That We May Know Him

That We May Know Him

SERMON POWERPOINT

Sunday, August 8, 2021  Brad Barrett

Luke—That We May Know Him

When I was in my first year of college here at Iowa State, I had absolutely no interest in God.  My top priorities were school and partying.  It’s debatable which one was the higher priority.  I didn’t want to talk about God.  Coming to a church service like you are today?  No thanks.  I was fine on my own. 

Before my dad died when I was 10, he rarely went to church, so as I look back, I think my excuse was that God and church was something that a man didn’t need. 

Then during my freshman year at Iowa State, my mom and my stepdad (whom I now just think of him as my dad, not a stepdad) both were confronted with their need for forgiveness and a Savior.  In their 40’s, they both repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ.  All I thought was, “Oh no, Mom and Dad got religious.”

But the next summer God was beginning to work in me.  He was revealing to me my own dissatisfaction with life… with my empty, partying lifestyle… pretending to be someone I wasn’t, often while in a drunken stupor.

As that summer came to a close, I was wearing down in my stubborn resistance to the Lord.  And I was realizing that my own sinful life was displeasing to God and was, surprisingly, worthy of his wrath.  That terrified me. 

Then finally on a late August evening, my first day back in Ames for my sophomore year here at Iowa State, I bowed my heart before Jesus Christ and asked him to save my soul.

What a relief and joy I felt!  I knew the whole course of my life…even into eternity…had just changed in a moment.  I didn’t know much about my new faith, but I knew I now belonged to him.  I was his.  Over the next couple of months, I met up with Christians at Stonebrook, and I began to grow in my faith. 

Yet I was still full of pride.  Even to my new Christian friends at Stonebrook and to my family, I found it difficult to say the name of Jesus out loud.  In the year before that, I would say Jesus’ name all the time, but always in cursing.  Never, ever reverently like he deserved.

As I have reflected back on my first few months of faith in Christ, there is something about Jesus that provoked me and may provoke many of us.  It’s hard to remain neutral about Jesus.  Even his name is powerful.

We are beginning a new sermon series going through a NT book we simply call “Luke.”  A godly Christian man named Luke penned it through inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

It’s considered one of the four “Gospels” in the NT.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…each named after its human author. 

What are “The Gospels”?

Let’s begin with the basics.

What are “The Gospels”?

The word “gospel” means good news.   So in these first four books of the NT, they are the “Good news of Jesus Christ.” 

Good news of this unique, unparalleled person from 2000 years ago.  A person who is the fulfillment of centuries of prophetic words from God.  A person who is the Hero of the story.  Actually, the Hero of all stories. 

Yet, like I discovered as a 19-year old, he is a person who provokes a reaction.  Though Jesus himself IS the Good News, it’s very difficult for us, in our sinful state, to welcome that Good News…like I fought against him in my pride to admit He is Lord and Judge, and that I needed him.

Luke records the words of a godly man named Simeon…just days after Jesus’ birth.   Simeon prophetically spoke to Jesus’ mother, Mary, who though a virgin, had miraculously conceived this child.

Luke 2:34–35 ESV And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Simeon is prophesying in part that this child is going to cause division among people.  Something about Jesus… and about mankind… is so startling that people choose sides.  Some will rise, and others will fall.  Some will believe in him.  Some will reject him.

So these four Gospels declare the most momentous period in human history.  The bullseye of the history. 

So more specifically, what are these documents called the Gospels? 

They are a unique kind of literature.   They are biographies of Jesus, in one way.  They are historical records, for sure, recording actual events.  One author described the Gospels like portraits of Jesus.  They are written to express the message of who He is and what he did to instruct believers in the certainties of their faith.

What Do We Do With the Gospels?

What do we do with the Gospels?

Our first goal in reading the Scriptures is not that much different than reading any book.

We want to discover what the author means.  We ask, “What did he/she mean when he wrote this?”  The author had a specific intent in his writing.  This is our first goal in reading not only the Scriptures but any writing.

Then once we determine the author’s intent to his original audience, we begin to assess its significance to us.  We strive to believe it and apply it to our lives.  This is crucial, for the Gospels are far more than a typical biography or  history book we check out at the Library.  We read those books for entertainment.  For curiosity.  Simply for information’s sake.  But the Gospels are far more significant and impactful than that.  Why?  Because Jesus himself doesn’t allow us to read about him simply for entertainment.  Jesus’ extraordinary origins…his life, words, deeds, and purpose… compel us to do something about him, either believing in him or rejecting him.  Jesus doesn’t let us stay neutral. 

