“This series attempts to answer the questions ‘why are we alive?’, is there meaning and purpose to our lives, the problem of sin and selfishness, where our security comes from. The 10 minute talks will establish our uniqueness as God’s children by arguing for God’s existence, order and design in the universe, historicity of the Bible, Jesus’ divinity and resurrection. This is the groundwork for all of reality which ultimately enables us to find true happiness, security and redemption through God’s individual love for each of us.”
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Did God Communicate to us Through Buddha or Mohammed? -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Did God Communicate to us Through Buddha or Muhammad?
by Ernest O’Neill
“Why are you alive?” That’s the question we’re discussing on this program at this time each day. What we said
yesterday was it is a vital question to give your best thoughts to, because it is the most important question
of all. It is quite important why you’re buying that house or why you’re taking that job, but it is even more
important to be able to answer the question, “Why are you alive at all?”
Many of us have said, “Well,I don’t know. I just do not know why I’m alive, and I can’t seem to find anyone
who can answer that question. Though I do see that there does seem to be a great deal of purpose in the way
the birds and the animals operate, and I can see a great deal of purpose in the way nature operates, and I can
see that somebody or something has brought order and design into the way the crops grow and ripen and the way
the sun cooperates with them.
I can see great order and design and purpose in the way even my own body works. So, all around me I can see
purpose and design and reason; but I must admit, I cannot see the reason for my own life. I cannot see why I
am alive or why all we human beings are alive. I don’t really know how to find out. The only thing I can think
of is that there must be some “Power” or some “Thing” behind this universe that knows why it created it in the
“I do see quite clearly that evolution doesn’t explain how the first single cell amoeba came into existence. I
can see that the big bang theory doesn’t explain what exploded or Who made what exploded. I know full well
that the origin of the world is something that the theories of evolution do not even claim to explain. I don’t
know what did originate the world. I don’t know why it is here.”
“I see that there is evidence that whatever “Power” produced it does have intellect or reasoning power.
Otherwise, you couldn’t have the chart of the elements organized in such a methodical fashion. I do see that
our scientists are month by month discovering new beauty and new order in even the smallest parts of our
“We do get the impression that there is more and more order built more and more deeply into the whole universe
than we ever suspected. There are indications and clues left by some great “Mind” that there is an Intellect
behind the universe. I can’t tell anymore about that Intellect than that the Intellect is very clever and is
very far-seeing and presumably is much more powerful than our main frame computers. I don’t understand any
more than that. I can see that this Creator or Force or Supreme Being must be at least as personable as we are
in order to make persons because we persons seem to be the highest type of life here on this earth as far as
we can understand.”
“So, presumably, the “Thing” or the “Force” that made the world and made us is at least as personable as we
are and presumably, much more personable. I can see the origin of this universe is probably not just some
impersonal force. It is not just some blind evolutionary process. It is an Intellect and probably a personal
Intellect. I can see, too, that undoubtedly, I feel within me a desire to be good, even though I’m not good. I
find within me something that tells me I ought not to tell lies even though I tell lies. I find something
within me that tells me I should not lose my temper, even though I find it easier to lose my temper. I do see
that even within me there seem to be some movements or motivations or some conscience that seems to be a
message from beyond because it is higher than I myself am. It urges me to live higher than I do.”
“I can see that it’s not enough just to call it education and to say that morality and conscience and a sense
of obligation to live better than you are is due to education because all of us seem to feel that it is wrong
to be cowardly, it is wrong to be selfish. Even if we are primitive tribesmen we feel that. I do see that
there is some evidence to suggest that behind this universe there is some “Thing” or some “One” that is
intelligent and that is personal and that is trying to get through to us some ideas or some thoughts or some
goals that He wants us to fulfill. But beyond that, I can’t tell anything.”
“I don’t see how I can find out why I’m here in this world, unless I find out why the world is here. I don’t
think I can find out why the world is here, unless somehow or other, the “Being” or the “Force” behind the
world speaks to me or communicates to us. I certainly can’t possibly wring it from Him myself. He is obviously
all powerful, much greater than me so I cannot, by studying the world, find out what He is like. Yet, it is
pretty important in order to answer your question, ‘Why am I alive?’ I really have to answer the question,
‘Why is the world here?’ To answer that question, I really have to be in touch with whatever produced this
world. I cannot see how to get that kind of communication.”
Of course, what we have been sharing is that down through the centuries, different men have claimed to be able
to tell us what that communication was and have claimed to be able to tell us what the maker of the universe
was saying to us. You remember, we mentioned that some of us say, “Look. Everybody is in that game. Everybody
is trying to tell what the Supreme Being behind the universe is thinking.”
Obviously, they’re in that game for their own interest, because if they can do that, they can gain great
control over people. That’s why the witch doctors got into witch doctoring. That’s why ministers get into
ministering. That’s why everybody gets into religion, because they have power over their fellow human beings
if they are able to tell them what the Supreme Being behind the universe is thinking.
So, everybody’s in that game. How can you tell one from the other? Well, there are ways in which you can
analyze these kinds of people that have tried to tell us what was coming from outer space. For instance, many
of us think, “Oh, the Greeks and the Romans — they had ideas of God. I mean, Homer used to talk about Zeus
and all the other gods.”
But, it is vital for us to see that when the Greek and Roman writers talked about gods, they were just talking
about myths that were well known in their own society. When Homer wrote about Zeus talking to the other
immortals beside him, he was simply creating his own imaginary ideas of what the gods might say to one
It was kind of a popular mythology that they all accepted. They didn’t think for one moment that they had got
a message from God, himself, as to what he actually did say at that time. It’s probably important for those of
us who have ever read the Greek and Roman myths to make sure that we see that they are myths.
Then, some of us look at a person like Buddha or some of the other great religious leaders and say, “Well they
tell us about God.” Many, like Buddha, didn’t even believe that there was a God. Buddha was interested in a
psychological means of being delivered from the pain in this world through negating the self and negating
desires. He really didn’t tell much about God, nor did he really believe that there was a personal God in the
sense that we think of a personal God.
Some of us of course say, “Well, no, but look at Muhammad. You can look at his life, and he claimed that he
could tell what God was like. Yet, when you begin to examine Muhammad’s, you see that he, himself, though he
was looked up to by many people as a leader, disclaimed any power to perform miracles.
He was involved in all kinds of vengeful and sinful incidences. He died like an ordinary man at the end of the
life. In other words, Muhammad was very much just one of us — who took much of what he found in the Old
Testament and elaborated it.
Is there anyone that has actually told us what God is like? Is there any evidence from outside space that
helps us to understand what the Supreme Being behind the universe may be like? We believe there is, and we’ll
begin to talk about that next time.
Who Revealed God to Us? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Is There Anyone Who Can Tell Us What God is Like?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are we alive? Why are you here? Why are you sitting in this car? Why am I
talking to you like this? What’s the meaning of it all? What’s the purpose of it all? Where is it all going?
Where are we going to end up after the sixty, or seventy or eighty years are over that we have on this earth?
That’s the question we’ve been discussing for some weeks now.
We’ve shared how many different people have ideas of why they’re alive. Many of us here are answering that
even by the way we live. Some of us are living just to make the money that we need badly. Some of us are
living to establish the significance that we think we ought to have. Some of us are living just to be happy.
So, already, many of us are answering that question by the way that we live.
The question is, “Why, really, are we here?” We’re all answering it in all kinds of ways just because we have
to live some way or other. But deep down in our hearts, most of us are wondering, “Well, is that all there is?
Is that all there is to life, just getting a good education, to get a good job, to produce children that will
get a good education that themselves will get a good job so that they will have children, etc., etc., etc.? Ad
Many of us feel the sheer futility of that whole theory. We’ve therefore asked the question, “Is there any
clue that we can see in the universe itself that there is any meaning to this life at all? Is it anything
other than a tale told by an idiot?” And, of course, what we’ve been sharing is that when you look into the
very fiber and the very framework of the world and the universe itself, you see it’s full of meaning.
There’s meaning everywhere. There’s meaning and order and design wherever we look. It’s all through the world
of nature; it’s all through the world of astronomy. It’s all through the world of physics. It’s all through
the world of chemistry. It’s all through the world of medicine. There is incredible design and order and
evidence of some conscious planning in the whole universe around us.
As you know, one of our greatest geniuses, Albert Einstein, makes this statement: “My religion consists of a
humble admiration of the illimitable, superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to
perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior
reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
Really, most of us are driven to that conclusion. We see that around us is a world of design, of conscious
order. We see how our heart beats; we see how our muscles work together. We see the chart of the elements. We
see the order in the orbiting of the planets; we see the constancy in the very functions of nature itself. We
are drawn to conclude that this all must have come from some preconceived, premeditated plan by an intellect
that is at least as great as ours. Many of us have reached that conclusion.
We have of course, a further difficulty, and that is this one. If there is such an intellect, is that
intellect an inanimate intellect? Is it an impersonal intellect? Is it an Ã‰lan Vital? Is it some astronomical
force? Is it some atomic energy? Or is this intellect a personal intellect?
We have taken the further step of saying, how could an inanimate object create an animate object? How could an
impersonal force create a personal being? How could a lower form of life create a higher form of life? How
could a dog make a man? In other words, it seems obvious that the power behind the universe must be at least
as personable as you and I are. Otherwise, that power could not make persons like us.
The further question is the obvious one. If there is such a person, why hasn’t he tried to communicate with us
in some way? After all, all we’re sharing up to the moment is circumstantial evidence. It’s evidence that
claims that the only substantial and rational explanation of it is the existence of a Supreme Being who is
also a person. But, really, that is circumstantial evidence. We’re simply saying, “Surely he must exist in
order to be able to explain all that we see around us. Surely, we have to believe that such a person exists.”
But if that is the case, is there any empirical evidence that such a person exists? In other words, surely
that person would try to communicate with us human beings in some way. That is the question that we’re
beginning to answer this coming month.
Has this Supreme Being behind the universe ever communicated with us in any rational, reasonable intelligent
way? Is there something in that communication that holds within it the guarantee that it is a communication
from the Supreme Being behind the universe? Is there any way in which we can be sure that that communication
has come from outer space and is a signal from beyond to us men and women? Is there any evidence, any
empirical touch-and-see evidence that such a Supreme Being exists?
Down through the years, all kinds of human beings have claimed to be able to tell that they had information
that came directly from the Creator of the universe to them. There have been all kinds of neurotics, and all
kinds of fanatics, and all kinds of mystics who have come to us down through the centuries, telling us, “We
can tell you a message that we have received from the Creator of the universe.” Many of us say you can go into
any psych ward or any asylum of the country and you’ll find all kinds of people, who say that they are
Napoleon, or say that they are God himself, or say they are a messenger from God. So generally, we, as a sane,
sober, thinking people, have been very skeptical of this kind of story.
There have been many such people. Buddha is one such man. He is respected by great numbers on the earth’s
surface. He was a man, you remember, that lived about 500 B.C. What he did was, he outlined what is virtually
a psychological,(though a kind of psychic, mystical) method of escaping from the sense of pain that we
experience in the world, day by day.
He said that the answer was in a form of meditation, by which we were able eventually to negate the “self” and
therefore, to negate desire, and therefore, to negate the pain that is caused by desires. But Buddha himself,
strangely enough, did not believe in the existence of a personal Supreme Being such as we are positing during
these days of discussion.
He actually believed that if there was anything, there was kind of a vague spirit in the universe into which
we could eventually merge ourselves. You remember, when we were examining some of his statements, we saw that
Buddha is really more of an agnostic or atheist than he is a believer in a Supreme Being. And yet, thousands
of people, of course, naturally say, “Buddha told us what the Supreme Being was like. Buddha told us messages
that he received from the Supreme Being.” Actually, Buddha didn’t. He never claimed actually to be sinless; he
never claimed to be someone who could tell us directly what the Supreme Being of the universe was saying to
us. He was devising, through his own experience, a method of escaping from the “self”.
Is there anyone else who has claimed to tell us what the Supreme Being is saying to us? Well, yes, there have
been others. We’ll just summarize some of them tomorrow and then try to probe further into the question, “Is
there anyone, anywhere in our world who has ever told us what is coming to us from beyond space, from the
Supreme Being who is behind it all?”
Personal God – Various Religions -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Personal God – Various Religions
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s what we’re discussing here on this program. What we have been saying is,
it’s very difficult to tell what the meaning of life is from within the world itself. That’s why, you
remember, someone wrote that musical, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” One of our own guys here in England
wrote it here years ago.
Stop the world, I want to get off! I just want to get off it! Another reason for getting off it is, “If I
could get off it, I could look at it and maybe see what the purpose of it all is.” So, many of us have thought
I’d love to get off this world in order to look at my life and see what’s happening.
So, “What is the meaning of life?” is the question that, in a sense, we feel can only be answered from outside
of life itself. That’s why we’ve been saying during these few days, that the only way to get an answer to that
question of the meaning of life is to get it from outside life itself, from beyond the world.
We’ve shared that if there is a Supreme Being who is behind this world of order and design, and this world of
personality that we’ve experienced, if there is some kind of personal intellect out there, then surely that
intellect would try to communicate with us in some way in order to let us know why we were here and what the
purpose of it all was.
We shared yesterday that, of course, one man who many people regard as claiming to do that is Buddha. But, in
fact, as we examined Buddha’s life, we see that Buddha did not really believe that there was a personal
Supreme Being. He did not talk much about a Creator. He talked primarily about a method of psychological and
mystical deliverance from the power of self, and from the power of pain and desire through meditation.
Are there any others who have claimed to tell us, perhaps more objectively, what the God or the Supreme Being
behind the universe was like? Yes, you know well that there is a man called Muhammad, who lived about the year
500 A.D.. There are millions of people who follow the religion of Islam who respect him greatly.
They feel that Muhammad is one man who can tell us that God is a God of mercy. He is also a God of great wrath
and he is a God of vengeance. In fact, Muhammad’s life itself was full of acts of vengeance and full of
conflicts of all kinds. Indeed, many of us can see the effect of that kind of view of the creator of the
universe in the holy wars that many engage in in these days, in the name of Islam.
Muhammad was a man who claimed to be able to tell us what the Supreme Being of the universe was like and what
kind of thing he was saying to us. However, if you examine the Islam scriptures that are known as the Koran,
you’ll find that many of them simply contain long repetitions from what we know as the Old Testament.
Of course, you remember that Muhammad had great respect for Abraham, and often quoted the things that Abraham
said about God himself. So much of what Muhammad says about God, especially when he talks about God as a God
of mercy, has come directly from our Old Testament that, of course, preceded Muhammad’s life by thousands of
So, one of the shortcomings of Muhammad’s explanation of what the Creator behind the universe is saying is
that it is a copy of what we already received thousands of years before Muhammad himself lived. Another
problem is that anything that Muhammad himself added to that was affected by this very great limitation, that
Muhammad was a man like ourselves.
He was a man like Einstein. He died like a dog and was buried, and was put in a grave out of which he was
never raised. In other words, when we listen to Muhammad’s explanation of what the Creator of the universe is
like, and when we begin to ask ourselves, “Where did he get this information from?” Muhammad explains very
clearly where he got it. He got it from personal revelations; personal mystic revelations.
According to Muslim tradition, one was received one night in Ramadan, when the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad
and said, “Recite.” He replied, “What shall I recite?” The order was repeated three times until the Angel
himself said, “Recite in the name of your Lord, the Creator, who created man from clots of blood. Recite, your
Lord is the most bounteous one, who by the pen has taught mankind things they did not know.”
When you ask where that information came from, you have to answer, it came from a personal, subjective,
mystical experience of Muhammad himself. If you take the further step and say, “How do we know that it bears
any real relationship to objective reality?” we have to answer: we don’t know. You can say, “I had a dream
last night, and I dreamed that God was a green leprechaun.” And there’s nothing I can do to find out whether
God is a green leprechaun.
I’ll always be brought back right to your own dream. I’ll always be drawn right back to Muhammad’s own
revelations, his own personal, subjective experiences. I can never go beyond his words that tell me, “Believe
me, this is what happened in my mystical experience.” Of course, I’m forced to ask him, “Yes, but how can I be
sure that there is some objective reality that answers to your subjective experience?”
That is the great limitation of Muhammad’s revelation, however greatly respected it is in this world, yet it
is a personal, subjective, mystical experience that he has had himself and he can never take us outside that
experience. He can simply say to us, “You have to take my word for it.”
Then, when we look at his life and we see that he was an ordinary man like the rest of us, not only moved
often by vengeance and hate, but also a man who died like a dog, who died like the rest of us, who was buried
like the rest of us, and never left this earth, then we’re forced to ask the question, “Why? Why should I
believe that this man can tell me what the Supreme Being beyond the universe is like when he has never left
this earth?” There is no evidence that he ever left this earth and came back to tell us. There is only
evidence that he was a human being just like the rest of us.
Of course, this is the same story when you enter the world of Hinduism. It is an ancient, mystical series of
myths and of mystical experiences and psychical experiences that have been built up over thousands and
thousands of years.
Though you can study Muhammad’s life, and you can see that he lived so many years and was born and died, you
cannot do that with Hinduism, because Hinduism is a mixture of animism: a belief in the spirits that make the
branches of the trees move in the wind. It is a mixture of psychic experiences. It’s a mixture of
auto-suggestion and the power of positive thinking.
It’s a mixture of ancient legends that are so hideous and grotesque that the ordinary civilized intellect
rebels against them as coming from anywhere other than the lowest sources of man’s imagination. Hinduism is a
vast diverse mixture of mystical, subjective experiences, and legends and myths that have no kind of proof
behind them at all.
So, it is very difficult. If it’s difficult to get hold of Muhammad’s experience, it is impossible to get hold
of the diverse series of legends and myths that have accumulated over thousands of years and that constitute
the religion that is known as Hinduism.
So, when we ask, “Is there any way of telling what the Supreme Being behind the universe is like? Is there any
signal that He has sent to us?” We are left, when we examine Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism, with the answer,
“we can’t see any sure record of such a revelation.” Is there, then, any such revelation anywhere in the
universe? Let’s try to talk about that tomorrow.
The World’s Religions -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The World’s Religions
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? How can you possibly find that out unless somehow you can get behind the world
itself, unless somehow you can get beyond this life, and beyond this world, and beyond this earth, unless
somehow you can get beyond space, and find out someone there who knows why this world was created?
That’s what we have been saying; that in a sense if you say, “Oh, well, the meaning of life is this, and this,
and this. I can see design and I can see purpose in the order of nature. I can see that there must be an
intellect behind the universe. I can see that that intellect must be personable in order to make us as
persons. This, therefore, is the kind of Supreme Being that must be behind the universe.”
Always, I can answer you, but you’re just a man like me. You’re just giving your own thoughts. You’re just a
man like Buddha. You’re giving your own view of things. You’re just a man like Muhammad. You’re giving your
own subjective, mystical experience and thoughts. You’re just people like the Hindus who are trying to say
what other human beings have said. But none of you have ever got off this earth. None of you have ever been
beyond space, further than our space shots have ever pierced.
None of you have ever been somewhere where the Supreme Being, whoever that Supreme Being might be is, and come
back to tell us what He really intended. None of you are able to present empirical, touch-and-see evidence
that such a Supreme Being exists.
That is our question today. Is there anything that can give us human beings any hope of knowing why we are
here on this earth, what the meaning of this life is, what the purpose of it is? Is there anything in our
history anywhere that will give us any kind of confidence that some messenger from outer space has landed on
our planet and can tell us of a wider universe?
Is there any person in all of our history that is qualitatively different from the rest of us human beings?
The fact is all of us respect Einstein immensely. We respect that he obviously thinks there is some Supreme
Being behind the universe. We respect Darwin greatly when he ends his book “The Origin of Species” referring
to the fact that this is the way the Creator probably created the world.
We respect these men greatly, but we still have the feeling that even though their intellects go way beyond
ours, we still feel, “Yes, but finally, they are human beings. Finally, their source of knowledge is the same
as ours. They may manipulate it better than we can; they may analyze it better; they may express it more
clearly, but finally the source of their evidence and their knowledge about any Being behind the universe is
still the same as ours.
So we’re face to face with the question still. Is there anywhere in our history evidence of the breaking in
upon our earth of that Supreme Being, in some way that we can respect with our intellects and believe in with
our intellects? Of course, the answer is that there is! There is!
There was an amazing time in the history of the world. There was a moment in history when something broke in
upon our world from beyond space that was clearly superior to us human beings. Yes, there was a century in the
lifetime of mankind when events took place that have in themselves the mark of authenticity as being performed
and produced by a Being that is superior to ourselves.
Yes, there is a revelation of the Creator behind the universe that is qualitatively different and superior to
any of the so-called revelations that come through Buddhism, or through Islam, or through Zoroastrianism, or
through Hinduism, or through Confucianism, or through any of the other of the so-called great religions of our
Yes! There was a time in our history when remarkable events took place that bear the very stamp of
authenticity upon them, that have within themselves an inherent validity that you yourself can analyze and
examine with your own intellect. In other words, yes! There is empirical evidence in our world that there is a
There is touch-and-see evidence that you and I are able to examine, in the same way that we examined the
evidence that Winston Churchill lived and died. So we are able to examine this evidence of a Supreme Being
behind our universe. There is clear, unmistakable, historical evidence that reveals to us the very actions of
the Supreme Being behind the universe in our own world, actions that we can examine and analyze and that we
can discuss together during these coming days and weeks and months.
That’s what I would like to do, if you would be willing, during these next weeks, to examine carefully and in
detail and with our intellects and with our reasons, the evidence that there is in our universe a Supreme
Being that created the world for a purpose that you and I can know, and created you with a purpose and for a
reason that you yourself can know and understand, and can then fulfill.
Where do we look for this kind of evidence? Well, right back where so many of us started the search. G.K.
