The Miracles of Jesus

THE MIRACLES OF JESUS
By Wayne S. Walker

“Miracles are a definite part of Biblical teaching in both Old and New Testaments. They are inextricably interwoven into God’s revelation of Himself. As the word of God, the Bible stands or falls at this very point. Either miracles occurred as actual happenings as recorded in the Bible, and the Bible is the word of God, or they did not occur and it is not the word of God, a special and divine revelation. The question will not [go] down, it is always here. There can be no compromise in the matter” (Homer Hailey; Internal Evidences of Christianity, p. 43).

The same can be said for miracles in their relation to Jesus. His claim to being deity is confirmed by His ability to perform miracles. Even the people of His day understood this. “And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” (John 7:31). Jesus claims to have done miracles, invites us to investigate the record, and asks us to believe on Him because of His works. We would do well to give serious consideration to the miracles of Jesus.

I. The Definition of “Miracles.” There are five terms used in Scripture to describe these events. “Miracle” means “strength, ability, power,” and refers to “specifically the power of performing miracles.” It denotes the energy to which they are due (Acts 6:8). “Wonder” means “a prodigy, portent, miracle (A.V. wonder) performed by anyone,” and thus “something so strange as to cause it to be ‘watched’ or ‘observed.’” It identifies the astonishment which is produced (Acts 2:43). “Sign” means “a sign, mark, token,” and is used “of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates the men sent by him, or by which men prove that the cause they are pleading is God’s.” It indicates a token of God’s presence and sanction (Acts 4:30).

These three words are found in Hebrews 2:4. Another word in that passage is “gift.” There it means “a distribution,” and in 1 Corinthians 12:4-9 it means “a gift of grace; a favor which one receives without any merit of his own…in the technical Pauline sense [gifts] denote extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit.” One other word is “work” which means “an act, deed, thing done…of sundry signal acts of Christ, to rouse men to believe in him and accomplish their salvation” (John 5:36; all definitions are taken from Joseph Henry Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

Christ’s miracles were not natural phenomena, occurrences, exotic though they might be, of nature. Christopher Columbus amazed the Caribbean natives by “taking away their moon” via an eclipse, but that was according to natural law (Genesis 1:14-19). Nor were they merely acts of God’s providence. God promises to take care of His people and mankind in general, but such does not require a miracle (Matthew 6:33, Acts 14:17). Neither did they involve magic and trickery as did the deeds of Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-11). Miracles were amazing, but not everything amazing is a miracle.

What, then, is a miracle? It is an event that seems opposed to natural law as we understand it because either natural law has been set aside (i.e., transcended) by a higher power or else a new force has directly intervened in natural law producing an effect otherwise not natural. “A miracle is any deed in an order which is impossible to the forces ordinarily working in that order. Crystallization—at least perfect crystallization—is not a miracle in quartz; but it is a miracle in sandstone. Vegetable life is a miracle in minerals, but not in its own order, except in the sense in which all life is a miracle. Animal life is a miracle to both. There are no forces in lower realm which can produce the higher, therefore these events are to the lower order miracles” (John Alfred Faulkner in Modernism and the Christian Faith, quoted by Hailey). Such events bring about wonder and amazement upon the part of the viewers so as to cause them to attribute the power to a supernatural being (Matthew 8:27, 9:8).

II. The Nature of Miracles. One of the greatest conflicts in the past 300 years is that between man’s concept of science and the Biblical record of the miraculous. A greater part of this argument is philosophical and does not fall within the purpose of this article. However, there are a few points to be noted. Miracles do not come within the realm of science. Science deals with events related to natural law, those things which are observable and repeatable. By very definition of the miraculous, science has nothing in common with miracles. It is not for “science” to assert that forces outside its province cannot be at work. That is “scientism.”

“Science treats of things that can be known; the miracle, on the other hand, according to its name and nature, is that which is inexplicable and cannot be known. Therefore science and the miracle have nothing in common with each other. A miracle scientifically explained is a contradiction….To deny miracles is equivalent to the assertion, ‘We, who have dwelt upon this earth only since yesterday already know all laws, all forces, all possibilities of the universe’….Human knowledge will never be competent to decide what is possible. The possibility of miracles is therefore established” (F. Bettex in The Miracle, quoted by Hailey).

Indeed, the very definition of true science provides the basic condition for miracles to happen. If the universe were not an ordered sphere and governed by fixed natural law, a miracle would be impossible. When Christians postulate the existence of Biblical miracles, they are not asserting a disordered, chaotic universe where anything goes, but an orderly and balanced system where an omnipotent Creator God may interpolate His divine power when it reasonably serves His purpose. But for one identified as a “scientist” to allege that miracles never happened or could not have happened falls into the category of what Paul refers to as “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

Thus, miracles are possible. If one admits of God and His power, he admits the possibility of the miraculous. Having accepted the existence of God with belief in His word that man is a sinner in need of redemption and by his nature cannot of himself save himself, we then conclude that miracles are probable, yea even necessary for man to know God, His will, and His salvation. And miracles are reasonable. God never performed or allowed a miracle that appealed solely to curiosity. Each one had a definite purpose in His plan. If the Bible writers were given to making up stories about miraculous activity, why did they not mention them in Jesus’s childhood or ascribe them to John the Baptist? The reasonableness of Biblical miracles attests to their truthfulness and accuracy.

Jesus used miracles to reveal God to us. The miracles of Jesus were never silly, whimsical, curious, ridiculous, irrational, or purposeless (John 10:37-38). They were never performed for selfish reasons such as anger or self-glory (Matthew 4:5-7). Neither were they done for purely social reasons, i.e., solely for the purpose of showing compassion (John 9:1-3). Nor were they credited to Christ until after His baptism and the beginning of His earthly ministry (John 4:54).

Without miracles, revelation is impossible. Christianity is the only religion which is absolutely based on miraculous activity. Take away miracles, and Christianity falls flat on its face. The earth was created by a series of miracles (Genesis 1:1ff). To deny miracles is to deny the existence and power of God in the first place. If there is no God, there is no need of a revelation from God.

The deity of Christ was validated by His resurrection from the dead, the greatest miracle ever performed in history (Romans 1:1-4). If one denies miracles, He denies the deity of Christ and destroys the only hope of mankind for a better life here and for life after death. If Christ is not God’s Son, His death has no effectiveness nor relevance for us, and thus revelation about the work of Christ is useless. Furthermore, the Bible is full of miracles. When the miraculous is denied, the truthfulness of the Biblical record is denied. In addition, the Bible makes no sense, even as a historical book, for much of its historical record concerns events and persons in connection with miracles (Matthew 11:2-6).

