Mar 092015 12 Responses

You Can’t Prove Jesus

“You can’t prove it,” he said.

I didn’t disagree with his statement. We were having a political discussion and he was irritated at my interjection of a Biblical belief into what he thought should be a secular discussion. He couldn’t understand why I would “waste” (his word) so much of my life on something you couldn’t prove.

It’s a fair question, especially coming from someone who chooses not to believe.

The Christian faith is not something you can prove. There is no single fact I can give you or picture I can paint or story I could tell which would forever prove the truthfulness of the gospel story.

This unproven quality is so real that Christianity would actually claim doubt is part of the story. Without some element of doubt, faith may not be possible.

The story that God saves sinners is such good news that grace almost creates doubt because it simply doesn’t seem real. (See: What I Mean When I Say ‘You Are a Sinner’)

Many people I know are close to becoming followers of Jesus, but they are waiting for one more piece of information which will finally prove faith. Sadly, they will wait forever because the final piece of proof will not be given.

My friend was right, “You can’t prove it.”

But he was also wrong.

Like many, he had come to the conclusion that since Christianity cannot be fully proven, it can be ignored. Why waste time considering the possibility of God if his existence can’t be proven? He has quickly brushed away Jesus, the Bible, and the church, especially the church, assuming it is all a waste of time.

He has made a dangerous mistake.

While Christians have to admit Christianity cannot be fully proven, others must admit it is undeniable that Jesus was born, that he lived, he died, and then something happened. (See: ‘God Is Love’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think)

You don’t have to believe:

  • the virgin birth
  • the deity of Jesus
  • His miracles
  • His perfection
  • His resurrection

But you can’t deny:

  • His birth
  • His life
  • His death
  • And that something happened

What that something was defines everything.

Clearly something happened. After the death of Jesus, his doubting disciples became bold proclaimers of his message. A famous persecutor of Christians, Saul, became the Apostle Paul, playing a vital role in the founding of the church. Christianity became a massive movement which has transformed much of human history.

Something happened.

But what? (See: Don’t Tell Me Every Religion Is the Same)

Historians have long offered three primary explanations for what happened after the death of Jesus.

  1. His followers concocted a lie in order to save face after the death of their leader.
  2. His followers had a mass psychosis because of their grief, making them think Jesus actually rose from the dead even thought he didn’t.
  3. Jesus rose from the dead.

While there might be other options, those are the main three. Everyone has to make a decision regarding which they believe. What they decide will determine their faith and define their lives. Not to decide is actually a decision.

The first option is appealing, but I have a difficult time believing that many people would individually give their lives without a single one of them backtracking the story in order to live.

The second option is more difficult for me. While I understand the trauma of grief, it’s hard to imagine several hundred people suffering from the same psychosis.

The final option is not easy to believe because it is outside of my experience, but it does make the most sense of the evidence we have.

I believe Jesus rose from the dead because it makes the most sense based on what has happened.

You don’t have to believe it, but you will make a decision about it. (See: Stop Whining About the Church)

Here is the problem with proof:

We are all trying to answer the big questions of life–Who am I? Why am I here? Does my life matter? Is there life after death? Is there a God? What must I do to be right with God? But we don’t have the ability to prove our answers.

I say there is a God. You say prove it. I admit I can’t.

You say there isn’t a God. I say prove it. You must admit you can’t.

I say our decisions matter, this life matters, and it will have eternal consequences. But I can’t prove it.

You might say our decisions don’t really matter, this life doesn’t matter, and there is no eternity. But you can’t prove it.

None of us can fully prove the most important aspects of what we believe. We all have evidence to which we point, but that evidence may not lead to the same conclusions by others.

One thing we do know, what you decide about the resurrection also defines what you believe about Jesus. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.”

He claimed to be the only way to God. He promised he would die and rise again. He ensured eternity with God to whomever believed in him. If Jesus didn’t rise from the grave, he either was the greatest swindler of all-time, or he was sadly insane.

Either way, you can’t deny the resurrection and claim he was a good teacher. You can’t ignore his commands, but still assume God is the loving God of which he taught.

Either Jesus was God or he wasn’t. Either he rose again or he didn’t.

I can’t prove which is right, but time clearly will.

12 Responses to You Can’t Prove Jesus
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