All posts by Peter Ditzel

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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Every Man Did That Which Was Right in His Own Eyes

by Peter Ditzel

Judges 17:6 and 21:25 concern the era in Israel’s history known as the time or period of the judges. These verses have significance for us today: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Preachers almost always quote these verses as indicating how terribly bad things were at the time of the judges and use them as examples of how we must work to avoid being that way today. The assumption is that the Bible is here being critical of the idea of people doing what is right in their own eyes. There’s a problem with this interpretation. The Bible not only doesn’t back it up; it directly contradicts it. In this article, I’m going to show you where the Bible disagrees with what many commentators say about these verses, in what way the time of the judges is a shadow of the assembly Jesus’ founded, and how the time of the judges can be a significant lesson for Christians and even illustrate a valuable political principle for everyone.

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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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Whoever Is President, Jesus Is King

by Peter Ditzel

Picture of school bulletin board showing US map and saying Whoever is President, Jesus is King.
This is a picture of a bulletin board outside of a classroom in a local Christian school. What it says is absolutely the truth.

2 Nov. 2016: The 2016 presidential elections in the United States have grabbed global headlines, titillated followers
with scandal, and troubled American voters to what is almost certainly an unprecedented scale. Naturally, we can expect that since the United States is arguably the world’s only superpower and its policies inevitably affect other nations, the campaign to elect its next leader will attract worldwide interest. Yet, this year’s election has riveted attention largely because of the shock effect of the personalities involved. The nominees for the two major parties are seen by many as the worst and most alarming U.S. presidential candidates ever.

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