I once knew a senior citizen who said he lived to have a clean car. Sure enough, he was up every morning and out the door to wash and wax it until it gleamed. That car would sparkle even on cloudy days. How silly, we say. Yet if there was anything positive about it, we could say it gave a senior motivation to get moving every day. But surely we can think of something greater than the vanity of a nice-looking car. Nothing injects life with more energy than when we have a purpose that is bigger than we are; an overall reason to live; a great goal that defines what we are trying to do in our all-too-short lives.
When we look into the New Testament we see the early church engaged in expansion, pushing the borders of the Kingdom into new places, smashing right through racial barriers, and dreaming to get into new areas. They endured prejudice, persecution, exhaustion, and stress. What drove them to take the gospel into the whole inhabited world in one generation (Col.1:23)?
The answer lies in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. They realized that God Himself was behind this new enterprise of faith. Jesus gave his earliest followers their marching orders, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk.16:15-16). Obeying this purpose produced the greatest strides in evangelism that the world has ever seen.
How about us today? Is our purpose simply to make as much money as possible? Should your ultimate future achievement be ownership of a great big house in a nice neighbourhood? Is your goal just to travel and enjoy warm weather somewhere? If we’re just trying to please ourselves, we’re not much different than that man who had to do the daily car wash. When we live for great things Jesus gave us, life gains a driving force that moves us to take on exciting challenges and satisfying works for others.
Are you serving the Master, or just washing the car?
– Tim Johnson
Last week it was reported in the news that Mark Lewisohn, a British author, is writing a 3-volume set of books about the Beatles. This was met with great interest by Beatles fans because Mr. Lewishon is a trusted friend of the remaining members of the band. He said that most books about them are not well written, and he wants to write something more definitive and exact. What I found interesting are his thoughts about accuracy in writing such a set of books. “I think it’s an important book to write. I think it’s important that it’s done now whilst the paperwork is still around and whilst the witnesses to the history are still alive to tell it.”
The writers of the New Testament also took pains to be accurate and to consult with living witnesses of the things Jesus said and did. Luke explained his own methods in Luke 1:1-4. “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order…” Luke did careful research, consulted with living witnesses who knew their memories were important, and to write it out accurately.
In addition, the 12 apostles were all official witnesses of the resurrected Christ, and they had unique memories that contributed to the writing of the New Testament. John spoke of “what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1). Witnesses are vital to accurate authorship, and the inspired writers of the Bible consulted with many of them while they were still alive.
If people recognize the value of living witnesses to a historic band like the Beatles, we should feel even greater confidence about the carefully-written accounts of Jesus Christ.
– Tim Johnson
While Luke is only mentioned by name three times in the Bible, his reputation is huge. We would know very little about him if it wasn’t for his authorship of the gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (in both, he does not name himself). He wrote them about 30 years after the church began (a.d.60-62), but what do we know about him before that? Continue reading