What started out as just another Jewish Sect, Christianity evolved into the world's largest religion. As Jesus had told His disciples, the Church would start in Jerusalem and Judea, but would spread to Samaria, and then to the rest of the world. It took Peter's "keys to the kingdom" for Samaritans and Gentiles to be admitted, and the boldness of a former enemy to break Christianity from, what Paul called, the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13). Unfortunately, there are still groups of believers who can not resist adding works to their formula for sainthood. Legalists usually have two lists: one is a list of things you must do to be saved; the other is a list of things you cannot do without losing salvation. But, while they are in the majority of professing Christians, there is still a remnant that believes salvation is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that it is everlasting (John 1:12; 3:15-16). These two facts have been accepted from the very beginning of the Church. In these, there is no sense of evolution at all; what the Word of God teaches has been believed by born again Christians since the Day of Pentecost. What has evolved over time is the freedom from an oppressing majority. Few are burned at the stake today for believing the Word of Grace.
What has evolved is the understanding of God's Word. For centuries, Paul's meaning in his exhortation to rightly divide the Word of God was debated, until the nineteenth century, when theologians began to grasp the idea of dispensations. While Darby is viewed by most dispensationalists as the founder of the school of thought, the concept was understood long before by many, including Edwards and Watts. Regardless of who the first person was to understand it, I believe Dispensationalism is what the Book of Daniel refers to concerning the revealing of Truth in the last days (Daniel 8:26; 12:4, 8-9). Verse four in particular suggests that travel will be greatly increased, and it is no coincidence that the first invention for mass travel (the steam locomotive) was invented at the same time Darby was popularizing Dispensationalism. Until the nineteenth century, travel was limited to horse power (literal horses), but with the invention of railroads, man began what is today called rapid transit.
Dispensationalism's most important contribution to biblical understanding is the recognition of a clear distinction between Israel (the fifth dispensation) and the Church (the sixth). It also provides the basis for interpreting future prophecy. The Rapture, Tribulation, and the Millennial Kingdom of Christ are clearly revealed as well. The two parts of the Lord's Second Coming, the Rapture and the Millennium, are separated by the seven year period known as Daniel's Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:24-27), the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), and the Tribulation (Matthew 24:1-26).
I have written extensively on Dispensationalism in past posts on this blog. Each of the seven has been laid out on separate posts, and the overall subject has been covered as well. Hopefully, they will be "read and spread" by all who read this. We are so blessed to live in a day when we understand the unique roll we have as members of the Body of Christ. Some call the Church Age the age of grace, and it truly is.