Knowing Is Half the Battle

First Principles Class

By Evan Bartholomew, Lead Minister.

“…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests….” Hosea 4:6 NIV.

It is a truth so simple that even an elite squad of our childhood’s “real” American heroes understand it. It’s the Biblical principle that ignorance is NOT bliss, but rather grim and hopeless. It’s that “knowledge is power,” or at least, knowledge empowers. (Francis Bacon, the famous Englishman who invented the Scientific Method) It’s not the entire battle. Nor, is it the goal of the battle. However, it is where the battle begins. It is knowledge. It is understanding. As God said, a “lack of knowledge” brings destruction and rejection. Or as our G.I. Joe “real” American heroes told us, “knowing is half the battle!”

Of course, we cannot afford to be so foolish as to “reject” the other half of the battle – obeying! Jesus’ great commission is to “go and MAKE disciples of ALL nations.” (Matthew 28:19 NIV) In obedience to Jesus, we are tasked to “make” ordinary people into disciples. Yet, without knowledge, and without understanding of God’s “elementary truths”, we can no more be effective in helping people to be made into disciples than a soldier who doesn’t know how to operate a gun, a fisherman who doesn’t know how to fish, or a math teacher who doesn’t know math. (Hebrews 5:12 NIV) As the apostle Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) We must “know” how to help people become disciples, and be equipped to teach them. This is the battle!

The Honolulu Christian Church campus and singles ministry welcomes Jake (second from left) to the islands! (photo by Kelly Bartholomew)

It is interesting that even in Jesus’ most famous of parables, the importance of knowledge and understanding is clearly laid out. Jesus said, “When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not UNDERSTAND it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has NO ROOT, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” (Matthew 13:19-21 NIV) Therefore, the first purpose of learning the elementary truths is to “solidify.” We must solidify our own convictions on the very fundamentals of Christianity.

The Hebrew writer said, “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! …solid food is for the mature…” (Hebrews 5:12-14 NIV) Here, the ability to teach the “elementary truths” of God’s word is equated to being mature. The American Standard Version translates “elementary truths” as “The First Principles.” Maturity does not come from simply sticking around the fellowship for a long period of time with an expectation that wisdom and conviction will somehow just absorb into us through osmosis. Just as it is in what makes a successful sports team is not the ability to do the exceptional plays, but the ability to do the fundamentals exceptionally. A successful and mature disciple is one who is exceptional in the fundamentals – The First Principles.

Evan and Kelly eat lunch with Lorenzo and Joy at a restaurant called “Islands!” (photo courtesy of Evan Bartholomew)

Along with the solidarity of convictions, comes a natural unity with those who also are solidified in their convictions. After David killed Goliath, the Bible records, “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” (1 Samuel 18:1 NIV) The infamous unity that was shared from that moment on through David and Jonathan was only because Jonathan had the same heart as David. True Biblical and emotional unity cannot be commanded, forced, legislated, or even decided upon. It is only of the heart. Unity only occurs when two hearts are completely connected in conviction. It doesn’t fade through trials, temptations, or even times of weakness. Unity only fades when convictions shift. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV) Unity is attractive. In a world full of darkness, true unity stands out as a light for the lost. Therefore, the second purpose for knowing “The First Principles” is to “unify.”

The local “bruddahs,” (l-r) Evan, Jerry, Chris and Joe, have an awesome time of fellowship in Honolulu! (photo by Kelly Bartholomew)

Lastly, the final purpose for knowing The First Principles is to “multiply.” Also in Jesus’ most famous parable, Jesus says, “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and UNDERSTANDS it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:23 NIV) In Jesus ministry, He called every single disciple to His same commitment to “seek and save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV) Through multiplying Himself into people, and then those people multiplying themselves into others, Jesus knew that disciples eventually would have a whole-world impact! However, multiplication comes at a price. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24 NIV) Death is the price. It was the price Jesus paid to produce the seed of the first-century church. It was the price the first-century church paid to produce the seed of our church today. It must also be the price we pay to multiply throughout the world in this generation!

So as we gear up to receive, renew, reaffirm, and restore the “elementary truths” of God’s word, “let us throw off everything that hinders.” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV) We must let nothing stop us from accomplishing the task of solidifying, unifying, and multiplying through the rigors of the First Principles Class. And finally, let us be reassured that, although knowing is only “half” the battle – it is the first half. Let’s start there! And to Him be the glory!

The campus ministry, (l-r) Kelly, Stefano, Jordan, Renee and Robbie, promote their new club, One8Ee Campus Ministry! (photo by Evan Bartholomew)