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Not With Words of Wisdom

by David A. DePra

     In the last 200 years, there has arisen an attack on Christianity

by those who demand historical proof that it is the Truth. This attack

has not only come from those who make no claim of being Christian,

but it has also come from those who do.

     The "Jesus Seminar" is a case in point. This was a recent

gathering of liberal scholars. When they were done, they had

decided that most of the sayings of Jesus Christ, as recorded by the

gospels were, in fact, things Jesus never said. The gospels, these

experts claim, are not eye-witness accounts of actual events.

Rather, they are a compulation of myths which grew up around

Jesus -- written a couple of hundred years after the apostles died.

     Now, what proof do they have of any of this? None. Not a shred

of proof. No other ancient document says these things. There are

no historical accounts that would lead a person in this direction.

     What they do have is this: They claim to have the expert ability,

through years of study, to read the gospels and come to the

conclusion that they do NOT portray actual events. They claim to

be able to "read between the lines" and discern that the tone and

vocabulary and method of writing used could not have been a

product of the first century. They claim to have such insight that it

enables them to see what millions of Christians have not seen for

two thousand years: That Christianity is a myth.

     For instance, most of these experts say that Judas never really

existed. They say he was a myth -- and worse. They claim that he

was created by Christians to embody the Jews whom they hated.

Judas was, according to them, was a product of anti-Sematism.

     The worst denial these experts put forth is that Jesus -- whom

none of them deny existed -- was NOT raised from the dead. They

claim He was buried in a shallow grave and his body eaten by

dogs. No proof of this, mind you. But to them, this makes the most

sense. It fits into what they, as experts, believe was the most likely

scenerio. The most likely scenerio, according to them, was NOT

the one recorded in the Bible, and the one for which thousands of

Christians, including the original eye-witnesses, died for over the

last two centuries.

     If one thing should strike us as rather strange, it is this: Why

would a person even want to be a professor of theology or a bible

scholar to begin with -- if they didn't believe Jesus was raised from

the dead? Why, if Jesus was NOT God, and the Bible is a lie,

would a person convinced of that continue on in that field? It seems

more likely that if you came to the conclusion that Christianity was

based on a myth, that you would find another line of work. Afterall,

we are not talking here about mere historical inaccuracies. We

are talking about Truth itself. We are talking about GOD.

Why the Rejection?

     Let's ask some other questions: The Bible claims to be the

Truth. So why would I reject it from a historical, factual standpoint, if

I have no alternative "proof?" It is one thing to choose to reject a

document in favor of another. But it is utter nonsense to reject a

document when I HAVE no other. Especially if the one I'm rejecting

has been accepted for thousands of years by believers.

     For instance, if I have a historical document which states that

John Doe lived in 1000 A.D., and have nothing on hand to refute that,

why would I reject that? I do not need to ACCEPT it, mind you, but

upon what basis do I reject it? The most I should do is hold it at

arm's length until I obtain more information.

     With the Bible, however, we do not merely have a neutral piece

of written history -- which we can neither prove or disprove. There is

NOTHING out there which has ever come along to disprove the

Bible. There has been plenty to verify it historically. So why reject

it -- even if only from an historical point of view -- if that is the case?

And here's another question: How do you prove Jesus did NOT

say something? Put aside, for a moment, whether you BELIEVE

what He said. How do you PROVE He didn't say it?

     Of course, eventually the intimidation factor kicks in when you

argue with such experts. They have doctorates in their field. They

surely must have knowledge about these things which we cannot

begin to have. How could so many of them be wrong?

     The Truth is, they ARE wrong. Every one of them. And it is

probably accurate to say that they are guilty of willful neglect, if not

something worse. Yet as believers, how are we to address these

issues? On what level are we to meet those who demand historical

proof of Christianity? What answer shall we give?

What the Bible Says

     There is compelling historical evidence which verifies the

resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is also historical proof that the

Bible is an accurate document. But the fact is, there are always

going to be people who doubt the most evident facts. There

always have been.

     There was a television program on last week which claimed

the 1969 landing on the moon was a hoax. They have an air-tight

case, they claim. They KNOW, and the rest of us don't. We live in

the age of conspiracy theories and making money through

sensationalism. All you have to do is remember Y2K. We had

experts telling us the facts then, too. And in that case, the experts

were proven wrong -- dead wrong.

     The sobering fact is, even historical facts are interpreted

subjectively. You can make them mean what you want. Proof is

proof to those who believe it is proof. So again, we come back to

the real issue: The condition of the heart. It is the condition of my

heart -- not my brains -- which determines HOW I interpret facts.

That is why two experts can look at the same facts and come to

opposite conclusions.

     Christians are actually wasting their time trying to win logical or

historical arguments with people. Christianity is not the outcome

of a logical argument. It is not the outcome of a historical research

project. Christianity is what happens when God redeems man. It

is the outcome of the Word becoming flesh.

