In my new book, “Jesus on Trial,” I explain how the Bible itself serves as its own apologetic. Holy Scripture, if we’ll give it a chance, can bring us to faith. So one of the main goals I have with my book is to encourage people to crack open this amazing book and give it a chance to work in their lives. They may be surprised.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). “From infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
I must say that I didn’t always have this high opinion of the Bible. When I was a young lawyer, in my skeptical days, I was visiting my friend Peter Kinder, now Missouri lieutenant governor, at Christmastime. He had brought some of his law school classmates home to stay at his parents’ home during the Christmas break.
Peter, his friend Steve Springer and I were sitting around the fireplace discussing various things, when the subject of Christianity came up; I can’t remember who initiated the discussion. I allowed as how I did not buy into Christianity and wasn’t at all sure about Christ’s divinity, among other things.
Steve – who was a devout believer, as it turned out – surprised me. He didn’t fit my stereotypical image of Christians at the time. Had I known he was a strong believer, I would have expected him to wag his finger at me and scold me for my irreverence, but he did just the opposite. (By the way, this is no slam on Christians; it’s just the impression I had at the time of many of them, and I was wrong.)
Steve responded patiently and graciously. It was as if he knew, intuitively, what Christian apologist extraordinaire Ravi Zacharias now teaches his students. It is just as important, says Zacharias, that the evangelist focus on the questioner as it is that he focus on his questions. In other words, really pay attention to the person you’re talking to, and try to meet him where he is. Don’t just give him some bullet points about the validity of the Christian faith; otherwise, your words are very likely to have no effect.
Steve didn’t rebuke me for questioning Christ’s divinity or for doubting certain doctrinal teachings. He just quietly excused himself from the conversation for a few moments, went to his guest bedroom, retrieved his Bible and returned.
At the appropriate time – without being overbearing, judgmental or arrogant – he simply opened up that brown leather-covered book and walked me through certain passages of Scripture. He then pointed out how these passages were linked to other passages that spoke to the same subject. As far as I know, it was the first time I’d ever been introduced to a reference Bible.
Lights went off. I know, I know – it’s embarrassing how ignorant I was. I didn’t realize the extent to which the Bible – Old Testament and New Testament – was wholly integrated. It truly fascinated me and piqued my interest. Intuiting my interest, Steve gave me that Bible on the spot.
I didn’t become a believer immediately as a result of Steve’s enlightening gesture. But he had planted a critically important seed for my spiritual journey, which would later bear fruit.
Steve had no earthly idea the impact he had on me. I know that for a fact because when he was visiting Peter many years later, the two of them came by my house to see me. While we were all sitting at the table catching up, I excused myself from the room, went to my library, retrieved that very Bible and returned to the room. I told the story of how important this moment, some 20 years ago, had been in my life. Steve was moved and, I believe, quite gratified.
This incident should be encouraging to Christians. Don’t ever assume that your evangelism is having no impact just because you see no immediate evidence of it. Not everyone’s conversion is the result of some “lightning bolt” epiphany. It often happens gradually and over an extended period of time.
Steve’s particular approach to me has also been very significant because one of the most compelling proofs to me of Christianity’s truth claims is the marvelous unity of Scripture, to which Steve initially exposed me.
I am so moved by the unity of the Bible that I devoted a chapter to the subject in my book. As many know, the Bible was written over a period of some 1,500 years by 40 different authors, writing in different languages and different geographical locations. Yet the themes, the moral lessons and God’s revelation about his nature are consistent throughout. It’s as if it were the product of a conspiracy.
But how can that be? Most of the Bible writers didn’t even know one another. Well, it can be because the true author of the Bible is God. It was a conspiracy, all right, but not by human hands. It was a divine conspiracy.