All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17

What can we tell non-believers who think that the bible is just a another religious book written by men?

First, we can ask them how they came to have their opinion to get them involved in a conversation. We can ask if they have ever read the bible. Chances are they have not. You can’t judge a book by its closed cover, right? We can ask how they can give an informed opinion on any book they haven’t read. Maybe the idea of reading the entire bible is a bit daunting. We can break it down to challenging them to read just one of the gospels–my favorite is John. And we can always share just a few scriptures to whet their appetite. I like verses that illustrate the mercy of Jesus. Then ask them what they think of what was just read. Jesus says that just like bread is vital to our physical bodies, every word that comes from the mouth of God is vital to our spiritual life (Matthew 4:4). Our job is to help them realize their God-given hunger and thirst for salvation. “I am the bread of life; the one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty again.” (John 6:35)

Reasoning with people is helpful, too. I have heard the idea that the bible couldn’t be written without inspiration, because it speaks plainly about people’s failures. It doesn’t talk up humanity. It rather always glorifies God. 1 Peter 1:20-21 says: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

When you think about it, the entire bible is a series of real life stories about how God relates to humanity, and how humanity responds. The two responses are belief and obedience, which lead to great blessing, or disbelief and disobedience, which lead to great heartache. The bible is a living word picture illustrating the polarity between faith and distrust. It is littered with the human failures of even godly people, a book that is embarrassingly truthful and always proves God true. How many other books would dare to be so honest? Jesus said, “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own honor,” which is human nature. (John 7:18).  And the Lord said, “How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another,” which is God’s nature (Isaiah 48:11).

Remember to have a humble attitude, especially with those in another faith tradition. We want to engage in a dialogue, not a diatribe. Jesus reserved his “woe to you” speeches for the hard-hearted religious leaders of the day. Otherwise, he gently taught the misinformed and the lost. Hebrews says that the word of God is alive and more effective than a two-edged sword and “able to discern the thoughts and deliberations of the heart.” (4:12). Ephesians actually calls the word of God the sword of the Spirit (6:17). Discern your audience. We wield a weapon against an enemy, not a victim.

In our main scripture above, Paul says all Scripture is God-breathed. The Lord breathed the breath of life into Adam. God-breathed words animate the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:9-10: “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.” Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Whenever God-breathed words are spoken, the result is a spiritual miracle and abundant life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we love you. Fill our mouths with your word so that we will bear fruit for your Kingdom and your glory. Amen!