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Resurrection of Christ as Evidence for God, Jesus and the BibleResurrection of Christ as Evidence for God, Jesus and the Bible

A Biblical Approach to Evidences for God, Jesus, and the Bible

What evidence does the Christian religion offer to demonstrate that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son? Creation, fulfilled prophecy, miracles, the resurrection?


Testimony #6: The Resurrection of Jesus


This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. This article must be studied in context of the whole series of articles. To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.

The gospel claims that, after Jesus died, He came back to life again on the third day. The apostles and New Testament Christians repeatedly preached this claim.


I. What the Resurrection Proves


A. The Gospel Claims that Jesus' Resurrection Gives Evidence that He Is Who It Claims Him To Be.

We already learned that the primary purpose of miracles was to confirm the existence of God and/or to confirm a message or messenger to be from God. The resurrection is in many ways the most basic and most substantiated of all Bible miracles. As such it demonstrates the power and existence of God - 1 Peter 1:21; Romans 4:17.

Note 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 - The resurrection especially confirms the validity of the claims of Jesus. It is absolutely fundamental to the gospel claims regarding Jesus and salvation through Him. If He is not raised, our faith is vain and we are yet in sin.

The resurrection proves Jesus is:

The Christ, the Son of God

John 20:24-31 - After personally observing the evidence that Jesus was alive, Thomas addressed Him as "my Lord and my God." This evidence and His miracles are written so we might believe He is the Christ, the Son of God.

Romans 1:4 - He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead.

Lord and Christ

Acts 2:32-36 - Peter concluded his sermon on Pentecost by citing the eyewitness testimony of Jesus' resurrection. He then said that this showed Jesus to be Lord and Christ.

Acts 17:3 - Paul preached that Jesus had been raised from the dead and He is the Christ.

Romans 14:9 - Jesus rose and lived again that He might be the Lord of the living and dead.

Ephesians 1:20-23 - God raised Jesus and put all things under His feet, making Him above all power and dominion.

One who forgives sins

Acts 13:30-39 - Since God raised Jesus, it should be known that by Him the forgiveness of sins is preached and by Him everyone who believes is justified.

Luke 24:46,47 - It was necessary for Christ to suffer and rise and that repentance and remission of sins be preached to all nations.

[1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 4:25]

Judge of all mankind

Acts 17:30,31 - God has appointed a day when He will judge the world by the One whom He appointed. He gave assurance of this by raising Him from the dead.

Jesus and His followers taught that His resurrection proves these claims. If these claims are not true, why would God raise Him from the dead?

The fact that the apostles and first-century Christians preached the resurrection to everyone who lacked faith or had doubts - Jews or idol worshipers - demonstrates their confidence in the power of the resurrection as evidence

If the resurrection is true, then it establishes all the claims of Jesus to be valid. Further, if the resurrection proves Jesus to be the Son of God, then Jesus Himself testified that the Bible is from God. And, since the resurrection is a miracle, like other miracles it would prove the existence of God.

B. Yet Many Different Theories Exist Regarding the Events Following Jesus' Death.

In order to avoid accepting the resurrection, skeptics have offered several explanations.

1. The theory that the disciples stole the body. This is what the soldiers who guarded His tomb were paid to say (Matt. 28:11-15).

2. The theory that Jesus did not really die but only "swooned" on the cross and then later recovered in the tomb.

3. The theory that the disciples had "hallucinations" and only imagined they saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion.

Let us now consider the events surrounding Jesus' death to see whether the resurrection fits the evidence or whether some other explanation fits the facts better.


II. The Evidence Regarding Jesus' Resurrection


We have earlier discussed the force of the testimony of witnesses as evidence for historic events. Consider the evidence given by the witnesses regarding Jesus' resurrection.

A. Events Prior to Jesus' Death

Old Testament predictions of the resurrection

Luke 24:46 - Jesus and His apostles repeatedly claimed that Old Testament prophets had predicted His resurrection (see also Luke 18:31-34; Acts 17:3; 26:22,23; 1 Cor. 15:4). What prophecies would this refer to?

