The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus
Dr. Habermas explains the historical facts that support the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day.
today on the john Ankerberg show what is the main reason for the fact that the early christians believed Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today and could give you eternal life when you die. It was because after he was dead and buried, they actually saw jesus alive, touched him and talked with him. They didn’t believe on jesus just because he said he was the son of God, but because they saw him alive after he was crucified. This proof to them that his teachings were true. For example, if you’re a university student and I told your dad just had a heart attack and died, you’d rush home and a few days later go to his funeral after the funeral. What if one day you are shopping at walmart and turn to the next aisle and suddenly you see your dad standing there in your amazement, You say dad and he turns around and says, how are you doing, son? You go over and shake his hand and give him a hug. Three of your friends who attended the funeral also see your dad standing there and come over and shake his hand and talk to him. In fact 15 other people who were at the funeral also meet you and your dad at walmart. What would you all conclude you would believe that somehow your dad who had died is now alive. Why? Because you saw him touched him and talked to him, You would never forget the fact that you saw him alive after he was dead. This is the kind of eyewitness evidence that the christian faith is based on individuals. The 11 apostles, family members over 500 people at one time all testified that they saw talked and touched jesus after he was crucified, buried and then appeared to them. The consensus position among scholars today is this historical evidence about jesus was written down and in circulation among christians within at least two years or possibly even weeks of jesus crucifixion today, world class philosopher Dr Gary Habermas will present this historical evidence. He received his PhD from michigan state University and a second doctorate from Emmanuel College in Oxford, England Dr Habermas is chairman of the department of Philosophy and Theology at Liberty University and has written more than 100 articles on the life of jesus in scholarly journals to hear the historical evidence for jesus resurrection. We invite you to join us for this edition of the john in Coburg show, welcome to our program. I’m john Achterberg and my guest is philosopher dr Gary Habermas in these programs were trying to show you how you can talk to your non christian friends and show them that there is solid historical information about jesus life, death, burial, resurrection, including jesus appearances to his followers. Now we’ve been doing an in depth bible study on first Corinthians 15 1 through eight where the apostle paul writes these words. Now, I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the gospel, which I preached to you, which you also received in which you also stand by which you are also saved. If you hold fast, the word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received. That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and that he appeared to Cephas. Then to the 12. After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James then to all the apostles and last of all. As to one untimely born. He appeared to me also As we have already shown in previous programs. Almost all new testament, scholars today believe Paul wrote this information to the church at Corinth at about 55 a. D. Further paul says this information is of first importance to them Now. What he’s referring to is the Gospel by which we are saved. What is the gospel paul says it, is that christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures and then he appeared and showed himself to a lot of people, Paul names, them scholars believe this set of facts found here was written down or passed along orally or as an easy creed or set of beliefs for christians to remember. It was probably given to Paul about 32 a. d. when Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. After paul saw Jesus, other christians took care of him and when they did they told paul this creed. Of course those who gave it to him had to have received this creed from someone else who gave it to them earlier than 32 a. D. But if so, this takes us right back to Jerusalem around 30 a. D. about the very time the resurrection happened. Now scholars believe this creed could have been given to paul at 35 A. D. Five years after jesus crucifixion, it was given to paul by Peter and James when paul visited them in Jerusalem. If paul got it from Peter and James, they must have gotten it from someone else earlier. So please remember this. This is important information containing key facts about jesus appearances, what the gospel is and that this information was known in in circulation among christians very early. Now, since we have already covered this information in our previous programs. I think it’s time to try and answer another. Very important question. What about the miracles found in the new testament? Is it possible for 1\/20 century historian to come to the conclusion that jesus really did perform miracles and really did rise from the dead. This question has been debated by scholars over the last 100 years over what is called the first quest. Then the second quest and now the third quest for the historical jesus. And on this question about miracles, Dr Habermas is an acknowledged expert who in the past is debated. People like dr Anthony flew the world’s foremost philosophical atheist on this topic. Plus Dr Habermas has written scores of scholarly articles on this question, and I’d like you to listen to his answer and this brings us to the question of miracles. The first quest put on the shelf, the second quest really wasn’t interested. The third quest, The question of the miracles of jesus, the present time are really hot issue and miracles are divided into three categories. Exorcisms, healing miracles and nature miracles. And critics are fairly open to the fact