     We make a big mistake if we think God is the least bit concerned

about winning an argument with someone who will not believe. God

is not concerned about it at all. He doesn't come down and prove

anything to people. He doesn't do signs and wonders. He doesn't

care how much people scoff or how much people mock Him. He

just says, "The Truth is evident for anyone who really wants it." And

He leaves it at that.

     Does that seem unfair?. Not if the Truth IS evident to anyone who

wants to know. Because if it IS evident, then God has been as fair

as anyone could imagine. And we are without excuse.

     The fact is, none of these issues are ever solved by coming up

with the right logic and winning the argument. They aren't solved

by historical proof or bits of papyri. The issue here is not in the

head. It is in the heart. The Truth is evident to anyone who wants

to know. But many people don't want to know it. They want to


     One of the most amazing things about the way God has worked

for the last two-thousand years is His complete disregard for

trying to prove Himself to us. He could have had Jesus, after the

resurrection, walk into Jerusalem, and He could have had it

recorded. He did not. Or He could have seen to it that there were

many more historical accounts written about Jesus, other than the

Bible. But He did not.

     Why? Because if the only reason I believe Jesus is the Son of

God is because some historical account says so, then I have a

problem. The new birth is not the result of my believing a history

lesson. It is the result of a revelation of myself as a sinner, and the

revelation of Jesus as My Saviour.

     This, of course, leaves Christians open to ridicule. It means

we may be left looking as if we are blinding believing things we

cannot prove. But so what? We do not look that way to God. We

look that way to people who have already rejected the Truth. And

God has already told us the reason they have rejected it: Because

they don't want it. Period.

The Evident Truth

     God does not mince words about the evidence around us. He

plainly says that we are without excuse if we deny He exists.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all

ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in

unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is

manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible

things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being

understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and

Godhead; so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)

     Here we are told that the plain evidence that God exists is not

only all around us, but also within us. It is only because people

REFUSE to believe and submit to God, and are looking for a way

out of being accountable to Him, that they say He doesn't exist.

     Now note: Nowhere in this passage does it talk about historical

evidence. Neither is the issue of scientific proof addressed. In fact,

when this passage was written, there was NO formal scientific proof

available. No books on science. No colleges. Yet God said, "The

evidence is all around you and in you. You KNOW. And you are

without excuse for refusing to believe."

     The conclusion is inescapable: Historical and scientific

evidence is fine. There is plenty of that available in favor of God,

the Bible, and Christianity. But in the final analysis, that is rarely

what God points to as proof of His existence, and as evidence that

we need a Saviour. What God points to is the moral conscience of

man, and the evidence of creation all around us. THAT, according

to God, is enough -- IF we really want to know the Truth.

The Power of the Gospel

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of

God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and

also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

     The "power of the gospel" does not reside in whether we can

prove it historically -- even though we CAN. It does not reside in a

good argument or in a wonderful piece of physical evidence. The

power of the gospel lies in the fact that God Himself has taken the

initiative to reveal to us His Son. The fact that many refuse to

believe Him does not do away with the fact.

     We live in a callous age. There is almost no one who has not

at least heard of Jesus Christ. But it was not so in the first century.

There were no newspapers, televisions, or radios. Everything was

word of mouth. Even Bibles were scarce. But God revealed the

Truth to people. In fact, the Truth came with such power that it

turned the world upside down.

     Imagine being a disciple preaching the gospel in those days.

You would walk into a town filled with Greeks. Paganism was

rampant. No one believed in the one true God, let alone Jesus

Christ. Probably no one had even heard of Jesus. Yet you would

preach the Truth of salvation. Some would receive Christ. Some

would not.

     Now let's ask: What would convince those who received Christ?

A clever argument? Historical evidence? No. It is impossible for

those things to convert a person. Rather, Jesus said that no one

could come to Him except the Father draw them. (see Jn. 6:44)

In other words, God Himself was moving through the message of

the Truth. HE was revealing Jesus to people. Not intellectually

nor emotionally. But in reality.

     Note the words of the apostle Paul:

..... But to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the

cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of

the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are

saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy

the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding

of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the

disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this

world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom

knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to

save them that believe. (I Cor. 1:17-21)

     If I have to possess a doctorate in theology in order to REALLY

know Jesus Christ, and understand the Bible, then there is no power

in the Truth. If I have to go to college or seminary to REALLY know

the Truth, or even TEACH the Truth, then there is no power in the

gospel. Education is wonderful and has it's place. But it is NOT

how we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is not

how we come to see the Truth. The Truth only comes by revelation,

and that by the Spirit of God.

     In response to those who would attack Christianity today, on the

basis of historical evidence, the church has made a big mistake.

We have almost admitted that they are approaching the issue on

the correct level by trying to argue with them on that level. God says

we cannot argue people into the Truth. God has already told us

that to those who perish we are fools. We need to stop trying to

to escape this and preach the gospel the way God wants us to

preach it: By letting the power of the gospel -- not the power of our

arguments -- save people.

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