Basic Battle Training
Chapter 3: Preparation for Battle
So how did we compile all the information in the first two Chapters and the ones that follow? Very simple: a "hunger and thirst for righteousness", time, and a basic Bible study system. There are no “sound bites” or short-cuts: the study of God’s Word requires time, dedication and effort. These things guarantee success when combined with the fact that when God tells His people what to do, He also gives them all the information needed to do the job. There are many examples of this instruction in the Bible. Here are two:
When God told Noah to build the ark, He did not say, "Make it any way you want." God told Noah exactly how big to make the ark, how big the window should be, and what kind of wood to use, etc., etc. (Genesis 6).
When God told Moses to build a Tabernacle He did not say, "Use any materials you have laying around, and make it any size and shape you want." God told Moses exactly what kind of wood to use, what kind of cloth, how big it was to be, and what colors to use, etc., etc. (Exodus 25-31).
There are also clear penalties for disobeying God’s instructions:
50,070 men of Bethshemesh were struck dead for looking in the Ark of the Covenant. Even though they were worshipping God, they violated one little detail about God's instructions. These 50,000 men were worshipping God...but not according to His instructions (1 Samuel 6).
When David had the ark brought into Jerusalem, he did not follow the Biblical instructions to have the Levites carry it, but rather put it on an oxcart. When the oxen stumbled Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark and keep it from falling, and God struck him dead on the spot. Only a son of Aaron was allowed to touch the ark. Uzzah was trying to protect the Holy Ark....but he did not follow the instructions. (2 Samuel 6)
What about today?
In our time one of the clearest examples of erosion from God’s instruction is with evangelism. For the most part our contemporary tradition has assigned this job to only a select few: the Pastor, the big name Stadium Evangelist, the Televangelist, the Radio-Preacher or the like. With this system in place, the flock’s sole exhortation is to then “share” their faith with others or try to get them to come and hear these select few.
While God does call some to the specific job of an evangelist, this is far from the totality of His original plan for the Church. The weight of the message we all carry, and the Bible’s commission to make that information public, from the housetops, mandates far more than what is in place today.
If a building is on fire our clear and obvious obligation is to raise the alarm! With the reality of an eternal Hell before us, our mandate to raise that eternal alarm well exceeds the contemporary approach of “sharing.”
Throughout all of Biblical History men have preached the message of God. Noah preached, The Prophets preached, John the Baptist preached, Jesus Christ preached, and all the Apostles preached! Again, Jesus commanded: “…that which you hear in the ear, that preach from the rooftops!” (Matt 10:27).
In our time, God’s clear instruction on this subject (and many others) has been compromised and even eliminated from the expected life of His children. In the chapters that follow will attempt to correct some of this error and re-cement the clarity of these things into the life God instructs for us all. So how did we learn all this stuff?
Our Method of Study
God-given teachers of the Word should be our primary source of information, but with all the voices within Christianity who do you trust? After all the preceding years of Christian history, God's Church looks more like what the Hebrews of old became than one fulfilling the intents and clear instruction of the Father. As we see the many types of Churches around us, and the many voices crying for our attention, confusion and error is the unfortunate conclusion.
To compound this, the neo-Fundamental, cookie-cutter, mega-Churches of today are sorely shackled with new traditions and the baggage of false or compromised Doctrine. These things, give an appearance of wisdom, Spirituality, Godliness and strength, but are indeed weak and ineffectual in the light of how things should be.
This facade of accomplishment and “success” is unchallenging, easy for the flock to assimilate and is failing to accomplish the job before us. Sadly, the greater percentage of sheep are satisfied with this situation and even "love to have it so" (Jeremiah 5:31).
Only through a comprehensive independent study of God’s Word can we hope to clarify and eliminate the erroneous tradition that surrounds us today. We must then replace these falsehoods with the sound Doctrine, goodness and true knowledge of Him and His Kingdom.
The most opportune time for such a pursuit is in one's youth but, as young people today are driven toward higher education and career, we would suggest a more enlightened approach.
Continuing secular education is important, but as one proceeds from high school to the next level it makes more sense to us to do a comprehensive study of the Scriptures as a launch to the life that will follow. Following such a study (which could take as much as a year or two) the young person would be much more equipped to make the good decisions for their future and be better prepared to fulfill them.
For those of us whose life is already set and structured in marriage, work, and raising a family, this process of learning would be more difficult, but is still very doable within a longer time frame.
The Method we propose
The Bible can be viewed as a vast puzzle with its pieces scattered throughout. The problem we have with this comes with the fact that you have no “box” to reference to for the final picture. With this you then need to methodically assemble the pieces as you see their individual fit to the eventuality of that final picture.
