Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
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Video Testimonials

Joaquin  |  Michael  |  Calandrillo  |  Smith  |  Lopez  |  Bible Study Group  |  Tanner  |  Graves

Joaquin, Everyday News  
Family Devotions from a Young Boy's Experience 
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Michael and Family



Alyse Merritt (Calandrillo)
Messianic Jewish Believer in Jesus

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Hi, my name is Alyse Calandrillo and I’m a Messianic Jewish believer in Jesus, Yeshua.

Back in 1995, when I became a Christian, I was introduced to Allen’s Bible study materials, and they were vital in anchoring me in my early Christian walk. They were also vital in helping me explain to my Jewish family how Jesus, Yeshua, fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. Things like the Passover, the Seder, Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, and Leviticus 17:11, which says, ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins,’ were so vitally important to me and my family, and with the cross references in Allen’s study materials, I was able to explain to my family as well as understand for myself the tie into both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

Another element that is so vitally important to me that I deeply appreciate about Allen’s study materials is the fact that he continually utilizes the original text, the original titles of God, such as the Tetragrammaton, Adonai, and others, Lord of Hosts, things of that nature, which help me identify so much with my rich Jewish heritage. And it’s also capturing the true essence of the titles that God gave himself.

So, in conclusion, I would strongly encourage you to study the materials, as in the Word it says that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, and really just take it to heart and pray over it and understand the cross references involved, because it’s helped me so much in my walk.

Dr. Elton Edward Smith

  • Distinguished Professor of British Literature and Bible at the University of South Florida for 47 Years (1961 to 2008)

  • Studied at New York University and the University of California at Berkeley

  • Theological Degrees from Andover Newton Theological School and Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from Syracuse University

  • Senior Fulbright Lectureship at Algiers, Morocco, the University of London (Paris, France), the University of Paris, and Cambridge University, England

  • Prolific Author of Over 12 Books

  • Ordained as a Baptist Pastor in 1941

  • Served Churches in Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Florida, and California over 67 Years

  • Born:  November 9, 1915 in New York City, NY; Died:  July, 2, 2008 in Tampa, FL

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I’m delighted to talk about a project that I have watched from its beginning. 
Some eight years ago, when I first met Allen Wolfe, and we first got acquainted, through the period in which he was developing a course, which is massive and very impressive.

And it is a work which in my thinking is in the same class as Dr. Cruden’s great, complete, concordance of the Old and New Testaments, or Dr. Hall’s dictionary of the Bible. 

From the very beginning, it has had a wonderful freedom from any kind of denominational direction or a specialized point of view. It is always being focused on the text and its relationship to other texts in the Bible, rather than on some extraneous point of view set down on top of the material.

The emphasis upon the text itself meant that we did not get lured into by-paths.  

It seems to me that this is a study workbook for any Christian. And that it is one which will make him have the sense of finally I have a hold of this great, big thing we call the Holy Bible. 

I would recommend this workbook for anyone who wants to know, “What’s in the Bible? And what should it mean to me?”

I suppose since I’m a professor at the University of South Florida, this means that I’ve spent most of my life with students; and watching young people come into a course like this was so impressive to me that I decided very early that this must become one of the offerings of the University itself. And so we were able, because of the sound scholarship, and because of the appeal to young people, we were able to give this course on university credit to as many people as signed up for it. This meant a lot, because it meant that not just a few scholars, not just a few people who were going into full-time Christian service or the mission field, but that this was open to everybody – whosoever will may come.

It was a great privilege to get to know Allen as a student, as a co-worker in a university course, and to know his father as a fellow pastor.

It is perfectly clear when one reads these wonderful workbooks that the writer is a person of deep Christian conviction and that he is totally devoted to Orthodox, Christian teaching.

Related:  How was BTS used at USF?
  Get Junior High and High School Credit Using the Carnegie Unit System



Frank and Terry Lopez
Business Owner (former Deputy Sheriff) and Homeschooling Mother

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Hi, my name’s Frank Lopez; this is my wife Terry.

We first came into contact with Allen Wolfe’s materials about nine years into our marriage.

