- “During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3
- Noted historian Dr. McCullagh (who wrote extensively on how to find truth in history fairly) writes:
“Christian beliefs are of immense value, both to individuals, to society and to nature. They result in a wisdom and altruism that is of benefit to all. That is why I hope more and more people will accept them.” McCullagh, C. Behan. “Credible Christianity”. www.cbehanmccullagh.com/credible-cristianity/
Many scholars have said that based on academic standards, Jesus and His resurrection are one of the strongest and most proven events of history (I’ve cited some below). Even atheist and agnostic scholars agree that it has incredibly strong evidence that is far better than any other worldview has for their claims. I gave ~20 reasons with references why this is true here, based partly on the work of Josh McDowell’s Evidence that demands a verdict. But more and more evidence of various kinds is supporting it. I will list some below and links to many more recent arguments and talks that use some of the old solid arguments, but also some new ones.
For example, former atheist and homicide detective J. Warner Wallace has recently released a book and training curriculum called Forensic Faith which helps people learn how police verify truth and then shows how by those same standards, Jesus resurrection is proven way beyond any reasonable doubt.
Chinese scholars from the time of Jesus also were given evidence that Jesus was born, died and rose again as a perfect sacrifice to bring pardon for man’s sin and a whole new era of human history. This evidence dates back to the very time that Jesus was living, but it is independent evidence from China. See an article on this here:
We already have evidence and proof for Jesus’ resurrection way beyond reasonable about according to many scholars (some cited below) and even non-Christian scholars agree it is far better evidence than exists for any other worldview.
Whenever we want to figure out if something is true, we need to use the 3 main methods of truth that God used and that science and academics use when they are objective and not controlled by greed/powerful businesses. I’ve written a brief overview of this here.
WHY IS JESUS’ RESURRECTION IMPORTANT ANYWAY?
Belief in Jesus’ resurrection is extremely important, not just for eternal life, but for this world. Confidence in the resurrection of Jesus is actually one of the most important facts for human life and the stability and peace of nations. This is because as history shows, if this life is all a person thinks they have, then they often think they had better get every experience they possible can out of it without much if any regard for morality. I dialogued with one man who spoke about how this lack of confidence caused him to just throw away belief in God and do whatever he felt like (which is the core principle of Satanism). He said:
“I figured I was going to hell because I couldn’t keep the commandments so I said the hell with it.” Steve S.
You can see a lot more people, some of them quite angry and hateful, with this sentiment among many hard rock singers in the documentary Hells Bells.
A person without confidence in eternal life believes they have only one short life to live and so has a powerful motivation to get all the money, all the power, all the sex, all the fame, all the fun, etc. by any means necessary whether it is moral or not, since death is the complete end and everything they want to experience in life must happen before that time. For a person who believes in eternal life and knows that one of the most valuable things in this life (gold) is considered just pavement in the next, is far more willing to reorder his priorities and sacrifice for others.
C.S. Lewis wrote along these lines, saying:
“Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither. https://www.eighthdayinstitute.org/aiming_for_heaven_with_c_s_lewis
A cycle of success when nations or communities follow God’s principles and failure when people abandon His ways happened in similar ways throughout Israel’s history. Scholars have documented it happening in many nations over history and also in China. This confirms God’s claim that:
“Righteousness makes nations great. But sin is a disgrace to all people.” Prov. 14:34
Yuan Zhiming was a dissident and co-leader of the Tiananmen Square protests. He later escaped to America, became a Christian and then began making documentaries about belief in the God of the Bible throughout Chinese history. He made a powerful documentary surveying 5,000 years of Chinese history which shows that belief in the God who revealed Himself to them and who is the same as the God of the Bible leads to equality, peace and thriving, while belief in false religions, secularism and atheism lead to greed, violence, crime and much loss of life.
China’s Confession 神州忏悔录 (Abridged, English subtitle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jh5cBIZscSA
A key section of the documentary says***:
“Facts have once again demonstrated to us that as long as the Chinese people worship men instead of God, as long as sinful men act like righteous God, as long as men with limitations hold limitless power, that peace and stability will never last long…Oh China! This is where your misery resides. The one who sits on the central throne is not God, but an earthly man….men who did not know God became gods of men. Is not this the source of all China’s tragedies? Chinese butchered their fellow Chinese and Chinese conspired against their fellow Chinese. They abused each other…until…they became prey for foreign invaders…Oh China, because you firmly believe there is no God, you give full reign to sinful men to carry out their self abuse in hopelessness. Since you firmly believe mankind does not share a common holy nature, you then let human reason negate your God given conscience. Since you believe there is no Savior except yourself, you are left to drown again and again in an ocean of bitterness, a sea of fire and a pool of blood, of your own making”
Rejection of belief in God and eternal life often leads to enormous amounts of greed and inequality which are the main cause and factor for nearly all evils in the world, according to both the Bible and a vast amount of science. Confidence in Jesus’ resurrection gives a person solid confidence that they can have eternal life. Because that is far more valuable than anything earthly life can give, it inspires people to work and live for justice, equality and the good of all mankind more than anything else in history.
