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As Paul stood before Agrippa, he spoke concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, knowing that Agrippa was fully aware of the matters to which he referred. He stated, "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26). Truly, these things were not "done in a corner." Nothing about the life and ministry of Jesus was secret or hidden. No attempt was ever made to deceive or defraud. Jesus himself said, "I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing" (John 18:20).
When Luke began his second treatise to Theophilus, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ and the forty day period of time that led up to his ascension. Concerning Jesus and his apostles, Luke wrote, "To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). Notice especially the phrase, "by many infallible proofs." The idea inherent in this phrase is that which is a fixed sign, a certain token, that which is unmistakable. While preparing his apostles for the worldwide work that would soon begin, Jesus made sure that their knowledge of his resurrection was certain and unmistakable.
Imagine the problems that the apostles would have faced without this settled assurance and firm conviction. Imagine what the enemies of the Lord and his church could have accomplished if the doctrine of the resurrection was in any way suspect. By giving "many infallible proofs," Jesus remedied that problem before it could begin. The fact that the opponents of the church never advanced the possibility that Jesus had not been raised is testimony to the effectiveness of these "many infallible proofs."
Evidence of the strength of faith that these proofs produced is seen in the conduct of the apostles as they faced opposition. For example, when Peter and John were warned not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, they responded, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19, 20). And later, in the face of similar persecution, Peter and the other apostles boldly replied, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
God also intended that the strength of this faith and this firm conviction in the resurrection of Jesus be passed along to others. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and set forth the fact of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God, he concluded, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). The word highlighted in this quotation, "assuredly," indicates certain knowledge. It means that which cannot be tripped or thrown down. God wanted these people to be so convinced about these matters that they could not be mistaken, confused or otherwise misled concerning Jesus.
Although we now live almost 2,000 years after these events, we can have the same settled conviction and firm faith that is evident in the apostles. One of those times when Jesus gave to his apostles those "many infallible proofs" is recorded in John 20. Thomas had been absent the first time that Jesus appeared in the midst of the apostles, but is now present with them. Remember, Thomas had stated that he would not accept the word of the apostles, but would have to see and touch the Lord, particularly his wounds (John 20:25). On this occasion, Jesus said to Thomas, "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:27-29).
The words of John that follow this occasion indicate the way in which all of us can have this settled faith without seeing or touching Christ as did Thomas. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30, 31).
We can "know assuredly" that Jesus was raised from the dead and is even now at the right hand of the heavenly Father, in part because of the "many infallible proofs" by which he showed himself alive to his disciples. With this firm foundation for faith we can be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Thomas W. Larkin