This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network. It's about to start in just a few seconds.
Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Do you feel like you're on a religious treadmill? Do you feel like Christianity is just a system of rules and regulations?
I can do this, but I can't do that. Do you feel like your efforts to reach God, find God, and please God are futile? Do you feel like your faith is dead or alive? Today, Pastor Russ Andrews will walk us through Scripture to answer these questions. Join us on Finding Purpose, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious.
I've entitled tonight's message, A Reasonable Faith. I think you all know this without me saying it, but we live in a world today that is full of doubt, uncertainty, and most people really have lost faith in everything. It seems that all the institutions that we're supposed to trust have let us down. Our government, our educational system, the media.
Do I need to say politicians? And even many church denominations. So where can we turn to find reliable truths that we can cling to and believe completely? Well, I would suggest there's really only one place in the entire universe where that you can turn and know that what you're going to be reading is the truth.
And what would that be? The Bible, the Word of God. So I put forth tonight that the Bible, man, is a trustworthy book. More specifically, the Gospel of Luke is a trustworthy account of the life of Jesus Christ. And so if you come here tonight with questions about who is Jesus?
What's the big deal about Jesus? Then you've come to the right place. And so tonight all we're going to do is we're going to examine the first four verses in Luke chapter one. I want you to know that these four verses in the Greek text are considered it's the best composed sentence. Not that that's going to mean anything to any of us, but it's the best composed sentence in Greek, in the Greek New Testament. So take your Bible, if you're not already there, Luke chapter one. And here's how Luke begins his account. This is his Gospel. Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things that you've been taught.
Man, there's one key truth that I want you to take away tonight, and that is this. Christianity is a reasonable faith. Christianity is a reasonable faith. Many people believe that to become a Christian requires blind faith. In other words, you have to check your brain at the door if you're going to believe the stuff that we claim to believe, the Bible.
And I would argue that that cannot be further from the truth. Christianity is a reasonable faith. That is a Christian's faith is based upon, it rests upon reason. Now let me distinguish between faith and reason. Faith, when properly defined, is trust.
It's like when you climb into a hammock, you trust it. It's trust that develops through the examination of reliable information such as eyewitness accounts. Reason, on the other hand, is the ability of your mind to process this information and use your intellect to come to real, true, and logical conclusions. Hebrews 11 one, in the King James Version, it puts it like this, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The Christian faith relies upon substance and evidence. The Christian faith, to catch this now, it's not based upon the unseen, but upon what is known.
In other words, it's based on evidence. So men, God has given each one of your mind and He expects us to use it. In fact, 1 Peter 1 13 says, prepare your minds for action.
And that's what I wanted us to do each and every week. When you sit down with your Bible, you prepare your mind for action. You've got a good mind. God has blessed you with a good mind.
Use it. Martin Darcy said, there is no salvation saving truth, and the royal road of truth is by the mind. Martin Lloyd-Jones, considered one of the greatest preachers of all time, said, let us never forget that the message of the Bible is addressed primarily to the mind, that is, to the understanding. And so God has given us a mind, and He wants us to use it to make reasonable decisions and judgments regarding His existence, regarding the truth of the gospel, and regarding the credibility of the Christian faith. And so I put forth that when you examine Christianity, maybe for the first time, you should go at it like a private investigator. In fact, Lee Strobel, some of you may have read his book, The Case for Christ, but he was an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune. And every day when he showed up for work, particularly when he went out to a crime scene, he lived by this motto, follow the evidence wherever it leads, because he knew that it would lead you to the truth.
That's exactly what Luke did. He followed the evidence, and it led him to the truth. And that's what we're going to do. We're going to follow the evidence. And so, why is Christianity a reasonable faith?
Well, let me give you three reasons, and these are in your outline if you want to follow along with me. The first reason that Christianity is a reasonable faith is because it is based upon fulfilled prophecy. Now, in case you don't know much about Luke, he's the only gentile writer in the New Testament. He was a physician, so we know him as Dr. Luke. He was also a physician.
Dr. Luke. He was also a historian and a theologian. And he set up more than 1900 years ago to carefully investigate, again like a private investigator, every piece of information he could gather concerning the life and ministry of a man called what?
