Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Evidence for the Resurrection #4 The Verdict To hear this message download our free App at the App Store: The Gathering Connect
Evidence to Convict Romans 1:16-19, Acts 17:31, John 3:18-19
What have we learned this far about evidence for the Resurrection?
- The evidence for the resurrection is backed up by first hand documentation from eyewitnesses and supported by those who were contemporaries of the historic event. This vast array of eye witness accounts have been recorded in the New Testament which has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work of literature, with over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts catalogued, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian.
- No documents from the same time period controvert (deny or refute) these eyewitness accounts: Not Rome, not the Sanhedrin, not historians…no one until “present day” skeptics.
- After the alleged resurrection and subsequent testimonies, James, the half brother of Jesus converted and went on to lead a church in Jerusalem; Thomas (the doubter) believed, and thousands more were converted (Acts 2:41).
- All of the Apostles, and many converts, were active in Christian missionary work until the day they died even among horrible persecutions. All of the Apostles died martyrs deaths save John who was boiled in oil and later died of natural causes. Many other Christian missionaries and martyrs followed.
- The phenomenal growth of the Christian religion from one man with twelve disciples to the largest religion in the world is proof to the resurrection, for without it the religion would have collapsed.
- The same Jesus who allegedly resurrected accurately foretold His death and the number of days before He would rise. He also accurately predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. His life, work and ministry were also foretold in numerous prophecies in the Old Testament as many as 1000 years before His birth. Nearly 300 references to 61 specific prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The odds against one person fulfilling that many prophecies would be beyond all mathematical possibility.
- All established refutations of the resurrection are easily put to rest with the simple logic of facts presented by the eyewitness accounts.
- No dead body was ever discovered although the living body of Jesus was reportedly seen by hundreds over a 40 day period.
We have looked at all of these evidences for the resurrection in the past three studies and still there is more. I would like to add two which no man can deny.
- The millions and millions of testimonies of people throughout the ages who have been changed through faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ and the miraculous circumstances associated with such testimonies. These cannot just be written off as coincidental happenings by the faithless. We who believe know better.
- Lastly, I bear you my own testimony!
The Apostle Paul said that he was not ashamed of the gospel because it reveals the power of God to save everyone who believes on faith (Romans 1:16-17); however, it is true that one who believes must believe on some measure of faith. Clearly the Christian faith is not blind but it must accept the supernatural power of God in miracles. If one denies miracles all-together then one will surely reject the resurrection of Jesus and the whole of the Bible no matter how much evidence is presented. The Apostle reminds such people who suppress the truth that the wrath of God will rightfully come upon them one day because the evidence of God is plain (Romans 1:18-19). According to Paul, a day of reckoning for all will come (Acts 17:31) and the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection will be considered all the proof necessary to convict the unbeliever. The Apostle John echoes this truth in (John 3:18-19) his gospel. The skeptics of the resurrection produce very weak arguments against the resurrection and other miracles of God recorded in the Bible. They deny Christ on pretty shaky ground. Death is the great equalizer of the argument. If a Christian should be wrong then what? We die into nothing and have lived with great hope. If an unbeliever be wrong then all is lost forever: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
I prefer the odds of the Christian, and with Paul I can truly say: “for I am not ashamed!”
Liar, Lunatic or Lord? Mark 8:29, John 11:25, 20:31
Regarding Jesus: His claims of being Messiah, being the only way to God and such proof of His resurrection; all of mankind must come decide on a verdict…the evidence demands it. As C.S. Lewis (British writer, theologian and professor) once wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity)
As apologist Josh McDowell clearly showed in his classic book on evidences for the Christian faith titled: Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Jesus is undeniably a historical figure substantiated as such by more historical manuscripts than any other figure in ancient history. His life and claims are well documented. McDowell says: “Jesus claimed to be God. He did not leave any other options. His claim must be true or false…”But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29) is also asked of us today.” I will also add that Jesus expects us to answer the question He posed to Martha about the resurrection too (John 11:25)… “Do you believe this?” McDowell goes on to illustrate how Jesus was either a Liar and a hypocrite, because he told others not to lie, or He must have been a self-deluded Lunatic who believed He was God and died for His delusion. The only other choice is that He is the Lord God almighty: as stated and proved by the resurrection.
We cannot put Jesus on a shelf as a great moral teacher. That is not a valid option. He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. The evidence of the resurrection is clearly in favor of Jesus being Lord; however, some people reject this clear evidence because of the moral implications involved. It seems that God reminds the world at least twice annually of this decision we must make. At Christmas we are reminded of His reaching out to man in His supernatural birth and at Easter of His promise to those who will receive Him by His supernatural resurrection— and then there is the Bible—that indestructible “legal” document of His grace, mercy and wrath. “And these things have been written so that you will believe…” (John 20:31) Your eternal life or death is in your hands. His verdict is documented (John 3:18-19)…what is yours?