Jesus’s miracles have not only evidential importance but also moral significance. He claimed to be the vine, through whom all supply is given (John 15:1). He illustrated this by turning the water into wine in John 2:1-11. In John 6:35 He claimed to be the bread of life who gives us our spiritual food, having demonstrated His power already by feeding the 5,000 in vs. 5-14. He claimed in John 8:12 to be the light of the world. He manifested His ability by restoring sight to a blind man in John 9:6-7. And He claimed to be the resurrection and the life in John 11:25, proceeding immediately to display Himself as such in the raising of Lazarus from the dead (vs. 38-45).

III. The Purpose of Miracles. The miracles of Jesus had three major goals. The first was to produce faith in Him as the Messiah, the Son of God (John 20:30-31). The second was to confirm His message as true, the word of God (John 14:9-11). And the third was to identify His source of power as one sent from God the Father (John 3:1-2). Since the purpose of miracles has been fulfilled, they are no longer being performed. Should God choose to work a miracle today, no one would deny Him that right. Yet, we must not tempt God by expecting miracles where God has promised none.

IV. The Historicalness of Miracles. Jesus said that He did miracles. He even appealed to them as evidence of His being who He claimed to be. When the Jews asked Him to tell them plainly if He were the Christ, “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (John 10:25). The apostles believed that He did miracles. In Acts 2:22 Peter said, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” No one stood up to contradict.

Even His enemies admitted that He did miracles. In Matthew 12:22-24, the Pharisees could not deny that Jesus had performed a miracle, though they undoubtedly wished that they could have done so. All they could do was to ascribe His miraculous power to Satan rather than God. Moreover, we have eyewitness records of the events. The apostle John speaks of that “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon…which we have seen and heard” (1 John 1:1-4). This was apparently accepted at the time. Josephus, a Jewish historian, described the man Jesus as a “doer of wonderful works,” and no one has ever arisen to disprove the veracity of Christ’s miracles, as Peter said “he went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:36-39).

“To even claim such miraculous power would have been disastrous for a Jew trying to usurp authority and establish a new religion. He would know that in those multitudes, and certainly among His followers, would be those who could disprove His claim. To say that He succeeded by fakery and deceit to convince everybody, friends and foes alike, would make Him the greatest sleight of hand artist the world has ever known (as well the biggest cheat). And even if you granted the inconceivable possibility of His fooling everybody by stupendous acts of legerdemain, how do you account for His failing to capitalize on the publicity? Why would He tell those who saw His magic to keep it quiet?” (Peter J. Wilson; Indestructible Foundations, p. 27).

“None of us has ever seen a miracle. But as one beholds Jesus in the midst of a moral world, as one sees His works, all of which have a moral significance, He Himself becomes the miracle of the age. As one beholds Him: His claims, His works, His power over the heart, one asks for no greater miracle” (Hailey; op. cit., p. 48). As we investigate the record of the miracles, we come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And through faith, we can have life through His name.

—taken from Gospel Anchor, April, 1984 (Vol. X, No. 8), pp. 23-25, 31

Proof of the Resurrection from the Conversion of Saul

PROOF OF THE RESURRECTION FROM THE CONVERSION OF SAUL

By Wayne S. Walker

     Some three to five years after the resurrection of Christ, a young man named Saul of Tarsus became a leader of the Jewish persecution against the church.  One day he and some companions were travelling to Damascus to bring any Christians whom he might find there bound to Jerusalem.  While on the road just outside the city, a bright light shone from heaven and a voice called, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  Acts 9:5 tells us, “And he said, Who art thou, Lord?  And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”  Saul obviously believed the Lord, and following the instructions of Jesus he went into Damascus, obeyed the gospel, and became famous as the apostle Paul.

     It is evident that Paul had some kind of experience on the road to Damascus.  If Jesus had not been raised and were still dead—having been stolen by His disciples and hidden in an unknown tomb, or having swooned on the cross, then revived, and died later—Paul’s encounter with Him must have been something less than reality.  This was the contention of a young English nobleman, Lord George Lyttleton, who was a Bible critic before 1747.

     Lyttleton and his friend Gilbert West, both of whom had been under the influence of some infidels, were “Fully persuaded that the Bible was an imposter and determined to expose the cheat.  Lord Lyttleton chose the conversion of Paul and Mr. West the Resurrection of Christ for the subject of hostile criticism.”  They parted ways and researched their topics thoroughly for about a year and then came together again.  “The result of their separate attempts was, that they were both converted by their efforts to overthrow the truth of Christianity.”  (Quotes from The Fundamentals, Vol. V, p. 107; reprinted in Evidence Quarterly, 1:2, p. 9; via Internal Evidences of Christianity by Homer Hailey, p. 55.)

     Lyttleton was 38 years of age at the time he published his Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul which first appeared around 1747.  In it, he laid down four propositions exhausting all the possibilities of the case, which we shall examine.

      1. Either Paul was “an imposter who said what he knew to be false, with an intent to deceive;” or

      2. He was an enthusiast who imposed on himself by the force of “an overheated imagination;” or

     3. He was “deceived by the fraud of others;” or finally,

     4. What he declared to be the cause of his conversion did all really happen, “and, therefore, the Christian religion is a divine revelation.”

     Thus, we want to look at this proof of the resurrection from the conversion of Saul.

     I. Paul was not an imposter, an intentional deceiver.  Men lie about matters, especially religion, for one of six reasons, none of which was characteristic of Paul.

     1. Wealth could not have been the motive.  Did you ever know a true Christian who became rich as a gospel preacher?  “Wealth was on the side of those forsaken, poverty on the side espoused.  Even though poor and in want, he refused to accept help when it would hinder the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:11-12).  “The closing picture of his life is that of an old man in a Roman prison, asking that a cloak be sent to him to protect him from the cold, 2 Tim. 4:13” (Hailey).

     2. “Reputation was not the motive, for reputation lay on the side of the Pharisees, universal contempt on the side chosen” (Hailey).  Notice Philippians 3:4-7.

