Many people ask if there is one ultimate evidence or proof for God. Is there one proof that explains:
- Why Christians believe in God
- Why Christians believe that God created the world
- Why Christians believe the bible as we have it is the word of God
- Why Christians believe that all of the men who wrote the bible were inspired by God
- Why Christians believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be
- Why Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross for me
- Why Christians believe Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven
- Why Christians believe Christianity is the Only true religion?
I believe there are two ways of approaching this question, depending on the person that asks:
- If the person does not seem open to the truth and is just looking for reasons to justify their unbelief, no amount of evidence will satisfy them because they do not have a desire to learn truth. They either have a bias or have many presuppositions that will make it near impossible for them to accept things that the theist would offer. For instance, if someone believes in the philosophies of naturalism or materialism, they believe that the natural, or material world is ALL there is. Because of this they may not be willing to accept anything that you may offer that deals with the supernatural, such as miracles. For these people, I usually do not provide evidence in a way that they can be the judge over God and blaspheme Him in doing so. The reason is: the Bible teaches that everyone is already without excuse for rejecting God, solely on the basis of suppressing the truth of His existence by their sin. This suppression of the truth leads them to ignore the evidence of God’s deity and power in creation, the historical evidence of how God cared for Israel, delivered them from Egypt, and gave them the promised land. Their suppression of the truth leads them to reject the many prophecies in the Old Testament that speak of the Messiah, His deity, the miracles He would do in His life, His sacrificial death in fulfilling the OT sacrificial system, and His resurrection. All of these things are spoken of in the scriptures and were fulfilled in His life. These things were all seen by men (eyewitness testimony). These are great proofs for the existence of God, but they are rejected because of an unwillingness to accept the historical accounts because the miraculous is “impossible” to the skeptic. So the best proof to give these skeptics is to show them that the worldview that they are using to examine the evidence is incoherent and illogical. Both naturalism and materialism are self-refuting. They need to see that their worldview as unbelievers cannot account for the necessary preconditions of life and intelligibility, such as reason, knowing they are in reality, objective truth and morality, the uniformity of nature, and the immaterial, universal, unchanging laws of logic, science, physics, mathematics, etc. All of these laws transcend time and cannot be accounted for from a worldview that rejects the God of the Bible. Since these necessary things for understanding life cannot be accounted for in atheism, atheism is invalidated, and theism is validated. If you have only two options (atheism and theism) and there is not a third option (Law of Excluded Middle), disproving one proves the other. Theism is proved by the impossibility of the contrary. The Christian worldview can account for all these things. For more information on these arguments, you can go to my website for more information (atheism page and presuppositional apologetics page)
- If (and only if) a person is actually open to considering the evidence, there are many different things you can share with them, but if you only had one opportunity, I would share with them the following:
The Resurrection: The Ultimate Proof for Jesus, the Authority of Scripture, and Creation
There is one main reason why I have the faith I do: Because I believe that the evidence points to the FACT that Jesus Christ rose from the grave. The Christian faith stands or falls on the historicity of this one event. Did Jesus rise from the tomb, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies that said He would, along with the prophecies that He Himself made in His life.
If Jesus rose from His tomb:
- His claims about Himself are true. He really is the Son of the Living God. He really was God incarnate, the One with ALL authority on heaven and earth who will be the judge of all men (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 17:30)
- He is the lamb of God who died for the sins of the world, including your sins and my sins (John 1:29)
- The Apostles and Prophets who spoke on His behalf (who gave us the NT) were from God. They were inspired by God, as Jesus said they would be (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15)
- The Old Testament is shown to be from God also, proven by Jesus’ claims that it was and His use of it with authority.
- Jesus’ speaking of Adam and Eve as real historical figures, the beginning of time and creation, the flood of Noah, etc. show that those events really did happen as recorded in the book of Genesis.
If Jesus did not rise from His tomb:
- He is by far the biggest fraud that this world has known. He wouldn’t even be a good man, or a good prophet.
- His Apostles and Prophets were liars, and were willing to even die for a lie.
- Everything that we believe from the New Testament (and possibly the Old Testament) is a lie!
- Our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins.
