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Body of Proof: Dr. Jeremiah Johnston

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2023 5:15 am

Body of Proof: Dr. Jeremiah Johnston

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 6, 2023 5:15 am

Does actual proof of Jesus' resurrection exist? Acclaimed apologist & scholar Dr. Jeremiah Johnston has found the body of proof overwhelming.

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The promise that we are given in the New Testament with more frequency than any other promise is John 14, 19. Because I live, you will live also. And that is the message of Easter. I'm Lynn Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Okay, so it's Thursday and Easter is just a few days away.

I know. It's a pretty exciting time. This is a great time of year.

Calendar for the Christian church, this is it. But here's the question that we, I think we asked, but a lot of people sort of bury it. It's like, what if Jesus didn't raise from the dead? That'd make everything different.

I mean, we just go play golf Sunday. Why in the world would we sit at church if it didn't happen? And is there, you know me, there's been a question for me for decades. Is there any evidence? Is it just a wishful hope or is there proof?

Is there a body of proof? Hey, you know, that's like a good book title. We got Jeremiah and Justin in the Family Life Studios today. Welcome back, Jeremiah. It's so great to be with both of you.

And Dave, thank you so much for having me back and just so appreciate your all's ministry and my family and so many others. Yeah, and you're laughing because, you know, obviously I took your title. Did you come up with the title, Body of Proof? Yes, we did. So proud of it. We like it. It is a good title.

I love the subtitle, The Seven Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus and Why It Matters Today. Now, many of our listeners know you, but I mean, you're a PhD. Let's see, is he the only doctor in the studio?

Yep, you're the only doctor in here. I haven't quite gotten my PhD yet, but you've spent decades studying and researching apologetics, right? Tell our audience, you know, what is apologetics? Why is it important? Well, I hate that word because we have to endlessly define it for people because some Christians, unfortunately, think it means we're apologizing for our faith.

But it's such a great power word. It means that we have a reason for the hope that is within us. We can actually speak clearly and conversantly to the questions we face today as Christians, and we can bring calm, great answers and draw people into a conversation. It's really about being a Christian thinker. Apologetics was used by Socrates 500 years before the New Testament was even written.

It just means give a reason. But my passion, Dave, and I wasn't a Christian thinker at one time in my life. My wife wouldn't have defined herself as a Christian thinker. We were Christians. But we would read that great commandment, love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And I just felt like there were some pitfalls in my own mind, some doubts, some challenges, and I wanted to become a Christian thinker. So we became our ministry before I ever knew we had one. Really? And that's how Christian Thinkers was launched. So you were a little bit skeptical. Absolutely.

Yeah, Dave was too. We were in ministry, and I remember walking in on him with a Bible in his lap, and he said, how do we even know this stuff is true? Like, honestly, is this even real? I deconstructed before it was a trend. Yeah, before it was a trend thing. In a good way, because it's like, I got to put this back together and say, is there evidence? So you did that years ago?

I did. And so for me, you know, and everyone's journey is different. For me, that meant Audrey and I and our 12-week-old daughter at the time moved to Oxford, England. And I wanted to study the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Okay, none of us can get into Oxford.

There's something there. So I always caveat it with that, you know, and a PhD knows a lot about a little, so let's, again, assure our audience I know a lot about a little bit. But the little I happen to know a lot about is the resurrection of Jesus.

And why Oxford? You know, it was an opportunity to study at the intellectual Jerusalem. I'm all about bringing Athens and Jerusalem together, the seed of learning, and then the seed of Christian faith and practice and see what difference it can make in my life. And wow, I heard every argument there was against the resurrection of Jesus from men and women far smarter, far more educated, far more published. And I graduated with my PhD, and I'm more iron-fisted for Jesus Christ and his resurrection than I've ever been in my entire life. I've heard every argument there is against the resurrection.

