Part 2 – Answers to Some Basic Questions
As we said in part 1, apologetics is defending Christianity. Skeptics have tried for at least 2,000 years to find ways to discredit the Bible and the concept of God sending His son, Jesus, the messiah to save all those who believe in His name. When Jesus was alive people debated who and what He was, in an effort to discredit Him. Things have not changed. Today we have a continuing flow of charges and attempts to minimize Jesus, one of the recent examples being the book, The DaVinci Code. The book makes many claims that are at odds with Christian teachings. Author Dan Brown’s conspiracy fantasy has Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene and the father of children. The De Vinci code was history mixed with fiction that made fiction appear like real history. This book is a fictional tale and its religious principles are not to be taken seriously.
The Da Vinci code will not be the last attempt to discredit Christianity. Every one of these can be perceived either as a threat or as an opportunity. I would not want to be the one that is trying to discredit God. Consider Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” But these threats are also opportunities. As believers, we must pray to God to provide us with the ability to intelligently and compassionately interact on issues that are often contentious and emotionally charged. We must also pray for the people we are talking with to have open minds and that God would give us the knowledge to counteract the efforts to discredit God or Christianity.
In the next two posts I will try to give you some of that knowledge. But there is so much more that can be learned. I encourage you to learn as much as you can to be prepared to defend your faith.
How do we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead?
People usually start with the resurrection, because for all practical purposes, Christianity rests on that single, history-changing event. The apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 15:14: “ And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” And in verse 17 he adds, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” No resurrection, no Christianity.
Skeptics and scholars have attempted to dismiss the resurrection as a myth designed to make a man bigger than life. Because if you can prove the historical Jesus is just another man, no matter how good, everything in the Bible would quickly unravel.
If you remember from the Revolution series,the book of Acts reveals that the central message of the apostles was the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an event of which they were eye-witnesses. Just a few examples are: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.” – Acts 2:32.
You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:15
“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” – Acts 5:30-32
It is well known fact that people love conspiracies. Was there another shooter on the grassy knoll. Were there aliens in Roswell? There were conspiracy theories long before those examples, including the resurrection. Those conspiracy theories continue to this day. One of the more popular ones is that the apostles stole the body to further their agenda. What makes that unlikely is that the apostles themselves faced extreme executions that could have easily been avoided if they had simply produced the stolen body. It is psychologically unlikely that an entire group of men would stand up to torture and death for the sake of a group fabricated hoax. Others believed the religious leaders of the day stole the body. Those religious groups, namely the Pharisees, who wanted to see Christianity stamped out and would have stopped at nothing to find and produce the body. The young faith could have been easily strangled from the beginning if anyone had been able to produce it. Nobody did.
Scripture makes it clear that the resurrection was a physical and entirely historic event. The apostles take great pains to explain that they were witnesses of the risen Christ, and history provides us with an indisputable fact that no sources, Christian or otherwise, ever disputed: the tomb into which Jesus’ body was laid on Good Friday was empty on Easter morning.
What about all the other claims Jesus made?
In line with the resurrection, was the question of whether Jesus backed up the claims He made. Did they really happen. So let’s look at this for a few moments. One claim that jesus clearly made that He was the son of God. John 3:17 says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus backed up his claims by doing things no regular human being could do. It is historically recorded by eyewitnesses that Jesus changed the weather with his spoken word, walked on water, changed water into wine, instantly healed the blind, the deaf and paralyzed, the leper, cast out demons, created fish and bread to feed thousands, restored a severed ear, cursed a fig tree that produced no fruit, brought the dead back to life and as we just talked about in the previous paragraph rose from the dead himself, after which he appeared before 500 people.
In those times, only men were counted in crowd size estimates, so factoring in women and children, Jesus would have appeared to probably 1,500 to 2,000 people according to actual recorded historical accounts by eyewitnesses. There is no way that many people could have been duped. Those things happened. And that is what separates Jesus from other religious leaders. They have the ability to convince others to follow them. But they cannot defy the laws of physics. They cannot control sickness, disease, the weather, the Laws of Physics and even death itself.
if they were in a storm, they couldn’t change the weather. If they came across blind, deaf or paralyzed people, those people stayed blind, deaf and paralyzed. If they attended a wedding where the wine ran out, water would have to do. If they had only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed 5000, 4990 would have to go hungry. When they came across dead people, those people stayed dead and when they died themselves, they stayed dead.