REVIEW OF STRONG ARGUMENTS FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION
Let’s look at a few of the major lines of evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and statements by some of the best western scholars who agree that Jesus’ resurrection is one of the most proven events of history, or at least that it has solid evidence far and above any other supernatural claims.
FACT #1: Jesus strongly believed that He was the Messiah, the Son of God and so did the disciples. A resurrection is a strong proof of that.
Professor Thomas Arnold, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was an expert at judging evidence and verifying historical facts. He said:
- “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
Many other scholars, including many who were atheists when they began researching or still are, have spoken similarly.
The non-Christian scholar Dr. Gerd Ludemann writes:
FACTS #2,3,4, and 5: Dr. William Craig lists 4 more facts that any critic will have to explain logically.
- “Any responsible historian, then, who seeks to give an account of the matter, must deal with these four independently established facts: the honorable burial of Jesus, the discovery of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the very origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection and, hence, of Christianity itself. I want to emphasize that these four facts represent, not the conclusions of conservative scholars, but rather the majority view of New Testament scholarship today. The question is: how do you best explain these facts?”
Craig, W. Jesus’ Resurrection. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/jesus-resurrection
Dr. Bart Ehrman who is agnostic due to accepting the fallacy of methodological naturalism and having difficulty with the problem of God existing while there is also pain (a problem which philosophers agree has been solved) writes:
- “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.”“Paul’s tradition that 500 people saw Jesus at the same time has led some people to suggest that Jesus’ followers suffered mass hysteria. But mass hysteria does not explain the other traditions.” Ehrman, B. 1999. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. p. 230-231.
Another non-Christian scholar says:
FACT #6: The biggest difficulties that atheists simply can’t explain logically is why a whole group of men who lived with Jesus for 3 years and said they saw him resurrect would willingly keep on suffering and sacrificing their lives for that claim if it wasn’t true. They were eyewitnesses and knew whether their claim about his resurrection was true or not. It is extremely hard to explain this without a very real resurrection and all atheist attempts at explanations have failed to account for all the evidence.
Dr. Simon Greenlead, long time professor of law at Harvard and author of a textbook on law which was used in many universities for decades and also a former skeptic of the resurrection, explains why scholars are so certain that Jesus’ resurrection is factual:
- “The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling terrors that can be presented to the mind of man.
Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of his disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men the world were against them.
Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate ; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing.As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution.
The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience and unflinching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted…It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.”
Simon Greenleaf, “An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice”, p.52-53.
- Agnostic scholar Bart Ehrman writes:
“Finally we know that after his death his followers experienced what they described as the ‘resurrection’: the appearance of a living but transformed person who had actually died. They believed this, they lived it, and they died for it.” Ehrman, B. 1999. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. p. 230-231.
- Atheist scholar Gerd Ludeman writes:
“After Jesus’ death, the disciples endured persecution, and a number of them experienced martyrdom. The strength of their conviction indicates that they were not just claiming Jesus had appeared to them after rising from the dead. They really believed it. They willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ.” Ludemann, G. 1996. What Really Happened? p. 80.
To see an overview of how all proposed atheist explanations have been debunked as not explaining this evidence well at all, see Doug Powell’s short overview here:
Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? Parts 1 and 2
FACT #7: Whenever people believe and follow God’s principles, nations become peaceful, stable and thrive, but whenever people disregard belief in God, nations over time lose equality, human rights are eroded or degraded and eventually, tyrants take control or revolutions happen or both. See the “China’s Confession” documentary above or the research of Dr. Woodberry and Dr. John Warwick Montgomery here.
So, Christian scholars are very justified when they say things like this:
You can read the conclusions of many other scholars, both Christian and non-Christian here.
By far the simplest and most logical conclusion of the evidence is that Jesus really rose from the grave just as the Bible predicted and 100s of people testified. Any critics who want to reject this have to explain many difficult facts and none have been able to do so rationally so far.
This claim of a risen Christ radically changed not just the church, but the whole Roman empire, which was turned upside down by the early Christians (Acts 17:6).
Ehrman notes, “Christianity probably made up 7 to 10 percent of the population of the Roman Empire.” A mere hundred years later, half the empire’s “60 million inhabitants claimed allegiance to the Christian tradition.” Ehrman declares, without hyperbole, “That is absolutely extraordinary.” Christianity was something new on this earth. It wasn’t closed to women. It was so concerned with questions of social welfare (healing the sick, caring for the poor) that it embedded them into its doctrines…Christianity went far beyond henotheism’s hesitant claim upon ultimate truth. It was an exclusivist faith that foreclosed — was designed to foreclose — devotion to all other deities. Yet it was different from Judaism, which was just as exclusivist but crucially lacked a missionary impulse. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/books/review/bart-d-ehrman-the-triumph-of-christianity.html
There is much more evidence of many kinds. Some of the best presentations/sites that summarize some of the evidence/proof for Jesus’ resurrection, from western scholars, former atheists, Asian, African-American, and Arab, scholars, pastors, etc. are below.
