As a Matter of Fact (Evidence for the Christian Faith)

               At least once a week I will get into discussion with someone who is skeptical of Christianity. I love these discussions because they give me opportunity to challenge myself to learn as well as the opportunity to “always have an answer (1 Peter 3:15)”.

               Lately, I have noticed that the “conspiracy theorist movement” has a strong following and many people see the facts that line up to prove a “New World Order” involving groups such as the Illuminati, Council on Foreign Relations, the Freemasons, and many others. For example a Facebook post I noticed this week was:

   “please take the time to educate yourself about what’s really Going on in this world. Some things to start off with are 1. The Bible especially Revelations 2. Bilderberg Group 3. Tavistock institute 4. Illuminati 5. Knights of Templar 6. Technotronics 7.48 laws of power 8. The Art of War 9. Behold a Pale Horse 10.Aquarian Conspiracy 11. Khomeini 12. Henry Kissinger 13. George Soros 14. Rothschilds 15. Rockefellers 16. British “Royal” Family 17. William Cooper (R.I.P.) 18. 2pac (makaveli) 19. Project Blue Dream 20. Codex Alimentarius 21. Annunaki 22. “Protocols of the learned Elders of Zion” 23. Eye of Horus/Lucifer 24. Freemasonry 25. Council of 300 26. HAARP and those are just a few. Here are some useful websites. #TrueEnlightenment”.

               Now, I would say reading into a lot of that stuff is very important and helps develop critical thinking skills, just as I say it is wise to study all sorts of religious, philosophical, and historical writings. Also, a fascination with science (evolution), the 4th dimension, 2012, the solar system, and many other science-based ideas that are filled with theory seem to captive many minds today.

               Since many have continually told that that they admire my efforts to teach the true historical aspects of Christianity and many look to me as a “Truth-seeker” as well as a “Truth-teller”, I want to make the evidence of the Christian faith plain and clear. First and foremost, let me say this- THE EVIDENCE FOR THE CHRISTIAN FAITH BLOWS ALL OTHER INFORMATION OUT OF THE WATER! That is why Jesus was able to say:

               “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:24-27)”.

So here we go.

First we must prove historically that a man named Jesus who was claimed by some to be the Messiah of Israel actually existed, right?

  Josephus a 1st century Roman-Jewish historian accounts of the Roman-Jewish War and his works have survived up until this day. In his writings he says:

               “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works- a teacher of such men as receive the truth with such pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day (and that was written around 94 A.D.)”.

*Please note there are some aspects of the above quote that have been challenged by possible change in the 3rd and 4th century but it still does not change the historical fact that Jesus lived!

               If Josephus’ writings are not enough the establish the historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ, existed in the first century there are a host of other reliable evidences. The Babylonian Talmud- Jewish writings- which are a compilation over the centuries have accounts of Jesus as a “false messiah” in the first century.

               Around 106-112 A.D., Pliny the Younger was governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. A well preserved writing to the Roman emperor Trajan has survived and says:

“In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were in fact Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed.

“…They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind”.

               Here we know that the Christians in the times of 106 A.D.  assembled as a group and were being persecuted. Lucian, a Greek satirist writes something similar in 170 A.D.:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws”.

               The prophetic reasoning and the historical evidence given to support the fact that Jesus Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate who was the Roman procurator from A.D. 26-36 is overwhelming. Here Roman historian and senator who wrote around 116 A.D. writes:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind”.

               Now, it is quite simple to establish the historical validity of the man named Jesus who was called the Christ existing. The real “controversy” begins with the “supernatural events” such as his resurrection which if true qualifies Him to be the Messiah. From the Biblical records we have Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-9; John 20:1-18; and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. It is Biblically recorded that Jesus died on the cross and was buried and then 3 days later rose from the dead- this is what His followers believed.

“I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings–or it is the most remarkable fact of history.”

               The main thing that amazes me is the silence of history regarding the empty tomb. If you read the Biblical account of Matthew 28:11-15, take notice that they know the body is not in the tomb, that was and is universally recognized. So the theories begin to fly…what happened to the body of Jesus Christ? In the first century, if this was a lie, it could have been shut up rather quickly all they would have to do is roll the stone away and see the body- BUT THERE WAS NO BODY! What happened?