Jesus. Now, I want you to notice in verse 1 that Luke informs us of the many who undertook the task of drawing up an account of the things that had been, notice this word, fulfilled among them. So, Luke refers to all these events that he was examining as the fulfillment of prophecy. Many of the events that happened among them have been prophesied hundreds of years before they took place. Did you know that the Bible is the only book in the world that contains fulfilled prophecy?
Did you know that? So, what's the big deal about fulfilled prophecy? Well, when you really think about it, it should be amazing. Most people have no idea about fulfilled prophecy. So, if you have doubts about the validity of the Bible, I want you to consider what I'm about to share with you. So, what prophecies was Luke referring to? He's referring to the Old Testament pretty much, which predicted hundreds of years, in some cases more than a thousand years, about a man who would come into the world who'd be known as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
And the Old Testament predicted that this Messiah would do incredible things that you could only be classified as supernatural miracles. For example, if you take your Bible now, I want you to flip over to Isaiah. So, go to the middle of your Bible, you should see the book of Psalms, and then go to your right, one major book, and you'll see Isaiah. Isaiah, by the way, lived 700 years before the birth of Christ. So, if you go to Isaiah chapter 7, I want you to look at verse 14 with me.
Now, you think about this. 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are you with me? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign, evidence, if you will. The virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and we'll call him Immanuel, which means what?
God with us. Was there a child born to a virgin about 2,000 years ago? There was. And I believe that Luke probably found Mary at some point during his investigation, and she certainly explained to him about this supernatural birth that occurred to her. The prophet Micah, you can keep your finger right there in Isaiah, but the prophet Micah, you don't need to turn there because you have a hard time finding it. But he also lived at the same time as Isaiah, 700 years before Christ. And in Micah 5, 2, he prophesied exactly where this Messiah would be born.
Listen to what he writes. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old from ancient times. Did you know that at the time of Jesus' birth, there were two Bethlehems in Israel? One in the north, and one in the south, near Jerusalem, and the one in the south was known as Bethlehem Ephrathah?
That was the birthplace, I believe, of Rachel. Where was Jesus born? Which Bethlehem?
Bethlehem Ephrathah. Turn over to Isaiah chapter 35. So we know that this is going to be a supernatural birth.
We know the place of this birth. We also are told what to look for in this coming Messiah. Isaiah 35, verses 4-6 says, Be strong, do not fear, your God will come. He will come with vengeance, with divine retribution He will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Does that remind you of anybody? What did Jesus do? He gave sight to the blind. He enabled the lame to walk. He healed the leper.
He restored hearing for the deaf. And yes, He even raised the dead back to life. He also went about forgiving sinners.
Aren't you glad? I was telling Stefan here earlier that Jesus, I'm reading a book called Gently and Lowly by Ortland. I can't remember his first name, but you should all read it if you want to feel better about being a sinner. Not that it's good to be a sinner, but Jesus is attracted to sinners.
Did you know that? He was drawn to the sinners. That's why He was called a friend of sinners. I'm so glad He loves sinners.
Aren't you? Listen, I could go on and on about the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. Did you know that there are more than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament?
They were all fulfilled in one man, Jesus, and that's a mathematical impossibility. Don't you find this amazing? Predictions written in this book that were fulfilled hundreds of years later, and we have historical evidence to prove this. So I ask you, is this not reasonable evidence that you can trust the Bible? You see, all we have to do is what Lee Strobel said, follow the evidence and it will lead us to the truth. So Christianity is a reasonable faith, not only because it's based on fulfilled prophecy, but also because it's based on eyewitness accounts.
Look at verses one and two again. Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. These accounts, by the way, were handed down in both oral and written form by eyewitnesses. Now you probably all know this, particularly if you're a lawyer, but credible eyewitness accounts are in essence a guarantee of the reliability of truth claims. That's why they're allowed in the court of law. I mean, if you get two eyewitnesses to agree that something happened at that crossroads, or that a murder took place over there, the verdict has pretty much been settled.
You bring a credible eyewitness into a court of law and case closed. So Luke, what he did, he traveled all over Asia Minor and Greece, he traveled with the apostle Paul, he traveled with Mark, with Timothy, and with many others. And he himself had apparently not seen Jesus, therefore he relied on the eyewitness accounts of the men he traveled with. And as I've already said, I believe he certainly went to Mary and interviewed her.
