WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Historicity of the Bible as testimony of Jesus' Life

by Ernest O'Neill

Program 41

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 programme 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 talking about.

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 Elan Vitalle, 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 whole universe.

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 Mohammed 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 philosophising, we are left finally with maybe, maybe, perhaps, perhaps, and no certainty.

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 mythololgical 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 and death.

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 conmen. 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.

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