SGBC Modesto


March 6, 2024 by

William Heinrich

A Position Paper by
Pastors William Heinrich and Johnnie Sloan

Introductory Comment: It has been our practice since the beginning of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church to not call our doctrine Dispensational in the sense of John Darby or Scofieldism.

We have done this because of the many parts of Dispensationalism that some hold that we do not.  In a desire to make our position clear on this subject we will state what we do believe scripture teaches on this subject. We would lovingly admonish the reader to take care not to be what one pastor calls a “Pious Agnostic”. It is often true that people will criticize an eschatology of a church and then admit they have not studied the subject.  We want clarity in these areas as well as diligence.

This paper has relied heavily on the work of Doctor Michael J. Vlach and the presentation he gave at the 2010 Shepherds’ Conference.

Definition of Dispensationalism

“Dispensationalism is a system of theology primarily concerned with the doctrines of ecclesiology and eschatology that emphasizes the historical-grammatical meaning of Old Testament prophetic passages and covenants, a distinction between Israel and the church, and a future salvation and restoration of the nation Israel in a future earthly kingdom” (Vlach, Dispensationalism, 50).

What we believe

1.   Progressive revelation from the New Testament does not nullify, transfer, or reinterpret Old Testament passages in a way that violates or cancels the original authorial intent of the Old Testament writers as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics.

When you think of the meaning of an Old Testament passage ask yourself, “Where is the meaning of this passage found?”

We believe it is found in the authorial intent of the OT writer as determined by historical-grammatical hermeneutics. You may believe that God, in the New Testament, may do more than what the OT author meant, or apply the OT passage in ways not seen by the OT author, but God will never do less or go contrary to the original meaning of the OT author. Thus, the meaning of OT passages is anchored in the OT passages themselves.

However, non-dispensationalists argue that the NT at times interprets/reinterprets/transcends the meaning of OT passages. For instance, the non-dispensationalist George Ladd argued that at times the meaning of a NT passage becomes the new meaning of an OT passage (Matt 2:15 and Hos 11:1):

2.  Types exist but national Israel is not a type that is superseded by the church,

We at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church believe types exist but not everything in the OT is a type that is transcended by some greater NT antitype. Israel cannot be a type because God made eternal and unconditional promises with the nation (Jer 31). Plus, the NT still predicts a future for the nation Israel (Matt 23:39; Acts 1:6; Rom 11)

Non-dispensationalists often view the events, things, and persons of the OT as provisional shadows, types, and figures that give way to greater NT realities.

Ex. Temples in OT are fulfilled in Jesus, the true temple (John 2) and His church (Eph 2:21)

Ex. The nation Israel is a type of Jesus and the church who are the true Israel.

But the NT still refers to the nation Israel (Acts 1:6; Rom 11) and a literal temple (2 Thess 2:4) after Jesus came. How are they transcended?

3.  Israel and the church are distinct, thus, the church cannot be identified as the new or true Israel.

We reject Replacement Theology and its idea that the church is the replacement/fulfillment of the nation Israel. We hold that the NT never identifies the church as “Israel” and still predicts a future for Israel (Matt 19:28; 23:39; Acts 1:6; Rom 11).

Non-dispensationalists, while differing on whether there will be a large scale conversion of the Jews or not, argue that the church is the true and/or new Israel that supersedes the nation Israel as the people of God.

4.  There is both spiritual unity in salvation between Jews and Gentiles and a future role for Israel as a nation.

Sovereign Grace Baptist Church holds that there is a salvation unity between Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:11-22) but this unity does not mean “sameness” in regard to identity or function. Israel has a role and function in God’s future plans as do the Gentiles. God is honored in the ‘unity/diversity’ motif.

— Men and women are one in Christ (Gal 3:28) but they still possess unique identities and share different roles (1 Tim 2:9-12). The same is true for order in the family and order in the church. Salvific unity does not overturn all distinctions.

—The six “syn-compounds” of Eph 2 and 3 (see 3:6 in particular) indicate that believing Gentiles share with Israel in the covenants and promises, but they are not incorporated into Israel.

Non-dispensationalists view Jew/Gentile unity as meaning that there can be nothing distinct for the nation Israel.

5. The nation Israel will be both saved and restored with a unique identity and function in a future millennial kingdom upon the earth.

Sovereign Grace Baptist Church believes Israel will be saved. But it also holds that Israel will be restored with a unique role to other nations. (Acts 1:6; see Isaiah 49:4-6)

Some non-dispensationalists believe there will be a great salvation of the majority of Jews but they do not hold that Israel will be restored as a nation.

6. There are multiple senses of “seed of Abraham,” thus, the church’s identification as “seed of Abraham” does not cancel God’s promises to the believing Jewish “seed of Abraham.”

Sovereign Grace Baptist Church believes that believing Gentiles become the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:29) but they do not become spiritual Jews or Israel. Abraham is the father of Gentiles who believe and Jews who believe, but the two groups still maintain their unique identities.

—Gen 12:2-3: purpose of Abraham is to bring blessings to the families of the earth (see Isaiah 49:5-6)

—Gal 3:7-9: believing Gentiles fulfill that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promised blessings to the Gentiles to begin with.

—Rom 4:11-12: Abraham is the father of believing Jews and Gentiles “

Non-dispensationalists believe that being part of the “seed of Abraham” means that believing Gentiles are now part of Israel and there is no future for the nation Israel.