My daughter and her fiance recently had some engagement pictures taken - 180 of them to be exact. They all looked great. A link was placed on Facebook so friends and family members could go check them out. Soon the comments began to appear. "Love them! Especially the kissy face ones!" or "Love number 134 the best."
How can one picture be better than another? They all feature my daughter! :) You've probably heard the saying, "The camera does not lie." That is true. It simply takes pictures, recording exactly what it sees at a particular moment in time. People look exactly how they looked the second the photographer pulled the trigger. Sometimes the resulting picture isn't exactly what we were anticipating or hoping it would be, but none the less it is exactly the way it was.
The last four questions from my Lifest survey didn't provide too many "surprise pictures," except maybe for this first one I will be talking about. Oh, and the last question, but I will talk about that one in a moment. Question #7 was "Is God's Word inerrant, in other words, without error, 100% true? Or is the Bible more allegory, more along the lines of stories left open for interpretation?
Nearly 80% said the Bible is 100% truth! Honestly? I didn't think it would be that high. I was expecting more of an even split - kinda of a 50-50 sort of thing or 60-40. That was refreshing. Many of today's churches teach that the Bible contains errors and contradictions. That's kind of what the Muslims think about our Bible too. Both, I feel, are rather misinformed.
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," - 2 Timothy 3:16
Scripture may not always be what we want it to be or be as politically correct as some people think it should be but it's contents are like a picture. God's Word shows us exactly who God is and, just like the camera, God's Word doesn't lie.
Question eight and nine were very similar. Number eight was "If we can pick and chose what we believe in the Bible, who then determines what is right or wrong?" This was a trick question. Nearly everyone answered "God." That answer is not correct. Read the question again, especially the first part that says, "If WE chose . . ." If WE chose what we want to believe then WE ARE OUR OWN GOD! Only 15% answered correctly.
Question #9 "If we pick and chose what we believe about God, isn't that like creating our own custom God? And doesn't that then break the first commandment?"
To be honest, I wasn't really looking for "answers" to those last two questions. I just wanted to make people think, which I think I did. Some of the faces were priceless as they wrestled with the conflict within themselves. 86% agreed that picking and choosing what we believe from the Bible would, in effect, be creating a new god. And yes, that DOES violate the first commandment.
"If you love me you will keep my commands." - Jesus, John 14:15
The last question in my survey was one I have often asked people, trying to get a sense of their commitment to following Jesus. "Would you die defending your beliefs?" 61% said they would but 33% said they were unsure but that they hoped they would. That's honest. Only 6% said they would not die for what they believed.
If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to scroll back up to the image at the beginning of this blog post. It is an old lithograph of Stephen, the first martyr, being stoned to death for his faith. Also, note the man standing back and to the right with someones cloak at his feet. Then read this . . .
"54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he (Stephen), full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:54-60
This was the end of Stephens time here on earth. But it was also a beginning of sorts for someone else. The man named Saul in the text, guarding the cloaks of the men who were stoning Stephen, would later have an encounter on the road to Damascus. An encounter with the risen Jesus. Their meeting left Paul temporarily blind but it also allowed him to "see" for the first time. Saul was a new creation and even had a new name to go with it! Paul had been born again.
Each day in this life we will be faced with questions such as the ones I asked at Lifest. I pray that we all would pass the test and face those daily challenges with the truth of God's inerrant Word as our guide. Then we will know what is true and what is right and what is admirable. And we will know that we have passed the test and answered ALL of the questions correctly.
"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:4-9