Friday, February 12, 2016
The Powerful Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Considerable Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Displayed and Integrated with Secure Proof
By Mike Robinson
Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end. Often had they been faithless and now, while addressing them, He knows that they will all in a few hours forsake Him. Yet He trusts them; He commits His cause to their keeping. And we must love as He loved.1
The first century Church was in crisis at the very beginning. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate had ordered the execution Jesus Christ, and many apostles had run and hid from the authorities. Priests had turned Christ over to the pagan procurator and successfully urged him to crucify Christ. Evangelists and teachers had surrendered their ministry to be derided and disallowed in the city streets as well as in the temple. An air of distress and fear hung over the church.
But something powerful, even colossal, arose to restore the confidence and buoyancy of the New Testament congregation: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The task of the church, in the Christ’s vision, was to preach the good news of redemption to a fallen world as it seeks to make lawful disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus sought to purge sin from His people’s record and reduce wickedness in every corner of the globe through the expanse of the church.
After Christ’s resurrection appearances, the church believed that, in all lands, the first job was to preach the gospel (the death and resurrection of Christ: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and then defend the faith (1Peter 3:15). Yes, Jesus was unlawfully arrested and sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus died. But on the third day Christ arose and this truth wouldn’t be diluted by fright and anxiety. With this offensive posture, the apostolic church would build a robust ark for all those who came to Christ. The resurrection changed everything.
You can see the resurrection effect in the waning movement of the Sadducees (the priests and their sect): people who doubled down on manmade religion and their self-centered traditions. The growth of the church through the resurrection of Christ made the sect of the Sadducees (priestly) obsolete. The opposite of applied resurrection power one can see in many of the current cults (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moonies, etc.), which feel besieged in a hostile world. You can identify the modern-day cultists because they fear society is flowing away from them, and when they complain it’s always an attempt at intra-communal protection because they think everybody outside their world desires their demise.
One of the problems with cultists, the church points, is that they are too static. They try to seal off an ark to ride out the tempest, but they end up shutting themselves in. They cut themselves off from others and the challenge of truth. In contrast, the church is on the move. Christ mounted the wings of resurrection power and His followers run with a risen Savior. Thus, the people of God go on offense and swallow the ungodly domain as it transforms it by the word of God. And the empowering truth of the resurrection is assured and is to be defended (Jude 3).
The world will bring its condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). If they reject us, he accepts us. If they hate us, he loves us. If they imprison us, he sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, he refines us by the fire. If they kill us, he makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in him. And in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous. “And the righteous are bold as a lion.”2
Regarding the Resurrection, there is worldview proof as well as proof by a preponderance of evidence.
I believe Christ is alive because:
· The preponderance of the evidence supports the resurrection
· The Christian worldview is true
· Most significantly, God has revealed His truth to me by His grace through the Word and Spirit
Since a believer and non-believer will assess the evidence differently, under dissimilar presuppositions, this will affect how each assesses the historical evidence. The divergent ways in which men interpret evidence is one reason contending at the worldview level is so crucial. The rational confidence in the truth of a historical account is not always evidentially established. Non-evidential modus does not imply non-rational. In fact, all knowledge can be connected back to one’s ultimate commitments—unargued rational pre-commitments. Thus, there is a direct appeal to the facts as well as the worldview that provides the preconditions necessary for the discovery, examination, analysis, and communication of facts.
Since God is not only real, but necessary, then the scholar who strives to analyze and evaluate the killing of Jesus (or any subject) devoid of a divine foundation understands only in terms of himself. He attempts to comprehend that which is beyond him. This is the case since he is assessing selected infinite features using his finite mind while he is not in a proper epistemic position to discern such truth. God is boundless in His knowledge, but humans are limited creatures who can never provide the infinitely-broad operational features necessarily utilized in all research. One needs God as one’s ground for reason to account for all the implicit features of rational analysis.