Chesterton in his book “Orthodoxy” says, when he discovered the meaning of reality, he felt like a sailor who
started off from home to discover the meaning of life.
He sailed and sailed and sailed, and eventually sailed all around the world, and landed on this shore where he
discovered the meaning of life. He suddenly found out he was right back where he started, in England. It was
right back where he was first told the meaning of life; he found it right back where he had started the
That’s about where we will find the best evidence that exists in our world for belief in a Supreme Being. It’s
evidence which comes from the first century of our era. That is, it’s evidence that we have of events that
took place about 1900 years ago.
That evidence was gathered together in various books, and in various manuscripts. It was circulated around the
world at that time, and then was collected together, and gradually was bound together with other books. They
became known as “The Books” and were given, in fact, the Greek title for “The Books”.
If you translate “The Books” into Greek, it becomes the words “Ta Biblia”. That is the collection of books
that we have and that we know under another name. Let’s look at them tomorrow in more detail.
The New Testament Bible Manuscripts -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
The New Testament Bible Manuscripts
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s what we’re talking about, because so many of us are bewildered in these
days about the meaning of life. At times we wonder, can there be any meaning to life? It seems so absolutely
hideous, the existence that many of us are involved in personally, and that we’re involved in nationally and
We wonder, is there any meaning at all in it? Repeatedly, we’re faced with the fact that the only way we can
find out if there is any meaning to life, is to discover how life came about, and, therefore, where it’s meant
to end up.
What we have been talking about is the evidence that there is in our world of order and design, and the
evidence that there must be an Intellect behind such an ordered world and that there must be a personal
Intellect if that personal Intellect has created persons like us.
Then, of course, we dealt with the issue that if that personal Intellect exists, why hasn’t He communicated
with us in some way? We’ve discussed the various people from Muhammad to the Hindus to Zoroaster to Confucius
to Buddha, who have claimed to be able to tell us what the Supreme Being behind the universe is like, and what
He was saying to us.
But the problem we come up with in all this is that they were just human beings like us, and therefore as
limited as we are. They died just like we die. There is no evidence that they ever left the world and came
back to tell us what is beyond there.
So, we’ve come to the point where we’ve asked the question, “Is there any touch-and-see evidence in our world
that goes beyond that of mystical, subjective experience or revelations? Is there any touch-and-see evidence
over a period of time that indicates that the Supreme Being behind the universe exists, and that He has
revealed Himself in some way or communicated Himself in some manner to us human beings?
Of course, what we finished saying yesterday was yes, there is! There was a remarkable time in our history
here on this earth when events took place that evidence the supernatural expression of a Supreme Being. They
express communication from beyond space that has within them their own inherent claim to authenticity that you
and I can examine and analyze with our own intellects, and our own minds, and our own reasons.
We said that this evidence concerns especially the era that we know as the first century. That is, the era
that took place 1900 years ago roughly, that operated from about the year which we know as the year one, or
the year, more precisely, about four to six B.C., right through to about the time of 80 or 100 A.D.
During those remarkable years, events took place that have within them clear evidence that there is a Supreme
Being and that such a Supreme Being is able to observe you and me today, and knows you and me, and created you
and me with a purpose and a reason for our existence. Where do we find that evidence? Well, we find it, as we
said yesterday, in a remarkable collection of books. They’re history books.
They’re the history of this first century. That’s how we can be so sure, just as we’re sure that Winston
Churchill spoke those great words in the Second World War that reminded us, “Let us so bear ourselves that if
the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest
hour'”. The evidence that we have that he actually spoke those words is historical evidence.
The evidence that certain events took place in the first century is similar historical evidence. It is as
absolutely reliable. It is found in a collection of books that came to be called “The Books”, or, in Greek
they were given the title “Ta Biblia”, because “biblia” is the Greek word for books. Of course, we have come
to know that collection as the Bible.
Now, before you go to sleep, before you rebel in skepticism and cynicism, will you forget all that you have
thought about the Bible up to this present moment? Because I’m the same as you. I regarded the Bible as a
miserable, old, black book that lots of ministers and grandmothers threw at me whenever they wanted me to do
what they thought was right.
I agree with you. We have been utterly turned off the Bible because of the position that it has been given in
our society and the position that it has come to fill through the misunderstandings and the lack of
intellectual examination and analysis of so many human beings in the past century. But will you forget all of
that? Will you forget what you think of the Bible as being?
Will you forget all the tradition that you have attached to it? Will you forget all the religiosity that you
have attached to it? Will you forget even the fact that it is a black book so often? Now, actually, you can
buy it in covers that aren’t black, and you can buy it in all kinds of forms that show it is in many ways a
book like other books. But let’s begin to look at this book, especially the last quarter of it; it’s the part
known as the New Testament.
If you have somewhere an old Bible in your house, then by all means look at the last quarter. It’s only the
last quarter of the book. It’s just about the last quarter that contains the New Testament. That’s the history
of the first century of our era. It’s a history book.
So I’m going to ask you to begin to look at that history with me, because if there is evidence in that history
that there is a Supreme Being, if there is evidence there that a Supreme Being communicated Himself to us in
ways that are far more authentic than the ways that Buddha showed, or the ways that the Koran showed, or the
ways that Muhammad showed, or the ways that Confucius showed, or the ways that Zoroaster has shown, then we
ought to examine that history very carefully.
We ought to be able to ascertain, is it absolutely reliable? If it is, then we have to take notice of it,
because it is some of the most important information that you or I could possibly have about this question,
“What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence?”
So, if you have such a Bible, then by all means, get it out. If you haven’t, then go to Smith’s bookstore or
one of the other bookstores and buy a modern translation of it, because it will help you to forget all the
false ideas you have of it, as a purely religious book, or as a bundle of myths, or a bundle of old
traditions, or a bundle of fairy stories, or a bundle of ethical tenets that make life hard for you.
Forget all that witch doctor stuff! Forget all that silliness that you’ve accumulated in your own mind and
your own imagination about it. Will you examine with me this book as, just at the beginning, an ordinary book?
Just let’s look at it as a book.
Let’s look at it as a history book of the events that took place in the first century of our era, because that
era contains the key to life itself, and the key to the meaning of the universe, and the key to our question,
“What is the meaning of life?”
So I ask you, if you have such a book, will you get it out? Tomorrow I’d like to begin to talk with you about
the history that we have of the events that took place in the first century of our era.
Reliability of New Testament Manuscripts -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Reliability of New Testament Manuscripts
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? What do you think it is? Why are we here? What’s the purpose of it? Why are you
where you are at this moment? Why am I here talking to you? Where do you think it will all end up? That’s the
kind of question we’ve been asking and it’s the kind of question that is not answered by our education these
We seem to have got lost in the midst of all the fragmented knowledge and specialty that we all have involved
ourselves in so that none of us can see the big picture any longer. We are so preoccupied with the trees we
cannot see the wood. Yet it is important to be able to answer that question, isn’t it? What is the meaning of
What we have been saying is that the only way we can answer that question is to discover how life has come
about and, therefore, what the purpose of it is. You remember we have in our discussion come to the point
where we see there is a great deal of evidence that there is a personal intellect behind the universe, but we
seem to have no communication from that personal intellect to ourselves.
As we examined the various comparative religions that we know of in the world — Hinduism, Buddhism,
Zoroastrianism and Confucianism and all the other religions that so many people follow — we came to the
conclusion that what we needed above everything else was some information about the Creator of the world that
came from beyond this world.
We needed information that came from someone who had come into the world from beyond space, and who had left
this world and come back again, assuring us by doing that, that in fact he was someone who had come from the
source of the universe — and not just another human being like ourselves or like Muhammad or like Buddha or
like Zoroaster. (cid:9)
In our discussions we have come to the point where we have shared that there is such an introduction entrance
into our world by the life of the Supreme Being. It took place in the first century of our era and we’ve been
talking about the fact that the history of this intervention in our human world by the superior Supreme Being
behind the universe is annotated in great detail in some history books that we have.
Of course, it was difficult to introduce the name of those history books because they have assumed such a
traditional place in all our thinking. When we mention the history books that we’re talking about there is a
tendency in all our minds to go to sleep and to say that it is all the old traditions, the old myth that we’ve
heard so often.
So I ask you to look again at the fact that there was, at the beginning of our era, a remarkable time in the
history of mankind, a time when unusual things were done and unusual things were said by a certain person who
shows that he came from beyond space and came from the Supreme Being behind the universe Himself.
The events of that time are found in a group of books that became known as “The Books” or in Greek they became
known as “Ta Biblia”, because the Greek word for books is “biblia.” Of course, you have guessed which book
we’re referring to.
Yesterday I encouraged you, if you had one at home, to get it out, because what we need to study in order to
answer the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is the historical evidence of the events that took place
in the first century of our era that are contained in the last quarter of that book.
It’s the book, of course, known as the Bible. I ask you not to go to sleep and not to become cynical and not
to immediately refer to it as if it were some kind of mythical book. It isn’t at all. The Bible is one of the
most reliable history books that our race has in its possession.
It is vital for you and me to examine it as history, examine it intellectually and by our reason first of all.
Not to look at it as a religious book, not to look at it as a source of ethical tenets, but to look at it
first and foremost as a history book and to examine it in that light.
Thereby, to be able to begin to be able to answer the question, what is the meaning of life? Is there a
Supreme Being behind the universe that has revealed Himself to us in ways that we can understand and in ways
that we can believe? In ways that are inherently valid — and authentic evidence that He is the Creator of the
Really, those ways do exist and you will come to that intellectually and logically without the aid of
religious beliefs or religious feelings. You can come to that place simply by examining the facts. What are
As you look into the books that make up the last quarter of the book known as the Bible I’d remind you that
you can either take the old, black-covered version of it that you may have at your house or you can buy one of
the modern versions that at least help you to get over the prejudice you may have against the old book. So
whatever you do, try to get at least some copy of it.
The part that we are concerned about is the history of the years from 6 B.C. to about the year A.D. 100.
That’s the history we’re concerned about. What you and I feel about those years is that it’s myth. That’s
what we feel, don’t we? We feel that it’s myth or it’s unreliable stuff that we have. It’s a mixture of
mythology and a mixture of men’s opinions and a mixture of “churchianity” and a mixture of religion. But it
A history of that era is history and it’s some of the most reliable history that we intellectually are able to
examine here in this world. If you look at the last quarter of that book you’ll find that the men who wrote
about the events that took place then were actually alive during the time that those things were happening.
In other words, the things that you and I talk about as happening in the first century, like the birth of
Jesus Christ and all kinds of things like the persecutions that took place in the Roman Empire, those events
were written not by people who lived centuries and centuries after the events.
That’s what we come up against when we deal with the life of Buddha. We deal with the fact that Buddha lived
about 500 B.C., but, in fact, his life was not written until hundreds of years after that. People kept adding
on “bits”, elaborations through their imaginations to that life centuries after he had lived. But that is not
so with the events that took place in the first century of our era.
The men that wrote those events were actually alive and observed those events themselves. That is why we can
believe them. I would quote to you what they wrote, one of them called Peter, in a book in the New Testament,
because that’s what the last quarter of this old book is called, the New Testament.
A man called Peter, who wrote in that book, II Peter chapter 1 and verses 16-18, stated some amazing facts
about the way in which he and the other writers of the New Testament had come to know what happened in the
first century. Maybe you would look at that and we’ll continue to examine it tomorrow from an intellectual
Historicity of Bible Documents -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Historicity of Bible Documents
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of the life that we have here on earth? What is the meaning of life itself? Why are you
alive? Why am I alive? That’s the question we’re talking about.
What we’ve been sharing is that even though we can see a great deal of circumstantial evidence in the order
and design of the universe that there is a Supreme Being who created the whole thing and therefore must have a
purpose for it, yet we have said that what we need above everything else is empirical evidence of the
existence of such a Supreme Being.
In other words, we need touch-and-see scientific evidence that this Supreme Being exists and that He has, in
some way, communicated Himself and His own thoughts to us. Where we have got to in our discussion is the point
that He has done that!
There is a remarkable time in the history of mankind which is known by us as the First Century (A.D.) when
certain events and certain beings existed that persuade us that there is a Supreme Being and that this Supreme
Being is communicating His own thoughts and His mind to us.
Of course, what we have been saying is that the events of that first century are historical, actual events.
The history that we have of them is some of the most reliable history in existence of the world’s literature.
Of course, one of the difficulties that we have to get over is the fact that we are very familiar with the
book that we’re referring to, except that it has become for many of us a traditional, religious, archaic book
that we have come to regard as the source of myths or as the inspiration of our greatest ethical ideals.
But we have forgotten the fact that it is a very reliable history book. When you and I ask each other, “Is
there a Supreme Being? Do you think there is?” the best evidence that we have that there is a Supreme Being
are the remarkable events that took place in the first century of our era that are recorded in this book.
We are referring, of course, to the last quarter particularly of the book that we know as the Bible. I’ve
encouraged you to try to get a modern translation in one of the bookstores so that you can begin to look at
some of the pieces of it as we go along through these next few weeks and months.
One of the amazing facts about this book is that it is written by eyewitnesses who were actually present when
the events took place that we are talking about. You remember that I referred to one of these men called Peter
who lived at that time, and he wrote in his particular contribution to that book a piece of the book that is
known as the Epistle of Peter or the letter of Peter.
He actually wrote it to some friends of his in the first century. He wrote in the second letter, the Second
Epistle of Peter it’s called, (It’s like saying Peter’s second letter to his friends.)in chapter one and
verses 16 through 18, he says this, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received
honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved
Son, with whom I am well pleased’, we heard this voice borne from heaven for we were with Him on the holy
In other words, Peter is saying, “Stop calling me a myth. Stop calling me an originator of fairy stories. I’m
not. I wrote what I saw. I was an actual eyewitness. This man Jesus that you know of, this man Jesus, you
remember, was baptized in the Jordan like another ordinary Jew; this man Jesus, I saw Him. I was an
eyewitness. I was actually alive at that time.”
“I did not follow cleverly devised myths when I made known to you the power and coming of Jesus Christ. We
were eyewitnesses of His majesty. We saw Him. We saw the remarkable individual that He was. So don’t give me
that! Don’t say to me that I’m some kind of mythical creature or that I created myths. I am an ordinary
fisherman. I’m Peter. I’m an ordinary guy who worked with his hands and caught fish in the nets. I’m an
ordinary man. I’m telling you, I was alive at this time and I saw these things.”
That’s what we mean when we say that the events that are recorded in this book are anything but myth. They are
anything but imagination. They have nothing to do with subjective, mystical visions such as Buddha had or
Muhammad had. They have nothing to do with philosophical theories such as Confucius. They have nothing to do
with that kind of stuff.
They are just ordinary events that took place in the first century when certain men were alive who observed
those events. One of those was a man called Peter. That’s the way he put it. He said, “For we did not follow
cleverly devised myths. We did not just make up myths. We are not clever inventors. We are not clever writers.
We are just ordinary people. I didn’t follow some cleverly devised myth when I made this whole thing up to
you. You’re attributing too much brilliance to me. I’m not like that. I’m an ordinary man, and I saw these
And that’s what he is saying, you see. He is saying that there came a time when there was a voice that came
from beyond space and Jesus was down in the water being baptized and there was a voice that came from beyond
space that said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
Peter says that he heard this voice borne from heaven. “We heard this voice. We heard it. There were friends
that heard it when He was baptized. When the voice spoke again at another time when he was on a mountain top,
we ourselves were on the mountaintop and we heard that voice. What I’m telling you is things that I have
actually seen and heard.”
Now that is one of the factors that separate the history of this New Testament or the history of this Bible
from all the other religious books in our world. The other religious books contain very little history,
overwhelmed and woven through with a great deal of imagination and a great deal of myth and a great deal of
unsubstantiated, subjective visions — but the history of this New Testament is ordinary history written by
ordinary men who observed these things.
Now if you say, “Big deal! He says he observed it, but who knows? Maybe he just said that so we would believe
it.” But the fact is, these events were not just observed by people like Peter. There is another piece in the
New Testament. It’s actually in another book, that is called the Acts… that the people that Jesus sent out
into the world, called apostles, that they wrote. It’s called the Acts of the Apostles.
In chapter 26, and verse 26 of that, one of them says to King Agrippa, in his public defense, he says (it’s
Paul actually), “The king knows about these things for this was not done in a corner.” In other words, this
event of Jesus’ life was not done in a corner. The whole world knew of it at that time, so it wasn’t only
It wasn’t only guys like him that wrote in the New Testament. It was that all the then-known world knew about
it. In other words, it was written by eyewitnesses and there were many other people who knew about it and
could contradict it if they wanted. Is there any further evidence that is history? Yes. Lots more. Let’s talk
about it tomorrow.
Bible Evidence for Jesus Existence -
WHAT IS MEANING OF LIFE?
Bible Evidence for Jesus’ Existence
by Ernest O’Neill
What do you think the meaning of life is? Why do you think you’re here? Why do you think you’re sitting in
this car at the moment or why do you think you’re sitting in your office or, if you’re at home, what is the
point of life? Where do you think it’s going? Where do you think you’ve come from?
Most of us say, “I just haven’t got a clue. I’m just bewildered. I really don’t know why I’m here at all. In
fact, I can’t see how anyone on this earth can possibly tell that, because we are part of the system itself.
We are within this fixed planet that we have. Unless we get off it far enough so that we can find out what is
in the rest of space, I don’t see how we can ever tell why we’re here.”
“Either we have to get off and find out what’s beyond space and get some information on what is out there, or,
if it’s all too much beyond us, and it does seem to be, if it’s all too much beyond us, then somehow or other
whatever is out there and whatever caused all this has to come in and invade our planet and has to let us know
what it’s all about.As far as I can see, all we’ve got in that area is space fiction and movies like Star
Wars, but I can’t really see any evidence that anything beyond this earth has ever come to the earth to
explain to us what all this was in aid of.”
What we have been saying is that though many people have claimed to be that invasion from outer space and
though there have been many great religious leaders who have all proclaimed that they knew what the earth was
created for and they actually had communications with the Being that created it, yet what we’ve been sharing
is there is only one event that is really convincing in that kind of realm.
That’s the event that took place in the First Century of our era. The reason we say that, is that so many of
the religious leaders were men like us: Muhammad was a man like us; Buddha was a man like us; the Hindu
religious leaders were men like we are. The men died like dogs and they were buried and that was the end of
But there is an incredible human being that lived in the first century of our era that is different in quality
from all the rest of us. He did not die like a dog in the sense that he was buried and was forgotten. He
actually had some power to destroy even death and he lived in the first century of our era.
Now you and I are so used to hearing his name and using his name, even as a swear word, that we have written
it off as a lot of myth and legend, but it isn’t; it isn’t at all. The reason we know about him is that we
have some of the most reliable history in our world that is written about him.
That history, you remember, is contained in a book that we’ve often referred to in great state occasions or in
times when one of our relatives dies or one of the babies is christened. It really is a book, or a collection
of books, known as “Ta Biblia” in Greek. “Biblia” is the Greek word for “the books”. So, it’s actually known
as “The Books”. And we, of course, know it in our British and Western tradition as the Bible.
It is actually just the last quarter of that book that we’re talking about here on this program, because it’s
the last quarter of the book that records the history of the events, the remarkable events that took place in
the first century of our era — when the Supreme Being from beyond space invaded the earth, came into the
earth, and came in, in a way that shows us that it is undoubtedly Him. That’s why we are examining that
One of the things that we’ve shared is that it is not just history, but it is reliable history. Some people
have talked about the history of Muhammad’s life, but actually it is so covered over with all kinds of legends
and myths that were written hundreds of years later, as is the life of Buddha, that you cannot distinguish
between the history and the imaginative inventions that surround it.
Whereas the history of the first century of our era is recorded in this last quarter of the book called the
Bible in such stark, and plain, and substantiated terms that you know it’s history. Of course, one of the
factors that reinforces that is that the men that wrote it were actually alive when the events took place.
That, you remember, is what Peter says. He says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made
known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He says that in a letter that he wrote to some
friends. He actually wrote two letters and this is the second letter. It’s actually called “Second Peter”, if
you want to get hold of a Bible and look it up.
It’s II Peter, chapter one and verse 16 and that’s what he said, “We didn’t follow cleverly devised myths…”
We didn’t make these things up. We were actually with this man Jesus on the mountain. We heard a voice coming
from heaven. We heard this voice from outer space, and don’t say we’re mystics. I’m not a mystic. I’m an
ordinary fisherman. Don’t call me a mystic. I’m an ordinary man, an ordinary guy who earns his bread by the
sweat of his brow. But I was on the mountain when this voice came. I saw Him. I saw it happen.”
Of course, you and I are very prone to say, “Well, that’s he himself saying that, but how do we know he was an
eyewitness?” The fact is that many other books were written about that same era that are not included in the
book called the Bible. There are all kinds of books.
There’s a book called the Epistle of Barnabas; there’s a book called the Clementine Letters. There’s another
book called the Didache. There are about twenty or thirty other books that were written about this same era
that aren’t in the Bible at all and they make all kinds of references to Peter and show that he was alive at
that time and he was known as a public figure at that time.
In fact, that’s why Paul, you remember, said to King Agrippa, when he was being examined himself, he said that
the king knows about these things, “for this was not done in a corner”. In other words, the whole ancient
world knew about this man Jesus and knew the events that were taking place. It was well known.
The writings of men like Clement and Barnabas and Ignatius in the first century are filled with references to
the written records of the men who observed Jesus first hand. So, actually, we know that these men were
eyewitnesses, because they were well known figures in that era and were referred to by all kinds of other
historians who did not write and whose writings are not included in the book called the Bible.
But there are other reasons for believing this. Probably one of the greatest is that this man Peter died for
what he wrote. He died for what he wrote. He didn’t gain a lot from it, you know. He didn’t benefit greatly by
it. He didn’t become rich and famous. He was actually hung upside down on a cross and crucified.
