For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins … And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
Suppose someone suggests to you, in a conversation:
1. How do I know for sure that Jesus is Who the Bible says He is? After all, most of what we know about the historical Jesus is what is written in the Bible about Him.
2. Is there any kind of proof that I am obligated to recognize about Jesus, other than the Bible itself? (In other words, is the Bible the only ‘witness’ that Jesus is Who the Christians claim He is?)
3. How do I know that the Bible itself is really true, i.e., that it is both authentic (as opposed to corrupted by many errors that occurred as part of the handwritten copying process) and accurate (as opposed to infected by mistaken impressions or memories or unreliable hearsay by those authors who composed it years after the events), as a record of Who Jesus is/was?”
How would you reply?
To address the first question, our very calendar is a testimony to the historicity of Jesus. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century, documented the historicity of Jesus. Aside from this, the fact that Christianity exists at all testifies to the fact that Jesus was a historical figure. No one doubts the historicity of Buddha, Confucius, Mohamed, Plato, Socrates or Aristotle yet there is less documentation for these men than there is for Jesus and no one questions their historicity. The fact that the Christian church spread across the globe in spite of severe persecution for the name of Jesus gives testimony to the authenticity of Jesus. Furthermore, there are few, if any in modern scholarship, that question the historical Jesus.
Secondly, there is proof that one is obligated to recognize about Jesus outside the Bible itself. The empty tomb is proof. All other leaders of religious movements have died and have been buried and people can visit their graves, but Jesus’ tomb is empty. I have been told that there are at least seven possible sites around Jerusalem where Jesus may have been buried, but they all have one thing in common – they are all empty. Jesus rose from the dead just as He said He would, and the empty tomb is proof that He did. This fact could have been easily debunked early on. All it would have taken was for the religious leaders of that time to drag Jesus’ body out of the tomb and parade it around for all to see; but they could not because the tomb was empty. Skeptics have gone to great lengths to attempt to prove His resurrection as a hoax, but they are the ones that have come away looking foolish. Just recently an ossuary was supposedly discovered in Jerusalem that was supposed to have contained the bones of Jesus. Inscribed on the ossuary in Hebrew script were the words “Jesus Bar Joseph” – Jesus son of Joseph. The ossuary was quickly exposed as a forgery making the claimants look foolish indeed. The proof for Jesus is His empty tomb.
Finally, we can know that the Bible is true by the truth it reveals in matters of history and science. Although the Bible is not intended to be a textbook on history or science, it is nonetheless historically and scientifically accurate. For years, archaeologists have used the Bible to locate ancient sites mentioned in its text. Ancient civilizations mentioned in the Bible, like the Hittites, thought at one time not to have ever existed have been discovered just as the Bible says. Historical figures, like Belshazzar mentioned in Daniel 5, were once touted as biblical fallacies until recent archaeological discoveries, like the Nabonidus Cylinder, were found with those names inscribed on them. Likewise, science has been unable to refute the Bible on scientific grounds. The Bible proclaimed that the earth was a sphere before anyone had circumnavigated the globe or witnesses an “earthrise” from the surface of the moon. (Isaiah 40:22). The Bible claimed that the earth was “hung on nothing” before man ever escaped the bounds of the atmosphere and navigated the emptiness of space (Job 26:7). The Bible said that there were “paths in the seas” long before the ocean currents were ever mapped (Psalm 8:8).
More incredible than the Bible’s historical and scientific accuracy, is the accuracy of its prophecies. The Bible contains numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Old Testament times. Some of these include God’s promise to Abraham to make of him many nations (Genesis 17:4-5); the children of Israel would be slaves for 400 years (Genesis 15:13); much later they would be carried away captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 13:19) for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Arguably, these could be taken as fabrications after the fact – they are not—but even more impressive are the prophecies concerning Jesus.
There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Jesus. Many of these prophecies deal with His first coming, and the remaining deal with His second coming. The Bible says that Jesus would be born of a woman (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14); He would be a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 18:18; 22:18), Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14); He would be of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10); He would be a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 2); He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); He would be brought out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1); minute details of His crucifixion were predicted long before crucifixion was known (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53); His resurrection (Psalm 16:10), and many others. It has been estimated that the probability of one man fulfilling only 8 of the prophecies ascribed to Jesus would be 1 in 1017 (1 followed by 17 zeros), and yet, Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies concerning His first coming.
There is left the question regarding the integrity of the transmission of the biblical texts. The Dead Sea Scrolls have removed any doubt about the integrity of the Old Testament. As for the New Testament, we have over 5000 manuscripts (whole and in fragments), some dating as early as the beginning of the second century. These manuscripts have been examined and found to be consistent with our current Bible. In the few instances where variances do occur, they are usually minor and never have there been any variances found that raise a question of doctrine. Aside from that, there are many extra-biblical writings that quote directly from the New Testament so that if all copies of the New Testament were lost, most of it could be reconstructed from these alone. There is nothing in existence today of ancient writings that is so well documented and so well preserved as the text of the Bible. The Bible is trustworthy, and what it says about Jesus is true; the question is whether you are willing to trust what it says and submit to the Lord it proclaims.
9 responses to “Is Jesus Who the Bible Says He Is?”
“Secondly, there is proof that one is obligated to recognize about Jesus outside the Bible itself. The empty tomb is proof. ”
That isn’t outside the bible.
I will concede that the Bible affirms the empty tomb. However, my point is that more than what is contained in the pages of the Bible (which is what extra-biblical means) attests to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. No one can point to a tomb anywhere and say, “There! There are the bones of Jesus!”
