Fact or Fairytale?

You are in the centre of your nearest city, helping with some gospel literature distribution. A man in his early twenties approaches and asks, ‘How do you know God is real?’, or at lunchtime in school your friend asks, ‘Why do you believe in Jesus?’ What would you say?

First Peter chapter 3 verse 15 tells us we should ‘be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you’. Would you be ready?

In my last article, I showed how nature itself, and in particular the human body, is proof of the existence of God. There is, however, a stronger, more indisputable proof of the gospel: the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

It is recorded in the Book of Acts that the apostles preached this fact as proof that Jesus is Lord. Let me give you some examples:

  1. When Paul was preaching on his own in the pagan city of Athens, he preached the need to repent and proclaimed that God ‘hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead’, Acts 17. 31.
  2. Shortly after this, when Paul was in the city of Corinth, his gospel message was not only that Jesus died for our sins, but that He was raised the third day, and that there were witnesses to this fact.

It is the bodily resurrection of Christ that is the proof that backs up our witness. First Corinthians chapter 15 verses 5-9 lists over six occasions when he was seen, and there were more! (See Luke 24 and John 20, 21). We could fill a courtroom to capacity with the witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.

He was seen:

I. by those who loved him (Peter, the twelve, all the apostles, over 500 of the brothers)

II. by a sceptic (James, the Lord’s brother)

III. by a bitter enemy (Paul)

Time after time men and women verified that Christ really had risen from the dead! Unbelievers also saw Him risen, and as far we can see, those who did became some of His loudest advocates, showing the reality of the resurrection. It was not simply Jesus’ followers making up a story to cope with His unexpected death. Paul, for example, gave up a position of power and popularity among the Jews, for a life of persecution, imprisonment and, ultimately, martyrdom. Why? He had seen and heard the risen Lord. He knew absolutely that Jesus had risen, and, thus, all He claimed was true. He was God’s only Son, and our Saviour.

Paul challenges the Corinthians to validate what he was writing by speaking to those witnesses who were still alive. If there was any doubt in his mind regarding the reality of Christ’s resurrection, he would not have done this. But he knew that they would back up his statement: Christ is risen!

Another proof of Christ’s resurrection is seen in the way the various records have been written. For example, the Gospels contain several stories which would have been embarrassing for the disciples. If the resurrection were a fictional story, why would the disciples have included their disbelief at the women’s initial claim that Christ was risen, Luke 24. 11, or Thomas’ doubts, John 20. 25? Their inclusion is additional evidence that the Gospels are accurate, historical accounts.

A further piece of evidence is found in the fact that the first witnesses recorded in the Gospels were women. In the First Century a woman’s witness was not seen as valid in a Jewish court. Why, then, would the writers of the Gospels insist that the first witnesses were women, unless that is what really happened?

In summary, we know the gospel is true because the Lord rose from the dead. The evidence for this is found in over 500 witnesses. He was seen in different places, at different times, by followers and opponents. He walked, talked and ate with them. They knew the truth, and they gave their lives because they believed that He was truly raised from the dead. The writers, who wrote the Gospels, did not give a one-sided, biased account. Rather, they told what happened, ‘warts and all’. Jesus was risen from the dead, and they had seen Him!