Friday, April 22, 2011

The Resurrection-- Quick Defense

As a High School teacher, I spend a lot of time around students who have a lot of questions.  In my 10th grade Bible class, we recently spent almost two weeks learning about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and why other theories do not fit the evidence we have.

While in the middle of teaching this to them, I started to think about very quick ways to defend the reality of the Resurrection, in case one does not have the time to explain to someone all of the nuances of the arguments of Gary Habermas, or Mike Licona (Mike Licona has recently written a book on the resurrection that is 718 pages.)  So, if a friend does not want all of the evidence, or like me, you might just have an audience that wants things short and to the point, then here is my attempt at a very quick defense of the Resurrection.  Hopefully this can be like hitting the easy button for the resurrection.

Prophecy-Circumstantial (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Dan 2:44, Mt 12:40, Jn 10:18, Mk 8:31, etc)
There are many different forms of evidence.  The OT prophecies concerning Jesus' death and resurrection, as well as Jesus' own prophecies that he would die and raise again are all forms of circumstantial evidence.  Circumstantial evidence is evidence that is suggestive of a specific thing, but it is not proof of the event itself.

These prophecies suggest that Jesus would die on a cross and live again later.  Again, this does not prove it happened, but it is a building block for the case.

We Know Jesus Died (Mk 15:16-41, Jn 19:1-37, etc) 
Because the Bible is historically reliable, we know that Jesus actually died on the Cross.  He suffered through 39 lashes from a Roman whip, was beaten, forced to carry his cross beam, hung on the cross, stabbed with a spear into the heart.  The Romans were excellent killing machines, they knew when people died and there is no reason to believe Jesus did not die.

Jesus' Tomb was Known (Jn 19:38-42, etc)
Jesus was buried in a place where everyone knew.  He was buried in a rich man's family tomb, sealed in it, and a guard was placed outside.  This is a very important fact, because it means the if Jesus' body was still in the tomb, everyone would know where it was and be able to show it to the people, when the disciples claimed he had risen again.

People Saw Jesus Alive Again After He Died (Jn 20:11-18, Lk 24:34, Jn 21, Mt 28:16-20, 1 Cor 15:3-7, etc.)
The most important thing to remember here, is that the people who claimed to have seen Jesus alive again, were not in the frame of mind to make a story like this up.  The disciples had just seen their Lord executed, and had then hidden for fear of persecution.  These men are not likely to make the story up (because then people just show the body is in the tomb), steal the body (they were afraid already), or hallucinate (hallucinations are not group events).  Instead they experienced something that made them tell everyone that the man who was dead was alive again.

Not only the disciples, but two enemies of the gospel claimed to see Christ as well.  Saul (a persecutor of Christians) claimed to see Christ a couple years later, and James (the unbelieving brother of Christ) claimed to have seen him as well.  The hardest people to convince of any event are the enemies.  To convince Saul and James is very telling evidence.

So, what we know is this.  At point "A" Jesus was alive.  At point "B" Jesus is dead and buried in a known tomb.  At point "C" he is seen alive again, and no one produced his body afterward.

The Resurrection is the only explanation that fits these known events.  The other theories somehow miss on at least one of these points.

Praise the Lord, He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Great Opportunity-- What is Truth?

But doesn’t everyone have different truths?  What if I think one thing is true and you think another thing is true?  Can’t we just believe what we want?
Actually there are two different kinds of truth.  There is subjective truth and objective truth.  Subjective truth is truth inside of me.  It is about preferences.  I prefer chocolate, you prefer strawberry ice cream.
Objective truth is truth outside of ourselves.  It is about the way the world is.  It isn’t about preference, it doesn’t change no matter what anybody thinks about it.  The earth is round even if I pretend or don’t believe it isn’t.
Claims of religions are claims about objective reality.  These claims may be true or false, but they are claims about the real world.  For example, Christianity claims Jesus Christ is God.  Well, he may or may not be God, but this fact doesn’t change based on my like or dislike of him.  Or, Mormonism claims there are many gods, and this does not change based on my preferences either.
Since religions make objective claims about the world, evaluating the evidence for and against each religion becomes very important.  If there is a God who loves you and me and he asks us to live in a certain way, there may not be a more important journey for anyone’s life.  To understand and know the truth is the most important thing in the world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Great Opportunity-- Does God Exist?

As I wrote earlier, I was given the opportunity to write three short blurbs for the Smart Faith Apologetics conference.  I had an amazing time writing these, and have said I would post them here.  The second one is on the question Does God Exist?  Here is my response to that question:
Does God Exist?
I can fully understand why it is hard to know if God exists.  We can’t see, smell, touch, or hear God. This makes it hard for us to be as certain about God’s existence as we are about the existence of our family, friends, or other people.  It may seem that it would take a lot more evidence to believe in the existence of God.
Can I prove God exists?  I don’t think I can prove it with 100% certainty, but I do think I can show it is completely reasonable to believe in God.  In fact, I think I can show it is more reasonable to believe in the existence of God rather than not believe in Him.
Imagine a huge, very complicated Lego castle.  If you were to come across this castle and wanted to know where it came from, what question would you ask?  You would probably ask, “Who built this?”  Castles don’t build themselves.  They are the sort of things that need creators or designers.  In fact, if we destroyed the castle, and put all the pieces in a box, do you think a castle would ever be created without outside influence?  Even if we shook the box, I don’t think a Lego castle will ever be made without a mind/personality creating it on purpose.
The universe is much more complicated than a Lego castle.   If something as comparatively simple as a Lego castle requires a designer, how much more would something as complicated as the universe need a designer?  The universe is designed in just the right way.  All of the laws of physics are arranged perfectly in order to promote the existence of life and the universe.  These laws were designed by something more powerful and bigger than the universe itself.  In other words, God!
Similarly, life is so complicated only God could have created it.  This is because even the most basic forms of life contain a lot (and I mean A LOT) of information.  Even the simplest cell is many times more complicated than our Lego castle.
The existence of morals also suggests the existence of God.  There are certain things that are just wrong.  Murder, rape, and torturing babies are examples of things that are just wrong.  Anyone who commits these acts has broken a moral law.  But laws need lawgivers.  Just as we saw earlier the existence of the laws of physics is best explained by a designer, so also the existence of the laws of morals is best explained by the existence of a lawgiver.  This lawgiver is God.  Only God has the power and knowledge to create these kinds of laws.
These are only three of the many different arguments for the existence of God.  All of these arguments can give us a confidence that it is completely reasonable to believe in the existence of God.