The Logical Path to Jesus

The New Testament manuscripts are:
     Well preserved
     Very numerous
     Correlate virtually identically

     The records of Jesus' words compiled by the
     writers of the gospels are accurate from the
     standpoint that we are getting them from
     those who lived with Him and knew Him.

The records of the apostles actions are accurate from the stand point that the writers were either recording their own actions or witnessed them first hand.

The evidence that Jesus actually disappeared from the tomb with no natural explanation:
     Is well documented by impartial historians.
     Was common knowledge locally at the time.
     Was not refuted in any way by His enemies.

     Is essentially irrefutable.

Impossible explanations include:
     He wasn't dead.  (copious evidence to the contrary)
     The disciples stole the body.  (guard, stone, motive)
     Hallucinations  (Too many people saw it.)

Unnatural explanations include:
     Jesus was an alien with superior technology.
     Jesus is God, the creator of the universe.


Giving the writers of the New Testament the benefit of the doubt and
Allowing that one of the unnatural explanations must hold:

Things Jesus said about Himself:
     He said that He was God come to earth as man because He loves us.
     He said He had come to save all people from the consequences of their unloving behavior. 
     He predicted that He would be killed by His enemies and would come back to life on the third day.
     He said that He is the Way [door and safe passage to], the Truth [absence of error and method of achieving],
          and the Life [eternal and ongoing wellness and happiness].

     Disappearance from the tomb is consistent with the things Jesus said about himself.
     Disappearance from the tomb is self proving of the things Jesus said about himself.
     The act of dying in our stead was essential to and the essence of His proclaimed salvation.
     Only through Him, the creator of the universe, can we find true love, peace, and lasting happiness.

The conclusions are limited:

Claiming to be God, if not true, is a serious and grandiose offense.

Claiming to be God makes Jesus one of three things:  A liar, a lunatic, or God.
Being a liar is inconsistent with His message of love and His proclaimed purpose.
Being a lunatic is inconsistent with his recorded behavior, discipline, and mental skills.
Being God is consistent with His message, His purpose, His behavior, His predictions, and His resurrection.

This evidence is then tied together by the apostles' actions following Jesus' ascension: 
(This is a little long but fascinating and well worth the read)

Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) [was] the famous Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, and succeeded Justice Joseph Story as the Dane Professor of Law in the same university, upon Story's death in 1846.

H. W. H. Knott says of this great authority in jurisprudence
(Dictionary of American Biography, Vol.  VII, New York, 1937, p. 584): "To the efforts of Story and Greenleaf is to be ascribed the rise of the Harvard Law School to its eminent position among the legal schools of the United States."

Greenleaf produced a famous work entitled
A Treatise on the Law of Evidence (1842) which "is still considered the greatest single authority on evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure."

In 1846, while still Professor of Law at Harvard, Greenleaf wrote a volume entitled
An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice (Baker Book House, 1965, reprinted from 1847 edition).  In his classic work the author examines the value of the testimony of the apostles to the resurrection of Christ.  The following are this brilliant jurist's critical observations:

"The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in Him, could men hope for salvation.  This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling errors that can be presented to the mind of man.  Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal.  His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world.  The laws of every country were against the teachings of His disciples.  The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them.  The fashion of the world was against them.  Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments, and cruel deaths.  Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing.  As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigor and resolution.  The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unblenching courage.  They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency.  It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.  If it were morally possible for them to have been deceived in this matter,, every human motive operated to lead them to discover and avow their error.  To have persisted in so gross a falsehood, after it was known to them, was not only to encounter, for life, all the evils which man could inflict, from without,, but to endure also the pangs of inward and conscious guilt; with no hope of future peace, no testimony of a good conscience, no expectation of honor or esteem among men, no hope of happiness in this life, or in the world to come.

"Such conduct in the apostles would moreover have been utterly irreconcilable with the fact, that they possessed the ordinary constitution of our common nature.  Yet their lives do show them to have been men like all others of our race; swayed by the same motives, animated by the same hopes, affected by the same joys, subdued by the same sorrows, agitated by the same fears, and subject to the same passions, temptations, and infirmities, as ourselves.  And their writings show them to have been men of vigorous understandings.  If then their testimony was not true, there was no possible motive for its fabrication."

The Logical Deduction

Given that:
     The records we have of the apostles' writings are accurate:
     The apostles had tremendous incentives not to be lying:
     The apostles writings indicate that Jesus told:
            who He was (God)
            why He was here (He loves us)
            why He died (To bring us spiritual Life)
     Jesus was not lying and was not a lunatic:
     The resurrection actually occurred:

It must be true that:
     Jesus is God and is alive.
     He came to earth and accomplished His purpose.
     He proved it with His life, death and resurrection.
     He offers us His Life and His Love in return for ours.
     Rejection of these offers is folly.

For more information and documentation as well as a good chat, contact:  Toby Landes