God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Book Review: The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ 📜


In my late teens and early 20s I was wrestling with many questions about what I believed. I had several challenges to my Christian faith that ranged from the philosophical to the scientific to the historical. One of the challenges that would not go away, due to some college professors and some friends, was the challenge to the historical Jesus and the gospels. Of all the worldviews one can hold, Christianity can be easily falsified by simply demonstrating that a single person did not actually exist in history: Jesus of Nazareth. Did he really exist in history? If so, what can we really know about him? Does that match was the Bible claims? Was there any evidence that Jesus actually came back to life after being dead? How do we know that the right books were included in the New Testament? Why not the books known as the "Gnostic Gospels" too?

When I was looking for some answers to these questions, I came across the work of Dr. Gary Habermas. The first book of his that I read was the one I present to you today: The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. Reading through this book provided the answers to more than just the questions that I was asking but also to questions that I did not know would eventually come too. This was well over a decade ago, and it is time for me to revisit the book and publish a proper review of this most important work. The review will follow my usual chapter-by-chapter summary style and conclude with my thoughts and specific recommendations.

A Deeper Understanding Of Christ's Love Through Suffering


How can you helplessly watch as a child dies from agonizing cancer? Doesn't the love you feel tell you that that suffering is evil and a God who is all loving and all powerful would rescue that child? How can God be all loving and all powerful if He allows such a child to suffer and die?

This is a challenge that is often raised by atheists to reject the God of the Bible. But today, I am not going to answer the atheist who raises the challenge as an armchair hypothetical that they have never experienced; instead I want to speak to the person who either has experienced this tragedy or is in the middle of it, and it causes them to be skeptical of the goodness and even existence of God.

This Is What Love Feels Like

But could God have a purpose for the pain that you feel? Before I get to that, please watch this tribute to those who have cared for a loved one at the end of their life: This Is What Love Feels Like, by dc Talk, inspired by Toby McKeehan's experience:

Knowing Love Through Suffering

Jesus knew the suffering that would take Him to His physical limits, yet He persisted and conquered: This was His love for you as He suffering the torture of crucifixion. If you have been taken to your limits through the suffering of a loved one, you know this love.

Without the suffering of a loved one, we would not know this love for someone else that takes us to our limits (and live to tell of it), what love truly feels like. Without the suffering of a loved one, we would not have the privilege of getting a trace of understanding of the depth of Christ's love for us that took Him to the end of His physical limits. Caring for a spouse, parent, or child as they leave this world has to be one of the most painful experiences, and we do not escape it unchanged by the suffering it has caused. We are wounded, but we can use those wounds to heal. We can become the wounded healer (see my post "The Wounded Healer: Finding Ultimate Purpose In Your Suffering" for more on this concept). And just as we are alive today to be wounded healers, Jesus conquered death through His bodily resurrection to be the Ultimate Wounded Healer that we point to.

While it is a privilege to experience what this kind of love feels like (though it comes at a great cost, just like it did for Christ), our experience only scratches the surface of the love that Christ has. And our experience is only one person (or maybe a few people in extremely tragic situations) at a time. But Jesus' love, as He suffered death, was not just for you or just for a few people, it was for every person (John 3:16).


We must not forget that our suffering in this life will come to an end. It is finite, and this finite suffering is not worth comparing to the infinite glory that will one day be revealed in us (Romans 8:18) and can be revealed in others to enjoy with us, if we are willing to be used by God to be wounded healers. Do not be discouraged. Our perfect God has a purpose for your suffering. Without Him, your experience is gratuitous pain with no purpose or meaning. But because God exists and Christ is resurrected from the dead, your experience is both purposeful and meaningful. Through your experience, God has blessed you with a deeper understanding of His love for you, and now He gives you the privilege to speak hope, life, love, meaning, and purpose to the brokenhearted suffering and struggling the same as you are.

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