For example, I read this on a one of my daily readings recently.

Luke 14:33 ESV  “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus was not interested in having a large social media following.  He wasn’t interested in getting 150 “Likes” on a post.

He wanted followers who showed their true colors by worshiping him above all else.

So when we pick up a Gospel, before reading we should be people of prayer in a humble dependence on God to open our eyes and soften our hearts to receive Jesus as he is and to become what he calls us to be. 

One application this morning is simply to pray before we read the Bible.  We pray for humility, understanding and faith.  Then simply read in order to know, believe and respond to Jesus.  More on this later.

Why Four Gospels?

One final word before we actually begin in Luke.

Why are there four Gospels?

Considering that, without question, Jesus Christ is the most significant person in human history, four records of Jesus the Messiah—four witnesses to him—adds strength and credibility to the story of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. 

Also, each Gospel seems to be written with a different audience in mind. 

Matthew seems to be written primarily with the Jews in mind

Mark for the Romans

Luke for the Greeks

John seems to be have a wide focus, but certainly the seeker is in mind (John 20:30-31). 

Each gospel uniquely emphasizes attributes of our Lord.

Matthew emphasizes Jesus as a King;

Mark presents Him as a Servant;

Luke, as a Man;

John, emphasizes Jesus’ Deity.

Altogether, the Four Gospels give us a view of the Messiah from various angles, like looking at a diamond from each side to see its brilliance.   

Luke

So that briefly introduces us to the Gospels.  Now let’s begin in Luke’s account of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Vs. 1:1-4

Open your new Journal.

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,

2 just as those who– from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word– have delivered them to us,

3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Author

Luke’s name is not mentioned here, but there has been little debate over the centuries that he is the author.  We know from one of the Apostle Paul’s letters that Luke was a physician.  From Acts we learn that Luke traveled with Paul helping churches begin and thrive. 

Audience

Both the Gospel and Acts are written to his acquaintance, Theophilus.   We can only speculate who Theophilus is.  From Theophilus’s name (which is Greek) and from the clues within this Gospel, we can assume that Luke wrote to Greek Christians.  i.e., Christians who had a pagan background, not of Jewish descent.  (That would be almost of us in this room.)

Historian

Luke also had skill as an historian as he wrote both this Gospel and the Book of Acts, which  makes him the most prolific NT author.  Essentially, we can consider the Book of Acts as Volume II of Luke’s writings.  The Sequel to the Gospel.   Acts looks at the life of Jesus’ church after he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. 

I appreciate Luke’s desire for an “orderly account” shows that he is a good historian, paying attention to detail.

Last Tuesday I began reading a well-known WWII book of events on D-Day in June 1944.  The book The Longest Day was written by journalist Cornelius Ryan.  In the Introduction, I was fascinated by Ryan’s careful efforts in writing his 200+ page book.  Ryan said,

 “I see this [book] as a carefully documented human narrative…I’m doing my best to abide by a single rule of thumb:  accuracy.”

I wonder if Ryan had read Luke’s first few verses, because that is Luke’s heart.  But Luke’s focus is not a battle in a war, but concerning the most important and influential person in human history:  Jesus Christ.  Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke carefully wrote this account. 

We can trust that God directed this account we have in our hands.  We can trust God that Jesus is who he says he is.  And he did what Luke said he did.

Luke’s Gospel is so important that if we cannot trust this account, we have no Christianity.  There is no Good News.

Some Highlights from Luke

This morning I am introducing us to this Gospel.  So what are some themes and highlights from Luke’s 24-chapter story of Jesus?

Here are a few. 

One theme we find in Luke is Jesus’ mission….why he came to earth.  Jesus himself told us, saying,

Luke 19:10 ESV  “… the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Perhaps you’ve not thought much about Jesus, but you’re curiously seeking.  You might wonder what he accomplished.  Why he was on earth.  Jesus tells us multiple times like this.  His statement here implies that people are lost and need rescuing.  And that he is the Rescuer.  The Savior. 

Nowhere in this Gospel does Jesus give us the option of calling him just a good, moral man or a good teacher.  He is those things, but so, so much more.

Another theme in Luke:

We will find that Jesus was unlike anyone the people had ever seen.  His miracles and his teachings revealed his authority and power.

Luke 4:35–36 ESV Jesus rebuked him [the demon], saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him [this man] down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.  And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

This demon HAD to obey Jesus. 