Isaiah 53:7-10 - This passage is acknowledged to be a prediction of Christ (cf. Acts 8:29-35). He would be led as a lamb to the slaughter (v7), cut off from the living (v8), made an offering for sin (v10), die, and be buried (v9). But then He would prolong His days and see His seed (v10). How could this be unless He came back to life?

Psalms 16:9,10 is quoted and explained in Acts 13:29-39 (cf. 2:23-32). It predicts One who would not see corruption nor His soul remain in Hades (the realm of spirits of dead men). It cannot apply to David who spoke it, because he did see corruption. Rather, he spoke as a prophet referring to the resurrection of Christ (2:30,31). He did not experience corruption, because His body came back to life.

Jesus' predictions of His resurrection

Jesus Himself repeatedly predicted, not just His death, but also His resurrection. He began early in His ministry to make such predictions and continued right up to the end. See John 2:18-22; Matt. 12:39,40; 16:21,22; 17:9,22,23; 26:31,32; Mark 9:9,10 (and parallel accounts). Consider one example.

Matthew 20:18,19 - Note the details: He would be betrayed to the Jewish leaders but would be killed by the Gentiles (Romans). They would scourge Him and crucify Him (a uniquely Roman execution), but He would rise again the third day. A general prediction of ones own resurrection would be surprising, but such detail is amazing.

Matthew 27:62-66 - Even Jesus' enemies acknowledged He had made this prediction!

No pretender would make such predictions for himself, for he would know that three days after his death, everyone would know he was a fraud. Yet if Jesus made the claims and then kept His followers after His death, this is substantial evidence that His claims may be true.

And note that, at the time He made these predictions, the disciples repeatedly did not understand or believe them (Matt. 16:22; Mark 9:10; Luke 18:34; John 20:9). Why would they later hallucinate or make up false claims of resurrection, when they themselves had repeatedly opposed predictions of it?

If convincing evidence exists for Jesus' resurrection, this is doubly amazing. Not only would it be a natural impossibility for one to arise from the dead, but it would be even more impossible that he and others could predict it years before it happened. This multiplies the force of the evidence, proving that such an event could only occur by the power and approval of God.

B. The Crucifixion

Jesus suffered the following physical abuse:

He was scourged.

John 19:1-3 - Scourging was a beating with a whip of many leather thongs, often with embedded bits of metal or glass. People often died just from such beatings. (Matt. 27:26; Mark 15:15)

He was nailed to the cross.

Matthew 27:35-54 - In the crucifixion, spikes were driven through His hands and feet, nailing Him to the cross. Then the cross was lifted up, suspending Him where He remained for at least three hours. (Mark 15:24-39; Luke 23:33-47; John 19:16-30; cf. John 20:20,24-29; Luke 24:40; Psalms 22:16)

He died.

Mark 15:37,39 - All the accounts specifically state that He died (i.e., His spirit departed, etc.) (Cf. Matt. 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30,33).

Mark 15:44,45 - In order to confirm that Jesus was dead, Pilate made inquiry of the centurion who had been in charge of the crucifixion.

His side was pierced with a spear.

John 19:31-34 - Soldiers came to break His legs to hasten death; but they did not have to do so, since He was already dead. So they pierced His side with a spear. This also confirms that He died on the cross.

All this was personally witnessed by multitudes of people, both friends and enemies. Note Luke 23:48,49; John 19:35; 1 Peter 5:1.

The claim that Jesus did not die but merely swooned contradicts the clear testimony of the witnesses that He did die. The centurion and soldiers were professionals at such executions, and they all testified that He was dead.

But even if He did not die, consider His condition. He had been scourged, nailed to the cross for at least three hours, and then his side pierced with a spear. If He then spent three days in the tomb without food and water, how would He awaken and appear healthy enough to convince the skeptical disciples that He was raised from the dead? And would such a deception harmonize with His upright character?

