WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

by Ernest O'Neill

More Evidences for the Resurrection

Program 62

What is the meaning of life? That's the question we're discussing on this broadcast each day. What's the purpose of the life that you're living now? Why are you here? How did you come to be here and, what is the real purpose in your being here?

Of course, we have talked a lot about many men who have claimed to give the answer to this, but they all suffer from the same limitation as ourselves. They've never been anywhere but on this world. That is, they've never really been beyond the sky that we can see above our heads. They've never been beyond where our space shots have penetrated.

None of them seem to have any more information than we have so why should we bother respecting their opinion over ours about such an important question as the meaning of life, or the purpose of life? That is none of them, except for one man. That's that remarkable being, who lived in the first century of our era, who did what no other man has done. He broke the barrier of death.

In other words, He died and left this earth, and came back to it again after about three days, then lived here for more than a month. Then, He disappeared off the earth completely. Of course, He explained that He was related to the Maker of the world, therefore, He could explain to us what the purpose of our life and the purpose of this whole world is.

Now, most of us have listened to that story since we were little children and have thought, "Well, wait a minute! Nobody else has ever done this. Why should we believe it ever took place?" Of course, that's the heart of the whole issue. Can we be sure that Jesus actually did rise from the dead?

Because if He did, then He's obviously alive now. He's obviously the one person in the universe who can tell us what is the whole purpose of this creation, and what the whole purpose of this life experience is. That's if He is willing to explain it to us. But how do you establish that a fact is true or untrue, such as a man rising from the dead?

How do you establish that something actually happened or didn't happen? In other words, how do you establish what we would call the historicity of the resurrection? How can you be sure that it is not just a myth, is not just a fantasy? Well, there are four famous rules for determining the truth of matters of fact in general that have been respected by philosophers and historians through the years.

They appeal to our common sense. An old scholar called Leslie formulated them in this way: "The first rule, he says, is that the matter of fact be such that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it." ...That the matter of fact be such that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it. That appeals to our common sense.

Yes, there's no table rapping here. There's no mystical, vague, ghost-like, will of the wisp, in the twilight zone. That appeals to us...that the matter of fact be such that men's outward senses, their eyes and their ears, may be judges of it.

That was the only way that ordinary, straightforward fishermen, like Peter, and critical sceptics, like Thomas, could ever have been persuaded that the death barrier had been broken. Here's the way one of our most reliable historical documents describes the experience of one of them.

It's found in the New Testament, in the last quarter of the book called THE BIBLE, in John chapter 20, verse 24. This is how John described it: "Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came."(That is, when He first appeared to them after rising from the dead.)

"So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord.' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails and place my finger in the mark of the nails and place my hand in His side, I will not believe." In other words, Thomas went right along with this first rule of Leslie's.

Unless I actually see this, unless I actually put my finger in the hole that the sword made, I'm not going to believe. "Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, 'Peace be with you.'

Then He said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands. Put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believing.' Thomas answered, 'My Lord and my God.'" In other words, this man Thomas saw with his outward senses that Jesus had risen from the dead.

You remember how we have described in past months the reliability of this historical record, how it is reinforced with far more manuscripts than the ancient Latin and Greek writers. The men that have given us the historical records of Jesus' resurrection were eye-witnesses of it.

They lived with Him and knew Him. They touched Him and ate with Him, both before and after His death. In other words, they observed with their outward senses the things that they talked about. They said, "This is a fact because we have seen it and we have heard it."

Can you question their reliability and their truthfulness? Sure! Every attempt down through the years has been made to do that. Here's one of them: Maybe the poor souls had hallucinations and thought they saw Jesus alive but didn't really see Him. Except... their experience doesn't fit any of the laws that apply to hallucinations.

Hallucinations occur to a certain kind of person, vividly imaginative and with a nervous makeup. This is not exactly a description of big, honest Peter, hard-headed James, or sceptical Thomas. Hallucinations occur to people who intensely want something to happen and therefore, project it into their imagination. But the opposite was true of the followers of Jesus.

Mary was so sure He was dead that she came to the tomb with spices to anoint His dead body. The disciples didn't believe and thought He was a ghost when they saw Him, so that He had to ask them to handle Him and touch Him and eat a meal with Him. "A ghost has not flesh and bones as you see that I have," He said.

This wasn't a person like Thomas or John or, Mary who wanted to see Him. They had given up all hope. Moreover, hallucinations are subjective and individual. But Jesus appeared repeatedly to groups and on one occasion to more than 500 people at one time. So, it's difficult to give any credence to the objection that perhaps they had hallucinations. None of their records or experiences fit the psychological rules that govern hallucination.

Perhaps, the disciples were con artists. They followed Jesus, were disappointed when He died, stole His body, and pretended He had risen from the dead, so they could become important religious leaders. But if that was the case, why didn't they stop telling the resurrection lie, when they saw their relatives and children being slaughtered by the thousands? Why did they themselves die for what they knew was a lie?

In other words, say they did make it up, so they could become wealthy and famous. They didn't become wealthy and famous; they were persecuted and killed and their families with them. Now, when they saw that happening, why didn't they stop telling the lie?

See, no one will die for what they know is a lie, especially earthly fishermen and cynical sceptics. There's no point in such a psychological and ethical illogicality. The only conclusion you can arrive at is that the resurrection is such a fact that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, were the judges of it.

In other words, the first reason for believing that this man actually did rise from the dead is the fact that when he rose from the dead it was observed by men's outward senses, their eyes and their ears. These men recorded this reliably, so that we can read their eye-witness account of it.

What about the other rules that Leslie created for examining whether a fact of history is a fact or not? Let's talk aboutanother one next time.

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