I am a former dispensationalist. I went from dispensationalist premillennialism to historic premillenniallism and later to historic (not ivory tower idealist) amillennalism. Without making sweeping generalizations and without building strawman arguments it could be safely said (please correct me if I am wrong) that some (if not all) classic dispensationalist teachers have taught that the Sermon of the Mount was a law for a future Jewish earthly Kingdom (“Jewish Millennium”) and not really for the Church. Here’s a quote :
“Some dispensationalists hold that the sermon on the Mount and most of the Gospels belong to the Kingdom Dispensation which is yet future. The Book of Revelation after the third chapter also is said to belong to the future. Thus only part of the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles are said to be intended for the Christians of today.”
In the middle of the Sermon of the Mount (Matthew chapter 6) Christ prescribed 3 different things for individuals: 1) almsgiving, 2) prayer and 3) fasting. Notice for each of those 3 things Christ said “WHEN you” give alms/pray/fast and not “IF you” give alms/pray/fast. It is implied then that all 3 of those things (in varying degrees and depending upon circumstances) would be done freely by believers acting upon right motives (for the glory of God) as led by the Holy Spirit. (How many physically able North American believers have done all 3 in their lives? And we wonder why there is so much spiritual impotence and so much pride, materialism and worldliness in the professing North American Church.) Each one of those things is to be done privately without fanfare and each one prescribes to believers a certain attitude toward God, others, time, money, food and material possessions which is consistent with the last verses of the same chapter which teach putting trust in God for material needs and seeking the Kingdom first (using time, energy and material resources).
In a “Millennium” of peace and MATERIAL PROSPERITY (according to the generally held viewpoint of premillennialism whether historicist premillennialism or dispensationalist premillennialism) will there be a need to give to the materially poor if there will be no poor to speak of ? (Unless there are to be slums and ghettos during the “Jewish Millennium” which wouldn’t sound like much of a golden age on earth, right?) How then could the first verses of Matthew chapter 6 have anything to do with some future “Jewish Millennium”?
In the Lord’s Prayer contained in the same chapter it prescribes praying that the Kingdom come but would such a prayer be necessary during a “Jewish Millennium” when the “Kingdom*” (according to dispensational thinking) would already be there?
* I believe the Kingdom has a present reality, a progressive development and a future more visibly glorious consummation awaiting it (please carefully read the parables of Christ… especially the mustard seed parable… is the fully grown tree “dumped on earth” when Christ returns or is there gradual growth starting from very small beginnings? could the Glorious Return of Christ be likened to a mustard seed?
Can fasting be consistent with a “Jewish Millennium” governed by a physically present Christ on earth (according to premillennialism) in light of Matthew 9:15?
“And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn*, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”
* in the immediate context Christ was clearly answering a question concerning REGULAR fasting not once-every-few-years-if-ever fasting… there is no ambiguity here
Will the Bridegroom (Christ) be taken away during the whole period of the “Jewish Millennium” (as conceived by dispensationalists)? Is not rather the opposite taught by mainstream dispensationalism? Fasting is to be done according to Christ (and not someone’s arbitrary opinion) during His PHYSICAL absence* and that means fasting (and consequently the rest of the Sermon on the Mount unless we are to pick and choose what we prefer) is for the Church and not for some future earthly golden age where racially Jewish are some kind of master race. (I do believe in a future golden age for the Earth after the physical return of Christ but not limited to 1000 years but rather to last eternally. I AM NOT A LIBERAL OR A GNOSTIC.)
* or can be taken spiritually as referring to when our fellowship with God has gone cold and that we need to “leave our bed of comfort” and seek the Bridegroom more fervently (Song of songs chapter 5, Church of Laodicea, Church of Ephesus, Church of Sardis)