Hundreds and sometimes even a thousand years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem near 1AD, God inspired people to write down His words that would serve as prophecies about the life of this Jesus. This was so that we could know for certain that this Jesus was the promised Messiah, come to save us from the curse of Adam and Eve and to bring us to new life in His Father’s eternal kingdom.
The verses provided here are by no means exhaustive, yet they do represent the most obvious, easiest to recognize and correlate with the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. When we see that these prophecies were made so many years before Jesus, and how many of these were made by others over whom Jesus had no direct control, it becomes plain that this was always God’s plan and purpose and that this Jesus really is the One come to save us from our sins.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:45-47
Pastor Jacob Mueller used these videos during his workshop on Canvassing during the 2015 OAFC Summer Training and wanted to share them with all to see and learn to share.
Session 1: A Second Chance
Session 2: Dead is Dead
Session 3: Buried with Buddha
Session 4: X-Box Atheist
If someone asked you why you believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, what would you say? What if they didn't accept, "I just believe it," for an answer? St. Paul said it this way: "If Christ had not been raised our faith would be in vain" (1 Cor. 15). So this month, I'd like to put some apologetics tools in your hands so that you can share these, or even this article, with your friends or family that have doubts about the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
First note that every claim against the resurrection – whether it be that someone stole it, like the High Priest claimed (Mat. 28:13), or a misplaced tomb, or the infamous "swoon" theory where Jesus didn't really die but only fainted – all of these admit an empty tomb. We have the same evidence; one theory simply tries to avoid Jesus as God and another accepts it. Either way, you have to deal with an empty tomb.
The best theory anyone's come up with for that is mass hallucination, but that can't explain the number of recorded sightings or the interaction they have with him. Even the early Jewish writings against Christians don't claim the body was still in the tomb, but they give naturalistic explanations for the tomb being empty. So we can know for certain, absolutely certain, that the tomb wherein they laid Jesus after the crucifixion was empty beyond a doubt.
We even have an anti-Christian historian in 66 AD who writes that "Jesus' disciples reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah" (Josephus, Antiquities). 2nd Century apologist Justin Martyr claims to have seen Pilate's documents to the emperor about Jesus, but these have not yet been found. Though we have found a stone bearing Pontius Pilate's name in Palestine, proving he really was the governor there. Amazingly, there's also been found a monument in Nazareth where Caesar, likely Tiberius or Claudius, had inscribed in marble the declaration that anyone who violates a grave by moving bodies or breaking stone seals on tombs would be guilty of capital charges and need their own grave. Why Nazareth, do you think? Why graves and stone seals? Further, the very bones of the high priest, Joseph Caiaphas, who condemned Jesus and started the rumor of the disciples stealing the body have been found and unquestionably identified. For a more in depth treatment of this fabulous evidence, see Dr. Paul Maier's book "In the Fullness of Time: a historian looks at Christmas, Easter, and the early church."
All of the above is, of course, circumstantial, and even the circumstantial evidence of non-biblical sources, especially these many non-Christian sources, makes it clear that Jesus truly existed, truly died, and that three days later the tomb was empty.
If a person claims to be rational, they next must go from the circumstantial to seek the testimony of the eyewitnesses. The Apostles and Evangelists claim that they were these eyewitnesses and they record for us and all who will listen exactly what they saw in their Gospels and in their Epistles. They say that they saw the resurrected Jesus with the nail marks in his hands and feet and the spear mark in his side. They say he ate and drank with them, spoke with them, breathed on them, and that he appeared in this resurrected glory to over 500 others, including women – whose testimony was not considered reliable in court, so why say it unless it was true – including his brothers – who at this appearance were converted from doubters to believers who would lay down their life for that belief – and then the Apostle Paul – who was converted from not only doubter but zealous persecutor to one willing to die for what he'd seen. Thus, the evidence really is astounding and solid and so must cause anyone willing to listen to think and really ask what this means if it is true (because it is). Blessed Easter to you all,
Especially in the issue of Creation vs Evolution apologetics, the Christian is faced is one thing before you ever start: why does it even matter? Why should the Christian engage in any apologetic against or with someone who holds a different position? Isn't everyone entitled to their opinion? (asks the relative-worldview commentator). Hasn't science already proven the issue, anyways? (asks the rationalistic-worldview commentator). As Christians, then, we have to realize that God has called us to approach such discussion in a different way than the world around us.
