I read a book some years ago by Michael Cassidy centred on the words Jesus prayed on the night before he died in John 17. An excellent book. For me it was a bit heavy going but full of nuggets of gold. One being that Michael wrote extensively about ‘Truth,’ and after many pages of looking at Truth from every conceivable perspective, he came to the conclusion that Truth was not a lot of things he thought it was, but in fact the Truth was not anything other than, that Truth is a person, His name is Jesus. He was, is and will always be Truth. He said of himself, I am the Truth. This changed my whole understanding of what I should do when I need to know the Truth about just about anything, I should ask the Truth, what is the Truth and what he tells me I can utterly depend on. I also learned that Truth can only be the Truth in the fullness of the context the question is asked in. I also know that I am never in possession of all the facts, only He is, and his ways are far and above my ways, and his thoughts far and above my thoughts. I guess I’ll never know enough to know what I need to know to know the Truth and therefore act righteously without His input. How wonderfully humbling is that. Compared to what he knows I know nothing, only Him who knows everything.
It was from this setting that as we came into the approach of Christmas this year I felt Jesus (The Truth) drawing me to the Gospel of Luke. Luke is a great help to me as I’m from a semi-scientific background and can be a bit exacting and fact based, task focused in my approach to life. Luke was from a similar kind of background being a doctor in his day. So he seems to speak my kind of language. This is not to diminish in any way the other writers of the Gospels as they all bring wonderful enlightenment on different aspects of the interpretation of the age in which they live. Matthew saw it as a Jew, John from the Heart, Mark was frank and to the point. They all help us in their different ways and although the Gospels are not identical, this adds to the strength of Truth contained in each as they enlighten us to the perspective each of these different characters from different backgrounds and bring us the Truth.
So; Here I am pre Christmas 2016 and the Lord is Highlighting Truth and drawing me to the Gospel of Luke. I started to read at Luke 1 and only got as far as verse 4! In the NIV:-
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In the NKJV
Dedication to Theophilus
1 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.
As I read these words, the weight of the responsibility on all of us to tell the truth, to be the truth and to testify to the truth as revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. After all we are told all scripture is God breathed in 2 Tim 3:16, also that the Holy Spirit will guide each one of us into all Truth, as I have no doubt he did with each of his disciples. Here we have Luke introducing his labours no doubt hand written by him in the original Greek, 23 chapters worth and about 19,500 words, written checked, rechecked until he was happy it was accurate and articulate enough to send to his wonderful friend Theophilus. Surely; a labour of love by a man of learning, detail, accuracy, research and fastidious pursuit of the truth. Yet sometimes when I read the word or hear it read, I find it hurried and even raced through, and in some ways familiar such that it can be scan read!
So when I shared this with the folk at Chorley Chapel at our Sunday Lunch Gathering on the First Sunday of December this year, I laid before them a challenge.
My challenge was to read and re-read verses 1 to 4 and allow our hearts and minds to connect with the passion for truth and accuracy of detail that Luke must have laboured over for so long under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit, until he was fully satisfied with what he had set down, all 19,000 plus words of it. Then; To allow ourselves the joy of patiently, slowly, deliberately read word by word (just as you would read a love letter, savoring every word) exactly what has been written by this man of God and let it speak to us in Truth so we can receive a fresh revelation of the Truth of what is written.
Why did I do this? Because I am dyslexic. My wife Sue and daughter Rachel, and friend Tim help me greatly as does the Holy Spirit to get my thoughts down accurately. Also when I read scripture, even when I’m preaching, I’m only able to ready slowly and deliberately putting together each letter and each word with clarity and distinction. In that way I am blessed. My wife Sue tells me she is amazed, when she reads a book she can devour a paper back in a couple of days, for me it can be three months! Then she reminds me that I can quote the book years later with almost perfect recall. She also says I seem to get far greater understanding from the content than she does because I have had to read it slowly and carefully. I was further encouraged a few weeks ago while leading one of our men’s retreat groups, as I (on auto pilot) automatically apologised for my slow reading. When at the end of the page I had read, one of the men in the group said ‘Alan, you always make that apology when you read a passage or something, yet you have just read a page without error, and because it was read slowly and clearly I understood every word and have been deeply affected by the content.’ Thank you Clay, 2 Cor 12:10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. To God be the Glory.
Once you have grasped the passion for accuracy and truth in Luke’s heart through these 4 verses, please continue to read the absolutely unbelievably wonderful True story that unfolds through Luke 1 to Like 4 and on…………
This was my challenge and I pray this may also be my Christmas gift to each one who reads these words this month. In Jesus Name.
As I was delivering this message, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to bring a different challenge to the ladies present at our lunch meeting. That they should do the same but reading John’s Gospel. 1:1 to 5 to try to grasp a fresh the true wonder of this man who was God and who is their beloved, Savior, Champion, Redeemer and the bringer of all things including life and light. And then; when this becomes a consuming fire read on though John’s Gospel about this amazing King of Kings and Lord of Lords who Luke tells us was born in a manger in a stable. Ladies, be blessed as you let the Holy Spirit bring revelation wave upon wave of revelation to your very core about what this means for you, and the Joy Jesus feels because of how you feel about him and his love for you.
Why did I choose Luke for the men, and why was I led to recommend John for the ladies. That’s an easy question, because we men are very task focused and we really are hungry for the facts. Luke writes the Truth in a very matter of fact way, ideal for the redeemed sons of Adam. John on the other hand writes his Truth from his heart for he seems relational to the core in all his writings. I know this is like fine wine to the daughters of Eve.
May the word of God (The Truth) dwell in your richly, and through it put its roots down deeply within you, so you are rooted and grounded in love, a certainty of Truth that will withstand all onslaughts, and having stood will stand. In Jesus Name. For He is the Truth, in Him we STAND, and having stood STAND.
Isaiah 9:6-7 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
May the miracle of Christ’s coming fill your heart with warmth and love for all of God’s Children.
It is my hope that the Truth of these Gospels with burn in you this season, and that as you have rich opportunities with all grace and gentleness to share the Truth with people who are desperate to hear it. We are not called to be holding peoples sins against them! 2 Cor 5 18:19. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Let us bring the Truth with all grace. Colossians 4:6 says:- Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
From the Church that meets in Chorley, Shropshire, England.