Witnesses for Christianity
1. BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF WHAT OCCURRED WHEN CHRIST DIED (INCLUDES STATEMENT OF THE ROMAN CENTURION THAT JESUS WAS THE SON OF GOD)
“And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom: and the earth quaked and the rocks were rent.
And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose,
And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city and appeared to many.
Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. [Matthew 27: 51-54]
2. BIBLICAL ACOUNT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT COMING TO THE APOSTLES AND MARY, AN EVENT PRE-ANNOUNCED BY JESUS (PENTECOST)
“And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming: and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them parted tongues, as it were of fire: and it sat upon every one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.
Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue.
And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak Galilean?
And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born?
Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome,
Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.
And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this?”
3. THE TRANSFIGURATION (Matthew 17:1-8)
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents 5 here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and do not be afraid." And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
4. BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF THE EMPTY TOMB
“And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.
And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and coming rolled back the stone and sat upon it.
And his countenance was as lightning and his raiment as snow.
And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror and became as dead men.
And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here. For he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.
And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen. And behold he will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you.
And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet and adored him.
Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee. There they shall see me.
Who when they were departed, behold, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests all things that had been done.
And they being assembled together with the ancients, taking counsel, gave a great sum of money to the soldiers,
Saying: Say you, His disciples came by night and stole him away when we were asleep.
And if the governor shall hear of this, we will persuade him and secure you.
So they taking the money, did as they were taught: and this word was spread abroad among the Jews even unto this day.
And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And seeing him they adored: but some doubted.
And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.
Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (Matthew 28:1-20)
OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES COME TRUE ABOUT THE CHRIST
I came across a beautiful article in The Rock magazine (April 2004 issue) by Hebrew Catholic Rosalind Moss who lists some of the fulfilled prophecies. She writes:
“……..he would be rejected by men (cf. Is 53:3), betrayed by a friend (Ps 41:9), sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:12), silenced before his accusers (Is. 53:7), MOCKED (Ps. 22:7-8), beaten (Is. 52:14), spit upon (Is. 50:6), pierced through his hands and feet (Ps.22:16), crucified with thieves (Is. 53:12), given gall and vinegar to drink (Ps. 69:21), pierced through his side (Zech. 12:10), that not a bone would be broken (Ps. 34:20), that lots would be cast for his garments (Ps. 22:18)? And that beyond the Passion he would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (cf. Is. 53:9), rise from the dead (Ps. 16:10), ascend into heaven (Ps. 68:18), and sit down at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1)? (It Was Sin That Killed Our Savior: Reflections on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ by Rosalind Moss. This Rock magazine.)
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who is merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Mere Christianity [New York: Touchstone, 1996] 56).
Here’s a passage by the late Rev. William G. Most’s book:
“Men do not cling to mere fancies when facing lions, torture and death. Second, Christianity was being confirmed by miracles at that time. …..miracles still happen and are checked with scientific strictness. In addition, as St. Augustine shrewdly observed, if the uneducated and ignorant Apostles had been able to sell such a difficult and demanding doctrine to sophisticated Greeks and Romans, without any miracles, that fact itself would be a miracle.
“…….Quadratus, earliest of the Greek apologists for Christianity, writing about 123 A.D., said, “The things done by the Savior remained always, for they were true. Those cured, those who rose from the dead were not only seen when they were being cured and raised, but were constantly present, not only while the Savior was living, but also for some time after He had gone, so that certain of them came down even to our own time.”
This is remarkable. Quadratus says that some who were healed by Christ or even raised by the dead lived until his own time.”
(“Catholic Apologetics Today” by Rev. William G. Most)
Here in the Bible, St. Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus who persecuted disciples of Christ) preaches on the Resurrection and all the people who witnessed it:
“For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received: how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures: And that he was buried: and that he rose again according to the scriptures: And that he was seen by Cephas, and after that by the eleven. Then was he seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen by James: then by all the apostles. And last of all, he was seen also by me, as by one born out of due tine. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace in me hath not been void: but I have laboured more abundantly than all they. Yet not I, but the grace of God with me: For whether I or they, so we preach: and so you have believed. Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain: and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ, whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again. For if the dead rise not again, neither is Christ risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, your faith is vain: for you are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep: For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-22)
Here are some quotes from Peter Kreeft in Chapter 9 of “Miracles”
“Yes, modern science has explained away some of the things some of the ancients thought miraculous, like thunderbolts. But it has not explained away any of the miracles in the New Testament. Science has not made the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection or the feeding of the five thousand one bit less miraculous.”