(Terry) Yeah, it was really neat coming into this material because it really helped. At that time it was very confusing – the Bible was very confusing. It was overwhelming.

(Frank) Yeah, the Old and New Testament didn’t seem to be related, but after taking the study and using the materials, then we started to see that common thread that ran through all 66 books of the Bible. A particular example is the lamp stand that they talk about here in Revelation 2. (It) is the same one that we find here in Exodus 28. And it was helpful in our home schooling. 

(Terry) As a home schooling mom, it was very important for me to relate to the Bible as the ultimate truth. And having this material really helped us to do that. 

(Frank) Our children, seeing us read and study Scripture – it was very beneficial.  As a father it allows me to help them understand the nuts and bolts of the Bible. I’m able to draw from stories from all parts of the Bible to answer these questions they have, like, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

(Terry) It helped me as a wife to know my purpose, and also as a mother to know my purpose.

(Frank) And as a husband, it helped me to understand my role to try to be that servant leader in my household, like Christ was. He was a servant leader. In the past we didn’t discuss the Bible in the house. And actually, when we were doing this study, and we had the material, we didn’t do the work together, because of our busy work schedules.

(Terry) Yeah, it sparked conversation between us in the home, and that was very helpful.

(Frank) Yeah, I remember one time we were discussing from the Old Testament about God’s holy judgment – it was kind of hard for us to understand, and it really sparked that conversation. It was really good.

You know, it was funny; when we finished with this material I thought it was going to be over, but actually it turned out to be a springboard for further study and growth; not only as Christians, but also as a couple.

What I would urge men especially (to do) is, bring a curriculum like this into the home and get into your Bible. Your children are the legacy that you’re going to leave behind, and this is the greatest thing that you could impart on to them – how to study and get into their Bible.



Assembly of God - Bible Study Group
(Select Members)
Pastor James and Sandra Epperson, T.D. and Dorthy McRae, and John and Laura Criss 

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Pastor James Epperson: "Wednesday night's kind of a mixed night because we have people from different denominations that come visit: Sister Diane from a Baptist church; us from Assembly of God; some from a Church of God background. And, everybody brings their own perspective from there..."

Laura Criss: "And you feel like you have to study, whether or not -- yes, I keep saying, now, 'Be sure to get your - we call it your - lesson'". 

John Criss: "Our lesson. She won't help me do it."

Dorothy McRae: "It makes you read, it makes you study and spend time with God that you need to spend with Him, that you wouldn't ordinarily do, because you'd find something else to do. But if you set aside that study time, you do that. And I enjoy every minute of it."

Pastor James Epperson: "There's a lot of times where we'll get an answer to one, and we don't quite believe it, so we're like, going back to the back of our Bibles looking up in the little help section -- Oh, OK, OK, alright, alright. And it does, it makes you focus in on some details that you tend to gloss over."

Sandra Epperson: "I like to read the material, then go back for the questions, and a lot of times I don't go back for the questions until we're in the group, because to me it's more interesting -- instead of just giving out the answers to the questions -- for us sort of all to get the answer together in the group.

Pastor James Epperson: "Well, there is a lot of times where we think we know the answer and when we read it through we get the general gist of it, but when you go back and get into the details, there's a lot more textures to it. That, yes, you were right in the general scheme of things, but there's some other things in there that you have to go back and get. Her (My wife's) way of studying is she wants the big picture first, and then go back for the details. And it is different here: when you have so many different people with different perspectives, they bring out different details.

T. D. McRae: "Well, I probably wouldn't do it, if it wasn't done in a group. That's why it's important to me that you do it in a group, because I wouldn't ever get to it. I wouldn't have the time, or I wouldn't take the time, but with this group I do it, so I can get involved too."

Dorothy McRae: "We do have different people in our congregation that doesn't always believe just like we do, but we have Episcopalians, and we have some Pentecostals; we have some Church of Gods; we have the Assembly of God, which we are. And the material is wonderful for any denomination because it's strictly out of the Bible, it's nobody's idea that this is the way it's supposed to be, or that's the way it's supposed to be; it's strictly Scripture, and you can't find any fault with it. It's great, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Laura Criss: "I always look forward to Wednesday nights, because Wednesday night we all get together, and we pray and we study in the Bible."

