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Christian Evidences

ANSWERED PRAYER
Another powerful indication of the existence of God and of the validity of the Christian Scriptures is the vast body of evidence for answered prayer stretching from the time of the early Church until the present day. Whether one reads the biographies of the ancient fathers or the devotional works of modern saints, one finds countless examples of cases in which prayers have been answered. One can read about the prayers of Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine of Hippo as related in Augustine's autobiographical work, the Confessions, or about modern answers to prayer, for example, among the oppressed people of Eastern Europe yearning for a greater measure of freedom. In recent times, one of the most widely influential individuals advocating a life of prayer and trust in God's provision in answer to prayer was George M ller of Bristol. His life was a tremendous testimony to answered prayer which influenced countless others to live similar lives of faith. The Holiness movement of the nineteenth century and the Pentecostal movement of the early twentieth century were both heavily influenced by his methods, which involved asking God for financial support for His work without any solicitation of funds from those who would be able to willing to donate money. George M ller was founder of the New Orphan-Houses, Ashley Down, Bristol, which became known as "institutions that have been for many years the greatest monuments of modern times to a prayer-answering God." M ller wrote a book, The Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings With
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George M ller, which provides many specific examples of how God answered his prayers for provision for the orphans in his care. For example, he wrote:

June 15, 1837--Today I gave myself once more earnestly to prayer respecting the remainder of the 1000. This evening 5 was given, so that now the whole sum is made up. To the Glory of the Lord, whose I am, and who I serve, I would state again, that every shilling of this money, and all the articles of clothing and furniture, which have been given to me, without one single individual having been asked by me for anything.2 This notation in his diary provides one of many examples of answers to prayer, especially with respect to the specific needs of the orphanages. The 1000 that he received was in answer to a prayer of December 5, 1835, when he also prayed for furniture, clothing, and suitable people to care for the children. On December 10, he received a letter from some people offering their services for the orphanage, along with all of their furniture and supplies. Another similar letter was received from another couple on December 13. George M ller wanted his work to be a testimony to answered prayer, and therefore never let his needs be known to other people, but only to God. Yet, time after time, God answered his prayers in very specific ways. His Narratives were read in many places and became the pattern used by many others, spawning many "faith works" in Britain, America, and elsewhere. One of the distinctive characteristics of these ministries was a

total dependence upon God for the needs of the work. No offerings were taken, and there were no solicitations of funds. The fact that thousands of such ministries survived is a testimony to the fact that God answers prayer. 1 A. E. C. Brooks, Answers to Prayer From George M ller's Narratives (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., n.d.), p. 7. 2 Quoted in Ibid., p. 14. Last modified on December 9, 1996 Maintained by jennib4@inlink.com 1996 Richard M. Riss

Christian Evidences

CHANGED LIVES: CHRISTIAN FAITH AND LIFE THROUGHOUT HISTORY


Another powerful testimony to the truth of the Christian Gospel is the fact that millions of people's lives have been changed radically by the power of Christ. Alcoholics have been delivered, drug dependencies have been cured, cowards have found courage, and selfish people have found new meaning in selfless devotion to others and to Christ. People have found new peace and joy as a result of giving their lives to Jesus Christ. He has helped them as they have given Him Lordship, and He has delivered them from their bad attitudes and habits, things which they had not been able to change by the use of their own volition. We have already seen how the lives of the early Christians were changed after the resurrection. The cowardly, discouraged followers of Jesus Christ were transformed to the extent that they were able to turn the world upside down in their witness for Christ. Although Peter denied Him, and all of His disciples forsook Him and fled, most of them eventually gave their lives as Christian martyrs. The same pattern is observable throughout all of Christian History. The changes wrought by Jesus Christ in peoples' lives involve a turning to honesty, integrity, and morality. These changes are very surprising; sometimes they are so strartling as to merit publicity in the secular news media. This was the case, for example, for a thief who repented in 1974, and who was the subject of a news article on front page of the September 18, 1974 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, entitled "Thief Repents and Recycles": JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)--Kevin Copley, 14, walked out of his house yesterday and found his bicycle, stolen from him last February. Attached was a note saying, "Since I've stolen your bicycle I received a conviction to return it when I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I am truly sorry. But I asked for forgiveness and God gave it to me. Since He forgave me for my sins, He can forgive you for all your sins. Trust Him." It was signed, "A born-again believer." Copley said the bicycle was unscratched and undamaged and in as good condition as when he received it on Christmas Day 1973. The power of Jesus Christ to change lives can also be seen in the effect that His Word has upon those who read it carefully. Eric Booth, the well-known and richly experienced New York actor, came to Christ as a result of studying his lines for the play, "St. Mark's Gospel," directed by British actor Alec McCowen, in which Booth was to recite the entire

