【Bible Study】Luke 00: Introduction

Find the Framework When Reading the Bible

Today we are going to study the Gospel of Luke. When reading the Bible, I encourage all of you to try to find the framework of the book, especially when reading books like the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Without the framework in mind, you can never understand what these books are trying to tell you.

It is the same when reading other books. Many people can't see the forest for the trees because they read books in a piecemeal manner and cannot establish a comprehensive system. That's why they feel like they cannot get much out of what they read, except for a vague impression.

Luke was a disciple of Apostle Paul. When he was working with Paul and other apostles, he collected and compiled what Matthew, Mark, and Paul preached in their ministry. He saw how they preached, worked, and ministered to people. Then he gave a thorough account of the whole life of Jesus Christ, from his birth all the way to his crucifixion, resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, together with many of Jesus' teachings and miracles.

The Gospel of Luke fully displays Luke's system of beliefs. When I was summarizing this book, I found it clearly outlined the beliefs of Luke and hence gave us a framework of this book.

Purpose of The Gospel of Luke

The four gospels —— Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John —— all give a full account of the whole of Jesus Christ: his birth, work, death, and resurrection. But each book has its own focus. The Gospel of Matthew focused on "Two Kingdoms, Two Pursuits, and Two Results". But it omitted many details which may appear confusing to us. For example, when Jesus called Peter to follow him, Peter just left his stuff behind and followed Jesus. It almost looks like a miracle! But Luke described this event thoroughly in detail.

The Gospel of Mark focused on signs and miracles with the key theme "these signs will accompany those who believe", but it didn't focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John apparently follows a Jewish way of thinking, emphasizing "the words of eternal life" most of the time.

However, The Gospel of Luke was written after "careful investigation of everything from the beginning" so that the readers "may know the certainty of those things":

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)

The Gospel of Luke appears to be very much similar to a detailed account of historical facts, giving full descriptions of events such as the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus. So, I can draw a conclusion that the purpose of Luke's writing is to show the certainty of all the things about Jesus Christ. The other book written by Luke, Acts, also bears the same feature.

Luke himself had never met Jesus in his life. He was only the disciple of Apostle Paul. He was not present in most of the events recorded in the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Then how could he know the certainty of what he had been taught? Because he had seen what Apostle Paul did. I believe that Luke is also a man who practices the word of Jesus Christ. Luke had eye-witnessed the great power of resurrection from the dead.

Power Comes from Being Filled with the Holy Spirit

The two books written by Luke, the Gospel of Luke and Acts, both put a great emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Apparently, "baptism by the Holy Spirit" and "being filled with the Holy Spirit" are two key themes throughout Paul's system of belief and this had a profound effect on Luke's beliefs. The Holy Spirit only came on the disciples after the ascension of Jesus Christ, as in Acts Chapter 2, but Luke started using the term "filled with the Holy Spirit" in the account of the birth of John the Baptist: How John was filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born, how John's mother Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit upon hearing Mary's greeting, how Zechariah prophesied after being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke repeatedly brought out this concept of being filled with the Holy Spirit. He had not seen these events, but he noticed how Apostle Paul described these events in his preaching, especially when talking about John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and even Mary the mother of Jesus. That's why in Acts Luke recorded that Paul always asked those disciples he met whether they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. If they didn't receive the Holy Spirit, Paul would place his hands on them so that the Holy Spirit could come on them and they could then speak in tongues and prophesy. We should think about these stories and pay attention to the concept of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is closely related to how we can gain access to the power of Jesus Christ. We need to have a new understanding of being filled with the Holy Spirit: this concept had been there before the ascension of Jesus, even before the word became flesh and came to dwell among us. This is a very important concept in the system of beliefs of Apostle Paul and Luke. I encourage all of you to pay attention to this.

Jesus Is Destined to Cause The Falling and Rising of Many

After Jesus was born, his parents brought him to the temple of God. A prophet Simeon told a prophecy about Jesus:

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too. (Luke 2:34-35)

You may find that Christianity can be quite bewildering, which can cause the falling and rising of many. It can also become a sign to speak against but will make the thoughts of many hearts be revealed. In the Ming Ding Doctrine, we think it is common to see many fall or rise.

