All posts by Peter Ditzel

The Invitation System and the Altar Call

by Peter Ditzel

I am going to ask you to come forward. Up there–down there–I want you to come. You come right now quickly. If you are with friends or relatives, they will wait for you. Don’t let distance keep you from Christ. It’s a long way, but Christ went all the way to the Cross because He loved you. Certainly you can come these few steps and give your life to Him . . .

The words above are Billy Graham’s as quoted by Iain H. Murray in The Invitation System (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1967) 3-4. Billy Graham was certainly famous for using such an invitation. But these words could just as well be those of thousands of other preachers who use basically the same formula week after week: the emotional music, and maybe asking everyone to sing Just as I Am. Then there is the invitation. A preacher may first ask people to bow their heads, close their eyes, and/or raise their hands. But always he will eventually tell them to come to Christ by coming up the aisle. Sometimes the preacher will also call those who want to rededicate their lives to Christ. It’s certainly common enough. But is it biblical? Should we be doing this?

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After more than twenty years, I’m admitting the truth: Hebrews 10:25: What Are We Not To Forsake?

by Peter Ditzel

Collins English Dictionary defines a “sacred cow” as “a person, institution, custom, etc, unreasonably held to be beyond criticism.” Among many Christians, there are sacred cow Bible passages. Hebrews 10:25 is one of them. It states, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

This verse is taken by virtually every church and every elder to mean that we should not stop attending church; that we should be in church every Sunday. Some even take the latter part of the verse to mean that, the closer we get in each week to Sunday, the more we should be exhorting one another to attend church. Many Bible scholars, who I must presume are afraid of upsetting the “sacred cow,” simply will not give an unbiased exposition of this verse.

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November 21, 2007: An Extraordinary Prison Ministry

by Peter Ditzel

Something that makes me thankful, as well as amazing and humbling me, is the way God continues to use our website and literature to help people. We have received letters and emails from people who have left cults after reading our articles, from Christians who have used our website as a learning resource before confronting unbelieving relatives, from missionaries who use our booklets to teach people in far-flung regions of the world, among many others. But the correspondence that stunned and humbled me the most this past year was from a Baptist pastor who is also an inmate in a state prison. In these letters, he tells of his pre-prison life of hypocrisy and sin, his incarceration, his conversion, and how God has now used him, with our publications, to build a church (presently consisting of fifty baptized members and expanding rapidly) that teaches the doctrines of grace in the prison, and the persecution he and the other members face. I found his letters so inspiring that I want to share some excerpts with you. To protect this servant of the Lord’s privacy, I have left out his name and edited out of the letters anything that might identify him, his specific crime, and the prison. I have also, for the sake of readability, made a very few grammatical changes and combined letters.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,

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An exposition of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16: The Head Covering

by Peter Ditzel

When I think back to my boyhood and teenage years in the 1950s and 1960s, I recall the effect of what seemed to be an unquestioned practice among women. Looking forward from any pew (except the very front row), in any church (my parents visited a number of churches); my view was that of ladies’ hats, large and small, and sometimes scarves. Women never entered the meeting without their heads covered, just as men universally removed their hats. Was this merely a social custom of the mid-twentieth century? Or does the Bible tell us that women should cover their heads, and men uncover their heads, during meetings of the church?

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The Elements of the Lord’s Supper: What Kind of Bread and Fruit of the Vine Are We to Use?

by Peter Ditzel

The first reaction many have to an article on this topic is that it is too picky. After all, they reason, what difference does it make if we use leavened or unleavened bread, wine or grape juice? The important thing is that we take the Lord’s Supper. The details are unimportant.

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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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Does Your Church Have Chief Seats?

by Peter Ditzel

Jesus, in warning His disciples not to follow the prideful and hypocritical actions of the scribes and Pharisees, includes in His portrayal of their self-importance the fact that they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23:6). I want to focus on the “chief seats in the synagogues.” What are they?

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Q. In 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Does this mean that we should use any means of evangelizing to win people to Christ?

A. We live in an age when there are now churches that meet in bars and pubs. There are strippers for Jesus, and those who advocate pornography for Christ. Some few preachers now use foul language to appeal to the common man. Less extreme, but now ubiquitous, are Christian coffeehouses with preachers who seem more like stand-up comics, Jesus rock concerts, Christian meetings that resemble three-ring circuses with all of their derring-do and acrobatics, and Christian automobile racing. All of this is done with the aim of reaching people with the message of the Gospel. Is this what Paul meant when he said that he had become all things to all men?

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Q. You say that women are to be silent in the assembly. But weren’t women among the 120 who spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2?

A. I received this question just recently. It is a good one because it is based on a common assumption. The assumption is that the 120 spoke on Pentecost. Certainly, women were among the 120 (Acts 1:14-15), but women did not speak in tongues on Pentecost because only the twelve apostles spoke in tongues on Pentecost. Here’s why I say this.

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