King James version of the book of Mark at a three-week engagement at the World Playhouse in Chicago. He said: I came to this from a completely secular point of view. I suppose that sounds like blasphemy to the devout, but in this case I believe it's the best way to approach the work. I have no ax to grind. I'm not a preacher. I'm not an evangelist. All I want to do is give the audience the story. And then it's up to them. At first, it was like learning the lines to any play--just plain hard work and very little emotional response. But then I began to see that the simple and direct things Jesus said are really true for me. . . . But now I have this gut-level feeling that all these things happened. I don't know how, and I don't understand it, but now somehow I believe it all took place just as it was described. And so I live with something beyond my understanding.
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A similar thing happened for McCowen, the director, who said that learning the Gospel of Mark was a "revelation of an extraordinary man, of extraordinary events, of extraordinary hope. . . Whether or not you are a believer, it is impossible to study St. Mark carefully and not know--without any shadow of doubt--that something amazing happened in Galilee 2,000 years ago."2

1 Bruce Buursma, "One-man Gospel Play a Revelation For Actor," Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1981, Tempo section, pp. 1, 6. 2 Ibid., p. 6.
Last modified on December 9, 1996 Maintained by jennib4@inlink.com

1996 Richard M. Riss

Christian Evidences

CHRISTIANITY AND SUPERSTITION


The rise of rationalism and empiricism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was a result of an abhorrence of "superstition." The magical, the mystical, and the miraculous were all categorized as superstition, and the scientific method was born, according to which only that which is observable should be believed as trustworthy. Only an experiment which was repeatable was considered valid in the determination of truth. It became standard procedure to apply Ockham's razor to the question of the existence of God. William of Ockham (d. 1349?) believed in God, but people were beginning to apply his principles in such a way as to exclude theism as a philosophical option. According to the principle known as Ockham's razor, assumptions introduced to explain something must not be multiplied beyond necessity. Increasingly, philosophy began to feel that to assume the existence of God was unnecessary in explaining the world in which we live. Is God an unnecessary hypothesis? Can the phenomena of our world be adequately explained without assuming God's existence? There are certain things that cannot be explained if we assume that God does not exist. First of all, the existence of the universe itself and all that is within it becomes very problematic if there was no Creator. Secondly, the order that exists within the universe is really inexplicable without the existence of one who ordered it. Moreover, the origin of life becomes extremely problematic without a Creator, especially since the spontaneous generation of life is considered an impossibility among scientists. Other things that cannot be explained apart from Christian theism are the resurrection of Christ, the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, and the existence of a body of literature, which, when subjected to close examination, appears to have been inspired by Him. In view of the evidence for these things, it would take more faith to believe that there is no God than to believe that He is responsible for these things. Medieval superstition may strain our credulity, but Christianity as it is presented in the Scriptures is not of the same class. The miracles described within the Bible are not fantastic stories. Rather, they fit within the context of history to such an extent that it would strain our credulity not to believe them.
Last modified on December 4, 1996 Maintained by jennib4@inlink.com 1996 Richard M. Riss

Christian Evidences

PROBLEMS WITH THE DENIAL OF CHRIST'S CLAIMS


In discussing his apologetic method, C. S. Lewis once stated that he usually found the aut Deus aut malus homo quite useful in demonstrating the validity of Christ's claims. The argument, which is summed up in this Latin phrase ("Either God or a bad man"), points out that, if Christ's claims were false, then he could not have been a good man, since he thought of Himself as God. This "liar, lunatic, or Lord" argument was summarized by Lewis in one of his most widely quoted passages:
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I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
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Elsewhere, C. S. Lewis has stated that if Christ's claims for Himself are not true, then they are "those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men." He continued: There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked Him, "Are you the son of Bramah?" he would have said, "My son, you are still in the vale of illusion." If you had gone to Socrates and asked, "Are you Zeus?" he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, "are you Allah?" he would first have rent his clothes and then cut you head off. If you had asked Confucius, "Are you Heaven?", I think he would have probably replied, "Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste." The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.
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Benjamin Franklin, who was a Deist who did not believe in the divinity of Christ, wrote in his Resolution on Humility that one should "Imitate Jesus and Socrates." It is interesting that, throughout all of history, Jesus has been considered a model of humility. Yet, if He was not whom He claimed to be, then He was the very opposite of humble. William Lyon Phelps has written: Either his assumption of authority came from his union with God, or he was the most conceited of human beings. Modesty is one of the finest manly attributes; a man cannot be perfect, cannot even be called very good, who lacks modesty, who takes Himself too seriously. If Jesus were only a man, he lacked one of the cardinal virtues and was marked by a fault peculiarly offensive. But the angels and the shepherds and the wise men who

celebrated the first Christmas, they knew who he was. Kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem they worshipped the Divine Saviour.
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C. S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics," in C. S. Lewis, God In the Dock, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), p. 101.
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C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan Co., Inc., 1943), pp. 55-56.

