Let me begin this morning by thanking most profoundly the General Overseer of Victory International Church, Bishop Taiwo Adelakun for giving me the honour to come and share with this gathering. It is always a privilege to share the ideas and intelligences of Almighty God.
Nothing titillates me like the intelligence and wisdom of God. The only other titillating factoid in my life is hearing the sound of unified voices singing praise and adoration to God. There’s just something about it that does something to me…the idea of God sitting on his throne and being worshipped. It’s such a powerful emotion for me. But as powerful as that is, it still pales in comparison to the excitement that comes from accessing the wisdom of God. Just the thought of it brings me to my knees in worship. It sends me prostrate to the ground. I fully understand the emotions expressed by Apostle Paul when he wrote: “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom of God! How unfathomable, inscrutable, unsearchable are his judgments and decisions! And how untraceable, mysterious, undiscoverable are his ways, methods and paths!” Romans 11:33
Fortunately, God is kind and merciful. He shares vignettes of his wisdom with us. He lets us into his plans and programs. And he’s going to do it again today. It is not because of anything we are. It is not because of any capabilities we have. It is all his mercy and his grace. I am going to share some insight with you this morning. I am going to be talking about the plans of Almighty God, his calendar. If we know what God is doing or where we are, we can plug into God’s programme and fulfill purpose and destiny. We must be sons of Issachar. We must understand the signs of the times.
Today is part 1 of the lecture. I will be laying foundation today, familiarizing you with certain concepts. Then we go farther tomorrow God willing.
In trying to make sense of the history of the world vis-à-vis our engagement with God, theologians have divided history into epochs, or what we call dispensations. The entire history of the world can be broken up into seven eras they tell us. There are seven dispensations. They arrived at these seven slices of history through aggregation. They grouped events together – the same way an editor groups thoughts in a book into paragraphs. When there’s a change in thought or direction he creates another paragraph. If you imagine that history is a chapter, these seven dispensations are like seven paragraphs. Here they are:
- Dispensation of Innocence. It covered the period of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15-17).
- Dispensation of Conscience. It lasted about 1,656 years from the time of eviction of Adam and Eve from the Garden until the deluvian event known as the Flood (Genesis 3:8–8:22).
- Dispensation of Human Government. It began in Genesis 8 after God destroyed the earth with a flood, saving Noah’s family to restart the human race.
- Dispensation of Promise. It started with the call of Abraham, continued through the lives of the patriarchs; ended with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt- a period of about 430 years. (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25).
- Dispensation of the Law. It lasted almost 1,500 years, from the Exodus until it was suspended after the death of Jesus. The dispensation will resume during the Millennium, with some modifications.
- Dispensation of Grace. It is the chronological dispensation we’re in right now. It began with the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20). This “Age of Grace” or “Church Age” occurs between the 69th and 70th weeks of the prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9:24). It starts with the death of Christ and ends with the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4).
- The Millennial Kingdom Dispensation. It will last for 1,000 years as Christ Himself rules on earth.
God has already mapped out human history, designed the calendar of human existence. He is not reacting to events on earth. He never does. What ever we see now was scheduled. For example the coming of Jesus was scheduled. It was prophesied in the second chapter of the book of Genesis – 4000 years before the event. The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the Serpent God said. Jesus is the seed of the woman who bruised the head of the Dragon. But the coming of Jesus was planned BEFORE the Eden Crisis. His crucifixion already took place before Jesus came. I will explain how this can be because it doesn’t make sense but the Bible says in Revelation 13:8 that the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world. Jesus had died before he died. It is so because there are two dimensions – the timeless dimension God exists in, and the time dimension we live in. Before time began Jesus was already slain. Time only manifested that which was already done. No, our salvation wasn’t happenstance. God had a plan long ago to bring sons unto Glory.
You see, what we call prophecy is actually history to God. The future is the past as far as it concerns God. To the man living in a timeless dimension, there is no future, there is no past. Everything is now!
