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The Investigation of a Lifetime
Evidence Outside the Bible
Evidence for the Resurrection
Reaching Your Verdict
The Investigation of a Lifetime
For much of my life I was a skeptic. In fact, I considered myself an atheist. To me, there was far too much evidence that God was merely a product of wishful thinking, of ancient mythology, of primitive superstition ... It wasn't a phone call from an informant that prompted me to reexamine the case for Christ. It was my wife ... Eventually I wanted to get to the bottom of what was prompting the subtle but significant shifts in my wife's attitudes, so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity ... I applied the training I had received at Yale Law School as well as my experience as legal affairs editor of the Chicago Tribune. And I plunged into the case with more vigor than with any story I had ever pursued.
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ
If possible, read the introduction, Reopening the Investigation of a Lifetime, in The Case for Christ book in preparation for this session. Otherwise, read it as follow-up.
Video Teaching Segment
Space is provided to take notes on anything that stands out to you.
1. To what degree can you relate to the comments people made about Jesus in the video segment? What best represents your current position regarding what you believe about Jesus Christ?
2. What level of confidence do you have that Jesus is an actual historical figure? How confident are you that the existence of Jesus Christ is a matter of legend or wishful thinking? Give reasons behind your response.
3. To what extent have you investigated the claims of Christianity prior to this discussion? Describe your experience.
4. While still an atheist, Lee's initial conclusion was this: If Christianity is true, it has huge implications for one's life. What do you think he meant by this statement? Do you agree or disagree with his assessment? Why?
5. What do you believe about Jesus? Was he a great moral teacher? Was he a prophet? Did he possess special powers? Was he God in human form or was he simply a good man that legend has elevated to the status of the divine?
6. Did Jesus really claim to be God? What did his followers of that era believe about his identity? What have you heard or read about the divinity of Jesus?
7. Jesus once asked his disciples, "Who do the crowds say I am?" and he received a variety of responses (see Luke 9:18–19). At this point in your spiritual investigation, who do you say Jesus is? On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 = I'm very certain Jesus was an extraordinary man, but he was not God in human form; 5 = I'm in a fog concerning who Jesus was; 10 = I'm very certain Jesus was God in human form just as he claimed he was), place an X near the spot that best describes you. Then share your selection with the rest of the group and give reasons for placing your X where you did.
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah. He was at the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon's Colonnade. The Jewish leaders surrounded him and asked, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
Jesus replied, "I have already told you, and you don't believe me. The proof is what I do in the name of my Father. But you don't believe me because you are not part of my flock. My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. So no one can take them from me. The Father and I are one."
Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to kill him. Jesus said, "At my Father's direction I have done many things to help the people. For which one of these good deeds are you killing me?" They replied, "Not for any good work, but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, have made yourself God."
John 10:22–33 NLT
1. Prior to this study session, when was the last time you gave more than a cursory thought to the person known as Jesus Christ? What impact has Jesus had in your life? And how did this humble man from the Middle East manage to revolutionize the entire known world in such a dramatic way that his very birthday divides all of history right down the middle?
2. What are some other ways Jesus has had influence—either positive or negative? How well have Christians followed the ways of Jesus?
3. Are the first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—accurate biographies of the life and teachings of Jesus? How can you be sure?
4. According to John 10:22–33, what did Jesus appear to believe about himself? What do you think his followers believed about him? What did the religious leaders of that time believe about him?
5. British philosopher C. S. Lewis famously proposed that Jesus was either a legend, liar, lunatic, or the Lord God. Are there any other options? Would a sane, truthful, good person falsely claim to be God?
6. If you haven't already, how open are you to discovering the identity of Jesus for yourself once and for all? What is the driving force behind your search? What difference might it make in your life? And how committed are you to carefully examining the evidence and the facts of this case?
7. Perhaps you can take some time right now to further reflect on the verses written by the disciple John. Assuming this account has been preserved accurately, does it have anything new to teach you that you didn't already know about Jesus? Are you willing to say a short prayer right now to invite God to reveal the truth about Jesus to you in the coming days?
Please read the following book content in preparation for session two:
The Case for Christ, chapter 1: The Eyewitness Evidence
The Case for Christ, chapter 2: Testing the Eyewitness Evidence
The Case for Christ, chapter 3: The Documentary Evidence
Excerpted from The Case for Christ Study Guide Revised Edition by Lee Strobel, Garry Poole. Copyright © 2013 Lee Strobel and Garry Poole. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Session 1 The Investigation of a Lifetime.................... 7
Session 2 Eyewitness Evidence.................... 19
Session 3 Evidence Outside the Bible.................... 33
Session 4 Analyzing Jesus.................... 49
Session 5 Evidence for the Resurrection.................... 65
Session 6 Reaching Your Verdict.................... 87
Small Group Leader Helps.................... 103