C. Events Surrounding Jesus' Burial

The body was prepared for burial.

John 19:38-42 - The body was prepared with 100 pounds of spices then wrapped in strips of linen. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did this, as witnessed by various women from Galilee, including Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Luke 23:50-56; cf. Matt. 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47).

If Jesus had not died but only swooned, surely during all this preparation people would have realized He was not dead. The fact they buried Him proves they too were convinced He was dead, not just swooned.

The body was laid in the tomb.

John 19:41 - This was a new tomb, in which no one else had been buried. (Luke 23:53)

Matthew 27:60,61; Mark 15:46; - It was hewn from rock and had a large stone over the door. Again, other people witnessed this. (Luke 23:53)

Note that Jesus' body could not have been confused with that of someone else - there were no other bodies. And when the tomb was found empty, there could be no doubt that His body was gone, since it had been the only body there.

The tomb was sealed and secured by guards.

Matthew 27:62-66 - The Jews feared that, if the body left the tomb, the disciples would claim Jesus was raised. So they sealed the stone over the opening and placed a guard outside the tomb for the express purpose of making sure the body did not leave the tomb. (Mark 16:4)

How could the disciples steal the body, as the Jews later claimed, when a guard was expressly placed there to stop them? Rolling away the huge stone and removing the body would surely awaken the guards. The penalty for sleeping on guard duty was death (Acts 12:19; 16:27); so if this really had happened, why would the guards admit it?

Or suppose Jesus had swooned, not died, then awoke three days later suffering from all His injuries and lack of food and water. How could He remove the grave clothes and leave the tomb? He could not dig out, since the tomb was stone. How could He roll away the rock (so large the women could not move it - Mark 16:3), evade or overpower the guards, and still appear strong and healthy to convince the skeptical disciples that He had been resurrected?

D. Events on the Third Day and Afterward

The testimony of the angels

Matthew 28:1-8; Luke 24:4-7 - Three Bible writers describe appearances of angels who announced the resurrection to various people. The angels said: "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, for He is risen." Then they reminded the disciples that Jesus had predicted he would rise again on the third day. [Mark 16:5-7]

These appearances themselves were miraculous, yet they accompanied Jesus' resurrection and announced it. The angels appeared to several women, all of whom saw them at the same time and place.

How can such appearances be explained on any grounds other than that Jesus really did arise from the dead?

The empty tomb

One of the greatest facts to be explained is the empty tomb. What happened to the body?

Mark 16:5-7 - The women entered the tomb and saw where the body had been laid. (Luke 24:3; John 20:11-13)

John 20:1-9 - Peter and John went into the tomb and saw it was empty (Luke 24:12). They saw the grave clothes and the head cloth, which had been folded. If Jesus had swooned and then awoke severely wounded, seeking to evade the guards, why would He take time to fold the cloth before leaving? If the disciples had stolen the body, why would they remove the grave clothes?

Matthew 28:11-15 - The enemies explained the disappearance of the body by saying the disciples stole it while the guards slept. If the guards were really asleep, how would they know what happened to the body? How did they know Jesus did not arise and walk out past them? Why should anyone believe men who testified about what happened while they slept?

But note that, by fabricating an explanation for the missing body, the enemies themselves admitted that the body was gone! Never did the first-century enemies of the gospel attempt to deny the tomb was empty. If the body was still in the tomb or if the enemies of Jesus had the body, they would have produced it as soon as the apostles began to preach the resurrection. That would have been the immediate end of the gospel; no one would have believed from that time on. The failure of the enemies to deny the empty tomb or to produce the body, combined with their effort to explain the disappearance of the body, conclusively confirms the claims of the disciples that the tomb was empty.

Any explanation for the events surrounding Jesus' death must account for the fact the tomb was empty and the body was missing!

Other confirming miracles

The resurrection itself is not the only miracle to be considered in this study.

Consider other miracles that accompanied Jesus' death and resurrection.

