Reasons For Faith
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
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. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4)
Can I put aside the religion I’ve been brought up to follow? Can I put my faith in something I’ve never seen or experienced? How do I grow my faith and trust in God? These are questions many amongst us may have asked before.
Luke wrote in the opening sentence of his Gospel that many others had already written about the history of Jesus. These included the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (John was written later) and accounts by other writers which are not included in the Bible. Unlike the other writers of the Gospels, Luke wasn’t an eyewitness to the things that Jesus did and taught. But he “carefully investigated everything from the beginning” so that he could “write an orderly account” for Theophilus. Luke interviewed many eyewitnesses to write his account, and half of his Gospel consists of material not found in the other Gospels. It was not a task he took lightly, and his meticulous research played a big role in growing his faith too.
It is not clear who Theophilus was, but the honorific title by which Luke addressed him, “most excellent”, indicates that he was likely to be an important Roman official. Some theorise that he was a wealthy benefactor who supported Paul and Luke on their missionary journeys. Others believe he could have been Paul’s defence lawyer for his trial in Rome, making the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts something like a legal brief. Whoever Theophilus was, Luke’s intention was to provide him with certainty that all he had been taught were indeed true and trustworthy.
Luke was a well-educated doctor, and had converted to Christianity from a different faith. Why did he embrace a new religion, especially one that was heavily persecuted? It wasn’t a decision he took lightly. He became the only Gentile writer of the New Testament (“NT”), and is the biggest contributor by volume to the NT. While Paul wrote the most number of epistles, his writings by word count formed 20% of the NT; Luke’s writings formed 27%.
Luke was Paul’s travelling companion on some of Paul’s journeys. They became good friends and Luke was well liked by everyone; Paul called him “the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14, ESV), “our dear friend Luke, the doctor” (Colossians 4:14, NIV). Following Paul on his journeys was a challenging task. He had a punishing regime and travelled long distances to set up and strengthen churches. Paul was a magnet for persecution too.
What can we learn from Luke? Unlike the other writers of the NT, Luke was a Gentile who didn’t have a foundation in the Old Testament like the Jews did. But Luke was eager to find out about Jesus and wasn’t afraid to ask questions. He was diligent in learning from as many as he could, and he actively lived a Christian life.
Can we believe in what we have not seen? How do we strengthen our faith and trust in God’s promises? How do we grow in our love for Jesus? Luke is an excellent example for us to imitate.
Be committed to the search for Truth. Dig deep into the Bible. Get together with fellow Christians and regularly share with each other how Jesus still touches your hearts. As we actively lead the life that God has called us to live, we will find our faith growing too.
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
Luke’s description of why the Berean Jews were noble very much reflected his own life too. They eagerly pursued the Truth. May we all learn from the example of the beloved physician, and bring spiritual healing to the people around us.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".