But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.
– Acts 6:10 (NIV)
I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
– John 14:25-27 (MSG)
A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words.
– Romans 8:26 (VOICE)
Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves.
– 1 Corinthians 16:9 (GW)
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
– Isaiah 11:2 (NLT)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
– Acts 1:8 (NIV)
When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
When God is silent, He is not still. God does some of His best work in the dark. He does some of His best work when you don’t think He’s doing a thing. He’s behind the scenes, working it out. He is faithful even though you feel you cannot see Him.
He has a plan for you, and it is a good one. Your commitment in the dark is the path to your victory in the light. Commitment to keeping your faith is the path to your victory in the light. Commitment to keeping your faith, seeking God, and not throwing in the towel when no human solution is in sight is the secret to exchanging emptiness for abundance.
– Tony Evans
Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
– John 5:17 (NIV)
O God, do not remain silent. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. Do not keep quiet, O God.
– Psalm 83:1 (GW)
When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation.
Set your heart not on riches, but on goodness, Christ-likeness, faith, love, patience and humility. Fight the worthwhile battle of the faith, keep your grip on that life eternal to which you have been called, and to which you boldly professed your loyalty before many witnesses.
– 1 Timothy 6:11,12 (PHILLIPS)
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.
– 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
My heavenly guide brought me to the river of pure living waters, shimmering as brilliantly as crystal. It flowed out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle and dividing the street of the holy city. On each bank of the river stood the tree of life, firmly planted, bearing twelve kinds of fruit and producing its sweet crop every month throughout the year. And the soothing leaves that grew on the tree of life provided precious healing for the nations.
<<<Fed by a crystal clear river is the tree of life. In the beginning, Adam and Eve were prevented from eating from the tree once they were expelled from the garden of Eden. Divine creatures and a flaming sword then stood guard at the entrance to the garden (Genesis 3:24). Now the tree of life returns to the story, a single tree situated on both sides of the river. No one is denied access to its luscious fruit and healing leaves.>>> No one or nothing will labor under any curse any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will sit prominently in the city. God’s servants will continually serve and worship Him. They will be able to look upon His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads. Darkness will never again fall on this city. They will not require the light of a lamp or of the sun because the Lord God will be their illumination. By His light, they will reign throughout the ages.
– Revelation 22:1-5 (VOICE)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
– 1 Peter 1:3,4 (NLT)
I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.
1. Does the Bible claim to be uniquely inspired by God?
A. The Bible claims that it is uniquely inspired
1. 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”
2. 2 Peter 1:20, 21 – “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
B. The writers claimed to be inspired
1. David (2 Samuel 23:2 – “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me”)
2. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:1-2 – “Thus says the Lord”)
3. Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:1,2 – “commandments…by the authority of the Lord Jesus”)
4. John (Revelation 1:1 – “The revelation of Jesus Christ…to his bondservant John”)
C. Jesus claimed that the scriptures were inspired (Matthew 5:18; Luke 24:44 – “all fulfilled”).
Note: The Forms of Inspiration
God directly revealed parts of scripture to some writers (prophets in particular) who spoke exactly the words God gave them (Moses – Deuteronomy 4:2; Isaiah – Isaiah 59:21; Paul—Galatians 1:12, etc.).
God otherwise superintended the writing of men who wrote exactly what God intended. They used their own styles and expressed their thoughts freely knowing what they meant. Yet, through the Holy Spirit, God at the same time determined the content and controlled the accuracy of all they wrote. This is the miraculous aspect of inspiration.
2. What other evidence is there that the Bible is inspired by God?
A. Supernatural change
The Bible causes supernatural change in people’s lives when its message about sin and salvation is accepted. A visit to any Bible-believing church will give plenty of examples.
B. Fulfilled prophecy
C. The Bible contains many prophecies recorded and then later fulfilled. Here are some examples:
1. Israel’s Rebirth as a Nation after being dispersed many centuries ago was predicted by the Bible (Isaiah 11:11 – written circa 750 B.C.; Ezekiel 37:1-14 – written circa 600 B.C.). For almost 2,000 years (since A.D. 70) the nation of Israel did not exist. Then, on May 15, 1948, Israel became a nation. In 1967 (The Six-day War) its area quadrupled and Jerusalem became Jewish property.
2. The Destruction of the city of Tyre was predicted in detail by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 26 – written circa 600 B.C.). In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great completed the destruction begun by others. Each detail Ezekiel predicted was fulfilled.
3. Four great successive world kingdoms (Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome) were specifically prophesied and described by Daniel (Daniel 2 & 7 – written about 535 B.C.). Each detail was fulfilled as these empires rose and fell in the coming centuries.
4. Over 300 prophesies in the Old Testament describe the details of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. The odds of even a few of these coming true in one person are staggering – much less 300 of them.
D. The Distribution and Indestructibility of the Bible
1. The Bible is far and away the world’s “best seller.” By 1932 it was computed that 1 billion copies of the Bible had been published. By the 1960’s it is estimated that over 2 billion were published. Currently, a total of 3-4 billion is reasonable. No other book is even close.
