Second Clue: It’s not any date selected by humans.
Third Clue: It’s a celebration commanded by Jesus himself to be memorialized.
Fourth Clue: It’s not the Christianized pagan celebration of Easter
Fifth clue: It’s not the meticulously calculated “Memorial of Jesus’ Death”, in which few to none partake of the wine and bread, as celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses
“Then he took a loaf, gave thanks, and broke it in pieces, and gave it to them, and said, ‘This is my body which is to be given for you. Do this as a memorial to me.'” (Luke 22:19 Williams New Testament, emphasis added)
Acts 1:1-3 – “In my former book, Theophilus…” (NIV) So he implies Acts is the second volume.
Jude 17 – “But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said.” Jude was apparently referring to Acts 20:29; 1 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Pt 2:1-3; 2 Jn 7. Apostolic authority carried great weight. The apostles’ writings apparently were considered scripture.
Gal 1:17-20 – Paul put his own apostleship in the same category as the original twelve apostles. Jesus’ brother James was considered an apostle by this time, and likely their brother Jude was also.
So books by Matthew, John, Paul, Peter, James (Jesus’ brother) and Jude were considered scripture. Mark wrote for Peter. Luke wrote for Paul and interviewed many eyewitnesses.
Increase in the knowledge of God
The Old Testament predicted an increase in the knowledge of God when Christ comes with the new covenant:
“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Is 11:9)
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jer 24:7)
“‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'” (Jer 31:33-34)
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14)
God warned Adam of the consequences of eating from a certain tree. (Gen 2:16-17)
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.” (Gen 4:7 NIV) God warned Cain. His language indicates Cain had a choice.
“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life.” (Deut 30:19 NIV) God made clear there is a choice to make.
“Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Mt 7:13-14 NJB, emphasis added) Notice how the NLT renders the key phrase: “broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.” Jesus clearly articulates the choice that humans have.
“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God, or I speak on my own.” (Jn 7:17 NIV) Anyone and everyone has a choice to make.
“Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4 NIV) Being an enemy of God is also a choice each person has.
So although God chooses who will serve him, human will is also at work. God allows each human to make their own choices. Humans have free will, which can either be contrary to God’s will or in harmony with His purpose.
The word “antichrist” occurs in the Bible only in 1 and 2 John. Who is this antichrist? Is it a historical figure who is already dead? Is it someone who is living on earth today? Or is it someone who is yet to be born? Or, is it possible that there is more than one? Let us examine the Bible to find out.
“It is the last hour. And as you have heard, ‘Antichrist is coming,’ even now many antichrists have come.” (1 John 2:18 CSB, emphasis added)
John said that even in the first century, there had already been many antichrists.
“Who is the liar, if not one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22 CSB)
Many, many people deny the Father and the Son – not just one person.
“Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:3 NIV, emphasis added)read more
The claim that Jesus rose from the dead is extraordinary. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. What is the strongest proof that Jesus was resurrected? Let’s start at the point of beginning, and work, or build from there.
This beginning point is that the universe, the earth, etc. very strongly witness to God’s existence as Creator. Psalm 19:1 says: “the heavens declare the glory of God.” (NIV)
Building on this is the text of the New Testament. It has been subjected to the most extreme scrutiny imaginable. This has resulted in the number one “Extraordinary Proof” of all time. This is the fact that the text of the New Testament in Koine Greek that we have today is verified as being 99.5% pure. That is 99.5% of the words are the same as originally written by writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul etc. What about the other 0.5% in which there is some doubt? These somewhat doubtful words do not affect any of the principles, truths or doctrines in the Bible. They are inconsequential of interest to some scholars, technicians, those who love trivia, etc. No other work from ancient times comes anywhere close to the New Testament textual integrity.