So when you suggest that he wasn’t telling the truth when he said, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths”,
then you have to justify why he would tell a lie that would bring about his death? There is in that a logical
and psychological problem, because no man will devise a deliberate lie that will bring about his own death. He
will at least give up on the lie in order to save his own skin.
So when we begin to look at the historicity of the events that took place in the first century we need to see
that they were written by actual eyewitnesses. They are not myths or imaginations that are created years after
the event. They were actually written at the very time these events were taking place and they were written by
men who were alive at that time.
Have we any connection with these men apart from this book called the Bible? Yes, we have and we’ll talk about
More Evidence for Bible Documents -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
More Evidence for Bible Documents
by Ernest O’Neill
Has there ever been a messenger from outer space to our planet? I ask that question because what we are
talking about at this time on this program is the meaning of life. What is the meaning of life? Why are you
here and why am I here?
What we have been saying is that we can never answer that question unless we can get far enough away from the
planet ourselves so that we can understand and see it from a distance and know what is in the rest of space
and what has brought this planet about. Or, if we can’t do that, then we are dependent on whatever is out
there that has created this planet coming in and revealing it to us.
What we have been discussing is whether such a visitation from outer space has ever take place? As we have
examined the lives of so-called great seers like Muhammad and Zoroaster and Buddha and Confucius, we realized
that none of them visited from outer space. They were ordinary men, like the rest of us. What do they know
that we don’t know?
And really, there is only one visitation from outer space that this planet has had. In other words, only once
has there been a man on this planet that actually showed that he could leave it and come back again freely as
In other words, there is only one being that has ever invaded, you might say, our planet earth from outside
space who has persuaded us by the sheer validity and the sheer reliability and integrity of his own life that
he probably is related to the one who created the whole universe.
We have been discussing, of course, the events of the First Century. Those are the events that we are
concerned about when we try to deal with the question: “What is the meaning of life?” That century, above all
others, holds the key to the meaning of the universe and to the meaning of why you are here on earth.
You remember what we were sharing was that the events of that century are not, as so many of us were brought
up as children to believe, myths or fairy tales. I don’t know about you, but often, when I heard of Sunday
school, or once went to Sunday School, I was encouraged at times to think that that stuff was just fairy tale.
It was myth.
Maybe there was a little truth about it, but the most of it was just tradition. I often suspected that this
book that we call the Bible was just an excuse for adults to get us to do what they wanted us to do. But, in
fact, of course, that last quarter particularly of that book called the Bible, is some of the most useful and
reliable history that we have to study as human beings.
What we have been studying is the reliability and historicity of those events. We’ve often thought of men
like Peter as strange figures from the distant past who were vaguely religious and mystical and probably very
imaginative and probably great authors and probably made up a lot of the story themselves.
What we have discovered by the little that we have read of one of the letters that this man Peter wrote to
some of his friends; it’s included in that book called the Bible. It’s actually in the second letter that he
wrote. It’s in the first chapter and it’s verse 16, and he says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths
when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his
In other words, the men who wrote the history that we have in the New Testament actually were there when those
events take place. We dealt with the question, the obvious question, “Maybe he made that up?” Maybe he just
said he was there. Maybe he wasn’t there. But, in fact, we have all kinds of other books written by men like
Ignatius and Barnabas and Clement who refer to Peter as a well-known public figure at that time.
Peter was known in those days by both government officials and certainly by legal officials, and by political
officials, as well as by religious Jewish officials who opposed him. He was known in that day as an ordinary,
public figure, who was well-known. So when he says he was alive and he saw these events and he was an
eyewitness, it is reasonable to believe him.
The further question we asked was, “Well, that first century was a kind of strange time, isn’t it? It seems
connected in our minds with Christmas and everything to do with religion. It’s a strange time. Have we any
connection between the following years and those early years?”
“What about after Peter died, was there anyone who knew Peter who lived after him? Is there anybody who kind
of connects up with him in that way? Have we any record in other history books that those events actually did
take place and that Peter actually was alive at that time?” Of course we have, there are many of them.
There was a man called Papias who was born in about 60 A.D., and he records what the old apostle John (you
remember John was another one of these men that followed this man Jesus) and this John wrote a book called the
Gospel of John which is really just a history of this man Jesus’ life.
Papias, who was born in 60 A.D., records what the old apostle John told him about the writing of the Gospels.
So, yes, we have. Here we have a man who was born in 60 A.D. (You remember, Jesus was probably born about 6
B.C.)…but this man Papias was born about 60 or 65 years later. He recorded what the old apostle John told
him about the writing of the gospels.
In other words, when John was a very old man, this young man Papias used to talk with him. John used to tell
him this, “Mark, having become Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately all that he remembered though he did not
record in order that which was done or said by Christ.”
“He neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but subsequently, as I said, attached himself to Peter who used
to frame his teaching to meet the immediate wants of his hearers and not as making a connected narrative of
the Lord’s discourses.” So, Papias wrote that and we have that in a separate history that was left by Papias.
Papias says, “I used to talk to John about how the Gospels were written and John explained to me how Mark had
heard the whole story from Peter, and then he wrote it down. And he heard it from Peter, because Peter used
to retell the events of Jesus’ life so that he would be able to tell them something about what Jesus was
Then, Papias states this, “Mark committed no error as he wrote down particulars just as he recalled them to
mind, for he took heed to one thing — to omit none of the facts that he heard and to state nothing falsely in
his narrative of them.”
So there old Papias is writing long after these events took place, and he’s saying, “Now, listen. I knew
John. He was very old, but I knew him and I talked with him. He used to tell me how Mark had explained things
to him and explained things that Peter had told him. Mark explained them in absolute detail and reliability.”
“He committed no error. He wrote down all the particulars exactly as they were given to him by Peter. He took
heed to do one thing, to omit none of the facts that he heard and to state nothing falsely in his narrative of
So, this is a testimony, after the events of the first century took place, by a man that knew some of the men
that wrote the books that we know as the Bible. So, we do. We have a living connection with some of these
people. We have a living connection with some of the men who wrote the history that we know of as the New
Testament – who recorded the events that took place in the first century.
Can we rely on what we have read in our history books about the first century? Yes, because they were written
by eye-witnesses, and the eye-witnesses were known by people who lived in the next generation and wrote about
them. We can read their accounts.
Bible Evidence for Jesus Life and Divinity -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Bible Evidence for Jesus’ Life and Divinity
by Ernest O’Neill
Have we ever had a visitation from outer space, by some being that could tell us why the world has been
created? Well, do you know of any? Have we ever had a visitor from outer space that has been able to tell us
whether there is a Creator or not?
Have we ever had a human being that seemed to be able to leave the earth when he chose and return when he
chose, and to assure us that, actually, there was a Supreme Being out there, and there was a reason that He
had in mind for creating the world?
Well, I don’t know what your answer to those questions is, but most of us, of course, connected up with space
fiction would say, “Oh, forget it! There never has been such a creature, and there never will be!” But
actually, there has, of course.
The only way we have of finding out what is the meaning of life, and why we are alive, is if such a being does
exist, if there is such a person as an intellectual, Supreme Being who created this world of design and order
in which we find ourselves.
Our only hope for finding out the reason for our own lives, and the only hope you have of finding out why
you’re alive, is if somehow this Supreme Being tells us. Unless He does that, we’re going to go on in this
life of futility and frustration, living and dying, and not knowing why we’re here.
What we’ve been saying, of course, is that there is such a person, a remarkable Being that lived in the first
century of our era. We’ve been so used to misusing his name, of course, in swearing, that we have tended to
regard him just as a myth or a fairy tale, but he’s far from that! In fact, the book that talks about him, we
have set it down as just a religious book of tradition. It isn’t at all. It’s some of the best history that we
have in our possession — especially the last quarter of it, that contains the part known as the New
Testament. That is some of the most reliable history that we have at our disposal.
It tells us in detail about the invasion from outer space of this remarkable being called Jesus. It talks
about him in detail, and gives us such historical evidence for his existence, that it is easier for us to
challenge the existence of Julius Caesar or Homer, to challenge even the existence of Hitler, than to
challenge the existence of this man — so reliable is the evidence that we have for Hhis historicity.
That’s what we’ve been discussing, really. I don’t know about you, but one of the things that caused me great
skepticism about this book called the Bible was that I felt that it was a book in a vacuum. It seemed to exist
on its own. I mean, you seem to have ordinary history books, and when I studied Latin and studied Greek, you
seem to have Latin historians and Greek historians.
But, somehow, outside in a different realm, in a world of its own, was the Bible. So I came to regard the
Bible not as a history book at all, not as something that could be corroborated or reinforced or
substantiated or examined intellectually, but as a kind of religious book that you either accepted by faith
or you didn’t. So, of course, I didn’t.
It was an amazing revelation to me when I discovered from
reading some of the old Latin historians, that in fact, they did write about the same things as the Bible
wrote about. That suddenly made me aware that what I read about in the New Testament was not just religion. It
was actually history.
There is a Latin historian that is known by all of us who studied the classics, called Tacitus. He really was
the leading historian of Imperial Rome. Here’s what he wrote in one of his history books, “The author of that
name Christian was Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius suffered punishment under his procurator, Pontius
I was astounded! Here was Tacitus, whom our Latin professor was teaching us to regard as one of the reliable
historians, talking about this man Jesus of Nazareth, that I had for so long regarded just as a mythological
figure that existed in the imaginary stories that were created in the Bible.
Suddenly I realized it wasn’t so. In fact, these real, live (at one time) Latin historians were making
reference to the same Jesus that people like Peter and John were talking about in the manuscripts that made up
the New Testament. In fact, it’s not only Tacitus who wrote about him, but another man, who should have had
plenty of reason for not writing about him, wrote about him.
There was a great Jewish historian called Josephus. Of course, being Jewish, he had no interest in believing
that Jesus was the Messiah or that he was anybody important at all. Yet Josephus wrote right outside the Bible
and apart from it altogether in his history books. He wrote this: “There was about this time Jesus, a wise
man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as
received the truth with pleasure.”
“He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ. And when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principle men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved him at the first
did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day.”
I couldn’t believe it. But that actually occurs in a book that is known as “The Antiquities”, written by
Josephus. He referred clearly in it to Jesus, and told of his life, and his miracles, and his resurrection,
and actually called him the Christ.
So, as you begin to look at the events in the first century, and look outside the Bible itself, you discover
that many other reliable historians referred to those events, besides the reliable eye-witnesses that wrote
the New Testament itself.
The public nature of the record, and the objective corroboration of the facts recorded by Paul and Peter and
the others, is evidenced probably most plainly in the statement of Tertullian, the jurist consulate, who was
familiar with the Roman archives. He was really in charge of the Roman history books.
And he wrote this: “Tiberius, accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world,
having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s
divinity, brought the matter before the Senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The Senate, because
it had not given the approval itself, rejected this proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening death
against all the accusers of the Christians.”
So, it’s incredible to find that a man as respected as Tertullian, who was in charge of the Roman history
books, recorded how Tiberius himself examined the evidence for the divinity of Jesus, and agreed with that
evidence, and actually, as a result, threatened death against anybody who accused the Christians.
So, it is interesting if you’re a classical scholar at all, to begin to examine the Roman history books that
record the events of the first century. You’ll find there that there is a great deal of corroborating
evidence that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, actually lived in the first century, and did and said the things
that the eye-witness writers of the New Testament record that he said and did.
In other words, we’re dealing with actual, reliable history when we talk about this amazing Being who came to
earth from outer space.
Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus
by Ernest O’Neill
Is there anyone that has ever lived on our world, or our planet, who has been able to tell us why the planet
was created in the first place, therefore, why we were created, and therefore, what the meaning of life is?
What we have been sharing on this broadcast at this time is that there is such a Being and He did come to this
earth, and did appear to come from outer space and did have the ability to leave this earth and to come back
That’s something, of course, that none of the great religious leaders like Muhammad and Buddha and Zoroaster
and Confucius have ever done. All of them have been ordinary human beings like you and me. They died like
dogs, were buried, and were forgotten, at least as far as their grave was concerned.
But, this Being that came to earth and had the ability to leave it and come back again, seemed to have a
connection with the Supreme Being behind the universe that is different qualitatively from any relationship
that any of the other religious leaders talk about as having to that Supreme Being. This of course, is that
man that is probably known to all of us as Jesus. He lived, actually, in the first century of our era.
If you’re like me, your attitude to it is great skepticism. You think to yourself, “Ah, now, wait a minute!
Don’t give me that stuff that I threw out when I left Sunday school, that I threw out when I gave up church.
Don’t give me that about Jesus of Nazareth, as if he’s some real person. I know he’s just a mythological
person that we used to have a good time at Christmas about. That’s not sensible!”
“I want to know about the meaning of life in a realistic way that will help me, that will be of some relevance
and some use to my life. So, don’t talk to me about this Jesus of Nazareth. He’s just a mythological figure.”
Far from being a mythological figure — he is one whose historicity is more reliable than any other human
being that we have records of at that time.
If you say, “Well, why? Why do you say that?” I say it because the men that wrote about him, in the book that
we have — of course, come to regard just as a religious book, but is actually a very reliable history book.
It’s the Bible and the last quarter of it particularly, The New Testament, is the one that talks about the
first century when he lived. The Bible talks about him as a real, historical figure.
Of course, many of us say, “Oh well, now, the men that wrote that book, they weren’t reliable. I mean they
just made it up years and years after the event!”
No, they didn’t! They were eye-witnesses of the event. They said that. Peter, in a letter that he wrote to
some of his friends, said, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, because we were eye-witnesses of His majesty. We were actually with Him when
the voice came on the mountain and said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
That’s what Peter said in his second letter. It’s called the Second Epistle of Peter, chapter one and verse
sixteen. Now, some of us, of course, say, “Well, that’s just him saying it. Is there evidence that he
actually was alive at that time?” Yes! There are many references to Peter in other history books that were
written outside the Bible.
Indeed, what we quoted yesterday were some of the Roman historians like Tacitus and Tertullian who made
reference to Jesus of Nazareth in their own history books. But, you may say, “Well, yes, but the main evidence
we have about this man Jesus of Nazareth is from these so-called eye-witnesses, who you say wrote this account
in the New Testament that is reliable history. Now, really, why should you believe these men?”
Well, there are several very good reasons. One, of course, is the very obvious fact that they circulated their
accounts all around the then-known world, while hundreds of people were alive who had actually observed the
very events that they recorded.
In other words, there is a letter that one of them, called Paul, wrote to a place called Galatia, where there
was a little group of people who believed that this man, Jesus, was really connected with the Supreme Being
behind the universe. In that book that was written in 48 A.D., this man called Paul referred to the
crucifixion of this man, Jesus, and to him rising from the dead.
Now do you see that there were many people alive in 48 A.D. (because after all, Jesus was crucified in 29
A.D., so this is only a matter of nineteen years later)? There were many people alive at that time who, when
they saw Paul’s account being circulated, all they had to do was contradict it. All they had to do was say,
“That wasn’t so at all! I was in Jerusalem at that time. It didn’t happen at all that way. He didn’t rise from
But in fact, there was no outcry like that. There was just no outcry of contradiction in the ancient world of
the first century, when all these accounts were circulating. So, between 48 A.D. and probably 90 to 100 A.D.,
all the books that make up our New Testament were circulating and being read by eye-witnesses — people who
believed and people who didn’t believe — but many of whom were in Jerusalem.
For instance, if a young man was 20 years of age when Jesus was crucified in 29, then 20 years later, he was
only 49. So, he was a relatively young man, certainly a man in middle age. There must have been many such
alive at that time. All they had to say was, “No, it didn’t happen this way.” That would have immediately
destroyed the popularity of the accounts that were circulating that eventually became our New Testament.
So, one of the big — in fact, unanswerable — reasons for believing that what we have in what we call the New
Testament is reliable history, is that the accounts of that history were circulating at a time when many, many
hundreds of people were still alive who had been eye-witnesses of the actual crucifixion and the resurrection.
All they had to do was contradict it, and that would have sunk any continued existence of those books. It
would be a bit like somebody trying to write a book today about John F. Kennedy, and trying to suggest that he
had been shot by Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Well, there are plenty of us who were alive at that time. That’s l963. That’s exactly 30 years ago. It’s
longer ago than the crucifixion of Jesus was compared with the book of Galatians. All we have to do is say,
“No, it wasn’t so at all. I saw it. I was there! There was a friend of mine in Dallas. It didn’t happen that
way at all.”
That would immediately kill that account, as far as being a historical record is concerned. So it is with the
records of this man’s life in the first century. There were many people alive who read the accounts, and far
from contradicting them, they actually reinforced them.
In fact, the only records we have is of the lies that people like the Romans and the Jewish people created in
order to explain away the apparently miraculous resurrection of this man, Jesus. But there are other reasons,
too. I mean, those men who wrote these books that are known as the New Testament have not made an impression
on subsequent history as being pirates, criminals, or con men. They haven’t!
Wherever their influence has been felt, there has been a respect for honesty, a respect for integrity. It has
had an elevating effect on mankind. So, these men do not come across as pirates and liars. They come across as
true and honest men. Of course, the last and the greatest reason is, they died for the things they wrote.
They died for the very things that they wrote. Now, men may die for something that they think is true, but
they will not die for something that they know is untrue. So, there is an ethical and logical and
philosophical impossibility in believing that these men invented what they wrote.
These men, of all men, must have really observed this man that came from outer space and lived in the first
century of our era, and said that He had a unique relationship to the Supreme Being behind the universe.
Jesus and Bible Manuscript Proofs -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Jesus and Bible Manuscript Proofs
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are you alive? Why am I alive? Why are we all here? There are four billion
of us here on this relatively little planet flying through space at hundreds, and some say thousands of miles
an hour. None of us seem to know where we’re going. None of us really are very clear about why we’re here.
That’s the problem or the enigma that we’ve been discussing on this program for several months now.
One of the important clues as to a possible answer has been in our minds, “Who created or what made this
world?” We feel that if we could only find out how it came about, or how it came into existence, or how we
came into existence, then perhaps we would get some notion of why we were here, and we would, as a result, be
able to live a slightly more sane and balanced existence than we live at the moment. That’s what we’ve been
We talked about the various people who claim to be able to tell us why the world was here, who came to be able
to tell us what the power behind the universe was. Finally, we looked at the order and the design of the
universe itself, and we saw the same thing that Einstein saw: that there was evidence everywhere — in the
seasons, in the way the oceans and the rivers relate to one another, in the amazing intricacy of our blood
circulation system, and in the intellectual design that is obvious.
If we study the human heart, the human brain or the eye, we begin to realize that there is evidence all around
us that there must be more than some Ã‰lan Vital, some impersonal force, some simple cosmic movement toward
evolution. There had to be some mind behind it all. That’s what Einstein said. He said there’s too much
design in this world to ignore the fact that there had to be an intellect originally in the design of the
That’s the conclusion we came to, that whether you believe in evolution or not, there has to have been some
mind that planted the evolutionary direction into the whole universe. There had to be somebody, if you would
like to put it this way, that made whatever exploded and created the Big Bang. So, we came to the conclusion
that there had to be an intellect.
We believe that because we are persons, it has to be a personal intellect. It has to be some intellect that is
at least as personable as we ourselves are, because a dog cannot make a man. It takes a person to make a
person. So, we reach that position of circumstantial evidence all around us that suggested the most
reasonable explanation of what we see with our eyes is that there is somewhere a Supreme Being, a personal
intellect who originated the whole thing.
Of course, our next question was, “Is there any evidence that He has communicated to us in any way at all?”
Of course, we’ve discovered that people like Muhammad and Buddha all claimed to be able to tell us what this
Supreme Being had communicated to us, but they all shared the same fate. They all died like dogs. They all
died like human beings. None of them gave us any evidence that they had ever left the earth and came back
from wherever this Supreme Being is to tell us what he was like or what he was doing.
So, in the midst of Buddhism and Islam, in the midst of Confucianism or Zoroastrianism, in the midst of
spiritualism and Druidism, in the midst of all the Middle Eastern religions and the transcendental meditation,
and the theory and the philosophizing, we are left finally with: maybe, maybe, perhaps, perhaps, and no
We’re dealing all the time with the opinions of men like ourselves, of human beings like ourselves, who have
died as we will die, and who have given no evidence of being able to triumph over death or being able to leave
this earth and find out what is out there in space and come back and tell us.
We ask the question, “Is there anyone that has done that? Is there any messenger from outer-space that has
given us any reason for believing that there is a Supreme Being out there and that there is more than
circumstantial evidence that He exists, that there is actually empirical, touch-and-see evidence that He
exists? Is there any human being that has done that?”
What we have been saying is that there is a remarkable human being that lived in the first century of our era.
We all tend to go to sleep at his name because we have known it for so long, and we have grown used to the
idea that he is just a mythological figure or a religious symbol that our mothers or fathers, or our
authorities used to keep us in line.
But, in fact, this remarkable person did leave the earth, did come back and tell us what is out there. He is
different from all the other great religious leaders. They all died like dogs. He didn’t. He died, and three
days later, got up and lived again for over a month on our earth, convincing us that he had control over life
This man is the man called Jesus, that we so often have heard about and that we tend to sing about at
Christmas time in the carols. We’ve done so much respecting of him as a religious figure, that we have tended
to mix him up in our minds with Winnie the Pooh, and all other kinds of fantasies and fairyland figures. He
is far from that.
In fact, the evidence for his existence far outweighs the evidence we have for the existence of Julius Caesar.
The evidence that we have that he is a historical figure is actually found in a more reliable history book
than either Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” or Plato’s “Republic”, or any of “Herodotus’ Histories”.
This man, Jesus, is believed in by so many because the historical record of his existence is so unparalled in
the history of mankind. The history is, in fact, found in a book that we have tended to regard as a religious
book. It is not a religious book. It is primarily a good, solid history book.