2. The Bible has been translated into well over 1000 languages, representing about 90% of the world’s population.
3. Throughout the centuries, various enemies have tried to destroy the Bible (Diocletian Edict, circa A.D. 300). Voltaire, the French philosopher and skeptic, predicted in the 18th century, that the Bible and Christianity would soon be obsolete. In 1828, fifty years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society was using his press and his house to publish Bibles.
4. Jesus had predicted, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31).
E. Archeology supports the Bible
1. Numerous archaeological finds have supported the Bible’s accuracy. Otherwise unknown places, events and dates have proven to be historically accurate. Nelson Glueck, a leading Jewish archaeologist said, “It can be categorically stated that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference” (Rivers In The Desert, Farrar, Strauss and Cudahy. 1959. P.31). This does not prove inspiration, but it confirms the credibility of writers who also claim that they wrote with God’s authority.
F. A Logical Argument for Inspiration
Charles Wesley proposed the following logical argument:
“The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.
1. It could not be the invention of good men or angels; for they neither would or could make a book, and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, “Thus saith the Lord,” when it was their own invention.
2. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils; for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their souls to hell to all eternity.
3. Therefore, I draw this conclusion, that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration.”
(Robert W. Burtner and Robert Chiles, A Compend of Wesley’s Theology, Abingdon Press. 1954. p.20)
3. Hasn’t translating the Bible over and over ruined its reliability?
No. The English translations we have are not the end of a long chain of translations; they are translated directly from Hebrew (O.T.) and Greek (N.T.) originals.
Hebrew —Greek —Latin —English
German —English —Hebrew —Greek
The reason we have many different English translations is that scholars have continually updated them to incorporate new linguistic research and to keep up with changes in modern English.
4. How do we know that we have what Moses, David, Jesus, or Paul really said or wrote?
Since there were no copy machines, the texts that the human authors wrote had to be recopied by hand as they wore out or as more copies were needed. Here’s how the text was preserved so accurately.
Old Testament – The Jewish people had scribes who were in charge of the manuscripts. They were so meticulous about doing it perfect that they counted all the paragraphs, words and even letters so they would know if they had copied correctly. They even knew the middle letter of each book so they could count back and see if they had missed anything.
The oldest complete copy of a Hebrew Old Testament in museums today are dated about A.D.1000. That’s a long time after the originals were written (1450-400 B.C.), so one could question if after many centuries of copying we really have the original words. That’s where the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 is so helpful. These well-preserved texts date back to 100 B.C. Amazingly, there is virtual agreement between the Dead Sea Scrolls and those dated 1,100 years later! This proves we can trust the Hebrew copies of the Old Testament that are existing today.
Example of Isaiah: Virtually identical through all the years of copying.
Written 700 B.C. by Isaiah
Copies found among Dead Sea Scrolls 100 B.C.
Complete Hebrew Manuscripts A.D. 1000
New Testament – The reliability of the New Testament Greek texts is even more certain than the Old Testament texts. The New Testament was written A.D.45 – A.D.90. Some fragments of Greek texts exist that date back to A.D.120 and A.D.150. That’s only 35-100 years after the originals that Paul, John, Luke and others wrote! Another big help is that there are 4000-5000 New Testament Greek manuscripts existing today. By comparing these many copies, scholars can weed out possible copying mistakes. Compare these two factors of Date and Number of existing manuscripts and copies with other literature that historians consider accurate:
Date of Oldest Manuscript Existing
1,200 years later
900 years later
1,300 years later
1,400 years later
Only 35-100 years later
5. Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself?
No. The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years by about 40 authors on three continents in two major languages. The writers included and Egyptian-trained scholar (Moses), a general (Joshua), Kings (David, Solomon), a farmer (Amos), a fisherman (Peter), a tax-collector (Matthew), and a rabbi (Paul), but amazingly they present a consistent viewpoint of life and set of facts.
Can you imagine 40 different writers today form such different backgrounds agreeing on any subject today? But in all its 66 books, the Bible is self-consistent on such significant issues as where we come from (special creation by God), why we’re here (to serve and glorify God) and where we’re going (eternal life or eternal judgment).
Critics allege that there are many discrepancies in the Bible. But the seeming discrepancies in particular details can generally be explained in one of the following ways:
a. Logical explanations – Sometimes two seemingly contradicting statements are both actually true. When Matthew refers to one angel at Jesus’ tomb and John describes two, there’s no contradiction. Where there’s two there’s one. Matthew wasn’t counting. He just described what one of the angels said.
b. Copyist’s mistakes – There are occasions where existing manuscripts (Greek or Hebrew) disagree on certain words or phrases. A few times when two books of the Bible record the same event a number has been changed. It’s not hard to imagine that someone copying the manuscript by hand (not the original inspired author) miscopied a number, name or accidentally inserted some margin note into the text.
c. Interpretive misunderstanding – Critics sometimes allege that Jesus and Paul or Paul and James disagree on something. But those are dubious claims based on what an interpreter thinks a verse means. The burden of proof is on those who claim to see disagreement. Seemingly contradictory statements can be shown to harmonize well by understanding the contexts in which they were written.
