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GP 3: An Inspired Guide

It is easy to deny an idea, but harder to deny a fact when it is in front of you. When the Bible claims to be true and also inspired by God, what are the facts?

In the 1960s animated television series “The Adventures of Johnny Quest,” Johnny and his father travel the world in search of scientific answers to seemingly non-scientific events. The cartoon captures the spirit of our age, which is the quest to uncover believable facts to help us explain the meaning of our world.

Many people who deny the Bible usually just deny an idea they have of the Bible. Few people take the time to read the Bible themselves. When you do read the Bible you see it is filled with more than mere ideas. In Psalm 19:1-6[1] the writer, Kind David, said, “The ________________ declare the glory of God; the _______________ proclaim the work of his hands.” The writer didn’t just make a claim and tell the reader to believe it. The writer said that the reader should, in effect, become like a Johnny Quest and look at the world around them and let the facts of the physical world speak for themselves.

While Johnny Quest may be a fictional character, there are many real life Johnny Quests who have done just this.

Lee Strobel and “The Case For Christ”

Lee Strobel was an investigative journalist for The Chicago Tribune. He was also an atheist. When his wife came home one day and told him she had decided to believe in Jesus he was shocked. And nervous. So he went on a search himself. He put to work his skills as an investigative journalist to inspect the claims of Christianity. Here is his story.

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Not only did Strobel become a believer in Jesus after his investigation, he has now written some of the most important books on the subject. Strobel’s books, “A Case For Christ” and “A Case For Faith,” expertly outline the evidence for believing the claims of scripture. This is what Lee Strobel says about the reliability that the Bible is inspired by God.

An Inspired Book

The God who created us loves us so much that he left us a revelation about himself in the books that make up the Bible. He wants us to know him; to know what he has done, what he is doing, and what the future holds for all mankind.

The purpose of this lesson is to show clearly that the Bible was inspired by God. Many people accept the Bible as truth, but few have concrete evidence of this fact. This interactive blog will reveal some of the obvious facts supporting the belief that the Bible is inspired by God. This post will define inspiration and give evidences of the Bible being inspired.

The Bible is the most important and accurate resource we have to discover the treasures God has in store for us. It is a wealth of information to equip us for everyday living and to prepare us for eternity. God reveals both physical and spiritual truth in His Word.

What Does it Mean to be Inspired?

When we “get an idea” to do something, we sometimes say we have been “inspired.” Butterflies in the stomach of a young boy in high school for the girl who sits next to him may cause him to be “inspired” to become an outstanding athlete in order to win the girl’s attention. Maybe the desire to lose a few unwanted inches around your waist will “inspire” you to eliminate sweets from your diet. Soldiers have been “inspired” to perform great acts of courage in the face of danger in order to save their buddies.

The Greek word translated as “inspired” literally means “breathed.” The Greeks understood this to mean “god-breathed.” They had the idea that a divine being known as a “muse” would literally breath into your spirit the idea and ability to do great things. Here is Hollywood’s interpretation of what is “The Muse.”

Even before the use of the Greek idea of “inspire” the writers of the Bible understood it was God who was guiding them. They knew they were doing something far more important than expressing their own ideas. God was speaking through them by the help of the ultimate muse, the Spirit of God.

Three Views of Biblical Inspiration

General (Universal) Inspiration

Some view the Bible as “generally” inspired. General or “universal” inspiration is the idea that certain men and women of genius are inspired in the sense that they are exceptionally talented and accomplish extraordinary things. People like Michelangelo, Beethoven, or Michael Jordan are said to be inspired. It is believed their talents are given to them by God or some muse.

A person who believes only in the General Inspiration of the Bible would believe that the writers of the Bible were extraordinary people with talents to write about spiritual things and history. A person who believes in General inspiration would not necessarily believe that these writers were actually inspired to write a particular message from God, however. They would believe in the inspired talents of the writers but they would not believe that the writings were actually inspired by God.

In ancient times there was a leader so brave and successful that even his enemies called him inspired. He was the Prince of Egypt. Moses, the first writer of the Bible. But even though all that knew of him thought of him as Generally Inspired, not all understood that he was specifically inspired by God to perform God’s will. In Exodus 3:7-10[2] God reveals that Moses is called to lead the enslaved Israelites to freedom. He is more than a talented man, he is a man on God’s mission.

