“Many Convincing Proofs”

Is it just wishful thinking—the belief that Jesus did indeed rise bodily from the dead?

Or is there good, solid evidence for it?

Luke says of the apostles, “To these He presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days . . .” (Acts 1:3).

Among the proofs were these:

  1. He suddenly appeared to them behind closed doors (John 20:19).
  2. His showed them the scars of His crucifixion (Luke 24:36-40; John 20:20).
  3. He invited them to touch Him (Luke 24:39; John 20:24-29).
  4. He ate in their presence to prove He was no apparition (Luke 24:36-38, 41-43).
  5. He enabled Peter and his companions to net a huge catch of fish, which no doubt reminded them of a similar miracle during His ministry (John 21:1-11; Luke 5:4-11).
  6. He predicted they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days, which happened just as He said (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8).
  7. Finally, they watched in awe as He ascended out of their sight into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11).

What changed their minds

Jesus made these appearances not only in Jerusalem but also in Galilee where He had told them to meet Him (Matthew 28:10, 16-17).

One more thing: The apostles were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. When others told them they had seen the risen Lord, they didn’t believe it (Mark 16:9-14; John 20:24-25).

It was the “many convincing proofs” that made true believers of them.

Seeing Him changed everything.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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How Would You Answer?

Yesterday a friend asked how I would respond if someone said he did not believe that the Bible is inspired.

This is what I told him:

If the person is open to the truth, I would first prove that Jesus rose from the dead.

“Nothing is more crucial in the field of Christian evidences than the question of the divinity of Christ. Nothing is more crucial in establishing the divinity of Christ than His resurrection from the dead” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, I Believe Because . . ., p. 223).

“If our Lord said frequently . . . that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then . . . everything else our Lord ever said must also be true” (Wilbur M. Smith, Therefore, Stand, p. 419).

His resurrection validates all He claimed to be. It also validates all He said.

Jesus taught that the Scriptures are indeed God’s word and therefore authoritative, including the message of the apostles (Matthew 4:1-11; 10:1-4, 18-20; 15:3-9; John 10:35; 14-25-26; 16:12-23; 17:17).

H. C. G. Moule said it well: “Jesus Christ absolutely trusted the Bible, and though there are in it things inexplicable and intricate that have puzzled me much, I am going to trust the Book, not in a blind sense, but reverently, because of him” (quoted in Handley Carr Glynn Moule, Bishop of Durham: A Biography by J. B. Harford and F. C. MacDonald, p. 138).

It’s only logical.

Everything hinges on His resurrection.

If He did not rise, then we can dismiss Him as a deluded religious fanatic at best, or at worst a deliberate fraud.

In either case, we could not say, as so many do, that He was a good man or a great teacher, but not the Son of God.

But if He did rise, then our only logical recourse is to admit He truly is God’s Son (Romans 1:4).

And then take the next step: submitting to Him as our Savior and Lord.

It only makes sense.

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What if Jesus Were Not Raised?

The big claim of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion.

That’s a pretty tall claim! Can it be supported? Disproved?

First Corinthians 15 is called the Resurrection Chapter. Paul wrote it to counter the teaching of some who asserted there is no such thing as resurrection (v. 12).

How does Paul prove his case?

He cites a half dozen instances of Jesus’ appearances following His resurrection, including one to more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time!

Paul’s list can be supplemented with additional resurrection appearances recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John at the end of their respective Gospel accounts.

Then Paul does something very interesting. He says, “What if . . .?”

If Jesus had not been raised . . . .

  • The apostles’ preaching would be in vain (v. 14).
  • That would make the apostles false witnesses (v. 15).
  • The faith of Christians would be of no benefit to them (vv. 14, 17).
  • Christians are not forgiven of their sins as they thought they were (v. 17).
  • Christians who have died are lost (v. 18).
  • Christians would be objects of pity, since their hope is groundless (v. 19).

And so . . . .

If Jesus’ resurrection is removed from the Christian faith, the whole thing collapses in a heap!

But if Jesus did indeed emerge alive from the tomb, His resurrection supports and validates the entire Christian faith.

Believe it!

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In Spite of Their Best Efforts

“The best-laid schemes . . . .”

Soon after Jesus died, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to secure the tomb so His disciples could not steal His body and then proclaim He had risen from the dead.

“You have a guard;” Pilate said, “make it as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:65).

So they did.

Even so, on Sunday morning the stone covering the entrance was rolled back, and the tomb was empty.

The authorities then bribed the soldiers to say the disciples had stolen the body while they slept. Really?!

