Ross Clifford – Evidence for Faith

Can a lawyer who is trained to rely on evidence still believe in the God of the Bible? Is faith more about feelings than facts? That’s what I’m exploring on the latest episode of my podcast, Bleeding Daylight.

Rev. Dr. Ross Clifford AM is a former lawyer, a theologian, political commentator, pastor, radio personality, and so much more. He has authored or co-authored over a dozen books. In June, 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Australia.

Back when I was working in radio I used to chat with Ross each week about faith and spirituality. It was really good to be able to catch up with him again and go a bit deeper on whether the Christian faith could stand up in a court of law. Is there any trustworthy evidence to back up what Christians believe?

You can listen to Bleeding Daylight wherever you find podcasts, or hear our conversation using the player below.

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But What if it’s True?

It all stands or falls on this. There’s no middle ground. Jesus’ life isn’t simply an object lesson on living well.

The faith of many millions over centuries hinges on the resurrection that Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday (and throughout the year). If that one moment in history didn’t happen then our faith is a complete farce.

In a letter that he wrote to the church at Corinth a couple of thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul claims that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is useless and all the world’s Christians are poor suckers who should be pitied.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Paul’s saying that the idea of Jesus being a good teacher who said some interesting things isn’t an option. He’s telling us that the whole Christian belief rests on the crucifixion and resurrection being historical fact.

For many, that’s too much of a stretch to believe. How can it be true that someone could be brutally killed yet return to life three days later?

But imagine for a moment that it is true. That would mean that death doesn’t have to be the end because it has been beaten at its own game.

We’ve all been inspired by the lives of others, even knowing that they have died or will at some stage die. Once they’re gone the story of their life, their trials and triumphs continue to influence and motivate us. Surely the story of someone who even triumphed over death itself should give rise to even greater admiration and inspiration … but of course only if the story of them defeating death is true.

When we look at the evidence, the truth of the resurrection emerges very clearly as the best explanation. There is no other theory that even come close to accounting for the evidence. Therefore, there is solid historical grounds for the truth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. – Matt Perman

In an article written some years ago titled Historical Evidence for the Resurrection, Matt Perman takes a brief look at some of the reasons that many people over the past two thousand years have believed that Jesus rising from the dead isn’t just a nice story, it’s fact.

I don’t have time for a useless faith.

I’m not prepared to believe fairy tales and so while many will scoff and think I must be crazy, I will say that I believe that death has lost its sting because God raised his son Jesus from the dead.

That’s what I’ll be celebrating today and for all eternity.

I pray that you’ll take time to consider the significance of the Easter story this Resurrection Sunday.

The good news is that God, out of His love, became man in Jesus Christ in order to pay the penalty for sinners. On the cross, Jesus died in the place of those who would come to believe in Him. He took upon Himself the very death that we deserve. The apostle Paul says “He was delivered up because of our sins.” But the apostle Paul goes on to say “He was raised to life because of our justification.” Paul is saying that Christ’s resurrection proves that His mission to conquer sin was successful. His resurrection proves that He is a Savior who is not only willing, but also able, to deliver us from the wrath of God that is coming on the day of judgment. The forgiveness that Jesus died and rose to provide is given to those who trust in Him for salvation and a happy future. – Matt Perman

Yes, you might think it sounds like a fairytale, but what if it’s true? What if death can be conquered?

For over two thousand years, millions of people have placed their faith in Jesus as the one who overcame death and now offers the same to those who would believe. Are you going to dismiss that possibility without even looking at the evidence?

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Considering Easter

The long weekend is almost here. There’ll be chocolate, hot cross buns, time with family and friends. I’ll enjoy it all this Easter.

Easter can be a busy time of eating and catching up with people as well as all the usual things that fill our weekends. Our lives are already crammed so full and long weekends can tend to be overflowing with activities and life’s distractions.

