Picture Perfect By: Dr. Daniel Dickard

Main Idea: Belief in Jesus occurs when an eager soul meets a determined Christian with an opened Bible and urgent mission.

Consider the phrase, “picture-perfect.” The expression carries the idea of a faultless image lacking defects or flaws. The commonly used idiom refers to that which is ideal. Photographers know that a “picture-perfect” snapshot requires utmost attention to detail.

Set the camera’s focus.
Use leading lines.
Look for symmetry.
Capture small details.
Find different perspectives.
Embrace empty space.
Use natural light.
Create abstracts. 

Keep an eye out for repetitive patterns. 

These are all essential techniques used by professional photographers. However, before the ideal picture comes to life, the photographer must decide on the picture’s format: landscape or portrait. An image displayed in landscape mode is wider than it is tall. An image displayed in portrait mode is taller than it is wide. One is a horizontal shot; the other is a vertical shot.

Did you know that the Bible is God’s “picture-perfect” revelation to mankind? We know the Bible captures small details. There are even leading lines and repetitive patterns in Scripture. But the camera’s focus is of primary importance. Look closely. You will see the camera lens of Scripture set its focus on God’s plan of redemption. Jesus is the focus of Scripture. He is the locus of redemption. The Bible captures the redemptive work of Jesus in both wide-angle and vertical shots. In the Old Testament, Jesus is anticipated. In the New Testament, He is explained. The anticipation and explanation of Jesus is displayed in landscape and portrait mode throughout Scripture.

Consider Acts 17:10-12. In it, Luke provides a snapshot for the requirements of salvation. He frames the portrait of God’s salvation around four key verbs. That is, the mainline verbs of Luke 17:10-12 provide the framework for the Bereans “picture-perfect” salvation. Notice the key verbs boldened in the passage below:

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. (NASB)

The framework to this passage has four sides. There was an urgent mission (sent). There were determined Christians (went). There was an opened Bible (received the word). There were eager souls (believed).  In other words, the text communicates that belief in Jesus occurs when an eager soul meets a determined Christian with an opened Bible and an urgent mission. And the same framework recorded in Acts 17:10-12 is the same framework needed today. Consider the four sides to God’s “picture-perfect” portrait of salvation.

Side # 1: There is an urgent mission (17:10). In Acts 17, Paul is in three primary cities – Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens. While the passage seems to focus on the Bereans response to the ministry of the Word Paul brought to them, the beginning of the paragraph contains a critical thought. It is not inconsequential. The text says, “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night.” Two words are of utmost importance. First, the Greek word eutheos (translated "immediately”) carries the idea “without delay or hesitation.” Second, the primary Greek verb of the sentence, ekpempo (translated “sent”), means “to send away towards a designated goal or purpose.” In other words, the text communicates that we, as Christians, have an urgent mission. We are sent away without delay or hesitation towards a designated goal. Here is the application: when the urgency of our mission is lost, complacency in our ministry will be found.

Side # 2: There is a need for determined Christians (17:10). Notice the determination of Paul and Silas upon arrival in Berea. The text says that, “when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.” Little to no time elapsed before Paul and Silas began their work in Berea. They went to the synagogues marked by a resolved and determined spirit. The same dedication displayed by Paul and Silas is the same determinacy God looks for today in you and me. The mission has not changed. The message has not changed. But, is it possible that our spirit of determination has? Share the gospel, in a spirit of determination, as if the results were all up to you and then rest knowing that the results are all up to God.

Side # 3: There is need for an opened Bible (17:11).  Consider the phrase, “they received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Paul and Silas preached with an opened Bible. They preached the text. They gave the Bereans the Scriptures. And we must do the same. The Bible not only leads to salvation, it grows believers in salvation. Let us not forget that the message is more important than the messenger. Opening the Bible is more important than impressing in communication. The teacher of God’s word can do many things, but there is one thing he must do: stay in the text. The height of arrogance is for the preacher to think he has something more to say than what God has already said in His Word. Do not deviate from the text. Scripture is not a launchpad to a better message. It is the message.

Side # 4: There are eager souls ready to believe (17:12) Look at the way the passage ends. It says, “many of them believed.” Fellow Christian: preach a hungry gospel message to hungry souls. Only the gospel will satisfy parched souls. We should hold the Word of God close to our hearts. But, not too close that we fail to give it away. The same readiness of the Bereans to receive the gospel is the same eagerness people have to believe the gospel today. We fail people when we fail to preach the gospel. So, preach Jesus at all times. When He is in your heart, he comes out of your mouth. There is never a bad time to preach the gospel.

Therefore, let us remember. We have a “picture-perfect” Bible. We have a “picture-perfect” Savior. We have a “picture-perfect” redemption. Therefore, frame the picture on all sides. We have an urgent mission. We need determined Christians. We need opened Bibles. There are eager souls ready to believe.

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