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The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
July 6, 2022 6:00 am

The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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July 6, 2022 6:00 am

During his more than 20 years as a homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace successfully helped identify and convict killers, even without evidence from the scene. He utilizes these same detective skills and techniques to investigate the historical life and actions of Jesus – using the evidence of history alone to confirm the historicity and deity of Jesus. In this interview, Wallace discusses his faith journey and his fascinating detective research proving the claims and historical authenticity of Jesus. (Part 1 of 2)

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Try to imagine the situation you're the lead detective on the really important case you're looking for clues to determine who, what, where, when and why crime has been committed, but the challenges there is no evidence for is there today and Focus on the Family were doing an investigation about the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who appeared in human form on this planet than 2000 years ago. What is the evidence for well for his claims. You find out. Thanks for joining us today your hostess focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. I'm really excited to talk to her guest. I can remember, I made that commitment to Christ at 15 I wobbled along parents be encouraged to know that 15-year-old will continue to grow and develop. It was probably about 20 when I was in a college sitting in my business classes, learning about economics in advertising and marketing and all those things and I just unplugged and I thought I've got to read the Bible all the way through, and I just member the Lord putting that on my heart just the appetite to say let's read it when you think about it.

It's great to go to school going to go to college but if you haven't read the Bible the word and decided for yourself is Jesus real is he who he said he was you, miss the most important class of your life. So I want to encourage you if you're kind of on the fence and you don't know where you have doubts, maybe made a commitment. It was long time ago did again today because I think our guests can deliver some great perspectives. Given his background and Jay Warner Wallace has been involved in law enforcement for more than 25 years. He's a homicide detective always focused on the fact exact John that he described himself as an actively sarcastic skeptic about God and faith in the Bible.

I love that perspective again. Somebody who had an honest processing. Prove it and that working to get to that today Jim it's great to have you here.

Thanks for haven't yet been being sarcastic and skeptical is really helpful as a homicide detective in general. This is what I was going to ask you, but how is the Lord that with your sarcastic thoughts of you assume up front that everyone you're talking to is a liar actually go to jail. But if you assume everyone is telling the truth. No one ever goes to jail, so I'm trying to balance what works and what's effective based on and also what what God would call me to be. You know this is totally off topic but given all your years in detective work in one of those things that you see about human behavior that you can make makes you scratch your head, like, well really thought they get away with this yeah will see a lot of it is no we don't think really rationally when we think about doing things that are irrational front like like telling your spouse so so lots hundred driven by your emotions and that's where we can make some headway because it sometimes we overthink it or think you will like it if I was doing this I might do these five things. First, because were thinking is over. Not in the middle of an emotional relationship that is driven by a motion for Trinity about rationally and coolly. But it turns out most the time please.

I do see pretty much everything that I see in human behavior is explained really well on the pages of the New Testament. That's it so that I love the fact that the Bible describes the world the way it really is and I'll be sometimes working with defense attorneys who could you're so convinced that there's no way that their defendant there truly convinced the defendant could not do this because for the last 30 years I work all cases. This guy has been a deacon in the church is bending always with the dentist.

He is a fireman.

He's that you always acute city Council person you just got a regular life and because they don't understand the enigma of manual, the kind of fallen nature designing God's image, but deeply rebellious. They don't understand that dichotomy.

The struggle with understanding how someone like this could do something like that we know and you know it's interesting to so much of the culture right now is debating what's true that there can't really be an absolute truth, but my goodness where you see that show up in police work or you didn't do it and that's absolute true. I was wondering is this shift from subjective claims about truth to subjective claims about truth is this going will eventually affect us in the courtroom and I've been why that's interesting for you that evolution now were selecting jurors and I think our questions and the more dire process are going to always have can't cover these issues, but I think more and more to deal make to make sure that the jurors were selecting actually understand that some things are more than a matter of opinion. Even the claim that there is no objective truth is a claim about truth. Its objective right so it's it's self refuting. So we had the least help and only select the jurors that understand this right is otherwise how would you render a decision about something that happened in the past that your opinion can't change it either happened or didn't happen right and that's why that's the approach I took that first visit, which is good. Let let's get some of the terminology down. Not all of us are familiar with police detective work. So, for example, you mentioned that you're a homicide detective but you specialize in solving cold case nobody murders now honestly this first time I've heard that described nobody murders and I get it.

