Christianity and History of the ResurrectionQUESTION: Christianity and History – Resurrection and HistoryANSWER:
The Bible goes out of its way to place its message and major figures in history (see Luke 3:1–2
). This is especially true in regard to Christ’s resurrection. Luke mentions Pilate, Caesar, Herod, Barabbas, “Joseph, counselor,” “Arimathaea, a city of the Jews,” and then describes Christ’s resurrection as a real event in history (Luke 24:1–7).
More than five hundred people witnessed the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6), including Mary, Peter, and ten other apostles. These witnesses were so moved by the resurrection that they committed their lives to it and to the One whose divinity and righteousness it vindicated. The disciples did not abandon Christ, but were willing to die for the gospel they were proclaiming.Christianity and History – The Resurrection of Christ
Indeed, the resurrection of Christ took a group of scared (Mark 16:8; John 20:19) and skeptical (Luke 24:38; John 20:25) men and transformed them into courageous evangels who proclaimed the Resurrection in the face of threats on their lives (Acts 4:21; 5:18). If the disciples did not consider Christ’s resurrection a historical event, would they have been willing to die in order to maintain a lie?
Josh McDowell says, “After more than seven hundred hours of studying this subject and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, OR it is the most fantastic fact of history.”1
McDowell concludes that it is one of the most fantastic facts of history.2
N.T. Wright comes to this conclusion as well. Covering over eight hundred pages and looking at resurrections in general and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in particular, Wright concludes that the resurrection of Jesus is a fact of history.3
The faith of Christians today should be no less secure than that of the apostles—it is grounded in historical fact. Through the resurrection, God reveals His plan for humanity by conquering sin and guaranteeing a just end to human history. D.W. Bebbington says that, since Jesus won the battle against evil on the cross, “The outcome of world history is therefore already assured. God will continue to direct the course of events up to their end when the outcome will be made plain.”4Christianity and History – Faith Grounded in History
Christians learn from history that Christ offered Himself up as a perfect sacrifice for us. Christians also discover another important truth: God is active throughout history and plans to lead it to a triumphant conclusion. While the course of history may seem tragic to some people, Christians understand that all history is working together for good. Because God became man and died for our sins, the final chapter of history will conquer sin for the rest of eternity. Thus, Christians are prepared to face a difficult, sometimes pain-filled life, because we understand that the sin that causes death has been erased from our future. Christians hold no unreasonable expectations for our earthly lifetime—in fact, we anticipate persecution and trials—but we do expect to be triumphant in the end because God has come into history to save us from our own sinful inclinations.
From the Christian perspective, history is a beautiful unfolding of God’s ultimate plan for all humanity. Knowing that God has been active throughout history helps us to understand our own role in the day-to-day history of our lives. “It is always a ‘Now,’” writes Herbert Butterfield, “that is in direct relation to eternity—not a far future; always immediate experience of life that matters in the last resort—not historical constructions based on abridged text-books or imagined visions of some posterity that is going to be the heir of all the ages.”5
Christians understand that all of history is ordained for a purpose.Notes:
Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews
ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry
at Summit Ministries
. All rights reserved in the original.1
Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict
(Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 203.2
N.T. Wright, The Resurrection Of The Son Of God
(Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003).4
D.W. Bebbington, Patterns in History
(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 169.5
Herbert Butterfield, Christianity and History
(New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1950), 66.