Here is a challenge to the rationalist and the- skeptic. It is time this doubting world realized that true Christianity is based on fact. The concept of a personal God who intervenes in human affairs seems like something off in never-never land to most people. Though millions pay lip service to Christianity, they can't quite bring themselves to believe and act as if God were real — that He is something far more than just "the essence of goodness," the "First Cause" or some blind, invisible, far-off force that has very little to do with our daily lives.
Why is this?
It is because most people have been taught — or have assumed — that the miracles in the Bible are merely "Jewish mythology"; that the prophecies of the Bible are vague and have little meaning for us today; and that the creation story of Genesis is not true.
Miracles Proved? Most modern, liberal Christians readily admit that they lack faith in the divine inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. They attend church because it is "the thing to do." But their belief in what is supposed to be the basis of true Christianity is hedged about with doubts and fears. Jesus said: "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). Many professing Christians, however, are not really sure about large sections of the "word of God" to which Jesus referred.
"We have no prophets; we have no sacred books to guide us toward the future," stated John Platt, associate director of the Mental Health Institute at the University of Michigan. His statement certainly reflects the state of mind of millions in our "Christian" nation.
Man has lost faith in God. Now he is beginning to lose faith in himself. His cynical, doubting intellectualism has left him helpless and hopeless in the face of mounting world cataclysm. He needs a rock-solid spiritual anchor at a time thinking man realizes he may soon cease to exist.
"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind," said President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Eight years later, U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: "I do not wish to be overly dramatic, but I can only conclude from information that is available to me as Secretary-General that the members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race. If such a global partnership is not formed within the next decade, then I very much fear that the problems I have mentioned will have reached such staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control."
At such a time in human history, you would think that mankind would turn more fervently to God than ever before. But the real and ever-present doubts about God and the Bible make it impossible for man to turn to his Creator in confidence. This attitude of doubt in the living God is the very thing that is robbing many people of the happiness, joy and peace of mind that could be theirs. This God of power is the same loving, active Creator to whom Jesus prayed. The God that healed the sick, raised the dead and performed great miracles — that God seems mythological to most people today. They would like to believe that God could supernaturally intervene and help them, as He did in Jesus' time. But how can they be sure of His reality and power?
Entire Bible Inspired God Himself says that we should require proof for our beliefs. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21). If a person already has a certain degree of faith, he can "put to the test" God's way of life in his marriage, with his children, or on his job. He will invariably find that it works to the degree that he follows it. And real Bible students have long been amazed and inspired by the exact fulfillment of Bible prophecies that have occurred or are now beginning to occur. The major prophecies about Egypt, Babylon and the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great all stand as testimony of a living God who has chosen to intervene in human affairs in many ways.
Year by year, history continues to confirm the inspired prophecies written by some of the same men who tell us of the miracles God performed through His servants. And archaeology is becoming a major field where much information is being unearthed that verifies the biblical record in a most remarkable manner.
However, there is one miracle to which countless prophecies point, about which scores of books have been written, and which proves difficult for even atheists to deny. It has stood through many generations as a proof of God's power to supernaturally intervene in human affairs and save man even from the grave. Once you accept this miracle, you will see that by its very nature it demonstrates the validity of countless others, and of God's promise to miraculously intervene in our lives now.
A Basic Miracle The very heart of Bible prophecy concerns a subject which too many people take for granted, without realizing it should be proved. This is the subject of Jesus Christ, His reality, His life, His teachings, His miracles, and His own resurrection. More than three hundred prophecies and references to Christ in the Old Testament are expressly cited in the New Testament as predictions fulfilled in Him. These prophecies were all written hundreds of years before Christ was born. Taken all together, they form a bond of truth which cannot be broken or disproved.
In the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, a series of remarkable and seemingly paradoxical statements is made about the coming Messiah. It is stated that He would be cut off from the land of the living, a young man without offspring, yet He shall prolong His days. He was to be put to death as a criminal, to make His grave with the wicked, and yet the sepulcher of the rich was to be His tomb. He was to pour out His soul unto death, and yet He would live to make intercession for transgressors.
Before Jesus appeared, it seemed impossible that one man could fulfill all these incongruous requirements. Yet He fulfilled them so naturally that we have ceased to observe how paradoxical these prophecies must have appeared beforehand.
Almost from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus taught His own disciples of this coming great event of the ages — His literal death, and His literal resurrection from the dead. Notice Mark 8:31: "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
When the doubting Pharisees asked Jesus for a supernatural sign — a miracle — as proof of His Messiahship, Jesus pointed to the same event. He answered: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matt. 12:39-40).
Jesus staked His very Messiahship on a miracle — His resurrection from the dead after a definite period of time. You either believe in this miracle — or you are without a Savior!
Historical Proof Here are the facts: As we have just seen, Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He would be killed, and would rise again after three days. Yet, when it actually happened, they seemed to have given up hope and were slow to believe (Luke 24:11; Mark 16:13). Doubting Thomas was sure there was a mistake somewhere, and did not believe until he touched Jesus with his own hands (John 20:27).
