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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 54 of 208
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Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ

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What is the Meaning of Life? Program 54 More Evidence for the Resurrection by Ernest O’Neill

What is the meaning of life? Why are you alive? What is the purpose of us being here? There are four billion of us on this planet thrashing around, trying to get as much of the material products of the planet as we can. All of us think we are important and feel than no one else regards our importance as much as they should — so what is the purpose of it all?

Do you have any explanation in the quietness of your own thoughts as to why we’re here? It seems that we spend all kinds of money on education to find out all kinds of details about the planet and about how life works. Yet none of us seems to be clear about the basic question, which is, “Why are we here? What’s the purpose of it all? What is the meaning of this life in which we’re all involved?”

One of the problems that we have shared with each other over these last months is that no matter how much we try to explain this to one another, we are all under the same limitations. That is, none of us have ever been off this world. None of us have ever been further than the farthest manned space probe has gone.

None of us has been able to tell what this world was like before we were created or before we occurred or were evolved. Those of us who have tried to find out have found ourselves faced with religious leaders like Zoroaster and Muhammad and Buddha, who all had the same limitations that we have. They were never off the planet. They were just human beings like us.

Their lives were limited to the same seventy or eighty years that ours are limited to. Indeed, all of them died in the same way that each of us will die, and they gave no indication that they knew any more than we do about what happens after death. Nor did they seem to know what happens before life begins.

All those religious leaders were as earthbound as us. That’s the problem that even the greatest philosophers that we have ever read possess. They all have the same limitation of being tied to the earth and the seventy or eighty years that they live. So, when they come along and say that such and such is the purpose of life, we take it with a pinch of salt.

We say to ourselves, “What do they know that we don’t know? They are maybe more intelligent than us and are better read, but they have no more information available than we do.” So, when we come to this question of the meaning of life, we find that the answers that other human beings give are strangely unsatisfactory.

Is there anybody in the whole history of the world who has ever seemed to know what went on before this world began or who knows what will go on after this world ends? Yes, there is one and only one man and he is a remarkable human being who is unique among the numbers of human beings that have existed on this planet.

It is his life and death that we have been discussing. Of course, when I mention his name, you will probably want to go to sleep because you’ll think I’m like the Archbishop of Canterbury, or I’m like some minister that you’ve heard, or I’m like some Sunday School teacher that you’ve listened to.

Yet, I’m not offering this name to you on the basis of religion or the hypocrisy that we have all suffered in church. I am offering it to you as a fact of history. The fact is that this is the life that has been more carefully documented than any other life that we have, one of the lives that has more manuscript evidence behind the history of the words and actions in that life than any other.

This is the man whose historicity has been more established than Julius Caesar or Plato or any of the ancient greats. This is, of course, the man Jesus.

Now here is a man who has shown himself to be far more than a man. If you ask if he even existed, (well, we have been discussing that over the past weeks), he undoubtedly did exist, and you’re welcome to ask for the transcripts and the tapes of those talks.

In them we have shown how his life is historically established with documentary evidence that goes far beyond the evidence we have for Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”, or Pliny’s “Letters”, or for any other of the ancient writings of that time.

The manuscript evidence for the life of Jesus amounts to about 4,000 ancient Greek manuscripts so that we can be certain that the events recorded in the last quarter of the book we call the Bible are more established as facts than any other life of that same era.

Jesus’ life is corroborated by men like Tacitus and Tertullian and by men like Porphyry and Celsus and by other non-biblical writers who are concerned first with historical accuracy and only secondly with religion. Yet, they record the events of his life in such a way that our belief and dependence on and our trust in the evidence that we have in the Bible is certain and sure.

So, we have been studying this life, because it is the only life that has ever got off the world. Do you remember that musical or that play a few years ago, called “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off”? Well, nobody has ever managed to do that except this man. This man got off it and came back to it.

Then after 40 days spent here on this earth after his death, he disappeared off the earth. First he died. Then after three days, he came back to life and for over a month appeared on different occasions to different people and he proved that he was not a ghost but a real human being who could eat and talk, and then he disappeared from the earth.

He said all the time that he was the son of the Maker of the world. You may remember that we discussed the possibility that he was a lunatic, or a liar, or maybe just a legend. But none of those fit the historical reliability of the records that we have of him — records that speak of the balance of character and the ethical perfection of his life and teaching.

So, what we have been saying is that this man strikes you as someone who is different from ordinary men and most of all in the fact that he destroyed death. Nobody else has ever overcome death — not Muhammad, Zoroaster, or Buddha. None of them could do that, except this man Jesus.

Those others all died like dogs like the rest of us. This man Jesus died and said that he would rise again from the dead and he did just that. He appeared to his friends and enemies alike for about a month and then disappeared off the earth.

That’s why we believe that he is a different kind of human being, and when he says that he was the Son of the maker of the world, we listen to him — because he, of all men, had power to destroy death. He had power to move in and out of life and death whenever he chose.

Now you may say that because nobody else has done that, you wonder whether he actually did rise from the dead. There have been all kinds of gurus that have done breathing experiments and feats of self-control, so that

they were buried as dead, but then seemed to come back alive.

Do you think Jesus was a man like that? Was he some kind of con man? Did he really rise from the dead? How can we be sure he rose from the dead? How can we be sure he actually rose from the grave?

Well, there are two great facts that convince us that he did rise from the dead. One is the empty tomb. The second is the post-resurrection appearances. He appeared to others after he came back to life. Those two facts of recorded history provide the solid evidence for deciding whether this man did actually come back from being dead or not. Let’s examine these two facts of history next time.