Yeah so nobody murders that often these will go cold because their first report is a missing persons case, you know, so there's like, or a husband or a business associate. Usually, though it's a has Morris wife who kills their spouse and somehow effectively destroys the body, and then says only we had an argument and they just vanished. And so you you never find the body so you don't have about how you got even the murder weapon, what exactly you don't know and sometimes are clever enough to wait three days in the walking like our station. They can walk into the front desk.

So now that you're not including a police officer to the location you're walking in the front counter your filing a missing persons report today's layers assigned to Detective now or a week behind this thing that you had a week to clean the house to do whatever you want to doa lot harder to solve.

If you ever find the body you have the bigger challenge of 1 demonstrating to a jury. This is a murder and not a true missing right and then number two demonstrating that this is the guy who did the murder so you two a lot of DAs just want to touch these because they are difficult as are two things are trying to prove in the cold case is a case it just hasn't been resolved. It could be years 10 years 20 or some more hearing in the media. Now were 34-year-old cases are being solved with DNA improve well and so that every crime has a statute of limitations, except for murder. So if you do a robbery and a number years go by. Can't go back and reinvestigate that because it closes by statute, but murders don't close they stay open and so up my cases are like we just did a case two years ago was 1972. I'm in the case my dad had the case. He was a homicide detective also and he I member I was about 10 when this 10-year-old went missing, and it shook our community and my dad was can a parent because your Verizon kids and so I member the case and we didn't so violently opened in 2003 I got found the DNA in 2006 or seven we submitted it right away had no hit on this kind of creditor database we have in California and then likely ancestry DNA started to solve some price solving some. That's why always thank people for searching for their family members of DNA because it eventually music it takes only your family members to jail so not that yes, but that doesn't doesn't does help describe person of interest. That's another term I think I know what that means would help us all better understand that legal term yeah, so this is really some that emerged more after 9/11, you start to see a lot of it but the federal agencies looking at persons of interest in certain because investigations almost always this ends up being somebody who you suspect is your candidate for their crime, but you still want to necessarily put the word suspect on yet.

They can also be a witness. Maybe you're looking for and so we have no leads at all yet, but we did hear that there was somebody standing over here. That's a person of interest to us. We want to build interview that person so I can sometimes be a witness but it just means it is somebody who is another Domino that's important to tip over in a series of dominoes leading to an arrest. Yeah it in that regard. You used a methodology that you're trained and as a detective use and fallout right so described that he applied that to this pursuit of Jesus, who he said he was yeah so would this is comic time lining the optimal timeline different things to see you know is this guy that was in town when this crime occurred. You know you're you putting things in place in a timeline, but were in front of juries. This is where your weird background comes in a place I was.

My dad was a detective but I didn't think I would be a detective I I thought I would be an artist or architect and so I got my bachelors degree in design. I got my Masters degree in architecture at UCLA, and I was working in Santa Monica when I decided to leave that and work in my dad's profession, but when I got to doing jury trials that kind of approach that visual approach to making claims, came back up and so I know I needed to show timelines to jurors so I just envision the missing on the day of the missing persons. If this is a murder. That's a bomb that exploded in anger. He was angry. Disney shouldn't do that every bond has a fuse that burns toward the explosion and after the explosion is fallout everywhere all over the blast radius so we do in front of a jury.

As we visualize this fuse.

This is all the tension that's rising in the relationship, days, weeks, now he's preparing to do something you should do is buying the stuff is getting used to killer to dispose of her yet.

This is stuff you do before crime then the day happens and then you got all this activity afterwards. This is the blast radius. The fallout, they can give you away because you know people don't do that you're destroying your wife's property at like you think she's never coming back, what whip she just run off while you destroy your property unless you know she's not coming back so you can do things that tip the hat and so that's what were doing here it from a jury it's fuse and fallout fuse and fallout. So what I've envisioned here is if there was no New Testament no evidence in a crime scene. If I don't trust anything the New Testament tells me about Jesus is there enough evidence in the fuse and fallout of history to show me what happened in the first century, even if I had nothing from the crime scene. If I had nothing from the New Testament, and I of course I think that all information about Jesus has to come from the New Testament, but I'm just taking an approach that should reflect what's in the New Testament. If Jesus is who he said he was Philip masses question because some are probably thinking it.