And also Jesus performed many miracles in Luke like raising from the dead a widow’s only son.

With all this evidence, the people were challenged.  They were astonished and amazed.  They wondered…as we should wonder…who is like Jesus?  Can anyone compare?  He is unparalleled. 

Seeing Jesus like this should provoke us to believe what he says.  And to trust him more, even in our trials. 

Another theme in Luke’s Gospel:

Jesus reached out to all social classes.

Non-Jews (a.k.a., Gentiles).  Women.  Children.  Tax collectors.  Sinners.  He was criticized for it.

Luke 5:30 ESV And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus was willing to reach out with grace and forgiveness even to the lowly tax collectors and sinners.  And the religious leaders despised him for it.  Jesus’ concern for people of all types was astonishing.  Shocking, especially to the proud religious elite.

And another theme, and the most important one, Luke tells us the remarkable story of:

Jesus’ suffering, resurrection, and ascension

Luke 24:45–47 ESV Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This story of Jesus is the pinnacle, not only of Luke’s Gospel, but of the entire Bible and of human history.

Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension is the Ultimate Proof of his Deity and his ability and authority to save lost sinners from the wrath of God. 

Without this, we have no Christianity.  And eternal life becomes mere wishful thinking.

Application

So as I said earlier, whenever we read the Scriptures, we first look for the meaning of the text.  And then we should always ask, “How does this apply to our lives today.”

To summarize Luke’s purpose in writing to the people this account of Jesus Christ, it would be this: 

“To know with certainty what we have been taught about Jesus.”

So how do we become more certain?  How can our faith grow?  What steps can we take?  Some of you have been walking with Jesus for many years.  Others of you are not even sure what you think about Jesus.

Let me offer this step for each one of us. 

  1. Go to the Gospel of Luke to know Jesus better and trust him more.

Simply stated, let’s read Luke that we might know and love Jesus more.  That we might be more amazed by him and follow him. 

We pastors are proposing that as an entire church we do this together.   Every one of us read the Gospel of Luke.

I don’t have any stats for us at Stonebrook, but if I had to guess, I would say that a high percentage of us don’t read the Bible consistently.

Look at this survey results.  Of evangelical Christians, 66% are on Facebook every day.  Only 32% are in their Bible every day.

(I have to admit with great irony that I saw this on Facebook.)  J

I would simply like to move the needle for all of us.  Together as a church, let’s simply start reading the Bible every day.

And read it more than you look at social media.

So let’s begin with Luke.  Begin with these Bible journals.  It’s quite straightforward.

Most of us have tried many times, and perhaps gotten out of the habit.  We feel like we failed, even, so we’re reluctant to try and fail one more time.  We read but don’t understand.  We read and it seems boring.  We don’t to read. 

I do NOT want to guilt us in to reading our Bibles.  That is not helpful. 

Here’s my heart:  To simply know Jesus better.  To read the Gospel of Luke in order to know Jesus better.  To understand him more.  To be more amazed by him.  To love him a little more each day.

Imagine for a moment with me.  What would happen if every person at Stonebrook was revitalized in his/her walk with Jesus??

  • If we loved him more.
  • Obeyed him more quickly.
  • Increased in our brotherly love. 

What would happen?  How would we change?  How would God be honored?

Last week I saw some of my family.  My brother-in-law has been growing in his love for and obedience to Jesus in the past year.  My sister offered this testimony:  Her co-workers said to her recently, “Your husband is really changing!”  Non-Christian co-workers were noticing the impact Jesus was having on my brother-in-law.    What if that could be said with every person here over the next few months?

So if you don’t remember anything I said this morning, would you at least do this:  Pick up the Gospel of Luke and read it every day.  As you read, seek to understand what Luke meant by the words and stories he wrote about.  And seek to apply it to our lives. 

If you haven’t read the Bible much for a while, perhaps a prayer like this would be helpful:

“Lord, I’ve been ignoring you.  I’ve detached myself from the life source of your Word.  Would you have mercy on me and help me to seek you and find you?  Create in me a longing for you.”

Come to the throne of grace to find his help.  He will gladly welcome you.

So let’s read it.   Read it with your household.  Read it as a Bible study or Community Group.  Listen to it while in the car.  Ponder what you read.

Write down notes and questions in this JOURNAL.  For example, the past 3 months, I have been using a Bible journal just like the one we gave you.   I’ve gone thru Galatians, Ephesians, and Thessalonians.  Now I’m in Luke.

