"Exhibit 5" in the circumstantial evidence for the risen Christ, is the Emergence of the Church. Love what J. P. Moreland says here–
"Now, if you were a Martian looking down on the first century,
would you think Christianity or the Roman Empire would survive?
You probably wouldn’t put money on a ragtag group of people whose
primary message was that a crucified carpenter from an obscure
village had triumphed over the grave. Yet it was so successful
that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs
Caesar and Nero!"
Lee Strobel feels this is not Moreland’s strongest point, but reminds us that we are not relying on one fact, but several. To sum up the "5 Exhibits": the disciples died for their beliefs, the conversion of skeptics, radical changes to key social structures cherished by the Jews for centuries, the sudden appearance of communion and baptism, and the amazing emergence and growth of the Church. The facts themselves are not up for debate–what’s in question is how to explain them without the Resurrection. Strobel contemplates:
No other explanation comes close. And that’s just the
indirect evidence. When I added the potent proof for the empty
tomb of Jesus, and the convincing testimony about his post-
Resurrection appearances, the case seemed conclusive.
That was also the assessment of Sir Lionel Luckhoo, the brilliant
and savvy attorney whose astounding 245 consecutive murder
acquittals earned him a place in The Guinness Book of World
Records as the world’s most successful lawyer. Knighted twice by
Queen Elizabeth, this former justice and diplomat subjected the
historical facts about the Resurrection to his own rigorous
analysis for several years before declaring, "I say unequivocally
that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so
overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves
absolutely no room for doubt."
Moreland concludes by pointing to thousands of testimonies of people who have experienced a relationship with the risen Christ, including himself–who started out as a cynical student in chemistry, and began to research and investigate what all the facts were. He says that all the evidence "begs for an experiential test." In other words, if you follow the facts to their logical conclusion, you can find out for yourself that He’s still alive by relating to Him.