* Darkness covered the whole land from noon till 3:00 PM - Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44.

* The temple veil was torn from top to bottom - Matthew 27:51.

* Other people were raised and appeared to people when Jesus arose - Matthew 27:52,53.

* Angels appeared and claimed He was raised - Matthew 28:1-8; Acts 1:9-11.

* At one appearance He predicted the future then ascended into heaven - Acts 1:4-11.

Miracles accompanying the preaching of the resurrection

We earlier studied many miracles done by the apostles. Often these miracles accompanied the preaching of the resurrection. Remember, the purpose of miracles was to confirm the validity of the message being preached. Examples include:

* The Day of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-8,24,30-33 - The first time the apostles preached the resurrection, their message was confirmed when the Holy Spirit miraculously empowered them to speak many languages (tongues) they had never learned. They claimed that their ability to do this miracle proved Jesus had been raised (vv 32,33). (Note also the sound of the wind.)

* The healing of the lame man - Acts 3:1-10,15; 4:10,14,16 - Peter and John instantaneously healed a man who had never walked in his forty years of life (4:22). Even their enemies had to admit the validity of this miracle. But the apostles used this miracle to confirm their testimony as witnesses of the resurrection.

* Appearances to Saul - When Jesus appeared, the light Saul saw was brighter than the noonday sun (Acts 26:13). Others saw the light and heard the voice but did not understand it (9:7: 22:9). Saul was struck blind till Ananias came and restored his sight (9:8,9,18; 22:11-13). These additional miracles confirmed to Saul and to others the reality of Jesus' appearance.

* Preaching to Cornelius' household - Peter preached the resurrection (Acts 10:39-42). The message was confirmed by the Holy Spirit who gave the gift of tongues (10:44-46), an angel who appeared to Cornelius (10:3-6), a vision to Peter (10:9-16), and a revelation from the Spirit telling Peter to preach to Cornelius (10:19,20). Compare Acts 11:1-18.

Jesus and His apostles did many other miracles to confirm that their message was from God. The above miracles specifically confirmed the resurrection to be a miracle from God. Hence, miracles confirmed other miracles!

The appearances of Jesus

Acts 1:3 - Jesus presented Himself alive by many infallible proofs for a period of forty days. His appearances are the most important evidence to consider. Here is a list of the appearances:

Mary Magdalene

John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-11 - She saw Jesus and spoke to Him. (Note the other disciples did not believe her.)

Other women

Matthew 28:9,10; Mark 16:1ff. They saw, touched, and heard Him.

Two disciples on the road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35; Mark 16:12,13. They saw Him, talked with him, and listened to Him for a prolonged period. Again, others did not believe them.

Peter

Luke 24:34 (1 Cor. 15:5) - The other apostles claimed that Jesus had appeared to Simon. Paul confirms this in his list of appearances.

All the apostles

He appeared to them on several occasions - Mark 16:14-16; Matt. 28:16,17; Luke 24:44-51; John 20:19-23; 21:1-25; Acts 1:3-8 (note Jesus' prophecy); 10:39,41; 13:31; 1 Cor. 15:5,7.

Especially note Luke 24:36-43 - They saw, heard, touched, and spoke with Him for prolonged periods; He ate in their presence. This continued for a period of forty days. Again, they were skeptical and demanded proof. Jesus willingly gave evidence to prove He was not a spirit.

Thomas with the apostles

John 20:24-29 - Thomas was skeptical till He saw, heard, and touched Jesus, including the wounds. Note that the wounds made it impossible there could be any mistake in identifying the living man to be Jesus. Again, note how Jesus deliberately disproved every doubt.

James; over 500 brethren at once

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 - Paul gave a summary list of Jesus' appearances. This list adds James and an appearance to over 500 at one time, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote. If the people were still alive, the point is that other people could speak to them and confirm Paul's claim. (Note that this list does not include all the appearances the Bible records.)