In this Journal, the Bible text is on the left and blank space is on the right.   Just read a chapter, and then write down whatever comes to mind.  Questions.  Comments.  Prayers.  Doubts.

Can I offer you some of my heart this morning??

Here are a few examples from my journal:

[page 12 in the Journal] 

In Luke 1:46-55 Mary sings a beautiful song of praise to the Lord about carrying the Savior of the world in her womb.

We learn much about God and his Son from her song.

Here’s what I wrote in my JOURNAL:

From Mary’s song we learn:

  • God deserves “magnification.”
  • He is Savior
  • He watches over people.
  • He is mighty
  • He does great things
  • He is merciful
  • He is strong
  • He humbles mighty rulers.
  • And on and on.

If you want to know who God the Father and his Son are, read her song of praise.

[turn to page 68 in the Journal] 

Then Luke 8:50 Jesus is traveling to heal a man’s daughter, but they receive news that his daughter is dead.  Remarkably, Jesus says in Luke 8:50, “Do not fear;  only believe.”   It’s hard to imagine news much worse than your daughter just died.  That would crush me.  But at this grieving moment, Jesus tells him not to fear.  But instead to trust him.

I wrote in my journal:

“No life situation, even the death of a beloved daughter, is too much for Jesus.  We can believe in him and not fear.  He is always, always worthy of our trust.”

This story helps me examine my life.  Do I  know Jesus so well that I will trust him during my crisis?

 [page 104]

In Luke 13:5, Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

I wrote:

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!

“Thank you, Lord, for humbling me, convicting me of sin, drawing me to yourself, and saving me that August evening many years ago.  I love you, Lord!”

By showing you my journal, I simply want to whet your appetite for Jesus.   To know him, be fascinated by him, amazed by him.  And to trust him more. 

Before and after you read, pray to God for help.  You can pray something like this:

“Lord, I don’t know much.  Would you help me?  Humble me.  Help me to understand in my heart these momentous words.  Then as I understand, help me to believe and obey.”

To help you with all of this, we have inserted a sheet into your new Journal.  Dave’s SOAP method.  He has found this helpful for many years.  My approach is similar but less organized than his.

The main point I want to make:   Just start doing something.  Then learn from others.  Experiment, trying different methods. 

Remember:  The goal is NOT to check it off your list.  The goals is to know God better, believe his Word more, and obey wholeheartedly. 

Again, as an entire church, let’s all pick up the Bible each day this week.  Start tomorrow morning.  Read it.  Use this journal.

Bring it on Sundays to take notes. 

You might have a different system and approach.   Would you be willing to set that aside for a week and try this together?

Let’s seek to know him for who he reveals himself to be in this Gospel.

A second step to take as you read Luke: 

  • Take your doubts straight to God in prayer. 

In our human frailty, we will from time to time have doubts about God.

We may feel like we’re hanging on to God with just our fingertips.  We doubt his love.  We question his power.   We have doubts about our forgiveness in Christ.  We wonder why he feels so distant at times.  We wonder why God would possibly allow these hard trials in our lives.  We may be angry at our trials.  (I know I was one day last week.)  We may even wonder if God exists at all. 

Because of these doubts, we can become anxious or discouraged.   We may wonder, “What is wrong with me?”

Well, no worries.  You’re no weirder than anyone else.  J

Most of us…probably all of us…have doubts at times.

I propose that we simply talk to God about our doubts.   Be honest with him.  He knows anyway;  why not tell him?

You could pray something like this:

“Lord, sometimes I’m not even sure you’re there.  I feel distant.  I waver in my confidence about what you did here in Luke.  Would you help me to trust you?  Would you open my eyes and soften my heart?  Like the man doubting in the Gospels prayed, so I pray, ‘I do believe, but help me in my unbelief.’”

After talking to God, talk to others about your doubts.  Open up to a trusted friend.  Don’t be afraid.

In addition to praying about your doubts, keep reading.  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, hearing by the Word the of Christ.  Simply stay at it.  Luke wrote this so that his friend, Theophilus, and now we can have greater certainty about what we have heard about Jesus. 

Conclusion

Let me conclude with this.

God is knowable.

He has created the earth and the heavens in a way for us to know him.

He has written his Scriptures so that we can know him.

He has sent his Son for us to know what he is like.  And then for his Son to die and rise again so that we can really know him. 

As a church let’s go on a journey this Fall.  A journey to know more about Jesus, this most remarkable person in History.   A journey to ask questions.  To listen to him.  To be amazed by him.  To know him a little better each day.  To love him a little more each day.