that some things are really going on here. I mean, Jesus at least thought he healed people and people at least thought he healed them. He really thought he cast out demons and those who thought they had demons really believe the demons left. I mean, they really work with historical scenario. But what about the supernatural nous of the miracle? This is still on the outs with a lot of scholars. They don’t think this is a time when we can talk about God acting in history, but one of the things you want to say right off the bat here is that the assumption that says at the outset, come on, we’re modern, we can’t believe in miracles. That’s not a way to approach something, this is an inductive world, this is a scientific world. We look at things according to the preponderance of facts and if we look at data and it looks like something has occurred that may be miraculous. You gotta put the miraculous question on the back burner and first just ask the historical question what happened with the miracles? What happened with the resurrection? We don’t have to decide right now if God raised jesus, but I think the way to start is to say what happened in time and space, was there a man named jesus, did he die on the cross? And did his disciples see him again? Let’s not ask right now, is this an event caused by God? But what can historians say? They don’t have the tools, they will tell you to talk about miracles, but they do have the tools to say this man walked and talked in first century Palestine, secondly, they have the tools to say he died on the cross, a victim of roman crucifixion. They have the tools to say people believed, they saw him afterwards. On the one hand, I want to say miracles cannot be ruled out our priority, but on the other hand, I want to say let’s first talk about what is good history and then we’ll ask the question, could any of these be miraculous. I think what I’m what I’m getting at here is that historians do not have a choice but to take a line of facts and the direction that the data point us if the if history says jesus doesn’t, so we have to be open to looking at that. So as you listen to that, in essence, Dr Habermas is saying that if the historical evidence and circumstances leads to the conclusion that a miracle really did happen, then you are forced to conclude that a miracle really did happen. But then what conclusion should historians come to when they examine the facts surrounding jesus resurrection, This is very important. So I want you to listen what I meant there about the resurrection goes something like this. I want to know if a man named jesus of Nazareth walked and talked on the earth about 25 27 28 A. D. Okay, historians come in and say, oh yes, virtually nobody thinks that he didn’t live. Rudolph bolton by the way said, we’re not at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that jesus lived walked, talked in history. So the historian steps and say I’ve got data for that house but he died. Well that’s not a problem. Most people die and historians say let’s follow that path, yep, it takes us to the cross. The romans hung jesus, they put him on the cross, he died and we can take that in history. Now when you get to the resurrection people start getting a little nervous here. But here’s the point I’m saying, let’s not ask the question, Did God intervene and pull him out of the tomb? Let’s ask him much easier question. Did jesus of Nazareth who walked and talked in Palestine, who was believed to have been crucified on the cross? Did anybody claim to have seen him alive after the cross? That people walk and talk with him and touch him? You know, C. S. Lewis says the miraculous part of an event is the initial aspect where interest history. But after that, everything else is very normal. For example, if jesus multiplied loaves and fish for 5000 plus people, once he did the miracle of the multiplication, everybody ate everybody was full, everybody got tired. That’s what happens after you eat and you get, you know, there’s some biological things going on here. That’s what happens. That’s what food does, the miracles, the multiplication, not the eating and all this with the resurrection accounts. We want to ask a simple question, was a man named jesus, Did he die on the cross? And did people claim to see him afterwards? If so, why? Those are certainly claims that historians can get their fingers on, We have data there. Now folks, let me just break in here and ask a question that might help us understand what is being said during these programs? You have heard Dr Habermas constantly refer to the historical facts about jesus that are accepted by virtually all critical scholars today. What are those facts. I asked him to list the 12 historical facts and tell us why virtually all critical scholars believe these 12 facts are true. I want you to listen as he tells you what they are. The question here obviously is, what kind of data do we have? What are these facts that I keep referring to? Because some people are gonna be screaming out saying there are no facts. Okay, what is our audience? Evangelicals are gonna look at the new testament text and say facts are all over the place. Every time I read and find one, that’s a fact. Because I believe scripture, inspired others will say no, it’s only a book of ancient literature. Now you have to ask the question which are believable facts and which are not. Most scholars will give you a list of facts surrounding the events that Christians call the Gospel, the trial, the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus. I think there are at least 12 facts. At least 12. I mean, the vast majority of scholars will give you more than these, but there are at least 12 facts that critical scholars admit. Virtually every scholar will admit virtually every one of these one jesus died by crucifixion to, he was buried nothing strange about these things. Most people die. Most people are buried three, his death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing his life had ended. What would you say if your best friend died and very suddenly four. Now I admit this one is not as widely held, but many scholars believe