He Is Risen! Is There Evidence For The Resurrection?

“Many theories have been advanced, attempting to show that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud. I believe that many of the people who came up with these theories must have had two brains–one lost, and the other one out looking for it. Historians have to become anti-historical to invent some of their ideas” (The Resurrection Factor, p. 76).

Harvard professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf also summed it up, when he said, “According to the laws of legal evidence used in courts of law, there is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

And there’s this:

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It is finished!

Greg Laurie  expounds on John 19:30, “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”

Says Laurie, “The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning.” How right that was. It took the disciples by surprise. Jesus had tried to tell them but they held to their own preconceived ideas about the Kingdom of God. The kingdom belonged to Israel and not to the rest of humanity. Peter even rebuked Jesus for suggesting that he should be killed, which earned an even more severe reply to Peter (Matthew 16:21-25). Before the arrest and crucifixion was over His disciples “All forsook Him and fled” (Mark 14:50)

Even the Apostle Peter needed further divine instruction over broadening his view of the church and its mission (Acts 10 and 11).

Their theology had let them down. They just hadn’t listened to what Jesus had been teaching them in his three and half years of ministry. When he met two of them on the road to Emmaus  after his resurrection, unrecognised by them they told their fellow traveller that they “thought He was the one to redeem Israel.” Even before his ascension they asked Jesus, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).

As the hymn writer put it, he was ‘born that man no more may die’. He stepped in to rescue where Adam had had failed (Romans 5:12-21; cf. 1 Cor 15:21-24).

Says Laurie, “The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: “finished.”

It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.”

“So what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.

”Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.

”And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.”

I would add, that salvation – full and free, has to be accepted individually. We can’t borrow from anyone else’s faith in Christ, we must have our own faith and trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord. We have nothing to offer of our own, it is all what He has to offer us.

So, says Laurie, “Jesus cried out the words, “It is finished!” It was God’s deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished—so rejoice!”

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Surgeon Says Human Body Did Not Evolve

The recent furore over the research science paper, that got pulled because in the text it mentioned and repeated the idea that ‘a creator’ had some credit in the development of the human hand, got me thinking about the whole body and all its systems. I have read Behe and his argument for ‘irreducible complexity’. I found the book a fascinating read. There are other reasons for belief in God or a superior intelligence, ‘irreducible complexity’ is just one of them. The numbers can differ, this website claims there are 12 Body Systems.

But however many systems there are that make up a healthy living human, we are an incredibly marvellous structure which inspired the biblical writer to exclaim: “13For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).

The psalm writer might not have known what we now know today about the creation of human beings, but it is affirming to read of hands-on scientists who address this subject. Reporting on Baylor University Medical Center surgeon Joseph Kuhn Brian Thomas tells us that:

“He then addressed Darwinism’s inability to account for the all-or-nothing structure of cellular systems, including the human body. As a medical doctor, Kuhn not only knows the general arrangement of the human body’s visible parts, he also understands the interrelated biochemical systems that sustain and regulate all of those parts. He recognized that the human body contains an all-or-nothing system in which its core parts and biochemicals must exist all at once for the body to function. In a recent paper titled “Dissecting Darwinism,” Baylor University Medical Center surgeon Joseph Kuhn described serious problems with Darwinian evolution.1 He first described how life could not possibly have come from chemicals alone, since the information residing in DNA required an input from outside of nature.2

“Biochemist Michael Behe named these all-or-nothing systems “irreducibly complex.”Removing a single core part from one of these systems keeps the entire system from working, and this implies that the system was initially built with all of its parts intact.

“This is exactly what researchers expect to see if God purposely created living systems, rather than if natural processes accidentally built living systems bit-by-bit-as Darwinian philosophy maintains.”

ICR  followed up on this story, with an article titled, “Baylor Surgeon ‘Dissects Darwinism’.

What we should be aware of is that when the ‘opposition’ use intimidating language against the belief in God and creation, and refer to the argument between the two sides as ‘science v faith’, that there are many scientists, and hands-on scientists, who see their faith affirmed by their knowledge of science, as we read here of surgeon, Joseph Kuhn.

 

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Creation: Everything Had A Beginning

The following article got me thinking about the furore over the scientific paper concerning research on the hand and the mention of a ‘creator‘:

”Everything in time and space had a beginning. I had a beginning; you had a beginning. The houses we live in had a beginning. The clothes we wear had a beginning. There was a time when our houses, our clothes, cars, washing machines, and ourselves, did not exist. They were not. Nothing could be more obvious.

