Some people are content to follow the teachings of someone who lived long ago, but who has been long dead –whose body decayed in the tomb. Other people, who say they believe in Jesus, dismiss the evidence for his bodily resurrection and speak of a ‘spiritual resurrection’, a concept which is so vague and destitute of evidence as to amount to virtual unbelief.
What do the New Testament Scriptures say? When we examine the historical accounts and the writings of the early believers, they could hardly be clearer in their support of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote when explaining the importance of the resurrection of the dead, as the true Christian hope:
“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).
He then lists those who saw the risen Christ, naming many of the individuals and adding that once Jesus was seen by more than 500 believers at one time. Then comes the crucial point, for he
“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all
men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
The gospels give detailed accounts of those eyewitness contacts and what happened was right at the centre of the message that they later preached. Here is the apostle Peter's recollection of the events: “We are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead” (Acts 10:39-41).
From time to time articles in this magazine focus on the reality of Christ’s resurrection and the powerful reasons for believing in it. Two points will have to suffice here:
1. Had there been a corpse to produce, there were plenty who would have dearly loved to have produced it, so as to completely destroy the claim that he had risen from the dead.
2. If it had not really happened, could we seriously expect the Apostles to have undergone the trials and persecutions that later befell them? Would they have hazarded their lives, preaching about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as it is quite evident they did, if they knew it was all a hoax? Of course not!
The followers of Jesus had been frightened and cowed. When Jesus was executed, they did not know what to do or what to believe. They had lost their faith. As Jesus said to them, they were “foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe” (Luke 24:25). But these same people became fearless preachers of the Gospel. Nothing could stop them preaching about their Risen Lord. How can that be explained other than by their complete conviction that their Master had been raised from the dead?
Jesus Christ is the paramount witness to the truth of the Bible. He is at the heart of both Old and New Testaments. If he has been raised from the dead, and to immortal life at that, as the apostles believed and taught, then his witness is totally vindicated. His reverence for the Old Testament Scriptures – as being his Father's Word. His use of those Scriptures in his teaching, and their detailed predictions about him, all point to the need to believe the Bible in its entirety if we are to be true followers of Christ. What’s more, if Christ’s life, death and resurrection were all accurate fulfilments of Old Testament prophecy, shouldn’t we also take careful notice of all those passages, in both the Old and New Testaments, which predict his Second Coming to this earth?
Jesus Christ then is the cornerstone of belief in the Bible. The fact that he lived and died is not in question. And if we accept the factual evidence about his resurrection, then we should also accept the authority and accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures which Jesus himself so clearly endorsed.
Human Nature Appraised
Another reason why I find the Bible so believable is the realistic way in which it appraises human nature. From beginning to end it maintains a consistent view of the human condition and of human behaviour. Men and women are shown, not only to be mortal creatures, but to have moral weaknesses. Human beings have remarkable powers of reason and conscience, but they are also seen to be susceptible to the desire to please themselves and consequently are vulnerable to self-indulgence and pride. Ingrained in men and women is the preference for doing what they want to do rather than what God wants them to do, even when they are aware of God’s wishes.
The prophet Jeremiah recorded that the human heart is deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
The Apostle John wrote that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). And the Lord Jesus Christ named the evil thoughts and acts which proceed from the human heart and exert such a defiling influence upon our race (Mark 7:21-23).
Which of us can deny that this is an accurate assessment of our natural tendencies, that it has a disconcerting ring of truth? Furthermore, would human authors, left to themselves, have produced this consistent and detracting picture of the moral condition of the human race? Is this an insight that people would want to leave on record, even if they could? To create such a record required a superior mind – the mind of God Himself.
Allied to this is the Bible’s realism about the destiny of mankind. The human dream of continual progress, ever onward and upward, is a hollow optimism that, from our observation of world events and problems, we know in our heart of hearts is ill-founded. And the Bible does not share it. The Bible’s view of mankind’s destiny is one of decline into crisis: a crisis of such gravity that only the direct intervention of God in sending Christ back to the earth will rescue the human race.
The prophet Daniel predicted “a time of trouble such as never was”. Jesus himself forecast a time when men’s hearts would fail them for fear as they contemplated what was coming on earth (Daniel 12:1 and Luke 21:25-27).
When we consider the world issues that hang in the balance and threaten us today, the prediction of Jesus, which is almost 2000 years old, has remarkable credibility. Nobody could have seen that far into the future without the insight that God alone can give.
What is so important is that the Bible offers a solution. It gives us a real message of hope and encouragement. It promises a new world order – the Kingdom of God on earth under the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the guarantee that this will happen is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. See how the message of the Bible hangs together. It's a unique book. It could not have been written solely by man. It must be a reflection of the mind of God. That's why I believe the Bible is the Word of God.
- Mark Sawyer
Divine and Human
Divine Inspiration then in no way sets aside human authorship.The surrounding, the calling, the experience and the faculties ofthe various writers, all have a part in the form and substance of what they wrote. Their character as well as their style comes out in their narratives and records. The Spirit of God, making use of those qualities so operated in the writers that the words they use are truly their own, yet at the same time they are "God- breathed". It is this that imparts Divine authority and accuracy to their records.
- W.A. Vine The Divine Authority of the Bible
This article originally appeared in the Glad Tidings Magazine. To read the current issue and/or order your free subscription go to their website: https://gladtidingsmagazine.org/