They're utterly unpersuasive. And now I can have conversation with friends based on the evidence and even before I open the Scriptures and say how we can believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. It is a fact, an undeniable fact of history. And as a dad, I'm sure that's been important to you to convey to your own kids and to have those conversations.

Absolutely. In fact, on other programs we're going to discuss, I mean, the generation of our kids and our grandkids right now, Generation Z, born since 1996. They're so, and you bring up such a vital point, they're so influenced by scientism. They want to have evidence for everything they believe. And that's okay. That's good.

And guess what? Christianity can hold up to the evidential check. Unlike any other religion in the world, Christianity puts itself to the historical test and says, hey, test us in this.

Our belief system is based in fact and history, real places, real people, real events of history. And because of a fact of history, this is resurrection weekend. We can date the resurrection.

I get into that in my book, Body of Proof. My wife's birthday, I think, is resurrection Sunday, April 5th, AD 33. Jesus was likely crucified April 3rd, AD 33. We can get to the exact day of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. Had we been there, it would have been a cool Easter morning.

And the sun would have just been rising and we would be just outside the city and to see that tomb empty, remarkable. A remarkable fact of history and truly in a devastating passage in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says in verse 14, if Jesus has not been raised, our message is empty and your faith is in vain. So that verse right there shows me as a follower of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, it is the centrality of a Christian worldview. So I'm all about people living in a Christian, and I know you all are too, a biblical worldview. Well, the center of a biblical worldview is the resurrection of Jesus. And so I'm studying, I'm in Oxford, I'm hearing all these arguments, and at the end I'm like, is that all you got?

Is that really why? So there is no intellectual reason to not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It really comes down to just not wanting to believe in it because the evidence, the data is that powerful. So you think that's really at the heart of a person that says, I'm not a believer, I've looked at Christianity and I don't believe. You think, and you deal with these people all the time. I know you put stuff on the internet and they come after you. Yep, they do. And have pushback.

What do you think is going on? Do you think it's not based on evidence, it's based on their life? It's based on, you know, we know only the Holy Spirit can draw someone to Christ. And so on this special Easter weekend as people go to church, the evidence is undeniable. I mean, if we cannot believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we shouldn't believe in any of the Roman emperors. Because as a Christian thinker, and one of the things I realized having studied this terminally, doesn't mean it killed me, but it almost meant having a terminal degree. I have to appeal to Roman emperors to have the same attestation, the same evidence that I have for Jesus of Nazareth.

I mean, do you realize how remarkable that is as an audience for those that are listening right now? The fact that we have to appeal to Roman emperors for the same level of evidence that we have for Jesus is utterly remarkable. So, if we can't believe that Jesus died on a Roman cross, we can't believe anything from history or late antiquity.

But again, my wife is like, okay, Jeremiah, what difference does that make in our life and our marriage today? And so, I wanted to take all of this learning, and it's the centrality of our faith, and I began to notice that there's not a lot of books just on the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, before I came here to the studios, the beautiful Family Life Studios, I just did an Amazon search for books on the resurrection. There's about a dozen. And that's it.

And that's it. And you think about all these secondary issues of our faith, there's thousands of titles. So, in my opinion, and I say this with love, and I was a product of it, the resurrection of Jesus is under preached today in the pulpit, and it's understudied.

And that's not what it was like in the first century. The resurrection was the rallying call of the new faith. And so, my job as a Christian thinker is to help bring the church along and say, hey, here's the body of proof.

Here's the seven best reasons where you can sit down at coffee. In about three hours of reading my book, you are going to have the best arguments, the best reasons to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, that it is a fact of history, but also how that can encourage us today by living a resurrection-centric life. It's such a good book, too. And I love, like, when we were going through seminary, it was Josh McDowell. Right. And so, we had his huge book. I don't even like, how do we even read this thing? And it was good.

He taught a class for us. Wow. And so, your book is so readable. It's so relatable. I think our listeners are going to love it.