Jesus' ascension

As the apostles watched, Jesus then ascended to heaven - Acts 1:9-11; Luke 24:50-53; Mark 16:19,20.

Finally, note that, after the ascension, the appearances of Jesus suddenly stopped. If the claims of appearances were hallucinations or fabrications, why did the great number of witnesses suddenly stop claiming other appearances?

Saul of Tarsus

Acts 9:1-9; 22:4-15; 26:9-18; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8,9.

Note the following facts that make the appearances to Saul of special significance:

* Saul was an enemy of the gospel and a persecutor of the church. He had no possible motives to accept the gospel and every possible motive to continue to reject it. (See 1 Timothy 1:12-15; Acts 8:1-3; 9:1,2; 22:4,5; 26:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6.)

* At noon on an open highway in the presence of other men, a light brighter than the noon sun appeared (9:3; 22:6; 26:13). Such a light at noon would itself be miraculous.

* Jesus spoke and identified Himself to be Jesus (9:3-6; 22:7,8).

* Saul saw and heard Jesus. This was essential in order to qualify him as an apostle (Acts 1:21,22). Note the following specifics:

Acts 9:4-6; 22:7,8,10; 26:14-18 - He heard and spoke to Jesus.

Acts 26:16 - Jesus told Saul that He had "appeared" to him, and that the purpose of this appearance was to make Saul a witness of what he had seen. Note that Saul was a "witness" in the same sense as the other apostles: he was able to tell people that he had personally seen Jesus alive after His death.

Acts 9:17; 22:14,15 - Ananias said Jesus had "appeared" to Saul and God had chosen Saul to see Jesus and hear his voice, so he could be a witness of all that he had seen and heard.

1 Corinthians 9:1 - By rhetorical question, Paul claimed that he was an apostle and (as must be the case for all apostles) that he had seen Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:3-9 - After stating that Jesus had died, been buried, and arose again, Paul lists various people who saw Him after His resurrection. In each case, he says that Jesus was "seen" by these people - Peter, the apostles, etc. At the end of the list he claims that Jesus was "seen" last of all by Paul himself. "Seen" must mean the same in all these cases. Hence, Paul physically saw Jesus alive after His resurrection as surely as these other witnesses did. The purpose was to qualify Paul to be a witness of Jesus' resurrection, just as all apostles must be.

* The men with Saul witnessed the event and heard the voice, but did not see Jesus (since they were not to be eyewitnesses - apostles) - 9:7; 22:9,11; 26:13,14. But their testimony would confirm that the event occurred.

* Saul was struck blind till Ananias came and restored his sight (9:8,9,18; 22:11-13). This too was a miracle to confirm to Saul and others that he had really seen the vision and that Ananias was the one who would tell Saul what he needed to do to be saved.

* The Lord confirmed this event and the purpose of it to Ananias, who gave Paul back his sight - 9:10-18; 22:12-16.

* Saul (as he later became known as the Apostle Paul) repeatedly preached afterward that he had been chosen by the Lord to be an apostle and a witness of the resurrection (22:14,15; 26:16).

The preaching of the apostles and early Christians

The apostles immediately and repeatedly preached that they were eyewitnesses of these events - Acts 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 10:39-41; 13:30-32; 22:14,15; 26:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-8,15. All were persecuted and most gave their lives for this testimony, but none ever withdrew it, denied it, or retracted it.

Note Acts 26:23,26 - Paul preached the resurrection to King Agrippa, then said the king knew about these things, because they were not done in a corner. Events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection were widely known. If the testimony of the apostles could be disproved, it would have been disproved in the first century among the people who knew the facts.


III. The Strength of the Evidence


Consider now how convincing the evidence for the resurrection is.

A. A Summary of the Nature of the Evidence

Note 1 Corinthians 15:14,15 - Paul plainly admitted that, if Jesus is not raised, then the apostles were false witnesses. But if they are true witnesses, then Jesus was raised.

