BASIS OF CHRISTIANITY
The Apostle Paul refers to Christ's death and resurrection using words that are translated "vain" in the
King James. In I Corinthians 15:14 he says, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain(empty),
and your faith is also vain(empty)." Then in verse :17 Paul uses a different word. "And if Christ be not raised,
your faith is vain(profitless manipulation)." Paul uses yet a third word which is translated vain in Galatians
2:21. "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in
vain (without cause)."
Christianity is grounded in the resurrection of Christ, and yet many Christians have never taken the time to
look at the available evidence on the subject. Perhaps they are afraid they'll conclude there WAS no
resurrection. Perhaps they are stuck in the frame of those who would argue the impossibility of the resurrection
on the grounds that miraculous things like resurrections just don't occur. Following is a
Study Outline of an argument for the resurrection of Christ. If a person
professes to be a Christian, he or she should be able to defend the foundational fact of Christianity.
And that's exactly what the resurrection is. It's not a myth. It's not a legend. It's a
You may find it helpful to view the presentation notes of the resurrection study. These notes are taken from Dr. Gene Scott's resurrection messages.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD
Jesus was a fraud,......a nut,.......or the Son of God.
I- Christianity proclaims the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and hangs it's entire
case on that fact.
Historical certainty can be defined as: when every logically available piece of
evidence is in. Historical certainty of the resurrection of Christ cannot be
obtained due to the lack of eye witnesses. Once the practical certainty of eye
witnesses is unavailable, we must recognize the necessary move to logically
available evidence, because of the loss of historic certainty.
Commonly, erroneous circular logic is used by skeptics to ground their refutation
of the resurrection. It goes like this: miracles can't happen, so, Jesus didn't rise,
so, the reporters lied, because, miracles don't happen, so, the resurrection
couldn't occur, so, we can't believe the stories, because miracles can't happen,
so, and on they (merry)go(round).
II-All facts presuppose other facts. Hence, any structured argument has basic
assumptions. These can be argued also, but are usually of a kind that both sides can
accept them as founding facts of the debate. The following basic assumptions must
be taken into account before presenting the evidence of the resurrection. These
assumptions are easily proved with initial research.
III-The historical personage of Jesus was recorded in a few places. From the widely
accepted sources for information on Jesus' life, we will always be presented with
impossible sayings and actions. NOTE: Those denying the resurrection will use the
same sources for their arguement. Jesus was unique, whatever the source of his words
and acts. Where ever you find Jesus, you'll find him saying things humanly impossible
to experience. Crazy stuff!!
- 1-Jesus lived. He is a historical person.
- 2-He was crucified by the Romans at the charge of the Jewish leaders.
He was considered dead.
- 3-He was buried in a known, accessible tomb.
- 4-The preaching about Jesus was threefold: a-he raised form the dead,
b-he ascended into heaven, c-the tomb was empty.
- 5-The Jewish leaders were motivated to disprove number four above.
If Jesus rose, they were out of a job!
- 6-The preachers were persecuted for telling of the resurrection.
- 7-The tomb was empty. And no one paid enough attention to the real
location to preserve the knowledge for the present day. We can't
find Jesus' burial place. There is a traditional site, and a site called
"Gordon's Tomb." It would seem that no one had interest in the
tomb until relics began to be important in the fifth century. Lastly,
the body was never produced.
- 8-To the above we must add the millennia of scholarship focused on
the scriptures. This research has established that the Bible has been
faithfully transmitted; an example being the veracity of the text of
Isaiah that came out of the Qumran caves.
- 1-Jesus said he'd lived forever: John 8:58
- 2-He described the Eternal world from the inside:
he saw Satan fall, Luke 10:18; and Matt 13:41, 18:10,
25:41; Like 15:7; John 14:2. Mohammed claimed only visions,
while Confucius couldn't even be bothered with an afterlife.
- 3-Jesus seated all authority in himself. Matt 28:18, 7:29,
- a-Confucius' authority was his working out a logical way to live.
- b-Buddha, to get away from sin, devised the Eight-fold Path
resulting in Nirvana, salvation, end of Karma, freedom from
the Wheel of Life.
- c-Mohammed claimed visions from Allah as his authority.
- d-Jesus authority, was himself.
- 4-Jesus thought he was perfect. He presumed his adequacy to forgive sin.
He defined the Law. Matt 5:17, 9:2; Luke 7:48; Mark 10:21. Mohammed,
Confucius or Buddha never claimed perfection. Even the greatest saints,
like Paul, said they were the worst of sinners!
- 5-Jesus said that the Wrong of the world could be fixed by his death.
Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45, "a ransom for many." I Tim 2:6. Numbers 18:15-16,
Exodus 13:13, 34:20, "redeem the firstling."
- 6-Jesus said he'd rise from the dead! Matt 20:19, 26:61-64; John 2:19;
- 7-Jesus was the center of his belief system. He preached himself!!
Matt 10:32-39, 11:28-30, 19:29 contain twenty-four I's. John 6:51
"eat my flesh, drink my blood," John 14:6 "I" am the Way, Truth, Life.
Here's an expansion on the Good and Wise idea.
IIIa-Skeptics, while allowing the historicity of Jesus, will not accept his Divinity.
Wanting to give some credibility to Jesus, they will argue long and hard that he was a
Good and Wise teacher. This argument is a diversion that cannot be logically
demonstrated. At the second level of investigation, neither of these terms holds up.
Good. Wise. Good or Wise. Good and Wise. None of these terms mean anything
unless Jesus was who he said he was, the Son of God.
- If Jesus was Good, meant well, honestly tried to help people, then he must
have been a deluded lunatic who didn't realize that no human being could
do the things he said he did in numbers 1-5 in section III above.
- If Jesus was wise, not a nut, then he knew that his claims were humanly
impossible, and was defrauding the poor guilt-ridden people. Therefore
he was not Good.
IV-Not wanting to give credence to the supernatural, skeptics have gone to great
lengths to supply "rational" explanations for the basic facts of the resurrection; mainly
that the tomb was empty. No where in any account do we hear of a full tomb. While
some of these theories sound plausible initially, they don't hold up to the light of the
Basic Assumptions. Although eight explanations follow, the matter really rests on the
demonstration of only one: the disciples told the truth. If enough evidence can be
presented to show the honesty of the disciples, those who preached the resurrection,
the other theories are automatically discounted. The first seven theories follow:
- 1-The disciples stole the body to fulfill Jesus' teaching that he would rise.
- 2-The Romans took the body: it would be to their advantage with the Jews if
they had the body, and so would have produced it.
- 3-The Jewish leaders stole the body to keep watch so that someone
wouldn't sneak the body away and say Jesus had raised.
- 4-It was the wrong tomb. The women, in dawn's half-light got confused. The
resurrection is easily disproved by the Jews simply going to the right tomb.
They'd placed guards at the tomb by permission of the Romans.
It was a known, accessible tomb.
- 5-Hallucination, while an insult to the intelligent mind, has, however, been offered.
No time will be spent on hallucination, as it seems unlikely that "above
five hundred" people had the same vision.
- 6-Resusitation. The theory that Jesus wasn't really dead has been given much
attention. "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" has treated this concept in great detail.
The scenario has Jesus practicing a "fake" death on Lazarus, then faking his
own death. Being somewhat secluded, away from most of the crowd, Jesus
performed his trick death, they took him down, and placed him in the tomb
where he later revived. This theory conveniently sidesteps some of the known facts. One in ten survived a Roman scourging. Besides the nail wounds a spear was thrust into Jesus' side. Jesus actually experienced a Roman conducted crucifixion. How did Jesus get through the Stone at the tomb's entrance?
- 7-The disciples lied about the resurrection. It isn't really necessary to elaborate on this explanation seeing that the preceding six theories result in
the disciples fabricating most of the preached story. If any of the above theories is viable, the disciples lied. We are left with theory number eight.
- 8-The disciples told the truth as they experienced it. Seeing Jesus. Touching
him. Eating with him. Watching him ascend into heaven. Where will
we get the evidence to found theory eight?
V-There is much and varied evidence that can be brought to bear on demonstrating
the disciples' truthfulness. Some of the evidence is "between" the lines, intrinsic
evidence. Some is external evidence, historically accounted.
- 1-While Matthew was written to the Jews, and Luke was intended as a
history, Mark, the first Gospel, was written to non-Jews; Gentiles.
Mark uses the term "Son of Man" more than any other gospel writer. The
term Son of Man, to the Jews with their background of the Messianic
references of both Daniel and Enoch, was a reference to the son of God.
This term had little meaning to gentiles beyond it's literal of "a human being."
A liar wouldn't have Jesus calling himself Son of Man when trying to
present the case the Jesus was the Son of God.
Mark revealed his mentor Peter's weakness more than the other writers.
When giving Mark the "story", wouldn't Peter downplay his failures.
It doesn't enhance his image to have readers of Mark's Gospel find out
- 2-It takes four accounts to fill out the story of the feeding of the 5000.