And it's such a perfect time of year to jump into this. Yeah. And it's got the perfect number, seven. That's right. Did you pick that on purpose? There's actually nine reasons in the book. I was going to say.

I go two more, but seven was great. I know. You know, obviously, as a pastor, Easter is a big deal. Yes. Christmas is a big deal. And in my church, the Super Bowl was a big deal, too.

That's right. Amen. I remember one year, because every year, it's like, okay, what am I going to preach? You know, 30 years of preaching the gospel story of the resurrection. One year, I took the account where the women come from the tomb to the disciples. And when they say, he's risen, that he's not there, I'm not even remembering exactly who said it's nonsense. So, we call Easter one-year nonsense. Wow. Because I think a lot of the culture, here's what you're saying, it goes, nonsense.

Come on, man. There's not really evidence. You Christians just want to believe something.

Yeah, this is wishful thinking. Yeah, and then our kids or grandkids get on YouTube, and they're like, see, it didn't happen. So, where do you start? Do you want to go through the seven? I would love to do whatever way you all feel led, but what I can just share with you is there is great evidence. Even before we open the scriptures, we can build 65 facts about the life, the death, the burial, and yes, the resurrection of Jesus from Roman sources within 100 years of Jesus's life.

So, we're in the right place at the right time. We have early eyewitness testimony of this man called Jesus and the impact his movement has made. So, before I ever open the scriptures, I can build those facts. But again, I'm all about a conversant faith.

So, I came up with seven. There's probably more, but there are ways that we can defend and believe in the resurrection better. And here's why it matters.

I want to say this before we get in the evidence. There are 300 passages in the New Testament on the resurrection of Jesus. The promise that we are given in the New Testament with more frequency than any other promise is John 14, 19.

Because I live, you will live also. And that is the message of Easter. And it is a resurrection that is not just a physical bodily resurrection for us. It is a resurrection of the entire cosmos that heaven and earth will come together in a new heaven, a new earth, and we will have bodies. I coined a new phrase for my book. All right, let's hear it. We will be undiable. Undiable. We will have undiable bodies and deathlessness will be the centrality of our existence.

And it's a body that never needs upgrading, never has senior moments. And this gives us hope. And again, nobody expected the Messiah to die and rise again. Like we read Isaiah 53 now and we think, how could they have not gotten it? Well, all you have to do is you open up the New Testament. Jesus, one of my points is that Jesus called his shot.

You know, we think of Babe Ruth calling his shot. I was speaking to baseball players recently and showed how we could evidence the resurrection the same way we evidence how Ruth called his shot. Well, Jesus, if he had a hashtag, it would have been hashtag on the third day. If you read the scriptures, Jesus was constantly predicting his death and resurrection.

This is one of my seven. He takes Hosea 6-2, Jesus does. On the second day, he will revive us. On the third day, he will raise us up. And he says, hey, I'm going to apply that Old Testament passage to myself. I'm going to messianize. I'm even going to eschatologize. I'm going to apply that because I messiah. You're doing us some deep words there.

I like it. I can apply that passage to myself because after I rise again, you're going to remember I quoted Hosea 6-2 and 3 to you. And so on the third day, on the third day, on the third day, Mark 8-31, Mark 9-31, Mark 10-33 and 34, Jesus is predicting his resurrection. So there are a lot of skeptics out there that say, oh, Jesus, people made him God later. He didn't really know what his mission was.

You know, people after, you know, around the time of Constantine, you know, they deified him. But no, Jesus knew what his mission was. Jeremiah, I'm amazed.

Like, I'm in the gospels right now. He says it over and over to the disciples. So, you know, I'm like, how did they not remember that he said this?

But he was so clear. And how did they not? Well, I think it was the messianic expectation of that time.

