Editor’s note: This was an email sent out by Ed Komoszewski in December 2005 to a lady who was not a Christian but was inquiring about some of the miracles in the Bible. She first inquired about the age of Adam, asking how it was possible for him to live for 930 years. She said she simply couldn’t believe that such miracles could take place, and therefore that the whole Bible must be filled with myth. Ed turned the discussion to the greatest miracle of all, the bodily resurrection of Christ. His response is an appropriate prayer for people seeking the truth, and seeking for peace with God.
Daniel B. Wallace
Like you, I didn’t grow up in a church or a Christian home. In fact, for the first half of my life I was content to lump the biblical Jesus with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. It’s not that I didn’t want to believe differently; I just thought so much of the Bible was far-fetched. In my late teenage years my parents became devoted followers of Christ and I began to witness some significant, positive changes in our home. I found that attractive. But was I really supposed to believe that Moses parted a sea or Jesus walked on water?
I spent the next several years struggling—at times agonizing—over such things. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any solid direction from hard-thinking Christians. I was essentially left to flounder on my own. But, by God’s grace, I was led to some basic apologetic materials (i.e., materials that defend the authenticity of Christianity) that would change my perspective—and my life.
I finally realized that Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus’ body is rotting somewhere outside of Jerusalem, then Christianity can offer little more than a moral guide to better living. To be sure, Jesus’ teachings that we should love our neighbor, care for the poor, etc., are profound and necessary. But they are hardly unique to Christianity. And I’m not sure religious conviction of any kind is necessary to embody such teachings. Indeed, I know atheists and agnostics who put believers to shame when it comes to demonstrating genuine love and generosity.
But if Jesus was raised to new life three days after his dead body was laid in a cold tomb, then Christianity—indeed, Jesus—stands head and shoulders above all religious ideas, leaders, and systems. After all, no other person has ever died and returned to unending life. So the $64,000 question is this: Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
I was surprised to learn just how much historical evidence exists for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the data was—and is—overwhelming. More precisely, I think the historical evidence points to the resurrection with a 99% degree of probability. This, of course, leaves a final step of faith for us to take. But it’s an informed step. And it’s by no means a leap.
There are so many great resources that deal with the issue of Jesus’ resurrection much better than I can do in an e-mail. I’d urge you to get a book called The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, by Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona (Kregel, 2004). It’s thorough, compelling, and clearly written. And it comes with a fun, interactive CD you can use on your computer. I’m confident that as you read it and think about the material, you’ll become increasingly convinced that belief in the resurrection of Jesus doesn’t require the abandonment of your brain. If you want a shorter introduction to the whole subject, you can begin with Lee Strobel’s interviews of Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland in The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998). Both of these books are readily available at www.chrbook.com or www.amazon.com, and can be found in many local bookstores.
Now when it comes to something like the age of Adam (the original question you asked about), I don’t have a tough time swallowing it. If God did indeed raise Jesus Christ from the dead (after he had been in a tomb for three days, no less), then every other incredible thing in the Bible becomes rather easy to believe. After all, living to a ripe old age of 930 years, healing a paralytic, turning water into wine, etc., are nothing compared to permanently defeating death!
What’s more, if Jesus was truly raised from the dead, then he becomes a trustworthy source in what he says and does. So if Jesus says there’s a real heaven and a real hell, he knows what he’s talking about. If he affirms the authority of the Old Testament, then I readily subject myself to it. If he says that we, too, can live forever with him if we’ll simply trust him, then I believe him.
What I’m trying to drive at in the above two paragraphs is that the resurrection of Jesus is the linchpin of the Christian faith. Everything else depends on it and flows from it. Without it, Christianity would crumble. The Apostle Paul established this sentiment in 1 Corinthians 15 when he said, in so many words, that if Christ isn’t raised from the dead then Christianity is a sham, we’re dead in our sins, and people should feel sorry for us gullible believers!
Angie, I hope you’ll look carefully at the historical evidence for the resurrection. And as you feel the weight of evidence in its favor, I pray you’ll read the biblical gospels in a new light. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and ask yourself whether there’s a ring of authenticity in the words and deeds of Jesus. Ask yourself whether you’re strangely drawn to him. And ask God to guide you as you seek the truth. I’ll be asking him on your behalf as well!
May Christmas begin to take on new significance and meaning for you—even this year!
P.S. Check out www.risenjesus.com, which is run by Mike Licona (one of the authors of a book I recommended above). You can’t go wrong with his stuff!