Have you ever tried to talk to someone about the Gospel, just to have them declare that the Bible is simply another book? Where do you go with this?
This week, my youngest daughter and I, along with my parents, traveled to visit my brother (Pastor Dean) and his family. The fact that John MacArthur was going to be speaking at my brother’s church may have had a little something to with the timing of our trip! On Tuesday night we had the wonderful privilege of hearing Dr. MacArthur preach and then to also hear him answer some questions. We learned a little about him personally and also a bit about his take on the current culture, as he shared his heart with the group there.
But the question (and answer) that impacted me most was this one: What do you do when an unbeliever says the Bible is just like any other book and full of errors and contradictions?
This does seem to be a very relevant question in this day and age, does it not? The authority of scripture has been so undermined that few people believe the Bible to be the very Word of God anymore.
Dr. MacArthur gave a two-part answer to this question that I found incredibly encouraging. I am conveying his general thoughts (not his word for word answer) and then sharing some of my thoughts about what he said.
First, we need to stop expecting them to believe the Bible is the Word of God. Of course, they don’t. And Scripture tells us that they can’t until God unveils their eyes and shines His light on their hearts.
You may be thinking– Wait! You mean it’s not up to us to shine the light on to their hearts?
We can present it. We can share it. We can try to persuade them. But only God can give the light of His knowledge to a searching heart.
Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6–But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Unbelievers can’t understand until God opens their eyes. It’s impossible.
Secondly, if someone is challenging us about the Bible, he suggested that we ask them one simple question: Have you read the Bible?
If they say no, then suggest to them that this is a very strong statement to make about a book they’ve never read. If they decide to do their own study at that point, then let the Bible speak for itself.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought?
Hebrews 4:12 confirms this: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Bible will speak for itself to the unregenerate, seeking heart. God may use us to help someone to find salvation but He doesn’t need us.
I found the answer to this very relevant question so freeing. I felt such great pressure to defend the Word of God and was always so worried I would never do it justice. I just don’t know all of the history and details and proofs pertaining to God’s Word and feel like I wouldn’t be able to defend it very well.
But the answer that Dr. MacArthur gave means that we don’t have to know all of that in order to witness. Of course, it is always good to study and to be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15) but knowing that it is God who will grant belief and understanding of His Word to the soul that is seeking Him is such a wonderfully freeing concept. Doesn’t this give us a whole new insight as we seek to share Christ with the lost and dying world around us?
I hope this encourages you as much as it encouraged me! Have a great day!