Category Archives: Christian Living

Are there accountability partners in the Bible? Do pastors rule?–Authority and Accountability in the Bible

by Peter Ditzel

I used to do some freelance editing for a man who ran a Christian publishing, Internet, and speaking ministry. A few years before his death, he found that he was unable to, in good conscience, continue his membership in the church of which he had been a member and elder. Soon afterward, “Christian” forums had threads about him that went something like this: “Did you hear that so-and-so is no longer under the accountability of a church?” “What? Do you mean that he’s not under a church covering?” “This is outrageous! How can he continue his ministry while being unfaithful?” “Well, all I know is that as long as he’s not under the authority of a church, I’m not listening to him any more.”

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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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Q. Must we regularly confess our sins to receive God’s forgiveness?

A. Many, perhaps most, preachers teach that when a Christian sins, he or she must confess that sin to receive God’s forgiveness. They base this primarily on 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But if it is true that we must always confess a sin for God to forgive us, it would seem to contradict the fact that God has already completely forgiven believers because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. What, then, did John mean when he wrote 1 John 1:9?

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Living Sacrifice

by Peter Ditzel

This article is adapted from The Word of His Grace radio program, "Living Sacrifice."
If we Christians would join the wise men, we must close our eyes to all that glitters before the world and look rather on the despised and foolish things.... --Martin Luther
Martin Luther understood that being a living sacrifice involved turning from wordly ways.

In Romans 12, verses 1-2, Paul writes, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

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Don’t Be Conformed to This World

by Peter Ditzel

In Romans 12:2, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructed us, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” What does he mean when he says to not be conformed to this world? What does he mean by being transformed by the renewing of our minds? Is he writing of a one-time event, or are we to continuously renew our minds? How does this affect the way we are to view and interact with the world around us?

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Q. Must we regularly confess our sins to receive God’s forgiveness?

A. Many, perhaps most, preachers teach that when a Christian sins, he or she must confess that sin to receive God’s forgiveness. They base this primarily on 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But if it is true that we must always confess a sin for God to forgive us, it would seem to contradict the fact that God has already completely forgiven believers because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. What, then, did John mean when he wrote 1 John 1:9?

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Q. What is the fruit by which we are to know people? (Matthew 7:16)

A. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Although Jesus explains in other passages and also right in the immediate context of this verse what He means by “fruits,” that has not stopped people from interpreting “fruits” in imaginative ways. I’m going to briefly list what some of these imaginative but wrong ideas are and then point out from the context precisely what Jesus means by “fruits.”

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Q. Was Jesus a vegetarian? Should Christians be vegetarians? Since Jesus’ death ended animal sacrifices, doesn’t this mean that Christians should no longer eat meat?

Vegetarianism is the practice of excluding meat from the diet. Some vegetarians also exclude other animal products, such as eggs, milk, cheese, rennet, gelatin, and honey. There are a variety of reasons that people have for being vegetarians, including health, cultural, economic, environmental, ethical (opposition to killing animals or objections to the ways in which they are slaughtered), and religious. Vegetarianism is found among many religions, including Christianity. Although what I will say here might possibly have implications for any of the other reasons for practicing vegetarianism, I specifically want to address the question of whether the Bible teaches that Christians should be vegetarians. Is there any biblical evidence that Jesus was a vegetarian? Since Jesus' death ended animal sacrifices, does this mean that Christians should no longer eat meat? Is there evidence in the Bible that God does not intend Christians to be vegetarians?

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