THE NEED FOR A VISION OF GOD’S ECONOMY
Throughout the years we have given many messages on God’s New Testament economy. However, according to my observation, most of the saints who have received these messages still need a clear vision of God’s economy. We need a vision of the central matter in the Bible—the desire of God’s heart to dispense Himself into His chosen people in His trinity for the producing of the church, which is the kingdom of God that will consummate in the New Jerusalem as the eternal expression of the Triune God.
We need a vision of God’s New Testament economy. It is not adequate merely to know about it. You may know about a certain person without ever having seen him. To see a person is very different from merely knowing about him. Likewise, seeing the vision of God’s New Testament economy is different from simply hearing about it. I hope that all the saints will spend much time to pray, both individually and corporately, regarding this. We need to say, “Lord, I cry out to You concerning God’s economy. I need a vision of the New Testament economy. Lord, I have been saved for a long time, but I have not yet seen the vision that the New Testament reveals God’s New Testament economy. Lord, cause me to see that the Triune God wants to dispense Himself into our being so that the church may be produced as the kingdom of God in order that God may have an eternal consummation to express Himself in a corporate way eternally.”
DISPENSATION AND DISPENSING
It is important that we make a distinction between the words “dispensation” and “dispensing.” According to the dictionary, dispensation is a noun form of the verb “dispense.” But according to New Testament usage, the word dispensation refers to God’s arrangement, God’s plan.
We have seen that dispensation is the translation of the Greek word oikonomia, which is composed of two words: oikos, which means house, and nomos, which means law. Oikonomia denotes household regulations or household management. Because this word refers to a household administration and management, it implies a plan. In Ephesians 3 the word dispensation means a plan, an arrangement. Therefore, when we use the word dispensation, we mean God’s household management, God’s arrangement, God’s plan. When we use the word dispensation, we do not mean dispensing, which is the act of God’s dispensing Himself into us. Nevertheless, in God’s dispensation the crucial matter is the dispensing of the Triune God into us.
If we are clear concerning the difference between dispensation and dispensing, we shall not say that we are under God’s dispensation but rather are under His dispensing. To be under God’s dispensation is to be under His administrative government. To be under God’s dispensing is to be under His dispensing action, His act of dispensing Himself into us. If we use the word dispensation to refer to God’s dispensing, others may misunderstand us and think that we are speaking of the plan made by God. Therefore, let us use the words dispensation and dispensing according to biblical usage, making it clear that dispensation denotes God’s administrative arrangement and dispensing, His act of dispensing Himself into us.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)