Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Resurrection

With Easter upon us, I thought it appropriate to again explain the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest evidence we have that Jesus was who He said He was. If this event did indeed happen there can be no other explanation as to how it happened in the way that it did.

First we have the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would be put to death (Daniel 9, Isaiah 53, Zechariah 12, to name a few). Then we have accounts of Jesus Himself telling His disciples before hand that this would happen. This is interesting, because if the disciples had made up this whole thing, then why would they make themselves look so thick. Jesus told them ahead of time, and then afterward, the disciples could not believe it had happened. If someone had made this resurrection story up, they would have put themselves in a better light by at least saying they had faith that Jesus would rise after He died just as He said. However, none of the apostles said this.

Second, the apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 explained how if Christ is not really resurrected from the dead, their preaching is in vain. That is so true. Paul was an accomplished Pharisee. If this was a lie, (which he would have known it was, being a supposed eye witness of the resurrected Jesus) why would Paul give up his career, his devotion to his God, his lifestyle, and ultimately his life to spread this crazy story about a guy who claimed to be God. Thousands of people don't just get up and follow that story, especially when they could be killed for doing it. These were not thousands of weak minded people, they were mostly Jews. Jews are tough and very stubborn. They are devoted to their heritage and culture and don't easily give it up. I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for how the church took form so quickly in the first century under extreme persecution. There is an abundance of historical documentation outside the Bible that the church was growing by the thousands well within the 1st century AD. This documentation also testifies to death of Jesus, and miracles He performed. If, as some skeptics claim, the resurrection account is a mere legend, then the church would not have spread throughout the Roman Empire within 30 years of Christ's resurrection. So the argument that the Gospels are exagerations of what really happened does not hold water, in light of the fact that there was no reason for anyone to become Christian unless the resurrection had indeed happened as recorded in the Gospels.

Some other evidence we can point to includes the fact that the Jews and Romans could have ended this Christian movement by just showing them the dead corpse of Jesus. This never happened obviously. So what then, did the apostles steal the body? Again this does not explain why anyone would believe them. Not to mention they had nothing to gain by making this story up. Thye certainly would not have been able to convince the thousands upon thousands that converted within those first 30 years.

We also have no conflicting accounts of what happened. If indeed the apostles made this stuff up about Jesus healing people, walking on water, and rising from the grave, there would have been people who would have spoke up and denounced what the apostles were saying. We have no such account.

We also see the conversion of skeptics like Paul and James who were not followers of Jesus until after they saw Him resurrected. We also see a change in the apostles behavior after the resurrection. They feared for their lives and ran when Jesus was arrested. After He rose from the grave, the apostles boldly proclaimed the Gospel even after they were arrested and beaten.

The bottom line is that there is no other explanation for the rise of the church and the historical accounts we have other than the fact that the resurrection of Jesus did occur just as it is recorded in the New Testament. This is wonderfully joyful news, and should invoke a response on our part to get serious about our relationship with God through our savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


A good friend pointed out a mistake I have made in my posts and comments. He told me that when I say "Skeptics say," I am implying all skeptics believe this and I am making skepticism seem wrong. I agree with his criticism of me, and will be more careful how I phrase my points. I never intended to lump all skeptics together or imply that all skepticism was wrong.

In fact skepticism is a Biblical principle. The center scripture of this blog; 1st Peter 3:15 is based on having a healthy practice of skepticism, so that you may be able to explain why you believe what you do. The writer of Acts also pointed out the importance of skepticism.
Act 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

The Bereans were skeptical of what Paul was saying and searched the scriptures to make sure he was rightly representing the word of God. It was skepticism that caused me question my own beliefs and see if this Bible stuff had anything to it. It is skepticism that has strengthened my faith as I have sought out answers for all those doubts and questions I have had. I am very skeptical of most so called Bible teachers, because there is a lot of flat out false teaching out there. I am even skeptical of some of my own Pastor's views from time to time.

This skepticism is not based on any great wisdom I have, but on what the Bible actually says. Many people disregard the Bible because so many churches have different interpretations of what it says. However, I have found in most cases where churches diagree on doctrines, the disagreements are not based on an ambiguity in scripture, but in a refusal to accept what the scripture says on the matter. Core doctrines are not open for interpretation, the Bible is clear in almost every case. This is why skepticism is so important. A lack of skepticism in the church causes people to blindly follow leadership that is not representing God's word. The Westborough Baptist Church is an example of this. This heretical church is an agent of hate, not the love of Christ. There are many examples I could cite, but suffice it to say that a lack of honest skepticism in the church has given the church a bad name.

There is a balance however. I also have spoken with individuals who are skeptical just because they refuse to even entertain the possibility they might be wrong about something. Some may even accuse me of this. I admit I have been overly passionate in some discussions I have had about God. I am sure in some cases it was more about my pride than my desire for truth. I have been convicted of this on a couple of occasions, and I admit I was wrong in the tone I took. Believe me I am convinced that the Bible is indeed the word of God. I have many reasons for this. This does not mean I claim to know everything. I know I lack understanding about certain things. However I have experienced God intervening in my life on a daily basis for over 10 years. Because of this and the evidence I see in scripture, I don't believe anything will destroy my faith. I do pledge, however to listen to all points of view with an open mind and an open Bible.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How do We Know God Exists

Many people question the very existance of God because they don't see Him. But we never question the existance of gravity or the wind. We don't see these things but we see what they do. The wind moves the trees, and gravity keeps us from floating away into space. So in that way what do we see God doing?

Well we must begin with the fact that we live in a finite universe. This means that our universe had a beginning and will have an ending. The law of thermodynamics states that all things in our universe are slowing down and decaying or dying. This is strong evidence that space, time, and matter in our universe had a beginning. If the universe was eternal, then things would not be dying. We also see that the universe is expanding out from a central location. This indicates a starting point. Every starting point or beginning requires a cause.

Skeptics will say "Big deal, that just supports the Big Bang theory." No it does not. The Big Bang theory basically says there was some cosmic cell of energy that exploded, and thus all the planets, stars and laws of the universe formed by accident. The first question I have is where did this cosmic cell of energy come from. The second question I have is that this theory violates the universal law of entropy. This law basically says that all things move from order to chaos. However the Big Bang theory reverses that law.

What does this have to do with God? Space, time, and matter are complex things that are held together by laws and ordered systems. We do not observe complex things like these forming by accident. We only see order created out of chaos by an outside intelligence who had a purpose for creating such an order. For example a computer could never have formed without a personal creative designer who had a purpose for it. Yet skeptics attribute much more complex systems such as life, space, time, and matter to a natural accident.

When we look in the mirror and see our eyes, and think about our inner systems such as our immune, digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems, we have to know these things were creatively designed. To attribute the complexity needed for life to exist to a series of accidents and coincedences is in my opinion the greatest folly of mankind. God is that intelligent designer. He has given us all kinds of clues to His existance. Creation is just one evidence. Some may still wonder why we can't see God. God is spirit and sin has blinded us from being able to see Him in spirit. Faith is the only path that will cure our blindness. No I have not seen God physically but I have seen Him working intimately in my life through answered prayers, His word speaking to me in amazing ways and just through amazingly coincedental events in my day to day life. I see now that these events are not coincedences but Godincedences.

You want evidence of God, just look at the complexity of nature and how everything works together. The laws of the universe require us to know there is a God. We are created by God with a purpose. That purpose is revealed to us in the Bible.