And that's because we, Christians, believe that the Word of God is the inerrant, inspired Word of God as The word from The Only God. Why does that matter so much? Did you know that everything naturalistic science holds about origins is based on non-provable theories and interpretations? Regardless of the circumstantial evidence that may be found (like fossils, ice-layers, visible light and stars, etc...), all of these things are not eye-witnesses and must be interpreted in order to have meaning. They are merely circumstantial evidences, not EYE-WITNESSES. But God claims to be the only eyewitness to the Creation. He claims to have been there, to have been the creator, and he therefore claims the only right to interpret the circumstantial evidence we see today. And he interprets this evidence in his Word: the Bible. Furthermore, this God who claimed to be THE eyewitness to Creation was made man and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth: Jesus Christ. The Apostle John testifies as Jesus taught him, that Jesus was there in the beginning and was the means by which all things were created. His testimony, therefore, must stand as eyewitness - not just circumstantial. And his resurrection proves his authority to do so.
So the Christian's reason for responding according to the Faith of Scripture to those who doubt isn't just the propagation of an institutionalized faith - it's not just to further OUR religion. The Christian gives answer to the objections to the Bible because we desire all men to know the TRUTH, because "the truth will set you free." It's not about blind belief, but about the true and absolute reality of the world around us. God claims to be the only eyewitness, and therefore the only one with real authority to interpret the evidence. His interpretation is therefore the actual, absolute truth about who we are, what has happened in time and history, and also what will come.
That's why, in our apologetics and witnessing, the Word of God must always remain the core and focus of our witness - bolstered by logic, God-fearing science, and history, yes, but always through the lens of the Bible.
And here's why: what standard does a naturalistic scientist have to claim that their circumstantial evidence devalues the Bible? They begin by saying that there is no personal, interactive, miracle-working God, so everything in the Bible about such a God must be false. Therefore everything in nature that might point to such a God must have a different answer - an answer apart from God. Therefore they interpret their circumstantial evidences that way. Another evaluater might saw that they don't have any bias to bring towards the evidence, but even if they only bring their own logical reasoning to bear, Scripture tells us that such reasoning in all people is fallen and corrupted and therefore cannot yield the complete truth. We then must be fully aware of our standards and the reasons we have for those standards and we must recognize from where others - not like us - are coming with their standards and reasons. If we are unsteady on our core, we can soon be swayed another way by some other interpretation of the evidence other than our EYEWITNESS: God.
But let's be clear from the start: you can't argue someone into believing in Jesus. No matter how logical, philosophical, accurate, or persuasive your argument, apart from the Holy Spirit working on a person's heart, no one comes to faith (1 Cor. 2). And the Holy Spirit works through the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). So it's not about breaking someone down, or winning a debate, but apologetics is about the groundwork for the Word. If someone knows THAT the Bible says something but doesn't believe the authority of the Bible to command or speak on that subject, we have to talk about why someone should trust the Bible in the first place so that a person will listen (Acts 17). We have to live the Bible ourselves so that people will see its power to change lives (1 Pet. 2). We have to confess our sins to one another that others may see that this stuff is for real (1 Jn 1, Jas 5). All of this is simply laying the groundwork so that a person will receive the Word when it is spoken. That's apologetics.
So in the days to come, we'll post questions and answers to tough questions that have been raised about the Bible and the Church and Christ in order that you may be equipped every day at any moment to give a reason for the hope that is within you with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 2). So bookmark this page, like it, follow it, and even submit some questions of your own. It may take time, but we'll try to give a solid, yet simple, answer for each one.
I also encourage you to check out some great resources on apologetics. CPH has a great one "Making the Case for Christianity," and Dr. Paul Maier has a fabulous one titled "In the Fullness of Time: a historian looks at Christmas, Easter, and the Early Church." There are many others out there. Go check 'em out.
The Apostle Peter wrote, "Be prepared to give a defense [literally, an apologetic] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Every Christian needs to be prepared with a defense against the objections and attacks against the Faith. Here, we'll continue to add resources for your witness. So check back every so often for more.