And this is where we have to guide. Like, if we're sitting with a skeptic having coffee, it was a time of oppression. And so if you read the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Essene community, they were expecting a messiah to come who would kill the Roman occupiers, vanquish a corrupt priesthood, cleanse a defiled temple. They wanted a conquering champion, not a dying messiah. And so the fact that Jesus, the message of Jesus' resurrection was what started the early church, it could not have been a worse talking point to begin a new religion. And so part of my book is if the disciples wanted to invent religion, they did a really bad job with the story. Because nobody would have made up a resurrection story. Nobody believed in resurrection and Greco-Roman thought, life. You know, we live in a day now where zombies and coming back from the dead is just part of our entertainment.

It's part of things that people enjoy. That was not the case in the first century. And so Jesus called his shot. Three, here's another fun word for you, Adam braided.

Adam braided. Jesus foreshadowed his resurrection by raising others from the dead, showing that he himself had power over death. There's eight resurrections in the scripture. There's three in the gospels. Jairus' daughter raised from the dead. The widow of Nain's son, Luke 7, raised from the dead. And then, of course, John 11, Lazarus raised from the dead. And it's beautiful to me that all of the archaeology that we see, all of the burial traditions we see in Jerusalem, this is some of that evidence outside the Bible, shows that the gospels get it right. In fact, there's an atheist archaeologist, Jody Magnus from University of North Carolina. She says the entire trial and execution, what she calls the juridical procedure of the gospels, they get it right based on the evidence of Jewish burial traditions and archaeology of the first century world in Jerusalem. And so what I'm getting at, there is an abundance of evidence. And this evidence will change our lives if we allow it to. And if you all don't mind me sharing, you know, never far from my mind as I was writing this book was my nephew, Wesley.

Yes, it's in your foreword. My little sister, Jenny Lee, amazing godly woman, she and her husband, they have four children. One is now in heaven. Wesley was stillborn, 25 weeks.

Jenny Lee obviously devastated. And so every time I was writing a page about the resurrection, she was never far from my mind. It's like, okay, how could this fact, these evidences that I'm giving you right now, how could that encourage her today?

How could this point evidentially become a pastoral point in her life? And that's when I realized that the resurrection is the key that unlocks all of the great Christian disciplines in my life. The belief in resurrection unlocks undying hope. The resurrection unlocks joy. The resurrection is the key that unlocks my ethics. I love that after 58 verses in 1 Corinthians, Paul says, okay, because of the resurrection, yeah, we're going to be steadfast.

We're going to be immovable. We're going to always be abounding in the work of the Lord. And then, you know, there were no chapter and verse divisions in the New Testament. The very next verse is we have people suffering.

We need to take an offering, get your checkbook out. So even it seems that the resurrection is the key to our ethics. It is the fact that drove the church to, as Acts says, literally take over the world. And I want the resurrection to take over my life to where I have that hope every day. I think my favorite passage in the New Testament right now is that passage in 1 Thessalonians 4, because as you know, Dave, you guys are pastors. This hope of the resurrection, Easter's hard for a lot of people, just like Christmas. And so as we're going into worship this weekend, we know that we can talk about our loved ones like Wesley in the present because of the resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4 promises us that we grieve and we should grieve. We have to do, as I say, the hard work of grief, but we grieve in hope.

We don't grieve without hope. We grieve in hope in the resurrection. What is heaven? According to the resurrection, and by the way, the Scriptures talk a lot more about the resurrection than heaven.

This is something that's hard for us to get our mind around sometimes. The resurrection is so central, it actually shows up more than the word heaven. But heaven is fellowship with Jesus and our loved ones. That's what the resurrection is, and that's the promise that we have in Jesus. Yeah, and what you're saying is so true. I know, you know, as a pastor, I've done hundreds probably of funerals, and the only hope I can give at a funeral is this. Period. No hope without a resurrected Christ, which you said earlier means that we are resurrected.

The loved one that is there, if he knew Christ, if she knew Christ, is in glory. And there's hope. I remember, this sounds crazy, I was sitting with a married couple years, decades, a long time ago, and they came to my office and said, we're getting a divorce, we can't stand each other. And they just went back and forth. And I remember listening to them, and I just kept getting frustrated. And I shouldn't have done this, but I just finally go, hey, let me ask you a question.

