|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
Cecil May, Jr.
The Gospel, as defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, consists in the facts “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas…” What is often cited as three facts of the Gospel are actually four: Christ died, was buried, was raised and appeared. First Corinthians proceeds to name others who saw Him also. That He appeared is what enabled Peter to say on Pentecost, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).
In writing Acts, Luke said Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles “after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Among the “many proofs” of the resurrection are the fact of the empty tomb and the reliability of the eyewitnesses.
The witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection are for the most part men who had traveled, eaten, conversed and slept in His and one another’s company for a period of about three years. They would hardly have been fooled by an imposter. They were men who were fearful, not believing that He would rise from the dead as He had said, running away from His accusers lest they be accused. However, after seeing the risen Lord, they were transformed and emboldened.
Peter, who had trembled before a servant girl and denied he had even known the Lord, after the resurrection challenged the same Sanhedrin that had condemned Jesus to death with the words, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20) and “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Saul, an ardent Jewish persecutor of Christians, after witnessing Jesus’ resurrection by seeing him alive “as to one untimely born,” became Paul the apostle, even more ardently a preacher of the Gospel of the risen Christ. In spite of beatings and stonings, he preached all across the Roman Empire. He told the Thessalonians, “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
Such a change of heart, from frightened skeptics in the case of the twelve and from a dedicated and violent opponent in the case of Paul, to emboldened and effective evangelists, courageously facing even death to preach what they obviously and fervently believed to be true, requires an explanation, a cause adequate to produce such an unlikely effect. The only reasonable explanation is that they saw what they said they saw. “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32).
Is the Bible the Word of God?
Robert D. Rawson
There are many challenges to the Bible. These challenges are advanced by some who are well educated in some circles but uninformed in this area.
The Bible claims to be the Word of God. In evaluating this claim, we find: (1) unity of the Bible though written over a period of 1,600 years, (2) the facts of the Bible have been verified again and again and (3) the purpose of the Bible to help us live for God is a sacred purpose.
The accuracy of the Bible in matters of science, history and culture of the time is held to the highest standard. ‘Life is in the blood’ (Genesis 9:4), ‘all men made of one blood’ (Acts 17:26) and “as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26) are statements that have been examined again and again and are found to be accurate.
An unbeliever, to be honest, must deal with these claims. Finding them to be accurate, why would he or she not move into belief and obedience (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 5:8-9)?