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The Evidence Within
By David A. DePra
There used to be a time when it bothered me that there was not more historical proof that Jesus rose from the dead. I would listen to debates between Christians and atheists on the matter, and the Christians would usually win. But the evidence they offered usually amounted to the Biblical record, and a few rather compelling logical proofs based on the Biblical record. Not that this evidence wasn’t persuasive. It sure was a whole lot more than those who deny the resurrection offered.
The reason using the Biblical record seemed lacking to me was not that I ever doubted the Bible. No. But there is something a bit hollow about using the Bible’s own claim of inspiration to prove that it is inspired. Critics are quick to point this out, and they have a logical point. Fortunately, there is another answer to this. A big one.
Another thing that bothered me was that many Christians – some entire ministries are centered around this -- try to prove the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, not to mention the entirety of the Christian faith, solely from an historical standpoint. I am grateful for these historical proofs and arguments, because despite the fact that our faith is based on more than that – we are going to see that in a moment – our faith certainly needs to be based on history. Jesus DID die and WAS raised from the dead – at a specific point in human history. Unless this is a fact, then our faith is in something that never happened.
So what about it? Is the evidence of our Christian faith purely HISTORICAL? Well, it is partly so, but not close to wholly so, for as we have seen, the historical record is not going to prove anything to a person who doesn’t want to believe. So where does this leave us for PROOF?
The Real Evidence
According to the Bible, the real evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is Christ in us. That’s right. But this is not purely subjective evidence – it is based on historical fact. Yet think about that. How could CHRIST IN US, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, be considered THE number one evidence? Well, only one way: If Christ in us was so real that He could not be denied by the person in whom he dwells.
Read some of the things stated by the apostle John on the subject:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God hath made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the evidence, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:9-11)
And hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:24)
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. (1 John 4:13)These are amazing statements. John never mentions historical evidence of any kind. He says that the evidence of Christ is WITHIN US.
What a challenge this makes to us! Is Christ in us – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – THE evidence for YOU? Is He that real? Or are you looking for evidence elsewhere? Perhaps not historical evidence, but maybe evidence in your own works? Evidence through signs and wonders? But no. The evidence or witness of God is Christ in us.
The Bible shows that when we are born again we receive Christ from above, through the Holy Spirit, and that there ought to be a witness to us of that indwelling that is so real that we cannot deny it. Sort of indicates that you and I have a ways to go, doesn’t it?
You wonder why the early Christians turned the world upside down? This is your answer. They had no clever arguments. They certainly did not have money or television. But what they had was living evidence of Christ – indeed, they had BECOME living evidence of Jesus Christ.
No critic of Christianity will ever be convinced by historical proofs. Much less will they accept as evidence Christ in you. They will say it is YOUR mind playing tricks on you, or a subjective delusion. Guess what? God doesn’t care what they say. He really doesn’t – not from the standpoint of winning an argument. The problem, however, is that today many Christians do care. They enter into an arena with such folks and debate them. It is a fruitless enterprise.
We ought to witness for Christ and defend our faith. But to atheists and agnostics? Are we trying to win an argument here, or trying to win a person? At some point, if you don’t see an opening provided by God to help such people, it’s time to move on, lest you cast your pearls before swine.
My suggestion is that we focus on our own house – for the church is filled with people who aren’t much more convinced about Jesus. Even better, we ought to enter into a relationship with God that will allow Him to make us greater living evidence of the risen Christ.
Life From Death
God tells us that if we want PROOF that Jesus Christ is God, rose from the dead, and is alive today, that we need to turn to Him and surrender. Then we will meet Jesus Christ. And once we do, we will have the witness within.
But you see, many of us don’t have much of a witness within. One reason is that we fail to believe and obey God, and so Christ get buried beneath all of our self life. Another reason is that we are not taught the Truth about what Christianity is. We are either old it is signs and wonders, or told it is a list of teachings to believe in and follow. None of those things have much to do with a living evidence within us. They aren’t about relationship, but sadly, about religion.
Do you want a living witness of Christ to rise within you? There is only one way to grow to have that, once you are saved: You must submit to the Cross. Life comes only from death. Your death and His life. The Cross will crucify all the things of the flesh which cast a shadow over Christ:
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:10-11)
The final evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, according to scripture, is that He is risen in US. "Christ in us, the hope of glory," IS supposed to be evidence that is so real, and carries such Truth, that John says of it, "HEREBY WE KNOW."
Interesting. In other words, when everything is said and done, Christianity is not a persuasive argument, or a, "belief system." It is not a philosophy or a religion. Neither is it merely a list of teachings gleaned out of the Bible and set up as a code to live by. Christianity is the result of having received a life you weren’t born with, from the outside of you, into you, which doesn’t belong to this realm. It really IS Christ in us. It is actual oneness with God through His Son, ministered by the Holy Spirit.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit that have been given to the church have the goal of edifying, or building people up in Christ. If this is what the church would do today, Jesus would, in fact, become more and more real to each one of us.
The historical evidence of Jesus Christ is a wonderful thing. But historical evidence isn’t LIFE IN US. Yet it is precisely because Jesus historically did live and die, and was raised, that, if we die in Him, He will live in us. Glory be to God.
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