Sharing Your Faith - Lesson 7
How to Explain the Bible is from God
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can list three points to show that the Bible is from God and can give two examples that demonstrate each point.
- Have a videotape player and monitor or projector and screen ready if you are going to play the videotape.
- Have the Review/Note sheets ready to distribute to the class along with pencils. Fill out one of these for yourself prior to class and be sure to cover the blanks students will be looking for before you leave that point.
- Have blank sheets for the quiz.
- Have Bibles for those who need them.
- Have a map on which to point out such places as Assyria,
- Judah, Babylon, Egypt, Edom and Mt. Seir.
- If you wish to use the PowerPoint presentation, have the computer and projector ready.
In sharing our faith with others, the question will sometimes arise as to how we know the Bible is really a revelation from God rather than a book which originated with man. This lesson provides information we can share with others about how we can know the Bible is different from any other book ever written.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 15 minutes)
- Call the roll and introduce visitors.
- Make any necessary announcements.
- Sing Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet or Give Me the Bible.
- Have a prayer and in it thank God for His revelation that guides our lives.
- For the quiz over the last lesson, give the students a blank sheet and ask them to do the drawing just as it was given last week—including what goes at the top. There are seven elements of the drawing—count off 14 points for each one missed. Subtract these from a total possible 100 points. Help the students check their own papers and then send around the sheet for their scores.
- Hand out the Review/Notes Sheet for next week which is a worksheet for today’s lesson. See that all have pencils. Instruct the class to complete the sheets as the lesson develops and then to use this sheet as preparation for the quiz next Sunday.
- As an introduction to the lesson for today, ask the class what are different views they have heard about the Bible. (God’s Word, a myth, a good book but has mistakes, etc.)
- Q: What does the Bible claim to be? Have someone read 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 2 Timothy 3:16. Q: So where does the Bible say it came from? (From the mind of God revealed through the Holy Spirit to selected men.) Q: What does the word “inspired” mean when applied to the scriptures? (That while God could use a man’s writing skills and the information he might have, He “moved him along” by the Holy Spirit whom He had given. This meant God guided the writer so what He wrote was exactly what God wanted it to be—with no room for mistakes.)
- Our lesson today is a study of three reasons why we can accept this claim as true and how we can share that faith with others.
Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)
- For the Bible to be a book from God while all other books are of human origin, the Bible would have to have some characteristics that make it different from any other book. Today we’ll learn about four special qualities of the Bible that do set it apart from all other books.
- The first of these special characteristics: The Bible is accurate. While other books could also be accurate, we begin with this one because if the Bible is not accurate, it could not be divine. Also if it is accurate about the history it tells, that helps us to believe that its writers were men of integrity. Among all the books used as the foundation of well-known religions in the world, only the Bible contains a vast number or statements of fact, history, culture, and geography which can be checked against other records. While we can only look at a few of these, they will represent the hundreds of points in which the scriptures have been shown to be accurate.
- The Bible makes thousands of references to places and people, not one of which has ever been proved to be false. While some theories have been advanced that the Bible has been incorrect, none of these has been verified. As an example of this accuracy, archaeologists have found ancient inscriptions should the names of many Bible characters such as David, Jeuh, Israel, Omri, Hezekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab, Belshazzar, Cyrus, Pilate, Caiphas, Erastus, and many more. (Play Video Clip No. 1 about the Erastus stone. If you don’t wish to play the tape, then ask the students to look in Romans 16:23b at the name of Erastus. Q: Where did he live and what did he do? (Since the book of Romans was written from Corinth, he lived in Corinth and he is called the “treasurer” or “director of public works.” A stone has been found in ancient Corinth from the time of Paul in which a city official named Erastus says he laid a pavement in a public place at his own expense. This is just one of many places where such Bible statements have been shown to be true.
- Ask someone to read Isaiah 20:1. Q: What king is mentioned, of what nation was he the king, and what did he do? (Sargon, King of Assyria, sent an army to capture Ashdod.) For many years historians had not been able to find the name of Sargon on the list of Assyrian kings and some said the Bible was mistaken about this. (Play Video Clip No. 2 about Sargon. This is from the British Museum. The Louve in Paris has a special room to house most of the remains from Sargon. If you don’t wish to play the video, then tell the students that in 1843, Emile Botta discovered the huge palace complex of King Sargon near the ancient capital of Assyria, Nineveh. It confirms that Sargon was who the Bible said he was and lived when the Bible said he did. Since about 600 B.C. this information was not available in historical records. But the Bible spoke of Sargon and Isaiah’s accuracy shows he lived when and where he said he did.)
