Christianity Grounded in the Historical Fact of the Resurrection
By David Limbaugh
Jesus’ apostles and other disciples were willing to die for him. But so what? Haven’t the followers of other religious leaders and even some political leaders been willing to die for them, as well? What makes Jesus’ followers so unique in this regard?
I address this very question in my new book, “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel,” because I used to wonder about this, too. What, if anything, distinguishes the Christian martyrs?
New Testament scholar Gary Habermas offered an insight that I hadn’t considered before, and I find it enormously probative.
“One grand distinction,” he argues, ” makes all the difference in the world. Like other examples of religious or political faith, the disciples believed and followed their leader’s teachings. But unlike all others, the disciples had more than just their beliefs; they had seen the resurrected Jesus. This is a crucial distinction. Their faith was true precisely because of the Resurrection.”
Habermas cements the point with a few more questions: “Which is more likely — that an ideology we believe in is true or that we and a number of others saw a friend several times during the last month? If eternity rested on the consequences, would we rather base our assurance on the truth of a particular religious or political view, or would we rather that the consequences followed from repeated cases of seeing someone?”
This is fascinating — and compelling — is it not? Contrary to conventional wisdom, Christianity is based in history — in historical facts. The faith didn’t come first; the history came first, and the faith followed. In fact, many of the disciples were dejected and dispirited when Jesus died — until they witnessed with their own eyes his bodily resurrection.
They weren’t imagining they saw him. They didn’t expect to see him. But when he appeared to them in his body, he proved to them he was real. He ate with them; they touched him; he talked to them; he opened up the Scriptures to them and showed them how they pointed to him, his sinless life, his suffering, his crucifixion and his substitutionary death on the cross for us.
Read more: Townhall.com
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