"The doctrine that future happiness depends upon belief is monstrous. It is the infamy of infamies."

- Robert G. Ingersoll

"It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all."

- Denis Diderot

How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

- Psalm 116:12-14





Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but upon what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! But Jesus Christ founded His upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.

- Napoleon Bonaparte

That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

- Romans 10:9, 12-13

6.1 Overview

For decades, evangelist Billy Graham has reminded countless millions of people of death's success rate: 100%. As sure as you were born, you will die. But even if you do not have faith in Jesus as the risen Christ, even if you think the Bible is something other than what it claims to be, it's likely that you would prefer to survive death. The question is "How?" Has anyone really done it?

In the world's history of great thinkers, philosophers, scientists, and leaders, why is Jesus the one most widely believed to have returned from death?

The great escape artist Houdini vowed to escape from death if at all possible, but has not returned yet. Some people believe they have been reincarnated after having lived in one or more past lives. (One survey taken in the early 1990's among reincarnation believers revealed that about twenty-five percent of them believe they had been Abraham Lincoln, and the majority of the rest were similarly popular historical figures of fame and fortune.)

There have also been people who have suffered brief periods of clinical death in drowning accidents and hospital situations, yet have survived to tell about it. But these persons had not passed the medical point of no return; they were usually resuscitated in minutes (longer for freezing victims), not in days; and usually by the quick response of modern lifesaving equipment or techniques. Their corpse's were not left nailed to a cross for many hours, given a spear thrust into the chest cavity for good measure, mummified, and then entombed and abandoned for over two nights.

Unlike anyone else, Jesus made the claim before he died that he had the authority to lay down his life and take it up again (John 10:17-18). Authority is the key word. If Jesus took up his life on the third day after his death, it is the ultimate demonstration of his authority over life and death.

Resurrection, combined with Jesus' fulfillments of the messianic prophecies, constitutes the core evidence affirming the beliefs of many eyewitnesses at that time that Jesus is indeed the Almighty Lord. If Jesus has the power and authority to lay down and pick up his own life, then he has the power and authority to pick up ours, as well.

To conclude, let's review the evidence of the three major empirical proofs of the argument for the deity of Jesus Christ:

1.) the chief prophecies concerning the Messiah which were written centuries before Jesus was born;

2.) the historical records left by non-Christian/non-biblical sources about Jesus; and

3.) the testimony of the people who knew Jesus best.

6.2 Summary: major prophecies

The Old Testament canon was closed long before Jesus' arrival on earth. It contained everything that had been prophesied of the coming Messiah. This included the knowledge (or belief) that the Messiah would:

Some of those prophecies seem to have been fulfilled so clearly and literally in Jesus' life that non-Christians can be tempted to wonder if his life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection events were fabricated for just that purpose. That's answered by the next point: listening to what other non-Christians, contemporary to Jesus' day, had to say about him and his followers.

6.3 Summary: hostile testimony

An earlier quote on this site, by a president of the American Atheists, stated that no such person as Jesus ever existed. As an attack on Christianity, the accusation is simplistic. It creates for itself a complex problem in interpreting the writings of Jesus' contemporaries who did not like him. They wrote about how they disliked Jesus, gave their own opinions of his ministry, made various charges against him, corroborated that he was crucified, and even corroborated the disciples' claim that Jesus had bodily risen from the dead.

In at least one respect, accusations like "Jesus never lived" are similar to claims that astronauts never went to the moon or that the Holocaust of World War II never happened. Denials such as these should not come as a surprise. All are cases where the passing of time is used by certain parties, for different reasons, to play upon the doubts of those who are ignorant of history. As the years go by, eyewitnesses die off and details become forgotten. Finally, once the past is relegated to writings and various secondhand evidences, just about any denial of the past can be put forward as the truth du jour and capture a given amount of followers.

By recalling history in order to distinguish the truth from lies, here is what we learn of Jesus solely by listening to ancient nonbelievers and those who actively opposed Jesus:

The ancient world not only recognized the one called Jesus, it also recognized his followers and their practices. The changes in life those practices established were major and sudden. The day of Jewish worship, though established for thousands of years as Saturday, suddenly switched to Sunday for all who believed the resurrection had taken place.

Additionally, the worship of Jesus spread outward to surrounding nations from the very place in which the resurrection account took place - Jerusalem. This is significant because if the resurrection were a hoax, Jerusalem is the last place it could have been passed off; the first place the lie would have been discovered. But belief in the resurrection persisted, and persisted mightily.

6.4 Summary: friendly testimony

The thoughts of those who had contact with Jesus before and after his resurrection are best captured within the whole of the New Testament itself. However, the apostles' individual commitments to suffer and die for their belief in the resurrection are the concluding exclamation marks to their lives and to the integrity of their writings:

What were some of their words? It is impossible to isolate any particular passage of the New Testament as being the best of the lot, or the most outstanding in any certain aspect. Therefore, here is a sample of the New Testament's flavor chosen practically at random. This passage is both a reminder of what Christ did as well as an exhortation to be like-minded with him in the areas of love and obedience:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

- Philippians 2:3-11 NIV

Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies that preceded him by centuries, he existed even to the certainty of his enemies, and his friends and followers lived and died fully convinced of his resurrection from the grave. History cannot speak with any greater clarity: Jesus Christ is Lord.



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NEXT: Introduction to Authority

See also:

What are the fundamental beliefs of Christianity?

Explain more about salvation and the purpose of the Bible

Explain more about God and his authority

Printing Tips, Contact, Search,
Links & Bibles,
The Gospel







This is a summary of the Divinity chapters.

The argument for believing Jesus to be God the Messiah is critically important. It's a claim that, if truly believed, will cause a person to act upon it and find their life changed forever.

If you have not already done so, be sure to also read "What is the gospel?"

6.2 Summary of prophecies
6.3 Hostile testimonies
6.4 Friendly testimonies