Author: Benjamin

Can We Be Sure That Jesus Resurrected From The Dead?

Can We Be Sure That Jesus Resurrected From The Dead?

The Resurrection account of Jesus is the most important claim in all of the Christian faith. In fact, the very foundation that holds Christianity to be true lies on this very belief: that Jesus died a human death on the cross but was seen alive three days after. That is why, when many try to prove Christianity false, the resurrection of Jesus is immediately attacked. Some say that we have no reason to believe that the resurrection of Jesus occurred, let alone believe that he even existed. So how can we be sure that Jesus resurrected from the dead? If it were true that the resurrection is a man-made story, then all of Christianity comes crumbling down. However, if the resurrection of Jesus did occur, then it is the greatest event to have ever occurred on Earth that carries with it a very significant implication towards all of humanity.

Arguments Against the Resurrection 

For years the resurrection of Jesus has been attacked by both skeptics and other religions. Atheists say that the resurrection of Jesus is as true as Jesus himself – a false story made up by superstitious men. Some say that Jesus never existed therefore, the resurrection is just an extension of an already created lie in the person of Jesus. However, the attack on whether Jesus did exist is no longer a necessary debate since even Atheist scholars have concluded that it was very certain that Jesus did exist.

Atheist professor, Dr. Bart Ehrman, is a New Testament scholar, who has deeply studied the Gospels. He has concluded that whether we like it or not, Jesus did exist. “Despite the enormous range of opinion, there are several points on which virtually all scholars of antiquity agree. Jesus was a Jewish man, known to be a preacher and teacher, who was crucified (a Roman form of execution) in Jerusalem during the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea.” (Did Jesus Exist? p.12) Although he does not believe that Jesus was God, he does believe, along with many other Atheist scholars that Jesus did exist in the past.

Some religions view Jesus as only a great teacher while other religions deny his life and work entirely. For example, Islam attacks the resurrection claim by stating that Jesus never died, instead he was hidden by Allah.

“And [for] their saying, ‘Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.’ And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (Surah 4.157)

But is the Qur’an stating a truth? It is safe to say that this verse is false due to the overwhelming amounts of evidence we have from external sources from the Bible, ranging from past historians Josephus and Tacitus (whose work dates within 70 years of Jesus’ ascension) to present scholars, both believers and nonbelievers, who are highly respected in their fields.

Why the Resurrection is Important

1. It is proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he performed miracles that would support his claim as not only being sent by God, but more importantly, being one with the father. Many of the religious leaders of that time continued to be skeptical and requested a greater sign that would prove that Jesus was who he claimed to be.

“The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’
Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-22)

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21)

Jesus’ death and resurrection was predicted by himself and would serve as a test to prove who he said he was and what he came to do for all of humanity. During the last 6 months of his ministry, he greatly emphasized the necessity of his death and resurrection. The resurrection was the sign to prove that not only was his ministry divinely appointed, but that he had the power to raise himself from the dead, a power only possessed by God himself.

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(Click Did Jesus claim to be God? to find out!)

2. We are no longer condemned by sin

The resurrection not only proved that Jesus was God, but that salvation has also come to all those who accept God’s free gift. Man has been given God’s forgiveness through the redemptive act of Jesus on the cross. This brought much joy to those who understood this at the time, rejoicing that Jesus, their Redeemer, lived! It was because the very law that condemned them, the law that no man on Earth could ever fulfill, was finally fulfilled in the person of Jesus and nailed, along with our sins, on the cross.

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Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection 

In the Gospel writings, one can sense the great confidence the writers had in sharing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These accounts were presented not as mere stories, but as historical recordings that hold biographical information of their Rabbi and Messiah. Luke opens his Gospel by writing:

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:1-4)

At the very beginning, Luke states the purpose behind his letter. Luke, who was known to be a physician, underwent a careful investigation of the life of Jesus in order to give an “orderly account” to his friend, Theophilus. Why did Luke feel the need to go through all of the work of creating this document? It was so that Luke can provide evidence to rid of whatever doubt Theophilus may have had about Jesus. That’s how important the Gospel was to Luke and his desire for others to know the truth.  The Gospels provide clear information that allows the reader to know the life of Jesus. However, there is another important letter that gives us further support for the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul records this Creed in his first letter to the church of Corinth when he writes, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) This is the formal statement of faith that guides how believers express their faith.

