A Canadian preacher requests my response to an inquirer who asks how we “know with certainty and without doubt that the Bible is God’s revealed and trustworthy Word.” The inquirer says that he wants to believe that, and that if he could, it would launch him into “a life of faith.”
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We know almost nothing “with certainty and without doubt,” and we do not normally require that standard in our daily lives. At most, we usually go with the preponderance of the evidence — what is more reasonably likely than not — what tilts the scales in its favor. If we could prove something “with certainty and without doubt,” there would be no place left for faith at all. In fact, the evidence for Jesus Christ and the Bible is quite compelling when fairly considered.
It is not necessary, in order to come to faith in God, to begin by believing that the Bible is God’s Word. Human beings can and should believe in God from the order and complexity of creation, from conscience, from our own thoughtful and profound existence — from our imagination of a better world, our sense of meaning and desire for meaning, and so forth. When a person decides to read the Bible, he or she is simply learning about the God who reveals himself to us in other ways all the time.
Faith in Christ as Savior comes (as a channel, not as the ultimate source) from the apostolic testimony about Jesus, which we have in the Gospels — first-hand testimony with Matthew and John, second-hand with Mark and Luke. I would encourage this man to read the Gospels while praying for God, if he is there, to make himself known and to give personal assurance that these things are true. If anyone continues to pray that prayer with sincerity, I believe that person will come eventually to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.