I have been troubled over the last few weeks as multiple Christian leaders have renounced their faith. These things have grieved me because I care about their eternal soul as well as their influence on the body of Christ. As each leader shared reasons for their decision to renounce Christianity, they focused on why a good God would allow pain and suffering in the world, how a good God could send people to hell, and questions about apparently unanswered prayers. Each leader essentially concluded that we are all on a journey and they didn’t fit into the box of Christianity because they didn’t have answers to some of these questions.
First, let me say, I’m praying for both leaders and I’m not judging the motives of their hearts as to why they are questioning Christianity. In a lot of ways, I get where they are coming from. When I was 12, I saw a paralyzed woman supernaturally healed and get out of a wheelchair and I still had a lot of hard questions about Christianity. And over 25 years later I still have questions I don’t have answers to. With that said, I want to share something the Lord showed me years ago that changed my life and anchored me in my faith in Jesus.
The most important thing the Lord has ever shown me about Christianity is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The reality is for all our questions about the Christian faith, there is only one question on which Christianity hangs:
Was Jesus raised from dead?
There are merits to discussing why a good God would allow suffering, send sinners to hell, the scientific evidence for evolution, the age of the earth and so on, however, these are not the central question to determine if there is a God and if Jesus is his son. These questions though important, can essentially distract us from the main issue:
Was Jesus raised from the dead and if so, what is the evidence?
Secular (non-Christian) historians verify the fact that Jesus lived, was crucified publicly, and 3 days later his tomb was empty. Two of the most famous are a Roman historian named Tacitus and a Jewish historian named Josephus. It’s important to note that both the Romans and Jews opposed Christianity, yet their historians still recorded that Jesus lived, was a major spiritual influence, had a large following, was arrested, publicly executed, and that three days later his tomb was empty. This is something we all must consider when debate the existence of the God of the Bible.
The empty tomb. Matthew 27:62-66 discusses a conversation between the Pharisees and Pilate. The Pharisees asked Pilate to ensure the tomb was guarded so the disciples couldn’t steal Jesus’s body away and claim he resurrected. THE PHARISEES (Jesus’s opponents) stated Jesus claimed he would resurrect after three days. Matthew 28:11-15 tells of how the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb came to Jerusalem and told Jewish elders how an earthquake had happened and the stone that sealed the tomb was removed. It’s important to realize the Roman soldiers had no incentive to make up a story like this because legally they could be executed for allowing a prisoner to escape. In the verses listed above we see the two major enemies of Jesus admitting that Jesus said he would raise from dead and plotting to make sure his body wasn’t stolen away, and then admitting his tomb was empty. If we have honest hearts we must ask why?
The disciples’ claims. It’s important to remember all 11 of Jesus’s remaining disciples (Judas killed himself) fled the scene after Jesus was arrested because they were afraid. Peter ended up denying Jesus 3 times to a young girl. Prior to discovering the tomb was empty they hid out fearing for their lives. What happened to cause these men to go from fearfully hiding out to boldly proclaiming the claim of the resurrection and being willing to die for this claim? Some say they were delusional. I will admit it possible for one or two of them to have been delusional, but not for 11. That’ statistically impossible. And 10 of those 11 ended up dying as martyrs while John was boiled in oil. Why? They claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus.
500 other people claim Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection. According to 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, Paul claimed that Jesus appeared to 500 people after the resurrection. He then went on to say that most of them were still living. Why? Because he was encouraging the people who questioned what he was saying to go talk to the other people who saw the resurrected Jesus! This isn’t something a person who doesn’t believe what they are claiming does. He’s encouraging others to go examine the evidence for themselves.
Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies. For one person to fulfill 8 of the prophecies about the Messiah it is statistically a 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 chance. For one person to fulfill over 300…..You get my point; it’s impossible. One of those prophecies included death by crucifixion which hadn’t even been invented at the time the prophecy was originally made.
This is just some of the evidence the Lord used to verify to me that God is real and that Jesus is his son many years ago. There is much more we could explore, but I’d have to write a book instead of a short article. I hope this article has helped some of you struggling in your journey of faith to discover truth. If you are reading this and have additional questions about the claims of Jesus please contact our church office at 336-365-2569 or send us a message at https://gracelifetriad.com/contact/.
For others who are reading this and are strong in their faith in Jesus, I want to encourage you to continue to point people back to resurrection of Jesus. It’s easy to get sucked into debates about the age of the earth, whether Noah’s ark really existed, and why a loving God would send people to hell, but ultimately our faith doesn’t hinge on any of these ideas. Our faith is centered in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus! He became a sin sacrifice in our place so any of us who believe in him can enter into relationship with our Heavenly Father!