Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Website and Blog!

Hello everyone, it is time to notify all of you of new, exciting changes that the Lord has allowed The Zealot's Path to have. The blog has been revamped and is available at the new website It has the new blog and other things that show this is more than just a blog now. I greatly appreciate all of the followers here, and I hope you all follow to the new site and continue to read the blog. The Zealot's Path still has the Facebook and Twitter account, so feel free to keep up with those as well.


The Zealot's Path

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Evidence for the Resurrection Part II

The second part of this series is one of the most compelling in the argument for the historicity of Christianity. The study of Jesus’ empty tomb has baffled skeptics for many reasons, but the interesting thing is that no skeptic can hold a firm, credible argument to discredit the Gospel accounts. Numerous attempts have been made to show how it’s impossible for a man to come back to life, yet there has never been a reasonable claim that natural science can sustain on the subject. I believe the reason is that it’s hard for the carnal mind to accept what it deems naturally impossible, so it’s willing to concoct ludicrous explanations to move away from the idea of the naturally impossible. Those natural suggestions all fall to pieces when they confront the facts that God gives us concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

Was the location of Jesus’ burial known?

This is a very important question to address. In order for people to claim that the tomb was empty, they would have to know where that tomb was. The first point to understand is that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. It was at one time questioned whether or not Joseph was fictional. This can be dismissed quickly. If Joseph was an invention, why would anyone choose this character to be a member of the Sanhedrin? It would make no sense for those that were trying to convince others of a lie to make that character a member of the group that tried and executed Jesus.

Another point that is worth being stated briefly is the old tradition that Paul quotes in I Corinthians 15:3-5. I Corinthians was written around 55 A.D. , so this tradition must be less than two decades later than Jesus’ burial. Therefore, those that started this tradition about the Resurrection must have known the location of the tomb or the tradition would have been challenged early in the beginning.

The last point to understand is that there are no other conflicting stories about the location of Jesus’ burial. No legend exists as to what happened to Jesus after His death. All we have is the undisputed consensus that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in his very own tomb.

Was the tomb really empty?

When investigating this question from a purely historical and logical stand point, we must conclude that it was empty and that what happened is what the Apostles said happened: Christ rose from the dead. No other explanation can support the evidence.

The biggest piece of evidence for this is that the Jews and Romans stated that the body was stolen. The impossibility of Jesus’ body being stolen will be covered shortly, but what this claim says is that they admitted that the tomb was empty. They did not attempt to place another body inside deceitfully, nor did they claim that it was the wrong tomb. They said that it was missing. It was gone. Now there is testimony of an opposing side’s knowledge of the empty tomb.

Another interesting fact to mention is the credibility of the women who first found the empty tomb. In Jewish culture, women had no credibility. Their testimonies would not be given any consideration for accuracy or relevance. Therefore, why would anyone who was trying to convince the masses of any specific deceitful invention choose the least respected person to be an eyewitness? This would be completely illogical.

What are other suggestions as to why the tomb was empty?

There have been scores of different theories as to what happened, but these two were the most popular:

The first is the claim that the body was stolen. This would not work for a few reasons. First, the tomb was guarded by a “guard.” Many scholars believe this was a Roman Guard which consisted of anywhere between 40 to 60 soldiers. It would have been impossible to for the apostles to sneak around them, move a massive stone without making a sound, grab the body, and dispose of it without anyone seeing or noticing anything. This sounds extremely unlikely. Also, it goes without saying that after the arrest and crucifixion, the apostles were in fear for their lives and hid. To accept this is to assume that they suddenly gained strength and courage to attempt a suicide mission to steal a dead body. This theory has been widely dismissed by scholars.

Another theory that is ridiculous yet carried interesting weight with skeptics in the past is the Swoon Theory. This asserts that Jesus only appeared to be dead on the cross, and he escaped the tomb without being noticed. This also has been rejected widely by scholars. Consider what this says: Jesus somehow made it through an execution which has a success rate of 100%, wasn’t smothered by the heavy burial linens and unwrapped himself from it, rolled the heavy stone away and crept by the guards, found the Apostles, and somehow was able to inspire them with his horribly beaten, malnourished body to go and die terrible deaths for the sake of His resurrection. We can all see why this theory fell short.