To review so far, creation tells us there must be a Creator, just as a house tells us that somebody built it. Second, the biblical New Testament text has been verified as pure – that is, today it is virtually identical to the original writings done from circa 40 to 98 CE. (Romans 1:19-22; 1 Peter 1:24-25)
Third, the Old Testament text has been verified as being unchanged as to essentials after many hundreds of years of copying, by the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Isaiah 40:8) The Old Testament text was fixed, and the Canon closed before 400 BCE. Jesus quoted from and confirmed the entire Old Testament as God’s infallible word. (Luke 24:44)
Fourth, just as extraordinary point #2 above builds on point #1, so it is with this one. Old Testament prophecy not only predicted accurately Jesus conception, birth, life and death – it gave predictions of his resurrection. (Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:10) Critics may try to claim these prophecies were written after the fact. However, the clear evidence proves them flatly wrong. How? The Dead Sea Scrolls prove these prophecies were written hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ human existence.
Reviewing now, we have added the accurately preserved Old Testament text, and the uniquely accurate Old Testament prophecies about Jesus’ death and resurrection to the list of extraordinary proofs.
Jesus’ resurrection is presented as factual and true throughout the New Testament as these few selected scripture show.
Fifth, Jesus’ existence including his death and claims the resurrection are well documented by secular sources, even some non-Christian.
Sixth, archaeological discoveries and history have confirmed the existence of places and practices and customs in connection with Jesus’ death.
Seventh, people in connection with Jesus’ death have been confirmed by historical an archaeological sources. Examples are Annas, Caiphus and Pontius Pilate.
Eighth, Jesus went to extraordinary links to confirm his resurrection to doubting Thomas. (John 20:24-29) Thomas puts his hand into the whole in Jesus side and observed the holes in Jesus’ hands in Jesus’ materialized, resurrected body.
All of this, taken together, provides extraordinary evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Like some in the first century, some today “demand signs,” whereas Bible-believing Christians “preach Christ crucified”, which is nothing more than “foolishness” to unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 1:22-23 NIV) However, since “all Scripture is God-breathed,” it is very “useful for teaching” true facts, and “training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” including providing extraordinary proof of Jesus’ resurrection. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV) There is nothing more that we need.
“Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm.” (2 Timothy 2:19 CSB; NIV) It doesn’t matter who believes or doesn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection – truth doesn’t change. Belief is optional. “Let the one who is thirsty [for truth and life] come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
“We still have not found the missing link between us and apes” is the title of an article published by BBC News on May 18, 2017. The article is about the search for a “missing link.” Since there are no living creatures that fill in the gaps or “missing links” between humans and apes, Darwinists persistently assert that there was a “last common ancestor” (LCA). “Most people know it by a non-scientific name: ‘the missing link.'”
“Scientists have been on the trail of the LCA for decades, and they still have not found it.” It has a lot in common with Big Foot – you know it has to be out there somewhere. The only problem is you never can find it. Scientists have had a lot of trouble trying to even agree on much of anything about this LCA. But the article assures us that the “fossilized remains of the LCA might come to light any time.”
“They might even be discovered this very year.” Don’t hold your breath, though. Why? “Because there is so little agreement on what the LCA should look like, researchers will interpret the fossils differently, the article admits. Never fear, though, for the safety of the evolution theory of Darwinism! Just as any and all critics and criticism of the ancient goddess Artemis was and were drowned out with “shouting: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'” (Acts 19:28 NIV) So it is today with the goddess of Darwinism.
Never mind that all living things were both created and reproduce “according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:11-12; Genesis 1:21-25 CSB) Never mind that no “missing links” exist in the world today. Never mind that scientists cannot agree on any LCA or “missing link” for humans and animals. These truths are generally “suppressed.” (Romans 1:18 CSB) Darwinists “have exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25 NIV; CSB) This LCA has been asserted now for the past 150 years. The only problem is they can’t find it, because it doesn’t exist. “Instead, their thinking became nonsense” (Romans 1:21 CSB), “although claiming to be wise.” (Romans 1:22 CSB) And no wonder: “they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom do they really have?” (Jeremiah 8:9 CSB)
Different Resurrection Appearances are “Infallible Proofs” – Not Contradictions
Some have claimed the different accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances in the four Gospels and 1 Corinthians are “proofs” these Bible books are riddled with errors and contradictions. If true, these would in turn “prove” the Bible not to be inspired of God, or infallible, as many Christians believe that it is.
