'Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful', 1 Cor. 4. 2 NKJV
Previously, we saw how God appointed Adam as steward over the earth. But leaving Adam in sole charge of things had not worked, so God replaced that managerial system with a new one. Under this new arrangement, each individual was accountable to God, and God gave each individual a conscience to ensure that His requirements were understood. Yet people failed in this stewardship, not obeying their consciences, and becoming exceedingly wicked.
Despite the failure of the stewards, God did not abandon His plan. After the flood, He introduced a supplementary management system. Instead of each individual being solely accountable to Him, He divided people into nations, giving each nation a leader to be His representative to the people. However, most kings ignored God and led their people into idolatry.
So, God modified the system further. He chose one man, one family, one nation, and appointed them as His global representatives. Although kings retained their political authority, from Abraham on, if someone wanted to worship God, they must come via Abraham’s family.
But not only did the nations fail to respect this new arrangement, even Abraham’s family was not completely faithful.
Therefore, God introduced yet another system. The old systems were still in place for the nations, but, for Abraham’s family, God added the law to regulate their relationship with Him.
Unlike previous arrangements, this new system was very detailed. It was effective in making God’s requirements clear, but it failed, because the stewards failed. Israel ignored the law habitually, before swinging to the other extreme and adding laws of their own.
Christ, born under the law, kept it perfectly, but since it was clearly not working for anybody else, God cancelled the law system for the sake of His greater plan. He suspended His use of Israel as His chief stewards, and completely replaced the inadequate law management system with a brand new administration. The new administration, made possible through the death of Christ which abolished the law, was announced by Paul…
‘If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery’, Eph. 3. 2, 3 NKJV.
This dispensation/stewardship/administration of the grace of God is the management system which is operative today.
Under this arrangement, God offers salvation to each individual. This offer is called the gospel of the grace of God, Acts 20. 24, and is freely available to anyone, without needing a priest, without having to obey a list of rules, simply through faith in Christ.
For this arrangement to be even possible, the previous system of law must be annulled, since the principles of law and grace are mutually contradictory.
This system is the best yet, but mankind still proves unfaithful. Most people reject God’s grace, and even those who receive it often make a terrible hash of living under it. Some revert to law; others use grace as a license to sin.
Soon, God will discontinue this system, and introduce one final administration. Christ will return to establish His kingdom. His regime will be strict but fair, God’s requirements will be universally known and understood, and worldwide conditions will be conducive to compliance.
However, even this glorious administration will end in human rebellion. After one thousand years of peace, people’s hearts will be unchanged, Rev. 20. 7-9.
That is when the times will have reached their fulfilment. Then God will say, ‘enough is enough’. He will dissolve this heavens and earth with fire and will create a brand-new heavens and earth. But, in the new universe, the old distinction between heavens and earth will be removed. God will descend permanently to dwell with men, 21. 3. All things, in heaven and on earth, will be subject to Christ. Finally,
‘when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all’, 1 Cor. 15. 28 NKJV.
At last, God’s great plan for the ages will be complete!