C. S. Lewis, "What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?" in C. S. Lewis, God In The Dock, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), pp. 157-158.
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William Lyon Phelps, Human Nature and the Gospel (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925), pp. 21-22.
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Christian Evidences
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST

Of course, Jesus is not the only one who attests to His divinity. All of the Scriptures attest to it. In fact, the Hebrew prophets expected the Messiah to be God. Isaiah 9:6 says: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 7:14 is as follows: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, God with us. In fact, the Hebrew prophets expected the Lord their God to walk the earth: For behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth" (Micah 1:3). For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth" (Job 19:25). Is Job's redeemer God? The answer is in Isaiah 44:6: Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." In Revelation 1:17,18 we read: I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore. The speaker indicates that he is Jesus by saying that he died, and behold is alive forevermore. At the same time, He claims to be "the first and the last," indicating that he is God, for the speaker was not ignorant of Isaiah 44:6 quoted above, nor was He ignorant of similar verses, including Isaiah 41:4 and 48:12. The speaker emphasizes this identity by reiterating his assertion in Revelation 2:8, which says, "The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life." Also see Revelation 1:8, 22:13, and 21:6. That Jesus is God may also be realized when one remembers that one must worship God alone, yet at the same time we are to worship Jesus. Revelation 22:8,9 says: I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." Yet Jesus did not, in the same way, prevent people from worshipping Him:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:16,17,18). See also Luke 5:8, Luke 17:15,16, John 9:38, and Matthew 14:33, which are four other cases in which people worshipped Jesus. Yet in none of these is there any record that Jesus prevented this. We are supposed to worship Jesus. See Philippians 2:9-11, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 5:12-14 and Revelation 22:3. When Thomas worshipped Jesus he called Him God, yet Jesus did not contradict Him: Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to Him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." (John 20:28,29). Here, Jesus encouraged Thomas to worship Him and call Him God. It was Jesus who had said: You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve (Luke 4:8). Certainly, if Jesus were not God, he would have done as Peter did in Acts 10:25,26: When Peter entered, Cornelius met Him and fell down at his feet and worshipped Him. but Peter lifted Him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man!" Another indication that Jesus is God is that the world was created through Jesus: For in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). See also Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 11:3, I Corinthians 8:6, Proverbs 8:29,30, John 1:3,10, and II Peter 3:5 (Compared to John 1:1,14). Many verses in the New Testament assert the divinity of Christ: For in Him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9). Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-7). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1,14).

I and the Father are one (John 10:30). He who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9). But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8). And killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses (Acts 3:15). Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone? (Mark 2:7). Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God visited His people!" (Luke 7:16). And all were astonished at the majesty of God (Luke 9:43). Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:1). According to I John 1:5, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." Yet, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:4,5). Peter, in his epistles, makes no distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ: They inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory (I Peter 1:11); No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (II Peter 1:21). Consider the following two verses: Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you (I Thessalonians 3:11); Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word (II Thessalonians 2:16,17). The verbs which are underlined, direct and comfort, are in the third person singular in the original Greek text. This establishes an identity between "our God and Father Himself" and "our Lord Jesus" in I Thessalonians 3:11, as well as an identity between "our Lord

Jesus Christ Himself" and "God our Father" in II Thessalonians 2:16,17. Had this identity not existed, it would have been necessary to use the third person plural in both cases. At one point, Jesus asserted His divinity by reference to his being good in a perfect sense: And Jesus said to Him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19). The people were then left with either denying that he was good, which they could not do, or assenting to his divinity. Jesus said many things that indicated his divinity, and the people realized that he was making this claim. This is why they accused Him of blasphemy for saying these things. See Mark 14:60-64, Mark 2:7, Luke 5:20-22, John 10:33, and John 5:18, which says: This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making Himself equal with god. That Jesus and God are equal does not contradict that Jesus was a man. He was both.
Last modified on December 4, 1996 Maintained by jennib4@inlink.com 1996 Richard M. Riss