Category Archives: Armstrongism

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: Child coal workers in Pennsylvania in 1911. 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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Q. Since you have been diagnosed with cancer, do you have anything new to add to your views on healing?

A picture of Benny Hinn on stage with wheelchairs and people raising their hands to him.
Benny Hinn, known for his “Miracle Crusades” during which he allegedly performs healings. Does God continue to heal today? If so, how?

A. In 2014, I wrote an article called, “Does God Promise Healing Today?” As many of you know, in February 2018, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and have been receiving treatment for it. Such diagnoses are where the rubber meets the road. Do I still stand by what I said four years ago? Has delving back into this topic while suffering from cancer given me any additional thoughts?

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Are We Under the Law of Christ?

A montage of Lady Justice and Moses facing each other with a Cross between and behind them.
Can Christians be under both law and grace?

In 1 Corinthians 9:21, Paul writes that he is not “outside the law of God but under the law of Christ” (English Standard Version). Yet elsewhere, he writes, “For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14); and, “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). Surely, Paul was under grace and led by the Spirit, so why does he describe himself in 1 Corinthians 9:21 as “under the law?” Is it the fact that Paul is speaking of the law of Christ in 1 Corinthians 9:21 that makes the difference? Does grace take us out from under the law of Moses and put us under the law of Christ? Or, does Paul mean something else entirely?

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Lessons from the Adulteress

A detail from the painting, Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas, by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov (1844-1927)
The scribes and Pharisees brought the adulteress to Jesus to entrap Him, but Jesus used the occasion to teach important lessons. (Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov [1844-1927] Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, 1888, oil on canvas [detail])
 

In chapter 8 of his Gospel, John tells us about the incident of the woman the scribes and Pharisees caught in the act of adultery and brought to Jesus. Most people who have read John 8 likely remember that Jesus ended His encounter with the woman by telling her that He didn’t condemn her, and, “Go your way. From now on, sin no more.” We see forgiveness, but we also see a command to stop sinning. This leaves a question: Was Jesus’ forgiveness dependent on the woman’s obedience? The answer to this question teaches us much about the relationship between grace and works.

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Our Better Covenant

A quote from luke 22:20: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
If the the cup of wine pictures the New Covenant and the wine pictures Jesus’ blood and the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), what is the New Covenant?

The writer of Hebrews, after quoting from Jeremiah’s announcement of the New Covenant that appears in Jeremiah 31, states, “In that he says, ‘A new covenant,’ he has made the first old. But that which is becoming old and grows aged is near to vanishing away” (Hebrews 8:13). Despite this, most Dispensationalists assert that the New Covenant has not yet come into effect and is not for Gentile believers anyway. Covenant Theologians hold that the New Covenant is merely a new administration of the Old Covenant and, thus, the Old Covenant has never really ended. Others, who don’t fall into either of these two camps, concede that believers are under the New Covenant, but maintain that what they call “the moral laws” of the Old Covenant still have authority over Christians. Who’s right? Does it matter? Can a wrong understanding of the covenants actually be harmful?

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Herbert Armstrong and the Crucifixion–3 Days + 3 Nights = 1 False Doctrine

Is knowing the precise number of hours Jesus Christ’s dead body lay in the tomb of any great significance? Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founder Herbert W. Armstrong (1892–1986) would have had you believe it is. The WCG published The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday[1] and The Crucifixion Was Not on Friday.[2] Both of these booklets—the first written by Armstrong and the second by Armstrong’s disciple, Herman L. Hoeh (1928–2004)—cover this subject.

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Q. I thought we received the Holy Spirit by grace. Why, then, does Acts 5:32 say that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him?

A. The answer to this seeming contradiction between the grace taught throughout the New Testament and Acts 5:32 lies in the tenses of the verbs in this verse and the meaning of the Greek word translated “obey.”

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Q. Why did Jesus tell the rich, young ruler to keep the commandments to be saved?

A. The question is based on Jesus’ statement at the end of Matthew 19:17, where Jesus says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Without an understanding of the context, this can certainly sound as if Jesus is saying that the man could have been saved by keeping the commandments. So, let’s look at the surrounding verses more carefully. The dialog between Jesus and the rich, young ruler is found in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23, with the subject continuing to be discussed in the verses that follow.

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A Short Critique of Herbert W. Armstrong’s British-Israelism–The United States and Britain in Fantasy

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), one of the most popular and controversial radio and television evangelists of the twentieth century, was one of the better known proponents of the teaching known as Anglo- or British-Israelism.[1] His most popular book on the subject was The United States and British Commonwealth in Prophecy. According to this theory, there is a distinction between Jews and Israelites; the descendants of the Israelites are now the white, English-speaking peoples of Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc., as well as the majority of the people living in northwestern Europe; the above nations are the Israel of Bible prophecy, and the British Royal family is Jewish and descended from King David of Israel.[2]

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