Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE EVIDENCE IS IN

     Having grown up in a family with a well-known criminal attorney for my grandfather, I was exposed to all things concerning the law from the time I was little.  My father would usually go and visit my grandparents every evening and I always begged to go along.  I would sit and listen to their discussions concerning various cases that were in the news and the evidence that had been gathered.  Whenever eyewitness testimony was mentioned, my grandfather would say "Case closed unless they can prove the witness to be less than reliable."  Without eyewitness testimony, many cases were on shaky grounds in those days unless there was enough other evidence present to bring a conviction.  However, when both eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence were present, it made the case a more solid one.
     With this in mind, I always find myself surprised when I hear people talk about their faith being built upon that "inner" feeling they have that God is speaking to them.  Perhaps they have been highly motivated by a great message or by the antiphonal music of a choir and instrumental group.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with being moved in our hearts, but our faith can rest on far more than a "feeling".  We have eyewitnesses who testified to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Because of this, we can say, "Case closed."  Feelings come and go, but the Word of God stands forever!
     Two of the disciples, John and Peter, were eyewitnesses to what happened in the life of Christ and they wrote clearly about their experiences.  Peter said in his letter:  "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).  Likewise, the Apostle John wrote these words:  "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (1 John 1:1-2).  Both of these men walked, talked and lived with Jesus for three years.  They witnessed His crucifixion, His death and His resurrection.  Then, they boldly proclaimed His name after He ascended to the Father.  In fact, they ended up paying great penalties for what they preached.  Peter was crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as His Lord.  John was boiled in oil though he survived and was banished to the Isle of Patmos where he later wrote the book of Revelation.
     Matthew was also a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and recorded in detail the events of our Lord's life.  While Luke was not an original disciple, he spoke with many of those who were eyewitnesses to the life of the Lord.  He records in great detail the many events that occurred. As a physician, he would have been very driven to write things accurately and he states in the opening of his Gospel:  "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught"(Luke 1:1-4).   From this we know that Luke had first hand eyewitness accounts on which to base his writing.
     Jesus also appeared to His original disciples (with the exception of Judas who had taken his own life), Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary the mother of James, Cleopus (Luke 24:13-34) and to over 500 during the 40 days following the resurrection.  Though Paul was not an eyewitness, we know that he had a dramatic encounter with the living Christ that turned him from persecuting Christians to believing in Him.  He also was brought to the disciples in Jerusalem by Barnabus and affirmed as a brother in the Lord  (Acts 9:26-30).  As a contemporary of the Apostle Peter, Paul wrote, preached and taught alongside these disciples.  His testimony of Christ was demonstrated by his life and death at the hands of Rome.
     I have only scratched the surface in pointing out the eyewitness testimony to the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it should be evident that we have radical legal evidence to stand on for our faith.  Most of the Gospel accounts were written either before 70 A.D. or within the first 100 years following the death and resurrection of the Lord.  This type of historical documentation lends even more credibility to the events that transpired.   In addition, many (if not most) of the original disciples were put to death for their faith.  These trembling, fearful fisherman who hid after the crucifixion became bold preachers.  They paid dearly for their stand.  Why would you do this if it was not true?  I do not think anyone would offer up his body to be crucified, beaten and beheaded for the sake of a false religion.  These were the eyewitnesses to the life of Christ who sealed their testimony in their own blood.
     Feelings are not a reliable source on which to base our beliefs.  Christianity is logical, reasonable and has stood the test of time.  In fact, more evidence to the veracity of what the Bible teaches is being turned up every day by archeologists.  Who is surprised?  God's Word is inspired, infallible, and the very foundation of our faith.  We could take it to court and find no better testimony offered there.
     After recounting the events surrounding the resurrection, John makes this powerful statement in his Gospel:  "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name"  (John 20:30-31).  This is why the Bible stands as a book filled with eyewitness accounts to the greatest events in history.  It is His-story!  Believe in the Lord, not as a result of feelings, great music, or a motivating message.  Believe in Him because of the testimony preserved for us in the written Word of God which guides us into all truth.  Selah!  


How has your faith been strengthened by the Word of God?  Share your thoughts on this important evidence we have for our belief in Jesus Christ.  


Photo of the Bible courtesy of Freefoto                                                                                            

6 comments:

Penned Pebbles said...

This is a very good post with very valid points. I'd like to add just one thought from the first chapter of 2 Peter, where the apostle, though an eyewitness, brings the believer back to God's Word as being the ultimate authority. "We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain..." [v. 18,19] I guess he was aware that we can't always rely on eyewitness accounts but we can always trust the Word of God! Blessings

Barbara Thayer said...

Great point Petra. We do have to depend on the the entire written Word of God as our foundation. I am grateful that the eyewitnesses wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so their testimonies would be forever recorded for us to read and believe. Isn't God good to us?! Thank you for sharing this and for your friendship. Blessings to you!

Patricia said...

Excellent post, Barbara.

The word of the prophets was indeed the sure word, but the eye-witness accounts of the NT were the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah that the prophets had written about.

And like you said, Barbara, neither prophecy nor evidence had anything to do with feelings.

Barbara Thayer said...

Yes, Amen Pat. When we walk by feelings, we are bound to be disappointed when we have a bad day...but when we walk by the truth of God's Word in both Old and New Testaments...we have the sure foundation we need. Thank you my dear friend for your comments!

Christina Langella said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing a little about your background! What a wonderful and interesting way to grow up -- i don't many girls with a well known criminal attorney for a grandpa! :)

At any rate, AMEN, to your article. Having come out of a church background that exalted "experience" over the truth of God's word, I can relate to everything you have said.

So many seek God for the experience but it is the only the word of God -- the Gospel that is the power of God. And, the cannon is closed!

Thank you for this! This is a real blessing Barbara!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you for your comments my friend. Yes, I have been in churches that emphasized experience over the Word. Had to have praise and worship for a long time in order to "enter in" to God's presence. What false teaching! We are in His presence all the time as we live in Him. God's Word is so crucial to us. It just never returns void and we can trust the truth in it. I love the Bible and the fact that we have His Spirit to teach us.
Blessings my friend!