The record of his life was gathered together with other records of events that have taken place in our world
that we will discuss over the next months. These events were gathered together in books. They were known as
The Books or in Greek, Ta Biblia. Of course, you realize that that is the word that became “Bible”.
It is actually our Bible, particularly the last quarter of it, known as The New Testament, that holds
reliable, historical records about this man, Jesus — the only visitor from outer space that our planet has
ever observed or known of.
What we have been discussing is the reliability of this historical record, because many of us have been
brought up knowing the Bible from our school days. We all suffered religious education, or divinity or
religious classes, and we learned to think of the Bible as that kind of fantasy, mythological book that you
couldn’t be sure of at all.
In fact, it’s far from that. The Bible is solid history. Why is it solid history? First of all, because the
men who wrote it were honest men. We’ve shared how they have made an impression on our world as honest men.
You don’t think of Peter and John and James as a bundle of crooks or con men. You think of them as honest men.
Wherever their influence has been felt, they have had an influence for good, and for honesty and for truth.
Another reason is, of course, that the things they talked about or the things they wrote about in the New
Testament, they observed themselves as eye-witnesses.
It’s not only their word we have for that, but we have the word of other writers from outside the Bible who
refer to James, Peter, and John and inform us that they did live in those days. They were known very well as
popular and public figures. So, these men not only observed what they wrote about, but they were known as
eye-witnesses at that time.
Are there any other reasons for believing that the history of the New Testament is reliable? Is there any
other reason for believing what they wrote they actually did see? Yes, there is, and we’d like to talk a
little more about those tomorrow.
Eyewitness Reports of Jesus Resurrection -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Eyewitness Reports of Jesus Resurrection
by Ernest O’Neill
Has anyone ever visited our planet from outer space? That is, has there ever been a human being who could
prove to us that he actually came from beyond space? Is there anyone who has gone far out into space, far
beyond where our satellites go or where our space shots go? Is there anyone who has ever gone as far as the
person that made our universe and come back and told us what He is like?
Yes. Yes there is. It’s not fantasy. It’s not space fiction. There was a man that we all know of from our
school days that actually did that. The man is called Jesus. If you say, “Ah, listen. I’ve heard about that
mythological figure before.” He is not a mythological figure. Homer may have created mythological figures,
but Jesus is a real person who actually lived in the first century.
If you say, “Why do you say that?” it’s because some of our most reliable history tells in detail of his life.
What reliable history? The reliable history that is gathered together in the books we know as the New
Testament, or are gathered together in that book we call the Bible.
You may say, “That isn’t reliable history. That’s myth. It’s ethics and myth. It’s religion. It’s what my old
grandmother used to throw at me to keep me in line.” No, it isn’t. It’s reliable history. Why do I say it?
Because when you begin to examine it and compare it with the Greek and Roman histories, you find that it is
far more reliable and has far more claim to our belief than any of them.
Why? Because many of them were written years after the events. These things were written at the time of the
events by people who observed the events. In other words, they were written by people like Peter, James and
John who were alive at the time.
If you say, “Why believe them?” Because they suffered for what they believed. They wrote about this man,
Jesus. That was the very thing that caused them to be crucified and caused them, their children and their
wives to be led into lion arenas and crucified on crucifixion hills.
If you say, “Well, lots of people have died for something they thought was true.” Yes, these men died for
something they believed was true and they knew, they knew that this thing was true. If you say, “Well, lots of
people think that. There are people in psych wards today who think they’re Napoleon.” Yes, but they have
obvious symptoms of imbalance in their personalities, you’d agree.
They have psychological imbalance that is obvious to everybody, but these men did not make an impression as
psychologically imbalanced men. They have made an impression on the world as men of integrity, men of
honesty, men of balance, men to be followed as far as an example of living is concerned. In other words, the
men that wrote about this person, Jesus, are people that you tend to respect and you tend to trust.
Moreover, people will die for what they think is true, but they will not die for what they know to be a lie.
So, these men would not die for a lie that they made up. Whatever they said, they believed with all their
heart. If you say, “Well, I mean, maybe it was just in their little village that it all took place.” No, this
thing was not done in a corner.
This man Jesus did not live in just a little village. He lived all over the land of Palestine and he was
known by the Roman officials. In fact, they troubled him. Many other people, including Tacitus and
Tertullian, including Josephus and Porphyry and Celsus, including Pliny and many other Greek and Roman writers
wrote about this man Jesus and obviously knew that he was alive.
If you say, “Well, is there any other reason for believing that these men wrote the truth? Maybe they made it
up? Maybe they exaggerated? Maybe they wanted to become famous so they took an ordinary man that they
followed for a while, and they made him out to be something that he wasn’t.”
Yes, but do you see that the accounts that they wrote of him, particularly of his resurrection from the dead,
were circulating while thousands of other people were still alive who had observed him. You could see a real
If these things had not been written about until hundreds of years later, then maybe everybody would have died
whoever knew the man Jesus. But, that’s not so. These records started to be circulated as early as 48 A.D.
He only died in 29 A.D., just barely 20 years earlier.
Now, obviously, there were lots of people still alive who still knew him and could check it out and could say,
“Yes, this was true”, or “No, this was untrue”. So, there are many strong reasons for believing that what we
have in the New Testament is actually true history.
What these men — Peter, James and John, Mark and the others — wrote about actually did take place, because
there is a logical, psychological and philosophical impossibility in them making up a lie for which they then
suffered crucifixion and death, and somehow pulling the wool over the eyes of thousands of people who were
alive at the same time and observed the same things as them. There is an impossibility about that.
You may say, “Well, yes, maybe it does seem that they wrote what they actually saw. Maybe they can be
believed. Maybe they are reliable, but that happened years and years ago. Now, how can we know that what we
have in these books that you talk about as the New Testament, how can we be sure that what we have is what
“After all, this is 1993, soon to be 2000. These are the nineties. This is near the end of the twentieth
century. Now, what you’re talking about took place at the beginning of the first century. That is 20
centuries ago. Now, how can we be sure that what we have as the historical record of those days is what they
“I mean, maybe you’re right. Maybe they did write history. Maybe they did write what they observed, but how
can we be sure that that has survived down through 2,000 years? I mean, after all, you know how books get
lost. You know how books get changed. What’s to prevent somebody getting in on the act about 2,000 years ago,
or 1500 years ago, or a thousand years ago, and switching the whole history all around so that what we’ve got
is just myth?”
Of course, that kind of thing could have happened in the case of people like Buddha. In fact, he lived about
500 B.C. or earlier, and the first books about him did not appear until five hundred years later. So, of
course, during those five hundred years, anybody could have made up any stories about Buddha.
Lots of people that knew him would long ago have been dead, and nobody could have contradicted them. In fact,
that’s what you require for the formation of a myth. You require time. You need the passage of time between
when the man actually lived and when the books about him were actually produced. So, many of us wonder that
about this man Jesus.
Now, let’s face it. It’s 2,000 years since this man lived. Now, maybe the writers did write truth about him,
but how can we be sure that what we have in this Bible is actually what they wrote? Is there any way of being
sure that what we have in the New Testament is what they wrote in the first century?
In other words, what about the transmission of the history? Maybe the original history was correct, but can
you be sure that the transmission of that history down to our day, down to our present era, has been reliable?
Let’s talk a little about that tomorrow.
Evidence for Jesus Life – Ancient Manuscripts -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Evidence for Jesus’ Life – Ancient Manuscripts
by Ernest O’Neill
We’ve been talking about the one messenger from outer space that our planet has ever received or encountered.
Of course, His name is a name that all of us have known since we were children. Yet, it’s a name that tells
us more about the origin of our world than any other name.
It’s the name of the one human being that has been able to leave our planet, go out into space beyond where
our space shots go and actually encounter the Supreme Being that created our universe, come back and tell us
what He is like, why He made us, and what the point of this whole life here on earth is.
That man is, of course, the man Jesus. We’ve been talking about the fact that he is a historical figure. He is
not a myth. He is a historical figure more reliably recorded, as far as his actions and his words are
concerned, than either Julius Caesar or any of the great figures of that era.
The history that we have of him is found in the last quarter of the book that we call the Bible. It’s actually
the part called the New Testament. That is far from being just religious myth. That is actually good reliable
history.(cid:9)We have been talking about how we can trust that the people that wrote that history did actually
observe the things that they wrote about.
They can be relied upon and their word can be trusted because, in fact, they died for the things they wrote
about. There were many other eye-witnesses alive at the same time who observed the same events and read their
accounts. There was no public outcry that their accounts were lies or were inventions. Rather, they were
accepted as the truth.
We’ve come to the point where we see that it is quite reasonable to believe that these men were actually alive
when they saw these events they recorded in the last quarter of the book we call the Bible. What many of us
have had trouble with is the fact that this all occurred so many years ago.
I remember thinking myself, “Well, wait a minute. This occurred in the first century. That was 2,000 years
ago. Now, maybe these men did write the truth about those days. But, how can we be sure that somebody hasn’t
tampered with it since?” Of course, that’s the problem you run up against in regard to most of our classical
I don’t know if you realize it, but Caesar’s “History of the Gallic Wars” is one of the books that those of us
who studied Latin had to be familiar with. It’s one of the books we regard as the most reliable history books
that we have.
We read Caesar’s “History of the Gallic War”, and we have no doubt that what we’re reading is actually what
occurred in those days. Yet, the amazing fact is this, that Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” actually record events
that took place between 100 and 44 B.C.
The first manuscript we have of the “History of the Gallic Wars” is, would you believe it, not 22 B.C. which
would be 20 years after the events, not even 100 A.D. which would be 120 years after the events; not even 500
A.D., which would be 520 years after the events. The first manuscript that we have, the earliest manuscript
that we have still in existence of Caesar’s Gallic Wars, is dated 900 A.D.
Yet, all of us who have studied Latin, who have studied Roman history, have absolute confidence that when we
read Caesar’s “History of the Gallic Wars”, we are reading what actually took place in those days. In spite of
the fact there are one thousand years, a period of a thousand years, that has elapsed between when Caesar
actually wrote his original manuscript, and when the manuscript that we have, came into existence.
During that time, of course, you have one thousand years when long ago people had died who had observed the
Gallic Wars, and there have been thousands and millions of people who lived in the interval, any one of whom
could have got Caesar’s original manuscript, and changed it and created all kinds of imaginary myths.
Yet, we do not question for a moment that what we read of the Gallic Wars, is what Caesar actually wrote, in
spite of the fact that we don’t have his original manuscript. We don’t even have the manuscript that was
copied from his; we don’t even have the manuscript that was copied from that copy of his.
We don’t even have a manuscript that was written within a hundred years of his life or death. We don’t even
have a manuscript that was written within 400 years of the Gallic Wars. Our earliest manuscript was actually
written in 900 A.D. — a thousand years after the Gallic Wars were fought.
Yet we have no doubt in our minds that when we read the history of the Gallic Wars we are reading what Caesar
actually wrote. Now, it’s the same with most of the other classical authors. There is a vast gap between the
manuscript that they originally wrote and the earliest manuscript that we have.
In other words, you know that in those days we did not have paper. We had a thing called papyrus and a thing
called vellum (animal skin) and then this papyrus (made out of reeds). None of them were very permanent. They
all deteriorated with age.
It was the normal pattern that scribes would copy the old manuscript onto new papyrus or the old manuscript
onto new vellum and then would automatically destroy the old manuscript. That’s part of the reason why we have
so few early manuscripts of the history books of those ancient days.
It’s the same you know with Plato’s “Republic”. Probably none of us who studied philosophy at university have
failed to study Plato’s “Republic”. We all regard his “Republic” as a base text in Philosophy I. It is what
We have no doubt that when we read Plato’s “Republic” we read actually what he wrote. And we’re reading
Socrates and what he thought. And yet Plato’s “Republic” was written somewhere between 427 and 347 B.C.
That’s when Plato lived. So, Plato’s “Republic” was written somewhere about 400 B.C. Now, do we have his
original manuscript? No. Do we have the manuscript that was copied from his? No. Do we have another
manuscript? No. Do we have another manuscript that was written within 200 years of his life? No. Do we have
one that was written within 400 years? No.
The earliest manuscript that we have of Plato’s “Republic” is dated 900 A.D., dated by carbon dating which is
reliable within a thousand or two thousand years. It becomes unreliable after you get into what you call tens
of thousands of years or millions of years, but it’s reliable in regard to a thousand or two thousand years.
That dates the earliest manuscript of Plato’s “Republic” at 900 A.D. He wrote the “Republic” in 400 B.C. So,
1200 or 1300 years have elapsed between when he wrote his original manuscript and when this manuscript that we
have in our hands, in one of our libraries, came into existence.
In other words, there were twelve or thirteen-hundred years during which anyone could have gotten Plato’s
original manuscript and changed it in all kinds of ways and re-written it and re-created the whole theory and
the philosophy. Yet, not one of us in our philosophy classes questions that when we read Plato’s “Republic”
today, we’re reading the actual manuscript that he wrote 1500 to 2500 years ago.
So, that’s the kind of evidence that we have for ancient manuscripts and ancient histories. What kind of
manuscript evidence have we for the New Testament history? Can we be sure what they wrote in those days about
Jesus is actually what we’re reading today? Let’s talk about that tomorrow.
New Testament Manuscripts and Authors -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
New Testament Manuscripts and Authors
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are you alive? Why are you here? Why do you work all day? Why do you
sleep? Why do you eat? Why were you born? What will happen to you? That’s the kind of question we’re
talking about on this program at this time each day.
What we’ve been saying is, the only way you can get any sensible answer to that question is, if you somehow
can discover what the purpose was when the world was originally made. Of course, if it was just a result of
time-plus-chance, and is just a result of an explosion somewhere in the universe, then you can’t hope that
there’d be any meaning in it at all.
That’s because we can see no meaning in the bombs that explode. They create nothing but destruction and
chaos. If that’s what caused this universe to come into existence then there’s no point in life. There’s no
purpose and there’s no reason to it at all.
Yet, one of the difficulties with that view is that there does seem to be so much reason and so much order and
so much design in the universe. We’ve only to look at the way the planets orbit each other year after year,
century after century, without colliding, to see that there is some great order in the way the planets move in
We can see also, there is tremendous design evident in our body, in the blood circulation, in the way the
heart works, the way the brain works. So it seems to us there is reason, and there is order, and there is
design, and there is evidence of planning and intellectual purpose in the whole universe.
So we have come to the same conclusion as Einstein that there has to be a personal intellect behind this
universe. What we’ve been discussing is whether this personal intellect has ever communicated with us or not.
In other words, have we ever had a visit from outer space?
What we’ve been saying is that even though all the great religious leaders, like Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius
and Zoroaster claim to be able to tell us what is behind the universe and what the Creator had in mind, yet
they all died like ordinary human beings. There is only one person who did not die like an ordinary human
There’s only one person who seems to have been able to leave the earth for a period of forty days, go out
beyond where even our space shots go, come back and tell us what the Creator of the universe actually is like
and what He had in mind when He made the whole universe, and what He had in mind when He made you. That man,
of course, is the man called Jesus.
What we’ve been talking about is the very reliable evidence that we have that he existed — historical
evidence that is more reliable than any of similar period in those days. That evidence is of course found in
the New Testament. It’s that evidence that we have been discussing.
We talked first of all about how we could trust the men that wrote that history and how they themselves, have
made an impression of integrity and honesty upon our world. How they, in fact, died for what they wrote,
which argues for believing them. How what they wrote is corroborated by non-Biblical writers like Tacitus and
Tertullian and Porphyry and Celsus and Pliny and Josephus.
So the question that we have been discussing over the past few days is, “Let’s accept that what they wrote was
what they actually saw, and therefore, it is historically correct. Do we have what they wrote? That’s the
question. Do we have what they wrote? After all, it was written, you say, 2000 years ago. Now, this is 2000
years later. How can we be sure that somebody did not change it all in the meantime?”
What we have been sharing is that that is a charge all the classical authors are open to because we’ve been
studying a few, like Plato’s “Republic”, which we all regard as absolutely reliable. We believe that when we
read Plato’s “Republic”, we read what he actually wrote, even though he wrote it in 400 B.C., even though he
wrote it almost 2400 years ago. We believe that what we have in our copies of Plato’s “Republic” is what he
It’s the same with most of the other classical writings. Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” was written by Caesar
somewhere between 100 and 44 B.C., somewhere around 80 B.C. Yet, the earliest manuscript we have of Caesar’s
“Gallic Wars” is dated 900 A.D.
In other words, there was a period of one thousand years between the earliest manuscript we have of Caesar’s
“Gallic Wars” and the original manuscript that Caesar himself wrote. Yet, we do not question that when we
read Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” we’re reading what he actually wrote.
Now, perhaps you say, “Well, maybe there is a great deal of manuscript evidence. Maybe it’s late evidence,
but maybe there’s a great deal of it.” Do you know how many ancient manuscripts — that is manuscripts as old
as 1,000 A.D. — how many manuscripts we have for Plato’s “Republic”? We have seven. Do you know how many we
have for Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”? We have ten.
In other words, we believe that what we have in our hands in the present copies of Caesar’s “Gallic Wars” and
Plato’s “Republic”, what we have in our hands is exactly the manuscript that Caesar and Plato originally wrote
— in spite of the fact that the earliest manuscript we have is actually one thousand years later than when
they wrote the original manuscript. And we have only seven to ten such manuscripts.
In other words, we believe that we have ostensibly the manuscript that was originally produced by the author
even though we have only from seven to ten manuscripts and some of them are as old as one thousand years after
the manuscript was originally written by the author.
It’s the same with all the other writers. Tacitus’ “History of the Roman Empire” was written about 100 A.D.
The earliest manuscript we have is about 1,100 A.D. That’s a thousand years. We do have nineteen other
manuscripts of that, twenty of them altogether. When we go to Pliny, we have seven manuscripts, the oldest one
is 850 A.D. That is seven hundred and fifty years after Pliny wrote his manuscript.
It’s the same with Lucretius. He died in 55 or 53 B.C. Yet, we believe the writings we have of his are what he
actually wrote, in spite of the fact that we have only two manuscripts. The earliest one is 1100 years after
Lucretius wrote his manuscript. Aristotle is the same; he wrote his writings somewhere between 384 and 322
B.C. The earliest manuscript we have is dated 1100 A.D. That is 1400 years after Aristotle wrote his
manuscript. We have a manuscript, and we have four others like that. We have five altogether.
This is the kind of manuscript evidence we have for the classical writers. What kind of manuscript evidence
have we for the New Testament? Do we have 7 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament? Do we have 10? Do we
have 15? Do we have 20, like Tacitus? Do we have 10 like Caesar? Do we have 7 like Pliny? Eight like
Thucydides? Eight like Suetonius? Two like Lucretius? Nine like Euripides or five like Aristotle?
We have 4,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament — 4,000 ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament
to convince us that what we are reading in the New Testament is what the eye-witnesses originally wrote in the
first century. What about the age of those manuscripts? Let’s look at that startling information tomorrow.
Jesus and the Authority of the Bible -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Jesus and the Authority of the Bible
by Ernest O’Neill
We had a visitor from outer space. That is, we have had a human being who has left the earth, gone out into
space, way beyond where our space shots have reached, and has actually come back to tell us what is out there.
Muhammad hasn’t done that. Buddha hasn’t done that. Confucius has not. Zoroaster hasn’t. They all died like
However, this man died apparently like an ordinary man, then left the earth. Three days later, He came back
and lived for over a month, and ate and slept with His friends in such a way that they knew He was not a
ghost, but was actually a whole human being. That’s the man that can tell us what this world is about, what
the purpose of our lives is, and why we are alive and what the meaning of life is.
Therefore, it is very important that we know that that man really did exist. One of the reasons we can be so
sure that He existed is because of the reliability of the historians who wrote about Him in the first century.
They were men who have made an impression of honesty and integrity on all generations. They were men who died
for the very thing they wrote about, so much did they believe in it.
They were men who were surrounded by other eye-witnesses who read their accounts of the events of this man’s
life and therefore, could contradict it if it had been wrong. The question we’re dealing with is, “Can we be
sure that what we have is what they wrote?” In other words, if this man is Jesus and the men that wrote about
Him are people like Peter, John and Mark and Paul, can we be sure what we have in our Bible is what they
That’s one of the difficulties we have with Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”. Caesar wrote the history of the Gallic
Wars about 50 B.C., but the earliest manuscript we have of those Gallic Wars is 900 A.D. That’s about 1,000
years later. Now anybody could have changed that original manuscript and substituted theirs for it. In fact,
ten or twelve or twenty people could have done it over a period of 1,000 years. That’s what enables a myth to
be created: the passage of time.
How can we be sure that what we have in our Bible is what they actually wrote? Well, there are two important
factors that influence the reliability of the transmission of any history. One is the age of the manuscript.
The nearer you can get to the original writing, the more likely you are to have exactly what they wrote.
So, even though Plato wrote his Republic in 400 B.C., the nearest we can get to his manuscript is one that we
have of 900 A.D. That’s 1300 years after he wrote the manuscript. That’s a long time. So, one of the
important factors in being sure that you have what the original writers wrote is the age of the manuscript
that you have in your possession; what is the most ancient manuscript that you can find of this history?
The other factor is the number of manuscripts. Say there is a mistake in one manuscript. Well, if you have
three manuscripts, then you can compare one against the other two. If you have twenty-five manuscripts, you
can compare one against the other twenty-four. If you have 1,000 manuscripts, you can compare one against the
You have a better chance of being able to eliminate any mistakes that the copyist made in copying from one
manuscript to another which was the habit of course, of the ancient scribes because of the lack of durability
in the material they used to write on. Well, you can see in the ancient writers like Plato, Caesar, Pliny,
Livy and Thucydides, you’re rather limited.