The Bible itself says that these different resurrection appearances confirm the Bible’s inspiration by God.
“To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3 NKJV, emphasis added)
When people point out the differences in the reporting in the Gospels and 1 Corinthians of which individuals saw the resurrected Jesus and claim these are contradictions, they actually point out something that defeats their own argument. Rather than contradicting one another, the differences in the reporting actually show that these five different accounts are independent of one another. They were written, not in collusion with each other to fabricate a myth or legend, but by five different men who had different perspectives. Each of the writers accurately recorded the events they wrote about from their differing perspectives.
Two of these writers were “apostles whom He had chosen” during His earthly ministry, “to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:2-3 NKJV), namely Matthew and John. “Mark, my son in Christ,” Peter says, was his recorder of his eyewitness account. (1 Peter 5:13 NCV)Â Luke, who was not an eyewitness himself, notes that others had “set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. The used eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.” (Luke 1:1-2 NLT) These writings were not legends, or rumors, they were accurate historical accounts based on eyewitness statements. Luke says that he, “having carefully investigated everything from the beginning… decided to write a careful account” (Luke 1:3 NLT), using accurate, truthful, factual material. Luke traveled extensively with the Apostle Paul, who had encountered the resurrected Jesus a couple of years after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus personally selected Paul to be his “chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15 NLT) Paul and Luke, during their extensive travels, spent time with many of the original early Christians over a period of a number of years. Furthermore, the fact is that the “Spirit of the truth” would guide them into all the truth, (John 16:13 NLT), as Jesus promised. So it proved to be, the New Testament writings were guided by the Holy Spirit.
Another point worth noting is that each writer had had to be highly selective in choosing which material to record. Why? John, using hyperbole, explains in his endnote: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV, emphasis added) John also made a similar admission when he stated the purpose of his writing: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” (John 20:30 NIV, emphasis added) So John plainly states there are multitudes of Jesus’ activities that he did not record. Although the synoptics do not explicitly state it, it is obvious also they had to be highly selective about which of numerous events in Jesus’ life to record.
If each Gospel account was identical, then why would the New Testament not have but one Gospel book? In that case, there would be no need to waste all the time writing materials and make four copies of the same identical account. The reason the New Testament includes these four Gospels is because there are four independent, accurate accounts of Jesus’ life, with major emphasis on the events of the week leading up to his execution, and the events following.
If the differences in the four Gospels and 1 Corinthians concerned the main points, there certainly would be cause for concern. Let’s take an example of this. Mark’s Gospel in its original form ended at 16:8, and included no resurrection appearances of Jesus. The other three Gospels and 1 Corinthians do record resurrection appearances of Jesus, with variations. Is Mark’s omission here a contradiction? No, omission is not tantamount to contradiction in and of itself. Notice two key points:
None of the four Gospels or 1 Corinthians give all the details regarding Jesus’ resurrection appearances. These accounts supplement each other. No group of four or five witnesses, news reporters, or news outlets will give identical reports when reporting a series of major events. They will agree on the main points, but the details will differ.
Yes, the four Gospels and 1 Corinthians differ in their reporting of who saw the resurrected Jesus. Critics claim these differences amount to contradictions. However, this is actually not the case. Why not? Most of the reporting done in the five accounts lacks specific time references, which pulls the rug out from under the so-called “chronological contradictions.”
While carefully examining the five accounts of the witnesses of the resurrected Jesus, we can come up with who saw Jesus first, etc. (John 20:1-18) But the chronological order of these witnesses is not the major event. The event of gigantic proportions is the resurrection of Jesus.