These men had to be shown!
Thus, the men who later risked their very lives to preach the story of Jesus' resurrection were at first unable to believe it, determined not to believe it without proof, and finally came to believe it in spite of themselves. This belief so filled their lives that they henceforth went out and dedicated themselves to preaching Jesus' message, acting as "witnesses" of His resurrection.
The story of Jesus' life is basically the same in both sacred and secular history. It is acknowledged that Jesus was a real person who came to have a large following in Judea, that He was put to death in Jerusalem by authority of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. No contemporary or successor contradicts the story. Not even Jewish writers try to deny it.
Neither the Roman historian Pliny in the first century, Celsus in the second, Porphyry in the third, nor Julian in the fourth questioned the authenticity of the New Testament, or insinuated that Christians were mistaken in the authors to whom they ascribed the New Testament. But all agree that in the reign of Tiberius Caesar a growing band of people risked their lives to propagate a new religion, sustaining unheard-of persecutions and sufferings with amazing faith and courage — and that one of the central tenets of their message was their belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
More Evidence And there is much more evidence!
If Jesus did not really rise from the dead, what became of His body? If enemies stole it, they would have shown it at every opportunity, for they did everything in their power to discredit the story, and killed many of those who told it. If Jesus' disciples stole it, they were then preaching a lie. But multitudes of men do not become martyrs for what they know is untrue.
Was Jesus really dead? His disciples certainly believed that He was. Their trouble was in believing His resurrection at first. And the Roman soldiers and Jews certainly believed He was dead. They were only concerned about the disciples stealing away His body (Matt. 27:64).
Was the resurrection, as some skeptics claim, a later addition to the story of Christ, invented years later to glorify a dead hero? As we have shown, sacred and secular history alike clearly state that the great religious movement known by Christ's name was begun by people who preached of His resurrection from the dead. This joyous belief was not an addition to the Christian faith, but one of the primary causes of it. The apostles did not rest their faith on records, but on what they had seen with their own eyes.
When questioned about this belief, the apostles chorused: "We are his witnesses of these things" (Acts 5:32).
Basis of Faith Once you really grasp the fact that the resurrection of Christ was quite literal and miraculous, you will in all honesty be forced to acknowledge that Jesus really was what He claimed to be — the Messiah, the Son of God — and that His many other predictions and promises and teachings must be just as true and literal as that of His death and resurrection. Would God raise from the dead and show as His Son one who had told the truth part of the time, and lied part of the time?
Let's be honest and reasonable about these things!
Were the apostles telling the truth about Jesus' resurrection — as we have proved they must have been — and lying when they told of His other miracles? And of His promises? And of His teachings?
Clearly, the factual, historical proof of the divine inspiration and present fulfillment of the prophecies in God's Word, and of the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ, demonstrate that God's Word means exactly what it says — that God is the living, active Creator-Ruler of heaven and earth now, and that His instructions, His prophecies, and His promises are in effect right now — today! God help you to grasp what this means!
First of all, it means that the instructions and spiritual laws contained in the Bible are — in fact — God speaking to you! You need to study and obey His Word — to "live by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
Concerning God's promises, this complete faith in His Word and in His present power will enable you to trust God as you never did before to supernaturally intervene in your life when you need Him. And don't be deceived by the modernist teaching that miracles were only for the days of Christ and the apostles. If that were true, why did God perform such great miracles through the hands of Stephen and Philip, who were never called apostles? (Acts 6:8; 8:6.) What about the "signs" that Jesus said "shall follow them that believe"? (Mark 16:17-18.) Have those that believe ceased to exist?
Rely on God's Word The sad truth is that most so-called "Christians" deny by their words and their deeds the promises and teachings of God's Word. They have lost sight of God's present power to miraculously intervene and back up His Word — whether it be a prophecy or a promise.
In the Gospel of Luke, for instance, Jesus described startling events that are now beginning to occur (Luke 2l:8-ll). He said: "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.... Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till ALL be fulfilled" (verses 28, 32).
Do you as an individual recognize that these words of Jesus are already beginning to affect your life? That the recent demise of the British Empire and the slow but steadily increasing erosion of American pride and power are in direct fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies?
Read our inspiring free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like. Get acquainted with the real God of which Bible prophecies, promises and miracles speak. Take time to prove to yourself in a sound-minded, factual manner that God is alive and that He rules over the affairs of men and nations — intervening when He chooses. And that He binds Himself by His Word, the Bible.
You need to fully grasp this truth and begin to act on it. Understand that God's promises as well as prophecies are a commitment by your Creator which must be fulfilled — IF you do your part. Learn as have thousands of others that miracles do happen today.
Then you will learn to trust and obey the living God as never before. And you will better prepare yourself by true spiritual growth for eternal life in His world government, which will be set up on this earth a lot sooner than most people even begin to imagine!