It’s why the scriptures tell us, He that comes to God must believe that He is! God is! There is no future, there is no past. God is not a creature of time, he is timeless and ageless. Ageless doesn’t mean he’s very old. It means he has no age. When God tells us to operate in faith, he is telling us in essence to operate according to the principles of the timeless dimension. Faith is!
By demanding faith from us, God is telling us to elevate our thinking, to function like people from another realm, the timeless dimension. We are in this world but not of this world.
Contrary to popular belief faith is not just a technology of acquisition of wants and desires; it is an expression of our aboriginality, the passport of our citizenship. Those who belong above operate in faith. The just SHALL LIVE by faith!
Faith is a principle of the timeless dimension. Faith calls those things which be not as though they were. Faith calls prophecy history.
Therefore whatever promise God makes to you, is already done! Manifestation is different from faith. Abraham hasn’t received all God promised him but he already has them. Manifestation must not be confused with faith. The reason manifestation sometimes takes time is because manifestation is a principle of the time dimension whereas faith is a principle of the timeless dimension. Manifestation sometimes takes time because of a principle in Physics called dilation of time. Time slows things down. God’s blessings are not stored in the realm of time. His riches are in a place called Glory. My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory.
It is because of this time/timeless dimension factor that Jesus sometimes spoke in bad grammar. Before Abraham was I am, he said. Abraham was a product of time, God exists in the timeless dimension. I am that I am is a statement of the timeless dimension. God is! He that comes to God must believe that he is, and he’s a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Prophecy is history to God.
Now, let me take you into another realm.
You see those seven dispensations we spoke about- those are spiritual dispensations. There are also economic dispensations.
The Book of Genesis laid out four economic dispensations. They progress according to the history of the world. [It is important you take time to study the Book of Genesis, especially the first chapter. Understanding the ramifications of that one chapter may take seven years of dedicated study or more. There’s so much in there]. Let’s unravel the mystery of the four economic dispensations. The dispensations are according to the phases of creation in the Book of Genesis and there are four phases hence four economic dispensations.
The first phase of creation was creation of nature:
And God created the heaven and the earth…
And God said, Let there be light…
And God said, Let there be a firmament…
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be collected…
And God, Let the earth bring forth…
And God made two great lights…
And God said, Let the waters bring forth living things… Let birds fly over the earth…Let the earth bring forth creatures according to their kinds…
And God made the beasts…
The first 5 days of creation were the first phase of creation. They were devoted to the creation of nature. Nature was the first phase of creation. And so the first economic dispensation in the world was the Dispensation of the Economy of Nature. Agriculture is the dominant economic activity in this dispensation. Man exploited nature for prosperity. That was the first economic dispensation and it lasted a long time in human calendar.
The second phase of creation was the creation of a unique entity called man. He had less capacity than angels but more capacity than animals. He was made in the image and likeness of God:
God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his image, in the image and likeness of God He created him.
The second economic dispensation is therefore the Dispensation of Man. Man became an exploitable resource, hence the term human resources. Man became an economic asset. The dispensation would give birth to the industrial revolution as well as the computer age. These are products of man’s exploitation of the intelligence of man.
But the sequence of creation didn’t end with the creation of man. Creation was a sequence. The third sequence of creation is found at the tail end of Genesis chapter one:
And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
In other words God evaluated his work. This gave birth to the economic dispensation of evaluation. Branding is a discipline of the Economy of Evaluation. Incidentally we are in the third economic dispensation now. It’s why branding has become a significant economic activity in the world. In this dispensation what people think of something is what determines the value, not the intrinsic quality. The stock market is entirely built on this principle. It is a product of the third economic dispensation. We hardly buy stocks because we know the financial statement of a corporation. We buy because we THINK it’s worth buying.
The fourth and last phase of creation was the rest of God. Genesis 2: 2 & 3:
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because he hath rested from all his work which God created and made.”