that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered to be empty just a few days later, five, the disciples had experiences and I’ll say this the way that even the critics will be able to accept it. I think the disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen jesus. They thought Jesus appeared to them six, because of these experiences, they were transformed from doubters. They were afraid of their own shadows, so to speak, certainly afraid to identify themselves with jesus into bold proclaims of his death and resurrection seven. This message was the center of preaching in the early church, remember paul said of first importance, death, burial, resurrection of jesus ate this message was especially proclaimed in the environments of Jerusalem where Jesus died and was buried just shortly before nine. As a result of this preaching, the church was born and it grew 10 Sunday became the primary day of worship and and that’s significant for Jewish believers. 11, James, who had been a skeptic was converted to the faith when he also believed that he saw the resurrected jesus and 12, A few years later paul was converted by Next, which he likewise believed to be the appearance of the risen jesus. What I’m saying here is that with the exception of the empty tomb, virtually all critical scholars accept this list as historical and most of them will even grant the empty tomb. And uh if you want to check some of the writings I’ve done in this historical jesus and some of the books by others, you can find lists of critical scholars who accept all of these things. Now, during these programs, you have heard Dr Habermas talk about 12 historical facts about jesus that he believes. Almost all critical scholars in the world today believe are true. But what if you are talking to a friend and don’t have the time to cover and give the reasons why all 12 historical facts are true. Can you shorten the list of facts to four or 5 and still prove that Jesus rose from the dead, Dr Habermas says the answer is yes, and he tells you how listen now you might say, well wait a minute, 12, that’s not bad. But can we cut this list down? Can we get some more skeptics involved involved by being even more uh picky and what we take. Alright, I’ll arbitrarily reduce this list to say 456 somewhere in there. And if I were to reduce this list, I would say something like the following, jesus died due to crucifixion. The disciples had experiences that they believed were appearances of the risen jesus. Their lives were transformed because of that. And later, a man named Saul of Tarsus believed that he was converted to jesus by an appearance of personal appearance of the risen jesus to him. These are four tough facts that virtually anybody is going to give you. And I think that we can build a case for that central proclamation of the death and resurrection of jesus based on just these four facts alone. Now we just got done listing for facts which I think are going to be admitted by the vast majority of critical scholars folks to the middle and on the left hand side of the scale, we might add a couple others in here. The resurrection is the center of early christian preaching. What do you do with a fellow like James, the brother of jesus, a skeptic who comes to christ, The fact that the resurrection of Christ was very early, as we said a few weeks ago, an earlier broadcast. What do you do with these four facts? Now, here’s my point. Some critics are going to give you a longer list, some of them, some skeptics might give you 20 and I said I don’t need 20, I don’t need 12. And for those who think can you do it with any less than 12? I’m saying I’ve got 4567 somewhere right in there and it’s an arbitrary number. Why? Because nobody, virtually nobody gives you only those facts. But I’m saying I’m arbitrarily reducing the list of 12 and then 2456. And here’s my contention with these data and the data that modify these facts that are admitted by all. We have enough of a basis to say that jesus died and he was raised again from the dead. You can sort of take home the whole pie with just these facts. Now, folks, here’s the bottom line for all of the information that we’ve given you today. If you just take the 45 or six of these accepted historical facts about jesus life, they will knock out and refute all of the naturalistic, non miraculous theories that have been proposed to explain away the resurrection of jesus from the dead. Instead, the facts point to jesus rose from the dead and his claims to be the son of God are vindicated. So instead of running from jesus, you should run to him for forgiveness and eternal life. Dr. Habermas explains with just these 4567 facts. Just a small portion of what more critics will grant. Most critics will grant This is what I’m saying occurs with just those facts. I have the major reputations there of the naturalistic theories. The stories that say, well, what if jesus wasn’t raised, what if really what really happened was fill in the blank I’m saying with just these half dozen approximately facts. You can refute all those major alternative hypotheses and at the same time have the very best evidences for the resurrection contained right in this list And really this list is shorter than almost any list of critics. A list of facts produced by critics. I mean, I’m really asking for less facts here than almost anybody give me. And these facts, by the way, have two prerequisites. It’s not only That they are admitted by virtually all critical scholars, but second, they are individually attested by other data. So, for the person who comes along and says, I’m not gonna give you any of your four, I’m just gonna be belligerent with you, I’m not gonna give you anything. Then with that person you build from the ground up, you start with zero and you tell them the evidence for 123456. You give them the evidence for each one of these. But the conclusion is these facts alone, give the major reputations of the naturalistic theories and secondly, they provide the major evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. Maybe right now you’re asking the question, what about hallucinations, john you’ve heard it said that jesus really did die, but