All posts by Peter Ditzel

Our Spiritual Battle Part 1

by Peter Ditzel

Spanish (Valencian) tempera on wood painting of Michael slaying the dragon, ca 1405, artist unknown.
Artists have often depicted spiritual battles as literal fights, but the Bible even specifically points out that the battle between Michael and the devil was a disputation that ended with the words, “May the Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9). This is a tempera on wood (ca. 1405) by an unknown Spanish (Valencian) artist. Source http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437742.

In Ephesians 6:10, Paul tells his readers to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might,” which, in the next verse, he pictures as putting “on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Paul is making an analogy between the Christian life and an armored soldier standing his ground in a battle. What the Christian must stand against are “the wiles of the devil.” The devil has methodeia—”clever ways,” “cunning schemes”—that we must stand up against.

Read more… →

Q. I thought we received the Holy Spirit by grace. Why, then, does Acts 5:32 say that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him?

A. The answer to this seeming contradiction between the grace taught throughout the New Testament and Acts 5:32 lies in the tenses of the verbs in this verse and the meaning of the Greek word translated “obey.”

Read more… →

Q. Why did Jesus tell the rich, young ruler to keep the commandments to be saved?

A. The question is based on Jesus’ statement at the end of Matthew 19:17, where Jesus says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Without an understanding of the context, this can certainly sound as if Jesus is saying that the man could have been saved by keeping the commandments. So, let’s look at the surrounding verses more carefully. The dialog between Jesus and the rich, young ruler is found in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23, with the subject continuing to be discussed in the verses that follow.

Read more… →

A Short Critique of Herbert W. Armstrong’s British-Israelism–The United States and Britain in Fantasy

by Peter Ditzel

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), one of the most popular and controversial radio and television evangelists of the twentieth century, was one of the better known proponents of the teaching known as Anglo- or British-Israelism.[1] His most popular book on the subject was The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. According to this theory, there is a distinction between Jews and Israelites; the descendants of the Israelites are now the white, English-speaking peoples of Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc., as well as the majority of the people living in northwestern Europe; the above nations are the Israel of Bible prophecy, and the British Royal family is Jewish and descended from King David of Israel.[2]

Read more… →

Questions from Seventh Day Keepers

by Peter Ditzel

We have received a great number of responses to the article “What Is the Christian Sabbath?” Almost half of the responses have been very positive. A few were more reserved, thanking us for the article and saying they would study into the subject further. But the remainder were negative comments from those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Somewhat surprisingly, we have received no negative comments from Sunday-Sabbath keepers or Lord’s Day keepers.

Read more… →

On the Road to Emmaus

by Peter Ditzel

The two disciples and Christ on the road to Emmaus. Detail from Landschap met de Emmaüsgangers, a painting by Charles Cornelisz. de Hooch, 1627
Minus the words of Scripture, this is a detail from a painting called Landschap met de Emmaüsgangers by Charles Cornelisz. de Hooch, 1627.
In what appears to be an increasingly hostile, divided, and hate-filled world, even we Christians can be tempted to disrespect, despise, or otherwise be hurtful to others—sometimes even our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Something that I think can help turn us back to love and respect is the report of an incident that took place on the day of Jesus’ Resurrection. We find it in Luke 24. It happened as two disciples were walking along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a distance of about seven miles. I want to point out some things about this story that I hope will improve our understanding of the occurrence and will cause us to more highly esteem our brethren.

Read more… →

If We Are Not under the Law, How Do We Avoid Sin?–Part 2

by Peter Ditzel

For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3
If the law was unable to do what God has already accomplished in the flesh of His Son, why turn back to the law?

Law Mongers

Of the Galatians, who were beginning to believe that they needed to perfect themselves through the law, Paul wrote, “I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2-3). The legalist Judaizers who were tempting them might well be called law mongers. They were purveying a method of salvation that said, Sure Jesus took care of our past sins, but now we must keep the law to remain moral. Too many people assert that the only issue among the Galatians was that they were being falsely taught to be circumcised. But this wasn’t the only issue.

Read more… →

If We Are Not under the Law, How Do We Avoid Sin?–Part 1

by Peter Ditzel

The painting, Moses with the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt.
“For the law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realised through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). But don’t we need the law to avoid sin? (Moses with the Tablets of the Law by Rembrandt.)

“For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be!” (Romans 6:14-15). Many people read this, and then they tag on this assumption: Paul is saying that just because you are under grace doesn’t mean that you should not strive to keep the law to avoid sin. But nothing could be further from the truth! If Paul were saying this, he would be contradicting himself. He would be saying, you are not under the law, but you must keep the law to avoid sin. This would be putting us back under the law. It would give us freedom from the law with one hand while taking it away with the other. It would be saying, you are not under the law, but you are under the law. This would be nonsense.

Read more… →

Q. If we are no longer under the law, why did Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, raise the standard of the law?

A. It’s pretty common for preachers to say that Jesus raised the standard of the law or amplified or magnified it. This question is based on this belief that Jesus came to magnify the law. Those who teach that Jesus magnified the law usually cite Isaiah 42:21 and tie it to Matthew 5.

Read more… →