PROGRESSIVE REVELATION WITHIN ESCHATOLOGY, DISPENSATION THEOLOGY
This is not to say God is still making new revelation, He does know the beginning and the end (there will be not end, but eternity). This is not to say that God is revealing new revelation to man today. But I would say, some events are becoming clearer to us today than they were, let us say sixty years ago.
When the term PROGRESSIVE DISPENSATION is used theologically or biblically, they are describing the unfolding of that administration or plan for the world in various stages in history. I have always looked at the Scripture in view of History in stages of time. Adam to Abraham to Moses to David to Christ and then into the Kingdom.
God knows exactly what He has planned for all eternity. But even today, we do not know very much about the future. Daniel didn’t know a whole lot about what he was even writing in the book of Daniel.
- The basic truths of Scripture are in their essence present in the first 11 chapters of Genesis, yet progressively in stages they are unfolded, explained, clarified and brought to their fullness in the New Testament. What has been the saying, The Old Testament Veiled and the New Testament Revealed.
Thus, the doctrines of Creation, God’s nature and attributes, Man as created and as fallen in sin, God's covenant of redemption, the Savior - his person and work, Faith and repentance and salvation through grace, judgment, are there from the beginning, though the fullness (and along with it, the understanding) of them undergoes a gradual development through Scripture.
Because of this, we must not demand the same understanding of God's truth by an Old Testament individual as we would find in Paul or John. Because God's revelation is both through word and deed, there is an unfolding revelation through the events of Israel’s history- Abraham's covenant and pilgrimage, Israel’s captivity and exodus, of judges, kings, prophets, captivity and restoration. God did not present Moses with a complete systematic theology, but He did in "nutshell" form lay out all the basic truths of the Bible.
- "This perspective of Progressive Revelation is very important to the interpreter. He will expect the full revelation of God in the New Testament. He will not force New Testament meanings into the Old, yet he will be able to more fully expound the Old knowing its counterparts in the New. He will adjust his sights to the times, customs, manners and morals of the people of God at any given state in the Old Testament period of revelation; and he will be aware of the partial and elementary nature of Old Testament Revelation. . . . Progressive Revelation. . . states simply that the fullness of revelation is in the New Testament." But at the same time we cannot think that the people in the Old Testament knew as much as those in the New Testament.
(Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation, pp. 103-104)
The applicable principles are implied already. We must look for the clearest and most complete understanding in the New Testament, while recognizing that the Old 'Testament is the progressive unfolding of those truths. The book of Hebrews helps us understand the Old Testament ritual and sacrifices, but without the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers - Hebrews would not be as meaningful. We need to see the Old Testament from the New Testament understanding, without imposing that understanding on the Old Testament saint.
Henricksen expresses the important principle of progressive revelation quite simply: "God does progressively reveal himself as history unfolds. But this does not mean that God’s standards become progressively higher or that God changes along the way. Rather it is our understanding of God and His revelation that progresses. God never changes." (Laymen's Guide to Interpreting the Bible, P. 77)
If we apply this principle of progressive dispensational theology its going to lead us to:
Your theology is going to lead you in a certain direction.
Applying progressive dispensational theology leads you to distinguish God’s program for Israel from His program for the church. Therefore, the church of the N.T. is not in the O.T. Israel of the O.T. is not the same as in the N.T. This will guide your interpretation of Scripture different from other systems of interpretation.
If you see Israel and the Church as the same, you are going to view Revelation different from what I would. You are not going to see even an Antichrist with this point of view. You are likely to view Revelation as Historical rather than future. You are not going to see a 1000 year millennial reign of Christ. Most do not even see a "rapture" nor a Tribulation as spoken in Revelation.
- If you apply progressive dispensational thinking you are going to see that Israel is to have a future program with God. There is going to be the "rapture" of the true believer; there is going to be a seven-year Tribulation.
- There is going to be a man of sin who will reign and then be defeated, and the world as we know it will be destroyed. Then God will take back the earth from Satan and give it to Christ to reign for a thousand years.