Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
Perfect to frame the discussions of your family worship or a church-wide study.


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Frequently Asked Questions - Books

Question 1:  How should we begin? 
  See Starting

Question 2:  Does it matter where we start?  Can we start with the New Testament for example?
Answer:  You can start in any book.  The traditional arrangement of the sixty-six books does have a logical order.  The order is not perfectly chronological, but many of the books are chronologically sequenced.  Most people start in Genesis, but this can be hard for some readers because Exodus 20 through Deuteronomy are full of difficult passages which are rarely exposited by pastors.  Begin with the New Testament if that feels more comfortable.  You can also do a little Old Testament in the morning and the New Testament in the evening.  The number one focus is to attain a comprehensive working knowledge of every book of the Bible.  The BTS Reading Planner software permits you to change the sequence of the biblical books in endless ways.

Question 3:  What Bible version do you need?  What version was used to create the questions?
Answer:  The BTS study guides were developed around the KJV, the best selling book of all times.  Other translations can be used.  If a question or fill-in-the-blank sentence asks for a quantified answer (such as 40 days) or for a proper noun (such as a person's name), the answer will almost always be the same in all translations.  Most of the questions and fill-in-the-blank sentences are of such objectivity that there is usually little struggle caused by using different translations, even with loose translations.  Many alternative answers are mentioned parenthetically in the answer key.  Good examples of this can be found in the book of Leviticus chapter 2 where we read about the "meat offering."  The word "meat" is used in the KJV to mean food in general.  Interestingly, the "meat offering" did not use meat (i.e., no blood).  The offering was composed of grain.  Therefore, modern translations use the terms "grain offering," "meal offering," or "cereal offering."  These alternative answers are given in BTS.

Question 4:  I received my two volumes of Balancing the Sword today and wondered why there were two volumes that seemed very similar?  I guess I was expecting the questions to be combined and be a sequential work.
Answer:  Thanks for the inquiry.  Volume one was substantially written in 1995.  The response was so strong that a second edition seemed to be a must.  Thus, volume two was basically written in 1996.  In the years following, volume one and two underwent numerous revisions which added references, images, quotations, and more questions.  Consideration was given to combining the two volumes; however, consolidating the work into a single volume would have created a book that was too heavy to carry, too thick to bind for many binderies, and too large to market.  The two volumes are completely balanced and without duplication.  That is, volume one and two have the same number of pages, questions, quotes, images, and roughly the same number of references.  However, all the material is different.  The two volumes combine to directly or indirectly cover almost every key element in every chapter.  Every 2.7 verses is targeted by a question.  It is recommended that you study from only one volume per reading.  Hence, the BTS study program affords a structured study for reading each book of the Bible twice.

Question 5:  Do you plan on making the volumes available on CD?
Answer:  At this time, there is no plan to put the books on CD. 

Question 6:  We have just started reading through the Bible as part of our homeschool and just started with Genesis.  I was researching all the books I would need to be able to find charts and maps to go along with what we are reading along with dictionaries and concordances etc.  It looks like your book has everything all in one place!  It sounds really good. 
Answer:  Bravo on your efforts to study the Scripture!  BTS has over 1,000 images interlaced strategically throughout both volumes.  Many of the images are charts, diagrams, and maps.  BTS is an extra study tool to allow people to more easily frame the Text and gauge their comprehension.  BTS is to be used along side other aids such as a concordance, a dictionary, and commentaries.  These are resources recommend to every good Bible student.  The questions combined with cross references are unique to Balancing the Sword.  When you are studying the subject of blood atonement in Leviticus 17, BTS gives convenient cross references which tie Leviticus 17 with other chapters in the Old and New Testament.  Each chapter is analyzed in this format.  You can find a sample of the books at

Question 7:  I have a 7th-grader who needs a new Bible study. I have the Balancing the Sword set, and I'm thinking it would work well for him. He loves independent study. How would you recommend starting?
Answer:  BTS can be used by anyone who is capable of independently reading the Bible. The BTS books are easier to understand than the Bible alone because BTS includes more than 1,000 images and answer keys (in the back). I would suggest that your son use the New King James Version because it possesses respectable accuracy and strong readability. Consider purchasing the Bible on audio or on DVD to assist in those chapters which include ancient names of unfamiliar people and places. Even experienced Bible readers struggle through the difficult names. It may be best for your son to begin with easier books which will build interest and confidence. I’ve ranked the books of the Bible by difficulty. Finally and most importantly, please participate in the interpretation aspect of your son’s study. Generally, I recommend that BTS be used as families for the discussion benefits which come from studying the Bible together.