1) BRIEF STRONG ARGUMENTS THAT JESUS RESURRECTION IS A PROVEN FACT
Dr. William Craig:
Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? – Part One: The Facts
Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? – Part Two: The Explanation
Powerful Reasons for Jesus’ resurrection–the 5 E’s of Evidence (by former atheist Lee Strobel)
JESUS’ RESURRECTION, One of the Most Solidly Proven Events in History (a short intro from Bryan Bissell on why it’s important and a few strong lines of evidence from scholars.)
The Resurrection of Jesus: The Evidence TED Talk Style by Dr. Mike Licona
One Minute Answers to many skeptic objections
2) The Resurrection of Jesus by Inspiring Philosophy (This is one of the most detailed documentaries on the profound unrivaled evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. It shows some of the major lines of evidence, shows in detail why all skeptic arguments badly fail to explain the evidence and how the only view that can explain all the evidence is a real resurrection of Jesus).
3) Dr. Habermas has compiled over 3,000 peer reviewed studies from scholars of numerous backgrounds, Christian, atheist, conservative, liberal, western, eastern, etc.). He shows that nearly all the scholars agree on 12 major facts about Jesus’ life. And then he goes on to show how only a real resurrection can explain these 12 facts.
The Historical Facts Argument for the Resurrection – Dr. Gary Habermas (short 6 minute version)
The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars | Gary Habermas (Part 1 & 2) (1 hour version)
The Resurrection Argument That Changed a Generation of Scholars – Gary Habermas at UCSB (similar to the above)
Dr. Habermas website with an overview of the argument and the work of some other scholars on the minimal facts argument.
A good website overviewing the 12 arguments and the thousands of peer reviewed sources that support it and a couple talks by Dr. Habermas.
Another article on it is here
Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? | Yale 2014 | Dr. William Lane Craig
4) POWERFUL ASIAN/COSMOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ LIFE, DEATH & RESURRECTION
See also how evidence from cosmology and ancient Chinese classics (that have been confirmed as reliable by China’s ancient government) give strong evidence of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection).
5) A Biblical Defense of the Resurrection of Christ – Voddie Baucham, African American pastor
(Baucham gives a very logical summary of the evidence for Jesus resurrection with very strong facts, but also some humorous illustrations of the silliness of some skeptic arguments and how they would make real life crazy if they were applied consistently.)
6) DEATH & RESURRECTION The John 10:10 Project – Jesus’ death and resurrection were the ultimate proofs of His claims to deity. Featuring Mike Licona, N.T. Wright, Mark Strauss, J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, Craig Evans, Lee Strobel and Ben Witherington III.
Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? by Dr. Mike Licona
7) MEDICAL EVIDENCE FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION
Crucifixion analysis by a medic
8) The Case for Jesus by Lee Strobel ( Strobel is a former atheist award winning investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune and shows how Jesus resurrection has very strong proof based on the standards of journalism and law. He also shows how it transformed his family life.)
Strobel Case for Christ (short version dramatized)
Lee Strobel: The Case For Christ (longer version)
The Case for Christ Small Group Bible study and Church Campaign by Lee Strobel
9) Cold-Case Christianity with J. Warner Wallace (former atheist and homicide detective)
Is the Resurrection of Jesus True?
Good Reasons to Believe the Resurrection of Jesus parts 1 and 2
10) The Evidence for the Resurrection with Dr. Josh McDowell
11) Atheist Doctor Finds Jesus After Doing His Own Research!! (Greg Leman?)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MtEZMgUHnRg (especially minutes 3 and 7)
12) Ravi Zacharias: He Is Risen Indeed
13) Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: The Christian Testimony of Nabeel Qureshi (a Muslim who converted to Christianity)
Seeking Allah Finding Jesus.
HOW TO BE SURE OF SALVATION
If you would like to learn more about this Jesus and how to trust and believe in Him and have surety that you can have eternal life and live forever, these are some links that can help you with more information about that.
A) A good site explaining the 3 major parts of salvation with many Bible verses quoted to prove each (confession, justification and sanctification).
B) A helpful article from a pastor on salvation.
C) A good article from a Christian site.
D) Probably the best in depth overview for non-Ph.Ds. is this series.
Pastor Jerry Arnold is a wonderful, grace based SDA pastors who preached a brilliant series of sermons on how we can know for certain that we are saved. This is one of the best, most insightful sermon series you’ll hear on the topic from any pastor in any denominations. Crucially it has an ideal and biblical balance of grace that saves us and obedience that prevents us from experiencing and doing harm to the lives of others such as you see in the Bible (James 2, 1 John 1:8,9, 1 John 2:1-9, etc.).
Jerry Arnold-Can I Know I’m Saved series
Another good one is:
How Perfect Should a Christian Be?- (Doug Batchelor) (see especially minutes 0~15, 22~27)
I really hope to see you in heaven and get to know you better along with many believers in God from around the world!
EXTRAS TO ADD
Prov 28:13, 1 John 1:9. SC 64