Sunday, August 8, 2021  Brad Barrett

Luke—That We May Know Him

When I was in my first year of college here at Iowa State, I had absolutely no interest in God.  My top priorities were school and partying.  It’s debatable which one was the higher priority.  I didn’t want to talk about God.  Coming to a church service like you are today?  No thanks.  I was fine on my own. 

Before my dad died when I was 10, he rarely went to church, so as I look back, I think my excuse was that God and church was something that a man didn’t need. 

Then during my freshman year at Iowa State, my mom and my stepdad (whom I now just think of him as my dad, not a stepdad) both were confronted with their need for forgiveness and a Savior.  In their 40’s, they both repented of their sins and believed in Jesus Christ.  All I thought was, “Oh no, Mom and Dad got religious.”

But the next summer God was beginning to work in me.  He was revealing to me my own dissatisfaction with life… with my empty, partying lifestyle… pretending to be someone I wasn’t, often while in a drunken stupor.

As that summer came to a close, I was wearing down in my stubborn resistance to the Lord.  And I was realizing that my own sinful life was displeasing to God and was, surprisingly, worthy of his wrath.  That terrified me. 

Then finally on a late August evening, my first day back in Ames for my sophomore year here at Iowa State, I bowed my heart before Jesus Christ and asked him to save my soul.

What a relief and joy I felt!  I knew the whole course of my life…even into eternity…had just changed in a moment.  I didn’t know much about my new faith, but I knew I now belonged to him.  I was his.  Over the next couple of months, I met up with Christians at Stonebrook, and I began to grow in my faith. 

Yet I was still full of pride.  Even to my new Christian friends at Stonebrook and to my family, I found it difficult to say the name of Jesus out loud.  In the year before that, I would say Jesus’ name all the time, but always in cursing.  Never, ever reverently like he deserved.

As I have reflected back on my first few months of faith in Christ, there is something about Jesus that provoked me and may provoke many of us.  It’s hard to remain neutral about Jesus.  Even his name is powerful.

We are beginning a new sermon series going through a NT book we simply call “Luke.”  A godly Christian man named Luke penned it through inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

It’s considered one of the four “Gospels” in the NT.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…each named after its human author. 

What are “The Gospels”?

Let’s begin with the basics.

What are “The Gospels”?

The word “gospel” means good news.   So in these first four books of the NT, they are the “Good news of Jesus Christ.” 

Good news of this unique, unparalleled person from 2000 years ago.  A person who is the fulfillment of centuries of prophetic words from God.  A person who is the Hero of the story.  Actually, the Hero of all stories. 

Yet, like I discovered as a 19-year old, he is a person who provokes a reaction.  Though Jesus himself IS the Good News, it’s very difficult for us, in our sinful state, to welcome that Good News…like I fought against him in my pride to admit He is Lord and Judge, and that I needed him.

Luke records the words of a godly man named Simeon…just days after Jesus’ birth.   Simeon prophetically spoke to Jesus’ mother, Mary, who though a virgin, had miraculously conceived this child.

Luke 2:34–35 ESV And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Simeon is prophesying in part that this child is going to cause division among people.  Something about Jesus… and about mankind… is so startling that people choose sides.  Some will rise, and others will fall.  Some will believe in him.  Some will reject him.

So these four Gospels declare the most momentous period in human history.  The bullseye of the history. 

So more specifically, what are these documents called the Gospels? 

They are a unique kind of literature.   They are biographies of Jesus, in one way.  They are historical records, for sure, recording actual events.  One author described the Gospels like portraits of Jesus.  They are written to express the message of who He is and what he did to instruct believers in the certainties of their faith.

What Do We Do With the Gospels?

What do we do with the Gospels?

Our first goal in reading the Scriptures is not that much different than reading any book.

We want to discover what the author means.  We ask, “What did he/she mean when he wrote this?”  The author had a specific intent in his writing.  This is our first goal in reading not only the Scriptures but any writing.

Then once we determine the author’s intent to his original audience, we begin to assess its significance to us.  We strive to believe it and apply it to our lives.  This is crucial, for the Gospels are far more than a typical biography or  history book we check out at the Library.  We read those books for entertainment.  For curiosity.  Simply for information’s sake.  But the Gospels are far more significant and impactful than that.  Why?  Because Jesus himself doesn’t allow us to read about him simply for entertainment.  Jesus’ extraordinary origins…his life, words, deeds, and purpose… compel us to do something about him, either believing in him or rejecting him.  Jesus doesn’t let us stay neutral. 

