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Though the Bible sets forth the divine requirements for human conduct in each dispensation, there are these extended systems of divine government which in succession cover the period of human history, from the time when the first written Scriptures were given to the end of the mediatorial reign of Christ.

(1) The Mosaic Law, embodying the manner of life prescribed in the law age, which age existed form Moses to Christ. (2) The grace rule of life, embodying the manner of life prescribed for the present dispensation, which age extends from the first to the second advent of Christ. (3) This kingdom rule of life, embodying the manner of life prescribed for the yet future kingdom dispensation, which age follows the second advent.

Though too often confused, the divine government is different in each of these dispensations, being adapted perfectly to the relation which the people in their respective dispensation pertains to God. Each of these systems of human government is wholly complete in itself.

The Mosaic Law contained the commandments, statutes and ordinances, and was an expression of God’s will for Israel to whom alone it was addressed. In the teachings of grace addressed only to the Church, God has disclosed in full the manner of life which becomes those who are already perfect in Christ. The Kingdom rule of conduct embodies that precise responsibility which will be required “when the earth as the waters cover the sea.”

It is most reasonable that there should be widely different precepts indicated for various groups of people so diverse in their relationships. Human obligation toward God could not be the same after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and the Day of Pentecost, as it was before those events. In like manner, human obligation toward God cannot be the same after the removal of the Church to heaven, the return of Christ to reign, and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven over the earth, as it was before.

In general, the law system is set forth in the Old Testament (cf. Ex 20-31:18); the grace teachings are revealed in portions of the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles. The kingdom system is set forth in the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messianic period, and in those portions of the synoptic Gospels which record the kingdom teachings of John the Baptist and the Sermon of the Mount teachings of Christ. The present importance of these distinctions, especially those that are related to the Church, is obvious.

The spiritual Christian life is the greatest New Testament theme along with that of salvation by grace. Every phase of this supernatural life is set forth primarily in the doctrinal portions of the Pauline Epistles. The preacher and teacher must know these truths if he is to guide others in the path of spiritual growth and fruitful service.

Seminaries, generally, offer little or no instruction in this vital field of doctrine; but, over against this, conventions for the specific study and deepening of the spiritual life have sprung up in various localities. These, it would seem, are, to some extent, a protest against the tragic failure of theological institutions to prepare pastors and teachers for one of the greatest ministries God has committed to them.

- L S Chafer

Miles J Stanford Devotional: None But The Hungry Heart