- We are wasting our time being Christians if the resurrection didn’t happen! We should as Paul stated just “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Christianity crumbles if the resurrection did not happen. New Testament preachers of the gospel were more than willing to allow everything to rest on this one event happening.
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
The evidence that we have is substantial. We have historical eyewitness testimony that must be taken into account by any honest seeker of truth.
- “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16)
- “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 (John 19:35)
- “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:29-32)
Overview of the eyewitness accounts
After Jesus’ death, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea buried the body of Jesus in the tomb of Joseph, a tomb in which no one had ever been placed. A huge stone was put at the entrance of the tomb, a stone that probably weighed somewhere between 1,000-2,000 pounds. A guard was placed at the tomb so that the disciples could not come to steal the body. Yet on that third day of His death, the witnesses aledge that when the women came to the tomb, they found the stone rolled away. His burial garments were in the tomb, but the body was gone. Then an angel appeared to them, asking, “why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here. He is risen. Go and tell his disciples.” The women went and told the disciples, but the disciples unfortunately didn’t believe them. 2 disciples, one of which was Peter, went to the tomb, finding it how the women said it was.
Then we see Jesus make His first appearances to witnesses. He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. Then to the women that were with her. Then he appeared to 2 men on the road to Emmaus, then to Simon Peter and the other apostles without Thomas on the day of the supposed resurrection.
Then a week later, Jesus appeared again to His disciples with Thomas present. Thomas, who doubted at first, was convinced, fell before Jesus and said, My Lord and My God!” He later appeared to the apostles at the Sea of Galilee and to James His brother, who at one point did not believe in Jesus, but was convinced by the resurrection that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Paul states that at one time over 500 people at once saw Jesus resurrected.
Luke’s account in Acts says that Jesus appeared to them many times over a 40 day period, teaching them about the kingdom of God. Then after this period of time, Jesus gave them the great commission, telling them to proclaim the message of salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection, a message that they were willing to give their lives for! Then, after giving the great commission, they watched as Jesus ascended into heaven.
There was at least one more appearance according to the testimony. He was on his way to Damascus with letters from the Jewish leaders giving him authority to find Christians in that city and to arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem. But one the way to Damascus, a bright light appeared, Paul fell to the ground, and Jesus appeared to him, bringing about his conversion. Paul who was an enemy of the Lord, became an Apostle of the Lord, and proclaimed the gospel in much of the known world of his time.
These things are what we see in the testimony of the New Testament.
But there are modern skeptics that do not want to believe this evidence. They come up with many theories to try to say that Jesus was not resurrected, all of which can be put into 2 categories. There are “occupied tomb theories” and there are “empty tomb theories.” These are the 2 possibilities. Either the tomb had the body or it didn’t.
Occupied tomb theories
The first skeptic response is this:
“Resurrection is not possible. Miracles are not possible.”
We cannot see them now, so they didn’t happen then. Because of this, Jesus never left the tomb.
Resurrection is “unscientific.” It cannot be seen or tested. It is true that we do not see people rising from the dead after three days today. We have no empirical evidence that this is possible. Jesus’ resurrection cannot be perceived with our senses today.
But I’ll tell you, I believe those who make this argument are being intellectually dishonest. It is true that the resurrection is outside of the empirical realm. No one here has ever seen it. But there is still eyewitness testimony that people who believe this are not willing to even look at. They ignore it. They do not discuss it. There is eyewitness testimony, which is evidence. Men who saw Jesus, ate with Him, heard Him teach over a 40 day period after His resurrection. Those things were in the empirical realm. I believe that is intellectually dishonest to say miracles are impossible if many eyewitnesses saw the miracle (even up to 500 witnesses that could have been spoken to at that time).
“All of this was legend.”
Everything that we see is a legendary account that arose over a long period of time.
That’s an easy way to try to dismiss everything. But according to Acts 2, the resurrection was no legend, it was a focal point of the first sermon preached on the day of Pentecost. The resurrection was part of the gospel message from the very beginning. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection was of first importance. It was something he preached everywhere he went. all of the evidence indicates the opposite of this theory that it was a legend.
Also, unbelieving Jews in the first century did not make such a claim. Even the enemies of that time knew that the resurrection was not a legend.
“They went to the wrong tomb.”