For example, I read this on a one of my daily readings recently.

Luke 14:33 ESV  “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus was not interested in having a large social media following.  He wasn’t interested in getting 150 “Likes” on a post.

He wanted followers who showed their true colors by worshiping him above all else.

So when we pick up a Gospel, before reading we should be people of prayer in a humble dependence on God to open our eyes and soften our hearts to receive Jesus as he is and to become what he calls us to be. 

One application this morning is simply to pray before we read the Bible.  We pray for humility, understanding and faith.  Then simply read in order to know, believe and respond to Jesus.  More on this later.

Why Four Gospels?

One final word before we actually begin in Luke.

Why are there four Gospels?

Considering that, without question, Jesus Christ is the most significant person in human history, four records of Jesus the Messiah—four witnesses to him—adds strength and credibility to the story of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. 

Also, each Gospel seems to be written with a different audience in mind. 

Matthew seems to be written primarily with the Jews in mind

Mark for the Romans

Luke for the Greeks

John seems to be have a wide focus, but certainly the seeker is in mind (John 20:30-31). 

Each gospel uniquely emphasizes attributes of our Lord.

Matthew emphasizes Jesus as a King;

Mark presents Him as a Servant;

Luke, as a Man;

John, emphasizes Jesus’ Deity.

Altogether, the Four Gospels give us a view of the Messiah from various angles, like looking at a diamond from each side to see its brilliance.   

Luke

So that briefly introduces us to the Gospels.  Now let’s begin in Luke’s account of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Vs. 1:1-4

Open your new Journal.

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,

2 just as those who– from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word– have delivered them to us,

3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,

4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Author

Luke’s name is not mentioned here, but there has been little debate over the centuries that he is the author.  We know from one of the Apostle Paul’s letters that Luke was a physician.  From Acts we learn that Luke traveled with Paul helping churches begin and thrive. 

Audience

Both the Gospel and Acts are written to his acquaintance, Theophilus.   We can only speculate who Theophilus is.  From Theophilus’s name (which is Greek) and from the clues within this Gospel, we can assume that Luke wrote to Greek Christians.  i.e., Christians who had a pagan background, not of Jewish descent.  (That would be almost of us in this room.)

Historian

Luke also had skill as an historian as he wrote both this Gospel and the Book of Acts, which  makes him the most prolific NT author.  Essentially, we can consider the Book of Acts as Volume II of Luke’s writings.  The Sequel to the Gospel.   Acts looks at the life of Jesus’ church after he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. 

I appreciate Luke’s desire for an “orderly account” shows that he is a good historian, paying attention to detail.

Last Tuesday I began reading a well-known WWII book of events on D-Day in June 1944.  The book The Longest Day was written by journalist Cornelius Ryan.  In the Introduction, I was fascinated by Ryan’s careful efforts in writing his 200+ page book.  Ryan said,

 “I see this [book] as a carefully documented human narrative…I’m doing my best to abide by a single rule of thumb:  accuracy.”

I wonder if Ryan had read Luke’s first few verses, because that is Luke’s heart.  But Luke’s focus is not a battle in a war, but concerning the most important and influential person in human history:  Jesus Christ.  Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke carefully wrote this account. 

We can trust that God directed this account we have in our hands.  We can trust God that Jesus is who he says he is.  And he did what Luke said he did.

Luke’s Gospel is so important that if we cannot trust this account, we have no Christianity.  There is no Good News.

Some Highlights from Luke

This morning I am introducing us to this Gospel.  So what are some themes and highlights from Luke’s 24-chapter story of Jesus?

Here are a few. 

One theme we find in Luke is Jesus’ mission….why he came to earth.  Jesus himself told us, saying,

Luke 19:10 ESV  “… the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Perhaps you’ve not thought much about Jesus, but you’re curiously seeking.  You might wonder what he accomplished.  Why he was on earth.  Jesus tells us multiple times like this.  His statement here implies that people are lost and need rescuing.  And that he is the Rescuer.  The Savior. 

Nowhere in this Gospel does Jesus give us the option of calling him just a good, moral man or a good teacher.  He is those things, but so, so much more.

Another theme in Luke:

We will find that Jesus was unlike anyone the people had ever seen.  His miracles and his teachings revealed his authority and power.

Luke 4:35–36 ESV Jesus rebuked him [the demon], saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him [this man] down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.  And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

This demon HAD to obey Jesus. 

And also Jesus performed many miracles in Luke like raising from the dead a widow’s only son.

With all this evidence, the people were challenged.  They were astonished and amazed.  They wondered…as we should wonder…who is like Jesus?  Can anyone compare?  He is unparalleled. 

Seeing Jesus like this should provoke us to believe what he says.  And to trust him more, even in our trials. 

Another theme in Luke’s Gospel:

Jesus reached out to all social classes.

Non-Jews (a.k.a., Gentiles).  Women.  Children.  Tax collectors.  Sinners.  He was criticized for it.

Luke 5:30 ESV And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus was willing to reach out with grace and forgiveness even to the lowly tax collectors and sinners.  And the religious leaders despised him for it.  Jesus’ concern for people of all types was astonishing.  Shocking, especially to the proud religious elite.

And another theme, and the most important one, Luke tells us the remarkable story of:

Jesus’ suffering, resurrection, and ascension

Luke 24:45–47 ESV Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This story of Jesus is the pinnacle, not only of Luke’s Gospel, but of the entire Bible and of human history.

Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension is the Ultimate Proof of his Deity and his ability and authority to save lost sinners from the wrath of God. 

Without this, we have no Christianity.  And eternal life becomes mere wishful thinking.

Application

So as I said earlier, whenever we read the Scriptures, we first look for the meaning of the text.  And then we should always ask, “How does this apply to our lives today.”

To summarize Luke’s purpose in writing to the people this account of Jesus Christ, it would be this: 

“To know with certainty what we have been taught about Jesus.”

So how do we become more certain?  How can our faith grow?  What steps can we take?  Some of you have been walking with Jesus for many years.  Others of you are not even sure what you think about Jesus.

Let me offer this step for each one of us. 

  1. Go to the Gospel of Luke to know Jesus better and trust him more.

Simply stated, let’s read Luke that we might know and love Jesus more.  That we might be more amazed by him and follow him. 

We pastors are proposing that as an entire church we do this together.   Every one of us read the Gospel of Luke.

I don’t have any stats for us at Stonebrook, but if I had to guess, I would say that a high percentage of us don’t read the Bible consistently.

Look at this survey results.  Of evangelical Christians, 66% are on Facebook every day.  Only 32% are in their Bible every day.

(I have to admit with great irony that I saw this on Facebook.)  J

I would simply like to move the needle for all of us.  Together as a church, let’s simply start reading the Bible every day.

And read it more than you look at social media.

So let’s begin with Luke.  Begin with these Bible journals.  It’s quite straightforward.

Most of us have tried many times, and perhaps gotten out of the habit.  We feel like we failed, even, so we’re reluctant to try and fail one more time.  We read but don’t understand.  We read and it seems boring.  We don’t to read. 

I do NOT want to guilt us in to reading our Bibles.  That is not helpful. 

Here’s my heart:  To simply know Jesus better.  To read the Gospel of Luke in order to know Jesus better.  To understand him more.  To be more amazed by him.  To love him a little more each day.

Imagine for a moment with me.  What would happen if every person at Stonebrook was revitalized in his/her walk with Jesus??

  • If we loved him more.
  • Obeyed him more quickly.
  • Increased in our brotherly love. 

What would happen?  How would we change?  How would God be honored?

Last week I saw some of my family.  My brother-in-law has been growing in his love for and obedience to Jesus in the past year.  My sister offered this testimony:  Her co-workers said to her recently, “Your husband is really changing!”  Non-Christian co-workers were noticing the impact Jesus was having on my brother-in-law.    What if that could be said with every person here over the next few months?

So if you don’t remember anything I said this morning, would you at least do this:  Pick up the Gospel of Luke and read it every day.  As you read, seek to understand what Luke meant by the words and stories he wrote about.  And seek to apply it to our lives. 

If you haven’t read the Bible much for a while, perhaps a prayer like this would be helpful:

“Lord, I’ve been ignoring you.  I’ve detached myself from the life source of your Word.  Would you have mercy on me and help me to seek you and find you?  Create in me a longing for you.”

Come to the throne of grace to find his help.  He will gladly welcome you.

So let’s read it.   Read it with your household.  Read it as a Bible study or Community Group.  Listen to it while in the car.  Ponder what you read.

Write down notes and questions in this JOURNAL.  For example, the past 3 months, I have been using a Bible journal just like the one we gave you.   I’ve gone thru Galatians, Ephesians, and Thessalonians.  Now I’m in Luke.

