Category Archives: Articles

Violence in the Bible

Peter Ditzel

Violence in the Bible. The battle of Ai in a painting showing Joshua holding a sword and buckler with a skeleton holding a spear and fighting beside him.
This fanciful painting of the battle of Ai depicts death as fighting alongside Joshua. John Trumbull: Joshua at the Battle of Ai – Attended by Death Public Domain

Christians and non-Christians alike have often pondered the question of violence in the Bible. Many see God’s commands to kill the inhabitants of Canaan (e.g. Joshua 6:21; 10:40; 1 Samuel 15:3) as sanctioning Christians fighting in wars. Others view such statements as “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) as prohibiting Christians from acts of violence. Nonbelievers say these Scriptures contradict and use them to ridicule the Christian faith. Some Bible teachers have tried to reconcile these discrepancies by asserting a middle ground in which Christians are to seek peace when possible while understanding that certain circumstances allow for violence. How are we to understand the fact that the Bible appears to condone and even command brutal violence while also calling for peace and nonviolence?

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You Are My Disciples, If You Have Love for One Another

Dark trees lining a path leading to bright light, captioned with the words of Paul from 1 Corinthians 12:31, "I show a most excellent way to you." As Jesus said, "You Are My Disciples, If You Have Love for One Another"
The most excellent way that Paul is introducing here is love. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13, if we don’t have love, we have nothing. Original image by Joe from Pixabay

Jesus gave a very clear sign by which the world would identify His disciples: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). In “The Antidote to the Love of Money: The Love of God Poured Out in Our Hearts,” we saw that the first-century disciples lived out this sign. The most obvious way they did this was by having all things in common so that they had an equality of goods. But what about us? As the question goes, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Let’s take a further look at this Christian way of life called love.

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Do “No King but Jesus,” and “Honor the king” Contradict?

Flowers, a black and white union jack, and a picture of Queen Elizabeth II left outside of Buckingham Palace. Do “no king but Jesus,” and “honor the king” contradict?
Flowers left outside Buckingham Palace by mourners after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Is showing such honor wrong? Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

As Christians, we recognize Jesus Christ as our King. Yet, undeniably, Peter instructed his readers to “honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17), meaning their earthly king. Paul also clearly taught that we should honor and pray for all in authority, including kings (1 Timothy 2:1-2; see also Titus 3:1 and Romans 13:1-8). As citizens of heaven, where Jesus only is our King (Philippians 3:20; Revelation 17:14; 19:16), what are we to make of this? Do “No king but Jesus,” and “Honor the king” contradict?

I’m writing this on 10 September 2022, two days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. I was stirred to this article by reading some of the most appalling verbal attacks by professing Christians against other Christians I have ever seen on social media. Almost invariably, these assaults were launched by Americans who have long identified themselves on social media as Christians. Those on the receiving end of these barrages were usually British Christians who had in any way posted something that showed respect or a sense of loss for their late Queen.

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The Antidote to the Love of Money: The Love of God Poured Out in Our Hearts

A picture of barley field grains overlain with the words of Acts 2:42-47, illustrating that the antidote to the love of money is the love of God poured out in our hearts.
Acts 2:42-47 tells us that the early Christians held everything in common so that no one had need. This was their expression of God’s love for one another. Picture of Barley Field Grains from Pixabay

In “The Love of Money is a Root of All Kinds of Evil,” we examined the love of money and found in Scripture that the early brethren avoided it by living according to principles of love. In “The Love of Money: A Hallmark of Our Times,” we looked into the love of money that fuels our twenty-first-century economic system. We also saw that this short-sighted greed is driving the world toward several potential disasters that could mean the ruin and death of millions of people. Now, let’s take a closer look at just how the first-century saints showed the love of God in their lives by loving one another rather than loving money.

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The Love of Money: A Hallmark of Our Times

A composite of two images. Top: A heap of gold ingots and coins. Bottom: The barefoot legs of a homeless person lying on a concrete bench. Such disparity illustrates that the love of money is a hallmark of our times.
We’re living in a time of vast wealth inequality characterized by economic instability and the decline of democracy. The short-sighted love of money by the super wealthy has created numerous crisis points that could suddenly flare into disaster. What is our place as Christians in this situation? Top: Pexels. Bottom: Tomas Castelazo on Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.0).

In “The Love of Money Is a Root of All Kinds of Evil,” we saw what the Bible says and doesn’t say about the love of money. We also reviewed how the first-century saints avoided this root of evil by loving each other instead. Now, let’s look at the love of money as the hallmark of our times and the driving force of the world’s economy.

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The Love of Money Is a Root of All Kinds of Evil

A man sitting dressed in fine, seventeenth-century clothes sitting at a table covered with gold coins and moneybags. How is the love of money a root of all kinds of evil? The Miser by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot (circa 1580-1657).
Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” and Jesus said, “You can’t serve both God and Mammon.” Yet, not only those in the world but even professing Christians live their lives in pursuit of wealth. Painting: The Miser by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot (circa 1580-1657). Public domain.

Most of us are familiar with the saying from the Bible, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10a). But I wonder if we’ve considered what those evils are and how we can avoid getting caught up in them. This seems particularly relevant right now as the rich get ever richer while raging inflation far outstrips wage increases, begins to eat into savings, and throws some people into debt just to pay bills. And, now we’re hearing that the economy may plunge into recession. Under such circumstances, the temptation to obsess on money can easily raise its head. What I want to do is help us keep our focus where it belongs by pointing out some of the ways in our society and our personal lives that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

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Why Election to Salvation, and Why Reprobation to Damnation? Part Two

Peter Ditzel

Green, immature wheat growing in a field. The Bible uses the illustration of wheat and chaff to picture election to salvation and reprobation to damnation.
This picture of immature grain can help us understand God’s love. The leaves, stalks, and husks are necessary to bring the kernels to maturity. God sends rain on all of it, but the goal is to produce the kernels of grain. Once the grain is harvested, the kernels are put into the barn, but the rest of the plant becomes the chaff that is burned. If this is seen as a picture of humanity, does God love everyone?
Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay

We left off in Part 1 with the crucial question of how reprobation to damnation can possibly agree with the fact that God is love.

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Why Election to Salvation, and Why Reprobation to Damnation? Part One

Peter Ditzel

The hands of a potter shaping a pot on a potter's wheel. Like a potter, God has control over His creation. Why does God elect some to salvation and reprobate others to damnation?
“Hasn’t the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?” But why does God elect some people to salvation and reprobate other people to damnation? Image by thomasgitarre from Pixabay

Those skeptical of the doctrines of election and reprobation commonly ask questions that go along these lines: “Why would God elect some people to salvation and allow the rest to be damned?” “If God can save the elect, why doesn’t He just save everyone?” “If God is love, how can He have reprobated some to damnation?” These are good questions, and they deserve good answers. Let’s start with answering why God determined to use election to salvation and reprobation to damnation, because if we answer that first, the answers to the others will fall into place.

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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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