Why did you even come up with this idea to me what was happening this and I wonder if I apply my detective skills to something that happened 2000 years ago if it would work was the motivation. While I'm going to this church. It my wife that well we got kids now, and there like six and 8 Hz, five and seven. Should we raise them in the church.

I thought that now I was raised in the church, and I turned out pretty well yeah you sent her to say that for sure, but so I thought. I don't really have a desire to love my wife and if you want to raise the kids in the church and she was kind of a cultural Catholic going up putting on a Bible she never read a Bible and a Beretta New Testament we didn't understand what the gospel was that wasn't part of our life.

We never really heard it said that way we go to this church. She nagged me about it for about three years. Good for her to give her. Actually Susie is a reason you got as you Susie my life and what I can explain.

So without her I would be nowhere but so she convinced me to go and so I sat in church and in the pastor said that Jesus was the season a lot of things but the thing that stuck with me was really interested in the other things but she E said that Jesus was the smartest men were let so I thought well what so smart about, so I did buy a Bible and what if you Bob and I just wanted to read what Jesus had to say not expect really expecting it to be more like Proverbs right, dislike, wisdom statements, yeah, not so much a narrative about from people who want me to believe that this sequence of events occurred in this order right occurred in this location. At some point in history. What is this this is like supplemental reports and a cold case, it means I don't have access to inculcates that I have access to the witnesses anymore. Their dead right not to have access to the report writers because those detectives are passed away a magnification 1972 builder was to before I got there, we actually solve that case are suspect had been dead for 15 years while so this is an old case.

So the question then becomes what, how do you how do you manage these cases.

How you investigate these cases also apply that you know the fuse and fallout.

For example, apply that what you learned in detective work to Jesus. How did you play that well so I thought of him and you both inside out and outside in approach, so I didn't inside-out approach you and how do we know that the Gospels are telling us something reliable and I read about that in a book called cold case Christianity that really is just to applying the template for reliable eyewitnesses that we offered to jurors and applying that to the gospel authors and that should be a lot but I also thought will look if Jesus is who you will think he is. Are you really telling me that the only people who notice this are four writers in the first century, wouldn't you expect that if he's the rock you think he is. When you throw him in the pond there be some ripples when their writing should go to see this in the fallout of history that having never been taught that really I didn't know what the impact of Jesus was in history. I think this is true for a lot of young people, but I think is really important right now for us to teach our young people will how important Jesus looked. I think there's two questions that every young person asked now. So for everyone. What claim we make, we have to offer. The two lies so I would say it to wise for every what to Jens E in the first why is OKC making the screen about Jesus will why do you think that's true on the basis of what evidence to his eyebrows's gonna say that their claim is grounded in science is grounded in evidence, and you Christians of you wishful thinking, but good for you, but that's not good for me so I want to know why is this true in the second.

Why is why should I care even if it is true, why should I care check so I think what I really wanted to know is does this matter.

Even if this is true, does this matter. I'm ready to answer the question I tell you that the question is how I like matter. Oh yeah, that's a big one I think are not right now.

I think the GNC for a matter of fact are not are less concerned about the Mars Summit ministries here in Colorado Springs just brings you heat. We talked, we talked about this. I think that young people are more concerned about the got another goddess of God does not exist, but the goodness of God. Does this book this Iron Age book you folks always to the is the source of all misogyny, racism, homophobia, Transvaal be named a Republic can think of is this still good business matter anymore is anything good emerge from this deceiving beautiful emerge from this weather's look at the questions I had to.

And so this is what the outside and will tell you, because if the outcome of the impact of Jesus is evil then why would you want to examine you make claims about, say for example Nazi is do I care if it's ugly to begin with. What I like making your case I don't care doesn't matter to me but if this is something that's is the source of all beauty within it might matter well and one of the key things there is be cautious of what people label right it out. It doesn't mean it's Christianity because somebody says it is. That's right, it's what's true, this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Our guest today is Jay Warner Wallace and when this is some really fascinating stuff.

Get a copy of the book by our guest. It's called person of interest why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible and we got details about getting a copy of that book at her website.

