Christianity rests on claims of historical events: specifically that Jesus was God and man, that he really lived on this earth, was put to death by crucifixion and rose from the grave as “he said he would.” (Matthew 28:6)
It is not an understatement to say that if those things did not happen, there is no Christianity. There is no good news of the gospel. There is no hope in Jesus Christ, because we remain dead in our sins and separated from God.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15: “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”
But these events did happen, and they did not happen in a vacuum. They rippled through human history to enormous impact. The cross is empty. So is the tomb. And hundreds of eyewitnesses saw Jesus Christ after his resurrection (before he ascended into heaven). Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15 by making that point: Christ did rise, proving there will be a resurrection and that Jesus Christ will reign over all the earth.
There are many skeptics and scholars who seek to undermine the historical proof for Jesus, his life, death and resurrection. This is why Christians need to know the facts. They need to be armed with support for these historical facts, so that their faith is not shipwrecked by others. (It’s part of the reason I’m giving away a book on the subject — go comment and win).
Reclaiming the Mind offers a helpful and brief summary of arguments for the resurrection and trustworthiness of the testimonies for the resurrection. They also list a series of scholarly works that delve into much more work on the subject.
For example, the article points out that Christian, Jewish and Pagan sources all support the existence of Jesus as a historical individual. It also notes that ancient theories about Jesus were that the body was stolen — which means the life of Jesus, death of Jesus, location of his burial and disappearance of his body were all accepted. The theory only differs from the Christian account in what happened to the body (resurrected or stolen).
Check out the entire list for yourself here.
Here are several other helpful resources: