Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie informs us that
"The original promises given to Abraham were given without any conditions whatsoever. The words recorded in Genesis
12 are clear in their testimony." (BPF page 54).
We beg to differ, and our reasons are quite simple:
Dispensational Bible scholars have been taught to interpret the Bible "literally," so they say, but as a "necessary adjunct" to
that, they have also been taught to interpret the Bible dispensationally. Ah, there's the rub! How can you interpret literally,
and at the same time interpret according to dispensational teachings. You can do one or the other, but not both. Interpreting
the Bible dispensationally blinds the interpreter to everything that is not dispensational (or futuristic). A purely literal
interpretation is the only way to determine the unblemished truth. Dispensationalists claim they have the corner on literal
interpretation - they honk that horn over and over, but their method of interpretation is, as they admit, strictly according to
There were indeed conditions in the covenant; they just weren't spelled out or labeled as conditions, and the Bible doesn't
draw pictures for the benefit of theologians. The covenant is found in Genesis 12:1-3: "Now the LORD had said unto
Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew
thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a
blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the
earth be blessed."
Abraham must leave his father's homeland and journey to an unknown country that God would show him. The condition,
though only implied, was unmistakable. However Dr. Ryrie makes a scholarly effort to show that, in spite of the clear, simple
language of the Bible, the covenant was somehow unconditional. On page 455 of his Basic Theology, in a section titled,
"Alleged Conditions in the Covenant," he admits that the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12:1-3 is conditional, then quickly
inserts a few "grammatical howevers" which flip the passage on its head, and declares that which is conditional to be just
the opposite. He states:
"The imperative, "Go forth from your country," expresses a condition that would have invalidated the covenant if Abraham
had not obeyed. However, grammatically this imperative, followed by two imperfects and a series of cohortative imperfects
in verses 2-3, expresses intention, namely what God intended to do for Abraham..."
According to Dr Ryrie, as long as there was intention on God's part to do what He promised, the covenant was unconditional.
Inversely, then, by that logic, if God had not intended to keep His Word, would the covenant have been conditional? Surely
the good doctor must be joking! Can anyone picture God making a covenant in which He had no intention of doing what He
promised? We can see that interpreting Scripture according to dispensational principles often yields the blasphemous result
of making God a liar and a cheat!
When God made a covenant with Abraham, would He have had any intention of fulfilling it? Of course He would. There had
to be intention. How could He have made a covenant without the intention of doing His part? The truth is, God had every
intention in the world of fulfilling His promise. All Abraham had to do was pack up and leave his father's homeland. But even
with the best of intentions on God's part, how could He have fulfilled the promise if Abraham had not obeyed? For one
thing, that would have required a colossal modification of the earth's surface. Abraham lived with his father in Haran, which
is in a land now known as Turkey. God wanted to set him up with a new nation in Canaan Land. If Abraham had not obeyed,
and had refused to leave his father's country, the only way God could have fulfilled His promise to Abraham "unconditionally"
would be to pull up Canaan by the roots and move it to Haran where Abraham was, or else make Turkey the Promised Land.
I for one, don't think God would be willing to go that far to accommodate a lazy and disobedient prospect to father a nation
for His name. But the question is moot; we will never know, because Abraham obeyed, and did as he was told.
No matter how many "imperfects" and "cohortatives" there were in this covenant, you can't deny the fact that in simple,
understandable terms, God required of Abraham to leave his father's home, and journey to the Promised Land. The covenant
was, obviously, conditioned on Abraham's obedience. An intention is a necessary part of any covenant; without it there can
be no covenant. But you cannot focus on the intention, and somehow, by declaration, invalidate the condition. Grammatically,
literally, and or by any other rule, it just doesn't work that way.
Scripture tells us that Abraham departed his father's homeland as he was told, and received the blessings of God. It must be
remembered that this covenant was with Abraham and Abraham alone. His descendants, the Israelites, would be automatic
beneficiaries of the promises. Automatic, but not unconditional. To receive the promises God made to them, they, too, would
have to love and obey God.
When the time was ripe, Jesus came to confirm the covenant with the many in Israel for seven years, and to set up the
kingdom for His people (Dan 9:27 KJV). Some new Bibles rewrite that verse, and change the meaning entirely. In the
NRSV we read: "He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week..." Dispensationalists love translations like this,
because it fits into their doctrinal agenda much more closely than the Word of God does. Not only is it false, it isn't even well
thought out. Taking seven years to make a covenant is most illogical, while confirming a covenant for seven years is not.
Moreover, dispensationalists have never been able to tell anyone what that "strong covenant" is all about, because they
cannot find it in the Bible. But the Word of God has a great deal to say about Christ confirming the promises (covenant) and
preaching the Kingdom to Israel for seven years (Dan.9:27), "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the
circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8). The Bible has
nothing to say about some anti-Christ making some covenant with somebody in the future. The covenant was made in ages
past, and confirmed to Israel 2000 years ago. The majority in Israel rejected God's offer of the kingdom, and as a consequence
did not receive the promised blessings, only the promised judgements, which came later, in AD70, thus fulfilling whatever
was left of all prophecies to be fulfilled (Luke 21:22 ).