One alleged contradiction is Paul’s list of witnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. He lists Cephas (Peter) first, so critics claim this contradicts John’s account in which Mary Magdalene first meets the resurrected Jesus. However, looking carefully at Paul’s account, we notice that he does not say that Cephas (Peter) saw the risen Jesus first. Paul states “that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and the he appeared to Cephas.” (1 Corinthians 15:4-5 NIV) Paul writes factually, without giving every detail, including an exhaustive list of different witnesses.
As to the critics’ assertion that none of the writers of the four Gospels met with the risen Jesus, again, a careful examination of the evidence proves this to be an invalid objection, as follows:
“The apostles he had chosen” were given “many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days.” “The apostles he had chosen” included Gospel writers Matthew and John. Peter was also an apostle, and we know Mark was his writer for the second Gospel. (Acts 1:1-3 NIV)
Risen Jesus commanded them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift…. Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem…. Those present were Peter, John… and Matthew.” (Acts 1:4, 12-13 NIV) They decided to select a replacement for Judas, “appointed to serve with us as a witness to his resurrection.” (Acts 1:22 NJB) The new apostle had to be one who had witnessed the risen Jesus, so he could “serve with us as a witness to his resurrection.” “Us” here included witnesses Matthew, Peter and John.
Why do many people not believe in God or his word the Bible? Why are so many people lacking faith? A person with genuine Bible-based faith is referred to as “one who sees Him who is invisible.” (Heb 11:27 CSB)
In one special case, Elisha’s servant was given the ability to see otherwise invisible angelic forces, arrayed against the Syrian army: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord
opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.read more
What name should Christians be called, and why? How long has the term “Christian” been in use, and who invented it? The answer to these questions can be found in the Bible.
“The disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.” (Acts 11:26 Young’s) God was behind the development of the use of the term “Christians” within a few years of the start of Christianity.
At Paul’s final hearing before Festus, Festus said: “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” (Acts 26:28 NLT) So obviously, they were being called Christians at this time as well.
“If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:16 NIV) Being a Christian meant then, and means today bearing “that name,” not just as a label, but the entire Christian way of life, including suffering, if necessary.
That’s why, apparently, that six times in the book of Acts, Christianity is referred to as “the Way.” Notice the references:
“Any who belonged to the Way, whether men or women.” (Acts 9:2 NIV)
“Publicly speaking against the Way.” (Acts 19:9 NLT) Early Christians experienced persecution, via slander in this case.
“I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.” (Acts 24:14 NIV) Paul here says he is a follower of the Christian Way, which opposing Jews called a divisive sect.
“I persecuted followers of this Way to their death.” (Acts 22:4 NIV) Paul admits his former wrong attitude and action.
“Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way.” (Acts 24:22 NIV)
“Felix, who was accurately informed about the Way.” (Acts 24:22 NAB)
“We know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” (Acts 28:22 NIV) Early Christianity was viewed as a breakaway sect from Judaism.
Witnesses of Jesus’ Execution, Burial, Empty Tomb and Resurrected State
Many non-believers do not doubt the existence of the historical Jesus. It is the miracles, and most importantly, his resurrection that they deny. But the Bible contains evidence that must be examined by any honest-hearted skeptic if they are truly open-minded enough to give it a fair chance. Let’s take a look at the witnesses to Jesus’ execution, burial, empty tomb, and resurrected state.
The placement of witnesses is very important in proving things. The Gospels and letters (such as 1 Corinthians) were all written independently. There were no “rules” such as requiring strict chronological listing of all witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected state. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and 1 Corinthians made true and accurate statements in their books. There are no false statements, even though there are divergences. Divergent accounts are not tantamount to contradictions, as some skeptics assert. In fact, virtually identical accounts would be highly suspect to be collusion.
Notice the similarities among the four Gospel accounts:
There are named witnesses at Jesus’ execution site Friday afternoon.
There are named witnesses at his burial Friday near dusk.
There are named witnesses at his newly emptied tomb around sunrise on Sunday morning.
There are named witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected state (including 1 Corinthians, excluding Mark).
There are unnamed, anonymous witnesses in each of the above categories.