by Gene Hutchcraft
Luke was not an Apostle chosen by Jesus. We have no record of him ever seeing or hearing Jesus speak. He comes into the historical record on the second journey of Paul, traveling from Troas along with Silas, and Timothy (Acts 16:10). They responded to Paul's vision of a Macedonian calling for help. The reply was the Gospel of Christ!
Luke, a physician (Col 4:14), traveled extensively with Paul. He was in Caesarea and Rome during Paul's house arrests (Acts 24:27; Philemon 24). Paul's final letter to Timothy mentioned Luke's presence in Rome (2 Tim 4:11). Luke's writings, Luke/Acts, comprise more than 25 percent of NT Scripture. This godly historian had a Spirit-defined purpose in recording these events.
HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL
Luke 1:1, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, " The confident language of Luke's introduction is striking. God promised, through His prophets, the things Jesus said and did. Eyewitnesses of His life confirmed the events that fulfilled Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. Jesus told His closest followers, Acts 1:8, " you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." The message impressed them so powerfully a river of water could not quench their burning hearts! John describes it this way. I Jn 1:1, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life-- 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us--" These words, and others, reveal the scope of God's eternal purpose when Christ came to earth.
The Father sanctified and sent the Son into the world. The Word of God spoke and acted as directed by God Himself. He gave us words vital for resurrecting God's image in us. His information was more than facts. Those who heard and saw rejoiced at the faith they found in His words and deeds. Some had already made a written record so that others, beyond their immediate influence, could know as well. This was not a small undertaking. The scope of these events concerns God's eternal objective. 2 Tim 1:9, " who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, "
So, information alone is not the point. Scripture brings hearers to the point of accepting or rejecting its claims. God intends to establish faith in the hearts of those who want to believe. Their words and actions will then conform to Christ by that faith. This fruit is God's mark in those who love and look for Jesus' return. Yet even the unbeliever cannot avoid a decision. Consider a weather report, which also informs of expected conditions. The wise person prepares accordingly. Scripture records report what has happened and what to expect from God! Are you prepared?
A CONTINUING RECORD
Luke 1:2, " just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, " God appointed certain ones to experience firsthand the fulfillment of His promises through the ages. They are few by design. Eight entered the Ark. Yet Jesus used that incident to give a powerful warning for humanity (Mt 24:38-39). Only two over the age of twenty, who came out of Egypt and passed through the Read Sea, survived the wilderness. Paul points to it as an example for our learning (1 Cor 10:1-11). Fewer than six hundred saw Jesus alive after His suffering and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-5). Yet it is the basis for all things pertaining to God's Kingdom in us!
This is how God's word and work continue to function, bringing us to Him. 1 Cor 1:20, "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." Our God raises men from the dead through the message of His Spirit. This is because believers find God's wisdom, redemption, righteousness, and sanctification in Christ. The spoken and written records are both expressions of God's life giving word!
The spoken word of God passed through Adam to the successive generations. God's Spirit, abiding in it, brought His promises to fulness in Jesus of Nazareth. Then the Spirit, just as in the past, left a record of Him in written form. Satan tried (and still tries) to hinder or destroy its powerful influence. However, God watches over His word to perform it just as in the terrible days of Jeremiah (Jer 1:12). Earthly circumstances do not quench God's Spirit in the word! He works in, through, and over the most adverse conditions. God, once, placed ambassadors of His word, Joseph and Daniel, at the top of the earth's two most powerful governments. Satan cannot over power God's word in the earth, spoken or written! Those who preserve it, through the years, work with God. Different lands, languages, or generations do not hinder. Every family finds its name in Him. He Who makes our mouth gives every language or tongue to each as He chooses. Faith sees God's hand working in human history, preserving for Himself a people in Christ Jesus, zealous for good deeds!
Luke 1:3, " it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; " This was not only a historian's decision. God put Luke in the places necessary to find the information and gave him insight to perceive it. Our God is wise enough to direct people without manipulating them. Luke wanted to develop and protect the faith of God's people. He worked to increase the planting of God's word long before he began the task of recording it. Writing it simply continued the task!
Men must hear of God's actions in the earth to redeem us from sin. Justice demanded that our redeeming sacrifice come from among us. Yet the earthly events of Jesus' life reach into God's presence. Jesus came from, returned to, and remains there now. His present work draws believers from this world, into the next! 'Theophilus' means the friend of God. He takes believers as friends, companions, to whom He reveals secret things of Himself. Jesus said, John 15:15, "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." The historical record is part of this revelation is the knowledge of God. Faith 'comes' by hearing the word of Christ's redemption. Then faith increases as we see the implications of Jesus' life in us. The written word is one tool by which God instills His thoughts in our hearts and minds (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:10-12). By it God reveals His secrets to those who fear and love Him (Psa 85:8-13).
GOD'S WORD, SETTLED IN HEAVEN
Luke 1:4, " so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." 'Exact truth' highlights the certainty or safety of the Gospel. Scripture describes itself as a rock. Isaiah pictured the Messiah this way also. He said it. 'Fall on Him or He will fall on you!' God's words and deeds form a unit of truth. One complements the other. He speaks and it happens. Then he teaches us what we need to know about Him through that event. This interaction with the human heart saves believers or condemns the godless.
Luke's reader(s) knew of God's revelation in Christ Jesus. His record intended to enlarge their understanding. Perceiving this 'consecutive order' would strengthen faith in God's sovereign design in all things they learned. Luke connected the dots of the whole picture. God directed these events in Christ, for whosoever will, to hear and believe. For from, through, and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36). Salvation is the pinnacle of His testimony!
Preaching, broadcasts the truth, to honest good hearts, where God's word will increase. Teaching, waters, weeds, and nourishes God's seed. Scripture is a tool in this process of God's purpose. More than two dozen writers, over a period of sixteen hundred years, wrote this collection. Authors of various backgrounds, spoke to people in every circumstance. The Hebrews, fresh out of Egypt heard the Law, later, those in Jerusalem heard/read David's, Solomon's, Isaiah's, and Jeremiah's words. Slavery in Babylon did not hinder God's word in or through Daniel and Ezekiel. Those who returned to Jerusalem, after seventy years, heard through Haggai and Zechariah. Four hundred years later men from more than a dozen nations heard the imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation on Pentecost. Years later, believers scattered from Jerusalem preaching the word. Philip opened Scripture to the Ethiopian Eunuch, who took it to north Africa. The Spirit sent Paul and Barnabas across the empire with His message. Paul wrote that He intended, eventually, to go beyond Rome. These things were God's word before men wrote them. As Scripture they continue giving us faith, bearing fruit according to God's design!
James 1:18, "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures." Scripture predicts and reports this, though God does not owe us this account, which honors God's name. Isa 45:23, "I have sworn by myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance." God's wise mercy travels from eternity into time and back to eternal heavenly places. Jn 20:31, " these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." (Gene Hutchcraft, PO Box 256, Alba, MO. 64830-0256)