The Age of Grace, also called the Dispensation of Grace or the Church Age, is the sixth divinely apportioned dispensation of world history, according to dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a system theologians use to divide and categorize historical events in the Bible. Most agree that there are seven dispensations, though some believe there are nine or three. The Age of Grace is the dispensation that is occurring right now in history. It began with the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and is made possible by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension: “The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).
Salvation has always been by the grace of God, received by faith (Genesis 15:6). In the Dispensation of Law, God required His people to follow the Law of Moses and offer sacrifices for their sin—sacrifices that pointed forward to the gracious provision of the Lamb of God (John 1:29). “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Now, during the Age of Grace, “we are not under the law but under grace” (Romans 6:15). The Law has been fulfilled (Matthew 5:17), and God’s grace in Christ is plain for all to see. All that is required for salvation is to trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). He has done all that is necessary for salvation (Ephesians 2:8–9).
The term “Age of Grace” could be misleading to some—it is not meant to imply that the people in the Old Testament, before Jesus’ death and resurrection, were denied God’s grace. They still had to trust in the Lord—a trust they showed in offering the sacrifices. The Old Testament worshiper, by sacrificing an animal, was saying, “I trust God will save me despite the fact that I am sinful.” Christians take the same approach today, spiritually, but the practice is different. Instead of offering repeated sacrifices for sins, we trust in the one-time sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:1–10).
The grace of God has been available throughout all the dispensations (Psalm 116:5). In this present day, this Age of Grace, our Lord has commanded the gospel to be taken to every corner of the globe, because He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4; cf. 2 Peter 3:9). His grace is offered to all.