By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008
Jesus and the Intellectual
By Dr. Bill Bright
As an ambitious young businessman in Hollywood, I met a group of people who spoke of Jesus Christ as their dearest Friend, Savior, and Lord. They told me that He had been raised from the dead and was alive and that I could know Him personally. I had never heard anyone talk this way before. As a matter of intellectual integrity, however, I was forced to investigate the claims of Christ and Christianity.
I soon concluded that, historically, there was indeed one by the name of Jesus of Nazareth who had lived on this earth almost 2,000 years ago. I became convinced that He had lived an exemplary life, the most holy life of anyone who had ever lived. I was convinced that His teachings and His influence were superior to those of any other person in all of recorded history.
But there were two problems that plagued me and prevented me from accepting Him as the Son of God. If I could find satisfactory answers to these questions, I would have no problem about not only receiving Jesus as my Savior, but also following Him as my Lord.
The first problems concerned the prophetic statements made by various Old Testament writers hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. They told of His coming, His place of birth, His life, death and resurrection. Since I did not believe in the supernatural, I couldn’t accept the fact that God had inspired holy men hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth to prophesy concerning these details. I was skeptical. Surely, these were interpolations made in the Scriptures after the fact of Jesus’ life here on this earth, I decided. I discovered after careful study that this was a theory no reputable scholar holds.
The more I studied and the more carefully I analyzed the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life of Jesus, the more obvious it became that there was only one conclusion I could reach. Jesus was indeed the One about whom the prophets spoke and wrote. He was the promised Messiah.
My other problem concerned the resurrection. How could a human being who had died be raised from the dead? No reliable, modern evidence has ever indicated that anyone has been raised from the dead. Apparently the people of Jesus’ time were superstitious, gullible and naive. I believed that they were victims of fraudulent claims.
So I pursued my study. How could I believe the claims concerning Jesus of Nazareth without committing intellectual suicide. I was willing to believe, but not at the risk of losing my intellectual integrity.
One of my first discoveries was that no other religion claims that its founder has been raised from the dead. Christianity is unique in this regard. If Jesus of Nazareth actually rose from the dead in His own body on the third day as He predicted He would do, could I really be sure of this? If so, I would have no trouble believing all the other claims of the Christian faith.
Any argument for the validity of Christianity stands or falls on the proof of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is for this reason that His resurrection has been ridiculed and contested through the centuries by all kinds of skeptics. It is for the same reason that men of faith from all walks of life and disciplines of learning have dedicated their entire lives to proving that Jesus truly was raised from the dead.
Six Irrefutable Evidences
I would like to share with you several irrefutable evidences that have brought me to the firm conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead, thereby proving Himself to be the Son of God.
First, the resurrection was foretold by Jesus Christ. Matthew writes, “From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21, NKJ). Although His followers did not understand what He was telling them at the time, they remembered His words and recorded them. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe the predictions in their accounts of Christ’s life.
Second, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for His empty tomb. If, as some have claimed, Jesus had not been killed, but only weakened and wounded by crucifixion, the stone and the soldiers would have prevented His escape from the tomb. If Jesus’ friends had tried to steal His body, the stone and the soldiers would likewise have prevented them. Jesus’ enemies would never have taken the body since its absence from the tomb would only serve to encourage belief in His resurrection.
Third, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the appearances of Jesus Christ to His disciples. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared on at least ten occasions to those who had known Him. The Lord proved that these appearances were not hallucinations by eating in the presence of the disciples and allowing them to touch Him.
Fourth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the beginning of the Christian church. More than half of the first sermon ever preached dealt with the resurrection (Acts 2:14-36). Obviously, the early church knew that this was the foundation of their message …
Fifth, the resurrection is the only reasonable explanation for the transformed lives of the disciples. They all deserted Jesus during His trial and crucifixion. After the crucifixion they continued to be discouraged and fearful. They did not expect Jesus to rise from the dead (Luke 24:11, 41).
It was these same men and women who, convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, went out to turn the world upside down. Many died as martyrs after Pentecost for their faith and others were terribly persecuted. Their behavior does not make sense unless they knew without question the resurrection to be fact.
The witness of the apostle Paul and the transformation of his life can only be reasonably explained because of the resurrection. The apostle Paul, under his earlier name, Saul, devoted his energies and time to the self-appointed task of seizing and killing those who proclaimed Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. But his life was irrevocably changed when he met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. From that time on he was a new person, courageously preaching the resurrected Christ and willing even to die as a martyr for his faith in the One whom he had once sought to destroy.
Finally, only the resurrection can explain the transformed lives of millions through the centuries who have received the living Christ into their lives. Second Corinthians 5:17 has become a reality for me and others: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (NAS).
These evidences satisfied my questions on the validity of the resurrection and as a result, I invited the living Christ to come into my life almost 50 years ago.
From Jesus and the Intellectual, by Bill Bright, NewLife Publications, ©1959, 1992. Used with permission. Dr. Bill Bright is founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ International. He has a degree in economics, has done graduate studies at Princeton and Fuller Theological seminaries, and holds five honorary doctorate degrees. More than 1.5 billion copies of his booklet, The Four Spiritual Laws, are in print.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 2, Number 2
Your comments are welcome!
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 40 pages of dynamite!
Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution
An Introduction to the Doctrines of Interposition and Nullification
In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.
By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).
$7.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)