There are other outlandish theories but like these two, they all fall short. The only conclusion that we can reach when examining the evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead. No other explanations hold the historical and logical capacity. And so we say, “He is risen.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Evidence of the Resurrection Part I

The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian faith. Without the belief in this, there is nothing else to grab onto. All hope is in His resurrection. Unfortunately, this is the hardest thing to accept for so many people. All they see is that this “religion” is attempting to convince them that a man died and came back to life. With a carnal, worldly mindset, this is ridiculous. How can anyone believe this? For all Christians, it does boil down to faith through the Spirit. We know he lives because of what is in us. But to others who have heard conflicting explanations of different religions, how do we show them that our belief in Christ stands above all else as truth? Fortunately for us, God has given us many overwhelming proofs to His glory. More specifically, we have a wealth of evidence on the resurrection of Jesus. Sadly, many Christians have no clue of these evidences. If many of us were to find ourselves in a situation where we had to defend the resurrection, we would probably fall flat. For the next four weeks, I will concentrate on four powerful proofs for Jesus’ existence, death, and resurrection. I pray this series will either strengthen many people’s faiths or stir the searching soul to listen to the Spirit call.

Before the crucifixion can even be considered, the big question about Jesus’ existence arises. Did he really exist? If so, did he really die on a cross? What evidence do we have outside the Bible? All Christians should be able to answer these questions to some extent. This entry will focus on the essentials of the proofs, but there are many more resources to be found.

Did Jesus really exist?
In short, yes. It is clear that the Gospels focus on all of this and the vast majority of biblical scholars accept the Gospels as historically reliable, but can we find any evidence beyond them? Again, yes. There are scores of places to find the mention of Jesus. The most important are the Samarian historian Thallus, the Romans Tacitus and Suetonius, the Syrian Lucian, and the Jewish Pharisee Josephus. Keep in mind that I am not stating that all of these sources exalt Jesus as God. In fact, these authors are absolute enemies of Jesus. On historical grounds, when His enemies cannot deny His existence, it brings historical reliability.

Josephus is considered by many to be the most important. He was a Pharisee and Jewish historian. In his work Testimonium Flavianum, Josephus attests to Jesus’ existence, His death, and His post-mortem appearances. Even in the Roman Empire, Tacitus recorded in his Annals that Nero persecuted Christians as scapegoats to the fire of Rome. He goes on to describe who the Christians were and who Jesus was. This shows that there is great evidence for Jesus outside the gospels. Much more could be said on this, but bringing forth an argument for the non-existence of Jesus takes much more faith considering the evidence.

Did Jesus really die on a Cross?
Along with the evidence of Jesus’ existence, the mention of his death is also prevalent. Jesus was crucified and died. To some, it may be a shock to find out that crucifixion was a real form of execution. It was unlike anything we have seen in movies or heard about in history books. Firing squads, the gallows, the guillotine, and the electric chair are all humane forms of execution compared to crucifixion. The accused would be beaten to near death and then nailed hands and feet to a cross. Asphyxiation was the usual cause of death due to the weight of the hanging body on the lungs. The person would suffocate until he would pull up on the hanging nails in the wrists to take in a breath for the lungs. After a while, the Roman guards would break the legs of the accused to bring on unstoppable suffocation. The one variation to this that we know is that Jesus was stabbed with a spear instead.

Another convincing point is historians agree that the Romans were professionals at execution. This was mainly due to the belief that they would be killed instead if the accused did not die. With these points, it is clear that Jesus’ crucifixion caused His death. History shows that there was no way to come down from the cross alive.

These first points are crucial. Before the evidence for the resurrection can even be considered, we must show that Jesus actually existed and died. These points are important, but it is what they lead to that matters. If anyone would like a list of resources, citations, and guidance in further readings, please email. I pray that when we are confronted with a discussion that involves defending our faith, we can focus of the evidences that God has given us to use. For those that read with skepticism, let your hearts open up to the truth and the facts that surround it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Was Jesus Just a Great Moral Teacher?

Back in November, I sent out a call for questions to address here on the blog. With all that has happened I have been a bit detached from the ones I received. I planned on addressing them starting now, but an unexpected occurrence caught my eye in the grocery store checkout last week. I can’t remember the name of the magazine although it was one of the leading brands. What I do remember is that it read in the vein of “100 people gone too soon.” While waiting in the fairly short line, I decided to skim through it. One of the first pages I came across included Jesus. I had to read it of course, expecting a butchering of His true purpose. All it stated was that Jesus was an eccentric young man that challenged the Jewish and Roman culture with his teachings of love and sacrifice and of how he died because of his challenge to the status quo. The central précis of the piece was that he was a great teacher that humanity lost too soon.

