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Simple contact form enquiry from www.buddhisteducation.co.uk

simple contact form enquiry from www.buddhisteducation.co.uk

Name

will trin 

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willtrin@aol.com 

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WHY INVESTIGATE EASTER? What if there is a God? What if there is a divine plan for mankind? What if a person’s soul or spirit exists for eternity? What if there is a heaven and hell? What if the biblical ultimatum of heaven and hell is true? What if committing to Jesus is the only answer for heaven? If these things are true, then understanding and accepting God’s plan is the single most important thing to discover in life. More important than the next vacation. More important than the next golf game. Even more important than the next paycheck. And our choice regarding that plan will affect us forever. It’s a choice that can bring real joy here on earth. A choice that can mean “no more pain and no more tears” forever or a choice that will lead to eternal horror. Would God expect us to accept His plan on faith? Yes and no, because history can never be “proven.” Instead, evidence is the only basis for verifying historical fact. Does evidence exist for Easter resurrection? Absolutely. There is far more evidence for the resurrection than for any other single event in the history of the world. Often people don’t embrace a relationship with God because they fail to investigate and understand their beliefs. Some people are taught wrong beliefs from birth, which they never objectively challenge. Some people are misled by individuals who cleverly tamper with facts and tell people what they want to hear. And some people just don’t care. Yet abundant evidence exists for the first Easter and the tremendous message it brings to mankind. Hence, we might reject God out of apathy … or out of pride … or for many other reasons. But we have no basis to reject God for lack of evidence if we take time to seek it. As the Bible says “Men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Did Jesus Exist? Virtually all major religions, even those opposing Him, acknowledge the existence of Jesus. For hundreds of years, Jesus’ existence was a widely accepted as Abraham Lincoln’s existence is today. Only in relatively recent history have some people challenged it. Possibly in a few thousand years, Mr. Lincoln’s existence may be challenged as well. Christian Historical Records The magnitude of the Christian record stands far above any record of anyone who has ever lived upon this planet. Existing early manuscripts exceed 24,000. The earliest were written within 25 years of His death. No work of antiquity approaches the Bible’s documentary credibility, including all works we accept as historical fact. Some examples are: Early Event Until First Major Existing Manuscripts Records Existing Manuscript Julius Caesar – Gallic Wars 10 1000 years Pliny the Younger – History 7 750 years Thucydides – History 8 1300 years Herodotus – History 8 1300 years Homer – Iliad 643 500 years The New Testament 24,000+ 25 years The vastness of the number of accounts of the resurrection is particularly extraordinary considering that: 1. Jesus was not in a position of public importance. He was not a king, not a religious leader, nor a general. Relative to Rome, Jesus came from a small, distant town and was a lowly carpenter with a scant three-year ministry. Rome hardly knew of Him until testimony of eyewitnesses later threatened political/religious stability. 2. The records survived the most intensive eradication effort of all time. Rapidly growing in number, Christian witnesses were killed, written records were burned, and anyone professing belief in Christianity was executed. In A.D. 303 an edict was issued to destroy all of the world’s Bibles. People found with Bibles were killed. 3. There was no printing press, and the world population was low. The number of surviving early Manuscripts is absolutely staggering considering they were all hand copied by a far smaller pop- ulation base. Only 138 million people existed at the time, the no automatic duplication methods for he printed word. What motivated such extensive work? Was the incredible quantity and survival of the Christian record a miracle, or just senseless expansion of a myth? Why haven’t other religions with more prominent leaders, with lifelong ministries, and with less persecution produced similar evidence? Something major happened. Manuscript Documentation The position of Jewish scribe was one of the most demanding and esteemed jobs in biblical times. After training for years, scribes were allowed to practice the profession only after age 30. Often referred to as doctors of the Law, they joined the priests in the teaching of the Law. Scripture Copy Rules Recording of Holy Scripture was a serious responsibility. So important was exact reproduction that Old Testament scribes were forced to adhere to demanding rules anytime a manuscript was copied: 1. Scrolls – special paper, ink, and surface preparation required. 2. Tight specifications – specified column number, 37 letters per column. 3. Master used – no duplicates of duplicates. 4. Each letter visually confirmed – no writing of phrases. 5. Distance between letters checked with thread. 6. Alphabet – each letter counted and compared to original. 7. Letters per page counted and compared to master. 8. Middle letter of scroll verified to be the same as the master. 