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Fifteen Reasons Why We Know Jesus Existed

Based loosely upon: http://reasonsforjesus.com/26-powerful-reasons-why-scholars-know-jesus-existed/

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 10, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. No First Century Group Attempted to Refute His Existence
    1. The Jews hated Christ and they hated Christians.
    2. If they knew Jesus of Nazareth to be a fraud,
      1. we would have heard about it.
      2. Instead, Matthew 28 shows
        1. that the Romans and the Jews conspired
        2. to explain away the resurrection, not the existence of Jesus,

          11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day (Matthew 28.11–15).
    3. See, the Jews agreed with the Christians,
      1. that the tomb of Christ was empty,
      2. not because He never inhabited it, but He rose from the dead.
        1. No evidence suggests that He did not exist and
        2. plenty of evidence shows that He did.
  2. The Crucifixion of Jesus Is Historical
    1. Almost everyone knows
      1. that the four Gospel Accounts record the crucifixion of Jesus.
      2. Also the Hebrew prophets spoke of His crucifixion.
      3. Apostles preached on it.
    2. Josephus wrote,

      “And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross…”
    3. The church fathers all accepted the historicity of the crucifixion.
    4. Even one of the scholars of the liberal Jesus Seminar, John Crossan, said,

      “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”
  3. The Gospel Accounts Witness that Jesus Existed
    1. Do not let anyone disregard these witnesses to the ministry of Jesus.
      1. We certainly want to hear from Jesus and
      2. we want to hear from those who witnessed His life and ministry, or
        1. who researched it as Luke did.
        2. Nicodemus had a good question for the Pharisees,

          “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7.51).
    2. Some people disclaim them because they do not all read alike.
      1. Yet, if all witnesses testify the same thing,
      2. we conclude that they colluded.
  4. The Apostles Willingly Died for Jesus
    1. While it is true that the disciples of Mohammed die willingly for him,
      1. it is also true that the disciples of Jesus would do the same,
        1. if He existed and
        2. if He was or is the Son of God.
      2. If they would not die for Him,
        1. then either something was wrong with their faith, or
        2. they knew that He did not truly exist.
      3. Muslims die for their faith because Mohammed existed.
    2. Why would the apostles go around preaching that Jesus lived, and
      1. even give their lives for it,
      2. if they had never seen Him?
    3. Someone might argue that they would do it for money or women.
      1. However, both the New Testament and history
      2. reveal that the apostles did not have it so well,

        9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now (1 Corinthians 4.9–13).
  5. Denying the Historicity of Jesus Is New
    1. Since the first century the common tactic has been
      1. to attempt to explain away the miracles of Jesus,
      2. to argue that the early church exaggerated the claims of the apostles,
      3. to maintain that He really did not die, but revived, and
      4. to try to deal with what the New Testament says about Him.
    2. Denying that He ever existed is a new tactic.
      1. The first time all the preachers I know heard of this
      2. was in a debate between brother Thomas Warren and Joe Barnhart
        1. in November of 1980 in Denton, Texas.
        2. He said, “I don’t even think Jesus of Nazareth existed.” (p. 52)
          1. It shocked the thousands in attendance.
          2. It is like arguing that the sun does not exist when you cannot see it.
  6. Early Creeds Testify of the Existence of Jesus
    1. In the Churches of Christ we do not use creeds,
      1. nor do we believe in them, because
      2. they are an addition to the Bible.
    2. However, their mere existence also affirm that Jesus lived.
      1. His existence during the formation years of the church
      2. was unquestioned by everyone.
        1. Everyone assumed that He existed and
        2. so they started writing creeds.
  7. VII.The Time Between the Writings of the Gospels and the Actual Events
    1. Mark wrote his account about 35 years after Jesus.
    2. John wrote his account about 60 or so years later.
      1. You will not find as close gaps with other historical characters of long ago.
      2. Much of what we know about Alexander the Great,
        1. who was born in 356 bc and died in 323 bc,
        2. comes from the historian Plutarch,
          1. who was born in ad 45 and died in ad 120.
          2. The two were not separated by decades but centuries!
  8. VIII.The Beginning of the Church Testifies to the Existence of Jesus
    1. How do we explain the beginning of the church?
    2. The church and Christianity exist because Jesus existed.
      1. Our early brethren changed their lives dramatically because
      2. the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus were established facts.
    3. Do you remember what the family of Jesus thought of Him?

      But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind” (Mark 3.21).

      For even His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7.5)

      1. However, later James changed
        1. when He saw the resurrected Jesus (1Co 15.7), and
        2. became a leader in the Jerusalem church and
        3. wrote a Bible Book!
      2. Jude also wrote a Letter.
  9. Paul’s Writings Affirm the Existence of Jesus
    1. First, we know from Acts that Jesus appeared to Paul
      1. while Paul was on his way to persecuted more followers of Jesus.
      2. Something changed this raging man.
    2. If you read First Corinthians 1 and Ephesians 1
      1. you will see how much Paul thought of Jesus and
      2. that Paul did not preach himself, as people often accuse him of doing.
  10. Paul Met the Brother of Jesus, and Peter
    1. Paul wrote of the existence James and Peter
    2. as though everyone in the first century knew of them,

      18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.) (Galatians 1.18–20).

      1. We know of James and his standing in the church, because
      2. we know more of his brother!
    3. Yet, no one refuted Paul.
    4. No one accused James of lying about his relationship to Jesus,
      1. although James never made a big deal about it.
      2. Truly, he did not reference Jesus as his brother, but
        1. treated Jesus as we do today,
        2. as the Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of heaven and earth.
  11. Paul Knew the Sayings of Jesus
    1. Acts 20.35

      “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20.35).
    2. 1Ti 5.18

      For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Timothy 5.18; quoting the Law of Moses and Jesus in Matt 10.10).
  12. XII.Luke Consulted Other Accounts
    1. Luke 1.1–4

      1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (Luke 1.1–4).
    2. Luke was a highly intelligent man.
      1. He was a physician (Col 4.14).
      2. He was a historian (Acts).
      3. He knew geography (Acts and see the bulletin article).
    3. He was a careful man who did his research.
    4. We can accept his research that Jesus existed.
  13. XIII.Why Would Other Writings, Even False Ones, Arise?
    1. The Gospel of Thomas
    2. The Gospel of Judas
      1. And many many more.
      2. They arose because they tried to profit in some way from the real Jesus.
  14. XIV.Ancient Writers Referred to Jesus as a Historical Man
    1. Tacitus (Annals written ad 116), wrote,

      “…called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin…”
    2. Tacitus was hostile toward Christianity.
      1. There are others that I have mentioned in other sermons, but
      2. I mention these to remind you that
        1. friends,
        2. neutral writers, and
        3. enemies
        4. acknowledged Jesus.
  15. God Inspired the Writers of Scripture to Reveal the Historical Jesus