A.L.I.V.E.—The “A” Is For Apologetics

This is part 1 of a 5-part series with a simple premise: “I can know Jesus is A.L.I.V.E. because of…” and then I am presenting evidence for each of the five letters. This is a look at the letter “A” for Apologetics for the resurrection of Jesus.

For some of my evidence, I am going to use historical texts from the Bible. When I say “historical” I mean that in the scholarly definition: this Book is attested to by historians and literary critics to be an accurate record of actual historical facts. You can read more of the apologetics for the Bible’s authenticity in a post I previously published here.

I would ask you to weigh the evidence for three possibilities concerning the claims of Christians regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus.

(1) Jesus didn’t actually die.

The Romans didn’t invent crucifixion, but they perfected it to be one of the most gruesome forms of tortuous death that history has ever known. This leads one to wonder how could anyone go through the torture Jesus did and survive?

A team of medical examiners, after examining the historical account of Jesus’ death concluded: “The difficulty surrounding exhalation leads to a slow form of suffocation. Carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, resulting in a high level of carbonic acid in the blood. The body responds instinctively, triggering the desire to breathe. At the same time, the heart beats faster to circulate available oxygen. The decreased oxygen (due to the difficulty in exhaling) causes damage to the tissues and the capillaries begin leaking watery fluid from the blood into the tissues. This results in a build-up of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) and lungs (pleural effusion). The collapsing lungs, failing heart, dehydration, and the inability to get sufficient oxygen to the tissues essentially suffocate the victim. The decreased oxygen also damages the heart itself (myocardial infarction) which leads to cardiac arrest. In severe cases of cardiac stress, the heart can even burst, a process known as cardiac rupture. Jesus most likely died of a heart attack.”

Besides that, the dead body of Jesus was also thoroughly examined by both the Romans who conducted the crucifixion (see Mark 15:43-45) and His friends who prepared His body for burial (John 19:38-40).  In addition, two contemporary historians who aren’t friendly to the cause of Christianity (Tacitus and Josephus) both attested to Christ’s death by crucifixion.

(2) Jesus didn’t actually rise from the dead.

Some say the disciples were delusional from their intense grief. But Jesus was seen on more than one occasion, sometimes by one person, sometimes by twos, and several times by large groups (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Some of Jesus’ closest friends weren’t convinced by second-hand testimony but had to see Jesus for themselves (John 20:19-20, 24-28). All four biblical accounts record women seeing the resurrected Jesus. This is significant because women were not allowed to serve as “legal witnesses,” so this wouldn’t have helped the “delusional” disciples at all.

Some say the disciples stole the body of Jesus. But this is problematic because of the armed guards at the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:11-15). 

(3) Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So after looking at the shortcomings and difficulties of the first two options, let’s consider this third possibility: that it happened just as the historical records in the Bible indicate.

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace said of this third possibility, “The last explanation (although it is a miraculous, supernatural explanation) suffers from the least number of liabilities and deficiencies. If we simply enter into the investigation without a pre-existing bias against anything supernatural, the final explanation accounts for all of the evidence without any difficulty. The final explanation accounts for the evidence most simply and most exhaustively, and it is logically consistent…. The final explanation is also superior to all other accounts (given that it does not suffer from all the problems we see with the other explanations).”

Check out the video where I discuss all of these points in more detail, and join me either in person or on Facebook Live for the next four Sundays as we continue looking at the evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus.

3 Possibilities For An Empty Tomb

3 possibilitiesLast week we explored the validity of the evidence for the accuracy of the biblical accounts for the life of Jesus (you can check that out here). You might be one who says, “Okay, I think Jesus was a good Man, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to believe that anyone could be raised from the dead after three days.” I think that’s a reasonable thing to explore…

If the tomb where Jesus was placed is really empty, then there are only three possibilities for us to consider.

(1) Jesus didn’t really die.

  • It’s hard to imagine anyone could go through the intense torture Jesus did prior to His crucifixion unscathed.
  • The crucifixion process itself is one of the most gruesome forms of execution man has ever invented.
  • As a result, forensic science shows that Jesus most likely died of a heart attack. The mention in John 19:34 of the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s body is an indication of the cardiac distress His body experienced.
  • Men who were followers of Jesus handled His dead body, and undoubtedly would have checked for any signs life (John 19:38-40).
  • A Roman centurion reported to the Roman governor Pilate that Jesus had in fact died (Mark 15:43-45).
  • Extra-biblical historians, many of whom were unfriendly to Jews and Christians, reported Christ’s death as an historical fact.