Question 8:  I would like to receive permission to use a copy machine to reproduce parts of Balancing the Sword.  I teach at a small Christian school of 17 students.  I teach all subjects for 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grades (7 students total).  So far the students have read Genesis 1-11, all of the Gospel of John, and are in Acts of the Apostles.  I would like to be able to copy the questions to use as worksheets for my students.  Sincere thanks.
Answer:  Thank you for your interest in the BTS study program.  Reproduction is allow for your dependants.  Administrators are encouraged to purchase sets for their students or request that the parents purchase the sets as required textbooks.  The costs to reproduce the books with a copying machine, punch the holes, and provide a three-ring binder to hold the pages will exceed the purchase price.  At $70 per set, the price is less than $0.0583 per page for professionally bound books with software.  Loose pages held in a folder or binder will not be appreciated by the students as the hardback set you own, nor will the reproductions last as long as the hardbacks.  Students who complete only a few sections will cherish the books for decades to come.  You are permitted to reproduce the pages for the purpose of giving tests or quizzes if the students already own copies.  Please abide by the copyright restriction posted in the opening of the books which affords all owners of BTS the right to make limited reproductions.  Parents can verify the quality of the products by clicking on Free Sample.  Additional review of the program is available for the parents at this website.  Please promote the BTS program with the same confidence as the company that sold you the books knowing that your students will be blessed for years by the personal ownership of these durable books.  Your ministry to your students will be extended beyond your time with them once the students become owners.  Your retailer may have special pricing available for bulk purchases.  If the parents of the students are economically destitute, please have the parents of the students contact directly.  As an institutional buyer, you may qualify as a wholesaler.  Contact us at to learn more.  General purchasing info is at Order Now.

Question 9:  Is it hard to make copies of the pages?  I read that that could be done for dependents.  We have 7 children but only 4 are at the age of writing down info, but I really couldn't buy 5 of them so I thought if I got one for me, then I could copy the pages out for them.  I was planning on having them make a Bible portfolio for all our Bible studies.  Do the books come in loose leaf form?  I know that would be much easier to copy that way.
Answer:  Copying the pages for your family is permitted, but not recommended on a large scale.  Your raw costs will exceed the purchase price if your copying is done on a large scale.  The replication of the more than 1200 pages will also consume loads of time.  The books are available in hardbound format only.  Read the FAQ number 8 and 10 for more feedback about replication ideas. 

Question 10:  I would like to start studying with Balancing The Sword with my family of four with two young adults, but I initially bought only one set of both books.  Do I need to buy three more copies of both books?
Answer:  Some families may choose to read the Bible together and then stop to answer the questions together.  In such a case, one set of books may be sufficient.  Under different circumstances, it may be that the reading and questions are completed separately, but the family comes together to look up the references and discuss the points of interest. In this scenario, separate sets would be ideal.  You may wish to buy one extra set to divide between your children.  Keep the original set for yourself and your wife.  This will diversify the study perspectives.  Next year, buy two more sets and switch out.  (Although, next year will likely be a different edition.  See FAQ number 9.)  The books were designed so that each user will write directly in the books.  Each book will take about a year to complete.  By the time your a family finishes, the cost will be only pennies per day for a personalized set of books that will likely become one of the most treasured assets of your library.  Which committed Christian would not appreciate having a collection of more than 1000 quotes in his or her library?  Furthermore, the cost of replication with a binder exceeds the purchase price of new books.  The BTS Reading Planner software will allow you to create a reading schedule for every member of the family.  Discuss the reading and materials on a daily basis will enrich everyone.  Others are thrilled with the conversations the questions stimulate.  As much as possible, I hope you will read and study together.  At a minimum, in casual moments through the day, discuss what you are learning, what convicts you, what encourages you. 

Question 11:  In what way are the new printings different from the original printing, and what is the new retail price? 
Answer:  There were some text related changes to correct minor errors and typos and to improve phraseology.  A full listing should be posted at a later date.  The new books include ribbons.  The changes have not been substantial enough to call the subsequent printings "new editions."  The page count is the same.  Numerous owners of Balancing the Sword have remarked about how surprised they are by the low price compared to the quantity of information.  The suggest retail price did not increase.  The SRP is still $69.98 for the set.  It remains our goal to overwhelm users with value.  

Question 12:  I read that the books are hard bound, do they open flat or are they hard to write in?  
  The books are hardbound, but not with heavy amounts of adhesive.  The books are Smythe-sewn which permits the books to open almost flat.  The paper chosen is very receptive to ink and resistant to smudging.  