And so as a historian, Luke took meticulous notes and he documented everything that he heard. And these were credible eyewitnesses, many of whom died for their faith, which only serves to solidify their testimonies. Would you be willing to die for what you believe? In Acts chapter 12, we learned that James the brother of John was the first Christian martyr of the early church. He was put to death by the sword. In other words, he was beheaded on the order of King Herod.
Paul was later beheaded in Rome under Emperor Nero for his faith in Jesus. You see, they were willing to die because they knew what they believed was true. Take your Bible and turn with me to Hebrews.
Go back to the end of your Bible, you'll see Revelation, and go to your left and you'll see Hebrews. I have to say I'm convicted when I see what some of these people were willing to do for their faith. Hebrews 11 beginning with verse 35 says that others were tortured and refused to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned. They were sought into.
They were put to death by the sword. Men, people don't willingly die for something they know to be a lie. This is why we can believe these written eyewitness accounts. So Luke listened to their stories. He heard about the miracles. But more than anything else, he looked into the eyes of men like Peter and Paul and he saw that their faith was unshakable.
Do you know men like that? You just know that they believe what they say they believe. Their faith is just unshakable. See, Paul, excuse me, Luke saw men that were ready and willing to die for what they believed. He saw men who were eyewitnesses of his majesty. Turn with me to 1 John chapter 1. 1 John is right before revelation. If you're in Hebrews, just turn to your right. Again, this is John the disciple. He was an eyewitness.
Listen to what he writes. Beginning with verse 1. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched. This we proclaim concerning the word of life.
The life appeared. We have seen it and testify to it. And we proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. So men, if you want to have fellowship with God, remember God created us to know Him.
He created us to have a personal relationship with Him. And many of you have that. I hope all of you have that. But if you're here and you're not sure if you have that, the only way that you can have that is to believe these written accounts that we have in the Bible. Place your trust not in the... you believe the Bible, but you place your trust in the person who is behind the Bible. And that person is Jesus Christ. So let me ask you, how many eyewitness accounts do you need to read before you believe? Not only do we have Luke, but we have Matthew, we have Mark, John, Peter, Paul, James and Jude.
All these are the writers of the New Testament. And they're all given as eyewitness accounts. Follow the evidence and it will lead you to the truth. So listen, Christianity, as I believe, as you can tell, I believe it's a reasonable faith because it's based on fulfilled prophecy. It's based on eyewitness accounts.
But thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it's based on changed lives. Look at verses 1 and 2 again. Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. So Luke, you see, mentions eyewitnesses, but then he also mentions servants of the word. So who were these servants of the word? Well, these were simply men like you and me who heard the gospel and believed. They saw the miracles and believed. And they went around sharing their faith.
That's what I know many of you do. So when you go out and share your faith, you become a servant of the word. And by the way, the Greek word that from this phrase we get servants of the word, it's used here and it refers to someone who not only had personal knowledge of the fact, but also personal experience of the facts.
In other words, their lives have been changed. And that's why they were going all around the countryside preaching the gospel, because their lives have been changed. In John chapter 4, you remember the story of the Samaritan woman at the well? She was a woman who had five husbands and the one she was now living with was not her husband. And she encountered a man by the name of Jesus on a hot sunny day at the well.
She was there because she thought no one else would be there. And all of a sudden this man shows up who's Jewish, she's Samaritan, and he asks her for a glass of water. And they get to talking to each other. And as he's talking to her, he begins to tell her everything about her life. And he just met her. She all of a sudden realized who he was and she placed her trust in him. And then what'd she do?
She went back to town. And she had a bad reputation in that town. And she began to tell everybody, come out and meet the man who knew everything about me. And you know everything about me. And you know what they did? They all went out to meet this man.
Why? Because they saw that her life had been changed. When people look at you, can they tell that your life has been changed? Do you remember when Jesus was arrested in the garden? All the disciples did what? Fled in fear. But what happened after the resurrection?
Do you remember? Ten of them were martyred for their faith. What happened? They saw the risen Christ and their lives were changed. The apostle Paul's life was changed. One minute he was out arresting and even murdering Christians, and the next minute he's out sharing the gospel.
