Investigating the Truth of the Gospel
By Cheryl Wilcox
The 700 Club
CBN.com -There is no statute of limitations on murder, and the ones that are unsolved go into a cold case file. In Torrance, California, those cases landed on the desk of detective Jim Warner Wallace. Several cold cases that Jim solved were featured on NBC Dateline.
Jim: “In the end you're trying to figure out what just happened here. You're constantly entering each scene and asking, ‘What really happened here?’ using the evidence available to you. These were cases that really were given up for lost. Nobody had any expectations of ever solving those cases.”
Jim started in law enforcement as a patrol officer. A second-generation cop, he wore his badge proudly. He had a keen eye and sharp mind, and by his thirties was promoted to detective. He was also a loving husband, dedicated father and an avowed atheist.
Jim: “I was more than happy with the idea that I would live my life, and when I closed my eyes for the last time, I would be in the dirt. I came from nothing; I’ll go back to nothing. The idea of a life after this one was meaningless to me.”
Jim: “If you'd have told me that I was a sinner, I would have laughed at you. I know what sinners look like. They're the folks that I take to jail. That's not me. I'm a good guy."
Jim always prided himself in his intellect, and openly mocked people of faith, especially Christians. “I thought of it as a completely unnecessary mythology that I just could not be part of.”
“Reason and observation and scientific exploration would eventually have answers for all the questions that I had about life.” There was one friend who kept inviting Jim and his wife Susie to church. Susie wanted to go because she believed in God and felt their children should go to church like she and her family did.
Susie: “I never read the Bible and really didn't have much understanding of what it all really meant. I think I knew the basic tenets of the faith.”
Jim: “I was the kind of person who would have been more than happy to go to church with my wife, as long as I can go as an atheist.”\
“The pastor was able to communicate a message that was really geared for the kind of selfish, self-focused atheist that I was in the sense that he was able to interest me in Jesus as a smart guy.”
Jim was intrigued, so he bought a $6 Bible.
Jim: “I wasn't about to spend any more than $6 on this.” Laughingly he recalls, “I was looking for the red letters. I just want to see what Jesus has to say. If he's got some wisdom to share, let's hear it.”
Jim put his training as a detective to work and poured over the Gospels. He discovered something that in his line of work was critical to any investigation… eyewitness accounts.
Jim: “If you have multiple eyewitnesses that see the same event, they never tell you the same story, but they do tell you a story that can be seamed together like a puzzle. I was seeing these characteristics in the Gospels. And I thought, ‘Wow! In some aspects, I think this stuff feels and looks a lot like eyewitness testimony.’ So I was willing to take a step with it and start to examine it as an eyewitness account to see if it would hold up.”
“This was intriguing to me because it was a claim, not just about some wisdom from the ancient past, but a claim about an event that either occurred or didn't occur in the ancient past, and that was something I could test.”
Jim also looked into the writings of other ancient historians to verify the accounts he found in the Bible. “So I think as I went through that process of digging, looking at language, looking at the template that I used to evaluate eyewitnesses, I became more comfortable and more confident that those were accurate, reliable eyewitness accounts.”
Susie: “We were both learning so much at the same time.”
When Jim’s atheism couldn’t stand in light of the evidence, he was faced with one question. “Why do we need a Savior?” To answer that question, Jim had to admit that his pride was keeping him from accepting the truth about Jesus. “It wasn't that there wasn’t enough evidence. It was all about realizing, ‘I’m not God.’ And realizing that ‘Man, I’m a mess.’ And there's a lot about my life that I would like to change, a lot that I’m not proud of, a lot that I need forgiveness for.”
Jim, the good guy, needed a Savior too.
“I, for a lot of years, worked hard to resist God's Spirit and at some point I just said, "Okay, I’m done. I believe it. I'm in.’ I submitted everything to Him. I submitted everything to Christ. I submitted every waking thought.”
Susie: “I felt like I was getting to witness a miracle just unfold right before me. It was just amazing!”
Jim: “The first thing that changed for me was a sense that this huge separation I’d always drawn from the people who were on one side of the bars and the people who were on the other side of the bars vanished. I have become a much more forgiving person, I hope, because I’m constantly reminding myself of my need for forgiveness.”
Jim went on to become a celebrated cold case detective. He also defends his faith as a Christian apologist. Together he and Susie have built their lives on the truth of God’s Word.
“God knew me. He knew how committed I was to looking at evidence. And I think God reached me through that evidence. It may not be how everyone hears the Gospel for the first time, but for folks like me, I needed to be reached this way. So I’m only a Christian today because it's true.”
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