Certainty of These Things
Certainty of “These Things”
Text: Luke 1.1-4
Introduction: I have for some time, even before coming to Big Island, believed that the Lord was leading me in the study of the Gospel of Luke. I want you to know this is going to be a great adventure mostly because the theme of the Gospel of Luke is the person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You may ask, why the Gospel of Luke? I want to give the same reason that Luke gives: “So that you may know the Certainty of These Things.” Luke writes to Theophilus a two volume work in order that he might know the certainty of the things that he has been instructed in. And that is what I want to speak to you on today – Certainty of “These Things.”
In our day, there seems to be an enormous fight against the Truth. There was the “Jesus Seminar” in which 75 to 100 “scholars” gave their “professional” opinions to the validity of the sayings of Jesus. Then most recently, there has been the “Davinci Code,” which a novel attempts to discredit the Gospel accounts of the Bible with Primarily the “Gospel of Judas.” The most infamous portion of the Novel is the claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Millions have bought the book and even more the movie. How great is the delusion? Men are looking for certainty. The problem is they don’t know that it is only found in God’s word.
In this passage we will explore three aspects in which men come to a certainty of the Christian Faith: 1st – the Plot, 2nd – the Purpose and 3rd – the Persuasion.
I. The Plot - Context of the Prologue
A. The Gospel of Luke is really the first volume in a two volume work on the person, life and work of Jesus Christ our Lord written in conjunction with the book of Acts, a continuation on what transpired to develop the Church of Christ. Acts 1.1
B. Two men are involved – the writer and the reader. This is always the case, there is a writer and a reader or in terms of the Gospel, a preacher and a hearer. What a beautiful display of humanness! So, who are these two men?
C. First there is Theophilus – who is one who knows some things concerning the Gospel, the Lord Jesus. I believe he is a believer, possibly a Gentile and possibly a Roman official (by this term “most excellent,” which was often used of dignitaries). Theophilus is mentioned in the prologue of Luke and Acts.
D. Secondly, there is the writer or the preacher, Luke. From Colossians 4.14, we know Luke to be a physician. From Philemon, verse 24, we know him to be Paul’s “fellow laborer” or “fellow worker.” From 2 Timothy 4.10-11, we understand that Luke, unlike Demas who loved the world more than Christ, diligently continues with Paul even in the hardest of times and when all others are gone. So, Luke is an unwavering, faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As in our text there is a writer and a reader, there is a preacher and a hearer. God has a preacher to preach to men. This is the plot. As there is a context in which Luke writes, the life of Theophilus; there is the life of every man who hears the Gospel.
II. The Purpose - Luke’s Purpose in Writing
A. What is the main point of these four verses? Luke tells us of his purpose, verse 3, “It seemed to me also…to write unto thee in order…that you might know the certainty of those things.” He is writing to persuade Theophilus and all future readers of the things in which we are instructed (and we will come to what those things are). Is it important to persuade men? Absolutely, it is! Why? That they be certain. It is necessary that men be certain about the Christian Faith and to be certain about the Christian Faith, we must be certain about Christ Jesus, the Person and focus of the Christian Faith.
B. It is necessary for us to be certain in these things because many people look at “Faith” as a leap in the dark. From skeptics to religious charlatans, there are those who view “Faith” as an arbitrary decision to embrace something for which they can see no reason to believe is true. They treat the Christian Faith like believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Worse – The Holy Spirit is brought in to replace evidence. You hear it like this, “The Holy Spirit told me it is true.”
C. But, this is not the way Luke approaches faith. I want you to see three aspects to Luke’s approach:
1. First, He is not content with what Theophilus already knows. He is going to build a case of irrefutable evidence of the Truth of the Gospel and faith in Jesus Christ in a massive work of 52 chapters in this two volume work. Incidentally, do you realize Luke has written more of the New Testament than any other writer, including the Apostle Paul?
2. Second, In Acts 17.11 listen to Luke’s praise of the Bereans, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Bereans did the very thing that Luke is doing, they based the Truth upon the irrefutable evidence, not something subjective and whimsical.
3. In Acts 1.3 we find Luke using the example of the Lord Jesus in proving with evidence. Acts 1.3 Jesus encourages the disciples in infallible proofs, not blind faith as the pendants suggest.
Now, let me quickly add, though Luke is looking to persuade people does not mean that he is ruling out the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, no one would ever come unto the Truth of the Gospel. Look at the account Luke gives of Lydia in Acts 16.14 – when she heard them preach, the Bible says, her “heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” The Holy Spirit works only through the preaching of the Gospel and that is based upon the Word of God.
III. The Persuasion – The Reliability of His Eyewitnesses
It is necessary to be certain, but how are we convinced? Or Persuaded?
A. It seems to me there are basically two ways in which men are convinced of something: 1st is to see and hear it for ourselves and 2nd to hear it from credible, reliable witnesses. Now Theophilus had not witnessed any of this first hand. He had never seen or heard Jesus. Neither had Luke and neither have we. So, if Theophilus or anyone is to be convinced of “These Things,” the Gospel, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we must be confident of the reliability of the sources. And most important, we must see how this claim to Truth fits in and helps make sense of reality as we experience it. In other words, It all has to be livable. And Christianity is livable. The coming of Christ into humanity is livable. His representation of mankind is livable. His provision of sacrifice for sin is livable. The wages of sin is death, but “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us…” That we might live! Now, that does not come out in the prologue, but it will in the narrative itself.
B. Luke boosts Theophilus’ confidence in his narrative by highlighting three important details.
1. The careful research – Verse 3 “Having had perfect understanding of things from the very first…” He has thoroughly followed all things from their very beginning, investigated their accuracy and is now able to set them out “in order.” He has not been hasty but patient, not careless but painstaking and thorough.
2. The number of sources – The thoroughness of his investigation is only as good as his sources. So, he stresses the number and quality of his sources. How many is enough? Verse 1 “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us…” Giving a number here is not important, “Many” is sufficient.
3. The Quality of their witness – Verse 2: “Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word…” Not only are there many but they are “eyewitnesses.” Listen to how Luke records how they replaced Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, in Acts 1.21-22.
C. What is the strength of these witnesses? Their ministry of the Word. They are not just ordinary witnesses, but chosen and appointed instruments of Christ and they had the authority of the Risen Lord behind their teaching. Listen to Luke proving time and time again the validity of his sources – these Eyewitnesses.
Acts 6.4 – “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
Acts 13.31 – “He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people.”
Luke’s carefully and meticulous investigation of all these things are backed by reliable sources who are not only valid because of what they witnessed but by their appointed ministries.
Acts 26.16 shows that there was more in focus here than just having witnessed something. The stress is on the task the Lord Jesus has given them. They are not propagandist for their own views but are in obedience to the command of the Lord: Look at Acts 26.17-18 – I Was Not Disobedient!
Conclusion: Think about your life. Do you have any certainty? Are you looking for a sure foundation? Are you looking for certainty in life? I hope you see that you can find it nowhere else but in the Bible. There is many witnesses to the certainty of These Things – the Life and person of the Lord Jesus Christ.