No matter how big your copy of the Bible is it does not have a tomb inside it — th eempty tomb is located in Israel, on the other side of the planet. By th eway, the Lord Jesus did not have an inflated opinion about whether such “proof” (i.e, physical and/or eyewitness proof of the Resurrection) would really convert an ubelieving God-rejector into a believing God-acceptor, as Luke chapter 16 (verse 2431 quoted here) illustrates:
“And he [the rich man in Hell] cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame’. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence’. Then he [i.e., th erich man in Hell] said, ‘I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment’. Abraham saith unto him, ‘They have Moses [i.e, Genesis through Deuteronomy] and the [Old Testament] prophets; let them hear them’. And he said, ‘Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent’. And he said unto him, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead’.” What CHrist said, in effect, is that if your reject the Old Testament’s truth you will not believe the Resurrection — and the ultimate destiny for that choice is both torrid and horrid.
None of this is “proof”, it’s all conjecture. Christmas is not proof Santa Claus exists. Josephus is hearsay. There are no first hand accounts outside the bible and even those in the bible are questionable.
You are correct, Christmas is not proof of Santa Claus; it’s proof for Jesus. You say this is all “conjecture,” which is an opinion or a theory based on insufficient proof. From my perspective, the one making conjecture is you. Since you are the one making the accusation, I would have you show me proof to validate your claim.
If you don’t mind, I would recommend the book “A Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, a former atheist and legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. He found the evidence irrefutable.
Christmas is not proof of Jesus, it’s proof of Winter Solstice. I suggest you educate yourself a bit more in regards to history. Even the Catholic Encyclopaedia explains the reasoning behind choosing December 25th as a celebratory day.
If Lee Strobel found “irrefutable evidence” I’d love to know what it is because it has not been presented to the academic world at large.
Alright Pinkagendist, you were being silly with your comment about Santa Claus, and I responded in like manner. That’s not the issue anyway, and you have yet to respond to my challenge.
PinkAgendaist, you said: “None of this is ‘proof’, it’s all conjecture.” To which I retort: what is your definiton of “proof”? Is it empirical science proof? Or is it forensic science proof? How you answer that (if you do) will reveal whether you know what “proof” is. Just curious, do you have any relevant credentials for knowing “proof” when you see it? (As a professional with post-docs in proof recognition, and as a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, I’ve noticed over the years that most folks don’t know “proof” when it’s staring them in the face — if they don’t like what they are looking at!) When Acts 1:3 refers to “many infallible proofs”, do you know that that phrase means? (Not what you wish it means, but what it actually means?)
Also, you say: that “Josephus is hearsay”, yet you cite hearsay when you quote your Catholic reference book (which was written centuries after the events it purports to document)! Actually the relevance of Flavius Josephus’ report (as cited by Ernie) would be admissible in an American court (that applies the Rules of Evidence — I’m not talking about a television “court” show), at least for for limited purposes of showing that there was a public awareness of Jesus Christ’s uniqueness — even by a nonbeliever whose lifetime overlapped that of the eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ’s time on Earth. (So put that in your Federal Rules of Evidence pipe, and smoke it!).
Also, you say: “There are no first hand accounts outside the bible [sic] and even those in the bible [sic] are questionable.” When the context is analyzing historic evidence, what kind of an arbitrary wimp-out word is “questionable”? If you, — as a 21st century (AD) man who demonstrate no knowledge of Koine Greek, and you demonstrate no knowledge of the available writings of the eyewitnesses, and you display no knowledge of forensic science or the evidence rules, — arbitrarily label a world-changing historic fact as “questionable”, that arbitrary lable of yours is no “magic fairy dust” that conveniently make the world-changing historic fact disappear! This is the 21st century (AD), did you know that? — 21st century after what? After God came to planet Earth as JESUS, that’s what!. All human history is now divided, even on calendars used by atheist communists in China and Cuba, by the inescapably pivotal fact of all history: the coming of Christ to planet Earth! That division of human history, into BC and AD, is a continuing consequence of Christ’s unique and inescapable ipact on human history. (No wonder the Holy Bible — whic is all about Christ — is the all-time #1 most-published and most-translated and most-studied Book!)
There is no reason to base all the calendars of the whole world on the short life of one Man unless that one Man is so unique that all human history is split “before” and “after” His unique life, which was inescapably recognized as unique because He rose from the dead — and His generation (whether they liked it or not, and most did not!) knew it and they could not genuinely refute it. But do you voluntarily appreciate His resurrection? No. Why not? Jesus prophetically gave the answer to that question already (as I noted in another posting), namely, Christ anticipated that unbelieving minds refuse forensic proof of a Resurrection because of pre-cemented decisions to reject Biblical truth.
The Lord Jesus had no unrealistic optimism about whether such “proof” (i.e, physical and/or eyewitness proof of the Resurrection) would really convert an unbelieving God-rejector into a believing God-acceptor, as Luke chapter 16 (verse 24-31 quoted here) illustrates:
“And he [the rich man in Hell] cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame’. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence’. Then he [i.e., th erich man in Hell] said, ‘I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment’. Abraham saith unto him, ‘They have Moses [i.e, Genesis through Deuteronomy] and the [Old Testament] prophets; let them hear them’. And he said, ‘Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent’. And he said unto him, ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead’.” What Christ said, in effect, is that if your reject the Old Testament’s truth you will not believe the Resurrection — and the ultimate destiny for that choice is both torrid and horrid.
One more point, about Winter Solstice. Why is the winter solstice’s day re-named to refer to “Christ”, if there was no Christ Who became more important to celebrants than the winter solstice? The historic fact that Europeans (and others) chose to re-name that day as a way to celebrate Immanuel’s birth on Earth truly is a proof of His coming.
And that is how the cow eats the cabbage! 🙂 I could not have said it better myself!