What separates Christianity from most other religions is the fact that it is bound up in historical facts. Christianity is not merely a moral code, nor merely a philosophy. While it contains those elements, it is based on revelation through historical events. The historical facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth form a basis of the Christian religion. This is why the New Testament begins with the Gospel accounts of His life, death, and resurrection.
However, some doubt whether we can know anything for sure about the past since we cannot directly observe the past. Events in the past have ceased. All we have are the remains and memories that have been recorded for us. We have plenty of recorded memories and enduring remains of the people and events that form the belief basis of Christianity.
Is it impossible for us to be certain of the historical events surrounding the earthly life of Jesus Christ because we were not eyewitnesses of these proceedings? No. A detective on the basis of evidence from eyewitnesses can reconstruct a crime and present the facts that an eyewitness himself knows to be correct. The detective knows what really happened since he believes exactly what the eyewitness believes based on evidence.
How are we certain that the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln is a fact? No one living witnessed the event, but there were witnesses. None of the witnesses are physically alive to tell us what they saw, but that makes no difference. The records they made of the event and the memories they passed on to others are just as viable as they would be if they were alive to tell us themselves. We do not doubt that Lincoln’s assassination is historically factual because we have overwhelming evidence from eyewitnesses showing it to be true.
The opening paragraph of Luke’s gospel account (Lk. 1:1-4) reads:
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Unlike Matthew and John, Luke was not an eyewitness to the happenings of the life of Jesus Christ; however, he “most surely believed” because eyewitness testimony had been delivered to him. Many had attempted to gather and arrange all the memories regarding Jesus. Luke, by inspiration, gives us an arrangement of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus. Inspiration did not preclude Luke compiling evidence from many sources in writing his gospel account. Luke knew the same facts that eyewitnesses did and believed because he appreciated the evidence. Further, Luke writes to “Theophilus” in order that he may “know the certainty of those things” that he had only previously received through oral reports. Thus, Theophilus, and all generations since who have access to Luke’s account, can know just as certainly as Luke and even as the eyewitnesses of what Jesus did.
Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again to give you hope of eternal life; many witnesses attest to these facts (1 Cor. 15:1-8). Do you appreciate the evidence?