Our Vacation Bible School on June 8th opened with a question to the first group of children. “How do you know that Jesus is real?” I was sitting in my office but the presenter was loud enough for me to hear. The silence was too. That’s a hard question for a child. Some adults still struggle with this question! Atheists stake their eternal future on the supposition that He is not real. The wheels in my head started turning because this is a question that an apologist must answer succinctly and honestly. How would I answer this question if someone asked me? The presenter answered from the perspective of looking at creation and understanding that the things that we see didn’t create themselves. We know that the Bible tells us that all things were created THROUGH Christ and FOR Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3).
We know that Jesus is real from what the Word of God tells us. If the Word of God is the truth and God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) ever then when His Word says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7), raised in Nazareth (John 1:45,46), performed miracles to validate His identity as the Messiah (John 2 Luke 7, Mark 1:29-34), died at Calvary (Matthew 26,27) and rose again on the third day (all Gospel accounts, Psalm 16:10,11), we believe it to be the truth. That is called faith. The Word of God is not a set of books thrown together but the message within it is cohesive and the authority comes from God, not from the people who compiled the books.
Contrary to what many believe, faith is not blind. Much of what we believe from the Bible has been archaeologically and historically verified. The birth of Jesus was not recorded as a story but as a historical event because the book of Luke has been verified and trusted as a historical document. The same can be said for the book of Acts (Acts 1) that clearly depicts Jesus walking with His disciples after His resurrection. His crucifixion and His impact on the world has not only been written about in the Bible but in other non-Christian sources. Namely, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote about Jesus and discussed how His movement, what we now call Christianity, did not die after Jesus no longer walked the earth. That is the true test of whether Christ worked for God or whether He was simply a figment of people’s imagination. Thousands of years later, people are still following Him and the numbers are being added to daily.
As with any supernatural reality, He must also be experienced. There is no way to quantify experience but that does not make it any less real. You can’t bottle experience in a flask or measure it with a ruler any more than you can count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. There is an old song that says that God is real because I can feel Him in my soul. Many a skeptic turned Christian will attest to this. Lee Stroebel (The Case for Christ), Antony Flew (There is a God) and Frank Morrison (Who Moved the Stone?) are notable former atheists who converted to Christianity after some experience that they had. For Stroebel, it was his quest to find out if Jesus was real; for Flew, it was an epiphany after years of staunch atheism; for Morrison it was a sudden realization that as he sought to disprove the gospels, he couldn't.
Certainly, Christ can be experienced. Every believer has experienced Christ at least at the moment of their conversion which is evidence that points to His reality. Paul’s experience was different from Peter’s. Peter’s was different from Levi’s. The woman at the well experienced Jesus in a different way than those whom she went to tell. Which brings up another point, we must witness to others as to the “realness” of Jesus! We are witnesses to His realness and we must tell others. This is how the Gospel is spread and proliferated, by word of mouth. We have evidence that Christ is real and we have to convey that evidence to others.