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Archive for January, 2010

Believing is Seeing

As Luke is trying to produce an orderly account of the beginning of Christianity so that Theophilus could know with certainty the things he had been taught, part of that certainty is in establishing that God started it all.  Similar to how the writer of Genesis handles the account of creation, it is not as much his intent to prove, in order to persuade the unbeliever, as much as it is his intent to proclaim, in order to assure the believer.

The writer of Genesis establishes in just one verse the state of things at the time of creation.  “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”.  It is a bleak picture, but by the end of the chapter the picture has changed, and the believer comes away with one thing; ‘God started it all’.

Luke does the same thing in his first chapter.  He also paints a bleak picture.  We know that Elizabeth will have a son, but Luke makes it clear that in spite of repeated unsuccessful efforts, she has never yet been able to.  Likewise, we know that Mary will have a son, but Luke makes it clear that she has never tried to have one; she shouldn’t be able to have one.  And once again by the end of the chapter, the believer comes away with one thing; ‘God started it all’.

As both the first chapters of Genesis and Luke are accounts of a beginning, it falls then on the reader whether or not to believe.  Some, like Mary, will believe fully as soon as they hear it.  Others, like Zachariah and Elizabeth will only believe in part at first.  After so many unsuccessful efforts—so many failures—it was hard for them at first to believe what God had told them.  It took a little confirmation before they could fully believe.    

As Luke gives us this account that we might know with certainty the things we have been taught—that we might believe—it is good to have that certainty.  It is good to know what we believe.  But there is another level of believing . . . a harder level.  It is the level these three struggled with.  It is one thing to believe the written account of what God has done; it is quite another to believe what He says to us. 

That is what these three had to do.  Similarly, that is our struggle.  Not so much with the written account, but with what God says to us today or tomorrow.  When Mary went to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth greeted her with these words; “Blessed is the one who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished”.  That is where our ability to believe really struggles. 

It doesn’t take fully believing, as Mary was able to do, to see what God said He would accomplish.  Zachariah and Elizabeth only partly believed and they saw it.  But   believing is to these spoken things of God as 3D glasses are to a 3D movie.  The 3D is there.  Without glasses you will not see it.  With one lens you will sort of see it.   But with both lens it is pretty cool.  Believing gives us the ability to see.  Believing is seeing.

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A Writer Must Write

For Christmas, I received a decorative box for my writing pens.  On the front was a quote from Hemmingway; “A writer must write what he has to say, not speak it”.  It fits me perfectly.  For years I tried to say what I had to say; but it rarely came out as clearly as I saw it in my mind.  But with writing, I can stay with it until I have said exactly what I want it to say.  Writing agrees with me.

As I begin my ‘careful investigation’ of the writings of Luke, I have noticed a couple of things in this first chapter regarding writing.  First, after a careful investigation of the things that had been handed down by eyewitnesses, Luke thought it good to write an orderly account of these facts.  Though it was written specifically for Theophilus, in order that he could know the certainty of the things he had been taught, it became a written record for others down through the ages, and even to us today, that we also might have the same certainty.

Some friends of ours own a farm in the Ozark hills of Missouri.  One day we went for what was supposed to be a short ride on the 4 wheelers, but the first ridge we came to lead to another and then another.  There are literally hundreds of miles of connecting trails.  An occasional red ribbon marked particular turning points.  People who were very familiar with the trails left the ribbons for those who were not.  Those who were certain left ribbons so others could have the same certainty.

So now, as I begin my ‘careful investigation’ of the things Luke has handed down, I do it to know for myself the certainty of the things I have been taught.  And like Luke, I intend to leave a written record of the things I find.  I don’t do it with the motive of trying to stir up and attract my own following, but rather for those who are already following, I will leave these ribbons for those who come behind me that they may know the certainty of the things they have been taught and come to believe.

Another thing I noticed regarding writing was from when Gabriel told Zachariah about John.  Zachariah had more to say than any time in his life, and yet the angel made him to where he could not speak.  But though he could not communicate verbally, still he was compelled to communicate and did so by writing what he had to say.

God stirred Luke to write, which may or may not have had anything to do with his ability to communicate verbally.  But with Zachariah, God forced him to write by temporarily taking away his ability to speak.  Who knows, maybe it was for the purpose of producing the written record that Luke would use in his ‘careful investigation’.

Some gifted speakers, in addition to speaking, may be stirred to write.  Other gifted speakers, temporarily in place of speaking, may be forced to write.  But the writer does not possess the additional gift of speaking.  He must write what he has to say.  

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