Usually your most ancient manuscript is at least 1,000 years later than the original writing. Usually you’re
dealing with not more than seven manuscripts in the case of Plato’s “Republic” or at the most, twenty in the
case of Livy’s history. So, you’re usually dealing with relatively few manuscripts and relatively late
manuscripts, usually 1,000 years after the person wrote the book.
Yet, we don’t question when we read Plato, Tacitus, Caesar, Livy, Pliny, Thucydides, Lucretius, Euripides or
Aristotle that we are reading exactly what they wrote. We don’t question that seven to twenty manuscripts is
good enough for us. Even if they’re 1,000 years after the book was originally written, yet we can be sure that
what we have is what they wrote.
What is the situation with the New Testament? Is it as good as that? It is beyond that, beyond that in every
way. How many manuscripts do we have of the New Testament? We have 4,000! Over 4,000 Greek manuscripts, i.e.,
manuscripts that were written before 1,000 A.D. Over 4,000 of them. So, if there is a mistake in one, we can
compare it against 3,999 others.
We have a magnificent opportunity to be sure that almost every dot and every comma, almost the spelling of
every word is exactly the way Mark originally wrote it, or Luke originally wrote it, or Matthew, or Paul or
John or James.
But what is the age of these manuscripts? Are they as near as, say, Livy’s manuscript is to his writing,
maybe 1,000 years? Or as Plato’s is to his, maybe 1200 years? What is the oldest manuscript we have of the New
Believe it or not, if you go to the Manchester University library, you will find part of the gospel of John
that is dated (hold your breath) not 1,000 years after John wrote the book — not 900 years; not 800 years,
like Pliny; not 800 years like Suetonius; not 1500 years like Euripides; not even 400 years; not 300 years;
not 200 years, but 130 years after John wrote the gospel, the historical record of Jesus’ life. We have a
piece of manuscript in the University Library at Manchester dated 130 A.D.
Do we have any others? Yes. If you go to the British Museum, on one side you will see the Codex Alexandrinus,
and on the other side, you will see the Codex Sinaiticus manuscripts that are dated about 350 and 400 A.D., a
bare 350 or 400 years after the New Testament was written. We have 4,000 other manuscripts of similar age to
reinforce in us the conviction that when we read the New Testament account of Jesus’ life we are reading what
the first century eye-witnesses actually wrote.
Indeed, if you reject the manuscript evidence for the New Testament, you have to reject belief in Julius
Caesar, Plato, Suetonius, Homer or in any of the great leaders of the past. You have to say that black is
white. You have to say that history does not exist. You have to do that if you reject the reliability of the
New Testament history of Jesus’ life.
It is surpassing every other history of those days. It is more reliable than any other history of an ancient
figure. It is reinforced not only by the reliability of the original writers, but it is reinforced a thousand
fold by the exceptional manuscript evidence that we have. We have over 4,000 ancient manuscripts of which the
earliest is a bare twenty-five or thirty years after John wrote the first historical record called the Gospel
Can you believe that Jesus is a historical figure? If you don’t believe He is a historical figure, you don’t
believe in history. His historicity is more clearly established than any other figure of His time. Yes, Jesus
lived, spoke and died. He got up from being dead in the same way that history said He did.
Meaninglessness of Life – Where are we Going? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Meaninglessness of Life – Where are we Going?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question we’ve been discussing now for several months on this program.
You may ask, “Well, big deal! Why do you discuss ‘What is the meaning of life’ week after week, after week?”
Well, you remember the illustration we started off the program with several months ago. We mentioned that it’s
as if someone drew up a great tour bus in front of your door one morning and invited you to get on board,
because they were going to take you on an interesting trip.
You got on the tour bus and headed out toward the M1 motorway, then began to move at about 60 or 70 miles an
hour. After a few hours you asked the person beside you, “Where are we going?” The person beside you said,
“Well, I don’t know. Ask the person in front,” and you ask the person in front. They say, “Well, I don’t know
where we’re going. We’re just going somewhere.”
You began to wonder about the mentality of the people who are your fellow passengers. But, after a few hours
more, you started to ask other people on the bus, and they all replied the same way. Then somebody said,
“Don’t worry about where we’re going. Let’s break out the drinks; let’s break out the food and let’s have some
So you all had a wonderful lunch. You settled down to have a snooze and then after you wakened at about 7
o’clock in the evening you again began to ask the same question. “But, where are we going?” People kept
replying the same way to you. “It doesn’t matter where we’re going, let’s just keep on going.”
So, you all went to sleep that night and wakened up the next morning. Again, you asked the same question,
“Does anybody know where this bus is going?” and by now you were used to the reply. Everybody had got the same
story. “Don’t worry where we’re going. Let’s keep on cleaning the windows; let’s keep on picking up the
garbage; let’s keep on being happy with each other; let’s keep on eating; let’s keep on drinking; let’s keep
on having parties; let’s sing some songs. It doesn’t matter where we’re going.”
So, you continued like that through that day, through the next week and through the next week, through the
next month, through the next year and day by day, by day, everybody began to talk in the same terms: not of
where they were going, but of what they were going to do while on this bus, until gradually no one seemed to
bother where the bus was going at all, and no one seemed to care.
Except when children were born. They seemed to have enough freshness in their minds to ask the question. But,
gradually, they were taught by the other adults to ignore that question and to concentrate instead on just
cleaning the windows, on drinking, on eating, on having parties, on keeping themselves distracted.
Gradually, of course, you noticed that the only people who got off the bus were the people who died and were
thrown off. There came a time when you wished you were dead, because that was the only way you could stop the
world and get off. That’s why we ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?”
It’s because many of us feel we are in exactly that situation, except that instead of a tour bus, we are on a
space ship that is shaped like a sphere. Instead of going at 70 miles an hour, it is cruising through space at
thousands and thousands of miles per hour and none of us seem to have any idea of where it’s going or where
we’re going to end up at the end of the journey.
All we know is that there seems only one way off this spaceship at this time and that is by dying. That’s why
it has become the fashion in our era to write books on how to die, how to commit suicide, how to get off this
spaceship. We have become so mesmerized by the idiocy of cruising through space at incredible speeds not
knowing where we’re cruising to, that gradually some of us have begun to realize the only way into sanity is
out of all sanity and into insanity.
That’s why we’re asking this question. Because more and more of our young men and women, as well as more and
more of us are asking the question, “What’s the purpose of it all? Why bother?” We feel like A.E. Housman, who
years ago wrote that poem, you remember ….
“Yonder see the morning blink.
The sun is up, and up must I;
To wash, and dress, and eat, and drink,
and look at things, and talk, and think,
And work, and God knows why!
Oh, often have I washed and dressed,
And what’s to show for all my pain?
Let me lie in bed and rest;
Ten-thousand times I’ve done my best,
And all’s to do again”.
Many of us who step out of the front door every morning into the wet, driving rain to carry out the same
miserable boring tasks that we’ve been doing for years, many of us feel that way in these days. That’s why
we’re discussing the question, “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why are we alive?”
Thousands of us are bewildered about it. We don’t know the answer. We don’t know why we’re alive. We don’t
know what the meaning of life is. That’s why we’re discussing it. You remember, we said that in spite of the
fact that there seems such bewilderment in all our minds about the meaning of life and about the order and
purpose of life, yet we have to admit that in the world itself there is a great expression of order.
We notice the way the birds fly south in time to avoid the frost. We notice the way our hearts beat regularly
year after year without any visible means of support. We notice how the blood circulation carries on touring
around miles and miles of veins and arteries, and carrying 64 different substances without turning to sludge.
We are amazed at the order and organization of our human bodies. We are also overwhelmed by the design and
order that is evident in the world of nature. Those of us who have studied the chart of the elements are
amazed at how the elements fit into one another in a certain systematic pattern on the basis of their weights.
We see that even though we are bewildered and think the world has no meaning, yet, the world itself seems to
have lots of order and design in it. So, you remember, we said that there seems to us a lot of reason for
believing that the world did not originate out of insane chaos or out of absolute chance, but in fact it can
be traced back to some intellect that is at least as intellectual as our own.
We, in other words, agreed with Einstein who said that his religion consisted of a great respect for the great
Mind that originated the universe. So what we have been saying is that there is a great deal of circumstantial
evidence around us to suggest that there must be an intellect behind this universe — even if that intellect
used some system of evolution to end up bringing the world where it is today. Still, some intellect must have
programmed that evolution. It did not come through time-plus-chance. Even if there was a “big bang”, there had
to be something that exploded. There had to be something that made the “big bang”.
Even if there was a single-cell amoeba, there had to be somebody that originated the single-cell amoeba and
planted within it the potential to turn into something more than a single-cell amoeba. So what we have been
saying is that there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence to suggest that there is an ordered personal
intellect behind the universe that is at least as personable as us.
Then, you remember, we asked if there was any empirical evidence, any touch-and-see evidence to show us that
that intellect has ever tried to communicate with us. Is there anything that we can point to and say that
there is not only circumstantial evidence, but there is actual touch-and-see evidence that this intellectual
personality behind the universe does actually exist.
Of course, you know how we discovered that there is; there is evidence that that person exists. It isn’t in
people like Muhammad, or Buddha or Confucius, or any of the other great religious leaders who were just human
beings like the rest of us, people that have never got off the bus themselves, but have always been on the
But there is a remarkable person who joined the bus at some point in the journey — who came from outside the
bus — and that remarkable person has told us that there is a personal intellect behind the universe.
That’s why we’re discussing this question, “What is the meaning of life?” Because we say the only way to find
out the meaning of life is if we can find some person who has come from outer space, who knows what it’s all
about and who knows who originally created it. That’s the person that we’re talking about these days. Let’s
continue a little further tomorrow.
Order and Design – Jesus Life -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Order and Design – Jesus’ Life
by Ernest O’Neill
“What is the meaning of life?” That’s the question we’ve been discussing now for several months. You remember
that yesterday we said that many of us have discovered an expression of design and order in the very make-up
of our human bodies and our minds. Many of us who have studied physics and chemistry have seen also a great
design and order in the natural world itself.
We have seen not only that the seasons come and go in a regular pattern, not only that the sun and the stars
orbit in an orderly way, but we have also seen that the very substance of the elements that make up the
universe have an order to them. The DNA system of life that we’ve discovered, the structure of life itself has
a beautiful mathematical order in it that reinforces Einstein’s comment that there just has to be a personal
intellect behind the universe to explain the design that we with our intelligence can discover.
What we have asked is, is there any other evidence that there is such a person behind the universe? We have
said that evidence has to come from some appearance, some communication from that being. What we have been
saying is that there is such evidence. It doesn’t come through a man like Muhammad who is just a human being
like the rest of us. It doesn’t come through a man like Buddha or through the Hindu myths. It doesn’t come
through Confucius or Zoroaster who were just men like ourselves and died like dogs and were buried.
They are all people who never got outside this closed world in which we live. But there was a remarkable human
being who got onto this bus on which we all find ourselves, this spaceship in which we are hurtling through
space. There is a remarkable man who joined this spaceship about 1900 years ago. And he gave us reason to
believe that he came from outside the world itself, and that he had contact with the originator of the
universe. He had contact with the maker of the universe. He had contact with the great Supreme Being who
originally created you and created me.
You may say, “Well, we’ve heard this kind of story before; it’s usually wrapped up in myths.” You’re right.
The Greek and Roman myths are just myths; that’s all they were. When Homer talks about Zeus and all the other
gods, he is just talking about fairy tales that he or others have made up on the basis of some military
history that they were trying to describe at that time. You’re right also when you talk about the Hindu
myths. They consist of centuries and centuries of mythological stories that cannot be checked up on or
corroborated in any way.
You’re right also when you talk about Buddha’s life, which was written 500 years after he died so that there
is no way to tell that what we have there is actual fact, or is simply accretions that have accumulated over
the years through the imaginations of other authors. You’re right, too, when you talk about Muhammad, who
really gave us only information that we had already received through the Old Testament.
But when you talk about this other man, you talk about a different kind of being. You talk about a man who was
known as Jesus of Nazareth and has been regarded by many of us as just a religious figure. But he is far from
that. He is an actual historical figure.
Now you may say, “Well, prove that. All this business about the Bible and the chanting and the Psalms and the
bishops and the archbishops and all this religious stuff — surely it’s all just as old Marx said, that it’s
opium. It’s a drug that keeps the people down, keeps them from rising up against their rulers. No, it isn’t.
No, it isn’t at all. The Bible is not just a book of myths by any means. The Bible comes from the Greek words
“Ta Biblia”. It means “the books”. It referred to a group of books that were collected over centuries and
centuries. What we are talking about particularly in regard to Jesus is the last quarter of that book which is
known as the New Testament. And this consists of historical records of this man’s life.
So, if you say, “Well, how can you tell whether Jesus ever lived, how can you tell whether he isn’t just a
myth?” You can tell by studying history. If you say to me, “Ah, history lies.” No, it doesn’t. Did Winston
Churchill live? Sure he did. How do you know? Some of us were alive who actually saw him. Some of us saw him
when he wrote his books.
Is that so with Jesus? Of course it is. When John wrote what is known as the “Gospel of John”, there were
people that were alive at that time who saw Jesus. All they had to do was say, “No, that man wasn’t alive.
That man never did rise from the dead. That fellow John is just telling lies.” That’s all they had to do, but
they didn’t do that.
In spite of the fact that any young man who was alive in 29 A.D. when this Jesus was executed would only
really be about 40 when the Gospel was circulating or when the Epistle to the Galatians was circulating — he
did not contradict it. He did not say this didn’t happen. There was no great outcry saying that this man did
not rise from the dead. In fact, they accepted it.
Moreover, the books that record his life were circulating in the then-known world, so that lots of people were
reading them. Lots of people were seeing them. One of them said, “This wasn’t done in a corner. There were all
kinds of people who knew about this.”
So we discovered that not only the Bible writers wrote about this man Jesus, but a man like Tacitus, the
leading historian of Imperial Rome, wrote this, “The author of that name Christian was Christ, who in the
reign of Tiberius suffered punishment under his procurator Pontius Pilate.” That’s Tacitus. That’s not a New
Testament writer. That’s not a Christian. That’s not someone who supported Jesus. That’s an ordinary Roman
writer that many of us read about in the classics.
A man called Josephus, a Jewish historian, who had no interest in supporting any myth about Jesus, wrote this,
“There was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of
wonderful works, a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of
the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men
amongst us had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he
appeared to them alive again the third day.”
So there are many corroborations of the historical evidence of Jesus’ life. Indeed, if you want more of that,
you can write to me. I’ll give my address at the end of this program and I’ll send you a little book where
I’ve tried to summarize some of this evidence. But there is a great deal of evidence to reinforce the
historicity of this man Jesus. And so it is easy to establish the fact that this man lived and died as the
people in the New Testament said he lived and died.
Now, you may be like me. I believed that, but I had a question about whether what they wrote is what we have
in the Bible. That was my question. I wondered, “Well, maybe they wrote it, but maybe they wrote it, you know,
1900 years ago. So, how do we know that what we’ve got now is what they wrote then?
Of course, in the case of the classics, it’s a very reasonable question to ask. All of us believe in Plato’s
“Republic”. We use it as the basis of our philosophy classes at university. Yet the oldest manuscript we have
of Plato’s “Republic” was written 1300 years after Plato wrote the “Republic”. Yet, we have no doubt that what
we have is what Plato wrote.
What is the situation in the other classical writers? Well, it’s no better with Tacitus’ “History”. It’s about
1200 or 1300 years later that we have the first manuscript of his history. It’s the same with Caesar. It’s
about 1000 years later. What’s the situation with the New Testament? It’s amazing! We have a manuscript that
is in the university library in Manchester, England, that is dated 130 A.D., barely 30 to 35 years after John
wrote the gospel record of Jesus’ life.
Have we any other evidence? Sure. If you go to the British Museum, you’ll see the Codex Alexandrinus and the
Codex Sinaiticus, dated about 350 or 400 A.D., a bare 300 or 400 years after the New Testament was written.
Have we any other manuscripts? Certainly. We have about 4,000 different ancient Greek manuscripts that are at
least 1000 A.D. Some of them 200, some 400, some 500 A.D. So it is impossible to question the historicity of
this man Jesus, because the manuscript evidence that we have for his life is far superior to that of any of
the ancient writers or the ancient personalities of that time.
So it is very easy on purely scholarly, intellectual grounds to say that what we have recorded in the New
Testament about this remarkable man, who got onto this spaceship 1900 years ago, is absolute truth. It is
history. You have to reject all of history if you reject that. That’s how sure we are that this remarkable
human being lived 1900 years ago. Let’s talk a little more about him tomorrow.
Who Was Jesus? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Who Was Jesus?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are we alive? Most of us answer the question by saying, “Who knows? Who can
know? We are all in the same boat. All we know is what we see in this world.” None of us have ever been off
this world to see differently. Even those of us who go up into space don’t really get that far from this
world. We never get far enough to find out where this world came from.
So, it’s very difficult to tell what the purpose of this life is, because none of us have ever been other than
in this life. That is, none of us have, except a remarkable human being who lived 1900 years ago. That’s the
man we are beginning to talk about on this program in connection with the overall subject, “What is the
meaning of life?” or, “Why are we alive?”
What we’ve said, you’ll remember, is that in order to find a sensible answer to that question, we really have
to find somebody who has come from outer space, someone who has been outside this world, someone who has left
this world and come back to it. That person is not Muhammad; he died like all the rest of us. It’s not Buddha;
he was an ordinary person like all the rest of us and hardly even believed in a personal deity in the sense
that we are talking about.
Confucius was an ordinary philosopher. Zoroaster was. Most of the great religious leaders are in the same boat
as you and me. They have no more knowledge or information of outer space or of life beyond than we have. But
this amazing human being who lived 1900 years ago has. We have been talking about the historicity of his life.
That is, we have been discussing how sure we can be that he actually lived.
We have been talking about the reliability of the historical records that we have had for years collected and
hidden away in a book that many of us have come to regard as just a religious book. It is, of course, the
Bible. The last quarter of that book contains the historical records of his life. Those historical records,
written by men like Matthew and John, men like James and Peter and others like Mark and Luke — those
historical records are based on solid manuscript evidence that has accumulated since about the year 100 A.D.
We actually have over 4,000 different Greek manuscripts, so that we can be absolutely sure that what we have
of his life history is actually reliable and true. Because if you have a lot of ancient manuscripts, then you
can compare them with one another so that if there is a mistake in one, it can be corroborated by five, six,
or ten or, or in the case of the New Testament, 4,000 others. So, it gives you a greater opportunity to get at
exactly what was written by the original eyewitnesses at the time of this man’s life.
That’s one of the reasons we’re so sure that what we have of this man’s life is actually true and reliable.
It’s a bit like, you remember, we mentioned John F. Kennedy’s death in Dallas, Texas. Someone today might
write an imaginary account of that death telling how, say, Lyndon Johnson actually shot him in the back from
the car behind. Of course, that idea has only to be floated in the media for thousands of us who were either
in Dallas at that time, or who watched it on television to say, “That wasn’t so. That’s not the way it
happened at all.”
Of course, the same situation was true of this man Jesus’ life. The accounts that were written about his life
were circulating at the time when many of the people who were eyewitnesses to his crucifixion were still
alive. All they had to do was contradict the records if they wanted to. In fact, they didn’t.
In fact, they reinforced the record that you and I read today in the New Testament. So, don’t forget that when
you read the New Testament, you’re not just reading a religious book. You’re not reading an old collection of
myths. You’re reading actual, historical evidence that is more reliable than the “Gallic Wars” that were
written by Julius Caesar or “The Republic” that was written by Plato.
There is more manuscript evidence behind those books in the New Testament than there is behind Plato or
Tacitus or Caesar or Livy or Pliny or Thucydides or Lucretius, Euripides, or Aristotle. So, when we read that
historical record we can be sure it is some of the best history that we have of that time.
But what about this man? We say that he is different from every other man. In what way is he different? Why do
we believe that he is not an ordinary human being like the rest of us? First of all, because he talked like
God’s Son. That’s it. He talked like the Son of the Supreme Being behind the universe.
Even though his earthly father was an ordinary carpenter, he said to his parents once (he was just about
twelve years of age and they had found him in the temple, and you might remember this story from your days at
Sunday School), they asked him what he was doing there when they eventually found him. He replied, “Did you
not know I would be about my Father’s business?”
Now, in fact, his mother knew that her husband had no business in the temple. His mother Mary knew that
Joseph, her husband, was a carpenter. So that wasn’t his business. But in a very natural way, Jesus was
identifying himself with God. He said, “Did you not know I would be about my Father’s business?” He implied
that his Father was the one whom they were worshipping in the temple; that he was actually God.
On another occasion, he said, and I think it’s recorded probably in the book known as the “Gospel of John”,
Chapter 14 and verse 7, if you want to look it up. He said, “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”
In other words, he talked like the Son of God. He talked as if he was the Son of God. He talked as if he was
the Son of the Supreme Being behind the universe. He said the kind of things that you and I would expect the
Son of God to say. It’s very natural the way it flows from his lips, “If you knew me, you would know my Father
also.” He talks just as if his Father is God.
On another occasion, and I think it’s recorded in the same “Gospel of John”, it’s Chapter 14, verse 9, if you
want to look at it, he said “He who has seen me has seen the Father also.” That just tripped off his tongue.
“He who has seen me has seen the Father also.” If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my Father. He implied that his
Father was God.
In fact, it’s interesting, where prophets like Muhammad avoid claiming a unique relationship with God, or a
unique kinship with Him, (and it’s interesting that they do, you know) all those great religious leaders avoid
claiming a unique kinship with God. Where they avoid it, this man made it the focal point of his teaching. He
did. He would confront his followers with the question, “Who do men say that I am?” Then he would say to them,
“Who do you say that I am?” So he didn’t simply avoid the issue. He made it the focal point of his teaching.
