Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.
- 1 Samuel 12:6-7
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
- Revelation 1:17-18
“Certain laws of evidence hold in the establishment of any historic event. Documentation of the event in question must be made by reliable contemporary witnesses. There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived, or that Alexander the Great died at the age of 33. It is strange that historians will accept thousands of facts for which they can produce only shreds of evidence. But in the face of overwhelming evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, they cast a skeptical eye and hold intellectual doubts. The trouble is with too many people that they do not want to believe. They are so completely prejudiced that they cannot accept the glorious fact of the resurrection of Christ on Bible testimony alone.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (April 15)
And, indeed Billy Graham’s last sentence is the rub for far too many people. In some intellectual circles, where they feel that they are too smart, yet they are simply intellectual fools, the Bible is just an old story book, filled with unbelievable myths.
Yet, the Dead Sea Scrolls point to the reliability of the Old Testament and archeological finds have shown the reliability back to the first century for the New Testament, when eyewitnesses would still have been alive. Lee Strobel, a former investigative reporter, in The Case for Christ, talks about how the Gospels prove to be a reliable eyewitness report. He even thinks that the variations in stories proves it, since two eyewitnesses will not remember the scene the exact same way. So, in one Gospel there were two blindmen and in another there was only one. There is no contradiction in the accounts. That was what the eyewitnesses saw from different vantage points.
The point is, if Billy Graham’s previous statement were not true, there would be more acceptance of the trustworthy evidence in the Bible. People are prejudiced toward Christianity and/or the Bible and they will do anything to discredit the evidence. Note that Billy Graham uses “contemporary” in describing witnesses. That means eyewitnesses at the time of the event. The book of Luke starts with Luke speaking of his research in speaking to eyewitnesses.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) about the resurrection of Jesus. In the sixth verse, he mentions that at least once, Jesus appeared to over 500 witnesses. As I heard in a sermon or a video Bible Study, most of those 500 were still alive at the time of Paul’s letter, but there is not document refuting Paul’s claim. In fact, the silence of the church leaders might be speaking louder than the eyewitnesses.
And I think it a powerful argument what Lee Strobel concluded after his research that led to him becoming a Christian. The Apostles all died as martyrs, and any one of them could have stayed the execution by admitting that the resurrection was made up. One person might die for a falsehood, but not every one of the Apostles.
But back to Billy Graham’s assertion that people do not want to believe. Can that be?
Absolutely, that can happen. People are often confused when someone who calls themselves a Christian does very un-Christian-like things. Yes, we are not perfect. I am guilty and I know people have put me on a pedestal that was not deserved. But some people, who are already highly influenced by Satan’s charms, can nitpick anyone’s character, behavior, or spoken/written words. To them, you’d have to be perfect, and even beyond perfect, meeting their self-created moral code, like a modern Pharisee, much more strict than what God had prescribed. Of course, they could have experienced what they thought was a “Christian” but the person might never practice the “religion” and may have never been born-again. There are many people who claim Christianity as a means of not admitting their lack of any faith at all.
But then, some people seem to be born with such Narcissism and/or the need to be in control that the concept of surrendering to Jesus is totally against their personal make-up, even with Heaven as a reward and Hell as a punishment. These people are usually a jumble of self-contradictions. They end up having more restrictive rules than God’s law. They box themselves into a corner of never being able to live up to their own moral code, yet they reject God because they reject His set of rules. They never understand the concept of forgiveness, because one of their rules is to never forgive anyone. In their view, forgiveness is a sign of weakness – another reason why many do not want to believe.
And for too many of these, their attacks against the validity of the Bible is a smokescreen to cover up for their own failures, inner pain, and their personal lack of inner peace, joy, serenity, and love – all those things that a true Christian possesses.
I don’t know if this little essay has been helpful. I have expressed what I have learned by observation and talking with a variety of unbelievers, but taking it the next step so that they can see the error in their thinking? That requires a great deal of prayer and a lot of work by the Holy Spirit working within them.
It is often said that while there is still breath, there is still hope, but we never know the timing of God. Yet, in the meantime, we can pray.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.