Most Excellent Theophilus …
I hope this BLOG heading peaked your curiosity. Theophilus was a New Testament character mentioned in the opening verses of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:1-4). Just who was this man? Well, the fact is we really don’t know for sure but there are some interesting theories.
One theory is that Theophilus was the Roman lawyer who defended Paul during his trial in Rome. Those who hold this theory believe that Luke’s purpose in writing the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts was to write a defense of Christianity – somewhat akin to a legal brief. If this theory is correct, Luke’s writings were designed to defend Paul in court against charges of insurrection and, at the same time, to defend Christianity against the charge that it was an illegal, anti-Roman religion. Interesting theory.
A good friend recently suggested that I read a book called, The Advocate (Randy Singer – Tyndale Publishing, 2014). We were comparing our favorite fictional writers and I was lamenting that I had either run out of some of my favorite author’s books (John Grisham) or grown bored of another’s (David Baldacci). It was then that he suggested I read this book. When he told me it was a “can’t put it down historical work of fiction – with a Christian theme,” I was intrigued. So, I ordered it for my kindle and started the adventure. He was right. It was very hard to “put down” and I consumed it over the course of 3 days.
The premise of this historical work of fiction is based on the above-mentioned theory, that the Theophilus of Luke’s Gospel was the “Advocate” (Roman lawyer) who defended the Apostle Paul when he was on trial in Rome. Without giving too much of the storyline away, it is a book with surprising twists and turns, moving courtroom drama and personal live stories of spiritual transformation all woven together. While it is a work of fiction – based on an unproven theory – the storyline stays true to the core of the Gospel message.
I don’t often recommend works of fiction – but this is one I HIGHLY recommend you read. In fact, the Woodcrest staff will read it together this summer (I can’t wait to read it again). The book’s beginning, its middle and especially its ending will challenge you, move you through a variety of emotions and ultimately cause you to praise God for the sending of Jesus as the Savior of the World. It will also challenge you to think deeply about what it means to suffer for the cause of Christ.
I finished reading the book late on a Saturday night. I probably should have been going over my sermon one final time – but as I mentioned, this was a book I had trouble putting down. I remember distinctly a unique set of emotions the next morning during our worship service. I was moved to tears as I listened to the congregation singing God’s praises.
The book had caused me to reflect on many things that Sunday morning. I thought deeply about the blessings of my own personal relationship with God. I was eternally grateful for the countless people, who through the course of human history, have given so much for the advancement of the Gospel – a reality that was tangibly right in from of me as I worshipped with fellow believers at Woodcrest.
While God’s Word is my ultimate source for truth and encouragement, God can and does use other written resources to bless us. This book was one of those blessings. I hope you’ll read it.