Dispensationalists, who never give up trying to convince the Christian world that only they have a handle on correct Bible
interpretation, everyone else being wrong, finally admit that Israel did not receive the land and the kingdom because of
disobedience, but insist that, because the promise was unconditional, it was not taken away from them, but only postponed,
and that God will fulfill His promises to them in the future. This doesn't wash, because if the covenant were unconditional,
God would have been obligated to deliver the kingdom no matter what; He could neither have cancelled nor postponed it..
WHAT THE SCHOLARS SAY VERSUS WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Scholars go to great lengths in an effort to convince us that Abraham partially disobeyed God, that he delayed obeying the
commandment to leave his father's homeland until he was good and ready. They say that he even fiddled around in Haran
for years after God called him, not leaving until his father died, and after finally deciding to leave, still received all the
promises. If we can be made to believe that, then it would be easy to believe that Israel, which rejected and crucified Christ,
and is also fooling around until she is good and ready to repent and accept Christ, will ultimately receive the kingdom and
the land promised to it. Dr. Walvoord writes:
"In the original command to Abram in Ur of the Chaldeans, he was told to leave his kindred, Instead, his father and his
nephew Lot traveled with him. His arrival in the Promised Land was delayed until the death of his father" ( Every Prophecy
of the Bible, page 27).
Dr Walvoord was, no doubt, a sincere Christian, but dispensational doctrine seems to have moved him to conveniently bypass
the truth at times. Read Genesis 11:31 carefully. Never does the Bible say that God called Abraham out of Ur of the
Chaldees. Terah, Abraham's father, and head of the clan, didn't tag along with Abraham. The former was in charge, and took
his family, including Abraham, and started out for Canaan Land. They got as far as Haran, and settled there. Abraham lived
in Haran with his father when God called him. Study chapters 11 and 12 carefully, consider all the ages given, and do the
math. You will see that Abraham left a full 60 years before his father died, not after. "So Abram departed, as the LORD
had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram [was] seventy and five years old when he departed out of
Haran" (Gen. 12:4). Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after
receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." And this verse clearly states that
Abraham obeyed WHEN he was called, not years later. Dr. Walvoord, like many dispensatinal scholars, deviated widely from
Scripture in his commentary.
There is a passage in Acts (Acts 7:1-5) where Stephen tells a different story - one more to the liking of futurists - that
Abraham received the call while in the land of the Chaldeans, then came out and dwelled in (Haran), and left from there after
His father was dead. Although this differs considerably from that given in Genesis, many people, Bible scholars included,
prefer to believe it. But there is no way to choose what Stephen said over what is written in Genesis without at the same time
admitting that there is a contradiction in God's Word. Here, if nowhere else, there clearly seems to be one. That seems to be
a problem. Can we show, even with these two diametrically opposite views, that God's Word is inerrant? Yes we can.
When Luke penned the book of Acts, he wrote down the words of Stephen accurately, without error. When Moses wrote the
Pentateuch, he, too, did so without error. But while Moses was told to tell it like it was, Luke was told to tell it like Stephen
thought it was. So, we have a choice: accept the words of Stephen over those of the Holy Spirit, or vice versa. Some prefer
to believe Stephen, and that is their business. But the Holy Spirit is infallible, Stephen was not. It is foolhardy to accept the
sayings of a mere mortal man, when those sayings differ from the Word of God. We must recognize the obvious fact that
Stephen was wrong; he didn't know the early history of Israel as well as he thought he did. Abraham received the promises
of God, not because the covenant was unconditional, but because he met the condition: he obeyed God.
"HE CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF"
In Romans chapter 11, Paul is speaking to Gentiles about Israelites. "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the
apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh..."
(Vs 13-14) "You" are Gentiles, "them" are Israelites, and so it is all the way to verse 32: "For God had concluded them
all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." So who are "them all" here?
Here scholarship has found fresh territory to express the kind of haphazard logic inherent in modern thinking. The Jamieson,
Fausset, & Brown Commentary, page 1173: "...'hath shut them all up to unbelief' - that he might have mercy on all - i.e.,
those 'all' of whom he had been discoursing: the Gentiles first, and after them the Jews...and what he says here is that God's
purpose was to shut each of these divisions of men [Jew and Gentile] to the experience of an humbled, condemned state,
without Christ, and then to the experience of His mercy in Christ."
This is nonsense. It is gibberish. And part of the blame should go to modern translations, such as the NASV: "For God has
shut up all in disobedience..."; or the NIV: "For God has bound all men over to disobedience..."; and even the NKJV: "For
God has committed them all to disobedience..." The NKJV, to their credit, did not leave out the word "them," but
"disobedience" is not the most precise translation.
Bible scholars who embrace new translations, and spend much time and effort finding fault with the King James Bible,
display the most pathetic side of educated puffiness. Let's express this in down to earth country talk: they don't know "beans
from apple juice" where prophetic Scripture is concerned."
When Paul said that "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief," he was talking about them all, meaning Israelites.
