WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Historical Evidence to Authenticate the Biblical Authors

by Ernest O'Neill

Program 38

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 programme 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 Mohammed and Zoraster 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 he wished.

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 majesty."

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 Papius who was born in about sixty 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.

Papius, 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 sixty A.D. (You remember, Jesus was probably born about 6 B.C.)...but this man Papius was born about 60 or 65 years later. He recorded what the old apostle John told him about the writing of the gospels.

In otherwords, when John was a very old man, this young man Papius 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, Papius wrote that and we have that in a separate history that was left by Papius.

Papius 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 teaching." Then, Papius 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 Papius 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 them."

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... that 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.

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