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The passage found in 1 Corinthians 15 holds the most important passage containing historical documentation of Jesus’ death and resurrection:

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Why is this passage so important? It’s because Paul is stating not only the Creed, but that there were over 500 people who saw Jesus crucified, buried, and alive again three days later! Even more, Paul was inviting those who doubted to speak to these witnesses “whom the greater part remain to the present.” It’s like trying to tell the story of the World Trade Center attack to someone who was born after the year 2001 and then encourage them to speak to hundreds of other people who were first-hand eyewitnesses to that very event.

Here are some more reasons why we should believe that Jesus did resurrect:

1. The Empty Tomb

The empty tomb was by far the most obvious yet also greatest evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. However, skeptics say that the tomb was empty because the disciples stole the body at night when no one was around to witness it. There are a number of problems with this belief:
First, the disciples were afraid for their lives. The only disciple who did not hide was John and one man alone could not pull off such a plan that if he could, would have been considered one of the greatest heists in history. Why? Because not only would he have to have the strength of Samson to remove the stone alone, he would have to confront the second problem to this believe which were the Roman guards.

Second, Roman guards were placed to watch the tomb. As soon as Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the stone rolled over, the Roman guards placed a seal on the tomb to make sure all knew that the punishment for breaking the seal was death (Matthew 27). The only thing the Roman guards knew was what they were taught to do since childhood which was fight, defend and kill. It was highly unlikely that the cowardly disciples, fishermen and tax collectors, had the skills to succeed in fighting the elite Roman guards.

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2. The Testimony of the Women

During that time, women were considered second-class citizens whose word did not receive any respect. They were not even allowed to testify in court for that reason. So then why would the Gospel writers include that it was women who found the tomb of Jesus empty? If they wanted to make up a story that would be more believable at the time, why didn’t they say that it was Peter who finally found the courage or John who never left Jesus’ side? The only obvious answer is that the writers were telling the truth when they said that it was the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty and had seen him alive. Since they wanted to give a real and honest account, they wrote down all that happened exactly the way it happened.

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3. The Martyrdom of the Apostles

The night Jesus was arrested, his disciples ran away fearing for their lives. When he was placed on the cross, the only disciple who did not care for his life and stood by his teacher’s feet was John. All of the others were afraid that they would suffer the same fate of their Rabbi. Even after Jesus’ body was removed from the cross and placed in the tomb, his disciples were nowhere to be found. The only ones with the courage to go to visit his tomb were the women.

Surprisingly a few days later, the disciples were then seen in public, preaching with greater authority the words of their teacher. They had come out from hiding in the dark to now being seen during the day, speaking to large groups of people. What could have transformed their fear into boldness in just a short period of time? It was because they had seen their Messiah alive.

1st Century Jewish Roman Historian Josephus records in his book the Antiquities:

“At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned Him to be crucified to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that He was alive.” Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64

The disciples believed that they had seen their Christ alive after being crucified that they continued to dedicate their lives preaching the Gospel even to the point of death. All of the apostles, except John, were killed for not denouncing their faith in Jesus. We can reasonably conclude that the Apostles died for a truth that they believed in with all of their hearts for they had seen, talked to, and walked with the risen Jesus.

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4. The Transformation of James, Jesus’ Brother

James, Jesus’ brother, is an important piece of evidence. We know that he was an apostle who died for his belief that Jesus was and is the Son of God. But if almost all of the apostles died for their belief in Jesus, why is his story any more valuable? It is because James did not believe his brother, Jesus, was who he claimed until after seeing his resurrected body.

John chapter 7, verse 5 records, “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” Even worse, Mark records that James thought that Jesus was “out of His mind.” (Mark 3:21) It is clear that James did not believe in Jesus’ ministry since he was never mentioned as a disciple or one of the many who followed. So what could have changed James’ mind? It was because James saw his brother alive after witnessing his death on the cross! In fact, we see in Acts 1, that James is in the upper room with the rest of his family worshipping Jesus as God. James even refused to deny Jesus as his savior to the point of death by stoning. It appears that the resurrection was the only thing that could have changed James’ mind to the belief that his brother, Jesus, was the Son of God.