To evaluate the strength of the evidence, consider:

* The number of appearances: More than ten occasions (see the list above)

* The number of witnesses: More than 500 people (see the list above)

* The opportunity of the witnesses to observe Jesus: They saw, heard, and touched Him. They ate with Him. They spent long periods with Him. Some saw Him repeatedly. All this continued for a period of forty days.

* The consistency of the accounts - While some give details that others do not (as would be expected of honest witnesses), the accounts harmonize and support one another, instead of contradicting one another.

* The tone of the testimony - The witnesses were calm, rational, confident, and definite in their statements. They were not excitable, irrational, doubtful, confused, or uncertain.

* The honesty of the witnesses - They were not gullible. They demanded evidence. They had not expected Jesus to die, let alone be raised. When he died, they gave up and had no hope for His resurrection. All of this contradicted their preconceived ideas. Further, note how they admitted their own weaknesses and errors: their desertion of Jesus, Peter's denials, their unbelief of the initial reports, etc. Would dishonest men paint themselves so unfavorably?

* The nature of the witnesses - Most knew Him so well as to identify Him without mistake. Yet they were not expecting to see Him alive again. They demanded much evidence before believing. Paul was an enemy who would never have claimed such an appearance without overwhelming proof.

* The motives of the witnesses - All suffered persecution and most died for their testimony without retracting or compromising. Yet they continued to testify repeatedly, even after they knew they would suffer for doing so. Why do so, if they knew it was a lie?

* The records that have come to us were written by people who had personally witnessed these appearances (Matthew, John, Paul) or who had personally interviewed eyewitnesses (Luke, Mark). They were written while the witnesses were still alive and could be questioned (1 Cor. 15:6).

B. How can the alternative theories fit this evidence?

Did the disciples steal the body?

How did they overpower the guards who had been placed there to prevent this very act?

Why would they invent a story that was so completely contradictory to their expectations? They themselves did not believe the reports when they first heard of them.

The only evidence for this theory was offered by the soldiers who claimed to know what happened while they slept and who, if their testimony was true, ought to have died for it!

How could disciples make the body appear alive to convince all these people they saw Jesus again?

And why were they all willing to die for their testimony, if they knew all along that the whole thing was a lie? Why did none of them ever in any way deny or retract their testimony?

Were the appearances just hallucinations?

Why would so many people see similar hallucinations, many of them at the same time?

Why did they so suddenly stop?

Does the tone of the testimony fit an hallucination? Do they sound gullible?

Does the physical evidence offered fit an hallucination: touching the body, eating, etc.?

Why would the skeptic Saul have such an hallucination?

And if the disciples just saw hallucinations, the body would still be in the tomb. So why didn't the enemies produce the body and disprove the claims of a resurrection?

Did Jesus merely swoon and then later awaken?

Why did so many testify that He was dead?

After all He had been through, how could He appear healthy enough to convince all these people He had been miraculously raised?

And would such a deception fit with His honest and upright character?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once had his hero Sherlock Holmes state: "...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." We have demonstrated the impossibility of all attempts to explain the events following Jesus' death apart from the resurrection. Having eliminated the impossible, the only conclusion that fits the evidence, despite the fact that we have never personally experienced any such thing, is that Jesus really did arise from the dead. Therefore, He must be the Christ, the Son of God, as He claimed. And He in turn has confirmed by His teaching and example that God exists and that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Conclusion

The witnesses have now testified, and you must reach your verdict. Your eternal destiny depends on your decision.

In order to conclude honestly that God does not exist, the Bible is not God's word, and Jesus is not God's Son, here is what you must do:

1. Explain the existence of the universe without God to create it. What reasonable explanation is there?

2. Disprove the eyewitness testimony that God spoke to confirm Jesus to be His Son.

3. Explain the fulfilled prophecies and the testimony of John the Baptist. What explanation can there be, other than the inspiration of God?

4. Disprove the miracles. But even Jesus' enemies in the first century could not do this!

5. Disprove the resurrection. What explanation can you give that harmonizes with the eyewitness testimony?

Compare the evidence in the Bible to the evidence offered for any other religion.

