Friday, July 28, 2006

Catching the Vision

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Prov. 29:18

I started reading the book of 1 Timothy last night in my trip through the Bible. I didn’t make it even halfway through chapter 1 because I sensed that God was speaking something to me from this portion of it. Let me quote the scripture I got stuck on:

“As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than {furthering} the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Tim. 1:3-5

There were lots of folks in those days, just as there are now, that were teaching some crazy stuff. I won’t go into speculation on what they were teaching. What was happening was that these teachers were causing people to be led away from the truth of the Gospel. So, Paul told Timothy to stay in Ephesus so he could make sure that the true Word of God was being preached.

Different ideologies carry with them different ideals as to what is as to what is right and what is wrong. From a major religion like Islam and the Muslim belief in Jihad, or Holy War and the destroying of those who refuse to accept that faith, to the “anything goes” beliefs of Scientology made popular by many in Hollywood, each faith has it’s set of ideals. The reason is that people have tossed aside God’s Word, or have diluted it to make it more palatable, into a kind of “custom Christianity”. And this is exactly what the Bible says will happen when God’s Word is ignored.

That brings me to the verse I quoted from Proverbs. “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. What exactly does this verse mean? You have probably heard this verse quoted as a preacher casts the vision he has for his congregation, or is starting a building program. Maybe you’ve heard it at the launching of a new ministry, and the leader wants to stress the importance of people catching the vision. While it is important for us to latch onto the vision God has given our leaders, Proverbs 29:18 isn't about vision-casting, it's about preventing dirty lives. Really, that word vision more accurately means a divine communication of some kind. From the context of the entire verse, it seems to me to be talking about the Word of God. Here’s how I reach that conclusion: God gave the Law to Moses, and Moses made it known to the Israelites. He was God’s prophet, his mouthpiece of divine revelation.

When the Proverb says that they people will perish, it really means that they cast off restraint and run wild. We saw that as Moses came down Sinai with the two tablets with the Law written on them, only to find these lawless people in a drunken orgy, worshipping a golden calf. That’s what happens when God’s word is ignored-we begin to live as if our own happiness is our standard for living. That’s why there are so many unplanned pregnancies, abortions and STD’s. That’s why drugs are so rampant and people are so rebellious. They think they are their own standard.

Friends, that is why it is so important to get God’s Word in our hearts. It will help us to live right. Just look at what Psalm 119 says:

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.”

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” vs. 9, 11

I am reminded of what I read recently on a church sign. It said, “Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives”. That is a very simple way to state such an urgent truth. When we toss the Bible out, we will inevitably begin to wander into weird theology and dirty lives. And this is something I have personally witnessed happen to people who once were strong Christians. Friends, don’t neglect the importance of God’s word!

But we need to remember that God’s word just doesn’t help us keep from sinning, it makes us grow in our faith. The scripture above says that the goal of sound teaching is a selfless, giving love from a pure heart. It is to give us a clean conscience toward God as we live our lives according to holiness. It will build us up in a sincere faith. As we allow God's Word to change us, we will find that really, God is making us more like him. When we neglect the Bible, we forfeit being transformed into Christ's image.

Anyway, I thought I’d share just a little from this study. God bless you all this weekend!


Henry Haney said...

Good stuff Jeff- I really like how you put that scripture (in Proverbs) in perspective. So often we use that text for our own agenda but you perfectly captured the true meaning (i.e. casting off moral restraint).

ruthrap said...

Thanks for reminding us that we need to keep in the Word. I firmly believe that our lives would go much smoother if we would follow the principles that God has given us in His Word to live by every day, not just when we get in the notion to. When we know the Truth, we are less likely to get caught up in the false teachings that are popular in society today such as the new wave crap and scientology. RIGHY ON---to everything you said!!