God the Son (Jesus Christ) entered the world and when He started His ministry, He chose very ordinary men for disciples. He didn’t directly write any books, He didn’t give indisputable evidence to the Pharisees to prove who He was. But He made sure those disciples saw and experienced who He was. Then in order to enable them to do the task He was asking them to do, which was to evangelize the world, He sent the Holy Spirit. He has provided enough evidence that Christianity is true, so that those who believe can do so reasonably. But He has left enough room for faith and/or doubt so that those who desire to reject Him can do so freely. If He had given too much evidence, unbelievers would’ve been compelled to believe, in effect losing their free will choice, which is not what He wants. He wants us to freely choose Him because we love Him. He doesn’t want people who would’ve otherwise rejected Him to feel forced to believe in Him. Wow. It is amazing how He could’ve so masterfully pulled that off. He’s God. He knew exactly the right “buttons to push” to reveal Himself at just the right level. The end result is that the believers don’t understand how the unbelievers could not possibly see the obvious truth of Christianity, while the unbelievers think that the believers have fallen hook, line and sinker for a myth and/or fairytale. I am continually amazed that 11 ordinary, unschooled men, could turn the world upside down. For more details, see the first 5 chapters of Acts.
The New Testament is filled with examples of both the apostles and our Lord talking about evidence and proof. We are still given ample evidence in Scripture that the apostles and even Jesus Christ Himself our Creator and Savior placed great value on evidence, proofs and practiced persuasion. Here are some references for you:
- Jesus Christ the Lord said in John 4:48 – “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” Then He proceeded to perform the miracle for the royal official to heal his son. Once the royal official realized that the fever left the child at the exact time that Jesus had said that the child would live, then he and all his household believed. He believed because of the evidence of the miracle.
- Peter speaking in 2 Peter 1:16 – We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Peter is clearly trying to persuade his readers…
- The apostle John speaking in 1 John 1:1-3 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. John is clearly trying to persuade his readers.
- Jesus Christ (John 5:36): I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.
- Peter and the Apostles before the Sandhedrin (Acts 5:27-32): Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
- Hebrews 2:2-4 – For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
- The apostle John near the end of his gospel (John 20:30-31) explains why he wrote it: 30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
- The apostle John at the end of his gospel (John 21:24-25) – This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
- The apostle Paul relaying evidence for the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 – 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
- Describing Paul trying to persuade Jews and Greeks (non-believers) Acts 18:4-5 – 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
- Jesus Christ the Lord showing Thomas “proof”, after which Thomas gives a great profession of faith in John 20:27-29 – 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
- Regarding Jesus Christ, the King of Kings post resurrection in Acts 1:3 – After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
- After the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, why do you think the gospel writer makes such a big point about the tomb being made secure? So that we have evidence and proof that the Lord was resurrected – that would be the only explanation for the empty tomb (Matthew 27:62-66): 62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
- John 20:8b – “He saw and believed.” There is no talk of the Holy Spirit making him believe, it was the evidence that he saw that made him believe according to the Scripture. In fact in verse 9, it goes on to say that they really didn’t understand the Scripture anyway!
- Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 contains several references to evidence and proof: 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ” ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: ” ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ‘ 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
- John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus the Christ (John 1:29-34): 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
- Peter again in Acts 10: 34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
- John 21:14: This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
- Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
- Paul is a great example in Acts 17: 16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof (the Greek word for proof is pistis. The word is derived from “peitho”, which is the Greek verb that means “to convince by argument” that something is either true or false.) of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
- Paul in Romans 1 does clearly state that creation is proof of God’s existence even though men suppress the truth in unrighteousness: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
- Psalms 19:1-3 tells us again that creation is proof of God’s existence – 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
- In Matthew 22:37-38 the Lord says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our minds (among other things): 37 Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
And even though salvation is of the Lord (Eph 1:11), we are all responsible for making a decision. This is a great mystery how God is sovereign in salvation, yet man is still responsible for their choice. I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand it this side of eternity… Romans 9 explores this subject:
5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” 29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”
Note – the following is a quote from the book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” (p. 30-31)
Please consider this question to see if you are open to acceptance [of Christianity]: If someone could provide reasonable answers to the most significant questions and objections you have about Christianity – reasonable to the point that Christianity seems true beyond a reasonable doubt – would you then become a Christian? Think about that for a moment. If your honest answer is no, then your resistance to Christianity is emotional or volitional, not merely intellectual. No amount of evidence will convince you because evidence is not what’s in your way – you are. In the end, only you know if you are truly open to the evidence for Christianity.