6. How do we know the right books are in the Bible? It was just people who decided wasn’t it?
Yes and No. It was human councils such as the one led by Athanasius in A.D.367 which listed the 27 books in our New Testament today. But they didn’t determine which books were inspired; they merely recognized the supernatural character those books already had. The following tests were used to conclude that a book or letter was indeed scripture (tests of “canonicity”).
a. Is it authoritative (Does it claim or exhibit God’s authority – “Thus saith the Lord”)?
b. Is it prophetic (Is it written by a known “man of God”- 2 Peter 1:20)?
c. Is it authentic (Is it consistent with other revelation of truth)?
d. Is it dynamic (Is it shown to be life-changing)?
e. Is it received (Is it accepted and used by believers)?
(Norman L Geisler & William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, pp. 137-144)
7. How do you know if you’re interpreting the Bible right? So many different groups claim to follow the Bible.
There are three basic approaches to Bible interpretation.
a. Used by cults. Cults use the Bible to try to prove views they already have. The real authority of their view is always some single leader who has his or her ideas in writing. The cult considers those writings as equal in authority (actually greater) than the Bible. They then lift some Bible verses out of context to support their views.
b. Misunderstood by liberal scholars. Scholars who don’t accept the authority and inspiration of scripture interpret the Bible in purely human terms. They feel free to call the Bible “wrong” on issues if society’s standard is different. So they also take the liberty to water down statements that they deem unacceptable. (The seriousness of sin; the need to trust in Christ for salvation, etc.)
c. Taken literally in its historical and grammatical contexts. Conservative Bible scholars who take the Bible at face value consistently arrive at the same interpretations on major issues. Some detailed interpretations will always vary, but the major messages are clear. Literal interpretation simply means “take it as it was meant.” A figure of speech is taken that way. A grammatical form is assumed accurate. What a term or phrase meant at the time in history is worth researching and then understood accordingly. This view let the Bible speak for itself.
Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King.
– Ephesians 4:31-32 (VOICE)
I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me—and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: to cross the line, to win the prize, and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively in Jesus the Anointed.
– Philippians 3:12-14 (VOICE)
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
Abide in Jesus as your wisdom. Seek to maintain the spirit of waiting and dependence that always seeks to learn and will not move but as the heavenly light leads on. Withdraw yourself from all needless distraction, close your ears to the voices of the world, and be a docile learner, ever listening for the heavenly wisdom the Master has to teach. Surrender all your own wisdom; seek a deep conviction of the utter blindness of the natural understanding in the things of God; and wait for Jesus to teach and to guide what you have to believe and have to do. Remember that the teaching and guidance do not come from without: it is by His life in us that the divine wisdom does His work. Retire frequently with Him into the inner chamber of the heart, where the gentle voice of the Spirit is only heard if all is still. Hold fast with unshaken confidence, even in the midst of darkness and apparent desertion, to His own assurance that He is the light and the leader of His own. And live, above all, day by day in the blessed truth that, as He Himself, the living Christ Jesus, is your wisdom, your first and last care must ever be this alone: to abide in Him. Abiding in Him, His wisdom will come to you as the spontaneous outflowing of a life rooted in Him. I abide in Christ, who was made unto us wisdom from God: wisdom will be given to me.
– Andrew Murray
You are partners with Christ Jesus because of God. Jesus has become our wisdom sent from God, our approval, our holiness, and our ransom from sin.
– 1 Corinthians 1:30 (GW)
Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is like a branch that is tossed out and shrivels up and is later gathered to be tossed into the fire to burn. If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. Your abundant growth and your faithfulness as My followers will bring glory to the Father.
…the strength of vulnerability. I am speaking of that paradoxical place where you discover the strength God has placed in you by actually risking the pain you would normally run from — especially in close relationships. You step into the difficult place and find you are not blown away. Hearing a friend’s criticism, you resist being defensive. You take the humble road, and find that it is the means of walking straight and tall. You say the words you need to say. In these kinds of moments, you can almost feel your soul expand.
Have you ever had an ‘impossible person’ in your life, with whom most of your interactions inevitably led to rejection and hurt feelings? If so, then you know the courage it takes to risk your heart – to be vulnerable – and to love in the face of that. That courage, exercised wisely, is like lifting weights in a gym, except that the strength you gain is an inner one.
In many ways, vulnerability is the last thing we would expect to combine with strength. The word literally means ‘able to be wounded,’ and therefore, vulnerability flies in the face of our usual concept of strength, certainly the one served up to us daily. To be vulnerable is to voluntarily place yourself, for the sake of a larger purpose, in a situation that could bring pain. You see something at stake — your own spiritual growth or someone else’s — and you are willing to risk your heart in a vulnerable way.
– Paula Rinehart
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.
– Psalm 73:26 (NLT)
Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!