When Luke was writing this story, he was working together with Apostle Paul to build up churches and he was writing things that happened many years ago, all the way back to when Jesus was born. From his experiences of practicing the words of God, Luke found that there were many people who fell down as well as many who roes. Today, we also have to accept the fact that it is common for people to fall down and leave the church.

In our church, there could be one or two rounds of people falling and leaving every year. We gradually found a pattern: in the process of building the church, every time we reach a milestone of knowing the truth of Jesus Christ or advance greatly in healing and deliverance, we will always see many people fall and many people rise.

Recently, we are greatly impacting the devils and we can foresee there will be another group of people who may fall down, although they themselves don't think so. But we can be sure of one thing: their hearts will be full of lies. I'm sure they are also aware of the presence of these lies. When I minister to these people, I put in all my heart, but I can clearly feel that they don't think so. Perhaps they might think I have a hidden agenda behind my ministering. So I keep on reminding them: "Though we are on good terms now, after some time, you might start to hate me without any reason. This is common: either you are delivered by me, or you will be deceived by the devil."

The devil is indeed very powerful. We should question ourselves: am I the one who is going to fall? We could be totally unaware that we are deceived by the devil. Jesus Christ is destined to cause the falling and rising of many. But I can reassure you with a piece of good news: You don't have to worry if you decided to live for the destiny. The church will not fall down but advance forcefully when those who don't want to live for the destiny choose to leave.

This is what it means by "the falling and rising of many". I'm sure that Paul and Luke had definitely seen a such situation in their ministry. Today we are going to do a new thing in the church: to lead people to understand the truth of Jesus more profoundly. When we do so, there will be more people who fall and more people who rise. This is a pattern in the process of building the church.

When the church is advancing, the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. You might be able to hide for a while but cannot hide for long. You can choose to move forward with us, but don't know how long you can persist. You cannot hide the thoughts of your heart. Once Jesus rises, the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

It is common to see people fall down because this is the way of Jesus to set people apart. Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire when he is setting people apart. Luke described it like this:

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:16-17)

Let us never take the Church as a charity. The Church in which Jesus rules could be totally different from what you desire or what I desire. It could be quite merciless: "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:19)". Today our church is moving forward gradually. But are you the wheat or the chaff?

The Operations of The Holy Spirit Is A Key Element of The Gospel

Luke was very certain about the mighty power in the faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus was able to demonstrate such power of the Holy Spirit as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. So, if we decide to follow Jesus Christ and gain access to the power of Jesus' resurrection, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit, as stated clearly in Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

If we look at the Gospel of Luke and Acts again, we will find the operation of the Holy Spirit in all the churches which Apostle Paul and Luke built. The operation of the Holy Spirit is a key element of the gospel. With the power of the Holy Spirit, we can cast out demons and heal the sick. When Jesus appointed his disciples and sent them out, what did He command them to do? To preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons. The Gospel of Luke put a great emphasis on the concept of "a gospel of great power".

A Faith That Glorifies the Lord

Brothers and sisters, we need to gradually grasp the full picture of Apostle Paul's system of beliefs. Another key theme is about glorifying the Lord. When someone told Jesus that his mother and brothers had come to see him, Jesus replied:

My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice. (Luke 8:21)

Here Luke put Jesus' reply in a more polite way. But the other Gospels recorded a much stronger version of Jesus' reply:

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)

This is also a demonstration of Luke's system of beliefs: to glorify the Lord. Only those who follow the words of God count.

True Faith VS Hypocrisy

Luke's discussion of Faith** is also more detailed than in the other Gospels. For example, the woman who was subject to bleeding was immediately healed after she touched the edge of Jesus' cloak. Then Jesus said to her:

Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. (Luke 8:48)

The theme of faith is repeated throughout the Gospel of Luke. It is also a part of the framework of the Gospel of Luke.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)

When we are reading that the disciples believed that they were given power and authority and traveled from village to village, proclaiming the good news, healing the sick, and casting out demons, we can clearly see that preaching the gospel is closely related to healing and deliverance. When the Lord appointed seventy more disciples, He sent them out to trample on snakes and scorpions, drive out demons and heal the sick. Today we are confident to believe that Apostle Paul and Luke did the same as Jesus trained His disciples when building up the churches. This is Luke's system of beliefs. You will become more and more clear about these concepts when we later study each individual chapter.