Sin – You have the knowledge that you are a sinner (Eccl 7:20;Rom 3:10-11,23; Jer 17:9; Isaiah 64:6; Ps. 14:1)
Penalty – You know that God’s penalty for your sin is eternal death in hell (Rom 6:23; Ezek 18:20; Rev 21:8; 1 Cor 6:9)
Atonement – You know that Jesus Christ took the punishment you deserved for your sin (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 3:25; Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:10)
Repentance – You must repent, which is to turn from your sin (Mk 1:15; Luke 5:32; Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 17:30)
Embrace Christ by Faith – you must believe in Jesus Christ alone as your only hope for salvation (Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12; John 3:36; John 3:16)
Declared Righteous – After embracing Christ by faith, you are declared righteous by God (Phil 3:9; Rom 3:22,24; Rom 10:4; 1 Cor 1:30)
If I happen to have the cure for Cancer, and I can see that others are taking morphine to treat their disease, what is the most loving thing I can do? They may feel just fine. In fact, on a day to day basis, they may feel better than I do! But if I have the cure, then love has got to motivate me to try my best to talk them out of taking the morphine. The first thing I’m going to have to do is to convince them that the morphine will not cure them.
One moonlit night, unbeknownst to the passengers of a plane, hijackers broke into the cockpit, violently took over the controls, contacted the control tower and demanded that the White House release a large number of political prisoners. When the authorities refused to comply with their demands, the terrorists threatened to fire on the passengers, and force them out of an open door at 20,000 feet. During negotiations, the captain was able to scribble a note on an official piece of paper warning of the hijackers and telling each passenger to reach under the seat where they could find a parachute, which they were instructed to put on immediately. As the note was passed from passenger to passenger, there were different reactions – some saw the note was obviously authentic, since it was written on official paper, and besides, they remembered the strange jolt that had occurred when the hijackers violently took control of the plane. Those passengers immediately put the parachute on, realizing that they had nothing to lose, but their pride if the note was fraudulent, and everything to gain if it was true. Some passengers refused to believe the note, because they thought that there was no way that there could be a parachute beneath the seat. They were so sure that they didn’t even bother the check. A couple passengers rejected the note because there was a passenger only pretended to put the parachute on… They could see he hadn’t bothered to tighten the straps. Others just laughed at the note and thought it was some kind of joke, while others didn’t bother reading it because they were watching an onboard movie. Some passengers even ignored the evidence of the official paper, and the jolt of the plane, and instead maintained that they believed the plane didn’t have a pilot and there was no aircraft maker. As far as they were concerned, it just came together by accident, taking millions of years.
Then, suddenly the hijackers burst into the darkened cabin, thrust open the exit doors and started firing automatic weapons over the terrified passengers heads, forcing them to jump 20,000 feet into the darkness. Most fell to their deaths; however, those who had the good sense to believe and obey the captain were saved from such a horrible death.
Here’s the analogy… There is nothing wrong with questioning the authenticity of the Bible, the existence of God and hypocrisy in the church. However, it is wise to put on the parachute first. To reach under the seat, and do what the note says. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The parachute is either there or it isn’t. After you’ve secured your own salvation, then you can worry about the fate of the hypocrite. And if you think it is important, you can try to figure out the age of the earth, etc, etc…