Could you give me a definition for dispensation? I have seen this written many places and heard people use it but it is never defined?
To answer your question, the basic meaning of “dispensation”, from the Greek word oikonomia has the basic meaning of “economy”, “stewardship”, and refers to a basic rule of life. The word itself does not carry the concept of a period of time such as the word “age” but obviously an economy or stewardship is exercised during a period of time.
Thus all theologies will speak of at least an Old Testament dispensation and a New Testament dispensation, recognizing there were at least two different rules of life in these periods of time and the coming of the Messiah obviously made some changes.
In dispensational theology most of us hold to seven dispensations which simply means that God had seven different rules of life based upon the covenants he revealed in most cases. It is not seven different ways of getting saved because salvation is always by grace through faith, but simply seven different rules of life in different periods of time.
The seven dispensations are as follows:
The Dispensation of Innocence — from the creation of man to the fall of man based upon the Edenic Covenant;
The Dispensation of Conscience — from Adam to Noah based upon the Adamic Covenant;
The Dispensation of Human Government — from Noah to Abraham based upon the Noahic
The Dispensation of Promise — from Abraham to Moses based upon the Abrahamic Covenant;
The Dispensation of Law — from Moses to the Messiah’s death based upon the Mosaic Covenant;
The Dispensation of Grace — from Messiah’s death until Messiah’s Second Coming based upon the New Covenant;
The Dispensation of the Kingdom — from the Second Coming until the creation of the new order based upon the Davidic Covenant and new revelation.
NOTE: For a more in-depth understanding of the dispensations see Messianic Bible Studies MBS-041 The Dispensations of God and MBS-021 The Eight Covenants of the Bible.