Yesterday, I defined a dispensation as being a period of time in which one has stewardship of his master's goods. While not all dispensationalists agree, most students of the Bible's divisions recognize seven. I will attempt to show how God's revelation to mankind included definite changes in man's responsibility to His Creator. Remember, the amount of light revealed differed throughout time. From Adam until Moses, there was nothing written. From Moses until Jesus, the Old Testament was developing. And, from Jesus until John's Book of Revelation, the New Testament was written. I want to make it clear at the beginning that God does not change (Malachi 3:6). However, His "focus group," His commands, and His judgments do. And yet, He has always required faith in Him for righteousness, and has provided faith for man to be saved.
The Dispensation of Innocence began at the creation of Adam, and ended with Adam's disobedience. Adam was innocent and sinless. But the moment he ate of the forbidden fruit, he was aware that he was naked and he hid from God. This stewardship was limited to Adam and Eve. They were permitted to eat from every tree in the garden except one. As a result of his disobedience, Adam was sentenced to a spiritual death then, and a physical death some nine hundred years later. The first sin resulted in what is known as The Fall. Adam was created in the eternal image of God (Genesis 1:26), but Adam's off-spring were born in Adam's finite image (Genesis 5:3). However, God knew that Adam would sin and He had made provision for his sin before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
I will attempt to show the basic characteristics of each dispensation, so that by comparing them, one may see the uniqueness of each. And, once the differences are shown, the Bible student will have a better understanding of what God was saying, and to whom. The characteristics are: Stewardship, Foods, God's Command, Man's response, and God's judgment.
So, the Dispensation of Innocence might be described as follows:
Stewardship: Have dominion over the earth, and multiply (Genesis 1:26, 28).
Foods: Plant life such as herbs, fruit, nuts, etc. (Genesis 1:29-30).
Command: Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17).
Response: Adam ate of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:6).
Judgment: THE FALL Spiritual death and later, physical death (Genesis 3:7; 5:5).