Monday, March 24, 2014

God's Not Dead: The Fascinating Proof part 1


 by Mike Robinson 

god's not dead film book
The first century Church was in crisis at the very beginning. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate had ordered the execution of Jesus Christ, and many apostles had run away and hid from the authorities. Priests had turned Christ over to the pagan procurator and successfully urged him to crucify Christ. Evangelists and teachers had surrendered their ministry to be derided and disallowed in the city streets as well as anywhere near the temple. An air of distress and fear hung over the church. Some might have thought that God was dead.

But something powerful, even colossal, arose to restore the confidence and buoyancy of the New Testament congregation: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The task of the church, in the Christ’s vision, was to preach the good news of redemption to a fallen world as it seeks to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus sought to purge sin from His people’s record and reduce the amount of wickedness in every corner of the globe through the expanse of the church.

After Christ’s resurrection appearances, the church believed that, in all lands, the first job was to preach the gospel (the death and resurrection of Christ: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and then defend the faith (1Peter 3:15). Yes, it’s undeniable that Jesus was unlawfully arrested and sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus died. But on the third day Christ arose and this truth wouldn't be diluted by fright and anxiety. With this offensive posture, the apostolic church built a robust ark for all those who came to Christ. The resurrection changed everything. Clearly, God is not dead!

One of the problems with selected sects and cults, the church points, is that they are too static. They try to seal off an ark to ride out the tempest, but they end up shutting themselves in. They cut themselves off from others and the challenge of truth. In contrast, the church is on the move because God is alive.

Christ mounted the wings of resurrection power and His followers run with a risen Savior. Thus, the people of God go on the offense and swallow the ungodly domain as it transforms it by the word of God. In addition, the empowering truth of the resurrection is assured and is to always be defended (Jude 3).

They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in him. And in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven.[1]

God is Not Dead: Evidence in the Bible

Often, the Bible uses evidential arguments. For example, when scripture states in Psalm 19 that the heavens declare the glory of God, it is denoting how God’s glory is manifested in the natural world. It is proven by nature itself. Evidence and proof are everywhere around us. If you offer an evidential assertion, you should have real evidence to posit such.

Equally, there is no amount of evidence that is adequate in and of itself to persuade a non-believer of the truth of Jesus Christ. Prayer must be undertaken and the gospel must be presented, but God’s grace is the ultimate means for salvation of a soul.

At night, atheists find themselves looking out at the starry hosts spangled against the dark canvass of the night and declare that it was all just an accident. They do not see design where design clearly resides. The mathematical precision necessary for the running of the planets to and fro was not designed. All the precision came from chaos and blind chance. They have blind faith in scientism as they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. In actuality, they know that God designed the cosmos, but they do not want to believe it.

Logically, there cannot be any true atheists. For one to propose that God does not exist, anywhere at any time, one would have to know all things, and be omnipresent, eternal, and infinite. That would make you God.

So, the only person in the universe who could possibly not believe in God, everywhere, and always, would be God. One would have to be God to be a true atheist and that is theoretically, logically, and rationally absurd.

No one has enough blind faith to believe that:

  1. Order came from disorder
  2. Uniformity came from the accidental
  3. Intelligence came from non-intelligence
  4. Design came from chaos
  5. Personality came from non-personality
  6. Love came from hard matter
  7. Something came from nothing

Aggressive Atheists and Skeptics

Richard Dawkins called upon fellow anti-theists to implement crass mocking as a tactic to use against religious people: “…mock them. Ridicule them. In public ... religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged, and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”

Ever since I became a Christian in my early twenties, I have spoken with many hundreds of non-Christians who have told me that I was wrong to believe in God. The most bitter and rancorous of these rebukes have come from atheists. This behavior is consistent with men who lack an absolute moral standard and, therefore, they often sputter out caustic and biting reproofs against God and Christians. Once they understand that the believer has the intellectual upper hand, they get very defensive and, frequently, very angry. No other group with whom I have had dialogues seems to get enraged so often. These conversations have been at universities, coffeehouses, bookstores, homes, philosophy groups, and other forums. I ascribe this behavior to human nature and to the weak intellectual worldview that atheism provides.

Christians may behave rudely and unruly, but when they act this way they are in opposition to the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are acting in an inconsistent manner when they engage in troubling behavior. The atheist is consistent with Darwinian thought when he acts in a hostile and belligerent fashion.

Objective Moral Values Require a Living God
 
We hope to wake up people to the double standard. Keith Olbermann can have a position, and even say it on the air, and he’s OK, but I don’t have a right to biblical beliefs. What we can’t have in this country is a point where a corporation feels empowered to punish those who have a biblical belief. That’s the chilling effect of this moment in my life (sportscaster Craig James after Fox Sports fired him for holding biblical beliefs).
 
Our means of discerning what is good and right is found in the Bible. It is our authority and guide. Mankind is not the standard. Science cannot be the standard. The Bible alone provides a standard based on an all-knowing and unchanging God. The standard must be based on an unchanging source, otherwise ethics could change. If moral standards were changeable, this would mean that theft and murder may be considered bad on one day and good the next. This is manifestly wrong and is one more reason we must follow God’s word.

The Death and Resurrection of Christ: God is Not Dead

Today, I would say the claim concerning the resurrection is more impressive than any by the religious competition (former atheist Anthony Flew).

It’s worth noting that the apostles saw the risen Christ, touched the risen Christ, and died tortuous deaths while proclaiming the truth of the resurrection. They did this when all they had to do was deny it to avoid persecution and death. Sure, many people die for lies, but no collective, diverse group of people die for a lie when they have sure knowledge that it is a lie. Furthermore, all known ancient documents that refer to the subject report an empty tomb. Even though the manner in which one accepts or rejects the evidence is controlled by one’s presuppositions, the facts are mighty. The evidence is there and it is impressive.