- The Bible gives five chapters to the description of the time King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah: 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37. (Play Video Clip No. 3, also from the British Museum, or provide the information that follows. These chapters say he marched on Judah about 700 B.C., conquering many cities and making a major attack to capture Lachish, a heavily fortified Judean city. The Bible says he then moved to Jerusalem, intending to take it as well and asked for King Hezekiah’s surrender. On advice of the prophet Isaiah, Hezekiah refused to surrender and in one night the Lord destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and Sennacherib went back home without capturing Jerusalem. In 1849, archaeologist A.H. Layard found Sennacherib’s long buried palace and records. On a clay cylinder Sennacherib says he captured 46 cities in Judea, including Lachish, and that he “shut up Hezekiah like a bird in a cage” but never claims to have conquered Jerusalem. Thus, the historical records Sennacherib left tell the same story as the Bible except Sennacherib does not report the reason he did not conquer Jerusalem. Again, the integrity of the Bible writer is demonstrated.) These are but three of hundreds of such cases that could be cited demonstrating the accuracy of scriptures but these are three good ones to remember. You will be asked about these on the quiz next Sunday.
- The second of these special characteristics: The Bible has unity. Q: How many books are there in the Bible? (66) Q: How many different people wrote these books? (over 40) Q: Over how long a span of time were these books written? (about 1500 years) Q: Did these writers always know what the others before them had written? (Sometimes but not always) Yet, when put together, these 66 books form a unified whole, telling one basic story and not only writing in harmony with the historical facts of their day, but also writing in harmony with all the other writers. The unity of the Bible tells us that “one mind” was behind its writing and that mind had to cover 1500 years. So the unity of the Bible is evidence that it is from God.
- The third special characteristic: the Bible agrees with scientific facts. While some scientists have advanced theories that the Bible would not agree with, Bible statements about many things are in harmony with scientific discoveries made long after they were written. In other ancient writings, the authors who speak of the earth, the sun, moon, and stars, of the human body and of animals write of them as the people of their time believed. Thus Plato spoke of the earth’s being in the center of the universe. Other ancient books speak of the stars numbering 3,000, of the earth resting on the back of a giant turtle or being held up by five pillars. Bible writers lived at these same times but their statements about such things were written in harmony with what would later be discovered. Here are some examples of the Bible’s scientific foreknowledge.
- Have someone read Isaiah 40:22. Q: What does this passage say about the shape of the earth? (Circle—round) Q: What did the people of that time think about the shape of the earth? (Flat) Q: How did the Bible writer know to write in harmony with what would be later discovered? (He had help from a source wiser that he.)
- Have someone read Job 26:7. Q: What does Job say holds up the earth? (Nothing. That is, nothing physical holds it in place. It is suspended in space.) Q: What did other ancient writer say held the earth in place? (A turtle or pillars.) Q: How did Job know this? (He had help.)
- Have someone read Genesis 15:5. Q: How many stars does the Bible say there are? (Numberless) Q: What do we now know about the number of the stars? (Numberless) Q: When the great ancient astronomers were saying there were 3,000 stars, how did the Bible writer know to call them numberless? (The Bible writer had help from some source that knew.)
- Have someone read I Corinthians 15:39. Q: What does Paul say about human flesh and animal flesh? (They are different.) Q: But how did he know that before the time of microscopes with which we can see the difference? (The Bible writer had help from some source that knew this before humans knew it.) So the Bible makes many comments about the earth and the universe but these are always in harmony with what would be discovered thousands of years later rather than being found false. The only way to account for this difference between the Bible and other ancient books is that Bible writers had help from beyond their own knowledge.
- The fourth special characteristic: The Bible makes verifiable predictions far in advance. Many today make predictions— about football games, about political and world events. They are making educated guesses and sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong. The Bible’s predictions are very different from these. Some of them, of course, are predictions about the coming Messiah, and while these are very important, they are not the best ones to use in demonstrating to an unbeliever the divine origin of the Bible. For this purpose, the predictions about cities, nations, and peoples, made long before their fulfillment and at a time when their fulfillment would have appeared very unlikely, will be more useful. We will look at four such prophecies.
