Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Transfiguration of Christ–“This is my beloved Son…hear ye him”

by Peter Ditzel

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.
Matthew 17:1-8

The account quoted above is usually called the transfiguration of Christ. It is also found in Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36. Many wonder why it happened and why it is recorded for us. In a quick survey, we see that Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain where they see a vision (Jesus calls it a vision in Matthew 17:9) of a shining Christ. Then they see Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Him. Impetuous Peter then sticks his foot in his mouth and says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias” (Matthew 17:4). Oops. Not good. Why? That’s the point of this article, and, I believe, the point of the transfiguration itself.

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New Covenant Theology–When Did the Old Covenant End and the New Covenant Begin?

by Peter Ditzel

There has been much confusion concerning the New Covenant. Some might think that when the New Covenant began and when the Old Covenant ended is not important. I will show you that it is. Covenant theologians believe that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the same covenant that is also called the Old Covenant. Thus, believing it all to be one covenant, they don’t accept that there was an ending of the Old Covenant and a beginning of a truly fresh, New Covenant.

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New Covenant Theology–The Superiority of Jesus Christ and His New Testament Revelation

by Peter Ditzel

Christians rightly believe that the written Word of God consists of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. And, in theory, many Christians would also say that Jesus Christ is the most important figure in the Bible. In practice, however, many of those same Christians elevate Moses above Christ by stressing Old Testament law. But Jesus is not only superior to Moses, He is the pinnacle and goal of the entire revelation of the Bible; He is, in fact, what is revealed. The New Testament, being His New Covenant (“covenant” and “testament” are translated from the same Greek word) in His blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25) is, thus, the culmination of Biblical revelation and is the superior testament. This is completely supported by the Bible.

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Part 2–New Covenant Theology–The New Covenant and the Decalogue

by Peter Ditzel

In part 1, we saw that Catholic and Reformed theologians (as well as others) divide the Mosaic Law into three parts—civil, ceremonial, and moral. They then assert that, while what they call the civil and ceremonial laws are not binding on Christians, the moral laws are still binding. But the Bible reveals the Mosaic Law as a unified whole that cannot be divided. It is either all still binding—and we should be offering sacrifices, not wearing mixed fabric clothing, putting fringes on our garments, not letting bastards into our assemblies, etc.—or none of it is.

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Part 1–New Covenant Theology–The New Covenant and the Decalogue

by Peter Ditzel

I want to set the record straight concerning the New Covenant and the law, both Old Covenant law and New Covenant law. Several times, in just the past couple of weeks alone, I have had it made clear to me that many people simply do not grasp the relationship of the New Covenant to the laws of the Old Covenant, specifically the Ten Commandments. Even prominent theologians, who should know the distinctions of each system of theology, get this relationship wrong. Additionally, many even misunderstand the Christian’s relationship to the law of Christ. Possibly because of this weak understanding, there has now been a move to try to reach a compromise between New Covenant Theology and Reformed Theology.

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New Covenant Theology–Must We Obey a New Law?

by Peter Ditzel

New Covenant Theology teaches that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, and that by fulfilling it, He ended it. But Jesus also said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus also gave us a new standard of righteousness in the Sermon on the Mount, and the Bible also speaks of the “law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), the “law of faith” (Romans 3:27), the “royal law” (James 2:8), and the “perfect law of freedom” (James 1:25; 2:12). Is there a new law with new commands that Jesus has given us under the New Covenant? If so, must we obey these commands?

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Law Is Not For the Righteous

by Peter Ditzel

The following is excerpted largely from my response to a reader who took me to task for my saying that the fourth commandment is not for Christians. A bit of it is also from an email to a brother who asked about 1 Timothy 1:8. The difficulty with the first reader goes beyond Sabbath keeping. It is the error of believing that we must keep the law to obtain or maintain justification. It is a leaven that has spread throughout Christianity (Galatians 5:9). These people ignore the Bible's plain words, such as these penned by Paul: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:4).

Dear Mr. Sabbathkeeper,

You have written to me asking me whether, since I say that Christians are not obligated to keep the fourth commandment (“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”), do I then believe that it is okay to murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, and covet, prohibitions against these also being found in the Ten Commandments.

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If the Law Has Been Abolished, What Condemns People Today?

by Peter Ditzel

In response to the question posed in the title, I will ask four more questions, and then I will answer all of the questions: In the judgment, what will condemn people who lived after Adam and before Abraham? In the judgment, what will condemn Jews who lived before Moses? In the judgment, what will condemn a person who lived in eastern Asia at the time of Moses? In the judgment, what will condemn a person who lives in a remote part of Mongolia today?

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Q. If Jesus’ fulfilling of the law was His completing and ending the Law of the Old Testament (see “In what way did Jesus fulfill the law?”), why did He say, “Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:19)?

A. Let’s look at what Jesus said in context:

Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. For most certainly, I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law, until all things are accomplished. Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 5:17-20

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