2: The Dispensation of Conscience
Primary source for this discussion: Ankerberg Theological Research Institute
Author: Dr. Renald Flowers
The second dispensation of God’s rule extended from the fall of man through the Noahic Flood. Genesis 4:1-8:19. There were two new ruling factors for the second dispensation: the human conscience and restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit.
“In Genesis 4:3-7 God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice but rejected Cain’s bloodless sacrifice. This implies that the special revelation which God gave to mankind for the second dispensation was that mankind was to approach God only by means of a blood sacrifice (cf. Hebrews 11:4). Sinful mankind, no matter how sincere, could not come to God in their own way. They could come only in the one way that God had ordained.”
In dispensational logic, we see in the future that God sacrifices his first-born son in blood, no longer requiring blood sacrifices from us; we are to understand through Jesus’ ministry that the true work we must do in bettering ourselves is within our minds and hearts. Here, as mankind, we learn to differentiate between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law; we move from being toddlers, who understand only corporal consequences (such as: hot stoves can burn, falls from bed can bruise, obedience because mom/dad says so), to adolescents, who understand the natural/spiritual consequences behind God’s (mom’s/dad’s) rules.
“Mankind’s Failure. Mankind failed the test miserably. Cain refused to bring the kind of sacrifice that God required. When God rejected his improper sacrifice, Cain became so enraged that he murdered his brother Abel. Cain then began to build a godless civilization which became characterized by polygamy and violence. By Noah’s day “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” and “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Things had become so bad that God could find only one righteous man left—Noah, together with his family.
Mankind’s Judgment. This serious failure brought terrible judgment. Through a worldwide flood, God destroyed the perverted segment of mankind. Through the ark, God preserved Noah and his family. In essence, God wiped the slate clean in order to give man a fresh start.
It should be noted that murder began as the result of mankind’s rebellion against God’s rule, and that the flood took place because of that rebellion and God’s judgment of it.
The second dispensation demonstrated the following truth: as a result of mankind’s original rebellion against God, it had become so sinful that, in spite of the ruling factors of the human conscience and the restraint of lawlessness by the Holy Spirit, it would not obediently submit to God’s rule.”