"Concluded" means that God "made up His mind" that all Israelites would become unbelievers - not necessarily disobedient -
and He didn't care whether they were good, bad, ugly, or whatever. All Israelites were suddenly turned into "unbelieving"
Gentiles. God's purpose for doing this is clear. Contrary to the tenets of futurism, His purpose was to discontinue the Mosaic
System of Law and animal sacrifices, and everything that went with it, and institute the Age of Grace, wherein everyone, ex-
Jew and Gentile alike, can come to the Father for mercy - but only through faith in Jesus Christ.
So all Jews, who were in the past born children of God, were turned into unbelievers - that is - outsiders, just like the
Gentiles. Did God cast away His people? Not by the hairs of your chinny-chin-chin! In this same chapter Paul makes it clear
that "all Israel shall be saved." And in another chapter he tells us who "all Israel" was. True Israelites were those who
believed and loved God the Father, and wouldn't have any problem accepting the Son as well. The Gospel of salvation went
out into all the world, to "every creature under heaven" (Col. 1:23). Every Jew heard it, and everyone had the opportunity
to accept or reject the Son of Man as Lord and Saviour. A remnant of Israel did, and were born again. Many did not. The
window of opportunity for Jews to repent and be saved closed at the end of the war with Rome in AD70. With the city and
the temple gone, and the nation - the house of David - left desolate, there would never again be anything like the Jewish
system of Laws, sacrifices, and ordinances.
There is a peculiar verse in Daniel 12:12: "Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and
five and thirty days" Instead of the usual 1290 days which Bible students have come to expect, here are added an extra forty-
five days. Some Bible scholars (premised on their belief in the future "Great Tribulation"), suggest that 45 days are needed
to set up the governmental machinery of the Millennial Kingdom, and so forth. Futurism is theology with few biblical
so scholars are free to let their imagination go hog-wild. If Christ needed time to "set up the machinery," who told scholars
that 45 days would be long enough?
So far, I don't think that anybody knows the reason for those additional 45 days. But one thing seems sure: If he who waits
those extra days is blessed, then the "end" to which all must endure (Matt. 24:13) does not happen immediately after the war,
but 45 days later. So Jews could still fall away, and slip back into the Judaic system, and be lost. After that time the salvation
of all believers is sealed. (That is my guess; take it with a grain of salt, if you wish).
This much we know:
By concluding all Jews in unbelief, God made everyone the same, spiritually. That cannot be questioned; the Bible is clear.
Acts 15:9 "And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."
Romans 3:22 "Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:
for there is no difference:"
Romans 10:12 "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all
that call upon him."
The widely accepted goof that Jews lose their national identity when they accept Jesus misses the mark; Ever since God
concluded them all in unbelief, they have not had a national identity.
DID GOD EVER MAKE AN UNCONDITIONAL COVENANT WITH ISRAEL?
In addition to the Abrahamic Covenant, which we have already discussed, there are others which the "gurus" of the
contemporary school of prophecy would have us understand are unconditional. One is the so-called Palestinian Covenant,
which they say is to be found in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Turn to that passage and read it for yourself. Then read the entire
chapter - all 20 verses, and see if you can explain on what authority do these experts select the first 10 verses, and omit the
remaining 10. It is more than obvious that all twenty verses make up the Palestinian Covenant. The common practice of
dispensational scholars is to quote the first nine verses, which contain a lot of the Lord's "I WILL's," making it appear to be
unconditional, and remain silent about the other verses. But the rest of the chapter, beginning with verse 10, is a bone in the
dispensational craw. It begins with, "If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God..." and spells out some
devastating consequences for rejecting and disobeying the Lord God. The covenant is by no means unconditional, but
futuristic scholars diligently avoid mentioning those revealing verses.
To properly structure a covenant (or an agreement of any kind) is to spell out what the first party will do for the second party,
if the second party lives up to the conditions required by the first party. The first nine verses tell of all the good things which
would happen to Israel when they obey God's voice. The word "when" is not devoid of an implicit "if," and there was no
guarantee that Israel would obey. According to history, they didn't.
Is Israel going to receive a "guaranteed national converted heart" in the "Great Tribulation?"(Things To Come, p. 98).
Futurists believe that, since Israel obviously will not turn to God on their own, then God must cause a national conversion
and repentance in order to give them the kingdom He promised. Futurists are much too generous with blessings which are
God's to give.
If God were going to forcibly convert Israel's "national heart," can Dispensationalists explain why He didn't do it at the
appointed time, when Christ first came to earth. Jews might have been spared 2000 years of homeless wandering, oppression,
persecution, and even the Nazi holocaust. Above all, Jesus wouldn't have had to suffer and die for the sin of the world.
We could go even further, and ask why did He not give Adam and Eve a "guaranteed converted heart?"Now there's a divine
thought, if I may say so!
All the headaches of the world might have been avoided.
Dispensational theology is a half-baked theology A "guaranteed converted heart" is the same thing as forced salvation. Study
biblical history from day one; You will find that God's creatures, from angels down to man, all were given the free will to
choose to love Him or not. God never forced salvation upon any one.