- Have someone read Isaiah 13:19-22. Q: What predictions are made about what city? (Babylon will be destroyed and not be rebuilt or inhabited.) Q: About when was this prediction made? (712 BC.) Q: At the time the prophecy was given, what was the status of the city of Bablylon? It had been a major city for many years because of its location on the Euphrates River. Soon after this prophecy, it became the headquarters of the Babylonian Empire and then the Persian Empire. To make such a prediction about one of the major world cities was certainly not predicting what would be expected. But by about 200 BC the city began to decline and in the time of Jesus, Strabo described it as a desert. For centuries it has been uninhabited as predicted. Q: How did Isaiah know what would happen to Babylon? (He had help from God. Jeremiah 51 contains another similar prophecy about Babylon’s demise.)
- Have someone read Ezekiel 29:14-19. This prophecy was given in 589 BC. Q: What nation will be conquered by what king? (Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar.) Q: What type of country will it be from then on? (A lowly kingdom.) Q: What had Egypt been prior to this? (One of the greatest of the world kingdoms and the first great civilization to rise.) Q: What is the status of Egypt today? (third world—lowly) Q: How long has it been in this category? (Ever since Nebuchadnezzar conquered it- -just as the scriptures predicted.) Q: How did Ezekiel know this in advance?
- Have someone read Ezekiel 35:1-4, 9. Q: What nation is being indicated by a reference to Mt. Sier? (Edom. Show this on the map. Play Video Clip No. 4 if you have time.) Q: From whom were these people descended? (Esau, the brother of Jacob.) Q: What does the passage predict for them? (Their place will become desolate and they as a people will become desolate, destroyed. They had mocked Israel when Israel was taken into captivity and now they will receive retribution for this.) Q: Is there a nation of Edomites today? (No. They were conquered by the Nabateans and, by about the second century before Christ, were amalgamated into other nations. Thus, as the prophecy says, there no longer even a race of people called Edomites.)
- Have someone read Deuteronomy 28:36-37; 63-66. Q: Of what group of people is God now speaking? (Israelites) Q: If they are unfaithful to God will they cease to exist as a people? (No) Q: What will happen to them? They will be scattered among all nations and will be persecuted.) Q: Is that an accurate description of Jews over the years? (Yes) These are only a few of the many prophecies the Bible makes about people and nations. Every one of them is fulfilled accurately. Remember that each prophecy was made at a time when what was prophesied was highly unlikely to happen. Some nations would cease, some would continue. Some cities would be destroyed and never be rebuilt. Q: How were these Bible writers able to be so accurate in speaking of cities, nations, and peoples hundreds of years in advance? (They had help from a power that is beyond human wisdom.)
- The Bible is accurate in things that were unknown from 600 BC. until the middle of the nineteenth century. The 40 Bible writers show an amazing sense of unity. The Bible does not make mistakes when it speaks of the world at a time when no one knew what would later be discovered. The Bible accurately predicts the history of nations, cities, and peoples long before these events actually come to pass. These are the characteristics of the Bible. These are the effects we find when we examine the scriptures. The question is, “What is the cause for these effects? Only God.
Applications: (about 4 minutes)
- Q: What characteristics must God have to be able to assist men in producing a book like the Bible? (all-knowledge—to know what will happen even in the future; love—to want to show Himself in this way to humans; power—to be able to guide humans in what they wrote so it would show His knowledge.)
- Q: How ought we to treat a book like the Bible? (Read, learn, obey, share with others.)
Assignment: (about 1 minute)
- Prepare for the quiz over this material at the next class meeting.
- Do some conversational evangelism you can tell us about next week.
- Bring a friend to class or one of our activities. Evaluation: (next class meeting)
- Quiz over this week’s lesson next week.
Sharing Your Faith
- What does the Bible claim to be?
- 2 Peter 1:21: Written by men who were __________________ __________________ by the Holy Spirit.
- 1 Corinthians 2:10-13: Written by men who were taught __________________ by the Holy Spirit.
- 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is ___________ ________________________ (NIV)
- From these passages, it is clear that the scriptures originated in the mind of _____________ who ___________________________ them through the Holy Spirit to men He selected.