This entry will have me referring back to my third blog from April of last year. If you are unfamiliar with it, I suggest finding it in the archives. With this situation, Christians should be well equipped to answer any questions concerning this or simply be able to correct misconceptions among those who are unfamiliar with Christianity. Before I begin, I think one of the best replies to the article described above is from C. S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ’I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

This passage is definitely full of important points. The first thing to address is what many unbelievers consider to be true about Jesus. If any one person wants to take a serious approach to history, it is undeniable that Jesus of Nazareth existed; therefore, that fact can’t be denied. What many pluralists try to do is put Jesus on a pedestal with Mohammed, Buddha, and many others as a great moral teacher. The article first mentioned does this. It admits there was a Jesus of Nazareth, but it denies His deity. Lewis addressed this perfectly. He is not just a great teacher and by the world’s standards, He is actually anything but. Chiefly, He claimed to be God. Just as Lewis stated, a person can either see him as crazy, the Devil, or what He says He is, but putting Him on a lowly level of a “great teacher” is ridiculous.

A great way in leading people into a better understanding of Jesus is referring directly to the Bible. Apart of the synoptic gospels, John is a great place that records Jesus’ divine claims. Principally, the Bible is the only source of Jesus’ biography. If a person wants to accept His great “moral” teachings, then that person would commit a major logical fallacy by dismissing His divine claims. A person can’t pick one and not the other.

Another part in helping others understand Jesus, and what I consider to be the most important, is to tell them the Good News. Explain what Jesus’ purpose was and what He actually did. Instead of letting people believe that He was just a good teacher that died too soon, explain that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be with Him forever in paradise. Do not fall into the trap of a watered down gospel, explaining that he will fill the empty hole in a person’s life and make them feel good. That is a good spiritual outcome of acceptance but should not be the reason to turn to him. The Bible teaches a different gospel, a gospel that says that we must repent of our sins and believe in Jesus as our only savior. Look at such verses as Mark 1:4 and Matthew 4:17. These do not mention anything about a great fulfillment in life or wonderful lessons that teach us how to live in this world, but it tells us what is needed for the salvation of our souls.

When death finally comes, will we think of the great lessons people have taught us? Will we think of the great accomplishments, money, and achievements we have had? Use this week to meditate on your life. Think of the lessons Jesus has taught and understand that they are what they are only by his saving grace in us. Pray and think of how Jesus is more than just a teacher; He is the Savior. He is God.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Mother's Farewell to the Shadowlands: In Memory of Charlotte Hancock

In the afternoon of Monday, December 13, 2010, my life changed in a way that I never imagined. My mother, Charlotte Hancock, died. Regardless of my mother’s failing health, I never thought it would come now. I was aware of the “one day” that was coming. Unfortunately for me, that day had already arrived. Nevertheless, there is a goodness that comes through this pain, a goodness that I can’t even imagine, but I know with all certainty it is there. Although many may not have known my mother Charlotte, her death is the same end we will all meet at some point. This end doesn’t spell despair as some believe; it actually opens the way to paradise.

The morning after her death, I stared at the ceiling in my brother’s spare room wishing that I would awake from such a nightmare. Instead, I was met with an odd thought: The Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis is my favorite author, and The Chronicles of Narnia are my favorite pieces of fiction. Most people are familiar with the recent movies including the latest that was released that previous weekend, but the book that stood out to me at that moment was more obscure. The Last Battle is the final book that concludes with the end of Narnia. In the last chapter, “Farewell to the Shadowlands,” the Pevensie children are dead, yet they are unaware. The Christ figure Aslan reveals this to the children in what I consider to be the most beautiful passage of the seven books:

"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly.
"Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
This passage paints a picture too beautiful to explain. The children were dead. This is a terrible thought for us in our carnal, earthly minds, but we must look beyond this world to what lies beyond. For the believer in Christ, death is not the end; it is the beginning of the holidays. My mother was a firm believer. While she may have not graced the church door as often as many other church goers, she knew her savior. She knew him well, and because of this faith in both our parents, my brother and I grew to know him as well. We were given the greatest gift any parents could give to a child.

We like to remember our loved ones for their worldly characteristics. My mother had a sharp wit, stern personality, and a heart overflowing with love. I will remember and cherish these things for the rest of my life, but the most important thing to know is that she was a child of God, a follower of Christ. Because of this, she is with Him in paradise. She feels no more pain, sorrow, disappointment, or any other worldly affliction. She now has more than we could ever want: joy, love, and comfort in the very presence of God.

A good memorial piece is what some hope to hear in this letter. While memories will remain, a look to the future is what the importance is. God wants us to look forward and live our lives in Him. Charlotte Hancock had a job to do on this earth. Her job is now complete, and she has been called home. On December 13, 2010, she began Chapter One in the never-ending book of life and just like the children in Narnia, each chapter is better than the last.