later the disciples had hallucinations which they thought they saw jesus, this is what they meant when they said they saw Jesus. Well dr Habermas answers this question. Listen, Let me take a case in point here, let’s pick not just some straw man and take some weakling theory. Let’s take the hottest naturalistic theory in the 19th century. The hypothesis says that Jesus died. All right, but didn’t really rise from the dead? The disciples saw hallucinations, we know hallucinations are out there. That’s it. Right here. They saw hallucinations looking only at this list notice number one, the disciples had experiences that they believed to be appearances. There is in jesus paul said these experiences occurred in groups. Hallucinations are not contagious, they don’t occur in groups. Second, hallucinations are fairly rare. When you’re talking about groups of people, you’ve got a hard head of peter, softhearted mary, softhearted, john my point is, you’ve got different people, different times, different places, paul says individual here, Individual there 500 out there, He appears in different places. And it’s not likely. And I’m being very conservative there that all these people would be just in the right frame of mind to see hallucinations further. They were transformed. Hallucinations don’t transform. In fact, I know of a man who has done some research personally with hallucinations and what the what the people said was I changed my mind when my friend said a these things don’t happen and be we didn’t see them. Guess what that would apply to the resurrection above all, Deadman don’t rise and we didn’t see them unless they did. So the transformations show that they really believed what they taught. And what about the apostle paul, He wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind to see hallucination, I mean, the man was walking to Damascus, he says, to carry out threats against believers. Now, does that man want to see the resurrected jesus? And then you’ve got James, jesus brother an insider. What would you think if your son if your brother were getting this kind of attention around the world? And James says, I don’t believe he’s a skeptic and critics usually admit that, but it’s James in the right frame of mind to see hallucinations. I don’t think so. These are some of the problems. Just what? Maybe a half dozen right there that come from? Just that list of a short list of facts that we already gave. Let’s try the illustration of what I’m talking about here. Let’s say we’re surrounded by a group of people and over on this side of the conservatives, they give me all the facts in the testament. Obviously Jesus was raised. You get to the next group and I’ll give you most of them, Jesus was raised. You go over and further and further over till you get to the left and over here are people who say I’ll give you 10 or 12, I’m saying I’ll work with with those 12 or I’ll work with only four. But for the person who says, I’m gonna give you zero facts, you work up to each one of them. You give the data for each one and the conclusion is these facts alone. Refute the naturalistic theories on the one hand and provide the best evidences for the resurrection mm hmm, jesus is on trial for his life. They’ve got nothing? They’re trying to trap him there trying to get something to bring to Pilate so they can crucify jesus, this guy that keeps saying you know, I’m the one who can forgive sins that cuts into your your work at the over the temple. I mean you’re supposed to be doing that, the priests over there, you’re supposed to be the mediator over there. Here’s the guy saying I can do that. The high priest finally asks him this question. Alright, alright. He says, look at are you the christ, that’s the messiah. There has been a political term. The king of the jews here, the messiah second, are you the christ? The son of the blessed one? So what they were saying? And they were asking Jesus to comment on, are you the messiah? Are you the son of God? I don’t know why this escapes people, but I think this one through. Are you the messiah? Are you the christ? Are you the son of God? Jesus said what I am, I am. Who did he claim to be? Son of God the messiah? But he didn’t stop there. He didn’t stop there, he said, I am and you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven. That’s what got their dander up because look what happened? The high priest tore his clothes. Why do you? We need any more witnesses? He said, you have heard the blasphemy, What do you think? And they all condemned him as worthy of death? What did he say? You’ve got to know the son of man and you got to realize what Jesus is saying. You will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one of God, his Dominion, The Son of man is an everlasting Dominion that will not pass away and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Jesus said on the trial. Now, am I the messiah? The son of God? I am the one that daniel talked about that’s going to be given all authority over the nations and they will worship me. Now, what would you consider being in that kind of a person’s presence? A guy that says, I’m the light of the world he can create and he can do all these things and he can forgive sins. What kind of a personality do you think he would have? Mm hmm. Most people that are perfect or try to think they’re perfect? They’re kind of stuck up, right? You don’t want to be around them? They’re proud. They’re not humble. But isn’t it interesting that this guy who claimed to live a perfect life absolutely sinless is also considered by the skeptics to be the greatest example of love and humility that’s ever walked the earth next week on the john anchor berg show. Okay, let’s move on to the next step he died. He was buried. What happened to the christian story is that it was raised, but in between burial and raising, we’re told the tomb was vacated, jesus is leaving, left it alone. Is there any reason to believe that again? One of the first points you want to say is all Four Gospels record the empty tomb and here comes the critics, I told you I don’t like the gospels. What do we have to back up those early gospel stories of the empty tomb?