sf200 - How Vital Is Vision (Proverbs 29 18)

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Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish…


In spiritual terms, "Divine perspective,” "wisdom,” "insight,” "illumination,” and "vision" are equal terms.

Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.

Psalm 119:130 The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Ephesians 1:15-19

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

For spiritual understanding we must have both regeneration (salvation) and illumination (vision).

The text of this study shows us negatively how important "vision" is. 

Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  This verse is universal and absolute.

1A.      A Spiritual Concept

1B.      What kind of vision?  Spiritual vision! - Vision, chazon; vision/revelation

Everything begins with vision.

Ø      You will be what you see, but what you do not see, you cannot be. 

Ø      You will become what you behold, but what you do not behold, you cannot become

“It is easier to serve God without a vision, easier to work for God without a call, because then you are not bothered by what God requires; common sense is your guide, veneered over with Christian sentiment.  But if once you truly hear the full commission of Jesus Christ, the awareness of what God wants will be your goal from that point on, and you will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.”  (Oswald Chambers)

Perception leads to process, and process will lead to product!

Ø      We simply are not producing the kind of Christians who produced the Book of Acts! 

Ø      Thus, if our product is deficient, our perception must be deficient, also.

2B.      What is spiritual vision?

Colossians 1:9 (Phillips) I pray that you will see things from God’s point of view

Spiritual vision is seeing things from God’s point of view.

Isaiah 55:8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.

Spiritual vision is getting on your heart what God has on His heart – the world!  (Trotman)

3B.      Why is spiritual vision so important?

Because spiritual vision produces spiritual strategies

Ø      A vision + a plan + action = a spiritually productive life

Ø      The first century church had a spiritual vision of their world.

Ø      Therefore their strategy majored on building individuals not institutions.

Ø      Focused on explosion not implosion

Because this was the strategy of Jesus

Luke 6:13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:

Ø      Apostles are the “sent ones”

Ø      He built those specially chosen men to keep them “with Him” only long enough to train and infect them with His Life, His Vision, and His Strategy, and then it was His Design to send them as far away from their training base as they could, or would, or might go.  His direction was: temporarily in, but vocationally out!

Ø      Both the vision and the vocation are to be individual and not primarily institutional

Ø      Jesus fully expects every saved person to have a vision and a strategy (a strategy that was first clearly modeled by Him) to impact the world to the ends of the earth and until the end of time!

Because this is the strategy taught in Acts (Acts 2:17)

Ø      These visions and dreams are not those experienced in sleep, but those experienced by a heart which is filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Ø      In context, these dreams and visions are strategy dreams and visions which will lead toward the more complete fulfillment of our Lord’s Great Commission

4B.      How do we gain God’s vision?

The formula

Ø      Proper information plus spiritual illumination will produce vision,

Ø      Which in turn will produce motivation, and this motivation will lead to spiritually productive action

Vision begins with proper information

Ø      A working knowledge of Scripture and a sensitive heart to hear it and obey it,

Ø      An awareness of world geography and national and ethnic cultures of the world,

Ø      A spiritual appraisal of current events,

Ø      Prayer,

Ø      Informative reading,

Ø      Firsthand experience of some of the world’s mission fields,

Ø      Fellowship with visionary believers,

Ø      Sacrificial giving to missionary causes,

Ø      Meeting productive missionaries and world-impacting Christians

Ø      Lifestyle choices

2A.      The Sad Condition

1B.      What does “no vision” mean?

"No vision" means that men do not see "the High and Holy One, Who inhabits Eternity," so we are limited to our little horizons and our selfish, petty, sinful plans.

2B.      No vision is the “natural” human condition (1 Corinthians 2:9-14)

Numbers 13 – The spies

Ø      So two paradigms determined the different recommendations: one included God, the other did not. 

Ø      All saw the “giants”; most saw themselves as “grasshoppers”; only two truly saw God. 

Ø      Rather, the majority saw God through the giants, and thus the giants looked bigger than God. 

Ø      The minority saw the giants through God, and thus God was bigger than the giants. 

Ø      So their perception determined their proposal and their performance. 

Ø      Herein lies the difference between “vision” and “no vision”!

Human intelligence will always give you your point of view.  Only a miracle of illumination will give you God’s point of view

3B.      No vision is any vision that is not God-sized.

When God’s people loose spiritual vision the whole world is impacted.

When we loose God’s vision we cease to be salt and light (Matthew 5:14-16) and God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) in our sinful world.

The absence of vision is clearly observable in pulpit, pew, and public life—merely by examining the occurrence of the consequences declared in this text.

3A.      The Serious Consequence

Perish, para; to cast off restraint, to loosen; to dissolve, to break up, to go to pieces; to go naked; to perish

1B.      The moral effect of a loss of vision – “cast off restraint”

"Right" and "wrong" are absolutes only to those with a truly spiritual mind

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Jesus said, "I do always the things which please my Father" (John 8:29), but the motto of sinners (indeed, the essence of sin) is, "I do always those things which please me." 

2B.      The social effect of a loss of vision – “the people disintegrate”

Sin, which increases proportionately in a society with the loss of spiritual vision, has a centrifugal force about it, driving men outward from the True Center of Life, God Himself, and thus driving them from each other.

So we have a fragmented, divided world.

3B.      The personal effect of a loss of vision – “to be unclothed, or go naked”

Dirty clothes are often used as a picture of sin and self-righteousness, and clothes clean and white are used as a picture of the covering, qualifying righteousness of Christ.

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

“Where there is no vision,” more and more people remain “unclothed,” or unprotected for time and eternity.

4B.      The spiritual/eternal effect of a loss of vision – “perish”

In John 3:16, the word “perish” is placed in antithesis to having “everlasting life.” 

To perish means to be involved forever in a living death and a dying life—in a place called hell. 

1 Corinthians 1:18   For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthian 1:18 indicates that people without Christ are in a present state of perishing. 

Three people every second perish without Christ—and the Church has largely lost its vision! 


The words of Proverbs 29:18 were written by King Solomon, a man in whose reign the vision faded.  And there was no more disastrous failure in the history of Israel than that of Solomon.  The people went to pieces!  The nation collapsed!  The Kingdom was divided!

The alternative before us is clear: it is either "vision or division"!

As the vision is restored, we will rediscover that His entire Plan is revealed in our Lord’s Great Commission, and that the mandate there is to “turn people into disciples.”

Dawson Trotman was right when he said, "Spiritual vision is getting on your heart what is on God's heart—the world!" 

Paul prayed that the Colossian Christians might "see things from God's point of view" (Colossians 1:9, Phillips). 

What a revolution would occur if we did!

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