Luke’s Gospel

September 19, 2017 at 11:56 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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The Book of Luke is one of the four “Gospels.” The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are accounts of Jesus’s earthly ministry, and, to some extent, of His earthly life. The term “Gospel,” of course, also refers to the Good News of Jesus’s incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious Resurrection, and saving power, although, in common vernacular, “gospel” has come to mean “anything that’s true.”

The word “Gospel” is from the old English word for “good news.” In ancient Greek it would be called the Evangelion, combining eu (with the “v” now replaced by “u”) meaning “good,” as in “euphemism” (a “good” way to say a “bad” thing) or eulogy (a “good word” about a deceased person), with the word angel, meaning “message” (easy to remember because the “angels” are God’s messengers).

The Holy Spirit authored the Gospel of Luke through (obviously) a man named Luke, whose primary occupation had been as a physician. The Holy Spirit appears to have used Luke’s medical training and experience in order to cause Luke’s account of Jesus’s life and ministry to have an orderly composition, often with an emphasis on “medical” events, such as illnesses and healings, and to stress Jesus’s compassion on those who were hurting. It is not known if Luke had the typical doctor’s bad handwriting, but we can be sure that what he recorded was the accurate and infallible Word of God.

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Luke 1:1

At the time that Luke wrote down his Gospel, there were other scrolls circulating about, purporting to be accounts of the life of Jesus. The things most surely believed among “us” likely means that Luke knew he was recording true Christian doctrine and the real facts about Jesus, and that what he was reporting was for public dissemination, but mainly with fellow Christians in mind as his primary audience.

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke 1:2

Luke was part of Paul’s missionary team, and his personal physician, but he had not walked with Jesus personally while Jesus was on earth as a man.

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke 1:3-4

Luke’s statement about “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first” also seems to indicate that he was aware of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Theophilus was probably a gentile who had been saved and converted to Christianity (known in Bible times as a “lover of God” or a “friend of God”). It is also likely that he held some official public position because of the formal nature of Luke’s address to him. Once again, Luke referred to “the certainty” of what he was writing, giving even more credence to the idea that he was aware of the Holy inspiration under which he was operating.

Next came the account of the announcement and birth of John the Baptist. He was the last Old Testament prophet, even though he’s found in the New Testament.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Malachi 4:5-6

The Holy Ghost closed the Old Testament with a reference to Elijah and the pronouncement of a CURSE, after which there was about 400 years of prophetic silence, during which God gave no (that we know of) verbal or written revelation, until John the Baptist came on the scene. He was the prophet who fulfilled – in a sense – the prophecy of Malachi 4:5. He was the prophet who himself fulfilled a prophecy.

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Luke 1:5-6

Zacharias and Elizabeth were considered righteous and blameless, although they were not sinless.

And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Luke 1:7-10

This burning of incense was a major event in the life of the religious Jewish people each year.

And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

Luke 1:11-13

One can only imagine the fear that overcame Zacharias! Elisabeth would be related to Jesus through Mary. The couple’s first-born son would be named John, not Zacharias Jr.

And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:14-15

John would be under a Nazarite vow, as an angel had also informed Samson’s father Manoah, and his wife, and like Elkanah’s and Hannah’s son, Samuel. Elijah was yet another Old Testament example of someone under a life-long Nazarite vow – meaning he was not to touch grapes or dead things, and not to cut his hair. Another similarity between John the Baptist and Elijah is that much of their lives would be spent as outcasts from society, living in the wilderness. John the Baptist had the amazing distinction of being filled by the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb.

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Luke 1:16-17

John would be instrumental in turning the hearts of children back to their fathers – and to their HEAVENLY FATHER. He would have a spirit like Elijah’s and be endued with the power of Elijah, but he would not be Elijah reincarnated. This announcement was so astonishing to Zacharias that he disbelieved the Word of God, and thereby lost his voice until it was time for Elisabeth to have the baby.

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What about Those Who Haven’t Heard?

July 14, 2017 at 9:36 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: If there’s an isolated community/tribe that has little to no contact with the outside world, and have never heard of the Lord, how are they judged on Judgment Day?

Answer: Let’s start by thinking about the reason for God’s judgment in general. For what is He judging anyone and everyone? As noted in the Children’s Bible Catechism, specifically questions 6,7, and 8, and the Bible verses that answer them, people are judged for sinning against God.

