Luke 1:1-4 :
Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus; that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed.
Good history is a record of the things that people have actually seen. Christianity makes some pretty amazing claims about history and it is important that we all know what really happened; what people really saw. If we pay attention to what really happened, we will gain certainty about our Christianity.
That’s the purpose of this book. Dr. Luke was a friend of Paul’s and evidently a friend of “most excellent Theophilus” who must have been a leader of the people at the time. Luke, himself, witnessed quite a bit of what happened during this period of time and made the effort to carefully document Jesus’ life for us today. This work provides one of the most accurate historical ancient accounts that we have of that time. This isn’t a surprise to those of us who believe in Jesus and in the accuracy of God’s word, but it is interesting that this book is respected by many who don’t believe as well.
Christianity is unusual in that it roots itself in history. Because of this, it sets itself up for scrutiny in that history leaves real evidence. Truth is basic to Christianity and history is woven together with it, so much so that without historical accounts like this we wouldn’t “know the certainty concerning the things in which” we were instructed.
Some preachers today would like to disconnect the Bible from history, claiming that it is only a book of religion. That’s one reason why I want to talk only about these first four verses of Luke today.
Doesn’t it make sense that the true religion would be based in reality? This dedication to truth and history is one thing that makes Christianity so amazing. You’d think that after all these years the story would unravel like all the other stories of long ago. Instead, Christianity becomes more believable as time passes. We shouldn’t be fooled by people who try to say that “the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally.” I find this amazingly unhelpful because if you can’t read literature literally, then how can should you read it? It sounds like an excuse to ignore it to me rather than a way to help me understand.
Some of the Bible is symbolic and poetic, but some of it is clearly intended to be taken historically as we read here today. The point is not whether the whole Bible is to be taken literally, the point is: what did the writers intend to communicate when they wrote the message? That is what we will continue to concern ourselves with as we go through the Bible, and since so many people today are struggling with the historic aspect of Christianity, I think this book is especially important for us to look at carefully.
Where does science fit with all of this? Well, it should be easy but there is much foolishness in this area today. You see, science is collected history. If you unpin science from history, you don’t really have science anymore. Science carefully records history that can be repeated, such that you can actually do it yourself if you follow the record. Science requires history and as such cannot replace it but must always be subservient to it. I wish more people would realize the absurdity of placing “scientific knowledge” over what you are actually seeing. Scientists often think too highly of their own assumptions these days and there’s nothing like a little reality to bring them down to earth! Believing in a scientist just because he is smart is not science, its Scientistism. Just because someone is smart, doesn’t mean that anyone actually witnessed anything they are talking about. Dr. Luke was different. He was smart and he carefully documented eyewitness accounts as every responsible scientist should.