This past weekend, John and I listened to the debate between Jeff Durbin and Andy Stanley on the necessity of embracing the Old Testament. In reality, the true question revolved around the authority of Scripture. Stanley believes that we cannot effectively evangelize millennials by appealing to the Bible as the standard for truth. Rather, he grounds our authority in Christ’s resurrection, believing that Scripture derives its authority from that singular event.
Honestly, some of his attempts at logic made John want to scream and made me want to bang my head against the refrigerator.
But l don’t want to spend this blog post analyzing the debate. I don’t even want to write about the various problems with Andy Stanley. I mention the debate only as an example of how professing evangelicals minimize the power of God’s Word in evangelism.
I understand Stanley’s point that non-Christians don’t accept the Bible as being authoritative. Well duh! Does anyone seriously expect otherwise? That obvious fact, however, shouldn’t cause Christians to behave as if we share their assumption that sources outside of Scripture have the power to validate or invalidate it. Following Stanley’s approach only allows non-Christians to believe that human beings have the right to sit in judgment over God’s Word.
Let that last sentence sink in.
Now, answer this question: How can we communicate our faith in God if we demonstrate a lack of confidence in the authority of His Word? Are we not in practice agreeing with them that the Bible really isn’t the ultimate authority? Don’t our appeals to external substantiation undermine our witness?
Certainly, the apostle Paul credited Scripture with the ability to effect salvation. He reminded Timothy of its power.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
If we claim to believe that the Bible is God’s Word, we must treat it as such. Especially in the presence of unbelievers! Unbelievers must see that we truly believe everything the Bible says because we know, deep in our spirits, that we trust the Lord to make Himself known.
Either the Bible is God’s Word or it isn’t. If we need external validation of its claims, shouldn’t we ask ourselves if we actually believe it? I assure you, the non-Christians who challenge us to prove its veracity by outside sources chomp at the bit to expose our hypocrisy. And, if we fall into their trap by tacitly agreeing to measure the Word of God by human standards, we do nothing more than agree with their premise that it can’t be trusted.
Non-Christians will either come to salvation through the preaching of God’s Word or they’ll harden their hearts. Their response remains between them and the Lord. But Isaiah 55:10-11 says clearly that the Lord will use His Word according to His purposes. He asks only that we faithfully proclaim it. We don’t need to prove it or defend it; we just need to rest in its authority.
We may not convince them to share our belief in its authority, but they won’t doubt our commitment to it.