Wake The Churches

Christianity how’d that happen?

Christianity how’d that happen?

How did Christianity grow to be what it is today?

Christianity

How did a 1st Century Carpenter from Nazareth, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, come to be worshipped by so many people?

How does it happen that a man who was crucified and hurriedly buried in a borrowed tomb is remembered to this day?

The answers to those questions are pretty remarkable.

To the believer the answers are simple; Jesus was the Christ, the son of God. He was the one prophesied about all through the Old Testament. He lived, died and rose again; it’s that simple to those who believe.

But how do we explain all that happened to the skeptical unbeliever?

Logically there doesn’t seem to be any real explanation other then what we as believers claim, that He is God with us, Immanuel.

Jesus was born.

We know He was born because not only does the Bible speak of Him, but other writings of the period talk about Jesus as a real person. So we must assume that He was born.
The Bible tells us that He was born in Bethlehem to a young woman named Mary. But how is this birth different than any other birth at the time?

If we just look at the facts, then there is no reason why His birth is any more important than any other birth at that time. Except that we have to take into account what He became as He grew and began His Ministry.

The Bible predicts that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and to a virgin, which Mary is said to have been at the time. The skeptic can discount the whole virgin birth, but they still have to answer the question I have raised.

How and why do we still remember Him?

So, sticking to the facts of the matter, we must believe that Jesus grew up in that region, and at sometime around 30 AD began His Ministry.

The Bible tells us many things about Jesus and all the wonders and miracles that He performed, but the skeptic will discount all those as fables and fairy tales. But discounting all that the Bible tells us about Jesus and what He did, still does not explain why we remember Him? In fact, if we discount all the stories in the New Testament of the miracles of Jesus, then there should be no reason why we remember Him at all.

At the time and just before Jesus lived there were many who claimed to be the Messiah. But other then what the Bible tells us in the book of Acts 5:33-40, we don’t remember any of them.

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Note what Gamaliel says at the end, “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men…” And they were not able to stop them.

But all that doesn’t answer the skeptic’s question of why we remember Jesus?

Getting back to the facts, we know not only from the Bible but from other sources written around the time of Christ that He did live and was crucified. And we have the Bible as witness that He was seen by many after His death. But the skeptic will again, poo-poo all that as a mere folk tale.

But even if you do poo-poo the story of His resurrection, it doesn’t explain why we remember Him to this day and how Christianity grew so quickly.

Let’s go over the facts so far.

  • We know that Jesus was born.
  • We know that He grew up and started a Ministry.
  • We know that He was crucified.

If Jesus was not who He said He was, then how did His message spread over the whole of the Mediterranean after He was killed?

The first thing we must acknowledge is that His Disciples believed they had seen and touch the Living Christ after His death and burial. They all claimed to have been with Jesus and not one of them recanted their conviction that Jesus did rise from the dead.

We know that neither the Romans’ nor the Jewish authority’s ever found the Body of Jesus.
If they wanted to stop the spread of this new religion, then all they would have had to do was produce the corpse or get the Disciples to admit they stole the body. But that is something they did not do, no matter how they were tortured.

Then we have to talk about Saul who became Paul.

Saul was a member of the Pharisees at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Bible tells us in the book of Acts, that he held the coats of those who stoned Stephen after they confronted him about why he believed in Jesus. The Bible tells us that Saul persecuted the early Christians and turned them over to the Jewish authorities. And the Bible tells us that while Saul was on his way to Damascus, he had an encounter with the risen Christ which changed his life.

The skeptic can discount some of this but not all, because what happened to Saul, later to be known as Paul, is at the crux of the matter.

Within living memory of the people who had witnessed the life and Ministry of Jesus, the entire New Testament was written and distributed over the whole region.

Within the first 100 years after the death of Jesus, His follows and theirs had spread His message of Salvation through faith in Him and what He did on the Cross all over the Eastern Mediterranean.

Even though the Romans persecuted the early Christians and try to wipe them out, they failed. In fact the Church of Christ only grew stronger. How does that happen if Jesus were merely a good man?

Within the first 300 years after Jesus’ death and resection, the whole Roman Empire began to except Christianity as the truth, through the conversion of Constantine.

If Jesus was just a man, then why do we follow Him today?

He would have been forgotten after His death, if He had not risen from the grave.

His message would not have spread as it did if there had been no resurrection.

If the Disciples had not believed that Christ had walked out of that borrowed tomb then they would have recanted their story of a resurrected Lord and that would have been the end of it.

If Jesus had not done all the things that were written of Him then His message would have been lost to all time because no one would have believed the stories told about Him.

If Paul had not had that vision of Christ on the road to Damascus then his life would not have been changed and we wouldn’t have half of the New Testament. None of the Churches he founded would have come into being.

Here are the facts which cannot be denied.

  • The Disciples believed that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • The early Christian Church spread very quickly over the area of the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The Romans tried to crush the early Church, but failed.
  • The Roman Empire eventually accepted Christianity within a few hundred years of the death Jesus                                                                                                                             
  • Today there are around 2.4 billion Christians in the world, or about a third of the Earth’s population.

This all started in a small town named Bethlehem and in Jerusalem some thirty years later when Jesus was crucified and rose three days later.

If Jesus had not died and rose again, there would be no Church named for Him and I would not be writing this.

So, why did I write this in the first place?

I wrote this to get you to think about Jesus and all that has happened since His death and resurrection.

If Jesus really did live and died, and really did rise from the grave then we need to take Him at His word that He is the Son of God and that He did come into the world to save it.

And if He tells us through His Bible that we can have a relationship with Him, and have Him living inside us through the Holy Spirit, then we must open ourselves up to what He is telling us in John 14:6-11.

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”

If the above is true, then I for one want all that Jesus can give me, I want to know all that I can about Him and I want to follow where He leads me.

I hope you feel the same.

The only answer to the questions that I raised at the start is that Jesus is exactly who and what He said He was. That He is God in the flesh, that He was resurrected on the third day.

It is totally illogical to believe that Christianity spread because a few fishermen made up stories about a murdered carpenter from Nazareth if those storied were not true.

How’d Christianity happen?

It happened because God came into the world and died on a cross to save His creation and then rose from the dead.

It’s that simple.

 

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