In Stand to Reason’s February newsletter, Moments of Truth, Greg Koukl addressed the issue of unbelievers who dismiss the Bible as “only written by men.” How do we respond to this? As an apologetics organization you would expect the newsletter to detail the many reasons we can be confident that the Scriptures are divinely inspired, and encourage believers to whip out those evidences for an unbeliever when the first opportunity arises. Greg took another route. He talked about how it is that he—and most other Christians—come to believe the Bible is the Word of God. Interestingly, it did not begin with evidentiary lines of argumentation. I will quote Greg at length:

For years I have taught six of these reasons in a talk called, “The Bible: Has God Spoken?” If you’ve heard the talk and are able to recall the points and explain them, you may get someone thinking. It’s a way of putting a stone in their shoe, so to speak. But this approach is much more effective after something else has happened first. Before I tell you what that is, I have a confession to make. Though I give this talk often, these are not really the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word. They are sound evidences and they have their place…, but they are not how I came to believe in the Bible’s authority in the first place. I suspect they’re not the reasons you believe, either, even if you’ve heard the talk and thought it compelling.

I came to believe the Bible was God’s Word the same way the Thessalonians did, the same way you probably did. They encountered the truth firsthand and were moved by it. Without really being able to explain why, they knew they were hearing the words of God and not just the words of a man named Paul. I think I understand better now what happened then. Now I know there is a powerful role the Spirit plays that is very hard for us to describe. This is not something we’re able to explain very well to others.

For one, it is personal, subjective. Two, it’s non-rational. In a sense, we were not persuaded, as such. We were wooed and won over, and that’s very different from weighing reasons and coming to conclusions. Note, I didn’t say it was ir-rational, but non-rational. God used a different avenue to change our minds about the Bible.

Even so, the reasons I give in the talk are still vital. Here’s why: The objective reasons are important to show that our subjective confidence has not been misplaced, that what we’ve believed with our hearts can be confirmed with our minds. The ancients called this, “Faith seeking understanding.” … When you start giving people reasons to change their minds—to believe in the Bible, for instance—their first instinct is to resist, to keep on believing what they’ve always believed. It’s human nature. Don’t get me wrong. I think offering good reasons is a fine approach. I do it all the time. In this case, though, they’ll find reasons for the Bible more compelling if something else happens first. First they must listen.

When soldiers were sent to arrest Jesus, they returned empty handed. Why had they disobeyed orders? They had listened. “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks,” they said (John 7:46). Jesus didn’t start with reasons why they should believe His words. Instead, he let the words do the work themselves. And this they did because they were the very words of God.

If you want people to believe in the Bible, the best way to succeed is not simply by giving them reasons. First, try to get them to listen to the Word. … Talk about the biblical view of the world. Encourage him to simply listen to Jesus for a while, then draw his own conclusions. Most people respect Jesus. They’ve just never listened closely to what He’s said. They’ve never allowed the words to have their impact.

Don’t get into a tug-o-war with skeptics about inspiration. Instead, invite others to engage the ideas first, then let God do the heavy lifting for you. The truth you’re defending has a life of it’s [sic] own because the Spirit is in the words. Once your friend has listened a bit, any further reasons you give for biblical authority will have the soil they need to take root in. (emphasis mine)

I find this important for three reasons. First, it demonstrates how powerful the Word of God is. If we let it speak for itself it will speak volumes. Secondly, it emphasizes the importance of presenting information in the right order: first the Word of God, then the evidence. Thirdly, it explains why evidentiary apologetics is so important for those who already believe the Bible is the Word of God. It demonstrates to the believer that what he believes is intellectually credible, and rationally justified. It increases his confidence in what he believes. Christianity is not something we believe just because, but rather because.

In its bare essence faith is simple trust. We trust in God rather than in ourselves, or something else. But more specifically faith is a persuasion based on reasonable evidence. Those who initially come to faith in Christ have reasons for placing their trust in Him, even if the reasons for such trust are minimal, not well thought out, or rationally justified. But where faith is really seen to be “a persuasion based on reasonable evidence” the most is in the growth of the believer. While they already possess some level of justification for their decision to trust Christ, they grow in that trust as they discover more and more reasons that their trust is properly grounded in reality; i.e. based on reasonable evidence. Evidence is a vital component of faith. The author of Hebrews made this clear when he said faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and that this assurance comes from the evidence of things unseen. A mature faith is trust based on evidence—trusting in things you have reason to believe are true. As we grow in knowledge we will also grow in faith.