Luke’s goal in The Gospel According to Luke’s is so we may know the certainty of the things we’ve been taught. It’s much easier to believe and tell others about things when we know the certainty of them. Allow Luke to convince you.
by Delbert Young
That You May Know the Certainty – Luke 1:1-4
By Delbert Young
Scriptures: Luke 1:1-4; Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:9-11; Acts 1:1-2; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:25; Luke 16:13-14; Luke 2:14; Luke 3:6; Luke 7:47-48
Our study begins.
Luke 1:1-4 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that YOU MAY KNOW THE CERTAINTY of the things you have been taught.
Luke told us why he wrote. Let’s draw from this today.
Luke 1:4 so that YOU MAY KNOW THE CERTAINTY of the things you have been taught. [NIV]
How many of us would be honest enough to say that some of the things we have been taught about Jesus are a little difficult to believe, i.e. virgin birth, resurrection? Luke wrote his gospel that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. But also, we’ve been taught some things that are not accurate. Luke’s goal is to so we may know the certainty of the things we’ve been taught. It’s much easier to believe and tell others about things when we ourselves know the certainty of them.
There are four books about the gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is only one gospel, but these four different men wrote from their unique angles of perspective. Each is a biographical sketch of the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing, no other writings had the effect on the world as these writings had. They changed the world by changing mankind. They changed my life. They changed your life, be you a Christian or not, by their influence on society.
The four gospels tell the same gospel story, but with four different themes of purpose. John’s gospel is unique as it is based from the theme of seven miracles by Jesus the Son of God. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called “the synoptic gospels” meaning similar. Matthew wrote to Jews proving Jesus is the Messiah King. Mark wrote emphasizing activity with Jesus as the servant. Luke, the only gentile writer, wrote in language we gentiles could grasp who might not know all the Jewish customs and background. So, Matthew shows Jesus as King; Mark shows Jesus as Servant; John shows Jesus as God; and Luke shows Jesus as the Son of Man – God becoming man.
Luke’s gospel is the longest of the four gospel writings. It is 1,151 verses with 568 of those verses being the words of Jesus. That’s more words of Jesus than anyone else recorded. Luke wrote both The Gospel according to Luke and The Book of Acts making Luke the largest contributor to the New Testament (Moses in the Old). Most people think the apostle Paul was the largest contributor with 13 or 14 epistles (Hebrews is questionable), but that’s not accurate. We should learn more about Jesus and his teachings from the gospel of Luke than from any other writing.
To get a handle on The Gospel according to Luke, let’s first talk about what we know about Luke the person. You can’t study scriptures and not admire Luke. Luke was a very educated and articulate man. He was like most of us, not a Jew. He did not grow up in church/synagogues or around scriptures. He came to Christ after his education as a grown man. He traveled with and was a close companion to Paul the apostle. Actually, Luke gave his life to serve Paul. Paul wrote,
Colossians 4:14 Luke, the beloved PHYSICIAN, and Demas, greet you.
2 Timothy 4:9-11 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.
Luke was a good man serving Paul until Paul’s martyrdom. How many people will be with you until death? How many people have stuck with you through the ups and downs, persecutions and imprisonments of life? Perhaps you are like me. You thought many would be, but many have forsaken me. When God puts “Lukes” in your life, well, they are special people. Luke was special.
God makes “Pauls” and God makes “Lukes.” We see God’s “election” in Paul. Some people are elected/chosen by God to do amazingly great things i.e. Noah, Abraham, Gideon, David, Peter, Paul, etc. The rest of us are more like Luke. We are here to serve and support the elect, but so few have that humility, however both are critical to the kingdom. Luke was willing to forgo a great income as a physician, marriage, and fathering children to serve the cause of Christ. Luke’s was obviously a special person.
Luke lived in a time when only perhaps 10% of men were educated. Luke was a medical doctor, highly educated, and THE CLOSEST THING TO A SCIENTIST IN HIS DAY. He needed facts. He was not afraid to search for the truth and he did just that. It’s amazing how many people consider Christianity for simpletons and uneducated people, but not many people are more educated than was Luke. Luke used his scientific need for facts and high level of education to write his gospel and the book Acts for us.
Luke 1:3 Therefore, since I MYSELF have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account FOR YOU, MOST EXCELLENT THEOPHILUS, [NIV]
Acts 1:1-2 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven…
Luke spent time himself carefully investigating everything. However, Luke wrote his findings for a man named Theophilus. Theophilus had a title of most excellent. This was the title for a powerful governmental official.
Acts 24:3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix… [NIV]
Acts 26:25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus…” [NIV]
Felix was the governor of Caesarea, a very powerful influential man. Festus succeeded Felix in his government position. Using most excellent indicates Theophilus was educated, wealthy, and a powerful person. This makes Luke’s gospel unique. Luke literally wrote it for a specific person named Theophilus.
Why would Luke write two books (Luke and Acts) for Theophilus? It seems Theophilus was a new convert into Christianity, or at least asking many questions. Likely, Theophilus subsidized Luke to acquire information about everything – Jesus (Gospel of Luke) and the church (Book of Acts). Why would Theophilus do that? We must remember the times. Christians were being fed to lions, burned at the stake, and butchered before their children or parents. Theophilus’ declaration to be a Christ follower could cost him imprisonment or execution. If Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, Theophilus must know the certainty before publicly declaring his faith? His life depended on it. Luke was educated, scientific, obviously a good honest man, had access to the apostles, and knew many eyewitnesses. Contracting with Luke would be expensive, but the only way Theophilus may know the certainty of the things he had been taught.