9. One mistake – scroll was destroyed (i.e., master scrolls) Proof of Authenticity Not surprisingly, critics of the Bible, especially those knowledgeable of the prophecy miracles, suggest that the Bible was changed, altered, and somehow mishandled. Commonly, people claim the Bible was in the control of the Roman Catholic Church, which supposedly had “opportunity and motive” to change Scripture to meet its purpose. Such critics miss some key facts. There are two indisputable sets of records that mankind has in its possession today that were not historically controlled by the Christian church and verify the authenticity of the message contained in the words of the Bible we read today: The Septuagint Almost 300 years before Christ, the world was becoming so accustomed to Greek that the language of Hebrew was becoming “lost.” It was deemed more important to translate the Bible into a common language than to try to teach everyone Hebrew. A group of 70 elite scholars was assembled to translate the Scriptures into Greek. The result was a document called the Septuagint (meaning “seventy”), compiled around 250 B.C. (Several copies were made by the techniques of the scribes above.) Today, we still have copies of the early translations. The Septuagint message is consistent with the Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls Any doubt regarding the accurate transmission of manuscripts was erased in 1947 with the discovery of hundreds of scrolls buried in caves for nearly 2000 years. Many were written before 100 B.C. Comparison of biblical books with recent Jewish copies shows virtual no change in words or even letters. Non-Christian Evidence Very few written works of anything in history exist from the period of A.D. 30 to 60. All works from A.D. 50-60 are said to fit in bookends only a foot apart. Nero’s killing of Christians in A.D. 64 led to non-Christian writing about Jesus. Thallus (circa A.D. 52) – Historical work referenced by Julius Africanus. Explains the darkness at the time of Christ’s death as a solar eclipse. While an eclipse did not occur in that period (pointed out by Julius Africanus), reference to Jesus’ death was stated as a matter of fact. Josephus (circa A.D. 64-93) – This Jewish historian referenced Jesus, His miracles, His crucifixion, and His disciples. Also referenced are James, “brother of Jesus who was called the Christ,” and John the Baptist. Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 64-116) – Writing to dispel rumors that Nero caused the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64, he refers to Christians as the followers of “Christus.” Who “had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus.” The resurrection was called “the pernicious superstition.” Pliny the Younger (circa A.D. 112) – As governor of Bithynia (Asia Minor), he requested guidance from Rome regarding the proper test to give Christians before executing them. (If they renounced the faith, cursed Jesus, and worshiped the statue of Emperor Trajan, they were set free.) Phlegon (circa A.D. 140) – Referenced by Julius Africanus and Origen – referred to “eclipse,” earthquake, and Jesus’ prophecies. Did the Resurrection Occur? The crucifixion of Jesus was especially well documented and accepted as fact. The crucial question then becomes, Did Jesus rise from the dead, proving His claim to be God incarnate? Or did something else happen with His body? Or was He never dead at all? A key to this issue is the extreme local importance placed on handling this execution. Jesus’ powerful, insightful speaking and many miracles had let the populace to request that He become king. This began to threaten the local political stability of the Romans and the religious power of the Jewish leaders whom Jesus openly criticized. Both the absolute death of Jesus and the protection against a hoax were critical, since Jesus had claimed He would overcome death. Furthermore, He had already raised other people from the dead. As a result, all precautions were taken to secure His corpse (Matthew 27:62-66). The Bible implies the cause of Jesus’ death was cardiac arrest, indicated by blood and water from a spear thrust (medical experts confirm this). To secure the body, a Roman guard was placed outside the tomb. Such a guard would have consisted of 16 soldiers, with a disciplined rotation for sleeping at night (every four hours, four would switch). The guards all faced the rigid Roman penalty of crucifixion if they slept outside of the assigned shift or deserted their post. The idea that all guards were asleep, considering the death penalty, is especially unreasonable. To further ensure safekeeping, a two-ton stone [McDowell, Josh and Wilson, Bill. A Ready Defense. San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1990] was rolled in front of the tomb with Pontius Pilate’s seal on it. Breaking the seal without the official Roman guard’s approval meant crucifixion upside down. The central issue, unexplainable by Jewish leaders, especially in light of the many prec! autions, is… What happened to Jesus’ corpse if He did not rise from the dead as indicated in the Gospel accounts? The official explanation is that the disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep (with the priests protecting the guards from the governor). This story was necessary only because no one could produce a dead body of Jesus, which would have stopped the resurrection story forever. Is a theft of Jesus’ body even remotely possible given that: 1. All 16 guards would have had to risk the penalty of crucifixion by sleeping while on duty of deserting. Surely at least one guard would be awake. 