Evidence is Delightful

The Christian worldview alone offers a confirmed resurrection of a Savior to demonstrate its authority. The Greek deities and other pseudo-resurrected gods were not historical figures. The only documents we have concerning the false gods/myths are the specific documents dated hundreds of years after Christianity arose.

Evidence is indeed wonderful. The Christian faith has an abundance of evidence to support its claims. In truth, there is nothing but evidence for the God of the Bible. Every star and every atom declares the majesty of God (Psalm 19:1).

We see evidence of God’s fingerprints in every known corner of the universe. Mankind discovers the proof and affirms many of the facts that the Bible records and announces. The greatest miracle is the resurrection of Jesus. The Lord Jesus is alive! He is the only religious leader to rise from the dead. He is the only one who promised a resurrection and duly kept His promise. You can visit the tombs of all the deceased religious leaders and find their remains still in the grave. However, Jesus is alive because God is not dead.

All Religious Originators Died and Remained Dead

Dovtastic shares his visit to Mohammad’s grave on YouTube: “During my trip this year on Hajj I had the great honor to visit our Prophet Mohammed’s … grave in the Ottoman front portion of the Masjid Al Nabawi. This beautiful masjid holds one million people in Medina and when the grave is open for visitation, 1000s of people are passing through every minute.” This man and millions of others have seen the occupied grave of Islam’s founder, proving that Mohammad simply remained dead.

You can visit the graves of leaders like Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and Buddha from your home computer by watching a video of their gravesite on YouTube. They and all the others died and remained dead; their occupied tombs attest to it. Jesus, however, is alive. His grave is empty. When people visit His grave it’s vacant.

Jesus said, “All power on earth and heaven has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). No force could have kept Him down. The Romans killed Him, put Him in a cave tomb, and placed huge boulder at a downward angle in front of the cave. Additionally, the state attached Caesar’s seal on the crypt, and posted Roman guards to protect the tomb. They were only trying to prevent the inevitable. Jesus had the power to rise and nobody could stop Him.

God used Christ’s resurrection and His appearances before His disciples to win many of Christ’s enemies to salvation. The Bible tells us that “the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem; and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Scripture also records that some Pharisees converted to Christianity (Acts 15:5). It’s clear, God is not dead, He’s the living God.

The Bible is the Word of God
 
Often skeptics argue that the Bible was written many years after the events it records, thus it was corrupted over time. Abrasive atheist Sam Harris notified the world that “the gospels are ancient fiction.” But papyrus expert Peter Thiede has demonstrated that a copy of the Gospel of Luke, housed in a French museum, is dated approximately 50 AD.[2] Thiede has also determined that the Magdalyn Manuscript of the Book of Matthew is dated circa 40-50 AD. And finally, Thiede has dated a copy of the Gospel written by Mark to be from about 50 AD.[3]
 
The age of the gospels demonstrates that there was not enough time between the events and their transcription for the Bible to be tainted or altered in the manner the critics allege. Ramm acknowledged, “Divine inspiration of the Bible is the only adequate hypothesis to account for the Bible.”[4]
 
Predictions Fulfilled: Declaring the Things to Come

Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were… Or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter… Thus says the LORD … I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me, there is no God. And who can proclaim as I do? … I have declared the former things from the beginning; … Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass... Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you... (Isaiah 41:22-23, 44:6-8, 48:3-20).

Another segment of “proof” for Christianity is the messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Old Testament foretold the coming of the Messiah in precise detail. The text was written centuries before the coming of Jesus and predicted more than three hundred prophecies about Him. No other founder of any religion can provide a similar prophetic record of their life written down centuries before their birth. Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White, David Berg, Mohammad, and Buddha did not supply a widely transmitted, pre-existing written record that accurately predicted the specific details of their lives.

But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:22; italics mine).

The three hundred clear prophecies of the coming Messiah were predicted and predestined by God (Acts 2:23). The Bible foretold events and historical details about the coming of Jesus prior to His birth. All these predictions came true in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. No other spiritual leader or prophet had predictive material written about their lives recorded before they were born. Jesus Christ had more than three hundred predictions about His life that were fulfilled in exact detail. An agent on The X-Files once said: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” And only one with extreme power (God’s omnipotence qualifies) to perfectly arrange history could create a future where one man could fulfill hundreds of predictions—most of which were out of a normal man’s control to arrange.

Then He (Jesus) said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).

Christ’s virgin birth was predicted about seven hundred years before He was born in Isaiah chapter seven verse fourteen: “So the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel.” His place of birth was recorded in Micah 5:2, hundreds of years prior to the event: “And you, Bethlehem ... out of you He shall come forth to Me, to become Ruler in Israel, He whose goings forth have been ... from eternity.” The exact date of His entry in Jerusalem was predicted by Daniel in chapter nine. God prophesied the Palm Sunday event recorded in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly … O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Christ’s death on the cross was foretold before that form of execution had even been invented by Persia. Psalm 22:1-16 announces the crucifixion hundreds of years before it happened: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me... But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All who see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, since He delights in him! I am poured out like water, and all my bones are spread apart; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels and You have brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have circled around me; the band of spoilers have hemmed me in, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

Data is mute; one needs a theoretical framework to make sense of anything (chemist Roald Hoffman).

This evidence for Christian theism is overwhelming. Nevertheless, the truth is even more certain and compelling than compiling great blocks of evidence to prove the reality of Christianity. The argument for Christian theism is assured. Without God, one cannot provide the necessary truth conditions for knowledge—including knowledge derived from evidence and its analysis.

 For more see my new book God's Not Dead HERE
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NOTES


1.        John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ.
2.        Thiede, Rekindling the Word.
3.        Thiede, Eyewtinesses of Jesus.

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