Monday, January 12, 2009

Dispensationalism and the Three Witnesses

Alice C. Linsley

I'm not a Dispensationalist in the tradition of the 1917 Scofield Bible but I find two dispensations in the Bible. The older dispensation involves those who anticipated the appearing of the Son of God according to the Edenic Promise that was given to their ancestors. The second involves those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the Edenic Promise (Gen. 3:15). Yet these are not really two dispensations.  They are one and the same, unified by the Pleromic Blood of Jesus Christ. This is evident in history, becuse in both dispensations it is always the same three witnesses who testify and their testimony never changes.

According to Semitic law, the testimony of three witnesses is binding and the number three in Genesis always represents a unity. The witnesses are the water, the blood and the Spirit, and they bind the two dispensations of which Jesus and St. Paul speak: the old and the new.

The sign of the Old Covenant is the blood of lambs and the sign of the New Covenant is the Blood of The Lamb. None can be saved by the blood of animals, regardless how unblemished. God's provision of the Christ Lamb makes it clear that blood is the essential life-giving and life-redeeming substance, but not the blood of beasts. So the two dispensations speak of blood and contrast the efficacy of the blood of sacrificed animals and the blood of the Christ.

The nexus of the dispensations is the point in time when the three witnesses give consistent and unified testimony to Christ's appearing and His identity at Jesus' presentation in the Temple and at His baptism at Nimrah (waters of God).

The blood  is represented by the Priest Simeon. The water is represented by the Baptizer John, and the Spirit  is represented by the Prophetess Anna. Note the message of each witness: Simeon said that his eyes had beheld the fulfillment of the promise to Israel. John pointed to Jesus and called Him the "Lamb of God" and Anna spoke of Jesus to all in Jerusalem who were awaiting salvation.

John points to the Three Witnesses when he writes: "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement." (I John 5:5-8)

The Pleromic Blood is what justifies all who believe, regardless if they lived before the Incarnation or after the Incarnation. There can be no remission without the shedding of blood. Even more, there can be no life without the Pleromic Blood.

This truth must have been apparent to people who lived long before Abraham because the use of red ochre in burial was widespread in prehistoric times. A man buried 45,000 years ago at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southern France, was packed in red ochre. “The Red Lady of Paviland” in Wales was buried in red ochre about 20,000 years ago. Her skeletal remains and burial artifacts are encrusted with the red ore. P.L. Kirk reports that prehistoric Australian aboriginal burials reveal pink staining of the soil around the skeleton, indicating that red ochre had been sprinkled over the body. The ‘Fox Lady’ of Doini Vestonice, Czechoslovakia (near Russia) who was buried 23,000 years ago, was also covered in red ochre. Anthropologists generally agree that the red ochre dust represented blood and the ritual burials were done in the hope that, by virtue of the blood, the dead would live again.

The Pleromic Blood can be traced through the Scriptures as the scarlet cord that ties all things together. In other words, all things are made one in Jesus Christ and this is confirmed by the Three Witnesses.

The division of biblical history into more than these two dispensations causes us to overlook the centrality of Christ and the Three Witnesses. Instead, Dispensationalism asks us to focus on the signs of God's various covenants: the rainbow, circumcision, etc. Focusing on the signs rather than on the One to whom the signs point is spiritually counter-productive.

Finally, there is the distinctive kinship pattern among Abraham's people which, by its numerical symbolism, speaks of the Kingdom of God as consisting of  two households. Just as the rulers among Abraham's people required two wives in separate locations to establish a kingdom, so God's Kingdom is comprised of two groups: those who share the benefits of the Pleromic Blood before Christ's Incarnation and those who share those benefits in the dispensation of His appearing. Both groups enter by faith, responding to the voice of the Good Shepherd. This is why Jesus spoke of having two flocks (John 10:16) . The bridge between the two flocks is the unified testimony of the Three Witnesses, and the Shepherd of both is the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Related Reading:  The Messianic Priesthood of Jesus, God Has Made Progress With Us; The Testimony of Blessed John, Forerunner; Nimrod and the Baptism of Jesus

No comments: