By Bruce Edwards, Jr.
To what, can we attribute the tremendous growth of the church in the first century? If what so-called scholars and liberal theologians have said be true, then the uncanny growth can only be explained in terms of a widely-held delusion or deviously conceived lie. The center of the gospel was, is, and always will be the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The resurrection is either a fact or it is not. Upon this question rests the veritable meaning of life and death. If that tomb was empty that glorious morn, then indeed life is significant! But… if He was there… in that tomb, dead C then as Paul said, “We are of all men most miserable.”
The consensus of modern liberal “scholarship” notwithstanding; what is the most sensible explanation for the rapid spread of Christianity in the first century? Mere delusion must be ruled out from the outset. Not even the most well-planned ruse could enlist as many followers with as much dedication and loyalty as these early Christians possessed. No trick could have motivated the likes of the disciples-men who deserted Christ at His arrest-to begin the preaching of the Resurrection message. Those three thousand who submitted to baptism on the Day of Pentecost were some of the same group which had crucified Him only fifty days earlier; they were in a position to evaluate the evidence. They overwhelmingly decided that indeed the Master had been raised from the dead!
The only sensible, reasonable explanation for the faith of men and women who would lay down their lives for Jesus is that He really did rise from that grave. No other rationale can explain the sudden character change of the weak and cowardly men who became vocal, outspoken proclaimers of the gospel. No other rationale can account for the behaviour of Paul and others like him who suddenly “left all and followed Him.” When one considers all the evidence, noting its effect in the lives of New Testament Christians, we must, even as the formerly skeptical Thomas, cry out, “My Lord and my God!”
Truth Magazine, XVIII:47, p. 14
October 3, 1974