Thursday, July 26, 2018

Luke, the Great Historian

"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach" (Acts 1:1).

Today, I want to show how careful Luke was in compiling his gospel account. Luke is sometimes regarded as the greatest historian of the New Testament. The danger of making this pronouncement is that it might imply that Matthew, Mark, and John are less reliable. In fact, however, it simply means that Luke conforms more to our modern notions of historical research and writing. Luke calls attention to the fact that he researched his books carefully and that he writes things in order (Luke 1:1–4).

Luke’s gospel, along with the rest of the Bible, is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, and so we might say, “Well, who wouldn’t be a good historian with such divine help!” At the same time, it took human effort on Luke’s part to put his books together. In order to get the divine message of his book, we have to see what Luke the writer wrote. That means that careful reading, study, and scholarship are needed for us to get the fullness of what God has for us in the various biblical books.

This leads me to make a point about which I feel very strongly. When I was in seminary, I often heard that ministers should never preach above an eighth-grade level. It seemed to be taken for granted that laypeople are just not intelligent enough to grasp really in-depth biblical teaching. Every bone in my body recoils at this idea. It is not only an insult to laypeople, but it means that the Word of God is being shut up from His people. God wants His people to be taught His Word, and we dare not undermine His intention.

Again, too often the modern churches want their preachers to be administrators and counselors, and though these things are important, there are other people (such as elders and deacons) who can take up the slack (Acts 6:2–3). We need to encourage our preachers to study, and to give us the living Word of God in full measure, without omitting anything.

What provision does your church make to enhance your preacher’s need to study? Does this include time, library resources and continuing education study opportunities? Be sure your congregation realizes investment in your preacher potentially reaps a bountiful harvest in your church.