For a short, but pithy, explanation of dispensations in the Bible see Short Explanation of “Dispensation,” Dr. J. Vernon McGee.
Click here for short but excellent audio teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee on 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Jerald Finney includes some basic notes on dispensations. He has read much more on the subject of the dispensations in the Bible than is recorded in his notes, as is reflected in his book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. He considers this subject, along with many others including new insights shown him by the Holy Spirit, each time he reads through the Bible. See the online version of one chapter from God Betrayed which deals with Dispensation Theology: Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology. See also, Definition, organization, and purposes of a church for more on Jerald Finney’s views of Dispensational theology.
One cannot deny that there are dispensations in the Bible. In that sense, Jerald Finney is a dispensationalist. However, one must be careful not to follow the dispensational teachings of, for example, hyperdispensationalists. The standard is the teaching in the Bible.
The following dispensations are one list of the dispensations in the bible. Left click a link to go to the page for that dispensation:
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Believers are to be diligent students of the Word of God. To rightly divide the Word, the Christian is to be a skilled workman like an artisan. The student of the Word of God must understand that the Word of God is one great bundle of truth and that it has certain right divisions. The Bible is built according to a certain law ans structure, which must be observed and obeyed as you go through the Word of God. You can’t just lift out a verse here and a verse there and choose to ignore a passage here and a passage there. It must be studied (and taught) in its entirety. Only a lost person or even a saved person ignorant of the Word of God does not believe the truth that the Bible is the most orderly book ever written, by far, since its author was God.
“Rightly dividing the word of truth.” There are certain dispensations in the Word of God, different methods whereby God dealt with man. The basis of salvation always remains the same. Man is saved only by believing in the atoning death of Christ. But man expresses his faith in God in different ways. For example, Able and Abraham brought little lambs to sacrifice to the Lord. But I hope you don’t take a lamb tochurch next Sunday morning, because you would be entirely out of order. It’s all right for Mary to have a little lamb that follows her to school, but your little lamb should not follow you to church. The reason is that the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world has already come. That Lamb is Jesus (Jn. 1.29). You see, Abel and Abraham looked forward to the Lamb of God, and we look back to His death. This is an illustration of rightly dividing the Word of truth.
Dispensations exhibit the progressive order of God’s dealings with humanity. For instance, to recognize the distinction between law and grace is basic to the understanding of the Scriptures. One has to be careful about listening or studying dispensationalists. Some are very solid on all Bible matters. C.I. Schofield was right about some things, but wrong about others, but studying his works is tremendously enlightening as to God’s dispensations as laid out in the Bible (See, Scofield’s headnote to “Ephesians” and margin notes on his false “true church” doctrine). Some dispensationalists are so far off on so many Bible matters that one should avoid referring to them. Hyperdispensationalists are in the never-never land of interpretation. No matter whose work one studies, the standard should always be a literal study of the Word of God.