Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Part 1): The Resurrection is a Provable Historical Fact

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.  At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, or those searching, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 1 is following.

Introduction

Is the resurrection a hoax or is it a real historical event? How each person answers this question settles all the other questions. All the other questions are just distractions that keep people from focusing on the one question that will determine our eternity. The resurrection of Christ is the one event that all of Christianity is based.

All but four of the world’s major religions are based on mere philosophical concepts. Of the four major world religions (Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) that are based on a person rather than a philosophical system, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.

Abraham, the father of Judaism, and Moses, seen as a great prophet, are buried in unknown graves or caves, but there are known areas where traditional thought has them located. As for Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, was cremated and had ashes turned into “relics” and placed at various sites. Mohammed, founder of Islam, is buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhist, and Muslims agree that their founders & prophets never claimed to he would raise from the dead, and to this day, they gather at the burial sites or shrines of their founders to worship. A person can visit the tomb of Jesus, but unlike with the other religions, Jesus’ tomb is empty.

At the end of the day, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either the most wicked, cruel, vicious, heartless, hoaxes of all time, or it is the most fantastic fact of all of history. Christianity and the resurrection stand or fall together.

A. Jesus and the Resurrection are Historical Facts

  1. Anyone who says just Jesus was not a historical figure who actually lived is either protecting their own bias, deeply and severely confused, or just lying to protect their agenda. The historical reality of Christ is clear fact for any unbiased historian. No serious scholar can deny the historical evidence that Jesus, and the Christian faith is firmly grounded in history.
  1. Ancient secular authorities (non-Christian, anti-Christian) testify of the historical evidence Jesus.
  • Cornelius Tacitus (Roman Historian) – called “the greatest historian of ancient Rome”
  • Lucian of Samosata (Greek Satirist)
  • Suetonius – (Roman Historian)
  • Pliny the Younger (Governor of Bithynia – Asia Minor)
  • Thallus (Secular Author)
  • Phlegon (Secular Author)
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (Syrian Philosopher)
  • The Talmud – (Jewish book of Rabbinic instruction, second only to the Torah)
  • Josephus (Jewish Historian)
  • The Quran (Koran – the central religious text of Islam)
  1. Countless ancient Christian authorities and authors have testified of the historical evidence of Christ, including the multitudes who died because they Christ, and refused to denounce Him.
  1. The Encyclopedia Britannica gives uses over 20,000 words to describe the historicity of Jesus; more than Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon Bonaparte. It states “the overwhelming number of independent accounts prove without question that in ancient times the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus. It was disputed for the first time, on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th century, during the 19th and 20th
  1. Dr Simon Greenleaf, world famous and renown Royal Professor of Law, then became Dane Professor of Law, at Harvard University, and was the driving force behind the rise to prominence of the Harvard Law School; wrote a three-volume work, “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence”, which is still considered one of the greatest single authorities on the subject in the entire literature of legal procedure.

Dr. Greenleaf, a skeptic who believed the resurrection of Christ to be a hoax, often mocking the Christians in his classes. One day they challenged him to take the three volumes he had written on the laws of legal evidence and apply them to the resurrection. After much persuasion he decided to examine the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to determine the truth using the principles of evidence management found in “A Treatise on the Law of Evidence”.

After careful investigation, Dr. Greenleaf became a Christian and went on to write a book about his search. Greenleaf came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best-established, more provable events in history according to the laws of legal evidence. He stated, “The conclusion is clear, according to the laws legal evidence used in the court of law, there is more evidence to prove the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ than for almost any other event in history.”

  1. Frank Morrison, a rationalistic lawyer, believed that the bible was full of fables and fairy tales, specifically the story of the resurrection of Christ. He felt the story of Jesus was matchless without the story of the resurrection ruining it. He felt he “owed it to himself and others to write a book that presented the truth about Jesus, and dispel the myth of the resurrection once and for all time.”

Upon studying the facts, however, he came to a different conclusion, and became convinced of the resurrection of Christ being an undeniable fact of history. The sheer weight of the evidence compelled him to conclude that Jesus actually did raise from the dead. Morrison did write a book, but not the one he had planned to write.

  1. S. Lewis, Professor of Literature at Cambridge University, was a literary genius and scholar, who believed Christians were wrong. Being a hard and fast atheist, he sought to refute the claims of Jesus Christ and Christianity regarding the resurrection of Christ. After thoroughly investigating the literary claims and evidence, Lewis concluded that other religions make no such historical claim as Christianity. Using his knowledge of literary principles and literary criticism, Lewis concluded that the Gospels were factual historical documents and not myths, fables, and fairy tails.

Finally, contrary to his strong stand against Christianity, after three years of study and research, CS Lewis gave his life to Christ.

  1. Lee Strobel was a skeptical atheist who thought the idea of God was stupid. Lee used his journalism and legal training to investigative the evidence of Christianity.

Strobel stated, “For most of my life I was an atheist. I thought the idea of an all-loving, all-powerful creator of the universe–I thought it was stupid. I mean, my background is in journalism and law. I tend to be a skeptical person. I was the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. So I needed evidence before I’d believe anything.”

After his agnostic wife have decided to become a follower of Christ after a period of spiritual investigation, Lee thought her decision to “join this cult” would end his marriage, however he also saw positive changes in her values, in her character, in the way she related to him and the children. Her changes made him want to check things out. So out of curiosity, he went to church one day.

He heard the message of Jesus articulated for the first time in a way that I could understand it. That forgiveness is a free gift, and that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that we might spend eternity with Him. And he walked out thinking, “I am still an atheist, but if this is true, this has huge implications for my life.”

And so Lee decided to use his journalism training and legal training to begin an investigation into whether there was any credibility to Christianity or to any other world faith system for that matter.

After one year and nine months of research, atheist Lee Strobel stated, “I realized that, in light of the torrent of evidence flowing in the direction of the truth of Christianity, it would require more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to become a Christian. Because to be an atheist, I would have to swim upstream against this torrent of evidence pointing toward the truth of Jesus Christ. And I couldn’t do that. I was trained in journalism and law to respond to truth. And so on that day, I received Jesus Christ as my forgiver, and as my leader.”

More to come in a few days…

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