     3. “Power did not motivate him; that is, the desire for power.  He had no eye for worldly ambition when he became a Christian.  He addressed his inferiors as ‘co-laborers,’ ‘fellow-workers;’ he neither lorded it over individuals, nor over the churches he established.  Paul preached Christ as head, hid himself behind the cross, and rebuked sin of all kinds in the churches, without fear or favor, but never with an air of superiority” (Hailey).  See 1 Corinthians 3:4-9.

     4. The motivation was not ease, pleasure, or luxury.  Suffering rather than ease was characteristic of Paul’s life (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

     5. The gratification of fleshly passion would not have been a motivating factor.  “Some may claim revelations in order to indulge in loose conduct, but Paul preached the highest standard of morals, and condemned all departures from such a standard” (Hailey).  Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 18-20.

     6. “Was it simply a pious fraud?  Did Paul pretend conversion simply to spread Christianity?” (Hailey).  Some will stretch the facts to promote what they consider a good cause.  Did Paul?  No, because he opposed lying as evil (Ephesians 4:25).  He did not believe that an end, however proper it might be, justified unlawful means (Romans 3:8).  From all the evidence, we must conclude that he was honest and sincere. 

     II. Paul was not an enthusiast, a zealot with an overactive imagination.  The definition of an enthusiast, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “a religious madman, a fanatic.  One whose mind is wholly possessed and heated by what engages it….A fervent and imaginative person.”  What are the characteristics of enthusiasts?

     1. They are given to great heats of temper.  Although bold and fervent, Paul was reasonable and logical, governed by discretion (Acts 17:2-3).

     2. They are often quite fickle.  Enthusiasts run after every new doctrine that comes down the pike.  Paul taught against such instability (Ephesians 4:14).

     3. They are somewhat melancholy.  An enthusiast runs the gamut from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair, always brooding when things go wrong.  But Paul was ever rejoicing, even in tribulations (Romans 5:3-5).

     4. They tend to prefer ignorance.  The religious fanatic often remains ignorant of all facts which do not fit in with his preconceived notions.  But Paul was characterized by “much learning” (Acts 26:24-25).

     5. They are frequently vain.  The madman is usually filled with self-conceit at his own supposed importance.  In contrast, notice Paul’s humility in his work (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

     6. And they always see what they are looking for.  This is also a mark of misguided zeal.  However, Paul on the road to Damascus was looking for anything other than what he saw.  He was persecuting Christ, not looking for Him (Acts 22:3-5).

     III. Paul was not deceived by others.  This is so obvious that Lyttleton dismissed it with a single page.

     1. This was a moral or psychological impossibility.  In his state of bitterness against the disciples, it was out of the question that they would be able to deceive him into having a vision (Acts 26:9-11).

     2. It was also a physical impossibility.  They simply did not have the means to produce the light and the voice with which to deceive him (Acts 22:6-10).

     3. Besides, Paul didn’t even come in contact with the leaders of Christianity until much later (Galatians 1:11-12, 15-19; 2:1).

     IV. Thus, Lyttleton concluded that Paul really saw Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. And as a result of this, Lyttleton decided that Christ must have been raised from the dead.  Consider Paul’s own testimony to the resurrection of Christ.

      1. He personally claimed on more than one occasion to have seen the risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:8).

      2. He claimed that the resurrection was the basis for his faith in the Sonship of Jesus (Romans 1:4), his hope of life after death (1 Corinthians 15:19-20), his apostleship (Galatians 1:1), and his willingness to endure sufferings (2 Timothy 2:8-9).

     Conclusion:  There are only two possible theories to explain Paul’s conversion and subsequent commitment to Christianity.  One is that he was either a deceiver or one deceived.  The other is that Jesus was raised from the dead.   Thomas Jefferson obviously accepted the first theory.  In a letter of 1820 he contrasted the “lovely benevolence” of Jesus with the “charlatanism” which followed.  He wrote:

     “I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to him [Jesus] the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of his disciples.  Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus” (reported by Sidney E. Ahlstrom in A Religious History of the American People, p. 367).

     However, our study indicates that this simply cannot be the case.  Unless we are willing to lay aside the use of our own reason and the rules of evidence by which facts are determined, there is only one logical answer.  The story of Paul’s conversion is literally and historically true, and thus, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.  He is the divine Son of God, and the Bible is a special divine revelation.  The evidence, including that from the conversion of Paul, sustains that proposition that it is more rational to believe than to disbelieve.

     —taken from Torch; April, 1984; Vol. XIX, No. 4; pp. 8-12

What Happened to the Battle Against Evolution?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BATTLE AGAINST EVOLUTION?

by Wayne S. Walker

     The Bible from beginning to end declares that the universe, the world on which we live, and life upon the earth all came about as the result of a special creation by God. In Jeremiah 51.14-16 we read, "The LORD of hosts has sworn by Himself: ‘Surely I will fillyou with men, as with locusts, and they shall lift up a shout against you.’ He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding. When He utters His voice–there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: ‘He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He mkes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries."

     Up until about 150 years ago, most people in Western Civilization, and nearly everyone who called himself a Christian, believed this. However, it is now evident that the vast majority of people in our culture, even a large number of those who claim to be indentified with Christianity, no longer accept this as fact. In July of 2005, I was asked to speak in a series of lectures at the High School Rd. Church of Christ in Indianapolis, IN. This article is taken from the the material that I used to prepare for that lecture. The general theme under which my lecture fell was "The Sheathed Sword," and the subject which was assigned to me was "What Happened to the Battle Against Evolution?"

What Is It?

     To answer the question that forms the title for this article, we must first look at another question, what is evolution? The word "evolution" basically means change. If someone were to write a book on how cars have changed from "horseless carriage" of late 1800’s to powerful modern machines, he might call it "The Evolution of the Automobile." I sometime wonder if scientists 100,000 years from now, sifting through the remains of the 20th century, might conclude that somehow a Model T evolved into a Model A, and their descendants eventually evolved into a Thunderbird. The Encyclopedia Brittanica lists some 22 different theories of evolution. Basically, the concept can be defined in two ways.

     Scientists refer to what they call the special theory of evolution, also called microevolution, which occurs when populations of the same kind of animal, say finches, are separated and undergo various changes so that when they are reintroduced they are no longer able to interbreed and thus are classified as two separate species. This is what happened to a group of birds known as "Darwin’s finches," and it was one of the evidences for his theory of evolution that Charles Darwin gave. These sorts of changes are provable in that they have been observed and measured. Of course, they occur only within specifically defined limits. The finches never evolved into elephants, or fish, or snakes–they were still finches!