Conclusion

It makes it almost impossible not to believe in the resurrection of Jesus with all of the historical documentation and reasonable evidence we have today. As believers, knowing the evidence that supports the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not only vital to our own spiritual lives and the strength of our Christian faith, but also an indispensable part when it comes to sharing the Gospel. If belief in Christianity relies on such an important event, then we should be sure in what we know and how we can best share it with others. The skeptics may never disappear and the attacks may seem to increase over time, but as we continue to study scripture and the surmountable amounts of evidence that can support it, we can speak the words of the Apostle Paul with the same confidence, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) That “Day” which the Apostle speaks of is when we also will be resurrected to eternal life.

Suffering and Evil: The Probability Version (Part II)

Suffering and Evil: The Probability Version (Part II)

Reasonable Faith features the work of philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig and aims to provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious Christian perspective on the most important issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith today.

All credit to Dr. William Lane Craig and Reasonable Faith.

Suffering and Evil: The Logical Problem (Part I)

Suffering and Evil: The Logical Problem (Part I)

Reasonable Faith features the work of philosopher and theologian Dr. William Lane Craig and aims to provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious Christian perspective on the most important issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith today.

All credit to Dr. William Lane Craig and Reasonable Faith.

What is The Euthyphro Dilemma? (William Lane Craig)

What is The Euthyphro Dilemma? (William Lane Craig)

Is God’s standard of morality arbitrary? Special Guest Dr. William Lane Craig joins One Minute Apologist’s Bobby Conway and explains the Euthyphro dilemma, a dilemma posed to people who say that moral value is based in the gods. Watch this exciting episode and grab a copy of Dr. Craig’s new book “On Guard” to learn more about this and other arguments on good and evil.

All credit to the One Minute Apologist and Reasonable Faith.

Faith: What is it really?

Faith: What is it really?

If you have ever had trouble trying to articulate what faith is, this short video gives a great explanation as to what it means to have faith in God.
All credit to Stand to Reason and the Veracity Project.

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?

Why Are Less People Giving The Gospel A Chance?


“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” –Albert Einstein

In Matthew 18, Jesus commands his disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (NKJV, Emphasis added) This command, known as the Great Commission, is to spread the teachings of Jesus to everyone with the hope of providing the same complete joy one receives by realizing their purpose and meaning in life. Unfortunately, this command seems to be more difficult to achieve today not because of the unwillingness of people to share the gospel but rather the unwillingness of people to accept it.

Evangelism today seems much harder than it did in the past. More than ever, the church has seen a greater resistance among people who do not want to give the time to listen to the gospel. Conversations may be harder to establish because as soon as Christianity is mentioned, some dismiss it immediately as if it were complete and utter nonsense. This reason is because of the belief that science and faith are incompatible and that science has proven Christianity false.

Faith through the Christian Lens

When the word “faith” is used to describe one’s belief in the Bible or God, one does not mean that it is the belief of something that lacks existential evidence but rather the total opposite. This faith is founded on evidence that is reasonable and logical. I know that some cannot clearly articulate their reasons and less, some do not have the education to provide a reasonable explanation but that does not mean that no evidence exists to support the Christian faith.

In fact, the Apostle Paul did not preach blind faith but rather taught with reason to those who listened. “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.” (Acts 17:2, 3, emphasis added) In respect to the resurrection, Paul used the accounts of first-hand eye witnesses, of both Christians and non-Christians, to corroborate the resurrection conclusion. In other words, many came to believe in Jesus for the reasons and evidence given to them along with the confirmation of miraculous signs.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge through observation that gives the best explanation for the natural world and events that occur within the natural world. This same systematic approach is taken to make sense of the Bible, more so, the existence of God. Whether it be the explanation for the cosmos or the creation of man, science is actively involved in theology. Amazingly, the great scientific discoveries of today can be used to soundly argue for the existence of a supernatural being and key historical accounts of the New Testament.