“…..miracle stories were added later to many other religions, and even contradict the original idea. For instance, the story of Mohammed flying to the moon on his horse contradicts insistence that the Koran be his only miracle, And Buddha taught that anyone who performed a miracle was not teaching his dharma (doctrine) because a miracle would encourage belief in the illusion of the separate, objective material world.
MORE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES ABOUT JESUS (There are many, many others)
Isaiah 7:14 “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.”
Micheas 5:2: And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda, out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.
Isaiah 53:2-12 “And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him:
Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.
But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.
He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him.
And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death: because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth.
And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a longlived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand.
Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked: and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.
Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace, and of prayers: and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn.”
Psalm 22:18 “they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.”
Daniel 9: 24-26 “Seventy weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, that transgression may be finished, and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abolished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and vision and prophecy may be fulfilled; and the Saint of saints may be anointed.
Know thou, therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ, the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls, in straitness of times.
And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people, with their leader, that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation.”
WEB SITES ON EVIDENCE OF GOD
http://members.aol.com/plweiss1/veritas.htm (Christian Philosophy Made Simple)
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0149.html (St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of God)
http://www.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc.htm (Summa Contra Gentiles by St. Thomas Aquinas)
http://www.diopitt.org/tea_design.php (Intelligent Design or Mindless Evolution – 2005)
http://www.cathmed.org/publications/linacrequarterly/1998_02.html (Two Lourdes miracles and a Nobel Laureate)
http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/1999/apr1999p20_368.html (skeptical historians can’t deny events after Christ’s death)
This argument goes like this: Given the complex organization and arrangement of our eyes, our heart, the reproductive system, our ecosystem, the sun, our solar system, well, just about everything……and……given the fact these things are arranged for a specific purpose and goal (to see, to pump blood, procreation, to keep food growing, to keep us warm, to keep us from being yanked up into outer space)….well then….there must be an intelligent designer, i.e. God.
In other words, if everything just happened randomly during the Big Bang, things would be thrown all over the place. The world would probably look like a pile of shattered glass and dirt, whirling around in any which way. And we wouldn’t be able to see it either because there is no way in heck that by some coincidence it would form an eye, much less a whole human being, or any base creature that just “coincidentally” takes the direct path of developing into a human being. And even if the explosion randomly resulted in a human being (impossible), is it rational to think we might “coincidentally” wind up with a man and a woman, which just “coincidentally” can procreate together?
Think about it. If you had a bag filled with the hundreds of components that make up a computer, and you threw them out the window, the odds that they’d all come together by chance to form a computer, or something that would start transforming into a computer, are about a billion to one. The odds they would form two computers, that would start kissing and procreating, is even further out there. (like this sentence)
“Consider the human eye. It is an amazingly complicated organ that is arranged for a clear purpose: to see. The development of the eye from the first cells in the embryo to the fully mature organ consists of countless steps in which many complex element came together perfectly. Each complex step in the process could only proceed because a previous complex step occurred perfectly. The chain of steps is extremely long, as any microbiologist will confirm. This long, intricate process proceeds toward a clear purpose: to form an organ capable of sight.
“Assembling a watch is relatively easy. But no one thinks watches are made by chance. Assembling an eye is unbelievably complicated. All the scientists of the world working together with the most advanced technology cannot synthesize a human eye. Yet, atheists insist the development of the human eye is the result of purely random, chaotic process. The marvel of the human eye virtually screams: “intelligent design!” Intelligent design demands an intelligent designer.
“…..With amazing new tools like the Hubble telescope, we are discovering that the universe is more complicated than we ever dreamed. At the same time, it is more perfectly organized than we ever suspected.”
On Big Bang, he writes, “This awesome blast had to be regulated within an extremely narrow range in order for the universe to be formed. If the speed of the elements in the explosion had moved just a hair faster or slower, there would have been only chaos instead of the amazingly complex, perfectly organized universe we know. Scientists tell us that events appeared to have been “guided” to bring about a planet like earth, capable of sustaining intelligent life.
“Amazingly, the bodies and movements of the universe appear to have been “deliberately” made to correspond to the operations of the human mind and to be intelligible to it. Like the human eye, the processes of the material universe seem to scream: “intelligent design!” Given the awesome size and complexity of the universe, it is very easy to see that this Intelligent Designer must be God.
“We can go even further and say the awesome power, order, beauty, and majesty of the universe appear designed to reflect the infinite power, order, beauty, and majesty of God.” (Father Frank Chacon & Jim Burnham: Beginning Apologetics 4: How to Answer Atheists and New Agers, San Juan Catholic Seminars)
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