Check the program notes for all the details or give us a call 800 K in the word family. Jim you point out how several significant developments in ancient history allowed for the incredible dissemination of the gospel, and the exponential growth of Christianity. Start with the developments of language in writing why that is so important at that moment. Yeah, I saw a lot of the time from investigating a fuse on answering my own skeptical questions, because I'm anticipating that the jury is probably not have similarly skeptical question so I'm examining the fuse in history that leads up to the appearance of Jesus in the first century. I'm examining really my own skepticism so I had skepticism about a number of things, but one of them was just this question with if Jesus really is God why we need is come out when we got social media and iPhones and we can know so what would be a better time to come now, like why does he come when he comes, but it turns out that the cultural shifts in the progress of culture and technology actually does benefit the first century in terms of disseminating information historically.

So for example you you know you can't really if you can't express the in articulate the detail of the Jesus story you have the letters in place that you have an alphabet in place. If you're using hieroglyphics to for example describe the sermon on the Mount will good luck with that right is not to be easy to do but once you have an alphabet alphabet that's widely distributed across the entire region like the Etruscan alphabet, which is adopted by Rome and then as Rome conquered the entire known world, it exports the Etruscan alphabet and you having a pointy Greek which is being used by the Romans you have had papyrus, which is much easier to transport them so for example, clay tablets, roller or stone. So these things emerge in time until by the time Rome is in power and has organized and roads are in place, there's a 200 year period of peace called the Pax Romana that occurs and allows for the Roman Empire to spend money on things that we used to spend on war. It now began to spend on infrastructure like roads.

Yes, a thousand mile exact my attention.

It has no equity at all these other empires like the Persians also had great roads but now the Roman Empire make sure that all roads lead around, that's not actually is one of the goals of of the Roman Empire, and even connected the silk Road from China. So now you got access by way of its matter fact, the very that you read John's reveille book of Revelation there are a couple of churches that John is talking about in the first chapter that Paul planted by using roads that were not even available to Paul at the hundred years earlier because they were constructed by the Romans and allowed Paul in the places where he could plant churches so it turns out it's not just that Jesus appears is that the infrastructure is in place in the technology, the alphabet, the languages in place so that you can actually transmit the message of Jesus spread the God yes in this is, I would say is of the question becomes, it would still be better to come. Now here's what I discovered what I discovered is that list say we do this interview and we it's viewed by a million people while they're not going to download it physically into a million computers are going to viewed online and let's say that they saw a miracle occur in this video for some reason. What I think we are the most distrusting even claims about the news. We are so divided, as a nation so divided is a world that it were to say will who's saying that first model trust that person's own trust that information.

We are very distrusting and then we see some of the looks miraculous wife watch the Marvel superhero movies to write. Everything looks miraculous, which you trust anything anymore.

You see, but more importantly you're not downloading the video that one that matters is that if you downloaded to a million different geographic locations be much harder to eradicate the information in the video. Another words, if the information about Jesus is done physical manuscripts in a million locations. Now it's very hard to eradicate the message of Jesus because I can't just flip the server off so it turns out, if you're going to come and you want to have lasting historical impact you want to come in a time when when information is disseminated materially, not digitally, because number one you don't trust digital information.

We don't and number two you don't save digital information geographically. It's easy to eradicate.

That's good. You also mentioned that human beings being hardwired to believe in God. I think that but I pray think it more so than before I became a Christian. But why is it so self-evident as a detective. Well, okay, so that's one of us these three strands of this fuse that are burning up one of them is the culture of Rome, developing and taking charge of things and providing infrastructure so the message to be communicated. The other is that his spiritual fuse that it turns out that we are a we are created in the image of God's will be surprise, we often think about God. Even today polls been taken nothing but 83% of all living humans believe in some form of theism or deism, and that's what an incredible secular headwind real outing about this is these are studies being done by secular groups. As a matter of fact found that the Ivy League schools are mostly secular now have done this research and discovered that that really weird born of the default position of looking at creation and inferring the existence of a creator, that's very natural for children to do is matter fact, this is now kind of said that deism is gonna read the bone. According to the studies I've criticized in the book, so be surprise is always been the case in even in antiquity, so his right to say as a skeptic will I hear a lot about this dying and rising Savior named Jesus, but it seems to me he's just a copy of some other dying and rising saviors that have the stone the story from we see this a lot in Jesus mentors who will say that Jesus is not an original story never lived history creation of prior mythologies, and they'll cite similarities between these prior mythologies. Let's infuse this burning toward the appearance of the first century. I wanted to examine it.