Scholars researching the resurrection of Christ should not presume the entitlements of the all-knowing God. Man is fallen. People have sinned. Acquiescing to the actuality of sin is requirement for real conversion—one must repent from sin and trust in Christ. The accurate researcher must consent to his finitude and its limitations. He must understand himself in light of who God is and what He has revealed. Nevertheless, many academics scrap both. Too often writers tackling the subject of Christ and His resurrection approach the subject with naturalistic presuppositions. Naturalism denies the fallen nature of man and effectively makes human reason the controlling authority, the rational zenith used to analyze the truth of God’s word. The positions are then reversed, for the reason that God is then at best an unnecessary idea. He is vulgarly dismissed as a superfluous invasion into naturalism's domain.
Scholarship that ignores God as the foundation for proper enquiry will go in the direction that man’s fallen reason takes him. This scholarship overtly overlooks both finitude and man’s fallen nature as it puts an impossible encumbrance on man's reasoning. Indeed, reason is a necessary but insufficient tool required for historical examination and inquiry. But naturalistic methodology makes it the locus of preeminence. No sane man should speak against human reason inasmuch as one must use it while rebuffing it. But only God provides the necessary a priori conditions for the universal functioning aspects employed in the reasoning process.
The Parameters of Human Reason
Reason is limited by the finitude and sinfulness of mankind. People lack the ontological capacity to understand and experience all the potentialities within the cosmos and there are knowledge and ontic realms he cannot experience at all. His rational ability is inadequate to account for the tools of reason employed to investigate the death of Christ. People cannot understand everything they encounter and know. All the combined minds of humanity throughout all history could not understand complete reality, yet selected scholarship stresses that we should understand God’s word by naturalistic presuppositions. The consequence is an incoherent and unbiblical view of Christ as well as a jaundiced understanding regarding the meaning of His life, death, and resurrection. Their presupposition about the reliability of naturalistic concepts makes it and not revelation their ultimate locus. The logic of these assumptions ends up excluding Christ from a discussion about His own life and death.
In an analysis of Christ’s death, naturalistic assumptions must give way to the foundation of intelligibly: God. Naturalistic thought is principally void of any genuine notion of truth or knowledge. The alternative is a thoroughly scripture-based worldview, which alone provides the universal necessities required for historical exploration and analysis.
*God furnishes all the a priori essentials; the necessary epistemic equipment utilized in all analytical pursuits. God has the ontic attributes of omniscience, immutability, and omnipotence (He has universal range and influence) enabling Him to be the ground for the universal and immutable laws of logic that are utilized in all thought and analysis. Any position that rejects the true God, as the epistemic (knowledge) base, not only leaves an unnerving fissure, but hopelessly fails. Consequently, whatever evidence one discovers must be discerned and processed with the rational implements that arise from Christian theism and the worldview that emanates from God. The true God is the primordial requirement for all investigation, proof, evidence, and analysis. He is the a priori verity condition for the intelligibility of reality. The immaterial, transcendent, and immutable God supplies the indispensable pre-environment for the use of immaterial, transcendent, universal, and immutable laws of logic (law of identity: A = A; law of non-contradiction: A~~A). Atheistic thought, because it rests upon mutable and non-universal ground, cannot furnish the necessary preconditions for the immutable universal laws of logic; therefore it results in futility because of its internal weakness.
Often the Bible uses evidential arguments. For example, when scripture declares in Psalm 19 that the heavens declare the glory of God, it is denoting how God’s glory is manifested in the natural world. It is proven by nature itself. Evidence and proof are everywhere. If you offer an evidential assertion, you should have real evidence to posit such. Equally, there is no amount of evidence that is adequate in and of itself to persuade a non-believer of the truth of Jesus Christ. Prayer must be undertaken and the law and gospel must be presented, but God’s grace is the ultimate lorry for salvation of a soul.