That’s why, amongst the busyness, I’ll also take time over the weekend to block out all the distractions to focus on what Easter is all about – Jesus – who came to earth as fully man, fully God.

I’ll reflect on his cruel execution and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection which defeated death once and for all. The resurrection says our past doesn’t have to determine our future. The past can be over for those who believe. That’s incredibly good news.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

The thing is, it’s not only seasons like Easter that fill up with activity so quickly. That’s why blocking out all the distractions is something I need to do every day. Every day there are more calls on my time and attention.

All year round I need to choose to find moments that allow me to block out a crazy busy world to focus on who Jesus is, what he accomplished on the cross, and what that means for my life every day.

The story of Easter brings hope so powerful that it can change our own story for eternity. It’s a great time to focus on Jesus but each day we must choose to connect with the God who loved us so much that He held nothing back, not even His own son.

I really hope that you can enjoy good food and fun with those close to you this Easter but more than that, I pray that you can find some quiet moments to consider something more.

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What do we believe?

crownofthorns.jpgA survey has just been released which outlines what Australians believe about Jesus. The results show that a surprising number of those who don’t claim to follow the Christian faith still believe the Easter story, including the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The independent survey of 2500 people found that out of the 85 per cent who did not identify themselves as born again, including people of other religions, 45 per cent believed in the resurrection of Jesus.

Noted author and church historian Dr John Dickson, the co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity in Sydney, said the number who believed in the resurrection included agnostics and secularists because the total percentage was far higher than the remaining Christians surveyed.

We are staggered. We thought the survey would show the profound scepticism of Australians. Instead, it shows there is a base-level assumption among the Australian public that accepts the Jesus story even if it has no relevance to their lives.

Dr Dickson said the survey wanted to explore the understanding of non-churchgoers, so the results were produced from those who were non-religious, or from another religion, or who loosely identified with Christianity.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed the survey and what it means for spirituality in Australia. Can I encourage you to click the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post to listen to our conversation?

The survey also found that 57 per cent of those who wouldn’t consider themselves as born-again knew that Easter is connected with the death of Jesus but a much higher 87 per cent know that it concerns the resurrection. To clarify exactly what it’s all about, Ross and I also talked about the basic details of the Easter story and what it means for us.

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HE_IS_RISEN.jpgPeople have been debating miracles for years. Are they real? Can they still happen today?

I’m sure there are good points for both sides of the argument but it’s not something I can debate. I’ve experienced a miracle of healing myself so I have no option but to believe.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Last week, in the lead up to Good Friday, we discussed the trials of Jesus and the injustice of those trials. This week it was time to look at the miracle of the empty tomb.

Do you believe the miracles of the Bible actually happened? Did Jesus truly rise from the dead?

Yesterday we discussed miracles from the scriptures and then moved to modern day miracles.

If we believe in the miracles in the Bible do we still have faith that miracles can happen today?

Ross and I discussed some modern day miracles and the experiences that we’ve both had.

My experience happened in 1987 on my first ever bicycle ride across Australia. I’d never done any long distance riding before that and so I had set my saddle too low. The added strain of days of riding between 160 and 200 kilometres a day took its toll a week or so into the ride. My knees were severely damaged.

We adjusted the saddle but the damage had already been done.

The pain got worse every day. It was excruciating.

As we rode into one town halfway across the country I was in tears with pain in both knees. I knew that I couldn’t ride any further with that level of pain.

That night I prayed that God would ease back the pain just enough for me to continue riding the next day. I was now totally dependent on him. If the pain was still as intense the next day I would be able to take no further part in the fundraising ride I was on.

When I woke up I started preparing for the day. Then it hit me. The pain hadn’t reduced just a little … it was gone. My knees were working perfectly normally with not even a hint of pain. This had been an all-consuming pain that was getting increasingly worse. Things like that don’t just disappear.

If you want to hear my discussion with Ross just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

I’d be interested to read your thoughts on miracles and of any miracles that you’ve experienced.

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