Because we are surrounded by things and by people that obviously had a beginning, we are tempted to jump to the conclusion that everything had a beginning. Such a conclusion, however, would be a fatal leap into the abyss of absurdity. It would be fatal to religion. It would also be fatal to science and to reason. Why?

“What is crystal clear is that if something exists now, then there must be a supreme Being from which all other beings come. The first assertion of the Bible is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This text is foundational to all Christian thought. It is not only a religious statement, it is a rationally necessary concept.”

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Scientists Are Trying To Create Life From Scratch

“For many years now, scientists have been working feverishly to create “artificial life” in the laboratory. Researchers and scientists expect to announce success within just a few years, declaring victory in the rarified field known as “wet artificial life” research. Their goals are ambitious,” says J. Warner Wallace. He then goes on to describe what it is they must do create artificial life.

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Human Hand Was Designed By Creator

Scientific Paper Credits God For Human Hand Design, Says CMI,

“Journal is forced to retract after outcry.” To take a paragraph from Paul Price’s report in the CMI website,  he says:

“Controversy is raging after a peer-reviewed open-access scientific journal, PLOS ONE, published a paper1 recently by a team of four Chinese researchers (three in China, one in Massachusetts).2 The paper dealt with everyday topics such as how human hands grasp objects, and showed these actions that we take for granted require “complex biomechanical architecture”. But this would hardly have been controversial if not for its ‘unfortunate’ use of some extremely taboo language: the researchers in multiple places referred to the Creator.”

The story has gone viral! It is reported widely in science journals as well as non-science media. The Guardian titled its article: “The Hand a Mystery of the Creator’s Invention”

Other newspapers and journals have variations of the idea. Paper that says human hand was ‘designed by Creator’ sparkes concern,” says Nature. “Hands are the “proper design by the Creator,” PLoS ONE paper suggests,”  says ‘Retraction Watch.’ Evolution News has, “Mob With Pitchforks Form.”

The many protests and threats of resignations have their way. “Paper Containing Creationist Language Pulled” was the title in “The Scientist” “Op-ed: Science Paper, Citing ‘the Creator’, withdrawn,” says Digital Journal. PLOS ONE retracting paper that cites ‘the Creator’ says Retraction Watch. There is an update on retraction from ‘Retraction Watch’ with provision to vote on the issue.

CMI reports, “Science Credits The ‘Creator’ For Human Hand Design” Interesting to read Price’s assessment of the hostility registered over the ‘misuse’ of language in the offending article, but Price, (and CMI), have a real point here in their response to the whole furore at the mention of a Creator in a science journal:

Misotheists and their churchian allies (‘useful idiots’), when they can’t refute a creationist argument, often taunt biblical creationists (and Intelligent Design theorists) with the following challenge:

If there’s really good evidence for Design, then why don’t you submit papers to a secular peer-reviewed scientific journal and gain the support of the mainstream scientific community?

“This incident should serve as a perfect response to any such challenge, and a ‘test case’ for what happens in such a circumstance. Far from giving due consideration, the so-called scientific community does the exact opposite: they scorn and bully anyone who would dare attempt to suggest a Creator, and do their best to prevent any such evidence from seeing the light of day. There would be pressure to remove any editor who allowed this to be published.

“This is the same type of behavior documented in Ben Stein’s movie Expelled, as well as the book Slaughter of the Dissidents by Dr Jerry Bergman. The simple truth is, the secular academic world is not open to considering evidence for a Divine Creator. The very concept of intelligent design is anathema to them, and they will stop at nothing to prevent any hint of such a Creator from breaking through the pages of secular scientific literature. The oft-cited ‘amazing admission’ by Dr Richard Lewontin once again is relevant here.” I found it worth reading Dr Richard Lewontin’s; ‘amazing admission’.

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My Story

Originally posted on 11th March 2011

It’s the 400th Anniversary of the printing of the King James Version of the Bible. It was the first Bible I bought – a cheap one. I was really embarrassed buying it. I don’t know why. Says the BBC, “It is used by the whole globe. The last Harry Potter book sold 44 million – the Bible has sold 2.5 billion some say, or six billion, say others.

If I had read The God Delusion before reading the Bible I might well have been persuaded by Richard Dawkins’ arguments against the Bible and Christianity. He says on page 5 of his book that by the time I had put his book down I would become a hard-nosed atheist like himself! In my younger days I might have. I wasn’t well read on things Christian as I am now. However, I should say in Dawkins favour that he does spend a few pages (340-344) in TGD telling his readers why he is so “taken aback at the biblical ignorance displayed by people educated in more recent decades” than he was (p.340).

