The Evangelical Herald
The Building of Visions
Among the many gifts that man as an intelligent being has received from his Creator is his ability to visualize events and things that are not presently a reality. We can visualize past experiences or we can visually anticipate future events. We can even dream up some fantasies that have never or will never occur. Indeed, it is a gift that no other creature on earth enjoys.
Yet, it is more than an interesting and entertaining psychological tool that we possess. The importance of this gift is seen in the book of Proverbs, chapter twenty-nine, verse eighteen, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". Many can see in this scripture the need of setting goals for successful living. Architects must have a vision of the building as they design and draw their plans. Students visualize the rewards of their studies. As the artist works on his painting or sculpture, he must visualize the finished art.
In our temporal world, we use this gift of vision to attain wealth, power, fame, and comfort; but, however good setting goals for our lives are, this is not the concept associated with the word vision in the Bible. By inference, the verse in Proverbs tells us that where there is a vision there is life. A Bible vision that we are addressing is a supernatural revelation (not necessarily involving physical sight) from God that guides to everlasting life all those who heed its message as a reality. It can be said that they are glimpses of heaven that direct our path to life.
Do people perish without a vision? In the Bible we see an example of a people perishing for lack of a vision. Despite the leading of God and the positive picture of the promise land drawn by Joshua and Caleb, the Israelites refused to make this vision theirs. As a result of their lack of vision, they were destined to wander in the desert until all that generation perished.
Thus we see God guiding His people through visions so that they will not perish. Though these visions have come to us via the prophets, apostles and faithful men and women of old, these visions are not confined to them. If their visions are to be of any benefit to us, they must become our visions. In fact, all who have come to Jesus, like Paul on the road to Damascus, have seen a vision of Jesus. No, we didn't see His face or hear His voice, but we saw the truths of His teachings, we saw His love at the cross, and we saw His power in the empty grave.
Spiritual Eyes Open to See God's Kingdom
Born-again Christians, whose eyes had been blinded by false visions of personal gain, have had our eyes opened by the power of regeneration so that we can see the realities of the supernatural mysteries of the ages. We, like Stephan, can see the heavens open and see the glory of God! (see Acts 7:56). Life everlasting, God's Kingdom, and God's presence are real to those who have had this encounter with Jesus and have seen the heavenly vision. Have we had this vision? If so, is it becoming clearer every day or is it fading away?
In our temporal visions or goals, we measure their clarity and reality by seeing what effect they have had on our studies, work, or interest. The same applies to our spiritual visions. What effect have they had on me as a person, on me as a member of Christ's body, and on me as a member of the human race? If the vision is not affecting us in these areas, it follows that we have not made it real - it is still a fantasy - a "I wish it were true, but it is for children" response. But without a vision, the people perish. Without a vision I will perish, you will perish. If we are to have a profitable life (see Profitable Living), we must have a clear vision in these areas of our lives.
Visions Become Triumphant Realities
Through the revelation of the scriptures and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we can have a vision of Jesus as He prepares us for our heavenly home even now. We must let the Spirit reveal visions to us. Though far from attaining it, somewhere in the farthest reaches of our minds, somewhere in our deepest longings of our souls, somewhere out in the future, we see a vision of a Spirit filled person radiating the character of Christ. Somewhere out there we see a person free from all doubts, fears, and bitterness. Somewhere out there we see a person full of faith and love - actively working in his Father's vineyard with a firmness of purpose. That person can be me. That person can be you.
Without a vision, the people perish. Without a vision the church will perish. What vision do we see for the church of God in our present age? Can we see Jesus leading His Church? In vision, we can see the church vibrantly and enthusiastically involved in fulfilling its mission of proclaiming the gospel and building the body of Christ. We can see the church vindicating God's name by proclaiming redemption to a lost world. We can see the church as a center of love that lights the whole community around us as brothers and sisters joyfully participate in godly activities in service one to another. Can you see this?
Without a vision the people perish. Without a vision mankind will perish. What is in store for mankind? Do you see chaos, fear and lawlessness as its destiny? Is the human race to be exterminated through the self-poisoning of' its environment? Is it destined to oblivion via the nuclear holocaust? No! The godly vision is clear. Christ will come and redeem His faithful ones and give them a new earth wherein dwells righteousness, life, peace, and joy.
These are the visions we have. These are the visions that God has given us. They are not fantasies. Peter tells us we have not followed fables, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2Pet 1:16 NKJV). Yes, through faith the visions have become real. Once grasping the realities of the heavenly vision, the heavens will open; we will see the glories of the kingdom. Are there visions more worthwhile of' our devotion? Are there other visions more powerful which will affect our lives? As we see Jesus inviting us to take of' the bread of life and to follow His steps, we will not be disobedient to the heavenly vision. We have seen the vision -- we will not perish!