If you were to ask a man on the street to name two verses of the Bible, he will likely quote Matthew 7:1 and John 3:16 from the King James Version.

Matthew 7:1 states, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” John 3:16 is probably the most recognized verse in the world: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He might also mention Genesis 1:1, but he would not know many passages beyond those three verses. He would also likely know something about Jesus, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, Adam and Eve, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Unbelievers know a few names, places, and verses in the 66 books of the Bible, but not much else. God’s Word does not regulate their thoughts or influence their actions. They are the ones David considered when he wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1).

As distant as they are from the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, they nevertheless find sacred Scripture to be useful in their lives. But they do not use it in order to learn more about sin, forgiveness, the Lord’s church, or Heaven—they use it to advance their own selfish desires. Their thoughts and actions are completely under the influence of Satan. Paul stated that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4, NASB).

One way in which the unbeliever uses Scripture to his own benefit is when he wants to validate sinful behavior. For instance, over the last several decades, the homosexual community has determined to spread its influence into all areas of American society. And now homosexuals often try to validate their behavior by challenging passages of Scripture that condemn their deeds, attempting to show how those passages are irrelevant and their behavior is fine.

Not only do unbelievers use the Scriptures to condone their sinful ways, but they also try to use Scripture against itself by taking passages out of context and blatantly distorting simple passages in order to confuse novice Bible students. During the 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, candidate Rick Santorum stated that he believed in the literal creation account of Genesis. An atheist friend of mine, bewildered by Santorum’s “stupidity,” posted a series of questions about the creation account of Genesis on Facebook. He asked whether or not Adam had sexual desire for women before Eve was created. He also asked about Adam’s seemingly impossible task of naming the animals and if the six days of creation were 24-hour periods.

All of those questions are serious and legitimate. But his objective was not to learn the truth. His objective—as he stated in the comment section—was to prove that unless all questions anyone had related to creation could be answered satisfactorily then the creation account of Scripture could not be trusted.

Our task as Christians should be to teach the unbeliever that sacred Scripture should not be picked apart and manipulated and used for personal gain. The Bible is the Word of God. It is authoritative. It is God’s will for man. The Bible is not just a long book that contains a few fables and love stories. It is not a book we can use to assuage guilty feelings. “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB).

So, how do we do it? How do we teach the unbeliever that the Bible is authoritative? How do we show them that they must conform their lives to Christian doctrines in order to be saved?

While it is impossible to address every question the unbeliever might ask about the Scriptures, it is possible for us to use a few principles that will help us plant God’s Word in the hearts of men.


Many Christians fail to convert the lost because they develop an “us vs. them” or “me vs. you” mentality when it comes to Bible study. They sit down with an unbeliever and say, “This is what I believe. You should believe it, too.” Once that position is used as the basis for the study, the unbeliever will instantly become defensive. He or she will dig their heels into their own way of thinking. Bible study then becomes a competition of wills. The unbeliever will interpret the Christian’s words as, “I’m right and you’re wrong. Let me show all the ways that you’re wrong.”

Philip the evangelist used a much more effective method when he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch on a desert road in Acts 8. The Holy Spirit instructed Philip to go toward the eunuch’s chariot. Philip heard the eunuch reading from the book of Isaiah the prophet. Philip asked him if he knew what he was reading, and the eunuch said that he could not know unless someone instructed him. The Bible then states, “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35). Shortly thereafter, the eunuch wanted to be baptized, and Philip baptized him.

By preaching Jesus to the eunuch, Philip shifted the focus from himself to the Savior. He let the inspired words be the focus. The discussion in the chariot was not about Philip’s life as an evangelist or the eunuch’s service to Queen Candace of Ethiopia. Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Our attitude should shift from “I’m right; you’re wrong” to “Jesus is right; His words should guide us.”


Every person on earth has faith in something or someone. People put their health in the hands of doctors without a second thought. We take medication without asking where the medicine came from. Most people have no idea how the braking system in their car works, yet they trust that their brakes will stop the car when they are pressed. No child has ever raised his or her hand in a classroom and said, “I don’t believe that George Washington was the first president because I wasn’t there to see him with my own eyes.” Students learn about men who lived prior to Jesus and never question that those men did exactly what the history books teach them. Yet, scores of people refuse to put their faith in Jesus and trust His Word.

When people are shown how much faith they put in things and people, it will become much easier for them to open their hearts to God’s Word. They will stop trying to debate Biblical minutia and start seeing how their life fits into the Gospel message. The process will be slow, of course; they will have many questions. If someone has opposed God’s will for a lifetime, it might take him more than a few days to submit to God’s will. But God is waiting for him. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NASB).

By James Hayes

This article first appeared in the WeeThink family section of Think magazine. For more info, or to subscribe, click here