The Trustworthiness of the Gospels

On Sunday night I preached my first message from the gospel of Luke. The text was Luke 1:1-4. I titled the message titled, “The Trustworthiness of the Gospels”.

I began by presenting various reasons why people reject the reliability of the four gospel accounts. Some people say you can’t trust the gospels because their content has been altered significantly by the early church. Others say you can’t trust the gospels because they are not based on historical evidence. Another objection is that the gospels are not reliable because they are just man’s interpretation about God, not God’s word to man. A vivid modern day example of those who deny the authenticity of the gospels is the Jesus Seminar, who suggests that the majority of what we find in the gospel accounts was added after their orginal composition.

Every single one of these objections, and more, are answered in Luke 1:1-4. Luke began his introduction with a conjuction, “inasmuch”. This term is a triple compound combining the words “since, truly, indeed”. During this era an author would often use this term to state his purpose in a very formal document. It suggests a very solemn tone. That is exactly what Luke is doing here. He is saying, “Truly, I have something very important to say to you. Indeed, it is a serious matter that calls for your full attention.”

As it says in vs. 4, Luke was writing to Theophilous (literally, “Lover of God”). All we know about Theophilus is that he was a person of high social standing in the community. Luke was writing to Theophilus so that he might know “the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” Luke wrote so that Theophilus, and that everyone else who reads this book, might have absolute confidence that the account of Jesus as recorded in the gospels is totally true. He wants Theophilus to know this to such a full degree that it leads him to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Based on this text there are seven reasons why you can trust the gospel.

Reason #1: Because It Is Based On Authoritative Research. In vs. 1 Luke says, “many have undertaken to complie an account.” His purpose is not to discredit other accounts of Jesus, but rather to affirm them (the psuedo-gospels weren’t even written yet). He is saying, “Listen, many others have done this. This is common knowledge. I’m not going out on a limb. There is other research out there that suggests the same truths about Jesus.” The term for “compile” means to arrage in a row, to set up in order. The term “account” refers to specific facts and events. In other words, Luke is saying that many others have attempted to arrange in order, to draw up the particular facts and events of Christ. Many have done this. It is common knowledge, and therefore authoritative research. You can trust what I am saying.

Reason #2: Because It Is Based On Historical Facts. Luke then mentions that many have taken an account of “things accomplished among us.” In other words, what these men have written about, and what I am now going to write about, are historical events that took place in space and time. These are real events that really happened. All the miracles, all the healings, all the teaching, all the preaching, everything actually happened in history. Luke is arguing that you can trust the gospel because it is based on things that actually took place in history.

Reason #3: Because It Is Based On Faithful Transmission. Luke says the account of these historical events were written “just as they were handed down to us.” The term for “handed down” is a reference to passing along tradition (same term used in 1 Cor 15:3). So Luke means to say that the process by which the gospel writers recieved their information was entirely uncorrupted. The data was not tampered with. Or to put it another way, the process by which the information was communicated assures it’s historical accuracy. Therefore, what we have in the gospels is a perfect record of the tradition that was given. You can trust the gospel because of it’s faithful transmission.

Reason #4: Because It Is Based On Eye-Wittness Accounts. Luke says the accounts were handed down “by those who from the beginning were eye-wittnesses.” The gospels as we have them today are from direct eye-wittness accounts of the ministry of Jesus Christ. The term for “eye-wittness” is a medical term, referring to the act in which a doctor examines someone who has a disease. Luke says that these eye-witnesses examined the data carefully and accurately diagnosed exactly what they saw. What we have in the gospels is exactly what others heard and saw in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. They were there from the beginning. They saw it all (1 John 1:1-3). You can trust the gospel because of it’s eye-witness accounts.

Reason #5: Because It Is Based On Spiritual Authority. Luke also says that those who saw with their own eyes were “servants of the word.” The term ‘servant” is the same term used by someone who serves in a galley on a ship. The apostles were simply slaves who served the truth of the gospel, without altering it’s content in any way. These men simply served the truth. The gospel is not apostles own opinion about God, or a record of their own personal encounter with God. When they reported the message they were only serving the truth. The gospel is based on spiritual authority.

Reason #6: Because It Is Based On Solid Reasoning. Luke says in light of all this, “it seemed fitting for me as well…to write it out in consecutive order”. In other words, since the research is sound, since the facts are genuinely historical, since the transmission of the information ensures it’s truthfulness, since it is based on eye-witness accounts, and since it’s based on spiritual authority, I think I feel confident enough to write on it as well! Luke is convinced! Here is a man in the upper crust of society, looking at the evidence with the precision of a medical eye doctor, and his conclusion is absolute confidence. Luke believes because in light of such evidence it only makes sense. You can trust the gospel because it is bsaed on solid reasoning.

Reason #7: Because It is Based on Objective Research. Luke says that he “investigated everything carefully from the beginning”. Luke went back and did his own research. Luke went back and traced every single event in the life and death of Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry. He went back and sought out the facts for himself, and he is fully convinced. His research was impartial. It is based on a full accounting of all the facts. It is objective. You can trust the gospel because it is based on objective reasoning.

You can trust the Gospels. Now the question is, do you? If so, then you have one option: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of your sins. That is how you tell if you really trust the gospels or not.

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One Response to “The Trustworthiness of the Gospels”

  1. edward bunnell Says:

    And—we have the ‘Dead Sea scrolls’ that agree with our present day bible—in some places ‘exactly!’ God gave the Essenes the job of saving the scrolls of the early centuries! HE was there to direct and guide. All part of GOD’s plan.

    The words of the song “Turn Your Eyes On Jesus” keep returning to me. (His words will not fail you HE promised; believe them and all will be well…). To BELIEVE requires one to die to ones self and live in Jesus—become part of his essence. (…and the things of earth will become strangely dim in the LIGHT of HIS GLORY and GRACE).

    pop

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