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Day 2: Living Daily in Reality: Historicity of Christ

by Ernest O'Neill

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We're talking about living daily in reality - and we've been saying that reality was explained to us by a unique human being who lived in Palestine in the first century of our era. Although certain Western religions have tried to turn him into a figurehead for their particular beliefs, he himself was a well-known public figure to ordinary people and political leaders of the first century.

Four different eye-witness accounts of his life were written and circulating throughout the Mediterranean world just twenty years after his execution by the Romans. The writers themselves were written about and quoted by dozens of contemporaries while the opposition of the authorities is part of the general literature and government records of the period. Eventually his explanation of reality was accepted by the Emperors of Rome and became the accepted explanation of reality for the known world.

This Jesus of Nazareth said that His father created the universe and made you and me inside him so that he could live in us here on earth the life he had planned. These eyewitness accounts were collected as the first four books in the New Testament part of the collection known in Greek as TA BIBLIA - the Bible. The authors themselves are quoted at the end of the first century by men like Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias, while thousands who had seen the man himself and read the original accounts were still alive.

The Roman historians Pliny and Tacitus in the second century communicated with their Emperor about this man Christ and what they should do to stop the spread of his teaching. But all the time, the personal chain of witnesses increased the confirmation of the historical facts - men like Irenaeus (born about 97 A.D.) talked about Polycarp (born in 70 A.D.) and said: "I can tell the place in which Polycarp sat and related his conversation with John and others who had seen Jesus."

Similarly, the unbroken chain of personal transmission of historical facts is attested by accounts of men like Papias, who was alive in the first century and wrote: "Mark being the interpreter of Peter wrote exactly whatever he remembered; but not in the order in which things were spoken or done by Christ. For he was neither a hearer nor a follower of the Lord; but, as I said, afterwards followed Peter, who made his discourses for the profit of those that heard him, but not in the way of a regular history of our Lord's words. Mark however committed no mistake in writing some things, as they occurred to his memory. For this one thing he made his care - to omit nothing which he had heard, and to say nothing false in what he related."

So the existence of this unique human being is part and parcel of the historical records of the Jewish nation, the Roman government, and attested by thousands of manuscripts written in Greek, Latin and Syriac and confirmed by international crowds who heard him and his disciples. The significance of this man's life and influence has been so universal that our history is measured by the number of years preceding and following his birth - B.C. and A.D.. The Old Testament prophets which he respected and trusted and the New Testament writers who respected and trusted Him have been the basis for the world's laws and ethics for centuries. And this man has said that he existed before the creation of the universe and that you and I were made inside him and are part of him. But how could this be if he is simply an ordinary human-being like us ?

If this man was born of an ordinary woman and died the way we die, how can we possibly believe that we were created inside him before we were born here on earth? How can we believe that he is alive now if he was executed by the Romans almost two thousand years ago ? Let's discuss this again.

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