CHRISTIAN EVIDENCES

Psalm 14:1 "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God"

All articles are written in the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

The Miracles of Jesus

 

In our last lesson we noticed that the New Testament was written in the first century, AD, and that the writers must have been honest men. They wrote as eye witnesses of Jesus Christ, for some of the writers were among those who walked and talked with Him.

1 John 1:1-3 “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.”

If evidence can prove that Jesus actually worked miracles as these men testified, we may know that we can trust their testimony and that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

The chief purpose of Christ's miracles was to produce faith in Him as the Son of God. His miracles might well be called His credentials. Jesus Himself realized this for He once healed a lame man and said, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" --He said to the paralytic, 11 I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." ( Mark 2:10-11 ) . The Apostle John understood the value of miracles as proof of the divinity of Christ, when he wrote: John 20:30-31 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Since the purpose of miracles was to prove the divinity of Christ, it is nothing but fair that we investigate them in our study of evidences.

It will not be necessary in this study to consider every miracle which Jesus worked. If we can show that He worked the hardest one of all, we conclude that he must have been able to work the easier ones (if such things as miracles can be rated easy vs. hard? However, I believe you will get the point!). What was the greatest miracle of Jesus? What was the one thing which He did above everything else that proved Him to be the Son of God? Without a doubt, His greatest miracle must have been His resurrection from the dead. If a man arises from the dead without help from others, by God's power, He must be the Son of God. This is not only our own personal conclusion, but it agrees with the scriptures. More emphasis is placed on the resurrection of Christ than any of His miracles.

Romans 1:4 “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Acts 17:31 “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."

1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”

1 Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

These and many other similar passages show that the resurrection of Christ is the greatest of all proofs of the Christian religion.

In addition to the evidence of the honesty of the eye witnesses and writers of the New Testament, the following points are worthy of consideration:

•  The facts of the four Gospel records are too much in agreement for us to believe that the writers made up the story of Christ's resurrection independent of each other.

•  While the preceding statement is true, it is also true that there is individuality in each record which shows that the writers did not work with a planned story before them.

•  Each of the four accounts bears specific testimony to show that it was written by an eye witness. The writers had first-hand information of the things they wrote.

•  The writers show naturalness and simplicity in their records. They made no attempts to color their stories, but merely stated the facts as they happened.

•  The records of the resurrection of Christ are presented with such accidental details as would show they were true happenings and not mere inventions. An example of this is seen in the fact that after Jesus arose, some of those to whom He appeared did not recognize Him ( Luke 24:16; John 21:4 ). It is very probable that an invented story of the resurrection of Jesus would record this in the opposite way by showing that all recognized Him. This difference in details shows that the story was not invented.

•  While Jesus is presented as having appeared to His followers on several occasions after His resurrection, it is significant that He did not to His enemies. The human way would have been to appear to His enemies and convince them that He was the Son of God. The fact that Christ did differently is evidence that the writers were not inventing the story, but they were only recording the facts as they actually happened.

In view of the above evidences of honesty on the part of the writers, we must conclude that what they wrote is true and that Jesus did arise from the dead. However, added to these things is the evidence of the empty tomb? We are told from the New Testament that the women went to the tomb on the morning of the third day, only to find it empty. Skeptics have made several attempts to account for the empty tomb of Christ. Let's notice a few of these attempts and the folly of them:

•  It has been claimed that Jesus did not actually die, but was still alive and able to roll away the stone Himself. However, John recorded that while Christ was on the cross the soldiers found Him to be, “ already dead John 19:33 . In addition both Joseph of Armathea and Nicodemus who was a ruler of the Jews ( John 3:1 ), had spent time preparing the body for burial in the custom of the Jews ( John 19:38 -42 ). The fact is that He was dead.

•  A second attempt to account for the resurrection without admitting it to be a fact is to claim that the body of Christ was stolen. This story is almost as old as the resurrection itself. A few observations will show this to be impossible. There were only two groups who could have stolen the body of Christ. They were either His enemies or His friends. His enemies would not have done it, for there was no reason for their doing such a thing. The chief priests and the Pharisees were more concerned that the body would be stolen and the claim made that He had risen from the grave as He had said it would be. So they persuaded Pilate to have the tomb guarded in order to prevent just this kind of thing from happening ( Matthew 27:62-66 ). However, had they stolen the body themselves, they could have presented it later when the Apostles preached the resurrection of Christ. His friends could not have stolen the body, because of the Roman guards that were placed at the tomb to prevent this very thing from happening. Since the enemies of Christ would not steal the body and since the friends of Christ could not do it, we conclude His body was not stolen.

•  It has been claimed that the story of the resurrection was an invented story. If it were, the Jews could have presented His dead body as proof, for they knew where He was buried. However, since they did not, we conclude they could not. It is also worth while to consider the Apostle Paul as he gives a defense of His testimony on behalf of Christ before King Agrippa. In the later part of his testimony of his post-conversion life, he says, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come-- 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." ( Acts 26:22-23 ). It was at this point that the Proconsul of Rome (Festus) proclaimed that much learning had driven Paul mad. However, Paul quickly produced evidence to the contrary by using Herod's knowledge of the events in question, note: But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. ( Acts 26:25-26 ). Had the resurrection of the Savior been an invented story, Herod would have claimed it a fable and been done with Paul. Instead he could not and we must conclude that even the enemies of Christ knew of His resurrection.

•  Some have suggested that the resurrection of Christ was only a vision or dream. However, there were too many witnesses of His resurrection to call it a dream. At one appearance to His chosen disciples He had them touch Him and when they still didn't believe that it was real, He ate with them ( Luke 24:36-43 ).

•  Another effort to account for the resurrection is to say that the body of Jesus did not rise, but only His influence or spirit in the lives of His disciples. However, this does not account for the empty tomb or the eye witnesses, which is evidence of a risen body.

Our last argument in favor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is that if the monuments which stand to testify to this fact. With us today are five such monuments. One is the church . The fact that this institution has survived all blows of its enemies and is still in the world is evidence to the truth of its foundation, which is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:10-11 “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

This is also true of the Bible , as the second great monument. It too has stood the trials and tests of twenty centuries and is today testifying to the Lord's resurrection.

The first day of the week was the day on which Christ arose. Thus on this day the followers of Christ eat the Lord's Supper . In the Lord's Day of resurrection and the Lord's Supper, we see two other monuments. 1 Corinthians 11:26 “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”

The last great monument is water baptism , in which we see a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Romans 6:3-5 “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,”

What could be more fitting and truer picture of the resurrection of Christ than water baptism? This is one reason why baptism must be a burial, or immersion, in water, for any other mode of baptism would kill and destroy this comparison. In addition, baptism finds its power to save in the resurrection of Christ, note:

1 Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ,”

We now come to the close of our lesson. Our faith in the miracles of Christ as recorded in the New Testament rests upon the evidence of His bodily resurrection; the honesty of the writers, the evidence presented, and the lasting monuments which all testify to the truthfulness of this great event of history. If we did not have the other types of evidence which we have already studied, such as science, archaeology, prophecy, etc., this one fact should be enough to make a Christian out of every honest person who will study the evidence here presented.

 

In the next lesson we will talk about the character of the Christ as a man and how that in and of itself is evidence to His Deity.

 

Next: “Jesus Christ, The Most Outstanding Man