Jesus’ body was in a different tomb? Everyone who supposedly saw the empty tomb went to the wrong tomb. Nobody knew the right tomb. Joseph of Arimathea didn’t know the right tomb? The enemies who placed the guard at the tomb went to the wrong tomb? This just doesn’t make sense.
This also doesn’t deal with the post-resurrection appearances
“They eyewitnesses hallucinated.”
More than 500 people all had the same hallucination? Every single person who saw the Lord had hallucinations? And they just stopped after 40 days? How about Paul? he just hallucinated seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus? This doesn’t make sense. It has also been proved that hallucinations can only happen in individual occurrences. It is not possible that 500 people, or even 12 people at once could have the same hallucination.
“ Maybe it was all a case of mistaken identity.”
They wanted to see Jesus so badly, that they just happened to see someone who looked like Him, and after this they went all over the world claiming that Jesus rose from the dead. This does not make sense when looking at the eyewitness testimonies either. They ate with him and spoke with Him on numerous occasions. It was not possible that it was a case of mistaken identity.
All of these occupied tomb theories just hold no water. They all have the same problem, one that I mentioned already. Unbelieving Jews, the enemies of Christ, never made such claims. They knew that the body was not in the tomb that it was put into. These people so badly wanted to disprove the resurrection, but never advocated any of these theories.
It is a historical fact that the tomb was empty.
Empty tomb theories
“Somebody stole the body.”
- The Disciples Stole the Body: This is what the Jewish authorities came up with. How did they get past the guards? Some say that the guards all fell asleep on guard duty, which would have cost them their lives. So are you telling me that not one of the guards woke up as Jesus’ disciples tip-toed to the tomb, quietly removed the huge stone at the tomb, went into the tomb, unwrapped the body, leaving the wrappings behind, then carried the body out, all of this without waking the guards? That just is not possible. I have seen some heavy sleepers, but this would be ridiculous. Up to the point of Jesus’ death, they did not even understand the importance of the resurrection, nor did they have the courage to do such a thing. Other questions: What did they have to gain by stealing the body and preaching the message that they did? Torture, Imprisonment, death? No one would be willing to die for what they know is a lie! Many people die for what they believe to be true, but not for a lie? How do you explain Paul’s conversion; his willingness to suffer?
- The Jewish or Roman Authorities Stole the Body: Why? Wouldn’t you make it look like His body was resurrected? Also if they did take the body, why did they not just produce the body when the disciples were out proclaiming the resurrection of Christ? They could have stamped out the church in an instant by doing so! But why didn’t they? Because they didn’t have the body.
“Jesus didn’t die on the cross (the swoon theory- Acoma)”
Jesus, after he was put in the tomb, revived, and somehow got out of the tomb in His weakened state.
Did the Roman soldiers mess up at their job of execution? Were they wrong in coming to the conclusion he was dead when they thrust a spear into his side on the cross? Didn’t anyone, including Joseph and Nicodemus realize as they were preparing His body for burial that He was still breathing? Jesus had to survive massive blood loss, torture, and a stab wound in his side. In addition, while suffering from the wounds on his back, in his side, and in his feet and hands, Jesus had to roll the stone away (which normally would take several men to accomplish).
These are the best theories skeptics have been able to come up with over the past 2000 years, but not a single one of them makes logical sense when you with an open mind consider the evidence. So each one of us need to make a decision. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Was his tomb really empty? What does the evidence say? If you come to the conclusion that Jesus was not raised from the tomb, which one of these alternative theories do you want to defend as you theory? Do you have one that I haven’t heard of yet?
I affirm to you that the evidence proves that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. He is the Christ. He was raised from the dead. This is why I am a Christian. This is why I submit to His authority in every area of my life.
You must make a decision. You are without excuse for your sin and for not obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people think their ticket to Heaven is to be a good person. Would you consider yourself a good person? Have you ever lied? Looked with lust? Hated someone? Stolen? Taken God’s name in vain? If you have done these things once, then you are a liar, an adulterer (Matt. 5:28), a murderer (1 John 3:15), a thief, and a blasphemer (not a good person). God will not overlook your crimes. You are deserving of God’s wrath in His eternal prison of Hell. But this is not what He desires for you. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to be a sacrifice for your sins. He died for you and was raised from His tomb by God so you can have the hope of eternal life.
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)