Who do you know personally who you would say is a Generally Inspired person? ________________________
Do you have talents or skills that you believe are Generally Inspired? _________________________________
Have you ever felt “inspired” to do something? __________________________________

Partial Inspiration

Partial Inspiration means that a person may be prompted to do something generally, but how they go about it particularly is left up to them. God may inspire a person to be “good to your neighbor” but the particulars of how they go about being good is up to them. To view the Bible as Partially Inspired is to believe the writers have good intentions, but that the message is ultimately their own creation.

The Bible writers did not believe they were Partially Inspired, however. They had the firm belief that God was speaking to them specifically and that they would be held responsible if they did not give the exact message God was intending them to give. In the final chapter of the Bible, in Revelation 22:18,[3] the writer warns the reader, that “If anyone __________ anything” to the writing that “God will add to that person the _________ described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will _____________ from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”

Plenary (Total) Inspiration

This is the view that the Bible is completely inspired by God. God chose those who wrote the Scriptures and they wrote what God wanted them to write.

In 2 Peter 1:20-21[4] it says we “must understand that no prophecy of ______________ came about by the ___________ own _____________ of things. For prophecy never had its ____________ in the__________________ but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

In 2 Peter 3:15[5] we see that Paul received his[6] _____________ from God.

In 1 Corinthians 2:11-13[7] it says, “For who knows a person’s _____________ except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of _______________ except the Spirit of God.” And then it says, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by __________________ but in words taught by ________________, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”

Evidence the Bible is Inspired: M.A.P.S.

It is one thing to claim the Bible is inspired by God. But what is the evidence?

M.A.P.S. is an acronym standing for Manuscripts, Archeology, Prophecy, and Statistics. It was developed by Christian researcher Hank Hanegraaff as a way to remember these key areas of evidence supporting the Biblical claim of inspiration.

Manuscripts

Manuscripts show the Bible’s reliability because of their accuracy of translations and their historic references. Read Hanegraaff’s description:[8]

It could be claimed that accurate manuscripts is not really evidence of divine guidance. Maybe the Hebrew people were just particularly diligent with their passing down of their documents.

The “external” evidence, however, is hard to refute. One of the most powerful external evidences is history itself. Many claims were written in the Bible long before the discovery of the historic fact to support the claims. There was no way the Biblical writers could have known these claims were true had not God revealed it to them. Here are some historical facts followed by the Biblical accounts that preceded them:

Historical Fact: People feared Christopher Columbus and his ships would sail right off the edge of the world because it was believed the world was flat.
Biblical Truth: Isaiah wrote several centuries before in Isaiah 40:22[9] that the earth was a _____________.[10]

Historical Fact: For centuries people believed that the planet was held up in various ways— on the back of a giant turtle, or that Atlas stood on the back of four elephants and held it on his shoulders. (Greek Mythology)
Biblical Truth: In Job 26:7[11] we read, “He suspends the earth over ____________.”

Check out this list of more than two dozen more Biblical references to knowledge the Biblical writers knew even before it was scientifically understood.

Archeology

Another evidence that scripture is inspired can be found in Archeology. Read Hanegraaff’s description:{[12]

Fred Williams wrote for BibleEvidences.com, “I believe one of the more overwhelming testimonies regarding the depth of archeological evidence for the New Testament is in the account of the famous historian and archeologist Sir William Ramsay. Ramsay was very skeptical of the accuracy of the New Testament, and he ventured to Asia minor over a century ago to refute its historicity. He especially took interest in Luke’s accounts in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, which contained numerous geographical and historic references. Dig after dig the evidence without fail supported Luke’s accounts. Governors mentioned by Luke that many historians never believe existed were confirmed by the evidence excavated by Ramsay’s archeological team. Without a single error, Luke was accurate in naming 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands. Ramsay became so overwhelmed with the evidence he eventually converted to Christianity” Here is a video about Sir William Mitchell Ramsay.

Prophecy

Surprisingly a popular argument against the Bible being inspired has been the reliability of prophecies recorded in the Bible. It is surprising because when a person actually looks at the fulfillment of many of the prophecies the evidence for their reliability is undeniable. Read Hanegraaff’s description:{[13]

Many of the prophecies in the Bible have to do with the coming of Jesus and the events of his birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 7:14,[14] “The ______________ will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him _______________.” We see the fulfillment of this prophecy recorded in Matthew 1:18-23.[15]

Seven hundred and fifty years before Jesus was born, Micah wrote in Micah 5:2[16] that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Luke writes in Luke 2:4-7,[17] “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to ___________ the town of David.” Luke says, “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be _____________, and she ___________________ to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Here is a list of 60 Biblical prophecies fulfilled.

