A simple explanation
About 20 years ago, I wondered why?
I started with wanting an answer to question, “Was there a Jesus?”
B1 Where there any non-Christians in the first century C.E. that spoke of Him?
D1 Many atheists, agnostics, and those of other religions do not accept Tacitus. I read a number of articles, but they seemed unconvincing.
D2 I found a number of the above who believed He existed, but view that He was a rabbi who taught common themes as many in that time period.
D3 Pro and Con can be found by searching about Tacitus write Jesus.
C2 Jewish sources
D1 This is mainly Josephus. Most, and it is suspicious, do not accept the full statement of Josephus about Jesus, but he does mention Him.
D2 This can be searched on search engines as well Josephus writing about Jesus.
D3 Origen quotes Celsus (Source): Chapter 28
And since, in imitation of a rhetorician training a pupil, he introduces a Jew, who enters into a personal discussion with Jesus, and speaks in a very childish manner, altogether unworthy of the grey hairs of a philosopher, let me endeavour, to the best of my ability, to examine his statements, and show that he does not maintain, throughout the discussion, the consistency due to the character of a Jew. For he represents him disputing with Jesus, and confuting Him, as he thinks, on many points; and in the first place, he accuses Him of having invented his birth from a virgin, and upbraids Him with being “born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God.” Now, as I cannot allow anything said by unbelievers to remain unexamined, but must investigate everything from the beginning, I give it as my opinion that all these things worthily harmonize with the predictions that Jesus is the Son of God. [plain text emphasis is mine; it is Origen quoting Celsus].
D4 Tertullian quoting Jews: This is your carpenter's son, your harlot's son; your Sabbath-breaker, your Samaritan, your demon-possessed! This is he whom you bought from Judas. This is he who was struck with reeds and fists, dishonored with spittle, and given a draught of gall and vinegar! This is he whom his disciples have stolen secretly, that it may be said, 'He has risen', or the gardener abstracted that his lettuces might not be damaged by the crowds of visitors!
C3 Other writers
D1 Aberrant Christian groups as gnostics. Consider here.
D3 Also consider: Early Historical Documents on Jesus Christ
B2 Other writers (These list other sources)
C1 Dr. Bart Ehrman, an atheist/agnostic, wrote a book of His existence. (Source)
C2 Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources (Christian) (Source)
C3 Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible (Christian) (Source)
C4 Cornelius Tacitus (Source)
B3 As I search these issues decades ago, it seemed most reasonable the a man name Jesus existed. Obviously, these links didn’t exist then, I used the library.
How do I know what Jesus was like and taught?
B1 The most complete writing as the Gospels associated with the names Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I wasn’t too concerned about the earthly writer.
B2 How could I know if they are reasonably true?
C1 They would have to be written when people who saw and heard Jesus were alive who could easily point out errors. The Jewish leaders, who for the greater part hated Jesus, would be more than ready to put out the lies in the Gospel books.
C2 These writings would have to be completed within the lifespan of those who heard and saw Jesus and his life.
B3 Were the Gospels written early or late?
C1 Were the gospels written in the second century is the search I used now, but in the old days, I used the library.
C2 Somewhat typical of those supporting the later second century are
D2 The Messy World of Second Century Gospels on Dr. Bart Ehrman’s blog.
C3 Historical reliability of the Gospels (appealing to a mid first century (C.E.) writing.
D2 Is the Bible Reliable? A number of articles.
D3 A video lecture by Dr. Peter J. Williams: New Evidence the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts
B4 For me, the sum of the above and much other lends to a most reasonable position that the Gospels are the recording of eyewitnesses or a historian recording what eyewitnesses tell him.
B5 Since this is so, it seems to me that what Jesus said and did is correct most reasonably.
B6 Since that is so, it seems most reasonable that Jesus did miracles and did rise from the dead, not resuscitation but resurrection.
B7 One more step for me anyway is that what Jesus taught would be truth.
C1 He taught there was a beginning.
D1 Mark 13:19 NIV because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now--and never to be equaled again.
D2 John 8:44 NIV You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
C2 He taught at the beginning there was a man and woman.
D1 Matthew 19:8 NIV Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
D2 Mark 10:6 NIV "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'
C3 He taught about a Noah. Matthew 24:38-39 NIV For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Also found in Luke 17:27).
C4 He taught about a Moses who wrote Scriptures.
D1 Luke 24:27 NIV And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
D2 John 5:45-47 NIV "But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"
D3 John 1:45 NIV Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
C5 He taught about salvation
D1 What sin is:
E1 Mark 10:17-21 NIV As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.'" "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
E2 John 3:20-21 NIV Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
E3 Mark 7:20-23 NIV He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come--sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person."
D2 The punishment for sin:
E1 Now: John 8:21, 24 NIV Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." ... I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.
F1 Matthew 25:41, 46 NIV "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
F2 Matthew 18:8-9 NIV If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
D3 A Savior:
E1 Matthew 20:28 NIV just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
E2 John 3:16 NKJV For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
E1 Mark 2:5 NKJV When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."
E2 Matthew 9:2-7 NKJV Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'? "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house.
I could also add archeology and prophecy to this list but not now.
The big questions of “why am I here,” why is there evil (consider this source),” “why do good people suffer (see here),” etc. are found in many places. The answers I found to these and above are the evidence I rely on.
So for me, I am a Christian, not because I was raised in a “Christian” country, or a “Christian” family, or because of an experience, or a feeling, or noticing something different in me, but because of the evidence. I believe God and His plan. By God’s grace I have placed my faith into Jesus Christ.