By Ada Brownell
Excerpt from Ada Brownell's book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal
FREE 04/10 THROUGH 04/12
As a retired newspaper reporter, I spent a career reporting and determining truth. Although I was a Christian, when our daughter died of Burkitt's Lymphoma, an aggressive type of cancer, I wondered whether I believed what I thought I believed and I began to search for evidence on the eternal.
Truth often is elusive, even when you have witnesses, testimony, and evidence. Courts wrestle with determining truth.
Societies historically tried many methods to expose a lie. In China, they used to fill a suspect’s mouth with uncooked rice and he would be judged guilty if he could not easily and quickly spit the rice from his mouth. The test was based on the idea that people who are trying to avoid telling the truth don’t create saliva.
Other ancient civilizations required a suspect to grab a white-hot metal rod and carry it to a certain point. If the rod burned the person’s hands and they didn’t heal by a specific date, the person was ruled guilty and punished.
Other cruel and inaccurate methods of determining truth also were used.
More recently, truth serum, an anesthetic or hypnotic such as thiopental sodium or sodium pentothal, was believed to cause a person to speak only the truth. A similar serum was introduced in the 1920s by a Texas obstetrician, Dr. R. E. House. He believed a person under the influence of the drug scopolamine was unable to tell a lie.
Today we have the polygraph, which supporters say is 90 percent accurate, yet often in courtrooms the results can’t be entered as evidence.
In the days when America was a Christian nation and witnesses swore an oath with their hand on the Bible to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God,” the swearing-in meant something. There was a day when Americans feared God. They trembled at telling a lie and knew they probably would not escape being held in contempt of court for not telling the truth. Today in many states, witnesses have the option of swearing an oath or making an affirmation to tell the truth to the best of their knowledge, without mentioning God or using a Bible.
The best court cases depend on physical evidence and, hopefully, truthful eyewitnesses’ testimony.
I decided to go to eyewitnesses’ writings contained in the Bible to determine the truth about Jesus’s Resurrection, which is what gives Christians the hope of eternal life.
The Bible is an amazing book, written by forty different authors with varying occupations over a period of one thousand five hundred years, on three continents, and in three languages. More historical manuscripts are available on the New Testament than any book of antiquity, and it’s difficult to doubt the divine inspiration of the Bible because the forty authors all agree on hundreds of controversial subjects, although they were imperfect humans.
In contrast, the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith and the Koran by Mohammad, with some additions by his followers.
I read through the New Testament and underlined every scripture pertaining to eternal life and resurrection.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:12–14).
When Carolyn died, I had the advantage of having not only read and studied the Bible for years, but having taught classes from Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict, a book that examines facts about the Christian faith. One significant part of McDowell’s work is to determine whether the Resurrection is historical fact or a mere hoax.
The author wrote, “After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, and thoroughly investigating its foundation, I have come to the conclusion that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the ‘most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.’”
When a student asked McDowell why he couldn’t refute Christianity, the author answered, “For a very simple reason. I am not able to explain away an event in history--the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
McDowell’s first two books were his attempts to refute Christianity. When he couldn’t, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and became a Christian.
I knew the Bible has several internal claims that it is the Word of God. For instance, 2 Peter 1:21 says the Bible was written by holy men of God as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost.
I’d already read the testimony of many witnesses, but I needed to read them again. I decided to look again at the Bible’s authenticity, at the divinity of Jesus, at His miracles, and at why we can believe He was dead but came out of the tomb alive.
Several biblical writers witnessed the dead raised to life and saw Jesus’ victory over the tomb.
I noticed what John says: “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us” (1 John 1:1–3).
Luke also pointed out he was an eyewitness: “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses…” (Luke 1:2).
The Apostle Peter wrote: “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Josh McDowell points out the lives of the apostles were transformed after the Resurrection. According to scripture and biblical historians, every one of the apostles, with the exception of John, who died as a prisoner on Patmos, and Judas, who killed himself, gave their lives because they preached that Jesus rose from the dead. McDowell adds people often become martyrs because of their beliefs—but no one would give his life for something he knew was a lie. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, the disciples would have known it.
The disciples knew the earthly body of Jesus was dead and His body was changed and came out of the tomb alive forevermore. Despite being thrown in prison and threats against their lives if they didn’t quit telling everyone about the Jesus rising from the dead, the disciples kept on preaching the truth so others could be saved from eternal death and live. They believed, spread the news, and died for it.
Although I knew all these things, no one was going to show me God, prove I will live forever, or take me on an advance tour of heaven. The requirement for salvation is faith, and if we could prove heaven exists, there would be no reason for faith.
Now, did I have this faith?
I knew any question about the hereafter is settled by faith. The atheist who believes there is nothing after death has only his faith—no proof. Without faith there is no answer to how we got here, why we are here, or where we are going.
You can see how my journey went in the book. You can download it for free. Here Free days end 04/12. Be blessed!
Do you have an unusual testimony of discovering faith? Please leave a comment.