A gracEmail reader asks, “How do we know that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit? Those who wrote the Bible say so, but how do we know? How can I convince someone who is not a Christian to believe that?”
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The Apostle Paul says that “all Scripture is inspired by God” and is therefore “profitable,” adequately equipping the Christian worker for every required task (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This word “inspired” is literally “God-breathed,” which reminds us of the story of God creating Adam from dirt, then breathing life into him to become an animated man (Gen. 2:7). That is a faith statement and I do not know any way to prove it with mathematical certainty.
The earliest disciples of Jesus did not begin with the Bible — and certainly not with the 27 books we call the New Testament, for they were not yet written when the Christian church first began to be gathered. They had the amazing life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through which they now re-read the Jewish Bible which we call the Old Testament. Like the New Testament Scriptures after them, these older Scriptures give salvation-wisdom by leading the reader to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior (2 Tim. 3:15). Many Christians over the past 2,000 years have not owned Bibles, and many could not have read them if they had. But they all had saving faith in Jesus Christ, to whom the entire Bible points as the Savior of humankind.
As believers, our first task is not to convince people that they must follow the Bible; it is to introduce people to Jesus Christ. The Bible is the testimony of God’s people, through which God works by the Holy Spirit to give people faith. But the ultimate aim is not proving something about the Bible. It is using the Bible (and whatever else, such as Christlike lives and God’s incarnate love) to point people to Jesus. We do not worship the Bible, we worship God. The Bible points to Jesus and Jesus points to God. The Holy Spirit has to make all that happen and we trust God to do his work as we obey him.
(There is an incredible amount of evidence which can enable one to overcome with intellectual integrity various supposedly logical obstacles to faith in Jesus and confidence in the Bible. I heartily recommend the books Reason Enough: A Case For The Christian Faith [IVP, 1980] by my friend Clark H. Pinnock,and He Is There And He Is Not Silent [Tyndale House, 1973] by my former teacher Francis Schaeffer.