My notes from John Piper’s opening session at TGC13′s national conference, “His mission: Jesus in the gospel of Luke.” (All notes are paraphrased.)
The only place in the entire book of Luke does the author write in the first person (Luke 1:1). The reason he does so is so that we may have certainty (Luke 1:4). The word “certainty”— asphaleia—means security (NT) or safety (OT). The idea seems to be that Luke is saying, “Theophilus, you’ve been taught many things, but I want you to know them differently—I want you to know them as locked down, secure unshakeable reality.
The reason I”m lingering over this is not only because Luke did, but because we live in a time when people don’t know these things in an asphaleia kind of way. THey have ideas in their heads and they know them like clouds and not mountains.
But when resistance comes, the old cloud goes away and a new cloud lodges in their minds–that’s the way a lot of people know doctrine. I want you to know the doctrine locked down, nailed down, immovable like a mountain, not a cloud, says Luke.
He doesn’t want you to know them any other way—he wants you to know the truth so it’s safe from being changed from the culture or ceasing to be what they are. They’re safe to be what they are forever!
This is the kind of knowing we want to have. The other kind of knowing—the kind that wrecks churches—is different. Luke knows what it means to be a most excellent Theophilus. He’s the one who wrote to us about most excellent Festus and Felix—how did they know? Felix had an excellent understanding of the Way, but hoping for a bribe sent Paul on his way. That’s the kind of knowing that wrecks churches, that brings reproach on churches.
Luke saw Paul’s back—he knew the scars he had—he knew the kind of knowledge that sustains obedience. And he wanted Theophilus to know it too.
When Paul preached to Festus, Festus told Paul, “Your learning is driving you out of your mind.” And Paul replied, “I am not out of my mind… I am speaking what is true and rational.”
You can’t buy truth with wealth. You can’t control truth with power, which is why rich and powerful people don’t like it. Truth doesn’t give them enough wiggle room. It locks them down and you either submit or perish.
How does Luke build the asphaleia in his head so they’re absolute unshakeable reality—mountains, not clouds?
In the first two chapters he does it by paralleling John the Baptist and Jesus. Remarkable that John the Baptist receives so much attention in the first two chapters of Luke.
So how do you preach on two chapters of the Bible? I’m going to show you how Luke shows Theophilus how to get the truth into his heart in an asphaleia kind of way. And he does it by showing Theolophilus the following: [Read more…]