2/17 Luke 1:1-2

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us . . .

Luke begins his Gospel by telling the recipient that many people had attempted to compile a narrative of what had taken place. He is referring to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and the beginnings of the church. He declared that he and the others compiled their records from the accounts of eyewitnesses. The best way to get at the facts is to ask those who were present exactly what they witnessed. This tells us that Luke wrote while the original followers of Jesus were still living. That means other witnesses could read the work and refute it if it were not true. If he had made up or exaggerated the Gospel according to Luke, those witnesses would have said so and the church would never have taken hold. We can be sure that Luke wrote early in the history of the church because he wrote his following account, the Acts of the Apostles, before the death of the apostle Paul.

Scholars know the timing of the writing of the Gospel is an important fact in determining the validity of what was written. For example, someone writing today about a person who died a hundred years ago would only be credible if he or she used the written testimony of those who knew the person. The Learning Channel produced a documentary on the debate surrounding the timing of the writing of the Gospels. Liberal professors like to date the timing as being after AD 70 because they assume that there is no such thing as miracles or prophecy. They argue that since the Gospels contain Jesus' prediction that the temple would be destroyed, they must have been written after the fact to make Him appear to be a prophet.

The conclusion of the documentary is that too much evidence exists which contradicts the liberal view. Not only does the style of writing in some fragments suggest a date in the AD 50s, but the fact that the earliest fragments were from scrolls and not in book form shows us that the conservative scholars were correct in dating them in the AD 50s and early 60s. The reason the documentary is called The Eyewitnesses is because the Gospels were written while those witnesses were still living, just as Luke wrote in his introduction. Those witnesses could confirm or deny the validity of what was written. The record of the amazing life and ministry of Jesus as well as of His death and resurrection, are historical facts!

Consider: The reason many so strongly resist this truth is that the life of Jesus is evidence of Creator God's demand that all must repent and believe in order to be assured of heaven. The gospel declares that while we are free to decide how we live, God will hold us accountable. That is the message the liberal scholars refuse to accept in spite of the evidence. Will you accept that message? How should this truth change your life?