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It has been rightly said that ‘The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best attested fact in history’. The calendar that we use testifies to his birth, but without his life and his teachings and his resurrection from the dead his birth would have passed unknown.
As we have no living witnesses, the question really comes down to ‘can we believe what the Bible says about Jesus?’
The Bible is a collection of writings written over some 2000 years, claiming (and demonstrating) divine inspiration, which has as its main theme: -
1. God made the earth to fill it with his glory in the form of men and women made in his image and having the divine nature.
2. The first man Adam disobeyed God, falling short of his glory, and brought sin and death upon his offspring. This why we all die.
3. Jesus obeyed God perfectly, demonstrating his glory, gave his life to redeem those who would believe and obey the gospel and was raised from the dead to eternal life by God to prove that he was indeed God’s promised saviour.
4. Jesus is currently alive in heaven awaiting the day when God has promised to send him back to the earth to raise those that believe and obey him from the dead to eternal life.
5. In this way the earth will finally be filled with the glory of God and his purpose will be fulfilled.
Numbers 14:21 "but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD—
According to the New Testament writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter and Jude; some 8 witnesses; Jesus lived a sinless life, performed miracles by the power of God, was judicially murdered and was resurrected by God to eternal life. This amounts to more testimony to the existence of Jesus as an historical fact than for any other person in ancient history. The writers go to great pains to assure us of their accuracy and truthfulness.
Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
2 Peter 1:15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
The existence of Muhammad is attested by the religion of Islam. That he really existed is not doubted.
The existence of Jesus is attested by the religion of Christianity. There is no doubt that Jesus existed.
The other testimony to Jesus is the Old Testament. There are numerous prophecies concerning his first and second advents, so the Old Testament writers also testify to his coming. The New Testament writers draw our attention to them. The prophecies are so detailed that they carry the mark of divine inspiration.
As an example, read Psalm 22 and compare it with the crucifixion accounts in Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; and John 19.
There was no collusion between the Jewish custodians of the Old Testament and the writers of the New Testament because they did not accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. Because they would not accept him they fulfilled their own scriptures by rejecting him and having him crucified as Psalm 22 predicts.
Another witness to Jesus’ existence is his recorded prophecies.
Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, 6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Luke 21:20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
We know the prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. Jerusalem was besieged and the Temple destroyed in AD70. There is not left one single stone of the Temple on top of another. After almost 2000 years of dispersion among all nations, our generation has seen Israel restored as a nation in 1948 and back in control of Jerusalem in 1967. What follows in the prophecy is the return of Jesus from heaven.
Luke 21:25 "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 "men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. 27 "Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
The first part of the prophecy has been fulfilled and it is reasonable to expect the rest will follow. Familiarity with the Bible is able to convince us that it is indeed the word of God, written by inspiration.
2 Timothy 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible in reality stands or falls on its claim to be the truth from beginning to end. There is no other book extant which claims to be the inspired word of God. There is no other man other than Jesus of whom it is said anywhere:
John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
Acts 4:12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 17:30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 "because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
The resurrection of Christ to eternal life is the foundation stone of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
If Jesus is not true then there is no resurrection of the dead and we live this life with no point and no hope. God has given ample testimony – 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament – to his offer of eternal life by belief in Jesus Christ. We have it available in our own language to read for ourselves. It is well worth our while to examine it for ourselves.
Mark 16:15 And He (Jesus) said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved...