For almost 2000 years now there have been countless people who have tried their best to destroy Christianity and Jesus himself and we see this same thing happening today. You have people today who claim that Jesus never existed and that he is just a myth. Then you have those that try and take another approach and say yes he lived but he was just a man born out of wedlock who started a new a radical movement. Then you also have those who attack the NT writings by saying they were much latter than the 1st century and nothing more than stories created from mythological stories of Jesus Christ.
One thing all these attacks have in common is revolved around destroying the credibility or historicity of Jesus and that is all it would take to prove Christianity wrong. Even the Bible teaches us that if Jesus did not live, die or was raised from the dead then Christianity would be a lie. Paul is the one that tells us this in,
1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up -- if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
In this regards Christianity is unique to other religions and philosophies because they are built upon teaching while Christianity rest solely upon Jesus existence and his works. This is why those who are opposed to Christianity diligently try to destroy the credibility of Jesus. You see Christianity is grounded in actual History by the events that took place in the Bible.
But now the question becomes how do we prove that Jesus existed? How do we prove the reliability of the NT scriptures?
These are the type of questions I will be answering this morning and this evening as we explore the Evidence that available to us to prove Christianity. We are going to be looking at external evidence, internal evidence and makes several logical point that will prove Christianity to be true. We must understand that we don’t have to blindly believe in Christianity because we have overwhelming evidence that it true and we need to realize that our faith in God from God Word and it history go hand and hand. We should never be afraid or put off trying to prove our faith and God through logic or history because it will make us much stronger in our faith. Please note what one protestant scholar named Edward J. Young has to say about this.
“When, however, we come to examine the question what we are to believe we discover that the doctrines which scripture commands are rooted and grounded upon that which was done in history. The Christian faith, as it is revealed in the Bible, in not a mass of abstractions divorced from history. It is not eternal truths and ideals, but rather the account of something that God did for us upon this earth in history. Hence it becomes very important to us to know whether what the Bible has to say about these historical matter is correct or not.
According to the
Bible our salvation depends upon the death of Jesus Christ at
All this man is saying is that you cannot separate history from your faith and that Christianity can be proven from History. Now our most reliable history of Jesus comes from the Bible but first I want to consider external evidence. First I want to examine some writing from some early Gentiles.
Please notice this man did not deny that Christ existed or that he was crucified he was simply trying to explain away the darkness that happened that day. In doing this he shows that it must have been common knowledge that Jesus existed and that this darkness occurred that day just as Mark 15:33 says,
Mark 15:33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
This is part shows that the Bible is historically accurate in showing that Jesus crucified and that the darkness occurred that day.
Tacitus was the governor of Asia writing around 112 A.D. He was considered
one the greatest historians of
This bit of history establish a couple of things for us. First of all it shows that Christianity was alive in well during the 1 century just as the Bible says. Second of it shows that Jesus was the source of this Christianity. Third it gives a time frame of when Jesus was put to death by Pontius Pilate because as he stated he was put to death in the reign of Tiberius and his reign was from 14 AD to 37 AD. Fourth he established that Jesus was real and that he was crucified.
Again this shows us how some Christians came together and how the regarded Jesus as God.
It is believed that since so many Jews had become Christians that Claudius thought all Jews were Christians. It interesting to note that this bit history goes hand in hand with what Luke records for us in,
Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from
So far all the historical evidence we have looked at so far has come non-believing Gentiles. Now I want to give you a few Jewish sources.
”And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He won over many Jews and also many Greeks. This man was the Messiah. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross at the instigation of our own leaders, those who had loved him from the first did not cease. For he appeared to them on the third day alive again, as the holy prophets had predicted and said many other wonderful things about him. And even now the race of Christians, so named after him, has no yet died out.” (Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 1)
Note: Some have tried to say that these quotes were inserted by the church however, every single copy of Josephus writings that we have today contain these two quotes which gives strong evidence that they were not inserted by the church. Some have also argued that since Josephus was Jew it wouldn’t make since for him to say such a thing about Jesus. I can understand that logic. However, a good Historian will do their best to set aside their own personal thoughts and will simply record that which was going on during that time in history. So, I see no reason to throw this evidence out the window. Besides there is another place that in Josephus writing that is not disputed by the scholars and again shows that Jesus was a real person.
“Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them brother of Jesus, who was called Christ….” (Antiquities, Book 20, Chapter 9, and Section 1)
Some more external evidence that shows that Jesus was real and shows the N.T. was written in the 1st century comes from early writings of those called the apostolic fathers. They are called this because it believed that these men sat at the feet of the apostles or at the feet of those who sat at the feet of the apostles. These writings are dated from 90 A.D. to 160 A.D. In these writings just about every verse in the NT is quoted or paraphrased showing that the NT books that we have were in circulation during the 1st century. The fact that these men were willing to die for the truth contained within our N.T. shows that they believed them to be true historical documents and this offers us more external evidence of Jesus existence and the reliability of the N.T. scriptures.
Let me give you one example of one of the early writers.
Polycarp (c. A.D. 69-155), for example, lived in the city of
Some more external evidence comes from the Catacombs under
The catacomb vaults are filled with art work, which testifies to their deep
faith in Christ amidst the
Again a simple question needs to be answered here. Would millions of Christians be willing to die after the first century if Jesus was just a myth? Of course I think we all know that answer is of course not that wouldn’t make any sense. One thing I have always found interesting is the statement made by Gamaliel (guh-may-lih-el) in Acts 5 when they were dealing with this new doctrine of Christ that was being taught by the apostles.
Acts 5:34 Then one in the council
stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, (guh-may-lih-el) a teacher
of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the
apostles outside for a little while. 35
And he said to them: "Men of
Gamaliel, (guh-may-lih-el) gave some great advice because if the story of Jesus was fake it most like only last for a small while but it if was from God and it was true than it would continue grow and that is exactly what we see with Christianity. From it birth almost 2000 years ago until today Christianity is still going strong and many have laid down their life for the cause of Christ over these years.
One last external evidence that I want to look at that shows the Bible to be historically accurate is Archeology. The purpose of Archeology in regards to the Bible is to excavate, decipher and to critically evaluate the ancient records of the past that touch directly or indirectly upon the Bible and its message.
From what sources I had Archeology had it start in 1798 when Napoleon invaded Egypt and he had 167 scientist and technicians study the Egyptian area which led to them discovering many artifacts that confirmed many of the events mentioned in the Bible. From that point forward till today there have been countless finds that show the validity of the Bible. Not one time that I know of has the finds of Archeology contradicted the history portrayed in the Bible. There has been book after book containing thousands of pages that show the accuracy of the Bible in the OT and the NT.
I just saw a new show on the Exodus on the History Channel. Now the show was really neat and these people on here setting out to give a scientific explanation to the plagues and the parting of the red sea. Now they were not trying to discount God being involved in these things but rather they were trying to show that God caused those things to happen by manipulating the earth to bring about these results. In this show they showed several archeological finds that back up the Bible that the Plagues occurred and that Moses existed and that the red sea was parted just as the Bible teaches us. Of course this is just one example of how Archeology offers us proof that the OT and NT is a reliable historical account of what happened.
Now that we have looked at some external evidence about Jesus and the NT I would like turn our attention the Word of God itself and look at some of the evidence that shows it to be reliable and trustworthy. (This begins part 2)
None of the original writings of the New Testament exist that I know of, nor do the originals of many classic histories that are consider accurate by scholars. Instead we have manuscripts of these early writings. Manuscripts are copies letter for letter of the original. The closer the manuscript is to the original in time the more accurate it is considered to be. Notice the chart below as we compare classical histories to the New Testament.
Written approximately between 45 – 96 A.D.
It has around 5,000 manuscripts in whole or in part. This does not include the fragments or numerous quotes of these documents from early Christian writers. The oldest manuscripts are dated at 350 A.D. with only about a 250 year gap from the original.
Note: If the New Testament was a secular writing as on the left scholars would deem it as one the most reliable and accurate documents in existence. But, since it involves miracles and the existence of God they question its validity even though it has less of a gap in years from the original and has thousands more copies than these classical histories on the left which they consider accurate.
The evidence is overwhelming that the New Testament is indeed a reliable source of history as recorded by first century eyewitnesses. We have no reason to doubt their testimony that Jesus is the Son of God and all the miracles they recorded did in fact take place.
In book of Luke he makes is very clear that his account is very accurate and that it can stand the test of scrutiny.
Luke 1:1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
Everything that Luke was writing to the man who was most likely someone high rank would be able to confirm or deny what was written to him. Many of the writers of the NT were the actually eye witness to what happened and we have that history recorded for us. This is the same way that we learn about anyone in history like our first president George Washington. If we are going to be fair and believe the George Washington existed based upon eye witness accounts then we should also believe the events that took place within the NT as well.
Another strong evidence of Jesus and the Bible comes from the over 300 prophecies in the OT of Jesus. These prophecies tells us about birth, life and death of Jesus and he fulfilled everyone these prophecies.
P.W. Sonter and R.C. Newman selected 8 specific prophecies and then calculated the probability of one man fulfilling only those 8. Their conclusion was that 1 man being able to accomplish this would be the number 10 to 17th power. Now I don’t know which 8 prophecies they chose and I don’t know how they came to their conclusion but one thing I do know that doest require me to a math wizard is that I can’t see how any man could every come close to fulfilling all 300+ prophecies even if they tried because some of these prophecies could be accomplished by someone but there were also many that were in the control of other people. For instance, he had no control of where he would be born. He had no control over being betrayed with 30 silver coins or that 30 silvers coins would be used to buy a potters field just as the OT says it would. He would have no way to make the soldiers cast lots for his clothing or to pierce his side just as the OT said would happen. Of course these are just a few examples but they show that the only way Jesus could accomplished these prophecies was is if he truly was the son of God.
Now we don’t have time to look at every prophecy from the OT but I want to look at few that establish a timeline of when this Messiah the Christ would have to come.
Our first times line comes from Daniel chapter 2. Now if you were here for our Wednesday night class then will remember this diagram that shows what King Nebucanzer was dreaming about and how it represented 4 different kingdoms as you see on the screen. But our key verse come from,
Daniel 2:44 "And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
In this verse is
letting us know that during that 4th kingdom which is the
Now we can narrow this time even more by the prophecy of,
Genesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his
First I want to point out this word
John 18: 31 Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death," 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Now according to
Historian named Solomon, and according Josephus “War of the Jews’ Book 2
chapter 18 section 1,
Now think about the significance of this. If the Jews had the power to kill at the time of Jesus ministry he would have been put to death by stones. But other OT prophecies talk about how Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced and how he would be raised up all indicate that his death would be by crucifixion. So, there power had to be taken away to make it possible for Jesus to face the cross. This all fits perfectly from the Bible and all the externally sources that we have examined today putting Jesus in the right place at the right time.
The NT is also in
perfect harmony with Daniel and Isaiah because both John the Baptist and Jesus
kept proclaiming that the Kingdom was coming and then after his death on the
day of Pentecost Peter makes is very clear that the latter days spoken of by
Joel which would also coincide with the latter days of Isaiah was being
fulfilled at that time. This is why from Acts 2 and on the kingdom is no longer
proclaimed as coming but is always spoken of as present reality. Also we can
note that the church/kingdom had it beginning in
But, I want to go one step further. Since all of Christianity would fall if Jesus was not raised from the dead I want to make several logical observation from the Bible that I believe helps us prove that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead.
The first thing I want to deal with is the empty tomb. There is only 2 possibilities as I see it either he was raised from dead or someone stole Jesus’ body. First lets see how probable it would be for someone take Jesus body.
Matthew 27:62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, "Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise.' 64 "Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how." 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
This teaches us that it would have been next to impossible for anyone to steal the body of Jesus because it was being guarded by Roman soldiers anywhere from 4 to 16 according to the meaning of the word guard. The Roman soldier took their job very serious because if they failed many time they were executed like the soldiers who let Peter escape in Acts 12:18.
Besides this what would be the motivation behind this? We know that Jesus’ enemies wouldn’t take the body because they want to proof the Jesus is just a man. It wouldn’t have been a grave robber that took his body because they only stole things of value there would be no value in a dead body. Jesus disciples didn’t steal his body because they thought he was still in the grave on the third day because they did not understand that he was even to be raised from the dead according to,
John 20:9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
We can also see this according to,
Mark 16:1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?"
You see they were expecting Jesus body to be there so they didn’t steal Jesus body and besides all this we still have to remember that they would have to overpower the Roman guards. This rules out all outsiders but what about Jesus himself? Some claim that he just passed out on the cross and then woke up in the tomb and made his get away.
We need to remember that Jesus was scourged Jn 19:1. and that many have died from scourging alone so Jesus was already in a very weakened state. Second of all it very unlikely that these professional killers would misjudge when some one was dead.
John 19:33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." 37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."
The fact that blood and water flowed out indicates that his heart had stopped pumping and that his blood had settled into his chest. Now we know he was dead but for arguments sake lets say he wasn’t and look at what he would we involved for him to escape the tomb on his own.
First of all we must understand that Jesus was buried according to custom of the Jews as we see in,
John 19:39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
First they would wrap your arms to your body to secure them. Then they would wrap the body from the toes to the shoulders while pouring in this 100 pounds of spices. Now the myrrh produced an oil substance at first but then it would dry and become sticky make the wrap stuck together. Then as a final touch they would cover the head with a cloth napkin.
If you remember Lazarus was buried like this but notice what it says about him in,
John 11:43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."
We learn from this that Jesus would have to of had help to get out of his clothes and even if someone helped him this wrap would have been a great disarray yet John records for us in John 20:6 that the grave clothes were lying there which indicates they had not been disturbed. But, lets play along once again and say that Jesus in his weakened state somehow managed to get out of his grave clothes then put them back in position to make it look like they had not been disturbed. Now Jesus would have to somehow role back the rock that covered the tomb from the inside that usually took 2 strong men to move from the outside. This of course would be impossible considering that He would have nothing grab a hold of to push or pull the rock. But, lets say but some string of luck he got the stone out of the way then he would still have to make his way past the Roman Guards. Do you see how impossible this would be. So to me there is only one logical explanations for the tomb being empty and that is Jesus was raised from the dead just as Bible says.