     From these kinds of observable, measurable changes, has been extrapolated the general theory of evolution, sometimes called macroevolution, which hypothesizes that, if it can be assumed that the earth has been in existence for millions and even billions of years, life began when inert matter somehow changed into a living cell, single celled organisms somehow changed into multi-celled organisms, lower life forms somehow changed into higher life forms, and eventually some ape-like ancestor somehow changed into man, all without any actual proof. Batsell Barrett Baxter defined evolution this way. "The word evolution is generally understood to refer to the hypothesis or theory that all life on earth originated from non-living matter and that all forms of life on the earth today came from some original form of life by a connected series of changes, which at every point were only natural, and are therefore explainable by science" (I Believe Because…, p. 119).

     The purpose of this article is not to deal with the subject of evolution versus creationism, per se, but to explain why the sword seems to be sheathed. The subject presupposes that there has been or at least should be a warfare, a battle between these two world-views. It is quite obvious that the Bible does not teach nor even allow room for the general theory of evolution. The Bible tells us how the universe, the world, and life on earth came about. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1.1ff). It also tells us how long it took. ""For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them…" (Exodus 20.11). It even tells us precisely how God did it. "By the word of the LORD, the heavens were made…for He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33.6-9). Jesus, the divine Son of God, certainly accepted the Genesis account of Creation (Matthew 19.4). Therefore, we can accept it by faith (Hebrews 11.3).

Why A Battle?

     Next, we must ask why is there a battle? If evolution were recognized as only one possible explanation for how life began and developed on earth based solely upon assumption, perhaps the battle would not be so fierce. Honest evolutionists admit this fact. In his 1925 book The Dogma of Evolution, p. 117, Louis Trenchard More wrote, "The evidence for the evolution of plants and animals is commonly said to be derived from many sources. When, however, we examine these causes for our belief, we find that, excepting our desire to eliminate special creation and generally, what we call the miracles, most of them can be considered only as secondary reasons to confirm a theory already advanced." William Straus in Quarterly Review of Biology back in Sept. of 1949 wrote, "I wish to emphasize that I am under no illusion that the theory of human ancestry which I favor at the present time can in any way be regarded as proven. It is at best merely a working hypothesis whose final evaluation must be left to the future. What I wish especially to stress is that the problem of man’s ancestry is still a decidedly open one, in truth a riddle." G. A. Kirkut, professor of physiology and biochemistry at the University of Southampton in England and himself an evolutionist, said in his 1960 book Implications of Evolution (reprinted 1965), "The first assumption was that non-living things gave rise to living material. This is still just an assumption….The evidence for what did happen is not available."

     However, most evolutionists do not present evolution as just a possibility based on assumption but as absolute fact. In 1929 William Patten, an American zoologist and professor of zoology at Dartmouth from 1893-1931 wrote in the Scientific American, "Evolution has long passed out of the field of scientific controversy. There is no other subject on which scientific opinion is so completely unanimous. It is the one great truth we must surely know." The Secular Humanist Declaration of 1973 states on p. 21, "Today the theory of evolution is again under attack by religious fundamentalism. Although the theory of evolution cannot be said to have reached its final formulation, or to be an infallible principle of science, it is nonetheless supported impressively by the findings of many sciences….Accordingly, we deplore the efforts by fundamentalists (especially in the United States) to invade the science classrooms, requiring that creationist theory be taught to students and requiring that it be included in biology textbooks. This is a serious threat both to academic freedom and to the integrity of the educational process." John Ljubeknov, a marine biologist, is reported to have told the Vista, CA, school board, "You let creationism–so-called science–into the classrooms and you’ve lost education." According to a letter from Answers in Genesis dated July, 2005, "The National Academy of Sciences is gathering signatures of more than 4,000 ‘Christian clergy,’ including evangelicals, supporting evolution as a ‘scientific truth.’" To hear the evolutionists talk, evolution is "science" whereas creation or intelligent design is "religion." Those who reject evolution are portrayed like those who believe in a geocentric universe or a flat earth.

     Evolution is so assumed to be true that it is depicted casually, as though everyone accepts it, in popular television shows, magazines, zoo and museum exhibitions, and books, including those aimed at young people. Today, children love to learn about dinosaurs. Where Are All The Dinosaurs? was written by Mary O’Neill, copyrighted in 1989 by Mokum Publishing Inc., and published for children by Troll Associates, Mahwah, NJ. It is a very attractive book with a visually appealing cover so that when children who like dinosaurs see it, whether in a store or in a library, they would naturally say, "Mommy, Daddy, can I have that book." But what will they find in it?

     "Millions of years ago, our planet was home to a fascinating group of animals called dinosaurs. These creatures seem to have lived all over the world, in almost every kind of region. Dinosaurs were a very successful group of animals. They lived on earth for about 160 million years. This is longer than any other group of large land animals in history!" (p. 2).

     "Scientists believe the history of the earth stretches back billions of years. Over this time, many kinds of creatures have come and gone. We may never know about some of them. But the earth sometimes gives us a peek at life forms from long ago" (p. 4).

     "Scientists believe that life began between three and four billion years ago. This was during the great stretch of time known as the Precambrian….The first creatures were single cells such as bacteria and algae. These tiny forms of life left hardly any trace of themselves….The first real fossils go back to the Paleozoic…Era. Paleozoic is Greek for ‘ancient life.’ It lasted from 600 to 225 million years ago. Both dinosaurs and mammals appeared in the next great era of earth’s history–the Mesozoic…Era. This era is known as earth’s ‘middle years’ because Mesozoic is Greek for ‘middle life.’ The Mesozoic Era took place between 225 and 65 million years ago. We are living in the latest era of history, which is the Cenozoic…Era. Cenozoic is Greek for ‘recent life.’ It started about 65 million years ago" (p. 5).

     "Dinosaurs first appeared toward the end of the Triassic…Period. The Triassic Period lasted from 225 to 195 million years ago. It is the earliest period of the Mesozoic Era….Dinosaurs started to come into their own during the next stage, the Jurassic…Period. This lasted from 195 to 136 million years ago….But the peak of the dinosaurs’ rule was during their final years. It came in the Cretaceous…Period, between 136 million and 65 million years ago" (p. 6).

