It appears that Jesus was God;
Jesus did live and die as a human.
We can believe that Jesus still is real.
The Bible does have credibility.
Well, after all that info I have offered through this subsection, “The human Jesus?”, let’s now have a look at ‘the big picture’.
Firstly, I’m pretty sure we can all accept the evidence that has made it into the 21st century. That is, evidence that demonstrates to us that Jesus was the ‘real deal’ within recorded history.
And you know, Jesus really was a ‘game changer’ even when we check out the basics. The Bible term, “grace” sums it up. It is ‘so far out there’. But more on that later.
Let’s look at the details then.
2. THE DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE
So, how does the written evidence shape up?
2.1 Historical records
Within accepted ‘worldwide standards’ (that are used to analyse documents from ancient times) we have been given good quality evidence of Jesus from non-religious sources.
This applies particularly to the records of Josephus and Tacticus. They made it pretty clear that Jesus did live ‘within history’ and indeed died in the way that the Christian Bible explains it. And details of many non Christian events are accepted in history from evidence with much less credibility.
There are also many parallels between Christian and historical records. And a lack of any meaningful conflict between them as well. Look, that is significant when you do look at the facts.
2.2 Christian records
Please do not forget the documented prophesies in the Old Testament about the coming Christ who would be God. These were definitely written at least hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.
And the New Testament is indeed a very complex collection of writings. The different writing styles, evident within it, make it very clear that quite a number of authors were involved with its documents. When studied, it is also clear that these writings are ‘beautifully’ interwoven and support each other. The consistency of essential themes is again beyond question.
Again, it all really does impress me!
3. WHY WE SHOULD BELIEVE JESUS’ FOLLOWERS
Without doubt though, the ‘most difficult bit for beginners’ is to accept the truth of Jesus’ divinity, i.e. ‘Jesus is God‘! As I have already stated, the inclusion of this ‘belief within early Christianity’ is indicated even in evidence from ancient non Christian sources. And of course the New Testament insists upon it. And as I have written above, even the Old Testament explained it was ‘to be the case’ hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. But, it is not easy for the modern mind to accept.
3.1 Jesus’ close followers
Firstly, we need to ask ourselves why on earth would the Apostles ‘proclaim’ that Jesus was the risen Lord God? That is when they knew that they ‘risked life and limb’ by doing so!
Yes, we know that many of the Apostles did ‘historically‘ lose their lives as a result. Why would they have been so sure about it, to even accepting their own deaths over it, if they had not seen it for themselves? Yes, that is such a very good point!
3.2 Jesus’ brother
We also know that it was not easy for James, the brother of Jesus, to believe that his own brother really was the risen, divine Messiah (the Christ). Christian sources state that the resurrected Jesus had to prove it to him personally.
And from Josephus’ writing, we know that James went on to be condemned to death for his ‘witnessing’ about Jesus as such. Again James died, because he dared to testify that ‘his brother was God’.
3.3 St Paul
Paul also endured incredible suffering, as well as eventual execution, for exactly the same reason. I would say that Paul’s letters (written by him, through determination, in the face of severe hardship) provide us with a solid step towards understanding the ‘real’ Jesus.
It is evident that Paul genuinely believed himself to be in communion with the living Lord, and was ready to do whatever he was called to do. And NO MATTER what the cost.
4. THAT ‘GAME CHANGER’ CONCEPT
The ‘concept’ of God the Father (i.e. similar in character to the Jewish “Yahweh” and Islamic “Allah”) is acceptable within the three monotheist religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
BUT, as highlighted in the intro, when the concept of Jesus is fully understood a HUGE ‘enrichment’ happens. The term “grace” sits at the heart of this enrichment. And it’s all about love. This plain little word, grace, relates to a God who was willing to become ‘human’ and suffer a drawn-out painful death just for us!
As a result of Jesus’ actions, we received a new covenant/ contract for us Christians. Yes, that covenant offered us eternal life. That is IF each of us are ready to accept that Jesus was, and still is, God, and he sacrificed his life to pay for our sins. So yes, the Bible explains if we accept that, then we are all set to enjoy eternal life.
The end result of accepted Christian writings offers us a genuine ‘religion of love’: God’s love for us, our love of God and love of fellow humans. Indeed, if only the darkness in this world could understand the light that shines within it. [see John 1:5] What an ideal world we would have! For a better understanding of Christianity itself, its ‘rules’ of love and the term “grace”, please read the article “Christianity explained”.
5. WE CAN EXPERIENCE ‘EVIDENCE’ NOW
For myself though, as with most Christians, it ultimately comes down to proving Christianity’s basis for ourselves, i.e. by putting Bible-based Christianity into practice within ‘the Church‘ and ‘our lives‘. Without doubt, I can write that our ‘lives are transformed‘ as a result. And of course, as a result, we come to fully understand those incredible supportive scriptural threads or themes that run through the whole Bible. If ‘old analytical me’ could do so … well!
Now, many Christians state that they can recognise God’s presence in just about any church service. For example, they may report a sense of peace that may last for hours after leaving church. And yes, I have noticed ‘that one’ myself. That does add a bit more credibility towards Christianity for us of course.
Ok … BUT … here is an interesting question from ‘left field’: why ARE genuine ‘spiritual events’ occurring in church services within the so-called, “Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement”? And, ‘mark my words’, they really are!
Why indeed does the Spirit of God, ‘manifest’ himself so obviously in these services? Well, I consider that the Holy Spirit is ready to ‘engage’ with members of the movement as and when he sees fit, if they are open to it of course. I firmly believe that above all else he is ‘edifying’ his Church AND the Bible: building them up! He is demonstrating to us that it is ‘his will’ for us to ‘show up’ there, as a member of the “body of Christ” (as our fellowships of faithful Christians are titled).
Please read the article, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” to better understand the details including its history. For example, this modern day Holy Spirit stuff had a definite starting date. Please also check out the article, “Is this Spirit stuff real?” As the name implies, it describes how I seriously put it to the test for myself (again as the auditor that I was at the time).
But having said all this, as a one-time ‘hardened’ atheist myself, I am not surprised by the doubts of others who are yet to trial Christian knowledge or experiences for themselves.
All I can say in closing is please look into Christian faith with an open mind. If a questioning mind like my own can be totally satisfied, then I am ‘pretty well’ sure that anyone’s can be. (To read about the who’s, how’s and why’s of this website please click here.)