Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm19970723.htm
LUKE: GOSPEL OF CERTIFYING THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
Part I: The Verification Of Christian Apologetics As A Ministry
Lesson: The ministry of setting forth a formal apologetic of the Christian faith to clear up genuine misunderstandings is not only practiced by the writer of Luke's Gospel, but also verified by the Apostle Peter. Thus, it is a viable ministry for the sake of bolstering the faith of God's people like Theophilus, and of being a witness to the lost as Peter taught in 1 Peter 3:15.
- The credibility of the Christian faith has come under serious attack throughout history. The rise of evolutionary hypotheses with the Scopes trial that countered the clear teachings of Genesis 1, the rise of Liberal Theology that questioned the internal credibility of Scripture's accounts and the general disb elief in the miracle record of Scripture all have contributed to this attack.
- Well, should the Christian just go ahead and preach the Word without defending its credibility, or take time out to verify its truth? Should we bother with the ministry of apologetics, the "systematic argumentative discourse in defens e . . . of the divine origin and authority of Christianity" as Webster's Dictionary defines it (cf. Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, s. v. "apologetics")?
- Luke's stated purpose in writing his Gospel answers our question directly as follows:
- The Verification Of Christian Apologetics As A Ministry, Luke 1:1-4.
- Luke wrote his Gospel in spite of the fact that he knew that "many" other committed believers in Christ had already set out to do so, Luke 1:1.
- This desire to write these things down came from the realization that the former generation that had been eyewitnesses were not going to be around much longer, and that a set record of their witness was needed to preserve the accuracy and certainty of their witness, Luke 1:2.
- The particular reason why LUKE himself felt obliged to add to this large body of written material was his concern for an APOLOGETIC for those who had not been eyewitnesses as follows:
- As one who had not himself been an eyewitness, Luke was aware of the special tensions those like him felt when hearing the eyewitness reports. Non-eyewitnesses naturally raised many questions due to their vacuum of historic al knowledge surrounding Christ's life, questions eyewitnesses would not have anticipated out of assuming this background information for granted. (Lk. 1:3a & 1:2) Thus, as a non-eyewitness, Luke had investigated all the data from eyewitnesses so as to understand and construct in order the events of Christ's life. He was able to go back to the very beginning of this "movement" called Christianity, and trace its development up to the passion of Christ, Luke 1:3b.
- Besides, Luke, his name showing Gentile roots, possibly saw a need to clarify to Gentiles like his main reader, Theophilus the facts of Christ's life and thought patterns which had been in the Hebrew, oriental mindset. That way, the systematic display of events in Christ's life from the occidental view would help clarify the validity of Christianity beyond any doubts that oriental cultural smoke screens might create!
- This concern for establishing an apologetic is also verified by the Apostle Peter's testimony: in 1 Peter 3:15, Peter challenged his Christian brethren to be ready always to give a formal, legally-acceptable defense (apologian, cf. Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 850) to every person who asked them a reason concerning the Christian hope they had, and that in a spirit of meekness and respect!
Application: (1) The ministries of the Creation Science Foundation or the Creation Research Institute that seek to defend the clear teachings of creation in Genesis 1-2 are thus to be promoted and supported. (2) The defense of the Christia n faith before the unsaved community in periodicals, editorials, etc. is thus a spiritually sanctioned ministry. (3) Thus, the believer needs to get the information needed to defend his faith wherever and whenever it is attacked as it is in the will and pl an of God for him to defend his faith. (4) If we cannot answer a critic on a given point, it is our job to find and answer so we can obey 1 Peter 3:15 and follow in Luke's footsteps.