MacArthur’s lecture. While this lecture was well-received by the friendly and largely dispensational home court audience to whom it was delivered, surely Dr. MacArthur knew that his words would amount to picking a fight with those Reformed amillennarians who may have been present. This was not the playful jab that conference speakers often take at one another at such events. No, this was a warning of sorts–a shot fired across the bow.
My take is that this was MacArthur’s attempt to go from being on defense to switching over to offense. Despite the self-assurance with which the lecture was delivered, in many ways, the lecture seemed like a rather desperate attempt to stem the rising tide of interest in Reformed amillennialism in the Reformed-evangelical conference circuit, where many are now openly rejecting MacArthur’s beloved dispensationalism. At least that’s how it seemed to me.As I worked my way through the specific points raised by Dr. MacArthur, it was very hard not to become exasperated. The lecture seemed out of place at such a conference and would have been a much better fit at a conference devoted to dispensational eschatology. At least the audience would have known what was coming in advance.
To read his entire response, click here.
Note: No man is immune to error. To see a man that you respect and love--fall into it and say nothing; is not love, but idolatry.
I believe that most men have formed an opinion about this based upon very little study and adopt a philosophy that goes something like this, "Well, if (fill-in the blank) teaches it, it must be correct as he is much more learned than I am." I highly recommend (at the very least) that you read through these articles. Click here