Now, probably many of us can think of people who have really claimed all kinds of wild claims as long as they
would benefit from them. They’ve thought, “Oh, well, if I make myself somebody big, then I’ll get lots of
people who’ll respect me and lots of people who’ll give me money.” But this man was pointed and blunt about
it, even when he was on trial for his life about this very question of his identity. He didn’t just confess
it, he didn’t just claim to be God’s son when he would gain from it. He actually claimed to be God’s son when
that was the very issue that was going to cause his death.
In other words, when he was on actual trial for his life, when he was being tried for his life and the
presiding official asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”, he replied, “I am; and you will
see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
A lot of people wonder if he ever actually said he was God’s son. Of course he did. Of course he did. It’s in
the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 14, verses 61-62. That’s exactly what he said. He was asked when he was about to
be condemned to death, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And even though he knew that would bring
about his death, he replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power and
coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Is this man the Son of the Supreme Being behind the universe? He certainly talked as if he was. But of course
many people in the psych wards do that. So let’s talk about that tomorrow. Maybe he was a lunatic? Let’s
discuss that tomorrow.
Was Jesus a Myth, Liar or Lunatic? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Was Jesus a Myth, Liar or Lunatic?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Is there anybody who can tell us that? Is there anyone who has come from outer
space who can give us any reliable information on that question of “Why are we here? Or, why are we alive?
What is the point of it all?”
What we have been saying is that there is; there is an amazing human being that came on board this spaceship
about 1900 years ago. He came from outer space, and he left and went into outer space and returned here again
to show us that he had power to do that whenever he wished. That is the man that many of us have grown up with
from Sunday School days as a kind of religious mythological figure. Of course he was far from that.
He is a very reliably established, historical figure called Jesus of Nazareth. The evidence that we have for
his existence far outweighs any evidence that we have for the existence of Caesar or of Plato or Thucydides,
or of any of the great figures of ancient times. This man Jesus is recorded, as far as the details of his life
are concerned, in great detail in the last quarter of a book that we call the Bible.
That evidence that we have there is historical evidence. It’s reinforced by over 4,000 Greek manuscripts. The
earliest of them is about 130 A.D., which is a bare 30 years after the original, historical record was written
by the man called John, who was an eyewitness of this Jesus’ life. The kind of people that recorded that
historical evidence were not people who benefited from it, but who actually suffered in order to record it.
They were not contradicted by people like Tacitus or Porphyry or Celsus or Josephus or Tertullian or other
non-Biblical writers. They were in fact corroborated and confirmed by them. Nor were they contradicted by the
men who were eyewitnesses or the crowds of people who saw this man Jesus crucified. They were, in fact,
reinforced by them. So that, down through history, the details of this man’s life have been the most reliably
established details of any life that we have of that time.
So, when we talk about the life of this man Jesus of Nazareth, we are talking about facts that are empirical
and that have “touch-and-see” evidence, not only in the present make-up of the ancient world there in
Palestine, not only in the historical records of the nations there, but also in the historical records that we
have both within and outside the Bible itself.
But, why believe that this man did come from outer space, why believe that he is any different from Muhammad
or any different from Zoroaster or any different from any of the other human leaders of religion that we have
had in the history of mankind? Well, because he talked like the Son of God. He talked like the Son of God.
There was just a naturalness about the way he referred to His Father.
I mean, he would say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. If
you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He talked the way we would expect the Son of the Creator of the
universe to talk. He actually made his identity the focal point of his teaching.
People like Muhammad and other religious leaders avoided claiming any unique kinship with God. They continued
to say, “Look, I’m just a human being like all of you.” But this man made it the focal point of his teaching.
He got his disciples together one day and said, “Now listen, who do men say that I am? Now, who do you say
that I am?” So, he had no fear of the question. He had no fear of that claim. He talked like the Son of God.
Now, many of us will say, “Oh, well, anybody does that, you know. If you’re the Son of God, after all,
everybody would give you all their money and they’ll regard you as very well worth their respect and so you’d
gain a lot of popularity and fame for it.” But no! This man continued to claim that, even when he knew it
would mean his death. That’s why they crucified him. They didn’t crucify him because of his teaching. They
crucified him because he claimed to be the Son of God. That’s what the Jews said. They said, “This man’s
blaspheming. He says he is the Son of God.” That’s exactly what happened.
It’s recorded in part of the New Testament known as the Gospel of Mark. It’s in Chapter 14 and verse 61. Here
is the historical record: the presiding official who was questioning him said, “Are you the Christ, the Son of
the Blessed?” That meant, of course, are you the Christ, the Son of God, the son of the Supreme Being behind
the universe. He replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming
with the clouds of heaven.”
A lot of people say he never claimed to be the Son of God. There it is, right there in black and white, in
good reliable history that is reinforced by 4,000 Greek manuscripts. “Are you the Christ, the Son of the
Blessed?” “I am. And you shall see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds
of heaven.” In other words, He said, “Yes, I am. And you will see me at the end of this world coming in the
clouds of heaven.”
Now, of course you may say, “Big deal! I mean, lots of people claim lots of things. The psych wards, the
asylums are full of people claiming to be Napoleon, claiming to be a God’s son, claiming to be an angel from
heaven, claiming to be a great prophet. All kinds of people can claim great things. Talk is cheap. Sure, there
are lots of maniacs who have claimed to be the Son of God.”
But was this man a maniac? Was he? Was he a lunatic? You see, he didn’t act like a lunatic. That’s one of the
difficulties we have with trying to write him off as a lunatic. He didn’t act like a lunatic. I mean, you
might be right. He might have claimed to be something that only lunatics claim to be, but if you look at his
life, he didn’t act like a lunatic.
If you go to the psych wards, or you go to the asylums and you see somebody claiming to be Napoleon or
Wellington or Bismarck, they’ll act funny. That’s why they are in psych wards. That’s why they’re in asylums.
They’re unbalanced. They have other evidence of insanity in their lives. You can tell by their life that
they’re insane. The insane people in psych wards not only make insane claims for themselves, but they act
insanely. They produce other symptoms of their mental imbalance.
But this man Jesus does not behave as a deranged person. His character doesn’t have the abnormalities or
extremes of a madman. Indeed, the opposite is true. When anyone in the world, whatever their religious or
non-religious background, wishes to set forth an example of a perfectly balanced and integrated personality,
Jesus of Nazareth is the one who is presented as the model to follow. That’s true, isn’t it? I mean, that’s
why our Sunday School stories were all centered around Him. We were teaching the children all the time to be
like this man Jesus.
It was because His personality, His character is the picture of the perfectly sane, balanced personality. He’s
the picture of a model human being. One person has put it like this, “His zeal never degenerated into passion,
nor his constancy into obstinacy, nor his benevolence into weakness, nor his tenderness into sentimentality.
His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability or undue familiarity. His self-denial was free
from moroseness, his temperance from austerity.”
Such are the opinions of most of the behavioral experts of our time. If this man was a lunatic, then all of us
are hopelessly insane. Here is the way C.S. Lewis put it, “No one has yet explained how such deep, moral
teaching could come from the lips of a megalomaniac.” In other words, it’s hard to accuse this man of being a
lunatic when you see the kind of life that He lived and you observe His character. There is no extreme in His
character. There is no imbalance. His character is the one that we all look up to as the perfect example to
So, yes, He claimed to be the Son of God, but you can’t write him off as a lunatic, because he didn’t act like
a lunatic. Then maybe he was a liar? Let’s look at that tomorrow. Was this man a liar?
Was Jesus a Legend? -
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Was Jesus a Legend?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of our present life? Why are you alive here? What’s the purpose of your life? That’s what
we’ve been talking about on this program. What we’ve been sharing is that it’s really important to try to get
some answer to that question that has some more authority behind it other than just the opinion of yet another
human being. Because we are surrounded by human beings who have given us answers to that question.
We have all kinds of religious leaders like Muhammad and Buddha and Zoroaster and Confucius who are just men
like ourselves who are just giving a human opinion. But we have no one who seems to have come from outer space
or who has come from beyond the world and can tell us what the Creator, or the Supreme Being behind the
universe had in mind when He made this world and made us. That is, we have no one, except a unique human being
who lived in the first century of our era. That’s the person we are discussing on this program.
We’ve talked about the historicity of this man Jesus. We’ve said that his historicity — that is, the fact
that he existed and lived and said the things that we’ve read he said and did — the historicity of this man
is far more clearly established than the historicity of Julius Caesar, or the historicity of Buddha, or the
historicity of Pliny or the historicity of Plato. The historicity of this man Jesus is more reliably
established by the number of manuscripts that lie behind the history that you and I read of him today than we
can find in any of the other ancient figures of that time.
So, when you read the record of his life in the last quarter of what we call the Bible, you’re reading
historical evidence that is solidly backed up by manuscripts that you can find in the library of the
University of Manchester or the library of the British Museum in London. You’re reading history that’s
certain, and sure and firm.
Now, what kind of person do we read about? Well, we read about a man who talked like the Son of God. He talked
as if he was the Son of God. When he was being tried for his life, he didn’t back off his claim. The
interrogator said to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” He replied, “I am; and you will see
the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
Now, if there was ever a time to back off the claim that he was the Son of the Creator of the universe, that
was the time. After all, his teaching could have stood. He could still have been very famous, if he would only
stop saying that he was the Son of God. But he didn’t. Right at that point when he knew it would bring about
his death, he said he was the Son of God.
Now, what we have said is that many people, of course, do that. Many people are in the asylums and psych wards
today. They claim to be Napoleon; they claim to be Bismarck; they claim to be Julius Caesar; and they claim to
be God’s son. But what we have said about them is that they have other marks of imbalance in their character.
I mean, you can tell they are lunatics, because they live like lunatics; they behave like lunatics. They have
other trends in their personality that show that they are not normal or balanced. This man doesn’t.
This man is the person we point to as the supreme example of a balanced human being. In other words, he claims
to be the Son of the Maker of the universe, but he acts like the most balanced human being that ever lived.
Here is what John Stuart Mill said about Him (and Mill was a skeptical, cynical philosopher here in England)
…and this is what he said about this man Jesus of Nazareth:
“Above all, the most valuable part of the effect on the character which Christianity has produced by holding
up in a divine person a standard of excellence and a model for imitation, is available even to the absolute
unbeliever and can nevermore be lost to humanity. For it is Christ, rather than God, whom Christianity has
held up to believers as the pattern of perfection for humanity.”
“It is the God Incarnate, more than the God of the Jews or of nature, who being idealized, has taken so great
and salutary a hold on the modern mind. And whatever else may be taken away from us by rational criticism,
Christ is still left, a unique figure, not more unlike all his precursors than all his followers, even those
who had the direct benefit of his personal teaching.”
Mill goes on to say, “It is of no use to say that Christ, as exhibited in the Gospels, is not historical, and
that we know not how much of what is admirable has been super added by the tradition of his followers. The
tradition of followers suffices to insert any number of marvels and may have inserted all of the miracles
which he is reputed to have wrought, but who among his disciples, or among the proselytes was capable of
inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels?”
“Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee. Certainly not the Saint Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasies were
of a totally different sort. Still less, the early Christian writers, in whom nothing is more evident than
that the good which was in them was all derived, so they always professed it was derived from the higher
source. About the life and sayings of Jesus there is the stamp of personal originality, combined with
profundity of insight, which must place the prophet of Nazareth, even in the estimation of those who have no
belief in his inspiration, in the very first rank of men of sublime genius of whom our species can boast.”
That’s the kind of opinion an ordinary skeptical cynic has about this man Jesus of Nazareth. So, it’s
difficult to say that he’s a lunatic. Everybody, even the most intellectual of our human race, regards him
with respect. C.S. Lewis says, “No one has yet explained how such deep moral teaching could come from the lips
of a megalomaniac.” So, it’s impossible to say that this man who claimed to be the Son of the Supreme Being
behind the universe was a lunatic, because he didn’t act like a lunatic — not at all.
But, maybe he was a liar? Maybe he was just a liar? Perhaps Jesus was simply a con man, a simple liar? Maybe
he knew he wasn’t God, but deliberately deceived his hearers about his true identity in order to lend
authority to his preaching? We can see that. A lot of us can imagine that. Maybe he wanted people to respect
his teaching, so he thought, “Well, if I say I’m the Son of God, they’ll respect it more than if I say I’m
just an ordinary man.”
But there’s a problem here, a problem of logic, because he is universally regarded as the teacher of the
highest ethical ideals the world has ever seen. He is, you know. He is regarded as the greatest moral teacher
the world has ever seen. Moreover, his life is looked upon as the outstanding example of a perfect, faultless
example of his teaching. If he is a liar, then the whole world of logic crumbles in our hands, and our ability
to make even the simplest observations with our five senses become questionable.
It is nonsense to say that the greatest moral teacher and example the world has ever seen lied about the focal
point of all his teaching: his own identity. If Jesus was a liar, then the world is a tale told by an idiot.
You can see that. We can’t on the one hand say he is the greatest ethical teacher the world has ever seen, and
he is the greatest example of his own teaching, and his life is the most perfect life that man has ever
observed on the earth, and then say “But at the central point of all his claims, he was lying. He was a
downright liar.” It just makes foolishness of our logic.
It’s impossible to claim on the one hand that he is the greatest ethical teacher the world has ever seen, to
claim on the other hand that he is the most perfect example of his high moral teaching, and then at the same
time to say that about the central point of his teaching he was a liar. You can’t. You can’t have that kind of
combination of lying and conning together with high moral teaching. It just makes illogicality of our logic.
It turns the whole world upside down.
Was Jesus a lunatic? How then can you explain the balanced life that we all respect or the highest life ever
lived here on earth? Was Jesus a liar? How then can you explain that we all regard him as the highest moral
and ethical teacher the world has ever seen and that he was the highest example of an ethical life that we
have ever observed? Well, perhaps he was a legend. Was he just a legend? Let’s look at that possibility
Jesus: Lunatic, Myth or Son of God? -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Jesus: Lunatic, Myth or Son of God?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of this life of ours? I mean, why are you alive? What’s your life for? What is the purpose
of it? Where are you going to? That’s the kind of question we’ve been talking about on this program for
several months now.
What we’ve concluded is that the only one who can give an authoritative answer to that is somebody from
outside this life — somebody who is outside of this closed universe in which we seem to find ourselves,
someone who has come from outer space, or someone who has some kind of knowledge that is real of the Supreme
Being, or the Force, or the Power, or whatever it is that originated this whole world and this whole universe
and created you and me.
What we’ve been sharing, as you know, is that many human beings have claimed to tell us what it is all
supposed to be in aid of, but we’ve had to admit that all of them were just like ourselves. They were just
human beings. They were born here, died here and they never left the earth, as far as we are able to tell.
In fact, there’s only one human being that has given any evidence that he left the earth and came back again,
and that he had any remarkable relationship with the Supreme Being behind the universe. That is the person
that is known as Jesus of Nazareth.
You remember, we’ve shared how his historicity is established, because of the carefully documented records
that we have in the last quarter of the book that we know as The Bible. It’s documented carefully by
manuscript evidence that is superior to any we have for the existence of any of the other ancient figures like
Julius Caesar, or Plato or Thucydides. It is more carefully reinforced and more fully substantiated than any
other history of the time. What we have been saying is that this amazing man seems to have a remarkable and
unique relationship with the Maker of our world.
If you say to me, “Why do you say that?” Well, for one thing, he talked like the Son of God. Of course, what
we said is that many people talk like the Son of God. Many people claim to be the Son of God (and they’re all
in psyche wards and asylums). But this man has no evidence of imbalance in his own life. He does not live like
a lunatic. He does not behave like a lunatic.
He is regarded by all of us as the picture of the balanced, sane human being. He is looked up to as an example
to follow. He is passed on by teachers to their pupils as the one whom they should imitate in their life
pattern. So, he talked as if he was the Son of God, but he did not live like a lunatic. So, you can’t just
say, “Oh, he was a lunatic; he was a crazy man.” He didn’t live like a crazy man.
Well, maybe he was a liar? Maybe he just thought if he was the Son of God that he’d gain more fame and
popularity for his teaching. But you can see that there is a deep ethical and logical impossibility in that
statement, because we regard him universally as the highest ethical and moral teacher the world has ever seen.
We also regard him as the foremost example of his own moral teaching.
Then, it’s impossible to say that at the central point of his teaching, in the most important claim he made,
(that is, that he was the Son of God), in the most important statement that he made (that is, about his own
identity), he lied. It’s a logical impossibility. It makes foolishness of our logic. It makes foolishness of
every believer and non-believer, every skeptic and cynic, many of whom admire his moral life and his ethical
It is impossible to say, “But at the central point of his teaching he was a liar.” It just makes foolishness
of our language and our logic. Was Jesus a lunatic? He did not act like a lunatic. He did not talk like a
lunatic. Was he a liar? He did not tell lies about any of the rest of the things in his life.
Indeed, when a lie would have saved him from crucifixion, he did not lie. No, he wasn’t a liar. Was he a
legend, then? Could he have been an ordinary, good man who was lionized by his followers after his death? That
happened to Buddha. Nothing was written about Buddha for about 500 years after his death. Then, all kinds of
legends were circulated about him which by then could not be proven or disproven.
Now, maybe that’s the same situation with Jesus. Maybe he was just an ordinary man, and his disciples gained a
great respect for him. Then, they thought, “Well, he must be remarkable; maybe we should make him out to be
the Son of God.” Or, perhaps they just talked about him in such terms of respect that gradually people began
to regard him as divine. That is the difficulty about this theory in regard to Jesus.
That is, a legend takes time to develop. It takes time to develop. That’s what it had in regard to Buddha.
There were 500 years which passed by during which no one wrote anything about him. During those 500 years all
kinds of myths and stories and imaginary tales were created about him. There was no one during those years
that could disprove him. So, the legend gradually grew. A legend requires time to develop.
Now, all the people, for instance, who saw Kennedy shot have to be long dead and all contemporary records have
to be lost before imaginary stories can gain credence and acceptance. This kind of time does not exist in the
case of John Kennedy. So, you don’t have legends about John F. Kennedy’s death.
There was not a great passage of time before the records appeared about his death and about Lee Harvey Oswald
killing him in Dallas. A legend could not grow up. The historical records occurred the same afternoon the
death occurred. There was no possibility of all the eyewitnesses dying out and imaginary stories being created
that nobody could contradict.
That kind of time does not exist in the case of Jesus of Nazareth. By 48 A.D. the Letter to the Galatians (one
of the books in the New Testament, which is the last quarter of the book that we call the Bible), which tells
about his life and his death, was circulating throughout the then-known world. Now that was 48 A.D.
Now, do you see that that is a mere 20 years after Jesus was crucified? He was crucified in 29 A.D. This
account of his death was circulating by 48 A.D. It was circulating round all the towns of Palestine. Anybody
trying to circulate a legend about Kennedy in 1984, or in 1986 would have to face thousands of us who were
alive when he was actually killed. We would just contradict any legends.
It’s the same with Jesus. Thousands of people who had seen the crucifixion in Jerusalem were alive when
accounts of his life were already being read and studied. So, it’s impossible to say he was a legend. A young
man of 20, who was alive at the time Jesus was crucified, would only be 40 in the year 48 A.D. He would be
perhaps 40-50 years of age at the most.
There were many such men, many such women. All they had to do was say, “Look, this story about this man rising
from the dead isn’t true. I was there. I was in Jerusalem at that time and he didn’t rise from the dead. This
is just a legend.” But, in fact, they didn’t do that. They corroborated the story. They corroborated the
Was Jesus a legend? No! There wasn’t time for imaginary stories to develop to make him a legend. If Jesus is
not a lunatic, and he is not a liar and he is not a legend, there is only one possibility left. Jesus of
Nazareth really did exist and lived the life that the Bible and other contemporary historical records describe
in such detail.
This man Jesus actually existed. This life occurred on our planet 1900 years ago.
Was Jesus the Son of Ggod? -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Was Jesus the Son of God?
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the purpose of our life here? Besides you getting your salary at the end of the month or your wages at
the end of each week, and besides the fact that you’re trying to bring up some children and trying to get them
a good education so that they can get a good job so that they can have children so that they can get a good
education, and they can get a good job so that they can have children, etc., etc. ad absurdum?
What is the point of life beyond that? Why do you think that we are all here? Why do you think you’re here?
What’s the purpose of your life? What is the purpose of all our lives? What’s the purpose of the world? What
is the meaning of it all?
You may say that that is too big a cosmic question for me. The biggest question that I can handle is what I’m
going to have for dinner tonight or for tea or for supper tonight. “I can’t handle those other questions;
they’re too big.” Yeah, but they are important, aren’t they?
It’s not such a big deal, really, tomorrow what you had for supper or what you had for tea tonight, but it is
going to be a big deal someday, when you draw your last breath. It’s going to be a big deal: what the purpose
of it all was. Now, you may say, “Well, yeah, yeah, I’ll wait till then.” But you know then that you won’t
have the ability or the consciousness to deal with the question. You’ll have to have made the thing clear in
your own mind by that time.
You won’t do it at that time. So what do you think the purpose of it all is? Most of us, of course, say that
that is just too big a question for me. I don’t know what it’s all made of. I’ve never been off this world and
this is all I know. It seems to me that in order to tell what the purpose of the world is you would have to
live in some way outside it.
I don’t know of anybody that has done that. Muhammad hasn’t done it. He was a human being like the rest of us.
Zoroaster hasn’t done it, great religious leader that he was. Confucius, a remarkable Chinese philosopher that
he was, was just a human being like us. Even the Hindus and even people like Buddha and those who practice Zen
Buddhism, they’re just human beings like the rest of us. They can’t give us any information from beyond space.
So what can we know? And that is the truth, isn’t it? In order to have any kind of explanation that is at all
reasonable or rational or deserves our respect or our trust, we have to have somebody who comes from outer
space. We have to have somebody who has left this earth and has come back to it and seems to have an ability
to go both ways whenever he desires to.