Question 13: I am interested in the [Balancing the Sword Bible study] program.  I go to Bible Study Fellowship from September to May.  I want to continue a Bible study this summer.  My main concern is what the print is like in this study.  I tend to have to have a larger print in books.  What is yours like?
Answer:  The books were designed to aid readability by using a point size 11 for the primary text.  A sample of the work can be viewed at Sample.  Print at least one page so you can get a good sense for the readability.

Question 14:  YHWH is found in some of the questions.  What does YHWH mean? 
Answer:  The use of YHWH is explained with greater clarity in the Preface under Divine Titles.  Here is a shortened explanation:  "The title “the Lord” was replaced by the word “YHWH” or “YHVH” in the Old Testament.  This is called the Tetragrammaton and is the most popular name of God in the Old Testament. . . .  The vowels of the Hebrew word for Lord (i.e., ‘Adonay [ad-o-noy’]) were inserted into YHVH to produce Yahovah.  The spelling was changed to Yehovah or Jehovah. . . .  For those of you who use an American Standard Version, you have become accustomed to reading the word “Jehovah.”  It may take a little time to get used to the difference, but your understanding will be more faithful to the original Hebrew."  You may also find more on the subject in most reputable Bible dictionaries under:  Tetragrammaton, Jehovah, Divine Names, YHWH, etc.  Here is a definition from Merriam-Webster.

Question 15:  How do you deal with eschatology (i.e., the study of endtimes)?
Answer:  Revelation must be the most controversial book in the New Testament when it comes to prophecy.  Therefore, here are insight into the method used for phrasing questions in this and other prophetic books like Revelation.  In short, much effort was exercised to avoid even subtle implications by staying closely to the Text.  In Revelation, almost all of the questions use past tense verbs because John wrote about what he had already seen in his vision.  Although, most of the events John saw had not been fulfilled before John saw these wonders, John still speaks in the past tense throughout most of the book.  Here are three examples:

Rev. Vol. 1; Q. 21) What was seen in God’s temple when it was opened
Passage:  "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament:  and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail" (Rev. 11:19).

Rev. Vol. 1; Q. 41) When we are united with God, will there be any more death? 
—any more sorrow? 
—any more crying? 
—any more pain? 
Passage:  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Rev. Vol. 1; Q. 42) Whose names were in the 12 foundations of the holy city?
Passage:  "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev. 21:14).

Question 16:  We are a Reformed Presbyterian family who embraces Covenant theology. Does Balancing the Sword advance ideas that are antithetical to Reformed theology?
Answer:  The Balancing the Sword study package does not advance a Calvinistic or Arminianistic perspective (called the Augustinianism [after St. Augustine] and Semi-Pelagianism [after Pelagius]).  Passages that promote God's sovereignty are targeted by questions just as passages that promote man's responsibility.  Interpretation of the Text is left to the reader.  The pivotal verses upon which the debate hinges have received voluminous attention from commentators for centuries. Balanced theology requires a solid familiarity of the proof texts at a minimum.  Furthermore, every 2.7 verses on average is targeted by a question.  Therefore, most of the key passages pertaining to sovereignty versus free-will are highlighted by a BTS question in either volume one or volume two.  The questions are designed to develop a comprehensive working knowledge of what the Bible says.  The deeper questions about meaning are left for the user's discovery.  At the bottom of each page, there are quotes from famous Christians.  All of the quotes are about the greatness of Scripture.  Included among the heroes of yesteryear are two preachers who co-labored:  George Whitefield and John Wesley.  Whitefield was a Calvinist; Wesley was an Arminian.  See the complete list of people quoted by clicking on people quoted.  You will find a full spectrum is diversity.  Why?  I wanted to show the diverse support the Word has received from all eras, geographic regions, denominations, economic positions, and political backgrounds.  In short, have no fear!  You will love the books.  Guaranteed!

Question 17:  We are believers who generally try to avoid labels in theology, but there is one area we will not tread on, and that is "Replacement Theology."  Does your study have this as its overall precept?  It does not seem so.  Please forgive us if we seem divisive, that is not our motivation, we are just tired of the breakdown we see in Christianity.  We just want to fellowship with His Word free from the fallacy of man's opinion.
Answer:  Balancing the Sword is a study of what the Text says, not a commentary on what the Bible means.  Neither dispensationalism, restorationism, covenantalism, replacement theology, nor supersessionism are advanced.  Each system of thought has proof-texts.  Those proof-texts may be targeted by a BTS question or cross reference, but no favoritism is shown.  Balancing the Sword is designed to be used by the teacher as a backdrop.  Balancing the Sword is not designed to replace the teacher. 