               Remember…there was a lot of hostility toward the early “Christian” movement, so any way they could have discredited the movement they would have used. But no one said that the body was there.  There are both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions that acknowledge an empty tomb. These sources range from the Jewish historian Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the Toledoth Jeshu. Maier calls this positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence.

“…you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, where He was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that He has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven.”

               Jesus said that the only sign that wicked and perverse generation would see what the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-45). Any idea what that was? Read the book of Jonah. So…the defense put up to the empty tomb is that the disciples stole the body. For what? To further a lie that would get them killed? Come on now! That’s ridiculous.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (1 John 1:1)”.

               If one is to read the accounts of what occurred during the time of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, especially regarding the apostle Thomas, how in the hell does one suppose that these men eventually died horrifying deaths to prove something they knew to be a lie? What did they have to gain? That’s a question that everyone seems to run away from. Coming to grips with that is what eventually led me to look into the Truth of Christianity, eventually being Spiritually led to claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

               Have you ever heard what happened to these men? Let’s take a minute to consider what these men gained from proclaiming that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead (go ahead read the entire book of Acts).  Click on the link below for an honest examination of the fate of the Apostles:

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/03/what-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles-how-their-deaths-evidence-easter-2/

Many of Jesus followers were willing to die not because they believe in who Jesus was but rather that they had seen him raise from the dead that is what makes the claims of Christianity stand out stronger than any others. This wasn’t a “belief” it was a historical fact. The belief and/or faith came about by means of what you attested the importance of this resurrection as. Was Jesus everything He said He was/is?

               Now if that isn’t proof enough. Make sure you are sitting down for the next piece of evidence that blows everything out of the water, yet sadly isn’t known, understood, or utilized by most of Christianity.

               Let’s talk for a second about the Biblical writings. Whether you believe them to be inspired by God, historical writings, or whatever- you must come to terms with the fact that the gospels, even by the most liberal scholars, all date back to AD 50- AD 60. NO ONE DISPUTES THAT. Plus,the fact that they record the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who lived during the AD 30’s. If you look at the teachings of Jesus in Matthew chapter 24; Mark chapter 13; and Luke chapter 21, Jesus speaks about a coming destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem and that the disciples should flee when they see this about to occur. According the Church historian Eusebius:

               “The whole body, however, of the church at Jerusalem, having been commanded by a divine revelation, given to men of approved piety there before the war, removed from the city, and dwelt at a certain town beyond the Jordan, called Pella. Here those that believed in Christ, having removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had entirely abandoned the royal city itself, and the whole land of Judea; the divine justice, for their crimes against Christ and his apostles finally overtook them, totally destroying the whole generation of these evildoers form the earth. (Eusebius, 3:5.)”.

               So…how did Jesus know about this to warn the disciples? This becomes even more odd when someone understands the Pax Romana that was in effect during the life of Christ, which only started experiencing disruption later in the AD 50’s. At bare minimum, if you acknowledge history and are not ignorant, you must admit that Jesus was a prophet. So…what do you make of His other claims? J

               As a Christ-follower, I acknowledge that Jesus Christ taught Truth, His teachings are the foundation upon which I can be fully assured of Truth and experience what He promised, “life and life to the full (John 10:10)”. I believe this LIFE can only be experienced when one comes to terms with the teachings of Jesus and is Spiritually born-again into the kingdom of God (John chapter 3). Truly being a critical thinker (Biblically referred to as a Berean) allows for a “zeal empowered by knowledge”, what I like to call being “FREAKED OUT”.

               Let me admit one thing. Sadly, false teaching began to creep into the Church in the 1st century and has had a field day since then. There are many commonly taught myths that are erroneously taught as truth, but is not. This is the “snowball effect” of false teaching. Start critically thinking today!

               At this point…the only way you can refuse to acknowledge the Truth of Christianity is to remain an ignoramus (ignoring the facts) or dwell on some sort of intellectually unfounded “conspiracy theory” regarding the Truth. If so…God be with you.

Sites to read concerning historical evidence:

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4223639/k.567/Ancient_Evidence_for_Jesus_from_NonChristian_Sources.htm#text27

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