     Another reason why there is a battle is that even some who claim to believe in creation are given to compromise. Concepts such as theistic evolution, progressive and old-earth creationism, the gap and day-age theories, Genesis as myth, and other similar arguments, all have been developed with the apparent design of "harmonizing" the Bible with the assertions of evolutionists as to the age of the universe and the earth (the reasoning being that they are scientists so they must be telling the truth regarding how long things have been in existence), thus giving the evolutionists everything they want but making sure that "God" is thrown in there somehow.

     But worst of all, there is a battle between evolution and creationism because the evolutionists have taken over the public schools. In 99% of America’s public schools, evolution is taught or at least assumed as fact, not only in science classes but also in social studies and other courses as well. And I believe that this is by design. On page 26 of The Humanist, January/February, 1983, humanist John Dunphy, in an article entitled "A Religion for a New Age," wrote the following:

     "I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by the teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith….These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level–preschool day care or large university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new–the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved. It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous, painful struggle replete with much sorrow and many tears, but humanism will emerge triumphant. It must if the family of humankind is to survive."

     I must hasten to add that I understand that not all public school teachers are evolutionists, and that there are many Christians and other good people in the public schools trying to be an influence for good. However, it cannot be denied that by and large the public schools are currently a battleground where the humanists and evolutionists are largely winning. Let there even be a rumor that some state is considering allowing something other than evolution to be suggested as a possibility when discussing the origin and development of life in biology standards or textbooks (or even a sticker in science textbooks saying that there are other possibilities), and the ACLU with all its minions will be there in full force at the drop of a hat to make sure that no "religion" is promoted in the public schools–and in nearly every court case they have won! Of course, they will not admit that their real purpose, their dirty little secret that they do not want anyone to know, is to see that their atheistic, humanistic religion is taught exclusively in public schools. Is it any wonder that most religious bodies, even conservative ones, are finding that some 85% of their young people who attend public schools no longer believe the Bible when they graduate? I have an idea that the percentage in Churches of Christ is probably not that much lower. While again admitting that there are undoubtedly a number of Christians and other Bible-believers trying to do their best in public schools, the evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that in the main public schools are indoctrination centers for the theory of evolution. In 1925, John T. Scopes was tried at Cleveland, TN, for teaching evolution in school. He was prosecuted by William J. Bryan and defended by Clarence Darrow. Interestingly enough, Bryan won. Scopes was convicted and fined! Unfortunately, however, we won the battle then but seemingly have lost the war since.

Why A Sheathed Sword?

     Why is the sword sheathed? I must admit that when I was asked to speak on this topic, I was a little puzzled at first. Maybe I just hang around with a different crowd of people, but many religious folks with whom I have been associated have been very active in wielding the sword against the theory of evolution. I became fascinated with the study of evidences in college and over the last thirty years have been preaching, teaching, and writing on the subject, including a ten-plus-year series of articles in a now defunct magazine called With All Boldness several of which dealt with evolution. Churches with which I have worked have had well qualified men come and present the truth on the topic. But it must be admitted that perhaps a large number of those associated with Churches of Christ (and other religious people too) have sheathed the sword in this fight. Why is that? One reason may be that because most of us are not professional biologists, geologists, paleontologists, or anthropologists, we feel unequipped to handle the subject. Of course, there are a lot of good books and other materials available which will help us be better equipped. But ultimately, the deciding factor is not one’s expertise in scientific matters–the same evidence can be interpreted from a creationist model just as well as, and even better than, an evolutionist model.

     Another reason that the sword has been sheathed by some is that they may feel that the battle is completely lost, that continuing to fight will do absolutely no good. We do not know what the short term outcome will be and it is quite possible that the evolutionists and humanists may win control of our society, if they have not done so already. But the same principle should apply here that holds true with evangelism in general. Just because people do not seem to be eager to hear the gospel, do we simply quit preaching it? No. We must be urgent in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Regardless of whether we think anyone will listen or not, we still have an obligation to stand up for the truth because we should be set for the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1.17). Christians always have an obligation to promote creation rather than evolution under any conditions.

     Others may have sheathed the sword because they do not realize the benefit of living in a society dominated by a Biblical worldview or see the dangers of a society which accepts the evolutionary theory. They must think that it is really not important, that they can live for the Lord and never be concerned about evolution. Of course, a Christian can and must live for God in any kind of society, even one as bad as first century Rome, but it should not take a rocket scientist to see that there are situations where serving God and raising a godly family are much easier. Our nation has never really been a "Christian" nation in the sense of a theocratic government or even of having a majority of Christians, especially as the New Testament defines that term. However, it cannot be denied that for its first two hundred years, this county was definitely dominated by a Biblical worldview in which even most unbelievers accepted certain absolute truths and generally ordered their lives according to those truths; as a result, we were able to live in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2.2). However, as a result of the influence of John Dewey, who was an atheistic, humanistic evolutionist, and his followers who gained control of our educational system during the first fifty years of the twentieth century, the dominant world view of our society has turned since about 1960 to 1970 from a Biblical worldview to an atheistic, humanistic, evolutionary one. During that time, we have also seen crime, pornography, homosexuality, other forms of immorality, and a host of various social evils explode. I shall leave it to you to judge in which society you would prefer to live, but I know that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14.34).

     Unfortunately, it is quite likely that a good number of believers have sheathed the sword because they just do not care. They have their nice jobs, homes, cars, clothes, friends, etc., and they go to church, but they are not interested enough in the gospel to want it to influence too much their lives and the society in which they live (cf. 2 Timothy 3.5, Titus 1.16, Revelation 3.15-17). They are satisfied with things just the way they are and would not want to be thought of as "fanatics." They do not want to rock the boat or make waves but to ride with the tide and go with the flow. I believe that I can make arguments to try and motivate people who are characterized by the three previous reasons, but to be honest, I just do not know what to do with people who call themselves Christians and just do not care.

What Is To Be Done?

     What can we do? When we see evolution portrayed as fact in various media, we can write letters to newspapers, television stations, magazines, publishers, etc., to present good, sound arguments as to why that should not be the case. I do not know whether it will do any good or not, but at least we will make your voice heard. And if enough people make their voices heard, something good might come of it.

     We can buy, use, and promote materials, as much as we conscientiously can, from creationist organizations and publishers such as Answers in Genesis, Creation Research Society, Institution for Creation Research, the Ark Foundation, Master Books, Apologetics Press, and others. Not everyone will be in complete doctrinal agreement with all of these groups, so we may have to be a little careful sometimes, but at least they all present evidence for creation and a Biblical worldview. We need to be having our children read their books instead of pro-evolution "science" books, and we can even donate such books to libraries, if they will accept them, so that a creationist viewpoint will be available to people.