The Assured Resurrection of Jesus
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.36. The continuous defense of the resurrection in front of Roman government officials from Paul to Tertullian was unchallenged by Rome and all ancient historians. No plausible explanation, other than the resurrection, existed or the precise government records could have been employed to refute the Christian claims. 7. Jesus’ tomb was secured and guarded by well-trained Jewish and Roman guards. The tomb had a Roman seal to prevent tampering, with the threat of execution for breaking the seal, yet the tomb was empty. Every ancient historical source that discusses the subject verifies that the tomb was empty.
Gary Habermas concerning the uniqueness of Christ: “The reports of Buddha and Krishna come hundreds of years afterward [after the Resurrection of Christ]. No other major religious founder in ancient times was ever crucified. Further, it cannot be demonstrated that there is even a single pagan resurrection account prior to Jesus, whether mythological or historical.”4The Real Battle Moreover, the real analytical fight is between presuppositions. The Christian presupposes God who raised Christ from the dead and provides all the required preconditions for the laws of logic that allow one to investigate anything, including the resurrection. Atheism is absent an accounting of such a priori truth conditions.
God has never left himself without a witness to men. He witnessed to them through every fact of the universe from the beginning of time. No rational creature can escape this witness. It is the witness of the triune God whose face is before men everywhere and all the time. Even the lost in the hereafter cannot escape the revelation of God. God made man a rational-moral creature. He will always be that. As such he is confronted with God. He is addressed by God. He exists in the relationship of covenant interaction. He is a covenant being. To not know God man would have to destroy himself. He cannot do this. There is no non-being into which man can slip in order to escape God’s face and voice. The mountains will not cover him; Hades will not hide him. Nothing can prevent his being confronted “with him with whom we have to do.” Whenever he sees himself, he sees himself confronted with God.5It makes more sense to believe first century Jewish eyewitnesses than twenty-first century occidental skeptics. Matthew wrote the following, as a witness, two decades after the resurrection of Jesus Christ: But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you” (Matthew 28:5-7).6
Resurrection Evidence Is Magnificent
Evidence is indeed wonderful. The Christian faith has an abundance of evidence to support its claims. In truth, there is nothing but evidence for the God of the Bible. Every star and every atom declares the majesty of God (Psalm 19:1). We see the evidence of God’s fingerprints in every corner of the universe. Mankind discovers the proof and affirms many of the facts that the Bible records and announces. The greatest miracle is the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus Christ is alive! He is the only religious leader in history to rise from the dead. He is the only one who promised a resurrection, and He kept His promise. You can visit the tombs of all the deceased religious leaders and find their remains still in the grave.
Dovtastic shares his visit to Muhammad’s grave: “During my trip this year on Hajj I had the great honor to visit our Prophet Muhammad’s … grave in the Ottoman front portion of the Masjid Al Nabawi. This beautiful masjid holds one million people in Medina and when the grave is open for visitation, 1000s of people are passing through every minute.”8 This man and millions others have seen the occupied grave of Islam’s founder, proving that Muhammad remained dead. You can visit the graves of leaders like Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Muhammad from your computer by watching a video of the gravesite on Youtube. They and all the others died and stayed dead; their occupied tombs attest to it. Jesus, however, is alive. His grave is empty. When people visit His grave it’s vacant.
Jesus said, “All power on earth and heaven has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). No force could have kept Him down. The Romans killed Him, put Him in a cave tomb, and placed huge boulder at a downward angle in front of the cave, pasted Caesar’s seal on the crypt, and posted Roman guards to protect the tomb. They were only trying to prevent the inevitable. Jesus had the power to rise, and nobody could stop Him. God used Christ’s resurrection and His appearances before His disciples, and He used the subsequent preaching of the apostles, to win many of Christ’s enemies to salvation. The Bible tells us that “the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem; and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Scripture also records that some Pharisees converted to Christianity (Acts 15:5).
1. Fuller, Richard. Dictionary of Burning Words by Brilliant Men.
2. John Piper, John. The Passion of Jesus Christ.
3. Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities 18.3.3.
4. Craig, William. God is Good.
5. Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of Faith.
6. Thiede, Peter. Eyewitnesses to Jesus.
7. Flew, Anthony. There is a God.