If Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God before Acts 28:28, which he clearly did, then had he already begun to proclaim the distinct message of this dispensation, proving that the dispensation had alreadybegun? This is one argument that those who oppose the Acts 28:28 viewpoint would put forward. Consider for example Acts 20:24.

24. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

This argument is based on an erroneous identification of what the message of the dispensation of the grace of God is. If that is truly the message that Paul had been proclaiming for many years, then how in the world could Paul ask those to whom he wrote in Ephesians, and whom he had already declared to be “saints” and “faithful” (or better “believing”) “in Christ Jesus,” whether or not they had heard of the dispensation of the grace of God? If they were believing in Christ Jesus, and the gospel was the message of the dispensation of grace, THEN OF COURSE THEY MUST HAVE HEARD OF IT! Yet in Ephesians 3:2, Paul asks the question,

2. if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,

The dispensation of the grace of God was something that was new when Paul was writing Ephesians, and he was unsure if those he wrote to had heard about it or not. Thus, it could not be the gospel of the grace of God by which we are saved. Rather, it had to be something else.

I believe that the dispensation of the grace of God is nothing less than God’s rule over the world through an administration and a policy of total and complete grace. This is true to such an extent that if God cannot act in grace, then He will not act at all. This explains the many evil things that men seemingly get away with without any response from God. He will not respond in anger or punishment, for that would not be gracious. Always today in every situation He responds in grace.

It is clear that those who make this argument do not know what the dispensation of the grace of God is. Therefore, they confuse it with the gospel of the grace of God. Then, they find that gospel preached before Acts 28:28, and thus think they have proven us wrong. Their problem again is failure to correctly define and understand these truths. The gospel of the grace of God is something that was shared between us and the Acts period. It is not truth exclusively for today. The dispensation of the grace of God, however, is something that is unique today, and that was not at all true in the Acts period. Then, God acted many times in judgment, as we can show clearly by examples. Now, He acts only in grace. This argument holds no water.

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