This Sunday will be a significant springboard for our church family. Lord willing, two things will begin. First, I hope God stirred your heart last week to join in our Three50 Challenge. If you were not here, please take a moment to get online and visit the blog section of our website to watch the video introduction (www.osefc.org/blog/). We’re praying for and planning to see 50 people sent out as short-term missionaries and 50 people become followers of Jesus over the next three years. Then, three years from now, we’re hoping to send 50 people out as the core group of a new church-plant. That challenge starts this Sunday. We’re asking everyone to invite someone they know to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My message will be titled Investigating Jesus and that is what we will do together. We’ll start in Luke 1:1-4 and do our best to examine the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. This will be a great message for those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ to hear and, my hope is, it will provide the basis for great discussions with your friends and family afterwards. Through it, I’m praying that people would turn to Jesus in repentance and become followers of Him.
The second thing we will begin this Sunday will probably not take us quite as long as Three50, but it will be a substantial commitment. Together, we will launch into a study of Luke’s Gospel. At this point, I am not even sure how long it will take us, but my rough estimate is two years. There will be some messages here and there that are not from Luke, but it is my plan to work through the whole Gospel.
Let me tell you why I think it’s important for us to undertake a study like this. My conviction to preach straight through books of the Bible is rooted in studying the whole counsel of God. What I mean by that is it is, of course, my intention to be accurate and Biblical with all that we say through our preaching, however, if we are dependent on preachers to pick and choose topics, we may, unintentionally, open ourselves up to the possibility of never addressing difficult topics and hard realities. However, if we make the commitment to study straight through whole books of the Bible, there is nowhere to hide from difficult passages. We will be forced to consider all that God has given His people in these books. Also, preaching sequentially through entire books of the Bible helps us to make the main point of a passage the main point of a sermon. If, on the other hand, we began with an idea that we wanted to communicate (even a Godly idea) and went to find texts that supported our idea, foundationally, we would be preaching ideas that derived from us, not God. We want to ensure that what is said from the Scriptures is what God intended to say. This is called “expository preaching” and for the reasons I just listed, it is one of our stated values as a church.
I hope you see our reason for approaching preaching, in general, in this way. Now, the big question of this sermon series: why Luke? Why, out of the 66 books in the Bible, do I want to spend two years in Luke? Simply, I love Luke’s purpose in writing and I think it is still a vital purpose in our area today. In the third and fourth verses of his Gospel, Luke tells us why he is writing. “It seemed good to me…to write an orderly account for you…that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Many people we know, both inside of and outside of the church, find themselves in one of two places. Either they know the stories of Jesus, but they don’t understand the Gospel. They have a vague sense of religion, but they do not have a vibrant faith. Luke writes to them. He says, “I want to giving you certainty about what you’ve heard.” The other place people generally find themselves is having no background in the church and not knowing anything about Jesus. Luke writes to them, too. He says, “I’ve written an orderly account for you, so that you can be introduced to these truths.”
No matter how long you have been following Jesus or whether you are not yet a worshipper of Jesus, the Gospel of Luke has something to say to you. It will challenge those who are skeptical and unbelieving and it will challenge those of us who have followed Jesus for years to revival and true faith. Perhaps, even more so than the first, I am excited about that second purpose. For all of us, it is a testimony to the victory of God through Jesus, the Christ. That’s why we’ve entitled the series Victorious: Following Jesus through Luke’s Gospel.
This will be an exciting Sunday, one that will launch us into the next two years and beyond. I hope you will be here. I hope you will bring some friends.
For the sake of His name,