This is the twelfth post in a series based on John Maisel’s lecture and book “Is Jesus God?” Click here to receive your free download of this resource.
Tertullian wrote that no man would be willing to die unless he knew he had the truth. It is true that a lot of people have died for a lie, but only when they believed it to be the truth.
People do not die for a lie that they know is a lie. If the early disciples did lie, they were deliberately deceiving the whole world, but this certainly is not in line with their teachings and writings in Scripture or with the moral conduct they were telling people to live by. They taught honesty, integrity, and truthfulness.
Edward Gibbon in his book, The Rise and the Fall of the Roman Empire, lists five reasons for the spread of Christianity in the first century, one of which is “the pure, honest, sincere and truthful behavior of the disciples.”
The whole message of Christ is to love one another, to be kind, and to speak the truth.
Could they have been living a colossal lie? No, I believe they had seen the risen Christ, their lives were radically changed, and they went to the world to tell the “Good News” of Christ’s love for each person, of His death as their substitute, of his resurrection that conquered death, and that He was and is now alive. He stands ready to give life—because He is the way and the truth to all who trust in Him.
Paul Little asks in his book, Know Why You Believe, “Are these men, who helped transform the moral structure of society consummate liars or deluded madmen? These alternatives are harder to believe than the fact of the resurrection, and there is no shred of evidence to support them.”
As I stated last week, the other option of explanation for His resurrection is supernatural: God raised Him from the grave and He lives today. That I believe to be not only the truth but rational truth.
Jesus said that He was the only way to a relationship with God and the only truth that could set men free. He is the only path up the mountain. Only through Him can man become whole and know the true and living God. And only through Jesus Christ does man gain life-Jesus said He was “the life” conquering death on your and my behalf.
During my university years, a statement by Blaise Pascal deeply impressed me. As you may know, Pascal was a brilliant seventeenth-century French mathematician, a prodigy who dazzled Europe with sophisticated mathematical equations when he was yet only sixteen years old. By age thirty-one, Pascal had penned the now-classic truism:
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person. And it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God. made known through Jesus Christ.”
That statement by Pascal made an impact on my life. I recognized that vacuum in my life. I was asking questions such as, “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” “What am I doing here?” And no matter what I accomplished in life, I had a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. I was trying to find answers. I gave my life to athletic pursuit.
But no matter what I accomplished, my life was still void of meaning. I gave my life to intellectual pursuits, but no matter what I accomplished there at the university, I had a sense that there was something missing in me.
You see, my friend, God has made you and me in such a way that we will never have a sense of completeness and fullness and meaning until we come to know Him in a personal way. God has made us in three parts. He has made us physical beings and He has given us our mental capacity. He has also given us a spiritual capacity. Yet most of us go through life as only two-thirds of a person. We develop ourselves physically and mentally, but not spiritually.
We will never be complete until we come to know God personally, and that is through the person of Jesus Christ. That is the only way that the spiritual void or emptiness within us will ever be filled.
We’ll go deeper into this thought next week.