I got pretty animated, and they're like, what? I go, do you guys believe Jesus? Yeah. Do you believe rose from the dead?

Yeah. I go, then he can raise your marriage. You need to fight for your marriage. And they both looked at me like I was a crazy man, and they walked out and got divorced. And I thought, does the resurrection change a marriage?

Yes, it changes absolutely everything. But you have to have enough belief to say, I believe it happened, so that there is hope that gives you power to live a different life. Am I right? You're exactly right. And I think that's actually great marital advice to know that- Even though they didn't come back.

I know. The scriptures say that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us. Yes, we forget that, don't we?

We do. And again, I think it's because, as a Christian thinker, as a pastor of apologetics, we need to do a better job, candidly. Can I be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection? No, you cannot be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection.

I mean, 1 Corinthians 15 says, the gospel is that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. That is the gospel. Don't change it. Don't add anything to it.

Don't mess it up. I think this is what James, Peter, and John were saying to Paul in Galatians when he went to do, in Greek, historia. He went to check to make sure he had the gospel right.

So he writes, 1 Corinthians 15, I'm giving to you what I receive from the pillars of the church. Keep in mind, James, the Lord's brother, did not believe his brother was the Son of God. And I mean, I have four crazy sons. None of them would believe one of the other was the Messiah, the Son of God. I mean, think about it. What would it take for you to believe your brother is the Son of God?

Seriously. This is why I love about, this is one of the apologetic facts I love about the scriptures. It doesn't hide us from the embarrassing narrative. John 7, 5 says that not even his brothers believed on him. The Gospel of Mark says in two different places that his family wanted to do an intervention. They thought Jesus had lost his mind. What changes James from being humiliated by his brother? To get this, these delicious details come out in the book. In A.D. 62, we know that James dies for his faith believing that his brother is the resurrected Son of God.

How do we know that? Not from the Bible, but from a first century writer by the name of Josephus who tells us that James dies. He's stoned to death believing brother Jesus is the resurrected Messiah. Now, I would have loved to have been there because we've been studying in this awesome program in Bible study, 1 Corinthians 15. Paul notes that Jesus appeared to James in verse 7. Wouldn't you have loved to have been there?

I mean, like, their family trade is construction. Maybe he's in the workshop. And Jesus shows up. He's like, bro, check out my side. Check out my hands.

They got me good. And we know that James goes from the evidence shows James, my brother is the Son of God. I'm going to believe in him now. He becomes the pillar of the church. And so this is why as Christians we need to get more conversant, more fluent in why we believe in the resurrection because it's going to change our skeptical family members.

It's going to turn around the lives of the people that we love because our belief is based in fact. I want to keep saying that. We live in a world of, you know, and don't tell me you can't get the body of proof. You can tell me, you know, the different universes of Marvel and the origin stories of all the superheroes.

You can tell me about all the dimensions of Star Trek and where this movie shows up in the timeline. That's great. Then you can know the body of proof.

You can know the seven best reasons that Jesus rose from the dead. And it's incumbent upon us to know that and spread that message to our family. Do you know the name Justin Brierley? A dear friend of mine. He's coming to my conference in a few months. Yeah, I figured you did. He was on, we have a podcast with Shelby Abbott with Family Life that's really targeted toward the next generation.

And Shelby recently had Justin on. And I thought I'd play you a clip of what he said and then you can just respond to it. Okay. What I've often heard people say is, you know, wouldn't you have to kind of discount all of the gods out there? You'd have to investigate every religion in order to know which one is true. And my view is, no, it's more like having a bunch of keys. And when I go to our church to unlock the door, there's quite a few different keys on a big key ring that I could try in the door. But once I've found the correct one and it unlocks the door, I don't then methodically go through all the others just in case any of them open the door too.

