[Theophilus] is probably a new convert to Christianity. So there is a wealthy, prominent, affluent, significant man who becomes a Christian. And what he’s wondering is, is it really true? Is Jesus really God? Did He do what I’ve heard he’s done?…he has a lot to lose in declaring himself to be a Christian because in that day Caesar was lord, and as a Christian he would declare: “not anymore. JESUS IS LORD”. And in that day he would say “my highest allegience is my nation” and upon meeting Jesus he would have to say, “no, my highest allegience is to His kingdom”. And as a governer he would need to say “All religions are welcome, the worship of all gods is equal” and as a Christian, he would have to say “no, Jesus alone is God and savior”. This would get him in great trouble with his boss, Caesar. This could get him fired…maybe even in prison. This could cost him his income, his job, his prominence…
And so he is this man wrestling…with his faith…There’s a lot at stake. And so he contracts out, hires, funds, supports Luke. Fellow gentile, not a Jew, not looking for Messiah. Not predisposed. Educated, articulate man. Has access to apostles and the eyewitnesses and the disciples. And he says, “Luke, I need you to go find the truth. Go get the facts”…
Now, here’s what’s amazing: That was very expensive. This is a classic ancient way that someone who had been funded would acknowledge their benefactor. They would dedicate their play, their poetry, their book to their donor…So here’s what you’re supposed to understand. Theophilus paid for two books of the Bible to get written. He would have allowed Luke to take years off of work, I’m sure Luke kicked in his money as well, and to go do all the eyewitness investigation. Now think about this, 2,000 years later, had it not been for Theopholis’ generosity, we would be lacking the largest contribution to the entire New Testament.
I’ll tell you, one of the weaknesses at Mars Hill, actually one of the sins of Mars Hill is that this is a church that has not excelled in generosity. Now God’s been very generous to us, that’s for sure. But we’ve not been very generous, and in saying that some of you will be like “Oh, this is where he wants to take my money”. It’s not your money, it’s His, you’re a steward, and if it bothers you you’re an idolater. Let’s keep it simple, because you either worship your money, your status and possessions and wealth, or you worship with your money, your status, possesions, and wealth. It’s very simple. Theopholis was a man who gave generously for Luke to do his ministry
…a lot of libertarion theologians and the real hardcore liberals they’ll read Luke and say, “Well, that Gospel talks about the poor more than any other Gospel. It shows that Jesus was poor, Jesus loved the poor, and Jesus includes the poor, and Jesus is all about the poor.” And they forget that the only reason we know that is because the rich guy paid for the book that tells them that Jesus loves the poor.
You see, Christianity is not like the class warfare that you have been brainwashed in since infancy over here on the left coast. Rich people can love Jesus and they are supposed to give generously and poor people can love Jesus and they’re suppoesd to give generously, and sometimes it is rich people who pay for things so that poor people can know that Jesus loves them. That’s good. And Theophilus is that guy. I hope some of you earn a lot of money and are very very very generous…See, its not how much you make, it’s about what you do with it.
Now what Theopholis didn’t decide to do was to get a new camel with rims and get another vacation home…what he decided was: I need to find the facts about Jesus and I need to find and educated, objective, scholarly, academic historian and I need to just make an enormous financial sacrifice and let him go out and give me the facts. And we got two books of the Bible out of it. That’s wonderful, isn’t it? That 2,000 years later, a few billion of us on the earth claim to worship Jesus Christ as God, and so much of what we know about him, and how we function as a church comes from the books of Acts about the church and Luke about Jesus. Amazing. I want you to share in Theophilus’ joy. I want us to be, I want you to be, generous.