One of the most basic truths controlling Christian apologetics is this: argument alone cannot produce belief. None of the “many solid arguments for the authority of Scripture … are of much use if someone doesn’t want to be convinced.”Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. So the Bible is not a book to be judged, but the gift of divine truth to be gladly received. We learn from its teaching, agree with its reproofs, obey its correction, and submit to its training. Being supernatural we expect it to make us “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17) in Christ. And we should introduce it to others in that same way.
One of Billy Graham’s early crises of faith was over whether he could totally trust the Bible. After much struggle he prayed to God, “I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.” Graham’s conclusion sets a good example for us.
While the Bible is fully defensible, like God himself it need not answer all our questions and doubts. And we have no right to judge Scripture. “In controversies of religion or matters of faith, we can not admit any other judge than God Himself, pronouncing by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what is to be avoided.” Like the aural words of the prophets the Bible is simply and truly the Gods word written. The prophets didn’t invite hearers to deliberate over whether their words were true. They were proclaimers, declarers of what God had spoken to them. This is how we should receive every Word of God.
Why does this matter? Too often in apologetics Scripture is set aside until it is proven to be reliable. But the reliability of Scripture is not the goal of our argument; it is the foundation. Christian apologetics “is to be more than a meaningless discussion about the that of God’s existence and is to consider what kind of God exists”— and to do that, we need to listen to the Bible. Even the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus must be interpreted by Scripture “before they can avail as redemptive facts to us.” Scripture “stands before us as that light in terms of which all the facts of the created universe must be interpreted.”
Still, “The Bible is both the foundation upon which our defense must be built and one of our beliefs which must be defended.” Let’s think about how this is so.
How Can We Trust the Bible?
There are at least four categories of evidence by which Scripture reveals itself to be God’s word.
First, consider the internal evidence. The Bible reads like no other book. “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity, by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God.” It shouldn’t surprise us that the Bible’s longest chapter by far is a poem praising God’s word, as the delight of all who know it (Ps. 119:24).
Second, consider the historical evidence. True prophets were known by their words coming true (Deut. 18:21–22). When John the Baptist asked if Jesus was “the one” he responded by describing how in him the works promised by God were being done. The Bible is filled with amazingly specific prophecies that have come true. As promised, Cyrus sent God’s people back to Jerusalem to build the temple (Is. 44:28; 45:1), Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and those who executed Messiah cast lots for his clothes (Ps. 22:18). “Even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in [the Scriptures] do happen.”
Third, consider the experiential evidence. “The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God … by their light and power to convince and convert sinners” and “to comfort and build up believers unto salvation.”