Summary: In this study, we will look at three areas of evidence; Historical, Prophetic, and Personal. (Sermon Series or Bible Class under Apologetics)
Just a few days after my 11th birthday, my Mom died suddenly. The pain, anguish, and anger I felt made me question everything I had been taught about God, my experience with Him, and even if He existed.
About two years later, I was at a YMCA camp on Catalina Island, just off the California coast, near Los Angeles. One night, sitting around a crackling campfire, gazing into the heavens that were not obscured by the haze of pollution, the stars appeared so bright and seemed so close, that it was as if I just reached out my hand I could grab one. I remember thinking to myself, “There is no way that this could have just happened on its own. It’s just too magnificent to be the result of random chance.”
In that experience, God had shown me just a tiny glimmer of His glory and caused the beginning of an aching hunger in me to pursue knowing the God of all creation intimately. One year later, while I was Babysitting a neighbor’s kids, I was watching Television, flicking through the few channels available very late in the night, and Billy Graham was on. It was just before the end of his crusade, and he had turned towards the camera and said something to the effect “those of you at home watching this can ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior.” I was quite taken aback by that and felt a divine presence in the room. I asked Jesus to become my Lord and Savior and to forgive my sins. At the very moment of saying that, I suddenly felt light as a feather and profoundly clean from the inside out. It was a radical experience as I moved instantly from darkness into the light of His glory. I have never looked back since that moment 50+ years ago, and the gnawing hunger to know Him more has never ceased to this day.
I feel pretty confident to say that Born-Again Christians believe Jesus existed and haven’t considered the possibility that He never existed. However, there is a growing number of people who don’t believe and need to be shown the evidence. That is your divine responsibility.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared (ready) to make a defense (GK: ‘apologia’- as in a court of Law) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)
In this study, we will look at three areas of evidence; Historical, Prophetic, and Personal.
As we begin, it is important to understand that satan has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4 ESV).
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19 ESV)
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2 ESV).
The Greek word translated as “work in” is ‘energeó,’ which means to actively energize them to do work for him.
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1:21 ESV)
Some of you will plant seeds, some of you will water them, and some of you will reap the harvest, but it is God who makes it grow because no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them (1 Cor 3:6; John 6:44). It is the merciful kindness of God that leads a person to repentance (Rom 2:4).
I. HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of His life, He is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writers. Compare that with King Arthur who supposedly lived around A.D. 500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of King Arthur, and other people that hare purported to have lived.
Virtually all scholars who have investigated the history of the Christian movement find that the historicity of Jesus is effectively certain. Honest historians confirm that existing documents support the conclusion that Jesus was known as a historical person by Christian writers within twenty years of His death, and by non-Christian writers 60 to 120 years after His death.