Introduction: One of the important issues in any American legal case
is the burden of proof. Who carries the burden to show the facts
occurred in a certain way? The assignment of the burden of proof can
make all the difference to winning. Let’s say the plaintiff wins if
the traffic light was red. The defendant wins if the light was
green. If the plaintiff has the burden of proof, and no one is sure
of the color of the light, the defendant wins. If the defendant has
the burden of proof, the plaintiff would win. How about the truths of
the Bible, who has the burden of proof in God’s eyes? Does God
believe that He has the burden to prove His truths to us? Or, does
God believe that we have an obligation to figure out the truth?
Perhaps it is something in between? Let’s jump into our study and see
how God has responded to this issue in the past!

  1. Jesus’ Attitude Towards Proof

    1. Read John 3:36. How important is the issue of believing
      that Jesus is God? (It is the most important issue in

    2. Read John 20:24-25. Who does Thomas seem to think has the
      burden of proving that Jesus rose from the grave? (Jesus.)

      1. What proof was available to Thomas? (1. Read Matthew
        16:21. Jesus had been telling the disciples about
        this in advance. 2. He had the eyewitness account of
        all of the disciples.)

      2. Had Jesus already carried the burden of proof with

        1. Is Thomas asking for more proof than is
          available to you?

    3. Read John 20:26-29. What has Thomas concluded? (That Jesus
      is Lord and God and He has been resurrected. Thomas has
      now found the answer to the issue in John 3:36.)

      1. Who assumed the burden of proof of Jesus’
        resurrection with Thomas? (Jesus did. He went beyond
        what should have been required.)

      2. What does this teach us about Jesus’ attitude towards
        us when it comes to the burden of proof about God’s
        truths? (God seems to be willing to go the second

      3. Notice John 20:29. What happens to those who accept
        Jesus without the level of proof required by Thomas?
        (They are blessed.)

        1. What does this mean? They are blessed because
          they accept Jesus as God? While those who have
          Thomas’ approach, and do not see Jesus in the
          flesh, are lost?

  2. Seeing Him in Archeology

    1. How important is physical evidence to your belief in God’s

    2. Read Genesis 23:1-6. How important to your faith is
      finding some archeological evidence that the Hittites
      existed? (For many years it was considered to be a problem
      that no archeological evidence showed the Hittites ever
      existed. However, more recently there have been several
      archeological finds attesting to the existence of the

    3. Read Numbers 1:17-19. The context for this is that God
      told Moses to take a census of the people. We see that
      Moses and Aaron are not only counting the people, but they
      are recording their names. The problem with this is that
      for many years critics of the Bible claimed that writing
      was not even in existence during Moses’ time. The people
      were too primitive to write. This meant that Moses did
      not write the first five books of the Bible, and it placed
      in doubt that God wrote the Ten Commandments and Moses the
      ceremonial law. How can we know that writing existed in
      the time of Moses? (Archeologists unearthed the Black
      Stele, a sculpted stone which contained the detailed laws
      of Hammurabi – which predated Moses. The Ebla Tablets,
      found in Northern Syria in the 1970’s, reveal writing
      existed a thousand years before Moses.)

    4. Read Hebrews 11:24-26. Many years ago, the Smithsonian
      museum hosted an exhibit from the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh
      Tutankhamun. How many of you have seen that exhibit? If
      so, what did you think about it? (I saw this exhibit and
      thought it was fantastic. The incredible artistry in the
      gold death mask let you know that when the Bible refers to
      the “treasures of Egypt,” it is right on target.)

      1. What do these Egyptian treasurers, coupled with the
        other things we know about Egypt, suggest about
        Moses’ ability to write? (These treasures makes the
        critics that suggest Moses could not write look even
        less informed. The Egyptians obviously had a very
        sophisticated civilization. Their buildings show
        knowledge of math. They had a written language. Since
        Moses was trained as Pharaoh’s son, he was obviously
        trained in science and writing.)

  3. Faith and Proof

    1. Read Matthew 28:2-7. Assume you were an investigator hired
      to determine the truth of this story. What steps would you
      take to confirm or disprove this story?

      1. What if you were an investigator who came 100 years
        later to confirm or disprove the story. How would
        that change your approach?

      2. We started out with Thomas demanding proof based on
        the wounds on Jesus’ body. How is proving this story
        different? (Thomas knew Jesus. When Jesus came to
        him, it was easy to match his observations against
        the facts. When you are looking at tombs or other
        physical evidence, it is much harder when you do not
        even know for sure where Jesus’ tomb was located.)

      3. Dr. William Shea recently gave a lecture in my local
        church about the Discovery Channel’s claim to have
        found the tomb of Jesus. Part of the “proof” was the
        use of DNA evidence from the bones they found. Aside
        from contradicting the Bible, what seems improbable
        about the use of this “archeology” to disprove the
        resurrection? (Since they have no DNA from the living
        Jesus, they can hardly claim to show anything from
        DNA samples to prove their claim. Dr. Shea reported
        that the name “Jesus” and “Joseph” were very common
        names during Jesus’ time. Finding a tomb with both of
        those names would be unremarkable.)

    2. Let’s get back to our story in Matthew 28. Re-read Matthew
      28:5-7. What physical evidence did the angel offer the
      women? (The messenger was was quite remarkable! Aside from
      that, his proof was that Jesus was not in the place where
      He was buried.)

      1. Would Jesus’ absence be sufficient evidence for you?
        (It was sufficient to show He was not there. But, as
        to proof He had risen, that is another matter.)

      2. What additional evidence did the angel offer? (They
        would see Jesus in Galilee.)

    3. Read Matthew 28:8-10. What additional proof did Jesus give
      the women of His resurrection?

      1. What additional proof did He promise to the
        disciples? (That they would see Him.)

    4. We see that Jesus consistently offers the physical proof
      of Himself. He does not leave proof to the word of others.
      He does not leave proof to the empty tomb. What does that
      suggest about Jesus’ proof to us today? (Strictly
      speaking, I have not seen Jesus and no one I know has seen
      Him. If He appeared personally to me, I would worry that
      it was one of Satan’s tricks ( 2 Corinthians 11:14). But, I
      feel God’s interaction in my life. There are many stories
      I would tell from just the last six months, but the most
      recent involves my daughter. Her van broke down at the
      entrance to the university she attends. The timing belt
      broke. She looked at this as a sign of God’s disfavor.
      But, she (and maybe me!) are scheduled to drive her van
      600 miles home in about one week. I see this as God’s
      extraordinary favor to us that this fairly major engine
      problem did not occur hundreds of miles from home and the

    5. Friend, God seems willing to carry the burden of proof
      that He exists and He came to rescue you from sin. Will
      you accept the evidence He has given?

  4. Next week: The Bible and Science.