Plainer Words Series

Introduction - Bible Mountaineers

By Tom L. Ballinger

See Also  Background Of Christianity

Like a team of mountain climbers, Bible students are trekking steadily upward to the dazzling heights of Biblical truth. However, some Bible-mountaineers halt their assent at certain heights for

various reasons. The greatest danger they face, however, is not ascending to the higher peaks,  but in turning back to the safety of their base camp.


 Some want-to-be Bible-mountaineers leave their established base camp whether it is Acts 2, or Acts 9, or Acts 13, or even Acts 18 and venture up-ward, fearful of what they might discover.


Some of these timid souls with trepidation undertake the climb upward, hoping to view the panorama Acts 28 offers. Once arriving at this breath-taking height they immediately view it with joy; but just like the stony-ground-hearers in the “Parable of the Sower,” they have no root in themselves, endure the glorious view for a while; but when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, by and by they are offended and they scramble back to their base camp where there is safety in numbers.

 As Biblical-mountaineers in order to “go on” we must “let go.”

“Therefore leaving (letting go) the doctrines of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying

again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the

doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands. And of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal

judgment.” Heb. 6:1-2.


 Phil 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge

of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss (the letting go) of all things, and

do count them but dung, that I may (go on to) win Christ,”


 We lose in order to gain. Forgetting where we are and we press on up-ward. On any mountain climb those who seek the summits know the higher you climb the fewer go with  you. Those who have scaled to the summit of Mount Everest start the trek with many on the team. But only two or three persevere to the peak.


 My assent as a Bible-mountaineer began in 1968, venturing upward from a base camp

of Acts 9 - the higher I went many of my fellow-climbers fell away. They found more comfort and fellowship at the base camp.


 The great mountaineers of the past who scaled the heights of dispensational truth blazed the

trail for many of us, not only to follow, but to build upon. Often the student goes beyond what

his mentors have taught and that’s how it should be. A true mentor would never instruct his

students to “go no further than I’ve gone” in pursuit of the truth. No organization or no man has a monopoly on biblical truth. Personally, I have learned many things from some Bible students with whom I don’t agree on many matters.


 By God’s grace we should try to be an honest seeker of truth. If we desire to be an honest  seeker of truth we reserve the absolute right to change, clarify, advance, or add to any idea we have ever set forth as being the truth. As a Bible mountaineer we should ever be seeking higher ground. Perhaps some would say this is restlessness but I would say this is moving from faith to faith. If we are mountaineers trekking upward and onward we must be willing to let go - change, clarify, advance, or add to any idea we hold. We shouldn’t  let any doctrine become so precious to us that we are unwilling to let go when we are  given additional light.


 Dr. E. W. Bullinger certainly followed this precept, “If anyone would know what I believe  upon a subject, he must find out what I believe now.”


 We should keep in mind as those who are scaling peaks of Bible truths that we will ever “get it all.” Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians13:12, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Many Biblical mountaineers arrive at certain elevations and imagine, “They have arrived.”


We should never think we’ve arrived. Notice what Paul (the pattern-man) said,  “Brethren, I count not myself to have (arrived) apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting (letting go of) those things which are behind, and reaching forth (going on) unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you,”  Philippians 3:13-15. What a challenging piece of advice.


 In plainer words we need to keep-on-keeping-on. Or as the old hymn says, “I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining everyday.”

There is danger in drawing back.

Heb 10:38-39, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”


"Beware lest any man spoil (rob) through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men,

after the rudiments of the world …” (Col. 2:8).

“Let no man beguile you of your reward …”(Col. 2:18).

At the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy all men had forsaken him and his testimony as the Lord’s

prisoner - only Demas was named. Demas drew back, having loved this present world. Only Luke was with him.


Demas was a picture of a mountaineer who trekked along with Paul only to draw back. He

didn’t like the isolation of being with a man of God who the Christians of that day turned

against. Demas retreated back to base camp. He loved the fellowship and security traditional

Christianity provided. Not the scorn and isolation which surrounded the testimony of our

Lord and His prisoner (2 Timothy 1:8).    


It would seem that Demas bought into the idea that Paul was out of the will of God. As Bible

mountaineers we too should expect no better than what the Apostle Paul experienced - not personal physical persecution - but the persecution of silence and whispers. Our sufficiency is in Christ Jesus. Our fellowship is with Him.


The first step of faith is taken personally and individually. As the walk begins, moving from faith to faith, God steps in and walks with you leading and guiding you. He keeps showing the way as along as we acknowledge what He shows us (Ephesians 1:17). The  acknowledging the truth (2 Timothy 2:25) keeps us from the snare of the devil. Keep on acknowledging and pressing on and upward—while we await the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.


This article was published, as the first “Plainer Words Online” study, on April 19, 2003.