Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is The Gospel Map? +

    The Gospel Map is a new way to explore the Bible using 21st century technology. It is an interactive navigational guide to the most important information in the Bible about God, Jesus, the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, and Christian living arranged and connected in a logical, topical way. It is a "swiss army knife" of Bible guides and resources. All the most important knowlege gathered over 40+ years from thousands of sermons, hundreds of books, and dozens fo bible studies has been collected and condensed into this one single reference. It contains more than 1800 topics, comments and quotes supported by thousands of topically organized Old Testament and New Testament verses. It includes handy references like lists of Jesus commandments, His promises and parables, answering life’s “big questions”, historical and scientific evidence for an informed faith, how to challenge Darwinian evolution, Biblical events in the context of world history, and guidance in sharing the Gospel with people of different religions and worldviews. All this information is logically organized and connected in a graphical "mind map" format that can be easily navigated to explore both the larger context and the additional details of Biblical teaching. You decide where and when you want to delve into more detail or see the bigger picture.

    In technical terms, it is a topical outline of the Bible with verse references and concise commentary presented in a graphical, connected “mind map” format. It is practical “systematic theology” for ordinary people (i.e. non-theologians) expressed in mostly common “un-churchy” language. If the entire mind map were completely connected on one page, it would print out on an 8.75 ft by 30 ft piece of paper. Consequently, it has been broken up into about 100 pages and presented in this more practical electronic flip book form.

    The teaching in The Gospel Map is consistent with mainstreams of traditional orthodox Protestant theology. Among the reviewers of the content are teachers of major national Bible study curricula and a Christianity historian.

  • What are the goals of The Gospel Map? +
    • Empower Christians to grow most quickly in faith, knowledge and effective evangelism.
    • Become a Christian's most valued companion to the Bible.
    • Present the main information in the Bible in a topically organized way with a minimum of human words and a maximum of God's words.
    • Enable the fastest learning in the least time. Deliver concentrated Biblical teaching with minimum verbal “padding” or “fluff”.
    • Be the fastest, easiest, “funnest” way for Christians and non-Christians to independently explore the Bible and clearly understand Jesus and the good news of the Gospel at their own pace. Newer Christians and non-Christians often lack convenient access to mature, knowledgeable Christians who can explain Jesus and the Gospel and answer their questions.
    • Let Jesus, Israel’s prophets, and the first century Christian authors primarily speak for themselves in the scripture verses that are referenced. The summary statements in the topics are intended provide quick context and high-level understanding of the verses that are referenced. Some comments and quotes by the author and others have been added in hopes of providing additional helpful clarifications, implications and applications of what the Bible is teaching in the verses.
    • Accelerate the pace at which Christians grow to become qualified, confident teachers and disciple-makers. It took the author decades of listening to weekly sermons, attending Bible studies, reading the Bible, and reading books by Christian authors to piece everything together adequately so that it is possible to discern true Biblical teaching from non-Biblical false teaching, confidently explain the Gospel, and nurture newer Christians in their spiritual growth. God doesn’t want Christians to grow this slowly (see Hebrews 5:12-13), so all the most important Biblical truths the author has learned so far - from thousands of sermons, hundreds of books, and dozens of Bible studies - have been collected and distilled down into this concise, organized format so others can learn in months what took the author decades to learn. Christians can be confident when they can point to the exact verses that teach what they know to be true.
  • How do you hope The Gospel Map will be helpful? +
    • Be a guide for non-Christians who want a private, low-risk way to learn as much about Jesus and the Gospel as they want to before deciding to believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior.
    • Help Christians who are young in their faith (perhaps even after many years) who need a faster, easier way to grow in their knowledge, understanding and faith.
    • Be an alternative to books for people who find it difficult to read and learn from them.
    • Help Christians be confident in what they know to be true because they can point to the scriptures that support it.
    • Provide a firm foundation for recognizing and challenging false non-Biblical teaching in articles, books, presentations and the church.
    • Help readers see both the “forest” and the “trees” within the Bible.
    • Help readers keep all the major teachings of the Bible (both the “forest” and the “trees”) simultaneously in view (more “at a glance”) so Christians can maintain perspective, balance and priorities in their studies, teaching, and Christian life.
    • Make Christians more immune to the lies and pressures and distractions of this broken world we are immersed in.
    • Encourage and support students being challenged by educators, friends and the culture to abandon their Christian faith as foolish.
    • Guide home Bible studies.
    • Be a guide for Christian study and courses for students in private school, home school, and college settings.
    • Be a Bible companion resource that can be translated for Christians in countries that have few resources for Biblical guidance in addition to the Bible itself.
  • How does The Gospel Map work? +

    Starting with the main topic of The Gospel in the center, it branches out on both sides into progressively more detailed related subtopics. Subtopics about God, Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the Gospel message branch out to the left side of the map. Subtopics about Christian Living branch out to the right side of the map. So, for example, as you follow the arrows and topics on the right side of the map in the Christian Living section you will “drill down” into increasingly deeper levels of detail about Christian Living topics.

  • Do you agree with everything someone you quote has written and said? +

    No, for a variety of reasons. I haven’t read or heard everything any of these people have written or said. Some quotations are from non-Christians. I disagree with some things that even my favorite authors like C.S. Lewis have written. Quotations have been chosen in part because I want to introduce readers to some great Christian authors, but primarily because they summarize, interpret, or illustrate topics or verses in a particularly useful and/or memorable way.

