Monthly Archives: January 2017

Q. First John 5:18 seems to be saying that born again Christians don’t sin. But can we ever really reach sinless perfection in this life?

A. The verse in question has sometimes been used to support a doctrine called entire sanctification and Wesleyan perfectionism. The verse says, “We know that whoever is born of God doesn’t sin, but he who was born of God keeps himself, and the evil one doesn’t touch him.”

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Q. Were Early Christians Communists?

A. This question is largely based on Acts 2:44, “All who believed were together, and had all things in common,” and Acts 4:32, “The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” These verses have led some people to teach that early Christians practiced communism, and that modern Christians should return to practicing and promoting communism. Other Christians vehemently deny this and say that the Bible promotes capitalism. Who’s right?

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The Halloween That Changed the World—Reformation Day

by Mary Ditzel

On October 31, 1517, something happened that changed the world. Do you know what it was? Even the man who did it didn’t know the effect it would have. On October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic Augustinian monk and priest by the name of Martin Luther (1483–1546) nailed a notice on the door at Wittenberg Castle church in Germany. To Luther, it was a relatively small act. This was the common way of scheduling a debate in those days. But the world has not been the same since.

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Q. Why is the church fragmented into so many denominations?

A. It is estimated that there are over 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide and that by 2025 that will be 55,000. In other words, Christianity is fragmenting more all of the time. Yet Jesus prayed for the unity of His people. Has Jesus failed? Did the Father not grant His prayer? Or are we misunderstanding something about the denominations?

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Q. When are women supposed to be silent in church? Does the command for a woman to be silent in church apply from the moment she walks into the building or only during meetings, prayer times, and classes?

A. Thank you for your question concerning when women are to be silent. This question was written in response to the article, “The Role of Women in the Church.”

A literal translation of the first part of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is, “Let your women be silent in the assemblies.” “Assemblies” is a plural noun translated from ekklēsiais. In the singular, ekklēsia often refers to the saints who are called out of the world and gathered to a spiritual assembly before God. In that sense, the ekklēsia refers to God’s people, not to a building or even to an assembly in that building, but to the people. However, in the plural, as it is in 1 Corinthians 14:34, ekklēsiais is referring to the local assemblies. Never does ekklēsia refer to a building.

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Q. What does Paul mean when he says that he does not permit a woman to usurp authority over a man?

A. The question comes from 1 Timothy 2:12: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” I have already touched upon this verse in “The Role of Women in the Church.” Nevertheless, this verse merits further discussion, especially because of the controversy surrounding the word that is translated “usurp authority.”

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Q. Should we stress unity over doctrine? The reason I ask is because my pastor wants to grow our church, so he is stressing what he calls “kingdom unity” rather than “doctrinal division.” Is this what Jesus did?

A. Think about this. Multitudes of thousands of people followed Jesus. They listened to His sermons, heard His parables, were miraculously fed by Him, and saw Him heal people and even raise them from the dead. Yet, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus had only about 120 loyal followers (Acts 1:15). How did this happen? Jesus never stressed unity over doctrine.

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Part 3> Servants Are Brethren Who Humbly Serve: Servants in the Body of Christ

by Peter Ditzel

In this article, I examine some of the minor words that are translated "minister" and show their specialized nature. But I especially want to take a good look at Matthew 23:1-12 to reveal how this passage is so often and blatantly violated today.

In the last article, we saw that servants in the assembly, ministers in the assembly, and deacons are all the same thing and are based on the same Greek word—diakonos. The best word to use to translate diakonos is “servant” because it clearly shows what these people do—serve—without adding confusing baggage from unbiblical church traditions. Some of these servants, those who meet certain criteria found in 1 Timothy 3, are recognized by the assembly as servants. It is something like politicians who are vetted. When dealing with these men, you knew that, as far as the assembly could determine, you were dealing with an honorable, sober man with a good record who showed his leadership abilities through leading his family. None of it is very formal, and being a servant in the assembly is not an “office,” something the Bible knows nothing of.

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Part 2> Ministers and Deacons, or Just Servants? Servants in the Body of Christ

by Peter Ditzel

English translations of the Bible use various words to describe what are usually called "offices" in the church. In this article, I want to examine what the Bible says about ministers and deacons, examine the Greek words behind these English translations, and see whether there might be some better translations. I am also going to take a look at Acts 6:1-6 to explore whether these verses really tell us of the ordination of the first deacons.

In the previous article in this series, we found that the Bible says nothing about offices in the assembly. We found, in fact, that there are no offices in God’s assembly. We also saw that the Bible says nothing about clergy, although the etymological root of the word “clergy” is applied to all of God’s people. While the Bible says nothing about offices or clergy in the assembly, it does have much to say about several functions of service. In this article, I want to begin examining the various roles named in the New Testament.

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Part 1> How Many Offices Are In God’s Assembly? Servants in the Body of Christ

by Peter Ditzel

The Bible speaks of elders, ministers, deacons, bishops, pastors, evangelists, apostles, teachers, and prophets. Are all of these offices? What does the Bible say about offices? What does it say about each, and how are they different from one another? What does the Bible say about clergy? In this series of articles, I am going to answer these questions by addressing these functions a couple at a time. But I am going to begin the series by discussing church offices in general, the clergy, and answering the question posed in the title.

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