A concise definition of dispensation is this: A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of Gods purpose.1 [By dispensation] [w]e dont mean a way of salvation. We simply mean a distinguishable rule of life or economy. The Stewardship; the economy, the household management; the way God runs His affairs, has changed. The way He deals with people, the way He carries out His sovereign plan has changed. The plan hasnt altered, but the way He works it out, the people He uses and the way its done, those things have changed, and thats what we mean by a dispensation, (i.e. a distinguishable economy in the outworking of Gods purpose).2
1 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 28.
2 Robert P. Lightner, Progressive Dispensationalism, in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 4 no. 11 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, March 2000), 49-50.