Summary: How much evidence is necessary for belief? By any measure the evidence of the resurrection of Jesus is sufficient for belief. Why not take that step of faith?
A young software engineer was asked by his manager
Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead? . . . the day you took off to attend your grandfather’s funeral he stopped by to visit you.
It seems to me most people here this morning are probably not interested in the evidence of the resurrection-we already believe. There is no need to be convinced.
As far as I’m concerned if you believe in the first verse of the Bible “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” you shouldn’t have any trouble believing the rest of it. If you don’t believe that first verse you’ll find all forms of excuses for rejecting the rest. I know most people here have accepted both the first verse of the Bible and all the rest, even if you have to struggle with some portions of the text, as those portions of text struggle with you-we all do.
Yet, I think there may be a few here who have not yet taken that step of faith.
If you have not yet chosen to believe in or follow Jesus, this message is for you.
If you have already placed your faith in Him, I pray you will be strengthened in the life you have in His name.
Malcolm Gladwell was asked to speak February 2013 at University of Pennsylvania on the subject of proof. He asked the question “What kind of proof is required before we decide something is dangerous enough that we take action to change”? He gave the example of Frederick Hofmann
Born in Germany in 1865, moves to the US, gets a job with Prudential insurance company.
According to his research:
• Miners do not have any statistical benefit against tuberculosis
• Miners’ lungs are 30% saturated in coal dust/normal lungs 1%
• If you put a normal lung in water it floats. Coal miners’ lungs sink.
• Coal miners die of asthma at a rate 5 times that of the rest of the population
Hofmann argued coal mining was hazardous, and 1. they should pay a higher premium & 2. Significant changes should be made in the coal mining industry to protect workers.
The mining industry said there was no evidence. Hofmann published his “Mortality from Respiratory Disease in Dusty Trades” in 1917. The mining industry did not make changes in its policy based on research until 1972.
Gladwell relates this to football and repeated blows to the head causing Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The Football industry says there is not enough evidence. How much evidence is required? Gladwell recommends a moratorium on football at least in high schools and colleges. I think his recommendation is reasonable, considering the evidence.
And I ask this question today
How much evidence is sufficient for us to make a decision concerning Jesus?
Review the evidence:
-Eyewitness accounts: Jesus appeared to many people after his death. He appeared to individuals, to the groups, and one time appeared to a group of over 500 people. When the Biblical accounts were being written most of these people were still alive and could have denied that it ever happened. But they didn’t.
-Confessions under torture and threat of imminent death: Some went to their deaths with the testimony of the resurrection of Jesus Christ proclaimed boldly from their lips. Under torture and threat of imminent certain death not a single disciple recanted. Yet there is more evidence which is just as powerful.
-Transformation of the Disciples “Perhaps the transformation of the disciples is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection… When Jesus died, they were heartbroken, confused and frightened. But within less than two months they came out of hiding, full of joy, confidence and courage. What can account for this dramatic transformation? Only the resurrection, together with Pentecost which followed soon afterwards.” John Stott (Second part taken from “The Contemporary Christian” . . . ill from sermoncentral.com)
Martin Luther said God has written the promise of the resurrection not only in books. He has written the resurrection on every leaf of spring. The evidence, it seems to me, is sufficient. It is only a question of a willingness to take a step of faith and believe, to respond positively to the evidence.
Pastor Bob Hostetler prepared a wonderful sermon based on the three resurrections in the Gospels with the following three points:
D.L. Moody said near the time of his death said
“Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody . . . is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now… I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”