So….I have been out exploring on Google, and decided to Google “die for a lie”. Of course the first two posts are negative responses to the disciples. So I decided to peruse the blog posts, and came to the conclusion that they missed the mark on their analysis. The same analysis is basically being used by any number of atheists and includes the following arguments:
1. That there is no historical evidence that those listed in The Gospels as having seen the resurrected Christ even saw the resurrected Christ.
2. If they were not given the option to recant, then they did not die for a lie.
These two points are what a number of Atheists will use to try to define the argument in a way that is not based in truth.
That there is no historical evidence that those listed in Acts as having seen the resurrected Christ even saw the resurrected Christ.
As always, I will be operating under the fact that every word in the Gospel’s and Acts is 100% reliable, historical, fact (because it is).
I have always looked at Acts as the sequel to the Gospels (metaphorically speaking, not the literal sequal). The Empire Strikes Back to the Star Wars. The Spiderman 2 to Spiderman 1. The….well you get the idea.
Towards the end of the Gospels, Christ has been crucified. The Disciples have fled. Peter has denied Jesus three times and fled. The disciples were on the verge of giving up, they were hopeless. Any number of descriptions can be used here. The key is that the disciples thought that Christ was a King. No matter how Jesus tried to emphasize it wasn’t what they thought, they believed him to be an earthly King. When he died… they did in fact wonder… So what happened? Basically this same group who were despondent upon the death of Christ turn around and begin preaching that he was in fact God and had been resurrected as the book of Acts gets going.
So let’s put this into context. These men had witnessed His arrest. Some of them scattered after that. At least one of them witnessed his actual crucifixion. All of them knew about his death. So what would convince these men to go preach the deity and resurrection of Jesus? Not only that, but what would convince them that they needed to preach this in the face of beating’s, flogging’s, imprisonment, and ultimately… death?
The actions of individuals are always motivated by events. That is human nature. So the more appropriate question… what event took place that caused these men to go and spread the word? Acts says it is one event. Not just the resurrection of Jesus, not the empty tomb, but Jesus appearing before them in the flesh.
Now, in some of these posts I saw online there were comparisons to the people who died for Heaven’s Gate. You remember… the cult that committed mass suicide?! David Koresh is another popular tie-in here for Atheists. The Atheist wants you to believe that these people died for a lie. They would be correct in their observation. But their observation is under the auspice that the Gospel accounts and Acts are not 100% truth.
Here is the primary difference between the disciples and Heaven’s Gate. The disciples would have known that the whole thing was a lie. Think about this for just a second. Jesus had said that he would die and be resurrected three days later… If Jesus had NOT revealed himself to them… would they have gone and preached the resurrection? NO! They would have known that the whole thing was a hoax. Would they have perpetuated this hoax to become famous or rich? History (Acts specifically) shows that this most certainly was not the case. As a matter of fact only death, beatings, and imprisonment awaited these men. For the atheists’ analogy to hold true either the cult members would have had to have foreknowledge that allowed them to know definitively whether or not their leaders were who and what they claimed. The facts are that these unfortunate souls were not afforded the opportunity to see the claims of their belief system crumble.
On the other hand, the Disciples’ actions are the definitive proof that something happened to turn them from cowards to the very definition of courage. That event was documented in the Gospels, and in Acts. It could only be one thing, Christ himself in the flesh.
If they were not given the option to recant, then they did not die for a lie.
An Atheist will use this as the foundation to say that the Disciples did not die for a lie. Instead they say that there is no historical proof that ANY of the martyrs were given the opportunity to recant prior to being martyred. I say, that they absolutely were.
The presumption of the Atheist is that a Christian must be brought in, questioned and THEN be afforded an opportunity to back out on their previous claims – recant the story of Christ. I would ask… why were they arrested in the first place?
To illustrate look at the persecution of Christians by Saul.
That persecution was more like a man hunt. How do they avoid the man hunt… simply stop preaching the word! Think about it. These people were dying horrible deaths for being associated and accepting the label of Christ. If it was a lie all they would have had to do would be to stop preaching, stop associating with other Christians, etc… THAT ALONE is an outright recant of Jesus and His resurrection. But that did not happen- Which makes this all the more incredible!!! At any given time these people could have said… I am tired of ALL of this, I don’t want to die… and simply walked away.
So what can we take from this… A very real event occurred that spurred these men into action. That took them from despair to screaming about Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem. That event had to have been real, and not some conjured up story that a group of men made up. Remember most of the original disciples died a horrible death because of this event. In addition… at any time they could have simply avoided it by denying they were Christians. These men did not die for a lie. They were perhaps some of the most courageous men in the history of the world.
Here’s what one of those very men wrote just before he died for his faith: “I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”