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The Certainty of the Gospel.

The Certainty of the Gospel.

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"That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast
been instructed." — Luke i, 4.

"That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast
been instructed." — Luke i, 4.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Aug 09, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The Certainty of the Gospel. By R. . SLEDD, "That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." — Luke i, 4. These are the concluding words of the preface to Luke's gospel. They are addressed to Theophilus — a Greek name signifying a friend or lover of God. He was no doubt a Gentile who had been brought to Christ under the preaching of Luke, or of Paul, with whom Luke traveled and labored. It is believed that he was a man of education and influence, and held official position. The text sets forth Luke's specific object in writing to him. He had already received oral or catechetical instruction. But such instruction was liable to misinterpretation; as it passed from one to another it might be added to, or essential points might be omitted; or with advancing years it might fade from the memory. Luke therefore commits it to writing, that Theophilus may have it ever before him in its original purity, and that he may know, and that all subsequent ages may know the certainty of " those things which are most surely believed among us." This was the more important because even at that early day many had felt themselves authorized or impelled to record the events of the life of Christ. What a marvelous life that must have been to have awakened such enthusiasm, and to have put so manv pens in motion, and this too at a period when the [27] 28 True Heroism and Other Sermons.
modern passion for writing was entirely unknown ! What mere man ever so moved the intellect, the heart, and all the noblest energies of humanity? It is an inexplicable mystery unless Jesus of azareth was something more than many of our modern critics would make him. These accounts or histories Luke does not criticize or condemn. But he considers them defective and unsatisfactory — defective perhaps in arrangement* hence he proposes to set the facts in order — defective as to fulness — they were mere fragments — detached acts or sayings of Christ, and giving no adequate view of his character and life, and many of them probably mythical, or unauthenticated by reliable testimony. Matthew and Mark had already written their his- tories. They were accepted as authentic. Luke is not to be understood as referring to them, or ab casting any suspicion on their authority. Yet he sup- plies much that they had omitted, and omits much that they had recorded. early one fourth of his gospel is original. The human sources of Luke's information were twofold. He had access to secular history, to which he repeatedly refers in fixing the dates of important events. The canonical narratives of Matthew and Mark were before him, as well as the many frag- mentary documents to which he refers in the context. As a faithful historian he would of course examine carefully and critically all contemporary records. True Heroism and Other Sermons. 20 But the chief source of his information was tradi- tional, or the oral testimony of those who " from the beginning were witnesses, and ministers of the word." He does not profess to have seen what he writes; but declares that he " had perfect understand- ing of all things from the very first " — that is, that he had, by diligent investigation, traced up every- thing to its source in order to obtain an exact account
of the whole matter. An educated and thoroughly honest man, writing to an educated man, he would naturally be painstaking and thorough in his in- quiries. Moreover he was associated with Paul, one of the most cultivated and astute thinkers of his day; and no doubt his work was submitted to that Apostle, and approved by him. While he carefully sifted the documents at hand, he would no less faithfully weigh the character of the living witnesses. If they were of disreputable char- acter, or imbecile, or if there were sufficient motives to induce them to bear false witness, of course their testimony was worthless. But instead of this they were all found to be not only reputable, but men of the strictest integrity. Their record had been sub-  jected to the closest scrutiny by their own and their Master's bitterest enemies, and it had come forth from the trial unscathed. Virtuous themselves they devoted their lives to the promotion of virtue and piety among their fellow men. It is true that they  jo True Heroism and Other Sermons. were for the most part unlettered men. They had been gathered from the humbler walks of life and were inured to hardship and toil. They were stran- gers alike to the discipline and learning of the schools, the refinements of polite society and the luxuries of wealth. But they were men of good natural ability, clear perception and strong convictions. And they were as competent to testify to what they saw and heard as a Gamaliel, or any member of the Sanhedrim could be. or could they have had any motive to testify falsely. Their education, their inherited pre-  judices, the prejudices of their nation, were all against their present position. All their worldly interests, and even life itself was imperiled by adherence to the azarene. And if they had sufficient motive and sufficient intelligence and courage to devise and at- tempt such a gigantic imposture, they could have no reasonable expectation of its success. There were multitudes still living who were contemporary with

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