Our next proof that Jesus was raised from the dead has to do with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to his apostles to remind them of what taught them and to teach them things they did know yet in John 14:26, 16:12-13. However the sending of the Holy Spirit was condition as we see in,
John 16:7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
So Jesus had to go to back to father before the Holy Spirit would come. Well as we know Jesus died before he went back to the father so he would have to be raised from the dead for this to occur. So if we can logically show that the Holy Spirit did indeed come on the day of Pentecost then we can prove that Jesus was raised from the dead and that he had went back to the father just as the Bible says.
In order to do this we must first observe the apostles behavior before the day of Pentecost. First of all these guys did not understand that the kingdom Jesus was talking about was a spiritual one they thought it was physical one According Acts 1:6. We also find them arguing about who would be the greatest in Jesus kingdom in Luke 22:24ff. This shows they were not very unified before Pentecost. Many times these men had no clue what Jesus was talking about and he had to explain things to them over and over and finally we learn from John 20:19 that his disciples were a state fear after Jesus was crucified and they hid behind a locked door.
Now Starting in Acts 2 what happens to the apostles?
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
They were given the Holy Spirit just a Jesus said he would which shows that Jesus was now with father and that he was raised from the dead. We can show this event to be true by looking at the change that happened to these men after the received the Holy Spirit.
Instead of hiding behind a lock door in fear they are now boldly proclaiming Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. From Pentecost onward you see these men change from a dysfunctional group to men of unity in teaching and purpose. No longer were they afraid an no longer were they without understanding.
Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:18 And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Because of their boldness and unity they converted thousands of people with their message. The question becomes how could these men have a sudden change and accomplish what they did is such a short time span. Could it of been through some natural process of learning? No there wasn’t enough time for that to happen. The only logical conclusion that can be made is that they received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and the HS made the change in these apostles just a Jesus had promised thus proving logically that Jesus was raised from the dead.
Our next proof that Jesus was raised from the dead comes
from Saul’s conversion. First of all we know that Jesus was dead before Saul
was ever converted to Christianity. So if we can show that Jesus did appear to Saul
on the road to
Paul was a fanatic and he persecuted the church beyond measure and he advanced in the Jewish religion beyond those of his own age. Gal 1:13-14
He consented to Stephens death Acts 7:58 –8:1
He drug both men and women to prison Acts 8:1-3
He even went outside of
He said he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a Pharisee Philp. 3:5
He recounts his rage against Christianity to King Agrippa
"Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of
Paul was at the top of his game. He was a local hero among his people he had power wealth and fame. The question becomes who could of possible converted Saul to Christianity? Could of have been some of his fellow men? No they admired him. Could it of been another Christian? No. He wouldn’t listen to them he wanted them all dead or locked up. Maybe there was an ulterior motive for Paul to convert to Christianity? What could it have been? It certainly wasn’t wealth we know that Paul had to work with his own hands and went hungry at times Acts 20: 33-34, 1Cor. 4:11-12. It certainly wasn’t for a better reputation or more power because he had all of that being a Pharisee. There is only one logical answer. Only Jesus could have changed a man like this just as the Bible records for us Acts 9, 22, 26. Paul also affirms this in,
Galatians 1:11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
This offers more proof the Jesus was indeed raised from the dead.
For my final point this evening I want share with some things that Jesus claimed about himself that proved to be true.
Jn 10:17-18 He claimed no one could take his life and he had the power to lay it down.
Mat. 20:18-19 He knew that he would be scourged and die by crucifixion
Now these are just a few claims that Jesus made but we can see that He was right and survived many attempts on his life for example:
Mt. 2:13-21 Herod tried to kill him as a baby
Lk. 4:16-30 His own people tried to push Him off a
Jn. 7:32, 45-46 Officers sent to arrest him but after they heard Him they did not
Jn . 8:59 10:31, 39 Several tried to stone him
Jn. 5:18, 7:1 He was threatened to be killed throughout his ministry
We also see that He was right by how He would die as the gospels bare witness that He was scourged and HE was crucified. Mat. 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19
I hope this morning lesson and the evening lesson has been very informative and has shown you that no matter how many new theories or how hard new experts try to discount Jesus as a myth or mere man or try to make the word of God out to be some fable nothing can change the facts I have given you which shows the Bible to be a reliable accurate historical document and I proven this from both internal and external evidence. The Bible has stood the test of time and when you consider that it written by some 40 authors over a 1600 year period from different backgrounds and social customs yet it does not contradict itself nor has it every been proven wrong historically or scientifically you can rest assured and have confidence that it is the Word of God and that the promise made to you and I are real.