In this Journal, the Bible text is on the left and blank space is on the right.   Just read a chapter, and then write down whatever comes to mind.  Questions.  Comments.  Prayers.  Doubts.

Can I offer you some of my heart this morning??

Here are a few examples from my journal:

[page 12 in the Journal] 

In Luke 1:46-55 Mary sings a beautiful song of praise to the Lord about carrying the Savior of the world in her womb.

We learn much about God and his Son from her song.

Here’s what I wrote in my JOURNAL:

From Mary’s song we learn:

  • God deserves “magnification.”
  • He is Savior
  • He watches over people.
  • He is mighty
  • He does great things
  • He is merciful
  • He is strong
  • He humbles mighty rulers.
  • And on and on.

If you want to know who God the Father and his Son are, read her song of praise.

[turn to page 68 in the Journal] 

Then Luke 8:50 Jesus is traveling to heal a man’s daughter, but they receive news that his daughter is dead.  Remarkably, Jesus says in Luke 8:50, “Do not fear;  only believe.”   It’s hard to imagine news much worse than your daughter just died.  That would crush me.  But at this grieving moment, Jesus tells him not to fear.  But instead to trust him.

I wrote in my journal:

“No life situation, even the death of a beloved daughter, is too much for Jesus.  We can believe in him and not fear.  He is always, always worthy of our trust.”

This story helps me examine my life.  Do I  know Jesus so well that I will trust him during my crisis?

 [page 104]

In Luke 13:5, Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

I wrote:

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!

“Thank you, Lord, for humbling me, convicting me of sin, drawing me to yourself, and saving me that August evening many years ago.  I love you, Lord!”

By showing you my journal, I simply want to whet your appetite for Jesus.   To know him, be fascinated by him, amazed by him.  And to trust him more. 

Before and after you read, pray to God for help.  You can pray something like this:

“Lord, I don’t know much.  Would you help me?  Humble me.  Help me to understand in my heart these momentous words.  Then as I understand, help me to believe and obey.”

To help you with all of this, we have inserted a sheet into your new Journal.  Dave’s SOAP method.  He has found this helpful for many years.  My approach is similar but less organized than his.

The main point I want to make:   Just start doing something.  Then learn from others.  Experiment, trying different methods. 

Remember:  The goal is NOT to check it off your list.  The goals is to know God better, believe his Word more, and obey wholeheartedly. 

Again, as an entire church, let’s all pick up the Bible each day this week.  Start tomorrow morning.  Read it.  Use this journal.

Bring it on Sundays to take notes. 

You might have a different system and approach.   Would you be willing to set that aside for a week and try this together?

Let’s seek to know him for who he reveals himself to be in this Gospel.

A second step to take as you read Luke: 

  • Take your doubts straight to God in prayer. 

In our human frailty, we will from time to time have doubts about God.

We may feel like we’re hanging on to God with just our fingertips.  We doubt his love.  We question his power.   We have doubts about our forgiveness in Christ.  We wonder why he feels so distant at times.  We wonder why God would possibly allow these hard trials in our lives.  We may be angry at our trials.  (I know I was one day last week.)  We may even wonder if God exists at all. 

Because of these doubts, we can become anxious or discouraged.   We may wonder, “What is wrong with me?”

Well, no worries.  You’re no weirder than anyone else.  J

Most of us…probably all of us…have doubts at times.

I propose that we simply talk to God about our doubts.   Be honest with him.  He knows anyway;  why not tell him?

You could pray something like this:

“Lord, sometimes I’m not even sure you’re there.  I feel distant.  I waver in my confidence about what you did here in Luke.  Would you help me to trust you?  Would you open my eyes and soften my heart?  Like the man doubting in the Gospels prayed, so I pray, ‘I do believe, but help me in my unbelief.’”

After talking to God, talk to others about your doubts.  Open up to a trusted friend.  Don’t be afraid.

In addition to praying about your doubts, keep reading.  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing, hearing by the Word the of Christ.  Simply stay at it.  Luke wrote this so that his friend, Theophilus, and now we can have greater certainty about what we have heard about Jesus. 

Conclusion

Let me conclude with this.

God is knowable.

He has created the earth and the heavens in a way for us to know him.

He has written his Scriptures so that we can know him.

He has sent his Son for us to know what he is like.  And then for his Son to die and rise again so that we can really know him. 

As a church let’s go on a journey this Fall.  A journey to know more about Jesus, this most remarkable person in History.   A journey to ask questions.  To listen to him.  To be amazed by him.  To know him a little better each day.  To love him a little more each day.