Of course you know this is not physical rest from tiredness. God never tires. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Ants never sleep till they die, how much more God. The term “rest” is a technical word. But the fourth phase of creation gave birth to the 4th economic dispensation, the Dispensation of Rest. The world has not yet stepped into this dispensation. It is the dispensation of the millennial reign of Christ.
So here are the four economic dispensations. They represent the economic phases of the world and follow the sequence of creation:
- The Dispensation of Nature
- The Dispensation of Man
- The Dispensation of Evaluation
- The Dispensation of Rest
The economic wealth of God is incidentally modeled on these dispensations. There are four measures of God’s wealth and they are according to these economic dispensations.
The first measure of God’s wealth is natural resources and agricultural produce. In Psalm 50:10 God said:
“For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand fields. I know the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beats of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.”
The second measure of God’s wealth is Man. He domiciled his wealth in the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:19 talks about the glorious riches of God IN Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:7 talks about the immeasurable, limitless, surpassing wealth of God’s grace IN Christ Jesus. The riches of God’s grace are domiciled in Christ Jesus. He is the Last Adam. His blood would be used as spiritual currency to buy salvation for the world.
The third measure of the wealth of God is the brand of Jesus and we’ll talk about this in a bit. Branding as I explained is a principle of the third economic dispensation. Remember that we said the worth of a thing in this dispensation is determined by what others think about and its intrinsic value. Because we are in Christ Jesus, our worth before God is determined by what God thinks of Jesus. We are the beloved of God because Jesus is the beloved Son of God. The Lamb has a huge worth. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain. And to orchestrate the upward review of our economic value the name of Christ was attached to us. We became known as CHRISTians. It’s exactly what God did in the Old Testament when he attached his name to the name of Abram changing it to Abraham, and Sarai, to Sarah. He added his name, Yahweh to their names. You see, if you understand the principles of the 3rd economic dispensation you will never feel unworthy before God. You will approach the throne of grace with boldness and find grace to help in time of need.
The fourth measure of the wealth of God is the wisdom of God. The fourth sequence of creation in the Genesis is the rest of God. Faith is rest. Now I know we think of faith as an abstract principle to master in order to receive things from God. But faith is deeper than that. It is actually a tool of knowledge and wisdom. The bible says in Hebrews 11:3: “By faith we understand…that the entire universe was formed at God’s command.” Moses wrote the first book of the Bible by faith. Faith is a tool of knowledge and wisdom. The fourth economic dispensation is the dispensation of the knowledge, wisdom and power of the Christ. Romans 11:33 talks about the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive POWER, and RICHES, and WISDOM, and STRENGTH, and HONOUR, and GLORY, and BLESSING.”
In the millennial kingdom we’re going to witness incredible technology as man interacts with the principles of this dispensation.
Now, like I said earlier, we are in the third economic dispensation – the dispensation of evaluation. A major discipline of this dispensation is branding. Branding is a discipline of evaluation.
The Lever brothers grasped the momentous power of the discipline of branding in 1885 when they branded Sunlight Soap. It was the first branded product. And the world soon caught on creating enormous wealth and value.
Let me tell you how powerful branding is. It is so powerful that now the productivity of the top brands rivals those of nations! Look at this table. It cross compares market capitalizations of certain brands with the GDP of nations. (Market capitalization is the total value of the shares of a company on the stock market:
Market Cap vs. Country GDP
And you know why America is considered the richest nation in the world? 70% of the top 20 brands in the world are from America. The cumulative value of those top 20 brands is almost a trillion dollars. It is $929bn.
Top 20 Global Brands & Brand Values
Cumulative value $929.001bn
Out of this, the cumulative value of the American brands is $705.525bn.
Top American Brands & Brand Values
- Apple $118.863
- Google $107.439
- Coca-Cola $81.5634.
- IBM $72.2445.
- Microsoft $61.1546.
- GE $45.4807.
- McDonald’s $42.2548.
- Intel $34.1539.
- Disney $32.22310.
- Cisco $30.93611.
- Amazon $29.47812.