I know I've found the one that opens the door. And I think it's the same with Christianity. You don't have to exhaustively research every religion or view of God out there.

To know that you've found the correct key that opens the door. Because if it's true that Jesus Christ did die and rise again from the dead, then you can trust that what he said about himself is true, that he was God, that he had come to fulfill all of the Old Testament. And so for me, that's been really helpful because you have something very solid at the center of Christianity, a truth claim. It's not just, you know, something someone dreamed up. You know, it wasn't just a revelation from heaven given to Muhammad. It wasn't just, you know, something discovered on some mysterious gold plates by Joseph Smith. There was a real historical claim in the first century that a man called Jesus Christ, who everyone knew about, had died and been raised again. And if you can show that that's historically plausible, that that actually makes sense of a lot of other data around it, which I think it does, then you've got a very powerful argument, I think, that actually Christianity is true. Justin nails it.

I totally agree with him. Here's the beautiful fact about Christianity is we actually need to know precious little to become a Christian. Christianity has inspired literature, the arts, the humanities, universities, healthcare, the great libraries, the first art galleries. But what do you actually need to know to become a Christian? Jesus loves you.

He died and he rose again. I mean, we can geek out, Dave and Ann and theology and all that, but isn't it beautiful that the gospel, we come by faith like a child? And that is the gospel. And I think sometimes we make the gospel a little too hard.

And, you know, you'll know you're hitting it when it almost seems too good to be true. That's the gospel. And Justin gets the facts right. You know, there are a lot of questions in the Bible. There's 3,200 questions in the scripture. By the way, there's 7,400 promises. So there's two promises for every question in the Bible. Don't you love all these facts?

I love it. So it's okay to ask questions. You know, there's things that we're going to agree to disagree about as believers that we'll find out in heaven someday. But the thing that we need to get right is the resurrection. I tell this to my daughter who wants evidence.

She's in that Gen Z crowd. Why are you a Christian, Daddy? Do I need some kind of crutch?

Do I need some emotional help? I'm a Christian because Jesus died and rose again. It's a fact of history. It compels me to belief, and it's changed my life. And so, again, my hope and prayer this weekend that this Easter will be different, that you'll leave with hope, that you'll have a hope that unlocks joy in your life to face whatever you might be facing. The resurrection fired up the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24, 21, they were dejected. We had hoped he was the Messiah. And then Jesus shows them, what does he do? From the Scriptures. So we get into the Word, into the evidence, and then they say, We're not our hearts burning within us.

How could we have been so blind in that moment? And so, you know, that's what anxiety, that's what doubt can do to us. I'm hoping and praying that today's conversation will clear up the clouds of doubt in someone's heart who's listening. You're listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jeremiah Johnston on Family Life Today. Jeremiah's book is called Body of Proof, and the subtitle is The 7 Best Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus and Why It Matters Today. Super important book.

And you can pick up a copy at Now, Jeremiah has been talking about the greatest gift we've ever received, and that's, of course, Jesus. Christ came down and reunited us with God. We're set free, free from sin. But maybe you're in a place where you're struggling, maybe even losing sight of that peace that's been offered. Well, right now we want to thank you with a gift to help you re-find your peace in God. So when you partner financially with Family Life this week, we want to send you a copy of Anne Swindell's book.

Anne was on previously this week. It's called Path to Peace. Because when you're walking in His peace, that's when you can have the biggest impact. That's when God does the most in your life. So you can give online at, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. Now, that could be a one-time gift or a recurring monthly gift. Again, the number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today.

You know, it's common to have doubts when it comes to faith, and that's why it's called faith, right? Well, tomorrow Dave and Anne are joined again by Jeremiah Johnston, where he unpacks some more tangible evidence that further indicates the certainty of Jesus' resurrection. You won't want to miss that tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-06 06:30:01 / 2023-04-06 06:43:16 / 13

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