|Posted by obsessd on November 11, 2012 at 11:50 PM|
I haven't written in a while, but I'm back now with another topic to discuss. This will follow in the vein of a number of others, discussing evangelism questions that may arise potentially when discussing the faith with other people, and attempting to provide answers for those questions. Perhaps you've come across someone saying the following:
The Gospels are all made up. The disciples and Apostles all made this up so they could be in power of a new system (or for some other equally selfish reason) or perhaps they just were delusional.
Ever heard that? Well here's the good news: It's competely refutable. Let's tackle the first half of the equation before we move on: the whole story was made up. We all know men are sinful, and we lie and scheme and cheat to get to the top. It's our human nature coming to the fore when we act this way. Why should we feel that the disciples of Jesus were any different? Perhaps there was no Jesus, and they invented Him for their own purposes, claiming to be eyewitnesses of things that never happened. It's possible, isn't it?
Actually, it's not. Even most secular historians will tell you that there is no doubt that Jesus, as a historical figure, existed. Even Josephus makes mention of the Nazarene in his works. So we can be reasonably sure that Christ truly did walk this earth. But what about after He was gone, could His disciples have made up the resurrection and falsified testamony to their own ends? They could have, but it makes no sense when you consider the rest of the facts. Especially the fact that many of them died for their faith. No man dies for a lie he himself made up. You wouldn't go to a horrible, drawn-out death (such as crucifixion, which some of the Apostles would suffer) to protect a faith you largely invented for your own gain. The fact that they were willing to die for His testamony speaks to the legitimacy of their belief. They were not lying.
Could they have been delirious? This explination also falls short when we examine the evidence more thoroughly. First, we're talking about a larger group of people than most may realize. It was not a handful who were privy to Jesus' teachings, but many. He was a big name in His day. His miraculous doings were done live in front of crouds on occasion. On two separate occasions, He fed five thousand people with food that might fill a handful of people at best. And at the time that the faith was first being spread, all these people were alive and well. So unless thousands upon thousands had the exact same halucinations at the exact same times, over a period of about three years, we can safely rule out this phenomenon. Then Paul comes along to shove the final nail in the delirium coffin. An avid persecutor of the early Church, Paul has a totally unexpected encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus that radically changed his life and set him on the path to Apostlehood. He was late to the game, as far as the rest of the "big names" of the first generation were concerned. Peter, John, and the others had been with Him since the begining, and now Paul joins the ranks a number of years later. If delirium is the cause of it, why would he suddenly experience the exact same halucination or halucinations as they did spontaneously that leads him to be the man who writes two thirds of the New Testament? It makes no sense.
So what does make sense? It makes sense that Jesus was a historical figure. That means He lived and walked where the Gospels say He lived and walked. The disciples were not psychotic nutjobs who dreamed up the entire scenario, nor were they manipulative sociopaths greedy for power. Their martyrdoms testify to the honesty of their belief in what they preached, and the sheer number of witnesses effectively rules out delirium. Therefore we can expect that what these men saw, and to what they testify, was exactly what the Gospels declare: the Christ, the Son of God Almighty walked this earth in human form. He suffered at the hands of sinful men, bearing our sins on the cross for the salvation of mankind, and on the third day He rose from the dead, being seen by His disciples and made known His resurrection to them before ascending into heaven, where He resides now. But soon, very soon, He will come again to gather His bride from among the nations and bring them in the blink of an eye. This is called the Rapture, and only those whose faith is in Jesus Christ will be taken to paradise. The rest will remain to suffer through the worst seven years mankind will ever see. The Tribulation.