So if you look and redo all the ancient mythologies which are to discover as they have about 15 things in common and it turns out those 15 things they have in common or all the things that humans naturally expect of deity we think about God. We imagine certain things will if he's God. He probably has power beyond ours so we always almost every God. For example, can do God thanks for they can do supernatural miracles because we expect our gods to do supernatural merit. Many of them appear supernaturally can expect that to ours does right Jesus appears supernaturally, not only broadly are these 15 attributes similar to those in each of these supply are chargeable and that no deity, no mythology prior to Jesus, has more than about 10 of these and some have as few as six until you get to the first century and then Jesus appears possessing all 15 of the ancient expectations of deity. Now it's interesting about that is if you wanted to come and meet the expectations of the expect others if the expected wants to meet the expectations of the expect. There's Jesus does that in Paul even talks about this. You know you people are very religious, you worship an unknown God here, but we're here to tell you what you imagined.

We actually saw their own eyes and so he's comparing the myths of humans I say myth I mean the stories of deity to the myth written by God. As CS Lewis says not a fiction but a claim about God that is route from the mind of God from the mind of poets and ancients and expect others to the mind of the expected that's the difference in Jesus and so you see that yeah he shows up at a time in history when the ancient groups vast majority of ancient myth worshipers are still worshiping the ancient myths with common expectations and Jesus meets these to all the similarities between Jesus and other deities are not that similar.

First of all this broadly similar but they end up being evidence for Jesus not in evidence against him. When you put it in context like that the exchange of Jesus with the woman at the well, you get a little since a gods frustration. The woman I'm standing right and fine now. I the water about it is that we share these expectations even the modern scientific and sociological experience were doing right now demonstrate that created beings have expectations of the creator. It's been going on for thousands of years, and Jesus meets most robustly. All of those expectations. That's not by coincidence, he's the only one in the history of anyone who claim to be God who actually has all 15 of the characteristics of blue for example, has 10 right now the is visually interesting observation that he fulfilled even that you know right mythology.

That's right. It Jesus is the fleas. The actual reality that you been imagining and parts and pieces. That's right.

And all those expressions that's so fascinating.

Let me ask this question Jim, do you feel if you had to go in front of a jury today on the trial basis is Jesus existence you thinking when the case well, here's what I would say you wind jury at trial is not an opening statements not in the evidence show not in closing arguments, you win cases in jury selection. Sorry, it's just the case so I would sit anyone listening. If you feel like he had been sharing the gospel with people spot. Jury selection and I can't put people on a jury who have pursue positional biases or reasons to reject a truth claim that aren't evidential so I make sure we have of what our process will be selected jury may eliminate the jurors who are biased against us on either side on either side. So the question I would say is it are you taking the time. Are you praying about this. Are you asking God to soften the heart of the potential juror before you begin to present a case. Turns out you can present a case to a juror who is already biased against you is not to go very far and I can't soften the heart of the my hearers only God is that God calls and then we deliver a message and people respond so I would say yes. Don't get frustrated. The biggest case is more than sufficient.

This case is very compelling but there will still be people who resisted they has more to do a jury selection than does the strength really interesting and for our listeners and viewers. I want to make sure we recommend this wonderful book person of interest why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible and as Jim mentioned a moment ago I made the gins the Gen X. All of the young folks today are really looking and prodding to see. Can this be true. Is it real and we better get equipped to answer those questions and to give a good answer to the solid questions and one way to do it is to read this wonderful resource.

Get a copy of person of interest why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible we got details for you when you call 800 the letter a in the word family or click the link in the program description and like we often say if you make a gift of any amount. If you do it monthly. That's great. It helps us do ministry, but join in.

Do ministry with us and will send you a copy of the book is our way of saying thank you. Donate. As you can when you call 800 K in the word family and request your copy of the book by J. Warner Wallace person of interest why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible Jim again stick with this and thank you for having everything. Thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. I'm John Fuller inviting him back is to me the conversation Jay Warner Wallace once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers.

I was so time I had reached my breaking point.

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