Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 1 Message Outlines
Luke 1:5-25 (9)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 9 October 26, 2003 Lincolnton, N.C.
(021)Thesis:To what end is the Gospel preached? To achieve a different destination, or to produce a different kind of works?
Introduction:[Read Luke 1:15-17.] In our studies to date, we have seen that Gabriel was sent to tell Zacharias and Elizabeth that Yahweh is gracious. The big question for us all is this: what does it mean for us in the details of our lives that Yahweh is gracious? We attempted to partially answer that question in our study a couple of weeks ago when we chased the issue of definition of grace. In that study we saw that the working New Testament definition of grace is God doing for man what He requires of man so that man can move out of the loop of enslaving fear [Note Hebrews 2:15 compared with 8:15] into the reality of love's freedom. This morning we are going to go after this fundamental question again from a different direction. What does it mean for us in the details of our lives that Yahweh is gracious? What answer do we get if we back up and look at the bigger picture?
I. The Importance of the Big Picture.
A. The big picture actually dominates all of the understanding of the details.
1. Consider Zacharias: he was a man who was driven by a view of Yahweh that focused upon His holiness and its implications for the unholy.
a. This did not mean that he was not a believer -- just before God.
b. This did not mean that he was careless in his lifestyle -- blameless in the keeping of all that God required in the Law.
c. But it did mean that he was not a man at peace with either himself or his circumstances.
1) His constant appeal for a son shows this.
2) His fearful lifestyle shows this.
d. What practical good is there in being just and blameless if you continue to live in frustration and fear?
2. The angelic messenger had one message to deliver: you shall name him John.
B. A misconstrued big picture allows all manner of contradictions to develop as though they were true when, in fact, they are completely false.
1. The religion of the Jews in the first century was highly developed in a gazillion details but it did nothing to address the seething hostility toward Yahweh that almost all of the Jews got up with every morning and went to bed with every night while all the time they were telling themselves and one another that they "loved" Yahweh and were devoted to Him.
2. The dominant expressions of "Christianity" in America are involved in precisely the same reality -- abundant professions of devotion to Jesus while seething within because life isn't going the way we want it to.
II. The Source of the Big Picture.
A. There are texts in the Scriptures in various places where the readers are pulled back from the nuts and bolts and given a big picture panorama view.
B. The text before us today is such a text.
1. It tells us that John was sent from God for the express purpose of getting people ready for the coming of God.
2. By telling us this, the text gives us a big picture for our understanding of the grace of God: it is designed to prepare us for His coming.
III. The Nature of the Big Picture.
A. The first part of the big picture has to do with John's big picture accomplishment as it is given in verse 16.
1. Here we are told that he would be the instrument of turning many of the sons of Israel to Yahweh their Elohim.
a. This does not mean that he would move the religious to a better practice of the religion, nor does it mean that he would move the irreligious to take up religion.
b. The issue here, as explained by similar terminology in verse 17, is a matter of the heart -- addressing the seething hostility.
2. Here we are told that his message would be the crucial instrument of change.
a. As we have seen, the filling of the Spirit is for the purpose of true speech.
b. As one filled with the Spirit from the womb, John was a messenger -- a man with a message.
B. The second part of the big picture has to do with the perennial problem of incremental apostasy.
1. Elijah was the prophet to apostasy.
2. That John was to mimic Elijah's ministry means that the sons of Israel were apostate -- why else would he have to turn them to One to Whom they ought already to be devoted?
3. Incremental apostasy is the gradual alteration of the big picture until the understanding of the details is so corrupt that one can use all the right words and still be completely enslaved.
C. The third part of the big picture has to do with what is going to happen as a consequence of John's message.
1. Father's hearts are going to be turned to their children.
2. Unpersuaded people are going to be turned to the comprehension of the just.
D. The Summarized Big Picture.
1. The message of Grace will address the core hostility of rebels and hypocrites.
2. The message of Grace will address the slide into apostasy that allows people with all of the right words to keep their distance from God.
3. The message of Grace will address the twin problems of false values and faulty thinking.
IV. The Implications of the Big Picture.
A. Modern American Evangelical Christianity has an enormous grasp of the right words of right religion, but it also is almost completely enslaved to its lusts.
B. Where have we gone wrong?
C. We have replaced the big picture of the Scripture with one that is off the radar screen of Heaven.
1. Modern American Evangelical Christianity is consumed with the notion that grace means that God gives us a new destination by reason of a new status.
a. We are destined for the New Jerusalem [destination] because we are forgiven [status].
b. We are consumed with the idea that people ought to turn to God so they can be forgiven and go to Heaven when they die.
c. As far as the big picture is concerned, this is off the radar screen of Heaven.
2. The biblical Big Picture is consumed with the notion that grace means that God will do for us what He requires of us so that what is required of us happens.
a. God has not saved us by grace so that we can go to Heaven because we are forgiven.
b. God has saved us by grace so that, by loving the right kinds of people and believing the right kinds of truth, we can be His instruments of righteous behavior both now and forever.
1) Forgiveness is a means to a new kind of behavior.
2) An eternal habitation is the ultimate place where new behavior will become standard operating procedure.
c. Look again at the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31.
1) What is the problem? People misbehaving.
2) What is the solution? The writing of the Law upon the heart so that people can begin behaving.
3) Where is forgiveness in this mix? It clears the decks so that the real objectives can be achieved.