So here we are. The end of our five part series designed to answer the question “Are the Gospels reliable?” I certainly don’t have all the answers and I certainly can’t cover all the topics in a blog-mini-series. But I hope you think about this differently, I hope there have been just enough thoughts to consider that would cause you to think more deeply about this question…because it’s a really important one. It’s a super important one. Why?
Because as I mentioned in the Intro post, for me this is a deeply personal question, with massive personal implications. If the gospels are not reliable, then everything I base my life on is a lie. I’m a fraud and my life is useless. BUT if they are true, then what I base my life on is actually the most important thing anyone can ever base their life on: the truth of who Jesus Christ is. I’ve laid my cards on the table.
But at the risk of being “that guy” – can I ask you a question? Here it is: why CAN’T the gospels be true for you?
I hope that I’ve given you some compelling reasons to consider that they are true and in some ways I can respect someone who says “Yes, I agree, these are good reasons, I suppose there is a chance they can be true, but I’m just going to believe.” OK, fair enough. I would still ask “Why can’t you believe?” But that’s a different blog-mini-series.
But if you still say “No way. They absolutely cannot be true and I don’t care what reasons you provide.” Why not?
To push back on you a little bit, consider this. Maybe the reason is that you will not accept any reason why the gospels could be reliable is that you don’t want them to be true. Meaning, if there is a shred of possibility that Jesus could be who he says he is then there is a huge problem.
If Jesus really is God in the flesh and really did come in fulfillment of the prophecies and did all the miracles that the Gospels said he did, then he is who the Gospels claim him to be: Jesus THE Christ. God in the Flesh. The Savior.
That’s where all this ceases to be academic and cuts right to our hearts.
I don’t base my whole life on Jesus because I’m convinced by historical evidence in the reliability of the gospels – even though I certainly am. I base my whole life on Jesus because I know that I’m a spiritual orphan headed for God’s wrath without him. I know that I’m a sinner separated from my Creator-King and I’m in need of grace and it only comes through Jesus.
If you read the gospels, you will see clearly, who Jesus claimed to be. Not just a nice guy, not just a teacher, or someone who loved all people. Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. Jesus claimed exclusive authority and access to God. All of this hinges on the reliability of the Gospels.
I’ll give you one passage. I know, I can already hear your eyes rolling, but bear with me.
In Matthew 11, Jesus makes a shocking claim –
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:26–27 ESV)
[In case you are wondering there is one variant in v27, but it is in word order only and it’s very clear that it doesn’t impact the meaning whatsoever.]
Jesus claims an authority from God himself. Not only that, he claims that he and God know each other so intimately they are virtually the same essence. In short, if you want to see God, get to know Jesus. The Jesus of the Gospels.
Then he makes a familiar call –
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30 ESV)
We can look at textual criticism and mistakes and variants all day, but in the end, the Gospels clearly proclaim a Jesus with exclusive access to God and a Jesus that invites you to come to God through him. The reliability of the gospels allow us to do that.