What does this mean for us? It means that we all still have a job to do. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to live in communion with God, to spread His hope and love to all. I urge all that know Christ to live your life to the fullest with Him at the center. For those that do not know Christ Jesus, call on His name for the forgiveness of sin and salvation. He doesn’t promise a cushy life on earth but everlasting life beyond the grave just like my mother has. It is there for us all. We just have to want it and believe. If so, he will give it. And for this, I know I will see my mother again and most importantly, I will be with Jesus in paradise forever.

For my work, I have devoted myself to spreading the word through my blog The Zealots Path found at I invite all who seek the Lord to come read. This doesn't mean that I picked my "work." God has a specific job for all of us. We may not know until it comes what it is, sometimes after it passes. Nevertheless, if we turn to Him, all will be right, and we will be with Him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Misused Love: Part Four

After a good Thanksgiving break, let's finalize this series in the blog with the final three essentials of Godly Love. I believe these last three are the most challenging. Look and see how they square up to your life.

6. Confirming the importance in others is a great essential of Godly love. All have purpose, and to degrade others and act as if they are worthless is contrary to Christ’s teachings. Paul states in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares in advance for us to do.” Regardless of what people have done in the past and what we may think of them, God has a plan for all. Now the holiness of his plan cannot be reached without the person becoming saved, but expressing that there is a purpose and plan for everyone certainly can bring God’s love to that person which can lead them to his grace. And in his grace, all can achieve the will of God. I do not mean to confuse this point with the popular watered-down Gospel message used today in churches in which all that is preached is a “wonderful plan” with no mention of sin and Hell. God’s plan for us is to be in communion with him, not a wonderful earthly life. That is crucial to understand. If we can reveal the importance in one person, it is worth the minuscule effort that seems to so often keep us from God’s will.

7. The next essential of God’s love is what I believe to be one of the most, if not the most, disputed. The idea of witnessing to others is a haunting thought to Christians. Many of us claim to be Christians, but ask yourself, how often do you speak to someone, especially strangers about your faith, or even hear others speaking about theirs? Exclude church related activities also. I think the answers should shock us as Christians. Now before I continue, I do want to stress that I do not mean that witnessing is only going door to door or standing on street corners screaming to people about going to Hell. What I mean by witnessing is being brave enough to speak of and stand up for your faith when the time comes. At times, Christ will lead those in need into our paths. How we handle the situation is partially in our hands. Partially because while the Spirit uses us as an instrument for Christ’s message, we must ultimately decide to act upon the Spirit’s calling. But as I said before, I do not mean to forcibly spit the word into people's faces. When it is time for them to hear, the Lord will create the space in time for it to happen. But how is this a part of love? It is actually the greatest part of God’s love. This is loving someone so much that you care where he or she will be when death comes. Refer to John 3:16. It show the epitome of love. When the occasion comes to share the Word, we should all think of God’s love for us and how he wants us to share our faith without fear and shame. This is the greatest expression of love: to not keep his Word locked inside of us but to allow it to grow in others.

8. The final essential is the idea of sacrifice. Do not simply think that sacrifice means that you will “give up” something for another. That connotation sometimes sits negatively on some hearts. While we basically do give something up, the concentration should be on what good is done for those the sacrifice is for. Through Christ’s crucifixion, we do acknowledge the fact that he died, but we focus more on the fact that he was raised from the dead and has given eternal life to his followers. With this type of thinking, why do we usually associate a negative feeling to concept of sacrifice in our own lives? First, how is love sacrifice? It is not intended for everyone to go and give their material possessions to those in need. That is not what I mean by sacrifice. In the context of spreading God’s love, we should sacrifice those things that hinder us from doing so. May it be time, effort, or comfort, we should not let our personal selfishness keep us from showing the greatness of God. Therefore, with the will of God, a Christian lifestyle requires sacrifice in many ways. Anything that keeps us from expressing God’s love cannot be considered holy, and we should sacrifice that which hinders Christ’s message.

After examining the challenge of these essentials, we must examine our own lives. Should there be any transitions, any changes, or are these essentials absent from our lives altogether? Actually, all of us lack at least one essential part of Godly love at some point in our lives. We must all be aware that the absence of Godly love means an eventual absence of God in our lives. God is true love; without it, we turn from him. But with all of the negative, worldly ideals that are implanted into our culturally aware minds, how do we focus on God while keeping our sin at bay? Start by prayer. Turn to God for guidance and strength. The Lord wants us to be full of his power, so why would he deny it to us? “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt 7:7). We should never forget this. Christ tells that all you must do is truly want God and ask; you will not be denied. He then will give you the knowledge and understanding in that situation. But before you progress with this, understand that this does not mean a literal beam of light will fall upon you, where you will see everything as a divine epiphany. This is a misunderstanding of those who do not see what Christ means when he says that we will receive if we ask. We, in some way, will receive help. Do not focus on emotion and expect an immediate change of heart or physical ecstasy. Waiting for these things leads to discouragement and possible disbelief. Just understand that God will help you. With the trust that Christ will help, look to the world with a clear mind and distinguish between reality and worldliness, meaning separate your conscience from cultural ideas and focus on the truth of God’s holiness and love.