Pastor James Epperson: "It's a fill-in-the-blank format, and it is very academic, but it's also not threatening; it's not leading; you find where it's at in the Scripture, and you fill in the blank, and it's not like you have to stretch yourself, because more threatening are the application questions, where it gets real personal. -- Now we get personal after we fill in the blanks, but you get to start with something that's not threatening, and then you can make personal applications later. So you stay with the Word..."

Sandra Epperson: "I don't find the academic format threatening. I like it, in that it leads to discussion. You take those blanks and you put them in a context. So sometimes when there are questions about numbers, and we have to sit and calculate the numbers and everything, in a way doing those calculations helps you get a grasp of ... the enormity of something. It puts it in that context.

T.D. McRae: "Well, Dorthy and I, we study together, but she does all the reading, and all the studying, and I just lay there and listen to her read, and just ... enjoy the moment, being with her."

Dorothy McRae: "This is my husband T. D., and he is my spouse for many years, and we have always studied the Bible together, but I study a lot of times by myself during the day when I get blue, or I get tired of doing household chores I study, because that's a release for me, and I love the study, and I love the ... blank part, (it) makes you run to other Scripture. And I love that. Because I like the chain reaction... But we do study together. He does like me to do all the reading, and I usually do.

Sandra Epperson: "James has studied for a long time, and studied very intensely, and I'm pretty much of a novice; I'm putting it together now. And he knows the answers, sometimes without reading. I have to read it, so we don't study it together. Yes, it stimulates conversation."

Pastor James Epperson: "Our study habits are really a lot different. She made the comment that I know the answers, and most of it's because I'm an early morning person, and I do my reading in the early morning, so I seem real smart by the (time the) afternoon comes around. But one thing that we do is we share an answer sheet. So when we get down to it, we get to one answer sheet, so we're all answering the same thing. And I am learning, because like she said, she's a lot more skeptical on things, and she challenges -- she actually does a more thorough job of looking around the Scripture to find its underpinnings maybe I've already made that little wrestling match a long time ago, but I've forgotten it. She can remind me a lot of the whys I believe that, and I may just take it on face value, and she'll come up with the reasons why I take it."

Laura Criss: "Well, I often thought it would be nice if we'd had something like this when I taught Sunday School for years... We do talk about the lesson lots of times; what we studied today, and what we're going to study next week."

Sandra Epperson: "I think the workbook materials are really helpful because it isn't just a matter of filling in the blanks; you give other Scripture references, and it takes that that you're reading right then, and, and shows you where it is in the Bible -- where it was leading up to what you're reading, and what will follow after what you're reading in the Bible. If you use it completely, with the other references that you give along with the question, it's very helpful.

Dorothy McRae: "And I love this material, and it is great to have it to go along with your Bible. When you're studying your Bible you can pick up a lot more information when you have an aid sometimes to go along with your work. And we like to say that it's ... not (just) for the Christian; the unbeliever could take this and use it and study it and find Christ in this material very easy."

Pastor James Epperson: "Well, as a pastor, this material, one: it doesn't present interpretations; it points to the Word of God. It keeps people in the Word of God, and you can put it in someone's hands; someone that you want to encourage to be a teacher, or you can put it in the hands of somebody that's an established Sunday School teacher, and they can use the material to strengthen themselves in; it's not threatening to unbelievers because it's right there -- you look up the Scripture; you have all the pointers to get into the Word of God, so the advanced Bible student can get in there, get their concordance, get the background to it. Those that are just scratching on the surface can get into the Word, read it, fill in the blank, find out where it fits into the grand scheme of things, and we've shown here in our congregation, that it's good for a mixture of beliefs. We have Pentecostal, non-Pentecostal, denominational churches, fellowships, and they've come and joined us on Wednesday night for this Bible study. And we haven't had an argument one. We've disagreed on certain things, but it all brings us back to the Word. And if there's one thing I can say about it is that it brings your whole congregation into the Word of God. And that's where the power is. The power's in the Word.