But for myself, what Christian friends I had in earlier years I had left behind in my early twenties. I was raised in a Christian family but had not become a Christian. I had not taken any rational position against Christianity. I hadn’t become an atheist or an agnostic by thinking out arguments. I just drifted from the church and Christianity; it became inconvenient. If I was to describe myself I suppose I would say I had become a hedonist. Life was to be enjoyed without any control over my freedoms.

So what brought about the change? And why was I so embarrassed buying a Bible? What made me want to buy one? I hadn’t been into any serious reading since I left school! This is my story of how I became a Christian.

It all began by an accident – a serious accident involving my 650 cc Golden Flash and a vintage Austin 14! The side-on collision resulted in a broken front axle on the Austin 14. It also tested the crumple-zone on my motorcycle! It tested my crumple zone too!

When I had recovered consciousness and was placed in the ambulance someone handed me my safety helmet. It had been previously removed when I was unconscious. My fingers felt the concave on the surface of what I used to call my ‘crash hat’. I realised how fortunate I was. If I had hit the cabin section of the car the outcome could have been much more serious. As it was I was flung over the car bonnet and landed on my head on the road. The safety helmet had saved me but in the ambulance, and later, I found myself nagged by that question, ‘what if’? Safety helmets were not legally required in those days.

A couple of years later another potentially serious incident involved a serious roof-fall several hundred feet underground. I had worked 4 years in that coalmine and there was only one fatality – and that was the night before in the very hazardous roof area the fireman and myself were approaching. That incident might well have been repeated.

Just seconds away the roof caved in almost above us. The blast machine in the supply road at the top end of the coal face driving the conveyor was still chugging away and pulling on the anchor fixed to the road ring at the lower end of the coal face, and pulling away the roof support ring so there was roof fall below us.

You can get used to working in hazardous conditions – until you are confronted by that ‘near thing’! Following that incident there was that nagging ‘what if’ question again.

There is nothing like life-threatening situations to make one think more soberly about life. It’s like being at a funeral service, a time for sober reflections and questioning – but then they soon fade as life has to carry on.

Following that was a health concern where a second opinion at my local GP clinic suggested glaucoma was the cause of the severe head pain I had been having. This was all happening within a couple of years – I was still in my early twenties. I was single and dependent on relatives for temporary abode. I was beginning to feel more vulnerable than when I had left home to make my way in the world at aged 16.

I had asked myself after the two serious incidents the ‘what if’ question – and what then? I recovered from the one incident and came unscathed from the other. The hospital result on the glaucoma scare was negative – and by then the pain had ceased. Everything was back to normal and life was still to be lived.

But I did find myself thinking in my rare moments of questioning, if there really is ‘someone up there’ or ‘out there’ who is responsible for the creation of the universe. If so, what should my response be to that? Then I also thought of my Christian friends I used to associate with. If I was honest I enjoyed their company back then.

It was about three years after the first critical incident that on a Saturday morning I found myself pausing for a moment at this Bible-Book stall in Cardiff indoor-market. Previous thoughts about the ‘out there’ or ‘up there’ came to mind. I had a conviction about buying a Bible.

This was where I was embarrassed. Was anyone looking? I took another full walk around the upstairs of the market making sure there were no friends or work colleagues who might see me. Seen buying a Bible wouldn’t have been good for my image – not at that time in my life. Feeling sure there was no one about who knew me I stopped briefly and purchased a small cheap Bible. I stuffed it into my baggy Motor Cycle jacket and moved from the stall with some haste.

I had not realized how much the message of the Book had infiltrated my mind over the weeks and months of reading it until one day at work. There was this obnoxious work colleague who had got up my nose, as he often did with other colleagues. It was while I was letting loose some vulgar expletives that I felt my face glow with what must have been a very crimson blush. It didn’t represent in any way my anger. I blushed because I was embarrassed! It was a different embarrassment from when I was buying the Bible. For the first time in my life I felt I was in the presence of Someone unseen. And I can’t explain that.

The power that is in the book we call the Bible was beginning to transform my life (Hebrews 4:12).  I am still making my spiritual journey but if I was to mark its beginning, that was it; my life was being turned around – by a Book! I could no longer look at people with hostility or even indifference, not even obnoxious work colleagues. I now needed to see others as God saw me, someone he loves despite who I am or have been. As it says in Romans 5:8, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The influence that Book had over me is just inexplicable.