I think the best way to bring together what is expected of us as Christians is to look to Christ’s life. How did he live? What type of impact did he have on people? The answers are clear. But what can we understand about his character and his impact? Love is the key premise to Christian living. It is the foundation of all the good of God in this world. Through love, Christ died, salvation has found us, and we live. If we turn from true love, we turn from God because he is love.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Misused Love: Part Three

We have all heard how it is good to be "nice" to others, but what is "nice?" With Jesus being the prime example of how to show compassion, I believe that we should do more than just “be nice” to people. Being nice has become a shallow example of what many think Christ wants us to do. There are what I believe to be eight essentials that should be understood as to what Christ intends for love. We will cover five in this entry.

1. We must overcome barriers and take time to understand that God’s love transcends all of our cultural and social understandings. Christ didn’t stay within the Temple to commune comfortably with the Pharisees; he went to the tax collectors, was followed by prostitutes, and cared for those who the culture would dismiss as evil. This shows us that we shouldn’t disregard anyone for any reason. Christ sees the truth inside us all: all are God’s children. No one should be discounted from his love.

2. Forgiveness is also a great obstacle that so many believe can’t be dealt with. It can be easy for some to forgive minor offenses, but it is more difficult with major issues. And think of what our culture considers to be “horrible” offenses: rape, murder, and I’m sure we can go one. But remember, God is so holy and has such righteous standards that what we consider to be evil is no worse in his eyes than what we see as minor offenses. Sin is sin with no exception. But we see these horrible things in the world and thrive on Worldly justice and revenge. While justice is good, vengeance is not promoted by Christ. Regardless of the offense, God will forgive if we repent and believe. This is the attitude that Christians should express. When we show forgiveness to those who offend, we interject something into the world that is rarely seen. Christ forgives, and if we are to be Christ-like, so should we with a loving, gracious heart.

3. Christ’s parable of the lost son speaks volumes to us about turning from sin to God, but I also see a lesson in patience. This is a critical facet to love. The Father, while he knew of the errors his son was doing against him, was patient and loving. Even after all was done, he welcomed his son back. God knows what terrible things we will do against him in our lives, but he never turns away from us. He will never give up; he is patient. His Spirit works everyday in our lives to help us turn to him. This is the kind of compassion that we must also share. While those we know hurt us and cause heartache of many kinds, we should still give our love to them. If God does this for us, how can we claim to live Godly lives and turn our backs on those who need us just because they have betrayed us in some way big or small?

4. Another point that is tied closely to patience is forgetfulness. I have heard, and said sometimes myself, the claim, “I will forgive but I will not forget.” This is a contradiction. Literal forgetfulness may never come, but in the context of the statement, it suggests that the remembrance will have an effect on the relationship. This is not forgiveness. It is impossible to forgive without “letting go” of the past. We have also heard of the statement, “forgive and forget.” As cliché as this sounds, it is a great characteristic of God’s grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, all of the sins of believers are washed away and no longer acknowledged. We are sinful, but we are forgiven if we turn to him. Isaiah 43:18 even states to, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” What has passed has passed. If we are to love and forgive, we must let go of the past, or the sin in us will use it to eat at our heart and turn us against each other.

5. Much of our love is expressed, but not all love is shown through action. The simple act of listening can give unbelievable help to so many. Some people in the world just need someone to listen to them speak. How many times have you felt “better” because you were able to “vent?” This is partially what I mean. The idea is still the same though. Being able to express our issues and have someone care enough to want to know about it helps tremendously. There are multitudes of people that need an ear to willingly and caringly listen to them. This gives the person a feeling of love. They say, “Wow! Someone cares enough about what I have to say. They actually want to know about me and my problems.” This is the easiest act of love a Christian can do, but it is also one of the least used. Christ would listen to a person all day if it means showing his love. In fact, he does. We all have this need. When we have problems, we turn to God. We pray, speak, and even cry at times. God is always there listening to us because he loves us. In turn, we must do the same to others, friends and strangers alike.