In studying the Word what we learn often comes from example or direct statements on given subjects. The first type of instruction would be to learn of discipleship by an examination of the Lord’s actual "left all" lifestyle: no job, wife, house, etc. In the second instance, one of learning by direct instruction, you would see verses that directly taught the subject such as Luke 14:26-27. The objective of all this is to find out all God has to say on a given subject, and the emphasis He places on it.
The study method we suggest is to provide a structure for you to organize the verses and examples you encounter in a logical and methodical way…gathering them into what we call "sections."
Continuing with our example, as you find a verse on Discipleship you would either start a new “Discipleship section” or add that verse along with a brief description of what is being said to the existing section. Continuing with your study, you will continue adding verses and examples until the subject materializes in the depth and clarity such an assembly would provide.
From some verses only one subject will be addressed, while from others multiple subjects can be found. An example of this is John 3:16. From this one verse can be found subjects such as: "The love of God." "Salvation." " Who Christ is”, " Eternal life." " Hell” and “Judgment.”
For each of these subjects found in John 3:16 you will then either begin a section, or add to one previously started. As you study further and find more verses that are related to any of these subjects, they will also be added to your existing sections. As your sections grow with these citations, you will begin to see God's mind and intent on the subjects chosen, and thereby learn the doctrines.
This organized gathering of information can be done in a "loose leaf" Bible or a notebook with an index system to quickly find the sections to be accessed. With today's technology there are also opportunities to pursue this method using a PC or Laptop computer (see: "e-Sword" on the net utilizing their "Verse List" function).
This then is what we suggest; trusting that though this method you will net the fewest errors because of it's simplicity and your dependence on His Spirit. In this, you will not be learning from another’s work, but from God Himself… trusting Him to indeed: "...lead and guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).
It is popular among today’s Bible teachers to promote the newest translations and encourage the use of the "original languages." We on the other hand recommend the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, and reject the notion of having to use Greek and Hebrew to find the purest meaning of Scripture.
Though we believe that God and His instruction can be found in virtually all translations, we also fear that the "modern" translations actually contribute to the weakening of the Church. With this, we see the contemporary translators injecting their current dogma, and thus watering down God's Word in an attempt to make it more acceptable to modern, sensitive, and "spiritually correct" ears.
As an example, the New "Bibles" (including the NASV and oh-so-popular NIV) eliminate many of God's references to Hell, replacing them with "death," "the grave," "Hades" or "sheol." This done, and with the current emphasis on God's love heavily promoted, the "negativity" of judgment and accountability are effectively compromised.
Likewise, the fear of God has been replaced with "revere," "worship," or some such, thereby "softening" the image of God to a more "acceptable" 21st Century political value.
So what about The Greek and Hebrew?
Like the Catholic priests of old, who took the Bible out of the hands of the people with the excuse that "only the priests" could read Latin, modern evangelicals have accomplished the same thing by giving the flock the impression that "only Greek and Hebrew scholars" can truly understand God's Word.
On this subject, much of what is proclaimed by today’s Bible teachers ranges from half-truths to outright falsehoods. With this, the King James wording is often said to be wrong and another "more accurate" word is proposed to replace it. As these things are put forth, the sheep are not told that the Greek or Hebrew can have more than one meaning and that King James reading is perfectly legitimate. As Greek and Hebrew words can have multiple meanings, it is always a good rule that the context determines the best understanding.
In addition to this, knowledge of the "original languages" has never solved one doctrinal controversy in all of Church history. Equally qualified Greek and Hebrew "experts" are on both sides of the great debates of Christianity: Calvinism vs. Arminianism, Pre-Millennial vs. Post-millennial, Pre-trib. vs. Post-trib. etc., etc.
Finally, there is no Biblical precedent for this modern "have to know the original languages" mind-set. Nowhere do we see Jesus, Paul or any other New Testament writers in the 300 times they quote the Old Testament ever once talk about the "original Hebrew," or "better manuscripts say," or "a better translation would be," etc.
(Further treatment of this subject will be found in Chapter 21)
This then represents the plan we suggest:
Rely on The Holy Spirit to lead and guide you to all truth (John 16:13).
Systematically "section" God's Word to a full understanding of each subject.
Avoid contemporary "intellectual" trends of the day, work hard, and keep it simple!
Realize that this endeavor will require time, commitment and diligence: Be prepared the time necessary to fully realize this method's potential.
Seek out others to engage in this effort with you…thereby securing a “networking” of your study and providing the Lord opportunity to utilize the variety of minds and maturity such would afford.
Look for and utilize all possible advances in technology to simplify and maximize your efforts (I currently have all my sections stored on my cell phone).
Finally, realize that through utilizing this method you will achieve the clearest and most unaffected picture of who God really is. In doing this study you will learn of His kingdom as nowhere else and be more fully prepared to serve Him well beyond the status quo. Additionally, this will provide you with the tools to be fully persuaded (or not) concerning things you have already learned.
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