These accounts, remember, were written at different times, by widely
- a-they were at Bethsaida: Luke 9:10; Mark 6:45
- b-Jesus asks Philip where to buy bread: John 6:5-7
- c-Philip was from Bethsaida: John 1:44; Matt 14:13(a desert place)
Philip is the logical one to ask where to find food. He lived in this particular
place. Intrinsically, the details fit like a true account. Why not just report
an embellished story of the miracle itself, as in Matthew 14?
- 3-For external evidence, the historic accounts of the Disciples' lives is illuminating. This evidence includes the great life-changes that occurred
in the personalities of the Apostles. Changes for the better from cowards
who ALL ran from the Garden when they came for Jesus.
- a-Peter, a coward, impetuous, preaches to a mocking mob of
thousands at Pentecost. He endured prison for preaching.
- b-John and James were called the sons of thunder, wanting
to call fire down from heaven. They were so selfish they got
their mother to ask for the best seats in Jesus' kingdom.
James accepted beheading, and John became the
Great Lover of the New Testament. His is the Gospel of Love.
- c-The Pragmatist, Thomas, was known as a doubter. His senses
were his reality. Thomas challenged the vast philosophical
frame of India.
- d-James, the Pastor of the church at Jerusalem for twenty years,
was so steeped in Legalism that he demanded circumcision of
his parishioners. The Jewish leaders had enough confidence in
James legal stance to finally ask him to denounce Jesus'
Messiahship. To James' credit, he chose not to comply;
a fact that meant his martyrdom.
- e-Paul's life and change of outlook could be sited alone
as proof of the resurrection. The physical evidence of Paul's actions
are testimony enough. From one of the highest placed, most
efficient persecutors of Christianity, Paul contributes a majority of the
writings of the New Testament, and more books than any other Bible writer. Whipped, beat, imprisoned for years,
enduring extreme physical stress, Paul spread the Gospel from
Syria to England.
What happened to these men that in a short time they so completely and irreversibly
changed? But this change was only the beginning. The Apostles, as Paul, were persecuted for
preaching their message. Here is a short list of martyrdom:
Mark: dragged to death in the streets of Alexandria
Bartholomew: skinned alive with a whip in Armenia
Luke: hanged by idolatrous priests in Greece
James(the Less): killed in Egypt
James Zebedee: beheaded by Herod
Thomas: killed with a sword in India
Simon Zelotes: crucified
Peter: crucified upside down in Rome
Paul: is beheaded near Rome
There has never been a record of any of the Apostles denying their stories. As liars,
not knowing that their words would last two thousand years and become a worldwide
movement, they only needed to save face for the moment; profit for themselves. Still
unexplained is the reason why these frauds would wait SEVEN WEEKS to start telling
their story. These were simple men, following orders to wait seven weeks for the Holy
Spirit to descend; as Jesus had promised. But this descension must wait for God's
appointed time, Pentecost.
Thomas Aquinas points out that they all died alone. Distanced liars, without
knowledge of each others' whereabouts, could have easily admitted the life-saving lie
without the others knowing. There is no record of anyone denying their story at a later
date. While some of them might have held on to their stories as a group, it defies
reason to think that they would endure horrible tortures and death for a lie, by
As impossible or improbable as it may seem, the evidence forces the conclusion that
the Apostles told the truth. This exposes the crux of this study. If Jesus died, rose and
ascended, then the items listed in section III are more than recorded history. Those
things are True, and Jesus was a supernatural being who was God and man, and has
established a contact point between God and man.
VII-What is the practical aspect of the Truth of Jesus? So what if he was divine? If all
that Jesus said was true, then all the other promises of God are true, and we have a
starting point for fainting on those promises.
- "I'll not forsake you." Heb 13:5
- "I'll never leave you." Heb 13:5
- "He that cometh to me, I'll in no wise cast out." John 6:37
- Nothing can separate us from God. Rom 8:38
- Who the Son sets free, is free indeed. John 8:36
- Let no one judge you. Col 2:16; Gal 6:17
- God's guidance; Prov 3:6
- God's strength: Deut 33:25
- God's blessing for tithing: Mal 3:10
Colossians 2:13-18:" And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your
flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses:
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to
us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities
and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man
therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new
moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is
of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and
worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed
up by his fleshly mind."
VIII-We can be Free in Christ. Security can finally be ours. We don't need anyone but
him. He is the only one we should try to please. We can feel free and strong enough
to walk away from ANYTHING(ONE). We can demand it be done His way or not at all.
The only check needed is pleasing him. And it'll never bother us what other people
think. We can finally stop wasting energy avoiding others' disapproval.
IX-If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bare in my body the marks of the
Lord Jesus. Gal 6:17
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God
must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently
seek him. Heb 11:6
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17
This study is mainly based on notes from Dr. Gene Scott.
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