Summary: In today’s lesson we learn that every person can have certainty of salvation.
Over the past decade of my time here at the Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church I have preached through numerous books of the Bible, and also several portions of books of the Bible. Although I find it deeply gratifying to preach Christ from all the Scriptures, I also agree with Robert Murray McCheyne, who said, “How sweet and precious it is to preach directly about Christ, compared with all other subjects of preaching.”
So, in order to preach directly about Christ I have decided to preach through the Gospel of Luke. Now you may ask, Why the Gospel of Luke?
First, because the Gospel of Luke is universal. The outlook of this book is not narrow and Jewish but is wide and universal.
Second, because Luke is concerned for people on the margins. He wrote about people broken by the troubles of life.
Third, because the Gospel of Luke is volume one of a two-volume work. Luke wrote this Gospel and also the Acts of the Apostles. In the Gospel Luke “dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1), and in Acts Luke wrote about what Jesus continued to do and teach in and through the Church. Eventually, I would like to preach through the Acts of the Apostles as well.
And fourth, because the Gospel of Luke is about salvation. Luke wrote about how we come into a right relationship with God.
And so, for these reasons, I would like to preach through the Gospel of Luke.
Let us now read Luke 1:1-4:
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. (Luke 1:1-4)
I became a Christian when I was nineteen years old. I was in the South African Air Force, and during a furlough from the Angolan Civil War, I made a profession of faith. Shortly after that I finished my service in the South African Air Force and began studying at the University of Cape Town.
As a brand-new Christian I attended church worship services on Sunday and got very involved in an excellent campus ministry. I was beginning to learn all about Christianity.
But then, one night during my first semester, I suddenly began to have very serious doubts about the gospel: What if the gospel is not true? What if there are other ways to heaven? What if I am wrong about Jesus and Christianity?
These and other questions bombarded me for hours and days on end. I was going through a crisis of faith and experienced profound doubt about the gospel.
Have you ever experienced doubt? Have you ever wondered about the truth of the gospel?
Obviously, I have. But, as you can tell, I am not only still a Christian, but now I am a preacher of the Christian gospel.
How did that happen? How did I move from doubt to certainty?
In a 2007 interview for Newsweek, the well-known atheist and best-selling author Sam Harris said, “I don’t want to pretend to be certain about anything I’m not certain about.” I think Luke would agree with Sam Harris, which is why he wrote his Gospel.
You see, Luke wrote his Gospel to help people who did not want to pretend to be certain. He wrote his Gospel to help people like me. He wrote his Gospel to help people have certainty of salvation.
So, in today’s lesson we learn that every person can have certainty of salvation.
How can a person have certainty of salvation? By examining the methods of Luke, we learn that everyone can have certainty of salvation. Luke’s method consisted of the following:
1. Historical Accuracy (1:1)
2. Careful Research (1:2)
3. Proper Organization (1:3)
4. Clear Purpose (1:4)
I. Luke’s Method Consisted of Historical Accuracy (1:1-3)
First, Luke’s method consisted of historical accuracy.
Luke was not the first person to write about Jesus Christ. Others had written about who Jesus was and what he had done. As he said, “Many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us” (1:1). Perhaps Luke was thinking of the Gospel of Mark, which Luke may have used as one of his sources. The word “many” indicates that there were other writings as well, including works that are no longer in existence.
Luke was not trying to be critical of others who had written before him. He acknowledged that they had written reliable accounts. In fact, he noted that they had all received their information from those who were “eyewitnesses and ministers of the word” (1:2), by which Luke meant the apostles.