Question 18:  Hello, I wanted to order the product.  Does the Balancing the Sword has images of Christ?
Answer:  Here is a quote from the back of the books:

Jesus Christ.  You will notice that none of the images (apart from a couple of nativity scenes) offer a clear view of Jesus Christ.  Why?  We know that Christ came in human flesh with hands and feet.  Yet, we know little of His appearance beyond the basic characteristics of Jewish manhood.  Isaiah 53:2 offers us the best description of Jesus’ outward appeal in the eyes of his contemporaries (though this may not be limited to physical attributes):  “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”  As a precaution, I elected to maintain this shroud of mystery.

Here is a brief description of the art in BTS.

Question 19:  I'm interested in using your books for our homeschool next year.  My children are 10, 5, 3, and 1 years old.  Would this work for them?  Or do they need to be older? 
Answer:  It is always difficult to speak to the ability of people based on age alone.  The utility of BTS is predominantly determined by the individual's reading and comprehension abilities.  BTS makes understanding the Bible easier by use of the questions, images, and cross references.  For children, the more than 1,000 images are especially helpful.  Therefore, your older children will be able to use the books without substantial assistance if they are able to read the Scriptures.  Please use the study as a bonding opportunity.  Learning the Scriptures from you will deepen their connection to you as their leader for years to come.  Your special role as parent will be amplified to the degree that you are instrumental in their faith-growing process.  As they move towards the teen years (which starts in less than thirty-six months), the tendency towards rebellion will be constrained by the intimacy that is created during these developmental years.  I recommend that you do the reading aloud with your children.  Read each chapter two or three times alternating the reader.  One reading is rarely enough.  Then, walk through the questions allowing the children to take turns answering the questions.  Read the chapter again to find the questions that were missed.  Remember, quality study is more important than conquering so many chapters.  Many adults purchase the books for their own edification.  Of all the benefit received, you will probably reap the most, especially if you read the cross references.  Will these books work for you and your children?  The best test is to try the books.  Print out the 15-page sample.  Read the chapters and fill in the spaces.  The books include the answer key, but the sample does not.

Question 20:  I have been looking for a Bible Study to do on my own.  I have tried countless Bible studies, but I never get thru them.  I want something simple and to give me the facts.  This Bible study Balancing the Sword seems like something I might could actually do.  Would this Bible study be effective on your own?
Answer:  See Study Support for Individuals.

Question 21:  I see a price for each volume, and I also see pricing for the "set."  My wife and I would like to start with just one.  Can we purchase only one volume?
Answer:  The books are are sold as a set.  The books are not interdependent, but neither are the books independent.  The books form a complete package--a right-hand and left-hand.  The goal for the workbooks was to (directly or indirectly) touch upon all major points of every chapter.  Two volumes makes such dense coverage possible.  I believe you will really appreciate the set if you made the purchase, but you can always purchase a set and split the books with a friend.  (The quality is equal between the two volumes.)  For a sharper sense of quality, please see the 15-page sample set.

Question 22:  I am homeschooling my 17-year old, and we're going through the Old Testament right now, and I just stumbled upon a review of your book.  I would love to see how you used the book for a college level course--- what the pacing looked liked and what writing assignments accompanied it.  Perhaps I might be able to incorporate your book into what we are doing.  Our focus this year as we read through the Old Testament is really on understanding and knowing the Lord, specifically going through His Word to see how He exercises lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness (Jer. 9:24).
Answer:  See How was BTS used at USF? 

Question 23:  We noted on the PDF sample of the Balancing the Sword product ... that you stated that these items “…found success at USF….”  Do you know in what area the state college was able to give it’s students credit in that used this product?  Do you know what they titled the course that used this product?
Answer:  The course, "The Bible as Literature - Rapid Reading of Old and New Testament," was available through the literature department at the University of South Florida in Tampa during 1995-'96.  The KJV is accepted by both secular and Christian professors as one of the most influential pieces of classic English literature of all times.  Therefore, the KJV was the required biblical reading.  The class surpassed all normal scholastic requirements because the course was a true academic survey/analysis of the entire Bible as sixty-six integrated compositions.  Balancing the Sword was used while I taught at USF.  Last I heard, the literature department still has a "Bible as Lit." class, but I'm not sure that it is still taught by a Christian professor which is necessary in order to give the Scripture due honor.  See How was BTS used at USF? for more information.

Question 24:  My question regards using these books as a text for earning credit for high school studies.  As home schoolers, we want to include Biblical studies in our curriculum, and properly assign credit for the work and time spent in this area.  Do you have recommendations for what credit would be considered earned upon completion of a volume of Balancing the Sword?  In addition to completing the study, is any additional work required to assign a Carnegie unit?  How many Carnegie units are appropriate to assign per volume?  We are just beginning the high school journey, and any information you can share will be helpful.
Answer:  See High School Credits Using the Carnegie Unit System.