     For example, there is a book, What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs by John Morris and Ken Ham. It was published in 1990 by Master Books. I purchased mine from Answers in Genesis. Like Where Are All The Dinosaurs, it is very attractive and visually appealing for children, but it strives to tell the truth as it really is and offer a creationist alternative to the evolutionary explanation. In addition, another attractive and appealing book for children, Life In The Great Ice Age by Michael and Beverly Oard, also published by Master Books and available from Answers in Genesis, explains the Ice Age from a creationist perspective.

     Most importantly, as a part of training our children in the way that they should go and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, we must make sure that they are taught and well-grounded in the truth of creation (Proverbs 22.6, Ephesians 6.4). We should look for opportunities in our homes and everyday lives to show the fallacies of the evolutionary theory and point out the evidences for creation. We should also encourage the local church in its Bible classes and public teaching to provide opportunities for our children to hear others discuss this topic from a scriptural standpoint and promote a truly Biblical worldview in the materials that are used in the teaching program.

     Let me conclude with one other suggestion. Some of us, in our attempt to unsheath the sword in the fight against evolution, have chosen to homeschool our children. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I do not necessarily preach, or even believe, that all Christians MUST homeschool their children to be faithful to the Lord. Many children of Christians have gone to public schools and still believe the truth. However, many do not come out of public schools holding to the faith. Whatever route we choose, we need to take to heart what God told the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 6.6-7. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

     There are those who are convinced that the best route is to teach our children at home ourselves and present everything from a Biblical worldview rather than having constantly to correct and reteach everything that they learn in school. Some people criticize this as hiding our children’s light under a bushel, not letting them be the salt of the earth, and over-protecting them from the world. However, I know a lot of homeschooling families, and this is not the aim of most parents who educate their children at home. Rather, our aim is to make sure that our children are protected from unnecessary moral evil and wholly immersed in the truth during their most impressionable years so that when they are more mature and do go out into the world they will be fully equipped to stand up for creation and fight against evolution. Again, I cannot tell anyone that he or she has to homeschool, but many find it a useful weapon in warring against the militancy of the evolutionists. We just want to do everything possible in making it more likely to keep our children from being part of that 85% and raise up warriors who are prepared to join in the battle against evolution.

Conclusion

     It is not my desire to sound to pessimistic, but I do not know whether in our society the battle against evolution can be won or not. Of course, there is always hope because God is on the throne and He will ultimately be victorious, but in 2 Timothy 3:13, the inspired apostle Paul wrote, "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, seducing and being seduced." However, the battle against evolution, like the battle for truth in general, is not won en masse. Rather, it will be fought and won in the hearts of individuals as God’s word is taught and accepted.

     Therefore, every Christian should unsheath the sword of the Spirit to join in the fight against evolution and every philosophy that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God. That way, we can make it much more likely that we ourselves will not be led away from the truth, that our children will be well-grounded in God’s word, and that we can influence as many other people for good as possible. As Jude verse 3 commands us, may we "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

     (Wayne S. Walker is the husband of Karen and the homeschooling father of Mark and Jeremy.  When this article was written, he was serving as minister with the Affton Church of Christ near St. Louis, MO.  He can be contacted at wswalker310@juno.com. This article appeared in Home School Digest; Vol. 16, No. 1; 2005)

Building a Good Evidences Library

BUILDING A GOOD EVIDENCES LIBRARY

by Wayne S. Walker

     In a study of evidences, sometimes people want to know what are some good books on the subject which they can read to help them understand the issues better and then explain them to others in giving a reason for the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15). Many, many such books are available, but I will suggest only those which I have and am familiar with. All of the works cited here are listed in recent catalogues published by bookstores operated by brethren. However, books often go in and out of print faster than a greased pig at a county fair, so some of them may no longer be available new. Yet, there are always used bookstores and Internet used book searches!

     First, we want to begin with some classic works. Most of these were first published many, many years ago, but they approach the subject from primarily a philosophical standpoint, and their argumentation is still valid. Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible by John W. Haley, republished by the Gospel Advocate Company, is a standard reference work in its field. It deals with many claims of discrepancies in the Bible by unbelievers and convincingly disproves them. Reason and Revelation by Robert Milligan is now published by Faith and Facts, Inc. It deals extensively with the divine origin of the Bible, fulfilled prophecy, the canon, the integrity of the Bible, hermeneutics, and other related topics.

     Evidences of Christianity by John William McGarvey is also now published by Faith and Facts, Inc. This two-part study discusses the internal evidence of prophecies and the external evidence related to canon and textual criticism. The Man of Galilee by Atticus G. Haygood, republished by Guardian of Truth Foundation, presents Jesus as His own evidence of His deity and can be used in classes on evidence or for sermons. I Believe Because by Batsell Barrett Baxter, published by Baker Book House, is a popular presentation on the reasons for the Christian’s faith that can be used for personal or group study. It was the text-book for my own college evidences class.

     There are many newer works, especially by brethren, which are helpful. Introduction to Christian Evidences by Ferrell Jenkins, published by Guardian of Truth Foundation, is a thorough study originally intended for use in a college classroom but written in a popular style by my college evidences professor. Evidences Notebook by Greg Gwin, published by Faith and Facts, Inc., is an excellent presentation on the subject with questions for classwork; the material has been used in gospel meetings and is very well received. Standing on Solid Ground by T. Doy Moyer, published by Norris Book Company, is a more recent book that appears to have some very valuable information.

     How to Preach and Teach on Christian Evidences (or Set for the Defense) by Gordon Wilson, now published by C. E. I., is a handy little book that tells the "what" and the "how" for the concerned teacher or preacher in this day of surging unbelief. I have found it very beneficial. Has God Spoken? by Arnold O. Schnabel, who is an engineer with a M. S. and is a gospel preacher, is a study on the scientific accuracy of the Bible arranged in terms of the different fields of science, with Biblical passages related to each. I have found it extremely interesting and useful. It has recently been reprinted. The Roots of Our Hope by Paul Nagy, published by the Bible Education Institute, Inc., is a good presentation of the history of the Bible. I do not know whether it is available for purchase now, but I have had a few copies that were given to me by the author.