So how can people be guilty of sinning against a God about Whom they’ve never heard, and by breaking laws they did not know existed? The answer is found in Romans Chapter 1, starting in Verse 18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;”

Everyone in the world knows that there is a God. They may not know His name, but His external creation and their own inner consciences reveal that He exists and that some things are “right” and some things are “wrong.” Sinful people have access to this truth, but “hold it unrighteousness,” which means they try to suppress it or hold it down by pretending it isn’t really there.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Romans 1:19

This attempt to suppress whatever revelation of truth that a person has received is, in itself, also a sin, which means that no one has a valid “excuse” for rejecting God and His revelation of Himself and His “wrath” against sin:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Romans 1:20

Those of us who live in America often think of rejecting Christ as the sin which would condemn us on Judgment Day, and it would definitely be one of the sins (probably the worst) for which we would be judged. But rejecting Christ is not the only sin which will merit judgment on Judgment Day. Those who die apart from Christ will also be judged for lying and stealing and immoral thoughts and immoral actions and covetousness and idolatry and many, many more sins. Romans 3:23 tells us that everyone does these things, but Romans 1 tells us that the people who do them KNOW that they are wrong even if they don’t have immediate access to a Bible or the name of Jesus.

One reason why it is so important to try to get missionaries and the Gospel to remote people groups – from the Inuit people in the Arctic, to villages in Togo, West Africa, and everywhere else – is so that they can hear the Truth that Christ is their only hope for forgiveness. A heart that has been “darkened” (Romans 1:21) needs special “illumination” from the Word of God.

The Offensiveness of Talking about Sin and the Gospel

June 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 1 Comment
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Pagan: You are a cruel #$@&%*! for telling your children that they are sinners. If the Bible says that God is love, and He made us pure, then aren’t we born of love and light, and made to show love, not fear?

Christian: The fact that we all come into this world with a sin nature is proven by both the Bible (Psalm 51:5), experience, and plain common sense. Jesus Himself is the Light of the World and He is condemned and rejected because human beings love darkness more than light (John 3:19). We are born physically alive, but spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). Think logically and critically for a minute. Do parents have to teach little children to deceive and lie and be selfish? No, of course not. In fact, loving parents spend much time trying to teach their children to be kind and honest and loving and generous. Pure children of light and love wouldn’t need such training or correction. Presumably, you think that people SHOULD be loving and show love. But what was your first reaction when you saw a viewpoint you strongly disagreed with? To be loving and accepting and tolerant? To be “pure” light? Nope. It was to call names and blurt out profanity. We can pat ourselves on the back and boast about how loving we are, but until we come humbly to God, trust in Christ, and receive a new spiritual heart, we are simply incapable of pleasing our Creator. Our default setting is evil, and we are condemned by our thoughts, deeds, and attitudes. That’s why we need a Savior who can give us His righteousness that allows us to be accepted by a holy God Who hates sin. See John 3:17-21. Nobody likes to be called sinful or evil, but the Truth is what sets us free.

Pagan: It is my opinion that babies are born clean. It is the world – we grown people with our silly stuff – who put upon them our foolishness, our pride, our prejudices…. Shame on us!

Christian: Hardly anyone personally likes to think of himself as a sinner. And most people share the opinion that babies are born without any guilt until some mean or thoughtless grownup corrupts them. The problem with that is, our opinions never outweigh Scripture, which is God’s explicit revelation of the Truth. The Bible says that the wicked go astray directly from the womb (Psalm 58:3). It says that not a single one of us is “good” or righteous (Romans 3:10-12). It says that our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). This can be tough to hear because it hurts our pride. But if we can’t admit that we are sinners, we won’t really see our need for a Savior. Jesus didn’t suffer and die for basically good people. He died for the wicked and the self-righteous and the people who would rather not think that God might want to punish them for lying and cheating and stealing and being covetous and a bunch of other stuff we give ourselves a pass on every day (see Exodus 20). And no one likes to be confronted about sin, but only those who can admit the truth about themselves will be forgiven when they believe the Truth about Jesus (Mark 1:15) and call upon Him to save them (Romans 6:23; 10:13). God doesn’t see our sin as silly stuff. He sent His Son to be murdered by vicious blood-thirsty liars in order to rescue those who will be humble enough to admit that we don’t deserve that kind of love.

Pagan: The Bible doesn’t prove a thing. Try science.

Christian: You make it sound like you think those things are at odds with each other. They are not. Science is just knowledge which is gathered and tested. The Bible provides the only logical explanation in the whole world for why there is even such a discipline as “science.” Without the God of the Bible, things like gravity and logic and time and thoughts could not exist or ever be expected to behave consistently according to the “laws” that only a divine Creator could have made them to follow. Therefore, the Bible does indeed “prove a thing.” It proves everything (Colossians 2:3).

