Christianity 201

May 24, 2013

The Importance of Spiritual Training

Yesterday at our local Christian bookstore, I was briefly introduced to Rick Reed, president of Heritage Bible College & Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Along with his wife Linda he has a blog where recently he did a two-part series on the importance of being grounded and trained in the faith, regardless of what you end up doing vocationally. I encourage you to read the full posts at source; this is a mash-up of the two parts. Maybe you’re at a crossroads regarding Christian higher education, or know someone who is. I hope this is helpful to you, or them; and to all of us.

From Part One

Dr. Rick ReedThe best people to send on a rescue mission are those who blend trust with training.

There’s a fascinating story tucked away in Genesis 14 about the time Abram’s nephew Lot got caught in the middle of a tribal war.  He (and his entire family) was taken captive as a POW by the conquering kings.  When Abram got the bad news, he “called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit” (Genesis 14:14).  Dividing his men into two groups, Abram’s small army attacked at night, routed the enemy and recovered Lot.

On the way back home, Abram is met by a king named Melchizedek who blesses Abram for his daring rescue and praises God “who delivered your enemies into your hand” (14:20).

So let me ask you a question, “Why was Abram successful in his rescue mission?”  Was it because of his 318 trained men or because of God’s timely intervention?  The Bible’s answer is “both.”  The passage emphasizes the fact that Abram had men who were trained for battle.  They knew how to handle weapons.  They could be deployed strategically.  But above and beyond that, the Bible credits God with winning the day.  As Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”

The church is engaged in a massive rescue mission.  People all around us are spiritual POWs, held captive and unable to deliver themselves.  As we mobilize to help liberate them through bringing the good news of the gospel, we will need to deploy men and women who trust the Lord and who are trained for service.

From Part Two

We are commanded to love God with all our minds.

Shortly before He was arrested, Jesus faced a series of challenging questions from Jewish religious leaders (Matthew 22).  The Pharisees asked whether it was kosher to pay taxes to Caesar (22:17).  The Sadducees laid out a convoluted case study about a lady who’d been married seven times.  “Now then,” they asked, “at the resurrection, whose wife will she be?” (22:28).

Finally, an expert in Jewish law inquired, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”   Jesus replied with these well-known words:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

We know we are to love God with all our hearts, but what does it mean to love Him with all our minds?  If you study Jesus’ responses to the questions He faced that day in the Temple, you’ll get an answer.  Loving God with your mind involves:

  • using discernment to see through hypocritical questions
    “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?” (22:18)
  • using reason to expose erroneous conclusions
    “you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (22:29)
  • using logic to lead people to new insights
    “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” (22:45)

And most of all…

  • using Scripture as the final authority in life and death
    “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (22:32-33)

A Bible school education can help a Christian dig deeper into Scriptures to grow in the knowledge of God.  It can assist a  student in developing a Christian mind and a biblical worldview.   It can shape and sharpen the skills needed to engage in serious theological reflection and answer hostile theological objections.