- Oracle $25.98013.
- HP $23.758
Cumulative value $705.525bn
So powerful is this dispensation that it has created certain distortions of our understanding of the world. Corporations with little or no physical assets – corporations whose primary assets is computer code, algorithms, or shall we say intellectual property, are now valued more than corporations with major physical assets. Look at this table:
What has branding got to do with the Church?
The Church is after all a spiritual entity, not a commercial entity. Does a church need to brand? Does a pastor need to be branded? Isn’t branding contrary to the Spirit? Isn’t it self-promotion? These are all good questions and the answer will become obvious. But a critical question to ask is, can a church existing in the third economic dispensation operate outside the parameters of that dispensation? The simple answer is No.
If the world is exploiting the principles of the 3rd dispensation and the Church is not, then we’re back to the issues raised in Mark 7. In that passage a Greek woman had come to Jesus to have the devil cast out of her daughter. Jesus said unto her: “Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it unto dogs.” Not wanting to be outdone the woman replied wittily, “Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.” The bread belongs to the children. I say the bread belongs to the children. It’s up to the children to eat the bread or not but the bread belongs to them.
All these principles are emanating from the personage of Jesus. He created the earth, determined its calendar. The economic dispensations are his decree. To give you an appreciation of this dimension of Jesus I’m going to show you something in Apostle John’s book.
Now I know we refer to Apostle John as the apostle of love. Because of that we don’t appreciate him for his intellectual sagacity. His thesis on the logos is an intellectual milestone. The man summarized his entire thesis in just English 18 words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That is one of the most profound things ever written and it’s so deep and so huge.
The word “Word” in that passage as you well know, is Logos. Christians talk a lot about the logos but we don’t really know the depth of the word. We think it’s grammar. The logos is the written word of God we say, and the rhema is the spoken word; but these interpretations are superficial. They rob us of the deeper revelations in these words.
Christianity didn’t invent the word, logos. The man who first enunciated the logos as a concept was an Ephesian philosopher named Heraclitus. He lived from 535BC – 475BC. According to Heraclitus, “All entities come to be in accordance with the logos”. To Heraclitus the logos was an abstract concept.
What John did was to advance the argument that the logos is not some abstract thing- it’s not a reason, a word, a logic or principle, but a personage and his name is Jesus the Christ; he being the causative and creative force of all that we see. He made the universe. Jesus is the first cause of all creation.
What has all these got to do with branding you ask? Because the word logo, which we use for corporations, is derived from that word logos. Each time you talk about a company logo you are referring to something derived from the personage of Jesus. Therefore branding is not a commercial proposition, it is a Jesus proposition and derivative.
Jesus is the logo of God. That is why he said, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father. A logo is a corporate icon. Jesus is the corporate icon of God, the emblematic representation of God the Father. And Paul corroborated this fact as well as John’s thoughts in Colossians 1:15-17:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature; for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Isn’t this what Apostle John wrote in John 1:1-3.
I like a phrase used by the Amplified Bible: “He (Jesus) is the exact likeness of the unseen God, the visible representation of the invisible.”
The visible representation of the Coca-Cola Corporation is the Coca-Cola logo. The Coca-Cola brand and logo is worth $81bn. Just as the Coca-Cola brand has worth, Jesus as God’s brand is also worthy. “Worthy is the Lamb.” Jesus is not just the logos, he is the logo of God.
Branding is the children’s bread. It is a Christian discipline. And God always brands his children.
In the Old Testament he branded the Israelites by circumcising their foreskins. In the New Testament he brands his children by circumcising their hearts. Pointing to us, he made the promise of circumcision of the heart in Deuteronomy 30:6: “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
You are a branded entity. And your covenant was cemented with circumcision. How is it then that Christians are not exploiting this discipline of the 3rd Economic Dispensation? The bread belongs to the children.
Thank you and God bless.
Delivered at Victory International Church, Ibadan, Oyo State
Thursday, October 16, 2014
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org