- When applied to the writing of scriptures, the word “inspired” means that while God used the ___________ skills and the _____________________ which the writer already possessed, He guided the writer’s work so that the final product was ___________________ as God wanted with no room for ________________.
- To believe that the Bible is a book that came from _____ while all other books are of ___________________ origin, the Bible would have to have some __________________________ which would make it different from any other book.
- The first of these special characteristics is that the Bible is ________________________. If it were not accurate, the Bible could not be ________________________. But if it is accurate about the history it tells, then we can believe the writers were men of _________________. Here are three out of hundreds of points in which the scriptures are shown to be accurate in fact, history, culture, and geography.
- Many of the people mentioned in the Bible have also been mentioned in history: David, Jehu, Omri, Hezekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab, Belshazzar, Cyrus, _________________, and Caiphas. Another of special interest is ________________, an official of the city of ___________________ while Paul was there and who left an inscription there with his name on it. (See Romans 16:23b.)
- Isaiah 20:1 mentions a king named _____________ who was from ______________________. The remains of his palace and many records he left were found in ________ and are now in the British Museum and the Louvre.
- The Bible gives five chapters to a description of the time when King Sennacherib from _______________________ invaded Judah in ______________ BC. The Bible says he conquered many cities including ______________________ but that he did not conquer _______________________. In ___ _______, an archaeologist uncovered his palace and records and he tells this very same story.
- The second special characteristic is that the Bible has ____________.
- The Bible was written by over __________ different men over a period of about ______________ years.
- Yet when these books are put together, they tell one story and all fit together without contradiction. The only way this could happen is if there were some ______ behind its writing who was guiding the writers during all these years.
- The third special characteristic is that the Bible agrees with _______________ facts.
- Other writings from Bible times say the earth is in the ________________ of the universe, that there are _________ stars, and that the earth is supported by a huge _________ or by five ____________.
- But notice that the following verses (any many others) mention facts not known at the time these words were written that have now been discovered.
- Isaiah 40:22—the _______________ of the earth
- Job 26:7—he suspends the earth over _____________.
- Genesis 15:5: there are too many ______ to count.
- I Corinthians 15:39—the flesh of man and animals is ________________. c. We can account for such accuracy in a book written prior to man’s discovery of such knowledge only by accepting that the writers had _________ from a power greater than themselves.
- The fourth special characteristic is that the Bible makes verifiable _________________ far in advance.
- Isaiah 13:19-22, written in _______, predicts that __________________ will be destroyed and never be re-built or inhabited. At the time this was written, the city had been thriving for many centuries and was soon to be the capital of two major world empires. Yet, Isaiah’s words came true.
- Ezekiel 29:14-19, written in __________, predict that the nation of _______________ will be invaded by Nebuchadnezzar and from then on will be a _____________ kingdom. This, too, has been exactly fulfilled.
- Ezekiel 35:1-4, 9 predict that the cities of the nation of _____________, who descended from _____________, will be _______________ and that the people will also be wiped out as a nation. This nation, which had existed for centuries, was conquered and the people were amalgamated into other nations.
- Deuteronomy 28:36-37, 63-66 predicts that the __________________, if they are not faithful to God, will be _________________ among other nations where they will be persecuted. This, also, has come true.
- That such predictions about nations, cities, and peoples were all fulfilled precisely hundreds of years later is possible only through a power greater than _________ wisdom.
What could make possible a book with these characteristics? Only ____.
REMINDER TO STUDENTS:
On the quiz for next time,
- Be able to describe inspiration.
- Be able to list the four special characteristics of the Bible.
- Be able to describe at least two points of supporting evidence for each of the characteristics.
- Inspiration of the Bible may best be defined as:
- God gave writers the general idea and let them decide what words to use.
- God, through the Holy Spirit, guided the men so they wrote exactly the words He wanted with no mistake.
- Spiritual men had deep thoughts which they wrote to preserve them for later generations.
- List below the four special characteristics of the Bible which set it apart from any other book every written.
- What king of Assyria does the Bible say conquered many cities in Judah including Lachish but who did not conquer Jerusalem and the king’s records match exactly.
- One of the scientific facts that the Bible mentions before it was known to science was ______________________________________.
- The Bible prophesies that Egypt will
- become a lowly kingdom
- pass from existence
- sometimes be great and sometimes be subdued
- reign over many lands
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