All posts by Peter Ditzel

Twin Dangers—Seeker Sensitivity and Legalism

If you and I were hiking along a mountain trail and you were in front of me, and I suddenly yelled out, “Look out!” what would you do? I think you would likely stop dead in your tracks and look around. Then you might see that you were on the edge of a precipice, and that with one more step in the direction you were going, you would have fallen over the cliff to your destruction. So you would probably back away, look around, study the terrain, maybe look at a topographical map, and find a safe path and take that.

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The Richest Man in Town

by Peter Ditzel

16 December 2015: A tradition that many people have at this time of year is watching Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Capra made the film “to combat a modern trend toward atheism.”1 Individual opinions of the film range from its being the best movie ever made to its being too sappy to endure. I happen to enjoy it—a lot, and so does my whole family. Not only that, but I think it has more depth than many people realize. Some of the central themes of It’s a Wonderful Life are soundly biblical, and they are good lessons for Christians to know and live by. So, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to use It’s a Wonderful Life to illustrate some biblical principles.

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Part 2–Q. If infants were circumcised, why shouldn’t they be baptized?

A photo of an adult male being baptised by immersion.
Only those who can make a profession of their faith should be baptized.

A. In Part 1, I explained that those who teach infant baptism base their practice on their claim that circumcision and baptism are just two outward signs of the same thing. They say, if infants were circumcised in the Old Testament, they can be baptized now because baptism is the New Testament continuation of circumcision. I pointed out that this is a false assumption because the Bible teaches that spiritual circumcision, not baptism, is the antitype of circumcision. Further, baptism is not an antitype of anything but a sign publicly declaring that God has spiritually circumcised or regenerated the sinner. Now, let’s look at some of the proof texts that infant baptizers use and see how these Scriptures are really no proof for infant baptism at all.

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Q. If infants were circumcised, why shouldn’t they be baptized?

A photo of an infant receiving the sprinkling that many call baptism
An infant receives what many believe to be proper baptism based on their understanding that baptism is the New Testament continuation of circumcision.

A. In the Old Testament, we read that someone entered the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Old Covenant (Law of Moses) which God temporarily appended to it (Galatians 3:19), by being born into the lineage of Abraham (or by being sold into it) and then being circumcised (Genesis 17:9-12). Many in Christendom today say virtually the same thing in their teachings concerning infant baptism. Essentially, they assert that Christians enter the Covenant by being born into the right lineage (having Christian parents) and then being baptized. They claim that circumcision and baptism are just two outward signs of the same thing. Thus, they say, if infants were circumcised in the Old Testament, they can be baptized now. I’ll explain how this argument is based upon false assumptions and also deflate the proof texts infant baptizers often use to support their case.

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Q. Romans 5:18 says that by Christ’s one act of righteousness, all men were justified. Does this mean that everyone is saved?

A. In Romans 5:18, Paul is comparing the result of Adam’s sin to the result of Jesus’ atonement: “So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life” (World English Bible, WEB—used throughout unless otherwise noted). This verse is often cited by Universalists to support their belief that all humans will be saved. Certainly, taken by itself, it does indeed sound like Paul is teaching that, because of what Jesus has done, everyone has been justified and will receive eternal life. But is this the conclusion we will reach when we examine the verse in context? What is Paul saying in Romans 5:18?

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Q. Why doesn’t everyone respond positively to the Gospel?

A. First, I will recommend our TULIP series of books that explain about man’s depravity and God’s election (click here to go to a page that lists these publications). Quite simply, the Bible always classifies people into two groups: 1) God’s elect who respond to the Gospel with saving faith; and 2) all the rest who either yawn it off, get a bit upset, or even get into a murderous rage.

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Who Are God’s Elect?

by Peter Ditzel

That the Bible uses the words “elect” and “chosen” to refer to some people is indisputable. Sometimes it is referring to certain individuals whom God chose to a certain calling or position, such as that of a priest or a prophet. In the Old Testament, God uses it to refer to the nation of Israel: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). But what I want to discuss in this article is the New Testament’s use of “elect” and “chosen” to identify sinners whom God has saved. Theologians hotly debate the precise identity of these people and how they became elect. Let’s look at four teachings concerning the New Testament elect and see how these stand up to Scripture.

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Q. Do you consider Martin Luther a Calvinist, since he believed in loss of salvation?

A. Strictly speaking, Martin Luther (1483–1546) could not be called a Calvinist since he did not follow Calvin. Luther started the Reformation in 1517, while John Calvin (1509–1564) did not write the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion until 1536.

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