2. The disciples were in a state of shock, fear, and disarray, having seen their Master crucified. Is it reasonable to think they quickly created a brilliant plan and flawlessly executed it on the Sabbath day of rest? 3. What possible motive could the disciples have? If Jesus was not the Son of God as He claimed, stealing the body would create a lie with no apparent benefit, and death for no purpose for the disciples. Analysis of Other Explanations Was Jesus really dead? Crucifixion was more routine and was a longer, more visibly excruciating death than the electric chair is today. Is it likely that such professional executioners would not know death? The final spear thrust to the heart area was to ensure death. For such a political threat, they would be certain. If Jesus was not dead, what are the chances that a barely living person could move a two-ton rock from the inside of a tomb and escape a full Roman Guard unnoticed? Was the body stolen at night? Recognizing that no flashlights nor infrared sensors were available then, is it likely that a band of scared disciples carrying torches could bypass a full Roman guard, move a two-ton rock, and not be noticed? Furthermore, the Sabbath greatly limited movement. And again, for what motive? Eyewitnesses to the Truth Died to Tell the Story Martyrdom for a belief is not unique. But what kind of person would die for a known lie? Someone insane? Would all the disciples face hardship and death for a known lie? The disciples were with Jesus constantly for three years. They would certainly know the truth of the resurrection. Lying would serve no purpose since Jesus’ ministry would then be moot. Yet historical records and reports about the disciples indicated they all died cruel deaths for their beliefs (except John). James was stoned, was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded, Thaddaeus was killed with arrows, Matthew and James (Zebedee) faced sword deaths, and other believers were crucified. Archaeological Evidence Archaeologists have discovered substantial support about many details of Jesus’ life. Some examples include: Indirect Resurrection Evidence Evidence that the people in Jesus’ time believed in the resurrection is found on caskets of bones (ossuaries) discovered in a sealed tomb outside Jerusalem in 1945. Coins minted in about A.D. 50 were found inside the caskets, dating the burial within about 20 years of Jesus’ crucifixion. Markings are clearly legible, including several statements reflecting knowledge of Jesus’ ability to overcome death. Example of writings (in Greek) of hope for deceased loved ones include: “Jesus, Help” and “Jesus, Let Him Arise.” The caskets also contain several crosses, clearly marked in charcoal. This is powerful evidence that early Christians believed in Jesus’ ability to triumph over death. It also ties the idea of victory over death to the cross. Jesus’ Burial Shroud? A burial shroud (Shroud of Turin) is believed by many people to be the actual burial shroud of Jesus (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). Items supporting its authenticity are: 1. Test that confirm fiber type and small particles of limestone dust unique to the region. 2. Confirmation of blood, in wounds precisely as indicated in the accounts of Jesus’ unique execution. 3. Confirmation of a crucifixion as likely cause of the type of image created…matching a deceased body. 4. Coins on eyes dated about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. The Prophecies – Statistical “Proof” Although history can never be “proven,” enormous statistical probability is often viewed as proof by scientists and mathematicians. From a statistical viewpoint, God’s involvement in the life of Jesus is “certain.” As indicated earlier, the prophecies contained in the Old Testament were written long before Jesus. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided irrefutable evidence that these prophecies were not tampered with over the centuries. Of the 469 prophecies contained in the Old Testament that would have been fulfilled, 467 have been verified (we have no record of fulfillment of two). Perhaps the most fascinating prophecies are those about Jesus. Who Jesus’ Ancestors in Prophecy: David 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5 Jesse Isaiah 11 Judah Isaiah 11 Jacob Genesis 35:10-12; Numbers 24:17 Isaac Genesis 17:16; 21:12 Abraham Genesis 12:3; 22:18 Shem Genesis 9:26,27; 10 What Virgin Birth Isaiah 7:14 Birth of eternal Savior Isaiah 9:6,7 Savior to Jews and Gentiles Isaiah 49:6 Miracle worker Isaiah 29:18; 35:5,6 Rejection by Jews Isaiah 53:1-3, Psalm 118:22 Matthew 21:42-46 When Prophecy of the Date of Palm Sunday Daniel 9:20-27 – Although complex until understood, This prophecy made about 535 B.C. predicted Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem to the day. The prophecy states: Daniel’s “Seventy Sevens”  69 periods of 7 (years) will pass from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the “Anointed One” (Messiah, in Hebrew). This dates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  After that time the Anointed One will be cut off (Hebrew: yikaret, meaning a sudden, violent end – crucifixion).  And after that time the city and the temple will be destroyed. Prophecy: Daniel, a Hebrew, received the prophetic revelation in 535 B.C. Using the Hebrew definition of a year (360 days) we find: 69 times 7 years = 173,880 days The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given to Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 B.C. (first day of Nisan that year – Nehemiah 2:1-6). Using the actual 365-day calendar, along with adjustments for leap years and the final scientific adjustment (leap year is dropped every 128 years), we find this number of days brings us precisely to: April 6, A.D. 32 History: Jesus’ ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1), whose reign began in A.D. 14. A chronological analysis of Jesus’ ministry shows three years leading up to the final week, in A.D. 32. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, confirms the Sunday before Passover that year to be … April 6, A.D. 32 Other prophecy elements were fulfilled as well: Jesus was crucified three and a half days later. The Romans destroyed the city and temple in A.D. 70. Precise City of Jesus’ Birth The Bible (Micah 5:2) specified that Jesus would be born Bethlehem, in Ephrathah. Other Prophecies  King on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)  Suffering, rejected (Isaiah 53:1-3)  Crucified, pierced (Psalm 22:16)  Cast lots for clothing (Psalm 22:18)  No bones broken (Psalm 22:17)  Given gall and wine (Psalm 69:20-22)  Pierced with a spear (Zechariah 12:10)  Posterity to serve Him (Psalm 22:30)  Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12) Amazing Prophecy Statistics experts estimate the probability of all these prophecies coming true in any one man is about one Chance in 1099 , less than the odds of correctly selecting one electron out of all the matter in the universe, or essentially zero without divine intervention. Jesus’ Own Prophecies The many prophecies made by Jesus Himself are important because: 1. Perfect accuracy verifies the prophecy was “from God” (Deuteronomy 18:19-22). 2. Since He claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God, it verifies the claims of Jesus Christ. Prophecy from Jesus includes several immediately verified by people around Him [e.g., Jesus told a Centurion his servant would be healed, Matthew 8:5-13]. Other prophecies refer to judgment, to heaven, or the end of the world. Jesus told His disciples that His precise prophecy of His death and resurrection was so that when it happened, they would believe He was the Messiah (John 13:19). The Jews realized that only God knows the future. The Resurrection Prophecies of Jesus 1. That He would be betrayed (Matthew 26:21; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21,22) 2. Who would betray Him 3. When He would be betrayed 4. That His disciples would desert Him 5. That would disown Him three times (Matthew 26:33,34; Mark 14:29,30; Luke 22:31-34) 6. That He would be crucified (John 3:14-16; 12:32-34) 7. That He would die and then be resurrected:  First prediction (Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:21-27)  Second prediction (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34)  Third prediction (Matthew 26:2-5; Mark 14:1-9) 8. That on the third day He would rise from the dead 9. That He would return from death to meet the disciples in Galilee (Matthew 26:32) Was the Resurrection Physical? Some people (and even organizations) have tried to minimize or even disclaim Christ’s physical resurrection. Why? Perhaps because it undermines Jesus’ claims to deity. A prophet had to be 100 percent accurate to be a prophet of God, and clearly Jesus indicated that He would rise again physically from the dead (John 2:19-22). Or perhaps people want to diminish the role and power of Jesus. The facts clearly state that the resurrection was both real and physical. The resurrection was a highly significant event to Jews in the area. The Sadducees and Pharisees debated fiercely over the concept of resurrection long before Jesus. After the first Easter, people argued over it, people imprisoned others for it, people even died for it. In the days immediately following the Resurrection there was no doubt that many people believed that Jesus appeared again in a physical form. The accounts recorded in the New Testament stood the test of eyewitness examination. They could have easily been challenged by contemporaries. In the earliest days, there is no record of anyone claiming Jesus was an apparition (ghost) or a mass hallucination or any other sort of “mere spirit being.” For the resurrection to have any meaningful significance, it had to be a resurrection of the body, as Christ Himself indicated. Several references support this. Eating, Drinking, Touching Can a spirit eat? Drink? Touch? There is no historical evidence of any spirit-form taking on human functions unless it became human first (e.g., angels becoming human). Jesus, on the other hand, specifically made a point of verifying His physical existence by eating and drinking after the resurrection (Luke 24:37-43). Can a spirit or hallucination be touched or felt? Thomas, the most doubting of the disciples, certainly believed that touching was a primary criterion for “proof.” Jesus specifically appeared to Thomas (and the others), challenging him to see the nail prints in His hands and touch His side (John 20:25-28). How Can We Ensure the Right Relationship to Go to Heaven? When Jesus said not all who use His name will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21-23), He was referring to people who think using Christ’s name along with rituals and rules is the key to heaven. A relationship with God is not based on rituals or rules. It’s based on grace, forgiveness, and the right relationship. How to Have a Personal Relationship with God 1. Believe that God exists and that He came to earth in the human form of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 10:9). 2. Accepts God’s free forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10; 1:7,8). 3. Switch to God’s plan for life (1 1:21-23; Ephesians 2:1-5). 4. Express desire for Christ to be Director of your life (Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 4:15). Then What? People who sincerely take the preceding steps automatically become members of God’s family of believers. A new world of freedom and strength is then available through prayer and obedience to God’s will. New believers also can build their relationship with God by taking the following steps:  Find a Bible-based church that you like, and attend regularly.  Try to set aside some time each day to pray and read the Bible.  Locate other Christians to spend time with on a regular basis. 

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