Category Archives: Armstrongism

Are We Under the Law of Christ?

by Peter Ditzel

A montage of Lady Justice and Moses facing each other with a Cross between and behind them.
Can Christians be under both law and grace?

In 1 Corinthians 9:21, Paul writes that he is not “outside the law of God but under the law of Christ” (English Standard Version). Yet elsewhere, he writes, “For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14); and, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). Surely, Paul was under grace and led by the Spirit, so why does he describe himself in 1 Corinthians 9:21 as “under the law?” Is it the fact that Paul is speaking of the law of Christ in 1 Corinthians 9:21 that makes the difference? Does grace take us out from under the law of Moses and put us under the law of Christ? Or, does Paul mean something else entirely?

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Lessons from the Adulteress

by Peter Ditzel

A detail from the painting, Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas, by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov (1844-1927)
The scribes and Pharisees brought the adulteress to Jesus to entrap Him, but Jesus used the occasion to teach important lessons. (Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov [1844-1927] Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas [detail])

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, John tells us about the incident of the woman the scribes and Pharisees caught in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus. Most people who have read John 8 likely remember that Jesus ended His encounter with the woman by telling her that He didn’t condemn her, and, “Go your way. From now on, sin no more.” We see forgiveness, but we also see a command to stop sinning. This leaves a question: Was Jesus’ forgiveness dependent on the woman’s obedience? The answer to this question teaches us much about the relationship between grace and works.

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Our Better Covenant

A quote from luke 22:20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
If the the cup of wine pictures the New Covenant and the wine pictures Jesus’ blood and the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), what is the New Covenant?

The writer of Hebrews, after quoting from Jeremiah’s announcement of the New Covenant that appears in Jeremiah 31, states, “In that he says, ‘A new covenant,’ he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away” (Hebrews 8:13). Despite this, most Dispensationalists assert that the New Covenant has not yet come into effect and is not for Gentile believers anyway. Covenant Theologians hold that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the Old Covenant and, thus, the Old Covenant has never really ended. Others, who don’t fall into either of these two camps, concede that believers are under the New Covenant, but maintain that what they call “the moral laws” of the Old Covenant still have authority over Christians. Who’s right? Does it matter? Can a wrong understanding of the covenants actually be harmful?

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Herbert Armstrong and the Crucifixion–3 Days + 3 Nights = 1 False Doctrine

by Peter Ditzel

Is knowing the precise number of hours Jesus Christ’s dead body lay in the tomb of any great significance? Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) would have had you believe it is. The WCG published The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday[1] and The Crucifixion Was Not on Friday.[2] Both of these booklets—the first written by Armstrong and the second by Armstrong’s disciple, Herman L. Hoeh (1928–2004)—cover this subject.

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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.”

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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