What really happened

Early Sunday morning there was a major earthquake. An angel whose “appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow” rolled back the stone.

“The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4).

So what are we to make of all this?

Human efforts are no match for God. That Jesus would rise had been prophesied a thousand years before (Psalm 16:8-11; Acts 2:24-31; 13:35-37).

Jesus Himself had repeatedly said He would rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:9; 20:18-19; 26:32; John 2:19).

Nothing could prevent it. Nothing!

Aren’t you glad?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Two Thomases

Last Tuesday evening I heard C. L. Thomas speak. Thomas is an apologist—someone who provides a reasoned defense for faith.

His topic was “What is Significant about the Christian Worldview?”

It was obvious he had done his homework. He gave compelling reasons why the worldview espoused by Christians best fits reality.

His presentation was anything but a dry recitation of evidence. He was obviously passionate about his message, and it clearly resonated with his audience of mostly university students.

Convinced by the evidence

I’m reminded of another Thomas, the apostle who was absent the evening Jesus appeared to His disciples after rising from the dead.

Later, when the other ten apostles told Thomas they had seen Jesus alive, he refused to believe it.

One week later Jesus appeared once again, and this time Thomas was present.

When Jesus invited him to touch the scars in his hands and side, Thomas could only exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

He, along with the other apostles, became lifelong apologists for the risen Christ. They all were threatened by the authorities for preaching the resurrected Christ. They were imprisoned, they were beaten, and many of them paid for their testimony with their blood.

The evidence still stands

Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29).

No, we didn’t see what they saw, but because of their powerful eyewitness testimony, recorded in Scripture, we can believe exactly what they did—“that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing . . . have life in His name” (John 20: 30-31).

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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A Unified Whole

Scripture cross-referencing

It’s fascinating the way one passage in the Bible refers to another. For example, God encouraged Joshua, Moses’ successor, to give attention to what Moses had written (Joshua 1:7-8).

Centuries later, King Josiah listened as Moses’ writings were read (2 Chronicles 34:14ff.). And Daniel consulted the book of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2).

In response to Satan’s temptations Jesus cited three passages from Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:1-11). In visiting His hometown synagogue Jesus took the scroll and read from Isaiah where His ministry was prophesied by Isaiah some seven centuries before (Luke 4:16-21; see Luke 24:25-27, 44-47).

As an Ethiopian court official was returning home from Jerusalem, he was reading from Isaiah 53. God sent Philip the evangelist to meet up with him, “and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:26-35).

The Gospel of Matthew cites passage after passage from the Old Testament, as do Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews.

What’s especially interesting is that we also find references in the New Testament to other parts of the New Testament. Peter refers to the letters of Paul as Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).

In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul is apparently quoting from both the Old Testament and a book in the New Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4; Matthew 10:10 or Luke 10:7) and refers to both as Scripture.

So what’s the point?

Why all this cross-referencing? God’s word, written over many centuries, is a mosaic. Each part contributes to the Big Picture. In His sovereign wisdom God was directing the whole process of revealing and preserving His word for us.

The Holy Spirit empowered the forty or so authors of the Bible to write what God intended (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Therefore what we have is a unified whole and is God’s inspired word to us today.

If the Bible is simply a collection of human documents, then how can all this remarkable interconnectedness be explained?

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See for Yourself!

Check it out!

The Bible encourages seekers to investigate the evidence for the Christian faith (Luke 1:1-4; 24:36-43; John 1:45-51; 4:28-30, 39-42; 20:19-21; Acts 17:9-11; 1 Peter 3:15).

How does someone go about examining the claims of Scripture?

Some areas worth investigating would include: how the Bible came into being, biblical archaeology, fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, the miracles of Christ, evidences for Jesus’ resurrection, including the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, etc.

How do you explain . . . ?

At one time Saul of Tarsus was the church’s chief antagonist, but then became its leading proponent.

What could have led him to make such a complete turnaround? For the answer, please consider his dramatic conversion story, as recorded in Acts 9, 22, and 26.

Paul is well qualified to testify. He has been there—on both sides. He was totally convinced that his new-found faith was well worth suffering for, even dying for.

In addition, there is his tremendous influence, even down to our day: “No single event, apart from the Christ-event itself, has proved so determinant for the course of Christian history as the conversion and commissioning of Paul” (F. F. Bruce, Apostle of the Heart Set Free, Eerdmans, p. 75).

Credible faith

As the last stanza of the hymn “Art Thou Weary?” so beautifully states it:

Finding Him, and foll’wing, keeping,/ Is He sure to bless?

Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,/ Answer, “‘Yes!’”

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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