Pagan: I am so sorry for all who believe this sinner stuff. You are so much more than what you have been told that you are. You have you been lied to by religion and government. The concept of sin is profitable. All we need to do is love one another, and stop destroying our planet by doing things like killing the bees. Without the bees, we are all goners.

Christian: You say that you are sorry for all who believe this “sinner stuff.” But then you go on to list a number of things you think are wrong. Do you see the contradiction in this? Why speak loudly against hurting the environment or exploitation of the masses or any of the causes you are against? Who’s to say that those things are wrong? If you reject the notion of sin and sinners, then those people are just exercising their preferences and you have no basis for placing your preference to be free from manipulation and control above their preference to control and manipulate you. But I don’t think you’ve really thought this through. It’s just easier to classify others as evil and not to think about our own sin. We think, “If we really stand up against the government or the industrialists or the bee-killers or the religious oppressors, then maybe God won’t notice that we have told lies, or committed adultery, or stolen, or blasphemed His name, or dishonored our parents, or failed to love our neighbor, or to worship Him the way He deserves.” But that won’t work. Hebrews 9:27 says we are all going to see God one day (sooner than we think!) And He is going to judge each of us individually, and He’s not grading on a curve and giving us a pass just because there are some people out there that you think are worse than you. When we stand there before His throne it will be one of two ways: with our sin or with His Son. If you are with His Son, He will welcome you as His child. If you are there with your sins unforgiven, then He will do what is right and good and cast you away for all eternity. It’s sobering and frightening to consider, but that is the absolute most LOVING thing you could hear because it’s true.

For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us [humble repentant sinners], who [Jesus] knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Jesus].

II Corinthians 5:21 (bracketed words added)

 

Catechism Question 9

July 18, 2014 at 9:40 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 3 Comments
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Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Prove it.
Psalm 51:5

Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.
I John 3:4

Question 8: What is the punishment for sin?
Answer: The punishment for sin is death.
Prove it.
Ezekiel 18:4

Question 9: Since you are a sinner, how does God feel about you?
Answer: Even though I am a sinner, God loves me.
Prove it.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

When you ask question nine to your child, what you are hoping for here is an amazement – almost an incredulity that God could love a wicked sinner like me. You want your child to think or ask, “How can He forgive me when He has promised to punish all who sin?” You know you’re on the right track if you are getting those kinds of questions.

Do not gloss over the wickedness of sin. HOWEVER, you must not gloss over the richness of God’s love, either. Dwell on it here.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

II Peter 3:9

Give Him Your Heart

November 9, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Salvation | 6 Comments
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Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” This is the plea of an earthly parent to his child, but God may be saying the same thing to you today. Have you given the Lord your heart? If so, do you know when, where, and can you describe it in detail?

Maybe you never have. Maybe everybody you know thinks you’re a Christian, but you know you’re not, and God knows you’re not. Your sin has separated you from God. Jesus Christ took your sin on Himself, and He took the punishment for it in your place on the Cross. He was sinless and perfect, yet He was tortured and crucified for every sin you and I ever committed.

The good news is that God accepted Him as the perfect and only possible sacrifice for sin, and showed His acceptance by resurrecting Him from the dead. He lives today, and you have only two choices: You must believe on Him, rejecting your own self-righteousness, or you must reject Him.

Time Is Running Out

September 11, 2009 at 11:50 am | Posted in Acts, Salvation | 10 Comments
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Time is running out. Everyone who reads this post will one day stand before God, and that day is coming faster than you think. The appearing of Jesus Christ will be a joyous day for those who have trusted in Him as Savior. It will be a terrifying day for those who have refused the Gospel:

God… now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

The Bible is very specific in this COMMAND – repent and believe the Gospel NOW.

The One Question You MUST NOT Get Wrong

July 31, 2009 at 8:47 am | Posted in Mark, Salvation | 1 Comment
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As you go through life, you will be right about some things, and, because no one is perfect, you will also be wrong about a great many things. However, you must make sure that you are NOT wrong about this one thing in particular: Who do you say that Jesus is?

This is the question that Jesus asked His disciples (Mark 8:29). Some think He was a teacher; some think He was a prophet; some think He was a lunatic. However, Jesus Himself said that He was God in human flesh (John 10:30). Because Jesus Christ was Who He claimed to be, He is the One you must know in order to escape eternal damnation, and to receive eternal life.

The Most Important Question in Life

May 1, 2009 at 10:44 am | Posted in Acts, Salvation | 3 Comments
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A prison keeper once asked the Lord’s servants, Paul and Silas, the most important question of his life: “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This was their answer: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” (Acts 16:30-32) The responsibility and glorious privilege of Christians is to find people who will ask this same question, and to give the same answer to them and their household.


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