     Regarding the topic of evolution, new books are being brought out frequently, but an old standby that is still good is Genes, Genesis, and Evolution by John W. Klotz, published by Concordia and based upon the recent discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in heredity, with as strong a case against evolution as can be built. It was the textbook for my college class in evolution and the Bible. Two other books on evidences that I have read recently and found beneficial are Miracles by C. S. Lewis and More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. A number of other good books on these topics are available, but the ones mentioned here are a good start and will provide a solid basis for a study of evidences. (—taken and adapted from With All Boldness; August, 1998; Vol. 8, No. 8; p. 23)

The Empty Tomb

THE EMPTY TOMB

by Wayne S. Walker

     The purpose for which John wrote his account of Jesus’s life is so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He illustrated the effec of the evidence on him and his companions. After Jesus cleansed the temple and said that when the Jews destroyed the temple of His body He would raise it up in three days, John wrote, "Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said" (John 2:22).

     Fully one-third of the book of John by verses is devoted to the last 24 hours of Jesus’s life. The object of the whole is belief. In the cross unbelief and belief reach the climax of their conflict. In the resurrection, His claim to deity is verified and His victory complete. The empty tomb stands as a roadblock in the way of all unbelief.

     To understand the empty tomb, we must first look at the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus (all scripture references are in John unless otherwise noted). At His arrest in the garden, His frankness startled the Jews (18:1-8). The Jewish trial was first before Annas then Caiaphas (18:12-24). The Roman trial took place before Pilate (18:28–19:15).

     After questioning Jesus, Pilate declared Him innocent and attempted to release Him, but the Jews demanded His crucifixion and Pilate relented. The crucifixion took place on Golgotha between two thieves, and Pilate placed above the cross an ironic statement (19:16-37). John does not emphasize the details of Christ’s physical suffering but rather the reality of His death. The purpose is to show that He fully accomplished His mission, and this is demonstrated by the separation of the blood. Also, several prophecies are cited as being fulfilled.

     Next, we must look at the evidence of the resurrection and the empty tomb itself. John remarks on the character of the body and the tomb (19:38-42). The body was only partially anointed because of haste in preparation for the Sabbath, thus making it likely that people would come back to finish the anointing, and it was a new tomb where man had never been laid so there would be no confusion with other dead bodies. Three days later, the stone was rolled away and the tomb open (20:1). Who rolled the stone away? Was it Jesus’s friends or His enemies? Other accounts indicate that it was an angel. But why? Was it to let Jesus out? Perhaps, but that would not be necessary. It may well have been to let the witnesses in to examine the evidence. After the announcement by Mary Magdalene to the apostles that the stone was rolled away, Peter and John ran to the tomb and made a careful survey (20:3-10). They saw the linen clothes empty and the facial napkin neatly folded by itself, thus indicating that there was no hurried theft of the body, and it was at this point that John understood and believed.

     Finally, we must look at the effect of the resurrection on the lives of those who witnessed the risen Lord. Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene (20:11-18). At first Mary was frustrated because she thought that someone had taken the body, but after she saw and recognized Jesus, she was full of joy and good news. Later that day, He appeared to the disciples (20:19-23). Even though He had repeatedly told them of His coming death and resurrection, they apparently did not believe Him–then, or even after the resurrection at first! Yet, it was not long before these men were preaching the resurrection of Christ in the face of ridicule and persecution (Acts 2:22-36, 4:18-20, 5:27-42). And then, a week later, He appeared to Thomas (20:24-29). This one, who even with the testimony of the others had refused to believe, upon seeing Jesus for Himself went from a skeptic to a firm believer.

     How can such changes be accounted for? "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). It was the certain knowledge of Christ’s resurrection that enabled these people to have the courage to stand up for Jesus no matter what happened to them because it gave them hope.

     The conflict between belief and unbelief has been presented. The triumph of truth is absolute. The evidence is sufficiently conclusive to convince any honest individual that Jesus was raised from the dead. Therefore, He is the Christ of God, just as John wrote. "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (20:30-31). (—taken from With All Boldness; June, 2002; Vol. 12, No. 6; p. 6)

More About the Witnesses of the Resurrection

MORE ABOUT THE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION

by Wayne S. Walker

     Another aspect that relates to the credibility of witnesses is their motives. If it can be proven that a person had an ulterior motive in giving a specific testimony, his testimony becomes suspect. J. W. McGarvey said, "As to their motives in testifying to the fact of the resurrection, they are above suspicion. The motives which prompt men to false testimony are fear, avarice, and ambition: fear of some evil to themselves or others, which is to be averted by the testimony; desire of sordid gain; and ambition for some kind of distinction among men. Can any of these motives have prompted the Apostles to falsely testify that God had raised Jesus from the dead?" (Evidences of Christianity, Part III, p. 147).

     The apostles certainly had no fear of evil to themselves or their families if they did not say that Christ was raised; in fact, they boldly proclaimed their testimony in the face of opposition and willingly suffered persecution for declaring it (Acts 4:13-21, 5:33-42). They had no expectation of gain, wealth, or riches in preaching the resurrection, because they gave up practically everything that they had in order to follow the Christ whom they testified had been raised from the dead (Matthew 19:27, Acts 3:6). And they must not have had any ambition for popularity or fame from their witness because the testimony which they gave had just the opposite effect on the vast majority of people, especially the leaders (Acts 4:1-4, 5:27-29). And what is most interesting is that they gave their testimony at precisely the time and place where it could have best been refuted if not true (Acts 2:22-24). Yet, it has never been successfully challenged.

     Having looked at their number and integrity, we shall now examine the competency of the witnesses of the resurrection. Of all people, the apostles had the best opportunity to have first-hand knowledge of Christ. They had been with Him from His baptism for nearly three years (Acts 1:21). They were present at His death and burial (Luke 23:49). And they companied about with Him after His resurrection for forty days (Acts 1:1-4). Sometimes people ask, why did Jesus appear after His resurrection primarily to His friends rather than to others, such as His enemies? Precisely because His friends had the most ability to recognize and testify that the One whom they had known was the One who had been raised from the dead!

