by Louis Roth
This is a valid question considering some of the methods employed by churches these days. There seems to be a desire to give people a minimum amount of knowledge so that they can be effective sooner. The rest of the Bible does not seem to matter much. A perfect example of the problem with this occurred while I was studying for a state insurance exam. I was asked to use the material from a website which provided reading material, vocabulary, lots of practice questions, and exams. Their claim to fame was that this minimum set of material would allow a person to pass with a 70% score. The theory then is that remainder of the body of information was unnecessary since the goal was to just pass and be productive sooner. I also own an exam study book which had a different thrust: knowledge about how the insurance world works and some history is important. The book was easily an inch and half thick! I used both sources of information. Here is the key: all the information about the state specific information came from the website source only.
The exam day came, I took the general portion. Generally, the gamble of studying a minimum set of information paid off. On the other hand, the state specific portion (only 30 questions) was a different story. I determined that in at least half the questions I encountered were not covered by the study material! I was forced to guess at the correct answer, console myself that I only needed a 70% score to pass, and ponder if the strategy was the right way to approach spiritual knowledge.
My question is this: is forcing disciples to guess what is the right answer when trials occur ever acceptable? I realize not every question can be answered, but surely you need a foundation with which to reason the appropriateness of ideas to which we are exposed. Otherwise, it’s is like the small group where everyone has an idea and no one really knows who is right (if anyone). Will Satan avoid coming at us with only things we know only? Certainly not! Without a proper foundation a building cannot stand. The same goes for the spiritual foundation and the spiritual warfare that constantly surrounds us. Studying the Bible book by book exposes the disciple to all the concepts the authors wanted to convey. Each book will repeat ideas from other books those reinforcing previously learned spiritual information. Proverbs 5 teaches about using the wisdom we have learned and the importance of applying that wisdom. Testing came come in the form of some really tempting forms:
Prov. 5:3 (NASB) For the lips of an adulteress drip honey
And smoother than oil is her speech;
Here the consequences of sexual immorality or severe and long lasting:
Pr. 5:3-6 (NASB) : “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death,Her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.“
Prov. 5:7-11 (NASB): “Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her And do not go near the door of her house, Or you will give your vigor to others And your years to the cruel one; And strangers will be filled with your strength And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien; And you groan at your final end,”
We are not just talking about sex issues, these distractions can come in the form of theology. Those that are relatively new to the faith can be distracted and deceived into doing things that are unnecessary or plain wrong:
2 Pet. 2:1-3: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. “
An example of this can be found:
Gal. 1:6-8 (NASB): “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
The GraceNotes material method of teaching allows students to learn more in the long run even though it may appear slow initially. Our studies cover one book of the Bible at time, exploring the concepts that arise in comprehensive fashion so the student is aware of other Scriptures that reiterate similar concepts. The curriculum evaluates the original language when it’s important to understand the deeper meaning of the author. The original language is frequently more figurative and consequently it’s necessary to explore those concepts. The historical setting is also important to understand temporal forces at work during the time of the letter. For example, knowing the approximate date of a letter, 1 Peter for example, can influence whether the audience is Jewish or a mix of Gentile/Jewish. Are the Gentiles now part of the Diaspora?
GraceNotes deals with folks that are largely on their own as far as support. We have a product that can provide the solid spiritual foundation to handle Spiritual Warfare that we never have to endure. Prisons are some of the darkest spiritual places around, yet with an eventual maturity, our students can be a light in this darkness.