07/07/2018 in: Food for Thoughton
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 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, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.—Luke 1:1–4
Communicating the Gospel is not only a big task, but a big responsibility. So, of course we want to know the best way to communicate it! The Preacher’s Commentary on Luke, by Bruce Larson, gives great insight for preachers and teachers alike by examining Luke’s methods for communication the Gospel.
Here’s an excerpt for you to read!
The Gospel of Luke
Luke is the only one of the Gospel writers who did not know the physical Jesus. He was not present during our Lord’s three-year ministry and did not witness His death and Resurrection. His sources for this Gospel are eyewitnesses of these events. He visited the people who actually saw the physical Jesus: His family, His disciples, His friends. These are the sources of his information.
The second verse of the first chapter of the story tells us that Luke is reporting these events “just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us. He is not concerned about eyewitnesses who aren’t ministers. By ministers he does not refer to clergy, but to those people who are ministering and doing the will of God. We Protestants believe strongly in the doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers”—that every Christian is a minister, serving Jesus Christ wherever he or she happens to be, in laboratories, schools, offices, shops, or neighborhoods. Ministers like this were Luke’s sources.
The story is told about a man who was so intrigued by a Christian friend at work that he came to him one day and asked how he could find God. His friend said, “You need a theologian. You’d better talk to my pastor.”
When he talked to the pastor he was told, “I’m not a theologian, I’m just a poor preacher who learned some things in seminary. I suggest you see my seminary professor.”
Undaunted, the man made an appointment to see the seminary professor. At the start of the visit, he asked, “Are you a theologian?” “No, no,” was the reply. “I am just a teacher. I get my material from all these theology books in my library. You’d better go and see some of the authors of these books.”
When he finally arranged an interview with one of the important authors, his first question again was, “Are you a theologian?” “No, no,” answered the author. “I’m just a scientist who observes life and who writes about what I see. If you want a theologian, talk to somebody who is living out the faith day by day.”
I think this points up what Luke is implying. He got his story from the authentic theologians of his time. Beyond being eyewitnesses, they were living out their faith day by day.
What Sets Luke’s Gospel Apart
Perhaps the genius of Luke’s Gospel is that it is written to one person, to Theophilus. I am convinced that Luke is the most universal of the four Gospels because he is the most personal. The personal is universal; the general is vague. Some time ago I was in downtown Seattle shopping and I observed a man standing in front of one of our large department stores talking about Jesus. He was shouting at all those passing by. He was ranting about salvation to the world and nobody was listening. Though he was shouting loudly about the Good News, no one stopped and no one heeded. His message was so general it was meaningless.
Just For You
In contrast, the secret of genuinely effective communication is caught by one of the television commercials advertising a brokerage firm. When somebody whispers the firm’s name in a crowd, all conversation stops. When someone says, “Listen, this is not for the world, this is just for you,” the whole world—waiters, cab drivers, passersby—stops. We all want to eavesdrop on intimate conversation.
Luke’s Gospel, written just for Theophilus, had this quality. He is saying, “This is good news just for you, Theophilus.” And the whole world has been reading ever since Luke’s words to Theophilus. Whenever I am asked about speaking or writing effectively, I say, “Try to imagine one person sitting across the desk from you, and write your book or sermon to that one person. If your writing is for groups of people or for the world, it’s going to be vague. The more personally aimed your speaking or writing is, the more universal it is.”
The Preacher’s Commentary Series (35 Vols) brings together a team of skilled and exceptional communicators to blend sound scholarship with life-related illustrations. With all this applicable information, you will be on your way to teaching and preaching God’s Word sooner than you would be flipping through all those pages of commentary off your shelf.
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