     But what about their mental capacity? Were they men capable of giving adequate testimony? Peter, Andrew, James, and John, though considered ignorant and unlearned by the authorities, were apparently successful in their fishing business (Matthew 4:18-22). Matthew was a tax collector, who most certainly had a profound knowledge of both Hebrew and Roman law (Matthew 9:9). Simon the Canaanite had come from that rabidly patriotic Jewish sect known as the Zealots and undoubtedly had learned to be shrewd and cautious (Luke 6:15). And Nathaniel (also known as Bartholemew) was certainly not a gullible person (John 1:45-50). Furthermore, when the news of the resurrection first was told them, they did not believe it (Mark 16:9-14). Their initial incredulity shows that they were not just a group of deceived or mentally unstable people wanting and waiting to see a resurrection.

     Finally, we notice their consistency. There are no contradictions in the testimony that is given concerning the resurrection of Christ. Rather, there is complete harmony in all substantial facts. When Peter said of Jesus, "…Whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15), none of the apostles gave a different account. They all agree in their testimony. There are some supposed contradictions that have been alleged in the Biblical record of the resurrection, but McGarvey explains them very simply.

     "Two statements are contradictory not when they differ, but when they can not both be true. If, on any rational hypothesis, we may suppose them both to be true, we cannot rightfully pronounce them contradictory. We are not bound to show the truth of the given hypothesis; but only that it may be true….This being true, it follows that an omission by one writer of a fact which in a full account would have been mentioned, and is mentioned by another, is not a contradiction. It shows that the writer who makes the omission does not give a full account; but throws no suspicion on the author by whom the fact is mentioned. It follows, also, that when there is an appearance of contradiction between two writers, common justice requires that before we pronounce one or both of them false we should exhaust our ingenuity in searching for some probable supposition on the ground of which they may both be true" (ibid., pp. 31-32).

     In fact, the minor variations which do exist in the accounts are the result of looking at the resurrection from four different points of view. When different people see an accident, one may remember certain details which another would not, whereas the second person may recall other particulars which the first one did not see, yet there be no contradiction in their testimony. In fact, if several witnesses give the same testimony in precisely the same form, we begin to wonder if something underhanded may be going on. So the slight differences in their testimony show that there was no collusion between the witnesses in getting together and deciding to give the exact same testimony, word for word. It is as Peter said in Acts 5:30-32, "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things…."

     Gordon Wilson wrote in The Posture of Faith (p. 93), "On the basis, then, of their integrity, their ability, and their consistency with one another, we believe the witnesses who have testified that Jesus arose from the dead." These men pass every reasonable test applied to witnesses in a court of law, and thus without doubt are credible witnesses. In fact, it is far easier to believe the Bible’s explanation of the resurrection of Christ than to believe the theories given by men in an effort to account for Him and His influence from a purely natural standpoint. (—written for With All Boldness; May, 2002; Vol. 12, No. 5)

The Witnesses of the Resurrection

THE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION

by Wayne S. Walker

     Homer Hailey wrote concerning the resurrection of Christ from the dead, "This proposition is the keystone of the Christian’s faith. It is the support of his every hope. There is little use to argue about the rest of the miracles of the New Testament: if Christ be raised from the dead, the rest of the miracles are easy to accept; if He be not risen, the rest do not matter. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ can be can be proved as a fact in history, then He is the Christ of God and the Bible is a special divine revelation. We believe the testimony is such that it is more reasonable to believe than not to believe" (Internal Evidences of Christianity, p. 50).

     In a previous article we noted a list of the appearances of Jesus following His resurrection. In this article, we want to examine carefully the witnesses of the resurrection as would be done in a court of law to see if their testimony will hold up as valid. Our English word "witness" is defined by Webster as "a person who saw or can give firsthand account of something; one who observes a transaction so that he may testify concerning its occurrence." The word translated "witness" in the New Testament is defined by Thayer as "one who avers, or can aver, what he himself has seen or heard or knows by any other means…one who is a spectator of anything."

     While preaching to Cornelius, Peter said of Jesus, "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the peopel but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10.40-42). Let us now examine these witnesses carefully from the only record that we have of their testimony, the New Testament scriptures.

     First, consider their number. J. W. McGarvey wrote, "Before considering the attack on the witnesses, it is necessary that we distinctly understand who the witnesses are and where their testimony is found. To us the witnesses are a group of women, not less than five in number; the twelve older apostles; and the apostle Paul. The testimony of the women and of the twelve is recorded in the four Gospels, in Acts, in the Epistles of Peter and John, and in Revelation. That of Paul is found in Acts and his Epistles" (Evidences of Christianity, p. 118). So we have a total of about eighteen basic witnesses.

     The law required two or three witnesses to an event (Deuteronomy 19,15, Matthew 18.16). Again, McGarvey wrote, "The requisite number varies with the degree of probability attached to the facts. The testimony of two honest and competent witnesses makes us feel more sure than that of one. That of three, than that of two; but a limit is soon reached beyond which those who are convinced feel the need of no more, and those who are not yet convinced realize that more would not convince them. When this number has testified in any case, the number is sufficient, and a greater number would be useless" (ibid., pp. 146-147). However, as if to emphasize the point, Paul added that above five-hundred saw Him and the greater part were still living when He wrote (1 Corinthians 15.6).

     Second, consider their honesty or integrity. McGarvey said, "The force of human testimony depends on three things: first, the honesty of the witnesses; second, their competency; and third, their number. We ascertain whether they are honest, by considering their general character and their motives in the particular case….Applying these tests to the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, we find that their general character, judged by all that we know of them, is good" (ibid.). There are several specific items which bolster this conclusion.

     The tone of their account is simple and dispassionate, thorough yet brief, not given to idle curiosity. For example, the speech of the angel is not a full-length discourse or doctinal polemic, but a mere statement of fact (Matthew 28.6). Their candor in writing is amazing, even to telling of their own disbelief at the resurrection (Luke 24.11). Their subsequent sufferings for their witness, being shamed, persecuted, imprisoned, and even killed, indicate that they truly believed what they said (Acts 5.40-42). Their accuracy is demonstrated by incidental allusions to things known to exist in the first century, such as rock-hewn sepulchres (Matthew 27.60). There is also the unintentional evidenc eof interesting details, such as the command to "Go tell Peter" (Mark 16.7). Why tell Peter? Becuase he had denied the Lord. And in the interviews and manifestations of Jesus there were invitations to see and handle the evidence (Luke 24.39-43, John 20.26-28). All of this is written in the calm manner of people who are recording true events, not those who are engaging in flights of fancy or making wild claims such as "He appeared to everyone" or "He’ll continue to appear forever" to prove their assertions. (—taken from With All Boldness; April, 2002; Vol. 12, No. 4; p. 5).