Nine Ways to Know that
© Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN. Used by permission.
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Jesus Christ, as he is presented to us in the New Testament, and as he stands forth from all its writings, is too single and too great to have been invented so uniformly by all these writers. The force of Jesus Christ unleashed these writings; the writings did not create the force. Jesus is far bigger and more compelling than any of his witnesses. His reality stands behind these writings as a great, global event stands behind a thousand newscasters. Something stupendous unleashed these diverse witnesses to tell these stunning and varied, yet unified, stories of Jesus Christ.
Nobody has ever explained the empty tomb of Jesus in the hostile environment of Jerusalem where the enemies of Jesus would have given anything to produce the corpse, but could not. The earliest attempts to cover the scandal of resurrection were manifestly contradictory to all human experiencedisciples do not steal a body (Matthew 28:13) and then sacrifice their lives to preach a glorious gospel of grace on the basis of the deception. Modern theories that Jesus didn't die but swooned, and then awoke in the tomb and moved the stone and tricked his skeptical disciples into believing he was risen as the Lord of the universe don't persuade. Cynical opponents of Christianity abounded where claims were made that many eyewitnesses were available to consult concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Such claims would be exposed as immediate falsehood if they could. But we know of no exposure. Eyewitnesses of the risen Lord abounded when the crucial claims were being made. The early church was an indomitable force of faith and love and sacrifice on the basis of the reality of Jesus Christ. The character of this church, and the nature of the gospel of grace and forgiveness, and the undaunted courage of men and womeneven unto deathdo not fit the hypothesis of mass hysteria. They simply were not like that. Something utterly real and magnificent had happened in the world and they were close enough to know it, and be assured of it, and be gripped by its power. That something was Jesus Christ, as all of them testified, even as they died singing. The prophesies of the Old Testament find stunning fulfillment in the history of Jesus Christ. The witness to these fulfillments are too many, too diverse, too subtle and too interwoven into the history of the New Testament church and its many writings to be fabricated by some great conspiracy. Down to the details, Jesus Christ fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies that vindicate his truth. The witnesses to Jesus Christ who wrote the New Testament gospels and letters are not gullible or deceitful or demented. This is manifest from the writings themselves. The books bear the marks of intelligence and clear-headedness and maturity and a moral vision that is compelling. They win our trust as witnesses, especially when all taken together with one great unifying, but distinctively told, message about Jesus Christ. The worldview that emerges from the writings of the New Testament makes more sense out of more reality than any other worldview. It not only fits the human heart, but also the cosmos and history and God as he reveals himself in nature and conscience. Some may come to this conclusion after much reflection, others may arrive at this conviction by a pre-reflective, intuitive sense of the deep suitability of Christ and his message to the world that they know. When one sees Christ as he is portrayed truly in the gospel, there shines forth a spiritual light that is a self-authenticating. This is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6), and it is as immediately perceived by the Spirit-awakened heart as light is perceived by the open eye. The eye does not argue that there is light. It sees light. When we see and believe the glory of God in the gospel, the Holy Spirit is given to us so that the love of God might be “poured out in our hearts” (Romans 5:5). This experience of the love of God known in the heart through the gospel of Him who died for us while we were yet ungodly assures us that the hope awakened by all the evidences we have seen will not disappoint us.
Pastor John Piper
pro•pi•ti•a•tion v.t. to gain (or regain) the favor or goodwill (i.e., absence of wrath / judgment) of an absolute authority (i.e., God).
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