Science and Christianity Can Coexist

There is a huge misconception that science and faith are incompatible. Some feel that the Christian faith is no longer needed because science can now explain all natural phenomena and that believers just fill in the gaps with God. (God-of-the-Gaps Article) However, there is a great number of highly-academic scientists and philosophers, respected in their fields, who hold true to the belief that science does not dismiss God. To name but a couple of such people is Dr. John Lennox, mathematician of Oxford University, and Dr. Joel Primack, an American Astro-physicist who co-developed the cold dark matter theory that explains the formation and structure of the universe. These men, along with other brilliant men and women, have dedicated their lives to science and have shown how science has brought light to the necessary belief for God’s existence in order to best explain the birth and development of our natural world.

Albert Einstein, the great mind of the 20th century, said, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” The definition of lame is to be unable to walk normally because of an injury or illness. Without religion, science would lose its ultimate meaning of finding the truth because science can only test what is in the natural world where as the metaphysical would still be a mystery. In fact, the story of science and faith is more complicated to skeptics because scientists cannot escape the question of God. On the other hand, religion receives further light and support when science is involved to help explained the laws that govern our world.

In his book, Stealing from God, Dr. Frank Turek makes a convincingly sound case about how atheists would have to steal from the immaterial world in order to provide some explanation for the material world. Dr. Turek makes reference to Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule in 1953, and his book, The Astonishing Hypothesis, to bring to light a strong belief within the atheist community. “While you may think that you are a conscious, free, rational creature, that’s just an illusion, because you really are no more than a molecular machine. Every thought you have, every decision you make, is the result of chemical and physical processes over which you have no control. God does not exist. You are nothing more than a collection of molecules.” (Turek, 2015) If left alone, materialism cannot explain the beginning of the universe let alone the ability to think or rationale if we are just all molecules in motion. With religion, science receives more validity and value in its explanation while Christian faith benefits by further correlating its truth with the natural world.

Apologetics: Today’s Evangelism

The Apostle Peter wrote in one of his letters that we should “always be prepared to provide a defense to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that is in [us].” (1 Peter 3:15) In this same manner, as believers of the truth, we should always be ready to give a clear explanation as to why we believe what we believe. Experiences and personal testimonies help to strengthen other believers and at best can promote curiosity in others to want to “test the waters.” But the best way to give a proper apologia is by correctly stating the facts.

To effectively evangelize, one should know what they are talking about. Spend some time researching the common misconceptions people have about Christianity and the Bible. Get to know why people find it difficult to accept the Gospel as a true historical account and present them with the reasons that corroborate the validity of the New Testament and why God is the best explanation for the creation of the cosmos. Many of the reasons why people discredit the Gospel is because they have only been presented with a one-sided science that purposely contradicts what the Bible actually teaches. Our job should be to present the truth of scripture and allow the recipient to decide what to do with the evidence provided.

Most important, evangelism should be done with love and patience. Far from a debate, evangelism should be a rich dialogue where the believer can clearly state reasons why they believe the Christian faith to be the true faith and how it perfectly fits in, not only with history and contemporary science, but with their own personal values and lifestyle. The morals that Jesus teaches are those of humbleness and care for our neighbor, teaching that we can all agree are beneficial to all of society.

Conclusion

Science is the means by which we can make sense of the world around us. Through observation and deep study we can separate the truth from what is false. This innate process by which we exercise on a daily basis shows humankind’s insatiable desire to find answers not only about how the world works but the purpose and meaning behind it. Some say that there is no meaning to life, that we are just animals living our part of the life cycle Earth permits us to live. Fortunately for those who hold true to the evidence that anchors the Christian faith, we see that the other side of science points us to something greater, something more beautiful than what the naked eye has ever seen. Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” For the believer it is that faith along with evidence that shows us how to fully experience that mystery who is willing to reveal Himself to us.

Reference:
Turek, Frank. (2015) Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. Colorado Springs, CO: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Why God Is The Best Explanation For The Material World

Why God Is The Best Explanation For The Material World


In 2009, Dr. William Lane Craig, a philosopher and theologian, debated Dr. Lewis Wolpert, a British developmental Biologist, at the Reasonable Faith Tour at the University of Central Florida. During the Q&A, Dr. Craig reasons his belief for the existence of God by using evidence for the beginning of the universe. Dr. Craig argues that the source that created the universe must be timeless, spaceless and immaterial since these were not present before the creation of the universe. Dr. Wolpert sarcastically attempts a counter-argument by creating an imaginary, all-powerful, self-creating computer to refute Dr. Craig’s conclusion drawn by the use of modern scientific evidence.