Rod Tanner

  • Senior Partner of Architectural Firm

  • Ancient Coin Collector

  • Volunteer on Israeli Archeological Dig

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Hi, I'm Rod Tanner. Recently I went on an archeological dig in Israel, volunteering my services as an architect utilizing AutoCAD. It gave me a first-hand perspective of the land that Jesus lived in. As a result of the dig, I became interested in ancient coins, and have amassed a considerable collection of hundreds of biblical coins. 

What compelled this trip, to work in the heat and the dust of the desert, was my love of the Lord and His word. Shortly before my trip to Israel, my wife and I completed a comprehensive study of God's Word utilizing Balancing the Sword. We studied the curriculum in a large group setting of mostly college age students, who were enthusiastically reading the Bible from cover to cover in 365 days together, using this powerful study guide. We met weekly to discuss the material. The group offered encouragement to members to stick with it and to dig deeply into the Word to discover for ourselves biblical truth. The Holy Spirit used our meetings to encourage, enlighten, and to enhance our understanding. 

At the time that I began this study, I had been a Christian for more than 40 years, a past church deacon, and a Bible study teacher. I thought I had a solid Biblical understanding, but I was deceived. Embarrassingly, I had never read the Bible through, from cover-to-cover, consecutively. I had never viewed it as one continuously, infinitely coordinated text, an actual love letter from God Himself, written to His people. As with most Christians, my Old Testament knowledge was superficial, and out of balance with my New Testament familiarity. 

Allen Wolfe's Balancing the Sword approach of questions that are proportional to the text, with extensive cross-referencing, allow the Word of God to critique the Word of God. The study challenged us to be open minded, about allowing the Word to reform our theology. This proved to be a powerful tool for me, to see the Holy Spirit work in illuminating Biblical truth in a personal way, in my life, and those lives of the people around me. 

The reason why this was such a challenge, was because as a senior partner in an architectural firm, working 50 to 60 hours a week for demanding clients, on multi-million dollar projects, time is one of my most precious commodities. Balancing the Sword offered a tight structure with concise references that allow my time to be optimized, and focusing on the text at hand, and its context relating to other texts. 

The study includes a valuable software tool, that can produce a customized Bible reading plan to fit anyone's needs, even those with rigorous schedules. 

My love for, and my understanding of, and my familiarity with God's Word has grown exponentially as a result of this mind-renewing experience. If you're serious about your walk with the Lord, and your study of God's Word, then this Balancing the Sword study is for you. I encourage you to put on the whole armor of God and become proficient at balancing the sword. There is no substitute for the power available to those who know and are obedient to God's Word.



Steve Graves

  • Husband and Homeschooling Father of Eight Children

  • Historian and Author of Timeline BC:  A Biblical Perspective of History

  • Pastor/Elder of Non-Denominational Church

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Hi, I'm Steve Graves. I'm a home educating father of eight. My wife and I have been home educating our children for fifteen years, and I would say the most important ingredient in about educating and training up successful young ladies and men is to give them a Biblical foundation. You know, the Bible says in Proverbs 21:30 that "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor council against the Lord." This clearly teaches that all knowledge, all education, must be founded on the Word of God. Martin Luther himself stated that all knowledge, all education that is not founded on the Word of God must become corrupt. 

You know in today's time, the family is constantly under attack. That's why we need materials such as Balancing the Sword. 

Seeing Balancing the Sword in a classroom setting, I've seen young people, as well as old, get a thirst and a desire to study God's riches. And that's something we need, especially with our young people, to have a desire, because that's what's going to help them combat against the world's philosophies that they tend to have against them on a daily basis. 

I can also appreciate the hundreds of illustrations of pictures that are in this material. It gives a father an opportunity to show those pictures, helping the children remember, by the picture, of the principle or the event they are studying. 

As a Christian history teacher, I can appreciate the historical quotes from godly men and women of the past who stressed the importance of the Bible. I definitely recommend this course, or this material, to every home educating father who is serious about training generations of godly young men and women.


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