Why? Because he saw the risen Christ on the road to Damascus and his life was forever changed. I heard Billy Graham one time say that everyone who encountered Jesus in the New Testament in a saving manner, left with their life changed. You really cannot encounter Jesus in a saving way and your life not be changed. I would argue that a changed life is the greatest evidence of the validity of the Christian faith. You see, people can argue against your truth claims.
They can try to refute the Bible, but when they see a changed life, all they can say is nothing. Silence. Back in 2012, I had a friend of mine come up and ask me if I would lead a Bible study with about eight to ten of his friends, and I said I'd be glad to, and we began meeting in my office, and two of the guys that came to that Bible study were Charles Creech and Sam Barrow.
Some of you probably know them. Well, when Charles started coming, he said to my left, and every now and then he would drop a cuss word, and I had to remind him that we were in a Bible study. Then he started coming on Tuesday night, and I said Charles look, you can cuss every now and then on Friday morning, but you can't cuss on Tuesday night. But anyway, Charles has become a very good friend. That's his Sam, but I can tell you that of the ten guys that came to that Bible study, Charles and Sam are two of the most changed men I've ever seen. You see, during the course of that year, first year, and by the way, we're still meeting now.
That was 2012. We're still meeting in a Bible study together. All of a sudden, they just believed.
It didn't happen, I don't think, in a moment in time. It happened gradually as they began to study the Bible, and now their lives are so changed, their language has changed, their desires have changed, their whole outlook on life has changed, their worldview has changed, and their friends can tell their lives have been changed. They may think they've gotten a little religious, but they can tell that their lives have been changed, and I know Sam is teaching his daughters the Bible. Now one of his daughters, he wakes up in the morning and she's up reading the Bible.
Charles is doing the same thing with his family. Does your life need change? Do you have peace and soul contentment? Do you have eternal hope?
Do you have assurance of where you will spend eternity? I see you back there nodding, George. Same thing happened to George. He showed up in a Bible study, didn't you, George? His life has been changed.
Maybe you don't want change, but most I would suggest need change. And so if you come here tonight in search of the true meaning of life, and you need something concrete to hang on to, then the greatest evidence that you will ever have is when you test the Bible. Jesus said just do it.
And then when your life is changed, that'll be the greatest evidence you will ever get. I can sit here and preach some blue in the face, but you have to decide at some point that you're going to climb into that hammock and place your trust in Jesus Christ. Now look at verses three and four, almost done. Therefore, Luke writes, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theopolis, so that you may know the certainty of the things you've been taught. Listen, not only is the Christian faith a reasonable faith, it's also a sure and certain faith. In verse four, Luke, he writes, he says, so that you may know the certainty of the things you've been taught.
This word know, by the way, in the Greek, it means to know completely, to know fully, to know beyond a shadow of doubt. Personally speaking, I'm just speaking as Russ Andrews, the bald-headed prophet from Bethel, he left that part out. See, I know this book is true. I've been, and I'm not bragging, I'm old, I've been reading this book for about, I figured it for about 58 years, and I've never discovered anything untrue in it. And I have lived out what this Bible says life will be like. I know, and I'm saying good and bad and ugly.
I've tried the sinful route, and I've tried the obedience route, and what the Bible says about both routes is true. This one ends in death, this one ends in life, and I want to stay on this one. Plus, I have a changed heart.
My desires have changed. This world holds nothing that I want, except you guys. I'm looking forward to that song we sang, when the Lord returns, we hear that trumpet and the clouds part, and there he is. Hebrews 11 one in the NIV says, now faith has been sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Did y'all notice that Luke, he wrote this gospel for one person, Theophilus. Theophilus must have meant a lot to him. Luke had a sure and certain faith, and he wanted Theophilus to have a sure and certain faith. And I bet you every leader in here, if there's just one man in their group that needs a sure and certain faith, that's what we want for you. I want you men to have a sure and certain faith, so that when we sing blessed assurance, you know that you have blessed assurance. The only way, man, that you can have real peace in life, man, you're not gonna find it out there. It's when you know that death has been removed from the equation.
Not that you won't die, but that you know that the moment you fall asleep, that's how the Bible describes a Christian's death, you just fall asleep, you'll wake up in paradise. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net.
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