Being honest and open to what the Bible has to say is risky. It does turn people’s lives around and upside down, but always for the better, even in adversity. It says things like ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom of God.’ And, ‘Forgive us as we forgive them that trespass against us.’

The ‘New Birth’ experience, which is what was happening to me (John 3:3-8),  has happened to millions of people down through history and it is still happening.

Even today in lands hostile to Christianity, people are becoming disciples of Jesus Christ in the face of persecution and even death. How do Christians face life under extreme persecution and the threat of death?

Facing decapitation in his prison cell in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 – v6, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. V.7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. V. 8, Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

There’s the certainty – it is a trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there’s the enormous difference in the God I found and the God Richard Dawkins found in reading the Bible. It is surprising how two people can read the same book and come to opposing conclusions. Like millions of others when I read the Bible I found a God who is loving, forgiving and welcoming. What makes the difference?

The difference is in the one who reads the Book. If we are honest and open to its message we will see a different God from the one who reads the Bible to be critical and hostile! Convince a man against his will he will be of the same opinion still! It’s like putting butter and clay under the midday sun. Butter will melt but clay will harden. The sun doesn’t alter in any way – it is the substance or material that alters.

How it works I don’t know. That is what Jesus said, in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is of everyone born of the Spirit.”

I will not abuse Dawkins with the abuse he gives to Christians. I can only say I have found a different God in the Bible than he has found. I have found a God who is willing to provide us with the abundance of His grace to live a better and kinder and more meaningful life in this world. And when we fail, as we often do, He is ready to forgive us and says to us ‘let’s just start again’.

I admit that initially I imagined God as being quite severe – especially when it came to the idea of judgment. Now that really did scare me – until I got to know about the judgment. It does not scare me now (Hebrews 9:27,28).

In a loose way I connect my experience with God with the character in ‘Good Night, Mr Tom’. I suppose my initial image of God eventually developed from a kind of grumpy severe looking Mr Tom Oakly, into discovering someone who really had a heart of gold. Young William had been the victim of an abusive mother with a distorted view of God and threats of going to hell for his sinfulness. By the time the story finishes the character of Mr Tom had so bonded with William the young evacuee, you were won over by this very compassionate and caring Mr Tom. That is how I now see God.

We see God the Father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. In verse 19 we see the Prodigal’s view of the father where he says, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” In verse 32 you get God’s view of his prodigal son. Says the father to his elder son, who had objected to the banquet given for the wayward son come home, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad for your brother was dead and is alive again; and was lost and is found.”

When it comes to rescuing us from our wayward selves God is in the banqueting business! I no longer have that image of an austere severe God. Now I see myself as part of God’s great family. I belong! I am a child of God (Romans 8:14-17;  1 John 3:1-2).

We know God has shared in our common lot of life through Jesus when He lived on this earth. Despite what takes place Jesus gives us a hope in this life and in a future life to come. No one can take it away from us.

The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of the Christian faith. Whatever we share in the common lot of life, or whatever adversity we encounter, when it comes to the end of the road, because he is raised we will be raised too – that is what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24.  For the Christian, Jesus will always have the last word, because of who He is; “He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11)!

And so in his letter to his colleague, Timothy, the Apostle Paul invites all who will, to share in the certainty of the future he had. Said the apostle, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). How can I explain why I share that same confidence and assurance in Jesus Christ?

I was just a small lad going home from school. It was winter and there was a gale blowing down the valley. I found myself being blown along on my little legs. I was running and running faster and faster without being able to control my direction. It was scary – enough for me to remember. I was veering off the pavement onto the road in front of an oncoming car. There seemed nothing I could do to stop myself. All of a sudden I found myself picked up off the ground and then placed down safely on the pavement – a strong hand held the collar of my jacket – I was alongside my dad.

The weather was so bad my father decided he should take time out from work to see I got home safely. That’s how I now see God – my experience of becoming a Christian was that real! Like in the story of the ‘Prodigal Son’, our Father took time out to watch out for me – to pick me up out of the way of danger. No one can take that experience away from me.

As a Father who loves his children He wants to see us home, safely. I can only speak for myself, but the story of the ‘Prodigal Son’ is a picture of God watching out for anyone and everyone who is willing to let Him see them home, safely (John 3:16-17).  There is more to the story; but briefly, that’s my story of becoming a Christian. Christians call it, “saved by grace“.

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