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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: When the Rocks Cry Out *
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!
- Jesus' Attitude Towards Proof
- Read John 3:36. How important is the issue of believing
that Jesus is God? (It is the most important issue in
- Read John 20:24-25. Who does Thomas seem to think has the
burden of proving that Jesus rose from the grave? (Jesus.)
- 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.)
- Had Jesus already carried the burden of proof with
- Is Thomas asking for more proof than is
available to you?
- 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.)
- Who assumed the burden of proof of Jesus'
resurrection with Thomas? (Jesus did. He went beyond
what should have been required.)
- 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
- Notice John 20:29. What happens to those who accept
Jesus without the level of proof required by Thomas?
(They are blessed.)
- 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?
- Seeing Him in Archeology
- How important is physical evidence to your belief in God's
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Faith and Proof
- 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?
- What if you were an investigator who came 100 years
later to confirm or disprove the story. How would
that change your approach?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What additional evidence did the angel offer? (They
would see Jesus in Galilee.)
- Read Matthew 28:8-10. What additional proof did Jesus give
the women of His resurrection?
- What additional proof did He promise to the
disciples? (That they would see Him.)
- 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
- 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?
- Next week: The Bible and Science.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.