Statistics

Read Hanegraaff’s description of the importance of Statistics in understanding the Bible’s reliability:[18]

The novel Ulysses, by the Irish writer James Joyce, is considered one of the most important books in the English language. And yet, having been in existence a mere ninety years, the book is embroiled in controversy regarding the question of reliability of modern editions being true to the original author’s writing. This is an English language book simply being reprinted in the same language. Unfortunately the problems with this book are not rare when it comes to the histories of writing. Statistically when any text is edited for new editions, or translated into new languages, something of the original text will be lost. It might simply be punctuation, or it might be a slew of whole sentences.

Beyond all statistical odds, however, the Bible has remained true to its original texts over thousands of years.

Do Something!

Remember, it is easy to deny and idea about something. Read the Bible for yourself and make up your own mind about how reliable it is both in its claims about being the Inspired Word of God, but also for what the wisdom of the Bible will do to enrich your life.

The foundation of a Christian’s faith is the fact that the Bible is the inspired word of God. List one valuable insight you have gained from each of these sections in this entry: _____________________________.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. ” 1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
    6 It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.”

  2. “7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
  3. “18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”
  4. “20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
  5. “15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”
  6. Wisdom
  7. “11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”
  8. “Manuscripts
    Manuscripts relates to the tests used to determine the reliability of the extant manuscript copies of the original documents penned by the Scripture writers (we do not possess these originals). In determining manuscript reliability, we deal with the question: How can we test to see that the text we possess in the manuscript copies is an accurate rendition of the original? There are three main manuscript tests: the Bibliographic-Eyewitness-External- BEE – will help you remember these).

    The bibliographic test considers the quantity of manuscripts and manuscript fragments, and also the time span between the original documents and our earliest copies. The more copies, the better able we are to work back to the original. The closer the time span between the copies and the original, the less likely it is that serious textual error would creep in. The Bible has stronger bibliographic support than any classical literature – including Homer, Tacitus, Pliny, and Aristotle.

    We have more than 14,000 manuscripts and fragments of the Old Testament of three main types: a) approximately 10,000 from the Cairo Geniza (storeroom) find of 1897, dating back as far as about A.D. 800; (b) about 190 from the Dead Sea Scrolls find of 1947-1955, the oldest dating back to 250-200 B.C.; and (c) at least 4,314 assorted other copies. The short time between the original Old Testament manuscripts (completed around 400 B.C.) and the first extensive copies (about 250 B.C.) – coupled with the more than 14,000 copies that have been discovered – ensures the trustworthiness of the Old Testament text. The earliest quoted verses (Num. 6:24-26) date from 800-700 B.C.

    The same is true of the New Testament text. The abundance of textual witnesses is amazing. We possess over 5,300 manuscripts or portions of the (Greek) New Testament – almost 800 copied before A.D. 1000. The time between the original composition and our earliest copies is an unbelievably short 60 years or so. The overwhelming bibliographic reliability of the Bible is clearly evident.

    The eyewitness document test (“E”), sometimes referred to as the internal test, focuses on the eyewitness credentials of the authors. The Old and New Testament authors were eyewitnesses of – or interviewed eyewitnesses of – the majority of the events they described. Moses participated in and was an eyewitness of the remarkable events of the Egyptian captivity, the Exodus, the forty years in the desert, and Israel’s final encampment before entering the Promised Land. These events he chronicled in the first five books of the Old Testament.

    The New Testament writers had the same eyewitness authenticity. Luke, who wrote the Books of Luke and Acts, says that he gathered eyewitness testimony and “carefully investigated everything” (Luke 1:1-3). Peter reminded his readers that the disciples “were eyewitnesses of [Jesus’] majesty” and “did not follow cleverly invented stories” (2 Pet. 1:16). Truly, the Bible affirms the eyewitness credibility of its writers.

    The external evidence test looks outside the texts themselves to ascertain the historical reliability of the historical events, geographical locations, and cultural consistency of the biblical texts. Unlike writings from other world religions which make no historical references or which fabricate histories, the Bible refers to historical events and assumes its historical accuracy. The Bible is not only the inspired Word of God, it is also a history book – and the historical assertions it makes have proven time and again.