Of course, there is only one human being like that and that’s the character that many of us have learned to
regard as a religious myth. That’s the man called Jesus. He is, of course, far from a religious myth. The fact
is, his life that is recorded in such detail in the last quarter of the book that you and I know as the Bible,
his life is the most carefully recorded life of a man of that time that we possess.
If you say, “Well, that’s a long time ago. How do we know that what we read now is what actually took place in
his life time?” Well, the evidence is strong. The historical evidence is strong that the people who wrote
about him were real men of honesty and integrity, who have not only been respected in our day, but who were
respected in their day as men who were honest and true.
They were men who said that they were eyewitnesses of his life. They actually observed him. They actually saw
him die. They actually saw him risen from the dead. They were men who were there present when he did these
Whenever we argue that they might have had some ulterior motive for writing about him as if he was remarkable
and unique, we see that they didn’t gain anything from what they wrote. They in fact suffered for it. So there
is every reason to believe that what they wrote is what actually happened.
If we begin to wonder, well, do we have what they actually wrote? In other words, since it happened so many
hundreds of years ago, well 1900 years to be exact, how do we know that the manuscripts that have been passed
down to us have remained untouched and untampered with? Well, the sheer number of them ensures that.
If anybody had wanted to tamper with the original story of Jesus’ life, they would have had to change not just
two manuscripts or six or seven or eight (as in the case of Julius Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”). They would not
have only changed about nine or ten in the case of Plato’s “Republic”. They would have had to change some
4,000 Greek manuscripts that have been discovered all over the ancient world.
Four thousand different Greek manuscripts! So the manuscript evidence is incredibly strong and gives us
absolute confidence that what we read about this man in the last quarter of the Bible is what actually
happened in his life. Now was he, in fact, different from the rest of us? Was he, actually, any different from
Well, he certainly talks as if he was. He talks like the Son of God. He says, “He that has seen me has seen
the Father.” If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God. When he was being tried for his life, the interrogator said
to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” That is, are you the Christ, the Son of the Creator of
He replied, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the
clouds of heaven.” He confirmed, even at the most dangerous moment of his life, that he was, in fact, the Son
of the Maker of the universe. If you say, “Aj, many people have done that, too, and they’re lunatics and in
mental asylums.” Yes, but he didn’t live like a lunatic.
He hasn’t the imbalance in his life that the lunatic has. If you say, “Yeah, but maybe he was just a liar or a
con man trying to get great respect for his teaching” — that is illogical. He is regarded as the foremost
ethical teacher that the world has ever seen. You can’t say that the foremost ethical teacher the world has
ever seen, the greatest ethical life that has ever been lived, told a lie about the focal point of his
identity. You can’t say that.
Was he a legend? Well, a legend requires time to grow up. There wasn’t that time. Twenty years after he was
crucified reports of his life and records of his life were circulating around all the communities of the
ancient world and there were many people alive who had seen him die. All they had to do was contradict it and
it would have destroyed the legend.
There wasn’t time for a legend to grow up about him. No, this man wasn’t a liar; he wasn’t a lunatic and he
wasn’t a legend. This man — you are forced, by simple, intellectual inference, to conclude — really did
exist in the first century of our era and did and said the things that this Bible says he did and said.
Indeed, one outstanding scholar says that there is no question about any of the events in Jesus’ life. The
only disagreement we have is with where to put a comma or a semicolon at times in the history of his life.
That’s the only question. The main events, the sayings, the actions of his life — we are more sure of those
than we are of the history of any of the other personalities of ancient times.
As we study his life, was it in any way the kind of life that we would expect the Son of the maker of the
world to live? Well, it was. He not only spoke like God, but he acted like God. That is, he did the kind of
things you would expect the Creator’s Son to be able to do.
He said, for instance, quietly, to a storm on a lake, “Be still.” He didn’t just say it, you know. He didn’t
just say, “Be still.” The waves actually smoothed out and the wind went down. That actually happened. That’s
an event. It is more substantiated and reinforced than any event of that era. It’s found in Mark, Chapter 4
and verse 39.
He said quietly to a storm on a lake to be still and the waves smoothed out and the wind went down. He simply
touched the withered skin of a leper and said, “Be clean,” and the man was instantly healed. That’s recorded
in a book called Luke in the Bible, and it’s Chapter 5 and verse 12. He just said, “Be clean”, and the
withered skin of the leper was smoothed out and was healed.
He had power over death and he raised a man called Lazarus from the grave. He actually just got that man up
from being dead. It’s recorded in a book called John, in Chapter 11 and verse 17. He just said, “Rise up”
(stand up) and the dead man rose.
He was able to change the very make-up of water so that water was changed into wine in a moment by his word.
His life is filled with miracles like these which demonstrate the kind of power over nature and disease that
you would expect the Maker of the world to have.
So, yes, he lived like the Son of the maker of the world. He did the kind of miracles that you would expect
that man to be able to do. Is there any other reason for believing that he was the Son of the maker of the
universe? Let’s look at that next time.
The Divinity of Jesus and His Miracles -
What is the Meaning of Life?
The Divinity of Jesus and His Miracles
by Ernest O’Neill
Wouldn’t it be great to know why we were here? Wouldn’t it be great to know what the meaning of this life is?
What the point of it is and how did we all ended up here and why we’re here and where we’re all going to end
up? You probably have felt the same as I, that it would be great to know that, but how can you ever know that?
How can you ever be sure?
All we have are theories and philosophies and all kinds of religions that claim to tell us that, but who
knows? Who could know? You would have to be the maker of the world itself to know that and who knows if there
is a maker of the world?
It seems that there is a lot of complex order and design in this world, but what evidence have we that there
is a maker behind it all? There ought to be, I agree; there ought to be to explain the order and design we see
in our bodies and that we see in the world of nature and in the chart of the elements and the DNA molecules.
There ought to be, but I don’t know how we’d ever find out if there was — unless He somehow came to earth and
appeared in such a plain obvious way that we knew it was Him, or somebody that was closely related to Him. Of
course, that’s what happened.
Nineteen hundred years ago there was a remarkable human being, not an ordinary man like Zoroaster, or Buddha,
or Muhammad, but a remarkable human being. This was a man who actually lived like the rest of us, talked like
the rest of us, except that he talked like the Son of God. He talked as if he was the Son of the Maker of the
He said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God. If you honor me, you honor God.” When an interrogator asked him,
on pain of death, “Are you the Christ, the Son of God, he said, “Yes, I am. And you will see me coming with
the clouds of heaven at the end of this world.”
Many of us, of course, tend to say, “Well, all lunatics claim that kind of thing.” But he was not a lunatic.He
didn’t behave like a lunatic. In fact, we’ve all regarded him, almost without exception– whether we’re cynics
or whether we believe in him or not — we’ve all regarded him as the highest ethical teacher the world has
ever seen and the highest example of his own moral teaching the world has ever seen.
So of all people, he would not be a lunatic nor would he be a liar, because he is the man that is looked upon
by all of us as the example of absolute integrity. To call him a liar about the focal point of his teaching —
that is, his identity – makes madness out of all our logic.
Was he a legend? No, there wasn’t time to develop a legend. He was hardly dead before people were beginning to
talk about him and to write about him. So there wasn’t time for a legend to develop. All the eyewitnesses were
still alive who had observed his life and death and they were able to corroborate or contradict the things
that were written about him.
None of them contradicted the historical records that you and I have today in the last quarter of the book
called the Bible. In fact, they corroborated and confirmed it. Men like Tacitus and Josephus, men like
Tertullian and Pliny, men like Celsus and Porphyry — these are writers outside the Bible who have confirmed
that what he said and did he actually said and did.
Is there any evidence to suggest that he was more than an ordinary human being? Yes. He not only talked like
God, but he acted like God. He was able to still a storm on a lake just by saying, “Be still!” He was able to
turn water into wine just by commanding it to turn into wine. He was able to raise a man called Lazarus from
Moreover, he was unlike all other great religious leaders. All of them are conscious of some moral
shortcoming. Indeed, it is obvious to even their followers that they are morally less than perfect. Muhammad’s
life is full of acts of vengeance and violence. No one questions that.
Buddha’s life was withdrawn and reclusive, but Jesus’ life was sinless. This man’s life was absolutely
sinless. If you wonder, “Did anybody ever live a sinless life?” Yes, this man did. Not because he claimed it,
but because his enemies even claimed it. Pilate, who was the man appointed to check him out on behalf of the
Jews and the Roman authorities, said, “This man has done nothing wrong; I find no fault in this man.”
Now Pilate was the person responsible for prosecuting Jesus. He said he found no fault in this man; he has
done nothing wrong. That’s recorded in the last quarter of the book that we have known as the Bible. It’s in
the book of Luke, Chapter 23 and verse 14. This man Pilate said, “This man has done nothing wrong.”
The centurion who supervised the crucifixion, who was responsible for killing this man Jesus, said after he
died, “Surely this man was the Son of God. Surely this man was the Son of God. He has to be! I’ve never seen a
life like this.” These were the two men responsible for His death; they said he was flawless; he’s sinless. He
has no fault. He must be the Son of the Creator of the universe.
When he asked his most militant critics, the Pharisees, “Which of you convicts me of sin (and John recorded
that in what’s called the Gospel of John, in Chapter 8 and verse 46), when Jesus said, “Which of you convicts
me of sin?” they were all silent. They just said nothing. In other words, they themselves admitted that this
is a sinless life that we have before us.
Moreover, twenty centuries of painstaking critiques by the behavioral experts of the world have served only to
confirm that the life of this man is the one perfectly sinless life that was ever lived on earth. So, yes. He
was different from ordinary men. He lived the one sinless, faultless life that has ever been lived on our
earth. That is by the testimony of not only eyewitnesses, but those eyewitnesses who were responsible for
killing him. His enemies admitted that his life was a flawless, sinless, perfect, moral life.
But perhaps the most significant thing about his life is not his life; the most significant thing about his
life is his death. When we talk about this man Jesus as being different from Zoroaster and being different
from Muhammad, we mean it was different most of all in his death. All these men, as we’ve said a dozen times
before, died like dogs. They died like dogs.
They died and were buried and their graves were honored and respected for years, because their bodies could be
dug up at anytime and could be found there. They died like ordinary men. They never left the earth as far as
their own physical body was concerned. But this man Jesus’ death was different. All of the evidence that this
man was the Son of God pales before the one event in his life that sets him apart from all other religious
leaders and prophets.
He said throughout his public ministry that he would rise from being dead on the third day and he did. He did.
He said continually that on the third day he would rise from the dead and he did. Now there have been many
gurus who have been buried alive and through controlled breathing, have been able to survive in a kind of
trance under the earth.
But none have been executed by experts like the Romans and then actually risen from the dead. This is what
happened with this man. The soldiers were so sure he was dead that they didn’t even bother breaking his legs.
They simply thrust a spear into his side and a mixture of blood and water poured out.
Then he was buried in a private tomb, bound tightly in grave clothes, and then a large stone was rolled across
the mouth of the tomb. He was buried on Friday night. On Sunday morning, he met Mary, one of his followers, in
the garden. When she reported it to the other disciples, they wouldn’t believe her. But in a moment Jesus
appeared suddenly in the room with them. He did this for the next month or more, appearing on more than a
Sometimes he appeared to a few of them; sometimes to more than five hundred at one time. Sometimes he ate
breakfast or allowed skeptical Thomas to poke his finger into the holes in his hands, to make it clear he was
not a ghost or a psychological hallucination. Then he explained that he must return to his Father, the Creator
of the universe, and his body has never been found on earth since.
That’s why we believe this man Jesus was the Son of God. Is there any other explanation for this resurrection
from the dead? Let’s look at some of them next time.
Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ -
What is the Meaning of Life?
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.
More Evidence for Jesus Resurrection -
What is the Meaning of Life?
More Evidence for the Resurrection
by Ernest O’Neill
Did Jesus actually destroy death? Did he actually rise from the dead? You may say, “Big deal, why is it
important?” Well, there is no other man in the history of the human race who has even appeared to be able to
break the barrier of death.
Lots of gurus have claimed to be able to do it. Lots of con men have pretended that they did it. Yet, nobody,
including Muhammad and Buddha and Zoroaster and all the other great religious leaders, nobody else has
actually given evidence in history that they have destroyed death.
This man Jesus has. Why is that important? It is important because we are trying to answer the question, “Why
are we alive? What is the meaning of life?” It seems that any of us who give answers to that question share
all the limitations of the rest of the human beings in the world. That is, we have never been off the earth.
We don’t know what happened before we came to it; we don’t know what will happen after we leave. We don’t seem
able to break the time barrier of our own very short lives. So anything we say about what the meaning of life
is or how it came to be here is rather meaningless, because we know only what happens in our own seventy or
What we need is some man who has broken that barrier, someone who has lived beyond himself and who has lived
beyond the span of his life here on earth, and seems to know something about space beyond what we have found
out with our space shots.
Now, this man Jesus is the only one who has ever appeared to have done that. One of the reasons we say that is
that he not only talked like the Son of the Creator of the world, but he acted like the Son of the Maker of
He not only lived a perfect life, he not only gave the most exalted ethical teaching the world has ever heard,
but, above all else, he died and then came back to life again after three days and appeared to friends and
enemies alike for about a month. Then he vanished from the earth forever. His bones have never been found.
That’s why we believe that he’s more than just a human being. That’s why we believe he’s speaking truth when
he talked as if he had visited the Creator of the world and came back after his resurrection. You may say,
“Well, aren’t there other explanations?”
It’s very hard to find any explanation that is as rational and as reasonable and believable as the historical
evidence for the resurrection itself. One scholar has said, “There is no historical event that is so
documented, that is so reinforced logically, legally, psychologically, socially, philosophically,
semantically; there is no other event that is so substantiated as the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Why do we say that? Because there are two facts that are very hard to get rid of. One is the empty tomb itself
and the other is the resurrection appearances. What about the empty tomb? It is interesting to see that right
from the earliest times, there was an attempt to deceive all of us about the man’s resurrection.
There is this record that occurs in one of the books of the New Testament. It is a manuscript that is backed
up not only by the Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus that you can see in the British Museum, but also by other
manuscripts, almost 4,000 of them. They reinforce that when we are reading what I am about to read to you, we
are reading history that is more carefully substantiated than any other history that we have of the time.
Here is the way it runs in Matthew 28 and verse 11, “While they were going, behold the guard went into the
city and told the chief priest all that had taken place. When they had assembled with the elders and taken
counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, ‘Tell people, “His disciples came by night and
stole him away while we were asleep.” If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you
out of trouble.’ So they took the money and did as they were directed and the story has been spread among the
Jews to this day.” It is interesting that though there was that early attempt to spread a lie, the lie has
remained a lie and has been recorded as a lie by the historical authorities.
In fact, we have the fact recorded that he rose from the dead and that his disciples did not steal the body,
but that he did rise from the dead. Now some say, maybe his disciples stole the body. They might have been so
taken up with this great man that they had followed so faithfully and were so ambitious for their own lives
and their own positions that maybe they thought they would make him out to be a god. They went further and
stole the body and then claimed that he had risen from the dead.
Now, one of the difficulties with that is that men will die for what they believe is true, but they will not
die for what they know to be a lie. Men will die for what they think is true, but they will never die for
something they know to be a downright lie. In other words, it was their preaching that he rose from the dead
that caused them and their children to be fed to the lions and to be crucified. Now, men will not die and take
their children to death for something that they themselves know to be a lie that they made up.
So, when we talk about his disciples stealing the body and then preaching that he was alive, we are asking
ourselves to believe an ethical and a psychological impossibility. It is something that you or I wouldn’t do.
We would not make up a lie and then die for it and cause the death of our children and our relatives. We would
refuse to do that.
Eventually we would confess that it was a lie and that we just made it up. We would talk about his teaching
and his life, because that’s the important thing. But we wouldn’t hold on to a story about his rising from the
dead. So, there is an ethical and psychological impossibility to believing that his disciples stole the body.
Some have said that maybe the Romans stole the body. After all, he was a nuisance to them. He was someone they
wanted rid of as quickly as possible. He was someone who was causing unrest in the empire. So, maybe the
Romans stole the body so the Jewish people wouldn’t have yet another martyr to band behind and rebel against
the rule of the emperor.
Well, if they did, then they had a very easy way to squash the idea of his resurrection. All they had to do
was to take the body they had stolen and parade it through the streets of Jerusalem. So, if the Romans stole
the body, all they had to do was put it on a cart and haul it through the streets and say, “Look, there’s your
great, divine being. There is your Son of God. He was just a man like the rest of you.”
In other words, you can’t argue that the Romans stole the body, because if they did, they had right there the
best argument to destroy Christianity that anybody could possibly possess.
Now others say that maybe he just swooned. He didn’t really die on the cross; he just swooned. Later, in the
cool and damp of the tomb, he recovered and regained consciousness. Now, this is a more difficult explanation
to accept than the idea of the resurrection itself. The reason is that the Romans were the experts in death.
They were not only the experts in death, but, you remember, they first checked crucifixion victims if they
were dead, and then they went further and broke their legs if they weren’t dead.
Now, they didn’t break the legs of Jesus. They simply put a spear into his side and out came blood and water,
so that they were sure beyond all doubt that he was dead. So, first of all, they were the experts in killing.
Secondly, it is a greater miracle to believe that in the dampness of the tomb, after suffering the dreadful
wounds of the crucifixion, he not only revived, but was able to unbind the burial clothes that bound him and
roll back the stone from the tomb, and then appear alive and well. It is more difficult to believe that than
to believe in the resurrection itself.
No, it seems that this man did destroy death. Let’s talk more about it next time.
Theories for the Resurrection of Jesus -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Theories for the Resurrection of Jesus
by Ernest O’Neill
One of the human beings that has lived on our earth has given us more information about why we’re here than
any other, and he is more believable than any other. There are all kinds of men who have tried to tell us what
the world is about and why we are here and what the meaning of life is.
There is Zoroaster, there is Buddha, there’s Muhammad. They’re all kinds of religious leaders, but one of them
is different from all the rest. All the rest died like ordinary men. They died and were buried. Their bones
could be dug up and we could prove that they were just like the rest of us, and what do they know that we
But one man was different from all of them. He was that man that we know and that we often use as a swear
word. He is that man Jesus of Nazareth. Now he was a different kind of person. He just was. He was different.
He was never seen again after he finally disappeared from the earth and he didn’t disappear from the earth at
He was killed and then a few days later he came back and lived for over a month among his friends and enemies.
Then he disappeared from the earth and his bones have never been found. He has given us all kinds of guidance
and proof that he was a different kind of being.
He seemed to know what went on before the world was created and what would go on after the world will end. In
other words, he knows more than any of the rest of us. That’s why we have been talking about him. We’re trying
to discuss the question, “What is the meaning of life?”
And, really, we’re all bound by the same limitations. We have never been off the earth, so what do we know?
But this man was off the earth as far as we can tell. He explained to us, “Look, I’m the Son of the maker of
the world and I actually can go in and out of death whenever I choose. And I’m going to, so that you know that
I am the maker of the world. And, in fact, that is exactly what he did.
When you and I try to blow apart the historical evidence of his overcoming death, we face ethical and
psychological difficulties that we cannot overcome. All of us, of course, from when we were school children,
have tried to explain this thing of the resurrection in all kinds of ways. Mostly, we explained it by the fact
that it was so long ago, and who could tell if it ever took place.
But as you begin to examine the documentary evidence that lies behind this piece of history we have of the
first century, you realize that the evidence is far stronger than the evidence we have for any of the Latin or
Greek authors that all of us accept without question as being historical and historically reliable.
Moreover, when we begin to try to examine whether what we have 1900 years after the event is what those people
wrote in the first century, we realize that there is better manuscript evidence behind this history than the
manuscript evidence behind any other history of a similar age.
So we have reached the point, you remember, in these discussions where we are faced with the fact that we are
dealing with one of the most reliable pieces of history that we possess as human beings when we discuss what
is popularly known as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but what is really the breaking of the death barrier
by one human being much like ourselves.
This human being seemed to be able to go in and out of time whenever He chose. Some of us, of course, have
taken the historical event that is recorded as the resurrection and we have tried to find other explanations
for it. You know what they are. We’ve tried it since we were school children.
Maybe the disciples stole the body and then gave out that this man had risen from the dead, because, of
course, they would gain a lot of fame from it and maybe they would derive a lot of wealth from it. The
difficulty is that they didn’t derive wealth or fame for it. They derived death and crucifixion and
destruction and persecution for themselves and their wives and children.
So, if they stole the body and then died for that lie, they were more stupid than we know men to be, because
men will die for what they think is true, but will not die for what they know to be untrue. Of course, you are
If you made up a lie that somebody had risen from the dead and then you began to tell all the people in the
world about that lie and because of that lie people persecuted you and destroyed your children, you would
eventually give in and say, “Wait a minute! No big deal. That was just a lie. That really didn’t happen.”
These men didn’t do that.
They kept on saying, “No, this man really did rise from the dead.” So there’s a psychological and ethical
impossibility in saying the disciples stole the body and then pretended that he was alive. There is a
difficulty, too, in saying that the Romans stole the body — because if the Romans stole the body all they had
to do to destroy this Christian sect was to parade the body through the streets of Jerusalem and say, “Here’s
your great hero. Here’s your great Son of God. He was just a man like the rest of you.” But, in fact, they
didn’t, because they did not steal the body.
Now some of us have said, “Well, maybe he just swooned. Maybe he wasn’t really dead.” Well, the Romans were
the experts in capital punishment. They were the experts in killing in those days. They were the military
power of the world. They made absolutely sure that anybody that they executed was really executed.
In fact, you remember, they normally came around and if anyone was found with any life left in them, they
broke his legs. Now they didn’t do that with Jesus because he was already dead. They simply thrust a spear in
his side, and blood and water came out and they were settled that he was dead. They buried him, you remember.
