Sunday, December 28, 2014

Read Something You Trust

St. Luke Writes His Gospel
Spiritual books are supposed to be ethereal, or other-worldly.  They're supposed to express truths that humanity believes, rather than verifiable facts.  Or are they?  When arriving at the correct location depends on the accuracy of your smartphone's navigation, don't you hope that whatever database it's connected to is updated to the minute?  As one who once found myself lost in a bare field while my phone indicated a store location much less rural, I do!

The Bible is not just a list of abstract concepts to be pondered.  It's not a set of opinions to be tried.  It's a painfully honest look at fallen human nature, and what God did to redeem that nature.  It's factual enough to live (and die) by.  

Consider just one aspect of Luke, for example.  Studying the information that scholars are able to verify in the two works he authored, Luke and Acts, shows us that he was an accurate historian.  If we can trust his historical accuracy, then we can trust the Jesus he wrote about.

Today, in the USA, a mayor is a mayor.  Whether you're the Mayor of Alford, FL or the Mayor of New York, NY, you're still called a Mayor.  That's amazing!  New York has a population threatening to reach 9 million people.  Alford, by contrast, is so small if they opened a book store, it would be called "Books-a-Dozen!"  The responsibilities may be a bit different, but the chief executive officer for both of these municipalities is called, "Mayor."

But when Luke wrote the Gospel According to Luke, and the Acts of the Apostles, the size of an area determined the title of its ruler.  Even more confusing was the fact that the title would change as the size of the city changed.  Even facing these challenges, everywhere Luke gave the title of a city ruler, or rulers, he got it right!  
Here are some examples:

* Sergius Paulus and Gallio - mentioned in Acts 13:7 and 18:12.  
The Greek for the title is Anthupatoi - usually translated proconsul.
Luke got it right!

* The magistrates at Philippi - mentioned in Acts 16 when Paul was thrown in prison.
The Greek is Strategoi.
Luke got it right again!

* The city officials at Thessalonica - Acts 17:8 
Politarches in Greek.
Exactly right!

* The city clerk of Ephesus - Acts 19
The Greek uses the phrase Polis Grammateus.

* Governor Felix - Acts 23
In Greek his title is Hegemon.
Right again!

* Publius, The chief official on Malta - Acts 28
The title was Protos.
Luke scores again!

Accurate Writer, Confident Reader
Discovering that Luke is a rigorous historian should come as no surprise.  This is the author who started his report with, "...since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3–4).
An accurate writer makes a confident reader. If Luke records the names of city rulers correctly, we can also trust the way of salvation and life that he presents.

I've always encouraged people to make more Bible reading one of their New Year's resolutions. This year I reiterate that you do so with confidence in the truth and accuracy of the Word. This doesn't mean that you take every poem literally (The Lord's "feathers and wings" in the Psalms are probably about protection and security). This also doesn't mean every prophecy is about you personally. ("... I will wipe you out from among the nations and exterminate you from the countries." -Ezekiel 25:7)  

But if it says Jesus wept, slept, ate, healed, died, and rose, you can believe it!

So pick up Luke-Acts and start.  There's no reason to wait until the New Year!  Of course a daily plan for 2015 would be a great way to stay on task.  An internet search will reveal several plans.  Further info about the Bible and reading it can be found HERE.

Read it!

Heed it!

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