Ask defenders of Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., what reasons they can give why you should accept their religious system as the truth. They may suggest that you try their religion and see if you find it satisfactory. They may express how pleasant, enjoyable, or satisfying you will find their religion. They may appeal to emotions, but not to objective evidence, and especially not to eyewitness testimony. They may suggest that you pray for God to send you a testimony that their religion is true, but there is no objective proof that such a "testimony" is anything more than just a feeling.

But none of them offer evidence such as we have considered for the Bible claims.

* Some worship gods that do not even claim to have created the universe.

* Generally, they do not even suggest as evidence that their prophets gave prophecies that were fulfilled. If you press them for examples, their examples are not verified by eyewitness testimony. Or when their prophets did try to predict the future, they were often wrong (see examples of false prophecy in our study of fulfilled prophecy).

* Generally, they do not suggest as evidence that miracles were done through their prophets. If you press them for examples, anything they come up with will fail to possess the verifiable characteristics of true miracles as in Bible examples.

* And not one of them claims that the founder of their faith arose from the dead. And if they made the claim, they could never substantiate it by eyewitness testimony.

The Bible message is unique among the religions of the world in that it offers objective, verifiable evidence that its message is true: that the God it proclaims is the true God, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that the Bible is the message of that God. No other religious system comes close to offering the kind of evidence offered in the Bible, and most don't even seriously try.

Note that, after concluding that God exists, Jesus is His Son, and the Bible is His word, we simply accept everything else the Bible says as being truth.

A child accepts who his parents are on the basis of faith, based on eyewitness testimony. After accepting this fact, he obeys what his parents tell him because they are his parents. He does not need to re-examine every day who his parents are. He has settled that question. After that he simply needs to know what he should do to have a good relationship with his parents.

Suppose the parents have died and are no longer present, but they have left a written will that states what they want done after they die. The child needs to investigate the will to determine if it is genuine. Did his parents really prepare and leave this statement as a revelation of their will? This is also determined on the basis of evidence, especially the testimony of witnesses. When the child has investigated the evidence and is convinced the will is genuine, he will not question each individual statement in the will. He will not seek loopholes nor continually express doubt about the validity of each statement. If he is convinced these people were his parents and he is convinced this is a genuine statement of their wishes, then he accepts everything in the will as being from his parents. The only question that remains is to examine what the will says to see what the parents revealed there.

In the same way, the Bible gives us evidence that God exists, the Bible is the word of God, and Jesus is the Son of God. When an honest person adequately examines that evidence, he will become convinced that the God of the Bible is the true God and Jesus is His true Son. When He is convinced the Bible is truly a revelation from His Father, he does not question every statement in the Bible to determine whether or not it is true. Rather, by accepting the Bible as being from God, he accepts the whole message and each specific statement in it as being from God (see the passages about inspiration in our introduction). And since he now believes that God is all-wise and perfect, he accepts every statement as being true, simply because it is the will of the perfect God.

From that point on, the only concern of a true believer is to determine what the Bible really says. What message Did God intend to convey in His word? The believer will study to find the true meaning that God revealed in the word. When he understands what the message says, he will seek to believe and obey it, because it is the will of God.

What verdict will you reach? Do you believe God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God? If so, are you obeying it?

Resources

Besides the sources already cited, the following books were especially helpful in preparing this study, and will be helpful to you in further study:

Gospel Argument for God (The), by Kenneth Chumbley
Indestructible Foundations, by Peter Wilson.
Internal Evidences of Christianity, by Homer Hailey.
Introduction to Christian Evidences, by Ferrell Jenkins.
Twilight of Evolution, by Henry M. Morris.

This is part of a complete series of evidences for the major claims of the Bible that God exists, the Bible is God's word, and Jesus is God's Son. To start at the beginning of the series, please go to www.gospelway.com/god/evidences.php.

(C) Copyright 2006 David E. Pratte
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