The disciples buried him because they felt there was no chance; this man is dead.
Some, of course, have said that maybe he just swooned. Maybe in the coolness of the tomb he revived and then
he got up and was able to walk around. Well, it doesn’t make any sense. How could a man who bled for hours
hanging on a cross with nails in his hands and a spear-hole in his side, how could he revive in the coolness
of a tomb and revive not only so much that he was able to struggle up and stand up, but that he could take off
the grave clothes that bound him; he could roll back the heavy stone that was across the mouth of the tomb and
he could appear on fourteen different occasions miles and miles apart from each other, often very quickly one
after another to thousands of people.
How was he able to convince them that he was not only half alive, struggling to be alive, but more alive than
he’d ever been before in his life? Well, it doesn’t make sense. It is more difficult to believe the swoon
theory than to believe the resurrection itself.
Some people, of course, have said that maybe it wasn’t a swoon. Maybe they just buried him in the wrong tomb,
and they went to the wrong tomb. They buried him in one tomb and then they went to the wrong one and found it
empty. Well, it wasn’t a public cemetery; it was a private burial ground, you remember. It belonged to Joseph
of Arimathea. It was the tomb he had prepared for his own body and there was only one such tomb.
So, no, they couldn’t go to the wrong tomb. Besides, they wouldn’t be allowed to continue in such an error
when it was such an important issue whether he was really alive or dead. So it is extremely difficult to get
rid of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus simply by the old chestnuts that we used to try out
when we were school children.
We need to see that actually those explanations are far more difficult to believe, and require far more
credulousness on the part of the hearers, than believing in the actual resurrection itself. Of course, the
other fact that we have to deal with when we deal with this historical fact or this historical event of the
resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, is the appearances, the post-resurrection appearances.
It is very difficult to say he did not destroy the barrier of death when you begin to examine the numbers of
times he appeared after he got up from being dead. He appeared, actually, above thirteen different occasions,
about thirteen or fourteen different occasions.
He appeared, on one occasion, to more than 500 people at one time. He appeared in different situations and he
appeared and did different things. You have to examine those appearances. You have to somehow explain away
those appearances in order to prove that this man did not really rise from the dead.
Let’s try to explain those appearances away tomorrow and in doing so let’s try to get rid of this idea that
this man Jesus was any different from the rest of us. Let’s see if we can do it. Let’s talk about this next
Jesus Resurrection Evidence – the Apostles -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Jesus’ Resurrection Evidence – the Apostles
by Ernest O’Neill
Have you ever wished that you could speak to somebody who could tell you what is the meaning of reality? That
is, “Ooh, I wish I could just talk to some man or some woman whom I could trust and who knew what the meaning
of life was or why we are here or what the whole thing is in aid of?” Have you ever thought that?
I think all of us have, especially as we see the world beginning to be more and more chaotic and life becoming
more and more meaningless. We think, “Oh, it would just be good to know what the point of it all is. I wish we
could talk to someone who knew.”
The difficulty, of course, is that no matter how clever our politicians are or however wise our Prime Minister
is, however insightful our teachers or our great scholars are, however deep or shrewd or clever our Einsteins
are, none of them seem to be able to have the background to be able to give us an authoritative explanation of
what happened before the world ever existed or what will happen whenever the world ceases to exist.
All of them seem tied, in the same way as we ourselves are, to seventy or ninety years here on this planet and
that’s it. Then they go out like a light. That is, all of them, including Confucius, Zoroaster, all the rest
of the great religious leaders, all of them except one remarkable man that appeared, it seemed, from outer
space on our planet about 1900 years ago. Of course, that’s why we have Christmas.
It’s not a vague mythological legend that Christmas is based on. It’s based on the hard, historical evidence
of about 4,000 Greek manuscripts that there lived about 1900 years ago (and probably born about the year 5 or
6 B.C.) a man called Jesus.
He lived for maybe thirty or thirty-three years, and then died, and was actually executed, in 29 A.D. He said,
before he was executed, that he was really more than an ordinary human being. The perfection that he showed in
his own moral life and his ability to calm a storm on a lake and raise a man from the dead came from the fact
that he was not just an ordinary human being, but he was really the Son of the Being that made our universe.
He said, to prove that to us, he was going to allow himself to be executed and then was going to come back to
life again. In fact, that is exactly what he did. He came back to life and lived for more than a month and
appeared before enemies and friends alike on about thirteen different occasions, and showed that he had the
ability to go through the barrier of death and to come back whenever he wanted. And then he disappeared from
the earth. Though the bones of Muhammad and Buddha have been able to be found and dug up, this man’s bones
never have been found. He disappeared from the earth. He actually rose up from the ground.
What we have been studying, of course, is the evidence that this is so. Because, after all, it doesn’t happen
every day. So, we have been trying all the old chestnuts that we learned when we were at school and all the
old alternative explanations for the resurrection of this man Jesus from the dead in order to prove that he
didn’t really rise from the dead.
But we’ve found the same as everybody has found who has tried to do that — that those explanations are more
difficult to believe than the actual, historical fact of the resurrection itself. This is particularly so when
we come to the second great fact. The first great fact is the empty tomb. The second great fact is the
appearances that took place after he came back from being dead.
He did show himself to be alive. Some of us, of course, take the usual psychological route. We say, “Oh, well,
that’s easy. They were just hallucinations. Those appearances — those times he appeared to people — they
were just hallucinations. They were just imagining; people imagining that he was alive, imagining that they
could see him again.” But there are some difficulties involved in that, you know.
That theory that his appearances are just hallucinations faces real difficulties once you begin to examine it
on the basis of psychology. It’s plausible that he just created hallucinations in the minds of his followers
until we begin to realize that modern medicine has observed that certain laws apply to such psychological
In other words, there are laws that govern hallucinations. As we relate those principles of hallucinations to
the evidence that we have in history, we see that what first seemed plausible is, in fact, impossible. That
is, it seems at first, “Oh, yes, hallucinations are the explanation of the appearances.” But as we begin to
examine them in the light of psychological theory and psychological research, we begin to find, “No, it’s not
so easy to believe that they were hallucinations.”
For instance, hallucinations occur generally in people who tend to be vividly imaginative, and who have a
nervous make-up. But the appearances of Jesus were to all sorts of people. For instance, you can’t think of
big-bluff, honest Peter, a down-to-earth fishermen who earned his money by the sweat of his brow in a boat,
that he was a nervous, kind of imaginative, poetic type.
Nor can you believe that about shrewd, clever Paul. Nor about James and John, or the other disciples, who were
ordinary fishermen. They were ordinary working men. They were not psychologically shrewd and theoretical
philosophers; they were down-to-earth, ordinary people. They were not the kind to give in to nervous feelings
or imaginative experiences.
Moreover, hallucinations are extremely subjective and individual. For this reason, no two people have the same
experience. But in the case of the resurrection, Jesus appeared, not just to individuals, but to groups —
including, on one occasion, more than five hundred people at one time.
Paul says that more than half of them were still alive and could tell about those events, even as he wrote
about them. More than half of these people are still around, and can actually testify that they did see this
man alive. All of them couldn’t have had a hallucination, because one of the laws that govern hallucinations
is that they occur to one person and they’re very subjective.
Moreover hallucinations occur only at particular times and places, and are associated with the events that are
fancied. But the appearances of this man Jesus occurred both indoors and outdoors, in the morning and the
afternoon, in the evening, at all kinds of different times, not at just certain, peculiar times.
Generally, these psychic experiences occur over a long period of time with some regularity. So, hallucinations
generally occur over a long, extended period of time and regularly. But, the appearances of Jesus occurred
within a period of just 40 days and then stopped abruptly. No one ever said that they happened again. So, his
appearances do not fit these laws that govern hallucinations.
But perhaps the most conclusive indication of the fallacy of the hallucination theory is a fact that’s often
overlooked. In order to have an experience like this, one must so intensely want to believe, that he projects
something that really isn’t there and attaches reality to his imagination.
So you must want to believe it. For instance, a mother who has just lost a son in a war, remembers how he used
to come home from work every evening at five-thirty. She sits in her rocking chair every afternoon musing and
meditating. Finally she thinks she sees him coming through the door and has a conversation with him. At that
point, she has lost contact with reality.
That’s normally how a hallucination occurs. It occurs to someone who wants and expects it to happen. The fact
is, the very opposite of this took place in the appearances of Jesus. The disciples were persuaded against
their wills that Jesus had risen from the dead. Mary came to the tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning with
spices in her hands. Why? To anoint the dead body of the Lord she loved. She was obviously not expecting him
to have risen from the dead.
In fact, when she first saw him, she mistook him for the gardener. It was only after he spoke to her and
identified himself that she realized who he was. In other words, his disciples didn’t expect him to rise from
the dead. They had given up any hope of that. When the other disciples heard, they didn’t believe. The story
seemed, to them, just an idle tale.
When Jesus finally appeared to the disciples, they were frightened and thought they had seen a ghost. So, they
did not expect him to rise from the dead at all. But hallucinations require that people want and expect the
man to appear before them. This was not so with Jesus.
Are there any other reasons for believing that he actually did rise from the dead, and these weren’t
hallucinations? Yes, there are some more, and let’s talk about them next time.
Proofs for Jesus Resurrection -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Proofs for Jesus’ Resurrection
by Ernest O’Neill
What do you think is behind the blue sky that at times you see here on this earth? Only sometimes, I agree,
usually it’s a gray sky. What do you think is behind it? What do you think is happening, or going to happen
after you die? Have you any idea what was the situation here on earth before the first man appeared?
Have you any idea what the situation was before there was any earth? Have you any idea what the whole thing is
about? Have you any idea how you got here, or why you’re here? Have you any thoughts about what the meaning of
this whole life is that we are living?
Most of us are in the same boat. We say, “Not much of an idea. I’ve listened to some human beings like myself
who live under the same limitations as I live under, having lived only 70 or 90 years here on earth and unable
to give me any solid information beyond what they’ve observed with their own five senses here on earth. I’ve
listened to them. I’ve read them.
I’ve read Buddha. I’ve read a little Zoroaster, a little Cicero, a little Plato. I’ve read a little Confucius.
I know a little about the world’s religions, but I know that most of these men are in the same boat as myself.
They are limited. They are limited in the knowledge they have collected here in their own short span of life
One thing I do feel about them is that they are not radically different in quality from myself. They’re just
human beings. They don’t know any more about whatever is behind the universe than I do. If it’s an “Ã©lan
vital”, or if it’s an evolutionary process or if it’s a supreme being, they can’t tell me any more about it
than I can tell myself.
They don’t know any more about it from their own experience than I know. Most of them are in the same boat as
myself. Except, what we have been saying is, except for one remarkable human being. One unique human being,
who is different from all the other so called religious leaders and all the other so called philosophers, is
that — though he was human — he seemed to be more than human.
He seemed to be more than human not only because he talked as if he was the unique Son of the Maker of the
whole universe, but because he acted the way we would expect that Being to act. He was able to make leprosy
disappear. He was able to make people come alive from the dead. He was able to control the powers of nature
when a storm began on a lake.
He was able also to say that he was going to go to the Being that had made the universe when he died and then
he was going to come back here to earth to show us that he had that power and ability. That’s what he did.
What we call the resurrection or coming back to life again of this man, Jesus of Nazareth, is one of the most
solidly substantiated and most carefully reinforced events that we have in history. Indeed, it is so strong in
its documentary evidence that to reject it, you virtually have to reject the idea of history at all because
this event is better substantiated than any other event of that time.
It’s substantiated on the basis of two facts. One fact is what we call the empty tomb and the other is the
resurrection appearances. Many of us have learned to be cynical about those resurrection appearances. We say
they were just hallucinations. People thought they saw him alive after he had been crucified and executed, but
they didn’t really. They just had hallucinations.
The problem is, of course, that the so-called appearances of this man, Jesus of Nazareth, after he rose from
the dead do not fit the laws that govern hallucinations. There are psychological laws that have been observed
to be the normal characteristics that describe hallucinations. We talked about some of them yesterday.
First of all, hallucinations are usually subjective and individual. They occur just to one person sitting
alone. In fact, he appeared to about 500 people at one time and to several groups at different times. Normally
hallucinations occur at just particular times and places and are associated with certain events. No,
happearances took place morning, evening and afternoon in all kinds of places. Normally, hallucinations are
psychic experiences (that we describe as hallucinations) that occur over a long, prolonged period of time at
regular intervals. His didn’t.
His appearances occurred over a period of 40 days and then stopped abruptly. Hallucination occurs to people
who want them to occur. A mother who has lost a son in the war sits rocking in her chair thinking, “Oh, I
remember the way he used to come home at five o’clock every evening.” As she’s thinking of that, she imagines
that she sees him. Suddenly a hallucination occurs.
This wasn’t the situation with these appearances of Jesus of Nazareth. His disciples had done the opposite.
They had given up any hope that he would rise from the dead. Mary, when she saw him in the garden where he had
been buried, thought he was the gardener. She was so unprepared, she had actually come with spices to anoint
his body, because she was so sure he was dead.
The other disciples didn’t believe even when she had told them. When he actually appeared in the upper room
where they were meeting later on, they thought they had seen a ghost. They thought that this was just an
imagination that they were having, a hallucination.
He, in fact, said to them, “Handle me and see. For a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
He asked them on another occasion if they had any food and they gave him a piece of broiled fish. Now ghosts
don’t eat. But this man did everything to show that he wasn’t just a ghost.
Finally, there is the classic case of the one we all know as the skeptic, old Thomas. You remember that he
wasn’t present when Jesus appeared to the disciples the first time. They told him about it, but he scoffed and
wouldn’t believe. In effect, he said, “I’m from Missouri. [Missouri is known as the “Show Me” State in the
USA.] I won’t believe unless I’m shown. I’m an empiricist. Unless, I can put my finger into the nail wounds in
his hands and my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
He wasn’t going to have any hallucination. You remember John tells the story in chapter 20 of his book of John
in Bible. He tells the graphic story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples eight days later. Jesus then
invited, you remember, Thomas to examine the evidence of his hands and his side.
And Thomas looked up at him and fell to his knees and said, “My Lord and my God.” Of all people, Thomas
appeared most like a skeptic and behaved most like any of us would want to do. Yet, finally, he had to admit
that a ghost has not flesh and bones like this man has. “I’ve actually put my finger into his hands and my
hand into the hole in His side and he is alive there’s no question.”
So, in order to hold to the theory that the appearances of Jesus were just hallucinations we have to ignore
all the laws that govern hallucinations, all the principles that have been observed down through the years to
be the principles that describe the psychic experience of hallucinations.
No, it’s the same as the other explanations of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s far harder to
believe the explanations than it is to believe the fact of the resurrection itself.
Somehow or other, you and I have to face the fact that there was an event that took place in the first century
of our era that is strongly and firmly substantiated by good historical evidence and by strong documentary
manuscript evidence that tells us that a man called Jesus of Nazareth got up from being dead and came back to
There is, of course, one other reason for believing that this actually happened and that is the effect that it
had on the disciples themselves. This effect took place in the disciples. Did this man, Jesus, actually rise
from the dead? It’s very hard to believe the events that followed if he did not rise from the dead. Let’s talk
a little about that next time.
Jesus Resurrection: Hallucinations? -
What is the Meaning of Life?
Jesus’ Resurrection: Hallucinations
by Ernest O’Neill
I think we’ve all had the experience of being amazed at finding out how bright our fathers have turned out to
be. You know how it is. There is that period of our lives somewhere around 13 years of age and it carries on
until maybe 21 or sometimes unfortunately, until we are 25 or 26, when we think the dumbest people in the
world must be our parents.
Then, after we begin to find out what life is about, we come right round to where we started. We started as
children, thinking our father was the wisest man in the whole universe. It’s amazing how often we come back to
that; how often we come back to the place where we are amazed at how wise and how clever our fathers are.
So, we end up back where we started, surprised that we find truth and we find reality right in the place where
we originally thought it to be, but where we began to suspect it wasn’t. That’s what I think a lot of us find
out about modern problems today. We get all wrapped up in all kinds of theoretical issues.
Who am I? What is my identity? What is life about? How do I establish my own significance with the other
significant authorities in my life? We can go on forever with these philosophical and psychological deep,
conundrums that we pose to ourselves. But perhaps, the greatest one of all is: what are we involved in here?
What is the purpose of our lives? What is the meaning of our lives? Why are we here? The problem that all of
us have in answering this question is that we are all just giving human opinions. Even the great religious
leaders are giving their opinion. Because nobody seems to have any experience outside the world itself by
which they can establish and reinforce that what they say is actual reality.
That is, no one except one man. There is only one man who has shown he has come from outer space and has the
power to go into outer space and return into the world whenever he chooses. That is a bit like what we found
in our fathers. We find the answer is back where we used to think it was, but where we grew cynical about it
in our adolescent years.
It’s this man Jesus of Nazareth. He’s the one we were taught when we were children was the son of the Creator
of the world. It’s back with him that we have to find any evidence of what is beyond the sky, what is beyond
Saturn, Venus, and what is beyond the furthest spot that our satellites have reached.
Because this is the only man who has shown historically he was anything more than an ordinary human being. He
has shown it, not only by the fact that he talked like the person who would be the son of the Supreme Being
that lies behind the whole universe, not only because he acted like him, not only because he lived a life that
even his enemies admitted was an absolutely perfect, sinless one; not only because he had the power over
sickness and death that he showed when he raised people from the dead and healed lepers and blind men and deaf
men; not only by the fact that he had power to still a storm on a lake, but, also, above everything else,
because of this event that is connected with his death. Indeed, all of the evidence that this man was the son
of God pales before the one event in his life that sets him apart from all other religious leaders and
He said throughout his public ministry that he would rise from the dead on the third day — and he did. Many
gurus have been buried alive, and through controlled breathing have managed to survive in a kind of trance
under the earth. But none have been executed by experts like the Romans and then actually risen from the dead.
That’s what happened with this man. The soldiers were so sure that he was dead they didn’t even bother
breaking his legs. They simply thrust a spear into his side and a mixture of blood and water poured out.
Then, he was buried in a private tomb, bound tightly in grave clothes. A large stone was rolled across the
mouth of the grave. On Sunday morning (he was buried on Friday night), he met Mary, one of his followers, in
the garden. When she reported it to the other disciples, they wouldn’t believe her.
But, in a moment, Jesus appeared suddenly in the room with them. He did this for the next month or more,
appearing on more than a dozen occasions. Sometimes he appeared to a few of them, sometimes to more than 500
at one time. Sometimes he ate breakfast or allowed skeptical Thomas to poke his finger into the holes in his
hands to make it clear that he was not a ghost or a psychological hallucination.
Then, he explained he must return to his Father, the Creator of the universe, and his body has never been
found on earth since. All the hypothetical explanations of the resurrection are harder to believe than the
facts themselves. The two vital facts are, the empty tomb, and the resurrection appearances.
The old arguments that Jesus just swooned on the cross and revived in the coolness of the tomb or that the
disciples, or the Romans stole the body aren’t even very logical.
How could a man whose side had been speared by the Roman experts as already dead have recovered from his
wounds so completely that he could not only free himself from the grave clothes and roll away the stone, but
could appear at a dozen different locations over the next month and appear not only revived, but more alive
than he had ever been before? It just doesn’t make sense.
If the Romans stole the body (that’s another argument) why didn’t they parade it through the streets to prove
that this man was not the Messiah? If the disciples stole it (that’s another argument), why did they die for
what they knew to be a lie? A man might die for what he believes to be the truth, but he will not die for what
he knows to be a lie.
The same is true of the suggestion that the resurrection appearances were just hallucinations. They just don’t
fit the psychological criteria for such phenomena. Hallucinations occur usually to just one person who
desperately wants to see the deceased person. Jesus appeared always to groups of people, and normally they had
given up all hope that he would rise from the dead.
Hallucinations usually continue over a lengthy period of time. Jesus showed himself alive for about 40 days
and then disappeared from the earth. Because of evidence like this, scholars hold that no fact of history has
been examined so comprehensively by legal, medical, psychological, historical and religious experts and
emerged so unchallenged as to its veracity.
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then we can be sure of nothing in mankind’s past history. But perhaps one
of the best proofs that he must have risen from the dead was the effect it had on the people who followed him.
What was it that changed a band of frightened, cowardly disciples into men of courage and conviction? What was
it that changed Peter from one who the night before the crucifixion, was so afraid for his own skin that he
three times denied he even knew Jesus, and he was changed into a roaring lion of the faith?
Some 50 days later, Peter risked his life by saying that he had seen Jesus risen from the dead. He preached it
in Jerusalem, where the events had taken place, where the facts could be verified, and where his life was in
danger. Only the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus could have produced this change in the disciples.
Only the resurrection of this man from the dead could split history into B.C. and A.D. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
Here we are; we talk about “before Christ”, and we talk about “Anno Domini”, in the year of our Lord, or after
Christ. We split the whole of history into half on the basis of this man’s birth and death.
Why would we do that unless there were something incredibly remarkable about this man which sets him apart
from all other men. Why do we still keep Christmas? I know we can argue about the winter solstice, and about
all kinds of heathen practices, but the fact remains we still talk about Christmas, “Christ Mass”. We still
talk about Christ. We still talk about the baby in the manger.
Is it just because we like babies and we like giving presents? Well, we certainly do that. But, don’t you
think that mankind is not just idiotic? We’re not just a bunch of insane people who are utterly unbalanced. We
actually do respect, and make a lot of things that are actually worthy of respect and worth making a lot of.
In other words, we need some justification for the attention and the importance we give to certain things.
Really, one of the greatest arguments for believing that this man did rise from the dead is the place that he
has in history, and the place of respect that he has in all of our minds.
This man, Jesus, was the Son of God and has power over death. Let’s talk a little more about the implications
of that next time.