To build a case for Christ and the resurrection, it is best to start with the foundation. Evidence. Evidence is crucial to every case. Jesus said as much in John 14:11 (NLT paraphrase), Believe in me and what I say- and if that is too much, then at least believe the evidence.
The Problems with Evidence:
People are Fallible: Not everything we read, preaching we watch, or information we find on the internet is reliable. Information is not always accurate because it comes from people. People are fallible and not everything we believe is the truth. People and perspectives change over time. For example, the whole world once believed that the earth was flat. So just because we believe something, doesn’t make it true.
No One is Checking the Reliability: Rumors spread easily. For example, George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree. That was a made-up story to make people believe that George Washington was trustworthy as a child. Do you verify your sources?
Truth is Not What You Want to Believe: Most people believe what they want to believe, however, reliable evidence uncovers the truth. And the truth is crucial.
How can we make sure what we believe is, in fact, true? Fortunately, God gave use discernment. 1 John 4:1-6, tells to test whether things are true. God doesn’t want us to be led by our feelings or unreliable sources. God wants us to know the truth.
Is the Bible Reliable Evidence?
Put the Bible to the historical Evidentiary Test = Biographical Test + Reliability Test.
So how do we know the Bible was actually written between 1200 BC and AD 1 if there are no historical manuscripts, and paper of that time was thin, and rotted quickly? All we have are copies of the Bible. But everything we read today is a copy. A book isn’t an original written in the author’s own handwriting. No printed works are original, so being a copy does not affect a documents reliability.
We look to see how far away the original writings are to the copies. Famous works were not automatically preserved. It is hard to determine how important the works would one day be! Look at Aristotle, a fancy philosopher from AD 342- those closest recounted copies of his work are 1100 years after they were written. That’s how long it took for people to realize the value in Aristotle’s writing and start disseminating it. How about the Bible? The Bible is more like 50 years. Probably because people could see the importance and truth of what they were witnessing. And, with recent technological advances, some of the copies of the new testament are found to be recounted only 34 years after it originated! It is truly amazing. No other ancient document comes this close in time. Making it the most reliably written ancient document of all time.
Another way to test a document is by the number of copies written and found. The more copies made, the more reliable the document. For example, there are only 10 copies of works by Julius Cesar. The second highest number of manuscripts copies discovered were the works of Homer, and his plays. There were 643 manuscripts found. Then we look at the number of manuscripts found for the new testament. It is over 24,000!!!
What does this mean? There is no doubt that the Bible was a written historical manuscript. It passes the biographical test. But since people are fallible, the reliability of the source must also be checked. Ask, who is the source and how reliable are they?
Eyewitness testimony from reliable sources is one way of discovering the objective truth. A few examples in the Bible include: Luke (well-educated, likely a doctor), Paul (the biggest critic of Jesus), and Peter (a doubting fisherman).
Luke 1:2-4: Luke describes his investigative practices. Luke “carefully investigated everything from the beginning,” so that we may know the certainty of the things we have been taught.
1 Corinthians 15:6: Paul tells us Jesus appeared to 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time. That means there are over 500 eyewitnesses who attest to the same thing!! That is a testament to the perfection of God’s word. We see this perfection continuously in the new testament. Not just in the resurrection, but other events as well. God knew how important evidence was and made sure there were multiple witnesses to testify. The number of witnesses also tells us this miracle was not a secret, it wasn’t hidden. This miracle was public, so everyone could see the truth and testify.
Acts 10:39-42: “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
Conclusion: Based on the historical works test, the Bible is more reliable than any other comparative writing. The Bible cannot be called unreliable simply because there are a few parts yet to be confirmed. Most of the Bible has been confirmed as historically accurate and reliable.
As believers we are called to preach the good news of Christ. There are many critics of Christ and it can be intimidating to speak the truth. Often, we fear we are not smart enough or convincing enough. However, that is not true. The enemy wants you to think you aren’t good enough or smart enough. But do not doubt yourself. Arm yourself.
The truth is, God gives wisdom to all those who ask. If you allow Him, God will provide everything you need and more. That is the beautiful pact He made with us. Having faith in God is not thinking you know what you believe. It is being sure of who God is. We can be sure of the book we read and God we serve. The Bible is NOT true because you believe it. The Bible is the truth. That is the reason to believe. It is historically true and accurate. It is evidence upon which we rely.