(2) Jesus didn’t really rise.

  • Some have claimed that Christ’s followers “saw” Jesus only in a grief-induced hallucination. The problem is, Jesus appeared to individuals, small groups, and large groups multiple times and in multiple settings over the course of 40 days (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
  • At least one of Christ’s closest followers said he wouldn’t be convinced by verbal testimony alone, but needed to touch Christ’s body for Himself (John 20:24-28).
  • The disciples were afraid and lacked any military training that would have allowed them to get past the trained soldiers guarding the tomb (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:11-15).

(3) Jesus really did die on a Cross and was raised back to life.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes rightly said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Real-life cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace explains how detectives use abductive reasoning to examine all of the evidence and infer to the most reasonable explanation from that. As a result, Detective Wallace says about this third explanation:

“The last explanation (although it is a miraculous, supernatural explanation) suffers from the least number of liabilities and deficiencies. If we simply enter into the investigation without a pre-existing bias against anything supernatural, the final explanation accounts for all of the evidence without any difficulty. The final explanation accounts for the evidence most simply and most exhaustively, and it is logically consistent…. The final explanation is also superior to all other accounts (given that it does not suffer from all the problems we see with the other explanations).” —J. Warner Wallace, Alive

The truth is Jesus loved you so much that He had to die for you. He had to pay the penalty for your sins. And God loved His Son so much, that He raised Him back to life. Jesus can live in you now, and you can live with Him forever, if you will simply believe what He did for you on Calvary.

Jesus left an empty tomb behind to show how powerful His love and life is!

Book Reviews From 2012

Counting Down 2012: #2 The Return Of Sherlock Holmes (book review)

I am counting down the top 5 posts that I wrote in 2012, as determined by the number of views during this year. The 2nd most read post is: The Return Of Sherlock Holmes (book review). 

I don’t read very many fiction books, but I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes! So I just finished a wonderful collection of short adventures called The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.

Without being as wordy as some authors, Doyle paints such descriptive pictures of Dr. Watson, Holmes, his clients, his villains, and the crime scenes. I can “see” exactly how the characters look and “hear” how they talk, and can feel the emotions they are feeling. And the crime scenes are also painted in such vivid detail by Doyle, that I can catch all of the same details the Sherlock Holmes is taking in.

I cannot stand how some detective story authors “uncover” some hidden details at the very end that magically helps their protagonist solve the crime. The “magic” of Sherlock Holmes’ solutions is that Doyle allowed you to see everything Holmes saw. The real art is in the way Holmes uses his gift of deductive reasoning to solve the clues.

These mysteries are not always crimes. Often times they are simply perplexing problems. I’ve never been called upon to solve a crime before, but I certainly am called upon to find solutions to thorny problems. In that regard, I owe a debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for helping me learn from Sherlock Holmes how to deduce the most logical solution to my mysterious situations.

These are also great stories to read aloud, especially to your kids.

The Return Of Sherlock Holmes (book review)

I don’t read very many fiction books, but I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes! So I just finished a wonderful collection of short adventures called The Return Of Sherlock Holmes.

Without being as wordy as some authors, Doyle paints such descriptive pictures of Dr. Watson, Holmes, his clients, his villains, and the crime scenes. I can “see” exactly how the characters look and “hear” how they talk, and can feel the emotions they are feeling. And the crime scenes are also painted in such vivid detail by Doyle, that I can catch all of the same details the Sherlock Holmes is taking in.

I cannot stand how some detective story authors “uncover” some hidden details at the very end that magically helps their protagonist solve the crime. The “magic” of Sherlock Holmes’ solutions is that Doyle allowed you to see everything Holmes saw. The real art is in the way Holmes uses his gift of deductive reasoning to solve the clues.

These mysteries are not always crimes. Often times they are simply perplexing problems. I’ve never been called upon to solve a crime before, but I certainly am called upon to find solutions to thorny problems. In that regard, I owe a debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for helping me learn from Sherlock Holmes how to deduce the most logical solution to my mysterious situations.

These are also great stories to read aloud, especially to your kids.

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