How about you and me? How far are we willing to go? It was a little more than clicking “Christian” on Theophilus’ Facebook page. Would you be willing to face imprisonment or death for Jesus? Many are not willing to get out of bed on Sunday and get to worship. Do you know why? They do not know the certainty of things about Jesus. They refuse to pay the price to know. How serious are you really? Many may know the certainty.
If not for Theophilus’ generosity, we would not have the largest contribution to the New Testament. Two thousand years later we are benefactors of Theophilus’ need to know and his generosity with two scientifically proven books written by a medical doctor.
To me, one of the sins at Life Gate is our generosity in giving. I wouldn’t want to be some Christians on judgment day concerning their giving. What is the sin, Delbert? We are clearly told to give generously of our finances in both Old and New Covenants. We are in disobedience which is sin when we refuse to give. It’s the sin of idolatry, a master above God. People serve money above God.
Luke 16:13-14 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
Don’t sneer. Just look at your heart. It’s sin to love and be more devoted to money than to God. Do you think Theophilus, standing before the Lord today, regrets giving his money so the gospel could be proclaimed and the kingdom increase? How will you feel standing before the Lord concerning your giving?
Luke 1:1-2 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us
By the time Luke wrote many other writings/accounts were available. Paul had written at least most of his epistles. Matthew, Mark, perhaps John, and other writings were available. So, why would Luke write another account? Luke gives two reasons.
Luke 1:3-4 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
We know Matthew, Mark, and John are accurate biographical sketches, but obviously there were some writings that were not. Luke wanted to set the record straight. He said, I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning. Luke with a scientific mind of a physician needing facts, not wives tales and fables, investigated everything. A good doctor wants all the information he can acquire. That’s Luke. Luke interviewed everyone he could. “Mary, you’ve got to tell me the truth. Were you a virgin? What was it like when Gabriel appeared? Tell me really how Joseph handled it.” He would ask another, “Did Jesus really cast a demon out of you?” To another, “Did Jesus raise you from the dead?” Luke read all the accounts of Jesus, but investigated himself for accuracy. Luke pried out information others left out. If someone told you they doubt the Bible take them to Luke 1:1-4. Show them how this gentile, scientific minded educated medical doctor investigated Jesus himself. Then ask them, “Have you investigated?”
The second reason Luke wrote was, as we’ve discussed, to write an orderly chronological account for Theophilus. Luke is chronological. He gives us the correct order of events. Luke gives us many things that are recorded no place else. Luke is the only gospel giving us any information about Jesus as a young man. So, if you are a young person you will love Luke. Luke tells of Jesus praying more than any other gospel – nine prayers are mentioned. So, if you are a person who needs to build your prayer life, you will love Luke. Luke speaks more about women than any other gospel writer and shows Christ’s friendships with women. There are thirteen different women mentioned in Luke’s gospel. So, if you are a woman you will love Luke. Luke has parables not told by others like the Prodigal Son. So, if you enjoy story telling you will love Luke. If you need a miracle you will love Luke. He tells of miracles others do not tell. You remember Zacchaeus who climbed the sycamore tree? Only Luke tells us about Zacchaeus. So, if you enjoy climbing trees you will love Luke. My point is everyone will enjoy Luke. Luke wrote SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW THE CERTAINTY OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT.
Why did I select Luke for us to study? I pray it was the Holy Spirit leading. We need a good study about our Lord Jesus and what he taught. I’m convinced most Christians don’t actually know true doctrine, only the doctrines of men. Every week we will be adjusted in correct doctrine. For example, Luke wrote more about being filled with the Spirit than anyone else. The first people filled with the Spirit in the New Testament were not those on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It was Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, then John, then John’s father Zechariah. What is being filled with the Spirit? John the Baptist was named and destined by God before he was conceived. What does that say about predestination and God’s election? John leaped in his mother’s womb and was filled with the Spirit before birth. When does personage and life actually begin? What is your doctrine concerning the Jew? Are they God’s favorites? The angel told the shepherds,
Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will TOWARD MEN.
God has good will for all men, not only Jews. John the Baptist said
Luke 3:6 And ALL MANKIND will see God’s salvation.
How close will you get to social outcasts? An immoral woman came to Jesus crying and washing his feet with her tears and hair. A Pharisee questioned Jesus about allowing that “nasty” woman to touch him.
Luke 7:47-48 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke shows even social outcasts are forgiven through Jesus. I find Christians to be judgmental and mean and more like Pharisees going to hell than Christ followers going to heaven.
All the way through Luke’s gospel we will sand away all the doctrines of men and get down to the truth of what Jesus said. Luke gives us more words of Jesus than anyone SO THAT YOU MAY KNOW THE CERTAINTY OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT.
Luke assures us how God feels about all people. God loves people. Luke shows us the real Jesus. You will not go through this study and not be challenged and changed by Jesus. Luke said may know the certainty.
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