A portion of the original transcript, Is God a Delusion debate [1]:

DR. WOLPERT: But because there is a beginning doesn’t imply a God.
DR. CRAIG: It does if the first premise is true; that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It logically follows.
DR. WOLPERT: Yeah, but the cause doesn’t have to be God.
DR. CRAIG: Well, remember I gave an argument for thinking that this cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, enormously powerful, and personal.
DR. WOLPERT: I think it is a computer.
DR. CRAIG: Well, computers are designed by people.
DR. WOLPERT: No, no. This is a self-designing computer.
DR. CRAIG: Ah-ha.
MODERATOR: Timeless!
DR. WOLPERT: Timeless!
DR. CRAIG: Well, that is a contradiction in terms.
DR. WOLPERT: Why? What is contradictory about it?
DR. CRAIG: A computer has to function. It takes time.
DR. WOLPERT: No, this is a special computer.
DR. CRAIG: Yeah, but it has to be logically coherent.
DR. WOLPERT: Oh, it is logically coherent.
DR. CRAIG: Yes, you have to be logically coherent.
DR. WOLPERT: Oh, no, this computer is amazing!
DR. CRAIG: No. Besides, it would have to be, as I said, a personal being.
DR. WOLPERT: No.
DR. CRAIG: A computer is a physical object.
DR. WOLPERT: Not this computer, oh no!
DR. CRAIG: OK, see what you are doing is you are actually, what you are calling a computer is really God. A non-physical . . . it is just another word if you rob it of all the attributes that make it a computer. (emphasis added)

For the short clip, follow this link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1DdX0MhnWA

Although Dr. Wolpert was aiming to poke fun of the argument and at the same time try to ridicule Dr. Craig, he fell right into his own making by further proving the qualities needed of the source that created the universe. The moderator then suggests that Dr. Wolpert would have to prove his position, which he responds, “No, I don’t have to prove. I have to admit ignorance.”

The Law of Causality

It is impossible for any logical mind to accept that something materialistic could come into existence without a cause. The law of causality, simply put, states that the existence of all matter is contingent upon another material source. But even besides the understanding of this law, we are all witnesses of the creation of both biotic and abiotic materials around us. New cells derive from preexisting cells. New born babies become fully developed by the physical expression of the genetic information received from two parents, male and female. The formation of dark, nimbostratus clouds will eventually lead to precipitation over wide areas. These are but only a few of the many examples supporting causality.

The Unmoved Mover

It appears to me that the more we increase in knowledge through the discoveries of science, we find ourselves inevitably drawn to a greater source, a greater explanation that best fits the answer to our question of the origin of all matter. I believe this source to be God. Although no one can know God in his complete revelation, we have very good reasons – both direct and indirect – that make it highly plausible for anyone to reasonably accept the existence of an all-powerful being.

One direct example that holds much weight towards the belief of God’s existence is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. In simple terms, the CMBR is the afterglow left behind by the Big Bang. This glow was accidently discovered in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. These scientists detected this radiation on their antenna at Bell labs located in Holmdel, New Jersey. After further study, they discovered that “this afterglow is actually light and heat form the initial explosion. This light is no longer visible because its wavelength has been stretched by the expanding universe to wavelengths slightly shorter than those produced by a microwave oven. But the heat can still be detected.” (Turek, 2004)

Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

What is even more amazing is that even before its accidental discovery, a number of scientists predicted that the existence of this radiation must be present if the Big Bang actually occurred. Once discovered, this evidence, along with others, further strengthened the theory of a universe that is not past-eternal but instead, has a cosmic beginning.

Conclusion

As logical thinkers, we should study the evidence and if proved reasonable, follow it wherever it may lead. Just because a conclusion does not fit my personal expectation or belief, it cannot be made any less valid. Dr. Wolpert is more willing to dismiss the evidence and admit ignorance rather than further investigate with an objective mind to verify the information provided throughout the debate and follow it to its conclusion. This is a clear example of how one, no matter how much proof and reasoning provided, will believe only what they want to believe in order to live the reality that they have created for themselves.

Sources

1. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/debate-transcript-craig-vs-wolpert-2009#section_9
2. Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. 81-82. Print.