Question 25:  We are enjoying our Balancing the Sword set, suggested by a friend....  Here's how we are using the book during home school—working with my children:
We read a chapter in the Bible and answer the questions.  We select one question per session to "Dig Deeper" by looking up EACH of the verses supplied.  The kids mark each verse on in spiral notebook, and make note of what was learned from that passage.  We conclude by summarizing the initial answer now clarified by looking up all the verses.  My suggestion:  I would really enjoy it if the CD /software included an opportunity to print copies of these passages for reference.  The printed verses could be tucked in the Bible etc.  As it is, we each have to copy down all the verses given if we are to study individually.
Answer:  It is possible that a feature like what you've described will be added to the BTS website.  We've been investing lots of time and money in website enhancements.  Hopefully, we can unveil the new features in the next few months.  One tool that would help with a portion of your request is currently available at under Support / Cross References.  Pick either volume one or volume two.  Then, select a book of the Bible.  Scroll down, and find the question into which you wish to dig deeper.  Click on the references one at a time.  The biblical passage will appear to in the right pane in the KJV.  Because you want to print a copy of the assorted Bible verses to keep on hand, use your mouse to select the yellow highlighted text.  Then, right-click on the selected text, and click Copy.  Open your favorite word processing software, such as Microsoft's Word, Corel's Word Perfect, or Notepad.  Then, right-click in the word processing document, and click Paste.  Repeat these steps for all the cross references for your target question.  When you're done, you can add personal notes for your children to remember and print your verses.  You'll be able to put the list together quickly after you get this process down pat.  It takes me just a little more than two minutes to compile ten references, including the verse citations.  Hopefully, in the future, we can reduce this to one click per question.  Keep up the great work!  You're making an invaluable investment into your kids.

Question 26:  What does "Balancing the Sword" mean? It is the title of your works, and I would think you would spend some time developing the concept. However, I don't find it; and find myself more dangling than balanced.... I have been blessing by your hard work in only a short time. Therefore, I thank you again.
Answer:  The Balancing the Sword title was a providential blessing of creativity for which I’m deeply grateful. The title is a double entendre that has both a biblical basis and a descriptive quality of the composition of the books’ content, the questions, and the software. The title is also emblematic of the ambition of the fair-minded theologian. I’ll explain. Apostle Paul taught that Scripture is called “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Regarding composition, first, the composition of the two books is balanced. There are the exact same number of questions, quotes, images, and pages between both the red book and blue book and almost the same number of cross references. Second, the balance of questions from chapter to chapter matches the composition of the Bible. If we believe that the biblical canon was preserved and completed, then we also hold that the Bible possesses God’s intended proportions. That is, we have the perfect number of psalms; we have neither too many nor too few prophetic utterances; a book of the Law was not interpolated nor was a gospel book lost. As a result, the goal of the unprejudiced Bible reader is to keep the Scripture and our emphasis of Scripture in perfect balance to God’s proportions. The Balancing the Sword questions are written in virtually perfect proportion to the Bible. There is approximately one question for every one hundred ten words. Easy chapters are not overemphasized; hard chapters are not neglected. The BTS approach is, if you will, balanced to the Text. Likewise, the Balancing the Sword title reflects the calculation abilities of the BTS Reading Planner software because the software divides reading so that you are reading the same number of words each day. Unlike less accurate methods which use a chapter count or verse count, the BTS Reading Planner software does a literal word count analysis to apportion the reading evenly. The byproduct of a balanced division is that the amount of time needed for daily reading is more predictable. Finally, the Balancing the Sword title has theological significance. Similar to the books' slogan, we ought to strive to be evenhanded theologians. Impartiality prompts us to give each subject its duly deserved consideration. We do not embrace divine grace yet neglect good works. Objectivity causes us to acknowledge human responsibility when attempt to understand God’s sovereignty. We seek to balance those elements which feel to be antinomies. Thereby, we are “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Ti. 2:15). The Balancing the Sword questions were crafted to force readers to grapple with the difficulties of Sacred Writ.

Question 27: Thank you for your books. I have spent some time searching this impressive work.... The quote, "You must know what the Bible says before you can know what it means," is good, but it is unattributed. Are these your words, or ... are you quoting another?
Answer:  The books' slogan is attributable to my desire to give pause to my fellow Bible students from hastily forming convictions or opinions. The simple axiom presses upon my conscience the need for a judicious approach to developing interpretations. Those who are full of opinions without beforehand being equally full of knowledge unwittingly embarrass themselves. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Pr. 18:13).

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.