  • How are the reference verses selected? +

    They are selected because I have learned they are relevant to the topic. Sometimes only some of the relevant verses in the Bible are included because they adequately make the point. Sometimes almost every relevant verse is included because it is important to emphasize for some readers that this topic or teaching occurs many times in the Bible. I have not always included only verses that clearly support a topic or teaching. In some cases, I also include verses that at first glance may look like they do not support a topic or teaching. These verses are also God’s truth, so they also need to be understood and reconciled with the other verses in the mind of a mature Christian.

  • What determines the ordering of the verses? +

    Usually the order of the verses is the order they appear in the Bible. Topics that God introduced in the Old Testatment were then focused on by Him as Jesus in the Gospels, and then applied to Christian Living in the letters from the New Testament authors. Old Testament references are included to show how the Gospel builds upon, and is consistent with, how God began revealing Himself to the nation of Israel in the thousands of years before Jesus. Jesus’ own words and deeds are included from the Gospel books to communicate God’s message as directly as possible. Verses from the New Testament letters illuminate how God’s message in Old Testament and in Jesus are intended to impact the life of a Christian. Sometimes verses are placed out of Bible order at the beginning or end because they are especially suited to introduce or summarize a topic.

  • How can I use The Gospel Map as a study tool? +
    1. Start by asking God to help you slow down and understand and absorb the teachings in the topics you will be looking at.
    2. Select a topic. (Or, in a group setting, try reading all the topic verses and then ask the group what they teach without first telling them the topic.)
    3. Read each verse. They are usually in book order.
    4. Look them up in a hardcopy Bible, an online Bible, or a Bible tool downloaded onto your computer. E-Sword, for example, is a good free Bible tool that can be downloaded and makes it fast and easy to look up verses in the English Standard Version (ESV) or Modern King James Version which are included at no charge.
    5. For each verse you can generally ask questions like these:
      • What is the broader, deeper truth or principle that this verse(s) illustrates?
      • What does this scriptural event or idea illustrate about God, Jesus, the Kingdom, humanity or the Gospel, or about God's character, or His will for believers or mankind in general?
      • How does this verse support the statement in the topic?
      • How might this verse extend the topic with additional detail or nuance? What other Biblical truth(s) does it make a connection with?
      • Does this verse appear not to support the topic? If so, continue think carefully about how it might. Perhaps ask a more experienced Bible student for their insight, or consult some commentaries. God, through the Holy Spirit, wants you to understand the verse’s meaning. It may simply take time and growth to eventually see it. The Bible does not contradict itself, and all its truths are interrelated, so reconciling multiple seemingly unrelated or contradictory verses is an exercise that results in significant spiritual growth.
      • To what degree is a promise or command or prophecy context-specific to a specific time/place/people? To what degree is it also a universal promise or principal? To what degree is it similar to a later promise or command? Does a prophecy describe a near term event, a more distant future event, or perhaps both?
      • Try looking at verses with “fresh eyes” from the perspective of a new believer, a uniformed pre-believer, or a hostile, skeptical pre-believer. 
    6.  Notice how many core teachings are consistently presented and emphasized throughout the Bible first in the Old Testament, then in the four gospels, and finally in the New Testament letters.
      • Old Testament verses show that the topic or teaching was originally introduced by God before He came as Jesus.
      • Verses from the four Gospel books (Mat, Mar, Luk, Joh) are likely Jesus’ own words and deeds on the subject.
      • Verses from the New Testament letters reflect how important the authors understood the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament to be in living a Christian life that pleases God.
    7. Notice how often a particular New Testament author restates and emphasizes certain teachings in his writings.
    8. Notice when multiple New Testament authors emphasize the same core teaching.
    9. Study the larger topic that is the context for a topic. Study the subtopics that provide more details of a topic.
    10. If the topic lists cross-references, then you can choose to study those cross-referenced topics to gain an even more complete understanding of a Biblical teaching.
    11. You will gain additional understanding of each verse if you take the time to answer these questions, some of which are answered in the “Bible Book Abbreviations” section here in The Gospel Map.
      • Who is God speaking through? E.g. An Old Testament prophet, Jesus, one of Jesus’ Apostles, etc.?
      • Who is the audience in the verse? E.g. The nation of Israel, a particular individual, believers, non-believers, etc.?
      • When did this happen relative to major historical events such as the flood in the time of Noah, Israel’s escape from Egypt, Kings David and Solomon, the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Israelites’ captivity in Babylon, the resurrection of Jesus and the events in Acts, Nero’s persecution of Christians beginning in 64 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, etc.?
      • Where did this take place? E.g. ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the northern kingdom of Israel, the southern kingdom of Judah, Babylon, the city of Jerusalem, in Israel’s countryside, somewhere in the Roman empire, etc.?
  • Which Bible translations do you recommend? +

    There are more good translations than I will suggest here, but be aware that misleading translations are also popular and widely available. These that often ignore the original meaning of the most accurate Hebrew and Greek texts in order to promote a view of Christianity that is not intended by the original writings.

    I personally like using a good word-for-word translation such as the English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), or one of the “new” or “modern” King James versions. I also like what I have seen of the new NET Bible. I sometimes use these in combination with the Amplified Bible or a good paraphrase of the Bible in order see how reliable Bible scholars might more freely re-word and expand more difficult passages into today’s language. I have found the New Living Translation to be a reliable and easy to read paraphrase. When I want to dig more deeply into the original New Testament Greek text (without knowing any Greek) I like to look at Paul R. McReynolds’ Word Study Greek-English New Testament or The Complete Word Study New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates. I also use Zodhiates’ The Complete Word Study Old Testament.