I was born and brought up in a very orthodox Muslim family in India. At an early age I became disillusioned with Islam and questioned the very existence of the 'god entity'. Hinduism with its million plus gods did not appeal to me, and Buddha’s beliefs failed to address any of my questions.
Many years later, while visiting New Zealand, God met with me very powerfully and this formed the genesis of my discovery about who Jesus is and the wonder that is the Bible.
As I read the Bible I realised that all through the Old Testament are prophecies, foretelling things that would happen some day. It’s all through the Bible. No other book has that. There are over 61 major prophecies concerning the life of Jesus Christ that were written from 500 to 4,000 years before his birth. Scientists, unbelieving scientists, tell us that the statistical probability of those just seven or eight prophecies coming true in one person is one in ten to the power of 17 or one in one hundred, thousand trillion!
If Christianity were fabricated it could have been destroyed in one minute by the finding of Jesus’ body. If Jesus had said I’m going to rise spiritually there would be no way to falsify it. But he said I’m going to rise again bodily which means he gave empirical evidence that could be brought to bear if it were false.
Christianity is rooted in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. He is unlike any other religious leader who has ever walked the planet.
Only Christ died for the sins of the world. Did Mohammed die for the sins of anyone? Did Buddha? Did Confucius? Did Zoroaster? No, not one of them did. Christ alone is the Saviour who died in atoning death for the sins of the world. Only Christ rose from the dead. Buddha, Mohamed, Confucius and all the rest died and they haven’t been heard from since.
There is a world of difference between what other religious leaders say and what Jesus said. Other religious leaders say, Follow me and I will show you how to find the truth. Jesus said, I am the truth. Other religious leaders say, Follow me and I’ll show you the way to salvation. Jesus said, I am the way to eternal life. Other religious leaders say, Follow me and I’ll show you how you can become enlightened. Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Other religious leaders say, Follow me and I will show you many doors that lead to God. Jesus said, I am the door. Other religious leaders say, Follow me and I’ll show you how you can find spiritual nourishment. Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
Jesus taught the opposite of what these other world religions taught. He said that nobody could earn their way into heaven.
Religions other than Christianity are essentially based on the idea of people doing something through their struggling and through their striving to somehow earn the good favour of God. You’ve got to use a Tibetan prayer wheel or you’ve got to go on pilgrimages or you’ve got to give alms to the poor or you’ve got to avoid eating certain foods or you have to pray in a certain way or you have to go through a series of reincarnations. They are all attempts of people to reach out to God.
Christ is God’s attempt to reach out to people.
I think in the Judeo-Christian framework you have one thing that is very unique. There is a historic, geographical and archaeological backdrop to what is being said. If someone says he went to the pool of Bethesda, you can go and check out if the pool of Bethesda ever existed. Prophecies in the book of Daniel speak of events 300 years before they actually transpired. Daniel 8 talks about Alexander the Great fighting the Persian armies – “The he-goat from the West who stomps over the world…suddenly cut off, divided into four empires, four blend into two, two emerge into one.”
History tells us that Alexander’s army was trapped, cut off by the Persian king Darius. Four empires – Cassander (Macedonia & Greece), Lysimachus (Thrace, & parts of Asia Minor), Ptolemy (Egypt & parts of Asia Minor), and Seleuces (Syria, Israel & Mesopotamia) merged into the Achaemenian Empire and Macedonia-Greece which later merged into the Roman Empire
When you see something like that, you have to say I’m going to take a closer look at this.
Gilbert West and Lord Lyttleton were two Oxford students. They believed Christianity was a tale gone mad. They determined to refute the Christian faith. Lyttleton resolved to disprove the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and West would refute the resurrection of Christ. They figured a careful, rational explanation of the evidence would easily disprove the Christian faith.
After examining the evidence, they both separately came to the exact opposite conclusion. Lyttleton concluded that Saul of Tarsus did in fact convert to the Apostle Paul through Christ. Gilbert West concluded that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was among the best-established facts in all of history. West went on to write a book entitled Observations on the history and evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
After investigating the evidence of the resurrection, Lord Darling, former Chief Justice of England stated, “There exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
Or consider John Stuart Mill, considered by some to be one of the most brilliant men that ever walked this earth. John Stuart Mill, of course, was an English economist and philosopher. He said this, after never having made any profession of Christ and writing with disdain about the Bible and Christianity many times. “Christ is still left a unique figure, not more unlike all of his precursors than all of his followers, even those who had the direct benefit of his personal teaching. It is of no use to say that Christ as exhibited in the Gospel is not historical and that we know not how much what is admirable has been super-added by the tradition of his followers. Who among his disciples or among their proselytes was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus or imagining the life and character of the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee.”
Think for a moment about what we have in the Bible. We have a book that was written over a period of 1500 years. It was written by 40 different people, and not 40 people that went to the same church, 40 people from all different walks of life. Poets and shepherds and kings and preachers, very different people, over 1500 different years and they write with amazing agreement.
Dr. Simon Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, is one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled A Treatise on the Law of Evidence considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Greenleaf believed the resurrection of Jesus Christ was nothing but a hoax. He determined, once and for all, to expose the myth of the resurrection.
After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection, Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion. He wrote a book entitled An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rule of Laws Administered in the Courts of Justice in which he stated, “It was impossible that the Apostles could have persisted in affirming the truth they had narrated had not Christ actually risen from the dead.”
Dr. Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best-supported event in all of history. Not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to the Lord Jesus.
Lee Strobel, investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune and the author of the brilliant The Case for Christ, speaks of Sir Lionel Luckhoo. Sir Luckhoo is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the World's Most Successful Lawyer. As a defense attorney he has won 245 murder trials in a row, either before a jury or on appeal.
Lee talks about being intrigued by Sir Luckhoo. He wonders about the kind of skill needed to achieve that phenomenal level of legal success. He must be brilliant. He must be savvy. He must have such tremendous analytical powers that when the prosecutor presents what appears to be an airtight case against his client, he must be able to find all the flaws, all the holes. He must know what questions to ask to make a case fall apart. This man must really understand what evidence is all about. He must know what constitutes reliable, powerful and convincing evidence, argues Strobel.
Sir Lionel Luckhoo was knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth, became a noted diplomat and a member of the highest court in his country. One day, Sir Luckhoo was challenged by someone to take his monumental legal analysis powers and to apply them to the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and come to a conclusion.
He spent several years of his life studying the historical records. This one sentence summarizes his conclusion, “I say, unequivocally, that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” This from the most successful lawyer of all time!
Mahatma Gandhi said, "The Cross is the most enigmatic thing I have ever read in any religion, unique without parallel".
An American poet has captured a facet of God’s love through these lines, “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. But the scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch, keeping watch above his own.”
God is in the shadow of every life if you will pause and give him ear. God is like the sun, said Chesterton. You cannot look at it, but without it, you can’t look at anything else. If you find Christ, everything you do on earth will take on richer and greater meaning, to say nothing about your life itself.