“While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Why do you believe in Jesus? Maybe that’s a bit too forward for an opening question. Maybe you don’t believe in Jesus—no judgment here. But, what do you believe about Jesus? If you’ve ever even thought about Jesus before, what possessed you to do so? Why is His name something anyone is still talking about today?
Think about it. What did Jesus ever do that was sufficiently historically remarkable that He has had the impact on history that He very obviously has? He didn’t lead a nation. He wasn’t a successful military commander. He wasn’t any kind of a statesman. He didn’t participate in any kind of government activities in fact. He didn’t have a long teaching career with volumes of His writings preserved by His students. He never proposed any paradigm-shifting scientific or mathematical theories. He never actually wrote anything down at all. By most of the measures we use to judge an historical figure as worthy of remembering, He doesn’t qualify. So why do we?
Think carefully about your answer to that. It may be that your answer is, “Because of the Bible.” Now, that’s not a bad answer. It may be that you first heard Jesus’ name when you read it in the Bible. The teaching of the Bible across the last 2,000 years of history has resulted in many hearing about Jesus who would not have otherwise.
The Bible may be how you know about Jesus, but it’s not why you know about Him or why you believe in Him. More specifically, while the Scriptures contain all the words we need to know who God is and how we should live in light of what He’s done for us; while they are entirely God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that we may be equipped for every good work, they do not serve as the foundation of our faith.
That’s not what guys like the apostles believed. The reason they became the thorn in the side of the Jewish religious authorizes in Jerusalem that Luke describes them as being here, was not because they kept proclaiming the truth of the Scriptures to the people. Everyone believed they were true then. When they argued that the people should follow Jesus, it was not on the basis of what the Scriptures said about Him. No, the thing that got them in so much trouble and yet was the foundation stone on which they stood firmly was that fact that Jesus rose on the third day after He was crucified.
Jesus’ resurrection was the foundation of their faith. It is ours too…if we’ll make it so. We believe Jesus rose from the dead, not because the Bible tells us so. It’s better than that. “The Bible” as a book doesn’t say anything. Instead, John who was Jesus’ best friend and outlived all of his friends does. Peter who betrayed Jesus just before He was killed and then was forgiven and restored by Him after He came back to life does. James, Jesus’ own brother who thought He was insane before His death and then had lunch with his resurrected brother and spent the rest of his life working to convince people that his brother was Lord does. And Paul who dedicated his life to the preservation of the Law and the extinction of the Jesus movement and all His followers until he encountered the risen Lord and began from that point working to convince the whole world that Jesus was Messiah (and just nearly succeeded) does. Are you with me? Their testimonies are the proof that Jesus rose from the dead, and Jesus believed everything in the Old Testament was true and right. You go with what the guy who predicted and pulled off His own death and resurrection said.
The event of the resurrection is the thing and we believe it because all the guys who were eye-witnesses to it left records and testimonies telling us about their experiences. All of these are collected into what we call the Bible. The whole may indeed be greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts are what tell us about it, not the whole. The whole gives us the big picture and context to better understand the parts, but the whole is not our foundation. The event is. And the parts tell us about the event.
So, the next time someone challenges your faith based on something that has to do with the Bible, go with them on it. Say, “You know, that’s a good question. Fortunately, my faith doesn’t depend on the Bible. It depends on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” And then, when they ask, “But doesn’t the Bible tell us about that?” you say, “No, but Paul does, can I look with you at what He had to say about it?” This will put you in line with the apostles who did this kind of thing so much it drove the authorities crazy. That’s a good line to walk.