Category Archives: Articles

Was There a Creation Covenant?

Peter Ditzel

Was there a Creation Covenant? Closeup showing God's and Adam's hands from Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.
Did God need to make a covenant with Adam at Creation? Does the biblical evidence show that He did? Closeup from Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Photo image by janeb13 from Pixabay

Did God make a Creation Covenant with Adam? Reformed or Covenant theologians have for centuries taught that He did. More recently, some New Covenant theologians have also said that God made a covenant with Adam at Creation. Everyone agrees that the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that God made a Creation Covenant. Theologians who teach a Creation Covenant, then, have the burden to present compelling, biblical evidence to support it. If, however, we find that they’re merely asserting what they haven’t proven, then they have diverged from sound biblical exegesis into the labyrinth of personal interpretation. Therein lies the danger. If we allow that kind of thinking to go unchecked, we open the door to a Pandora’s box of subjectivism and relativism. So, let’s look at the evidence from the Bible. Was there a Creation Covenant?

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Did John Teach Sinless Perfectionism? Part 1

Peter Ditzel

Did John Teach Sinless Perfectionism? A statue of John Wesley holding a Bible posed as if addressing an audience. By Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne.
John Wesley taught that Christians can progress to a state of entire sanctification or sinless perfection. Is this what the apostle John was teaching in such statements as, “whoever is born of God doesn’t sin”?
Statue of John Wesley by Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne. Photo by Adam Carr in the Public Domain, December 2005.

Did John teach sinless perfectionism? Did he, by saying such things as, “whoever is born of God doesn’t sin” (1 John 5:18) assert what centuries later came to be called entire sanctification or Wesleyan perfectionism? According to this doctrine, Christians can attain a state of perfection in this life in which they completely defeat sin. Alternatively, other Bible teachers interpret John as merely saying that Christians no longer sin as a way of life or don’t sin willfully. Who’s right? Well, John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was right. And, maybe he wasn’t teaching either one of these things.

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Why Did Paul Call Himself the Chief of Sinners?

Peter Ditzel

Painting of the apostle Paul sitting and holding his head in his left hand, with a pensive look. The Apostle Paul, c. 1657, by Rembrandt van Rijn. Why Did Paul Call Himself the Chief of Sinners?
Why did Paul say that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”? Was he fretting that he was still a sinner?
The Apostle Paul, c. 1657, by Rembrandt van Rijn.

In “Did Paul Teach That Believers Still Sin?” I show from Paul’s own writing that he taught that believers don’t still sin. Yet, in referring to himself, Paul called himself the chief of sinners. Did Paul consider himself an exception to the rule? Did he have a psychological problem with self-esteem? Why did Paul call himself the chief of sinners?

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Did Paul Teach That Believers Still Sin?

Peter Ditzel

Painting of Paul sitting and writing at a desk. Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne  (1591–1632). Did Paul teach that believers still sin?
One view of Paul’s teaching holds that Paul taught Christians can still sin, must struggle against it, confess it to be forgiven, and must not use grace as a cloak for sin. Another view says Paul taught that believers, who are not under law but under grace, cannot sin. Which is right?
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632)

When was the last time you referred to yourself as a sinner, thought of something you did as a sin, or confessed a sin? Chances are, it wasn’t too long ago. That’s because it’s commonplace for believers to think of themselves as both saints and sinners. But is this biblical? Are believers sinners? It’s a question that relates to the heart of the very Gospel itself. Let’s try to answer the question from the letters of Paul. Did Paul teach that believers still sin?

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If It’s Works, It’s Not Grace, Part 2

Peter Ditzel

Two pictures side-by-side. On the left is a picture of dirty, grim-looking child coal workers from 1911. On the right is a joyous child playing in the sand at the beach.
Jesus said, ““Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Jesus didn’t have child labor in mind. He meant that we must humbly turn from trusting in our works and obedience to the law. We must become like simple and carefree children, trusting and resting in Him. This doesn’t take effort on our part. It’s not difficult. Jesus is the narrow gate into the kingdom. God gives us the faith; He takes us through.
Left: “Breaker boys in #9 Breaker” Library of Congress. Right: Photo by Barbara Ribeiro from Pexels.

In Part 1, we saw how some preachers promote the idea that finding the kingdom and living the Christian life are hard work and use derogatory terms such as “cheap grace” and “easy believism” against their opponents. Yet, the Bible teaches, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). If it’s works, it’s not grace!

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If It’s Works, It’s Not Grace, Part 1

Peter Ditzel

A Euler diagram of two, separate circles. One is labeled grace and the other is labeled works. The diagram shows that there is no intersection between the two sets. Grace and works are separate.
Grace is God’s unmerited pardon. Jesus Christ purchased grace for His people by His atoning sacrifice on the Cross, and God gives that grace freely to believers (Romans 5:15-19). For grace to be grace, it must be entirely apart and distinct from works. It must be pure. It can never be mixed with our works.

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many people profess to believe in salvation by grace alone received by faith alone. Yet, a good number of those same people throw works into the formula, often without even knowing it. You might be one of them. The Bible clearly teaches, “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Romans 11:6). Like oil and water, grace and works don’t mix. Our salvation either stands on grace or it falls on works. Let’s look at some commonly held beliefs and see what they’re really based on.

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Fact Check: God Hates the Sin but Loves the Sinner

Peter Ditzel

If God hates the sin but loves the sinner, why are the goats separated for destruction in the parable of the separation of the sheep and goats? Here, we see the parable as illustrated by Gerard de Jode in Last Judgment with Separation of the Sheep and Goats, ca. 1580 after Maarten de Vos
If God hates only the sin but loves the sinner, why do so many parables picture a separation of the righteous and the sinners, with the sinners pictured as goats, trash fish, chaff, and weeds that will be burned with fire? (Gerard de Jode, Last Judgment with Separation of the Sheep and Goats, ca. 1580 after Maarten de Vos.)

One of the most common maxims in Christianity is, “God hates the sin but He loves the sinner.” Advocates often back this up with the fact that Jesus tells us to love our enemies and says God “makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45). On the other hand, Jesus also said, “Depart from me, you who work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23b). Is this a contradiction? No, the Bible does not contradict itself. So, let’s do a fact check: Is it true that God hates the sin but loves the sinner?

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The Bible Reveals the Universe Is Both Young and Old

Peter Ditzel

The question of a young Earth creation and an old universe is illustrated by this composite image of Earth's orbital horizon and another galaxy. Image by Lumina Obscura from Pixabay
The Bible and science have long seemed to be at odds over the age of the Earth and the Universe. Some proposed “solutions” weaken the veracity of either the Bible or science or both. But what if there’s an answer to the dilemma that compromises neither, and it’s been staring at us from the pages of the Bible all along?
Image by Lumina Obscura from Pixabay

Did God create the universe only a few thousand years ago, or is the universe billions of years old? When we couple the Creation account in Genesis with biblical genealogies, we find that God created all things in six days a few thousand years ago. The universe is young. But you might be surprised to learn the Creation account also reveals that the universe is old. Let me explain how the Bible reveals the universe is both young and old.

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