    Many of the events, people, places, and customs in the New Testament are confirmed by secular historians who were almost contemporaries with New Testament writers. Secular historians like the Jewish Josephus (before A.D. 100), the Roman Tacitus (around A.D. 120), the Roman Suetonius (A.D. 110), and the Roman governor Pliny Secundus (A.D. 100-110) make direct reference to Jesus or affirm one or more historical New Testament references. Early church leaders such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Julius Afrecanus, and Clement of Rome- all writing before A.D. 250- shed light on New Testament historical accuracy. Even skeptical historians agree that the New Testament is a remarkable historical document. Hence, it is clear that there is strong external evidence to support the Bible’s manuscript reliability.”

  9. “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.”
  10. “Circle”
  11. “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.
  12. “Archaeology
    Returning to our MAPS acronym, we have established the first principle, manuscript reliability. Let us consider our second principle, archaeological evidence. Over and over again, comprehensive field work (archaeology) and careful biblical interpretation affirms the reliability of the Bible. It is telling when a secular scholar must revise his biblical criticism in light of solid archaeological evidence.

    For years critics dismissed the Book of Daniel, partly because there was no evidence that a king named Belshazzar ruled in Babylon during that time period. However, later archaeological research confirmed that the reigning monarch, Nabonidus, appointed Belshazzar as his co-regent while he was away from Babylon.

    One of the most well-known New Testament examples concerns the Books of Luke and Acts. A biblical skeptic, Sir William Ramsay, trained as an archaeologist and then set out to disprove the historical reliability of this portion of the New Testament. However, through his painstaking Mediterranean archaeological trips, he became converted as – one after another- of the historical statements of Luke were proved accurate. Archaeological evidence thus confirms the trustworthiness of the Bible.”

  13. “Prophecy
    The third principle of Bible reliability is Prophecy, or predictive ability. The Bible records predictions of events that could not be known or predicted by chance or common sense. Surprisingly, the predictive nature of many Bible passages was once a popular argument (by liberals) against the reliability of the Bible. Critics argued that the prophecies actually were written after the events and that editors had merely dressed up the Bible text to look like they contained predictions made before the events. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The many predictions of Christ’s birth, life and death (see below) were indisputably rendered more than a century before they occurred as proven by the Dead Sea Scrolls of Isaiah and other prophetic books as well as by the Septuagint translation, all dating from earlier than 100 B.C. Old Testament prophecies concerning the Phoenician city of Tyre were fulfilled in ancient times, including prophecies that the city would be opposed by many nations (Ezek. 26:23′ Isa.23; Jer. 27:3-6′ 47″4) and Babylon (Jer. 50:13, 39, 51:26, 42-43, 58; Ia. 13:20-21).

    Since Christ is the culminating theme of the Old Testament and the Living Word of the New Testament, it should not surprise us that prophecies regarding Him outnumber any others. Many of these prophecies would have been impossible for Jesus to deliberately conspire to fulfill – such as His descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 12:3, 17:19; Num. 24:21-24); His birth in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2); His crucifixion with criminals (Isa. 53:12); the piercing of His hands and feet at the crucifixion (Ps. 22:16); the soldiers’ gambling for His clothes (Ps. 22:18); the piercing of His side and the fact that His bones were not broken at His death (Zech. 12:10; Ps. 34:20); and His burial among the rich (Isa. 53:9). Jesus also predicted His own death and resurrection (John 2:19-22). Predictive Prophecy is a principle of Bible reliability that often reaches even the hard-boiled skeptic!”

  14. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
  15. “18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
  16. ” 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
  17. “4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
  18. “Statistics
    Our fourth MAPS principle works well with predictive prophecy, because it concerns the Statistical probability that any or all of the Bible’s very specific, detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled through chance, good guessing, or deliberate deceit. When you look at some of the improbable prophecies of the Old and New Testaments, it seems incredible that skeptics- knowing the authenticity and historicity of the tests – could reject the statistical verdict: the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus Christ is the Son of God, just as Scripture predicted many times and in many ways.

    The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years by forty different human authors in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), on hundreds of subjects. And yet there is one consistent, non-contradictory theme that runs through it all: God’s redemption of humankind. Clearly, Statistical probability is a powerful indicator of the trustworthiness of Scripture.

    The next time someone denies the reliability of Scripture, just remember the acronym MAPS, and you will be equipped to give an answer and a reason for the hope that lies within you (1 Pet. 3:15). Manuscripts, Archaeology, Prophecy, and Statistics not only chart a secure course on the turnpikes of skepticism but also demonstrate definitively that the Bible is indeed divine rather than human in origin.”

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