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Evidence for Christianity - The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
What is the best logical reason to explain the evidence?
Jesus was crucified. He died and was buried. Where's the body?
A minimal facts approach uses 'facts' from the New Testament that are acknowledged by a vast majority of scholars (atheist through to conservative).
What did the earliest Christians believe?
(There is very little dispute for the Pauline authorship of 1 Corinthians and Galatians)
1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
When did Paul receive this message of first importance?
Galatians 1 (start at 1:40)
13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)
Paul's fact finding journey to Jersualem was around 35/ 36 AD
The gospel message that Paul received therefore can be dated no later than 36 AD.
In other words, the information we have today is right on top of the actual events.
The 4 E’s or pieces of Evidence agreed by historical scholars.
1. Execution: Jesus died by crucifixion by Roman soldiers.
2. Empty tomb: The tomb was empty. Otherwise, opponents of the resurrection would have shown the body. The tomb was also made secure. Matthew 27:62-63 and Matthew 27:64-65
3. Eye witnesses: The disciples sincerely believed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.
- Jesus appeared to the 12 Apostles & to over five hundred disciples. 1 Corinthians 15:4-6
- The church persecutor Paul converted to Christianity. (Video of Paul's conversion start at 3 min 20 sec. Length 6 min). Acts 9:4-6, Acts 22:6-8, Acts 26:14-15 & Galatians 1:1.
- The skeptic James, the brother of Jesus was converted to Christianity. Mark 3:21 & Galatians 1:19
- The Gospel accounts show that the disciples were surprised by the resurrection. They were not expecting it. They had to be convinced. This is important as it shows they weren’t gullible fools. In the end they were willing to die for this truth. John 20:19 to Acts to Acts 4:1-2: and Acts 4:18-19
4. Early Church: The early church believed that Jesus rose from the dead.
- The resurrection was foundational to the early Christian churches. eg. Corinth, Galatia, Philippi & Rome. 1 Corinthians 15:4, Galatians 1:1, Philippians 3:10 & Romans 1:4
- The early church began as a resurrection movement. They met on the Lord's day or Sunday which is the day of the resurrection. Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2 and Revelation 1:10
The best logical reason to explain the evidence is that Jesus really did rise from the dead
You Tube Videos on Jesus and the resurrection
- John Dickson. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? 3min 20 sec
- John Dickson. The New Atheist's questionable history. 8 min 23 sec
- Gary Habermas. The Case For The Resurrection of Christ. 5 min 58 sec
- Mike Licona. The Resurrection. One Minute Apologist. 2 min 55 sec.
- Gary Habermas. The Resurrection. One Minute Apologist. 2 min 54 sec
- N T Wright - Historical Resurrection of Christ. 2 min 23 sec
- Lee Strobel - Reliability of Christ's Resurrection 7 min 41 sec
- What do you believe happens after death?
- What's your evidence for this belief?
- Do you think that Jesus rose from the dead? Why?
- Do you think that Jesus is the Resurrection and the life? Read his words below.
Jesus said "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
1. Pinchas Lapide, an Orthodox Jewish scholar wrote a book entitled "The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective". He concludes that it is inconsistent for Jews to reject the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. He doesn't however, believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
Discuss Lapede's arguments for the resurrection of Jesus.
- The Romans or Jews would not have stolen the body. Jesus was killed to squash any heresy or rebellion. They certainly didn't kill him to start a new movement.
- The extreme change in the lives of the Apostles. When Jesus was killed they were hiding in fear of the Jews. Afterwards they were boldly preaching that Jesus rose from the dead. They were persecuted, beaten & flogged and put to death.
- The early Christians would not embrace martyrdom for a fraud. This isn't logical.
2. "Your state of existence after death is determined by your beliefs. An atheist ceases to exist, a Buddhist is reincarned, a new age person may become a spirit and a Christian is physically resurrected."
Discuss the above statement using the following questions.
- We live in a pluralistic society where there are many beliefs. Are all views true?
- Does believing in something determine reality?
- What do think happens after death? What's your evidence?
3. William Lane Craig - 'The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus'
October 2011 UK lecture/ tour. 1 hour 33 minute
For those who want to be fully informed of the evidence and the arguments of the resurrection.
William Lane Craig is one of the world's leading Christian apologists.