Luke also discussed Hypocrisy. There were a lot of hypocrites in the days of Luke. Hypocrisy has a long history, even before the days of Moses, till today. We must be aware that hypocrisy has been everywhere in the church from the days of Paul to now. The situation of hypocrisy was so severe that Paul was worried that he might have been running in vain because of those hypocrites.

The Narrow Gate

The concept of the narrow gate is also part of Luke's system of beliefs. God wished everyone to be in His kingdom, but it depends on your destiny whether you can gain access to God's Kingdom.

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24)

When we are building up the church, we are picking the treasure, instead of retaining the unworthy. If we try to keep everyone in the church, the church will be corrupted. In the Book of Acts, thousands of people turned to believers after they listened to the apostles' preaching. Many people may think this is good. But if you read it carefully, you will find that Apostle and Luke never aimed to have more people in the church. Instead, they emphasized the importance of holiness and unity because the church is the body of Jesus Christ.

Luke had told these stories in a very subtle way that you may carelessly miss what he truly meant. He didn't approve of the fast increase in the number of people in the church. Otherwise, he would have said that openly. Luke held a somewhat negative impression of the church of Jerusalem, despite that he was willing to support the church of Jerusalem financially after it was stuck in poverty. Apostle Paul and Luke were both down-to-earth people and did practical work. Paul even said: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thes 3:10) That was very strict.

There aren't many who are saved! Never have the illusion that we are automatically saved once we become believers. Are you sure you are saved? Once there were many people who crossed the Red Sea following Moses but eventually died in the desert. Were they saved or not? No one knows. But the concept of entering through the narrow gate had come into being ever since the days of Luke.

Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us." But he will answer, "I don’t know you or where you come from." Then you will say, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets." But he will reply, "I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!" (Luke 13:25-27)

To whom did Jesus say these? To Christians. Those people were all Christians. They thought they knew the Lord Jesus. But the Lord Jesus said: "I don't know you or where you come from." Luke carefully noted down all these words. If you only want to live your own life, there is no way for you to follow Jesus. This is a narrow gate. Why can't you enter through the narrow gate? All because of your commitment in your daily life, because of your business, your trade, or your wife... You simply cannot follow Jesus with these becoming the center of your life.

Apostle Paul held the same idea as well. It can be seen from Paul's points on marriage:

But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. (1 Corinthians 7:28)

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

All the husband and wife stuff is nothing but daily life. The biggest obstacle for us to follow Jesus is our own life. If you love your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and your own life, more than you love Jesus, you are not qualified to be a disciple of Jesus. In fact, you have nothing to do with Jesus Christ! Someone may say: "Oh, I just want to be a believer. That's all!" But Jesus never wanted believers. He wanted disciples and only disciples. So we must carefully ponder over Luke's writing.

Be True in Little And Be True in Much

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16:10-13)

If you are eyeing these things for your own life, you cannot serve the Lord. Lot is a man who only wanted to live a good life. His wife shared the same idea as him. This couple was definitely good at managing their life and finance! But what is Luke's opinion on Lot and his wife? He recorded what Jesus said:

Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)

We must have a clear understanding of Lot and his wife!

Serve The Lord By Relying on The Holy Spirit

Last but not least, Luke also stressed that one cannot serve the Lord by means of the flesh. Even Apostle Peter also denied the Lord three times! So we must know that it is useless to rely on the flesh. We must serve the Lord by the Holy Spirit!


I have outlined the key themes of the Gospel of Luke so that you can establish a framework of Luke's system of beliefs. I would like to give you a little homework: what do you think the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke was trying to tell us? Is "Longing to Be the Vessel of the Lord" a suitable title for Chapter 1?

May the Lord bless all of you!

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