There are likely thousands of books, CDs and articles on the subject of “vision.” I have found that the Bible gives only one vision and that vision is the Lord’s. When a minister answers a calling from the Lord Jesus, he is given an assignment within the Lord’s vision. That assignment is what most are speaking about when they talk about “their” vision.
The distinction between the Lord’s vision and our assignment within that vision is an important one to be made. If each of us has a vision that we are working to accomplish, then we can easily become competitive and political. Competition has no place in the Kingdom of God. Competition is a worldly trait that by definition is to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. Being a good competitor is how you succeed in business. The Kingdom of God is not a business, although some have made it so.
Cain was the first competitor. You know the account in Genesis chapter four. God rejected Cain’s offering of produce but told Cain that he would be received if he would bring the correct offering. For Cain to do that meant that he would have to get a lamb from his brother. Rather than work together with Able, he decided to kill the competition. Cain paid a price for it too.
If we are all working for one vision, recognizing our respective assignments and positions within that vision, then we are not competing - we are complementing. One for all and all for one. Paul made an exhaustive discourse on the Body of Christ being many members but only one body (1Corinthians 12:12-31). It is not possible for each individual member of a human body to have a different vision. No, there is only one head and the rest of the body is directed by it.
What is vision?
(Proverbs 29:18 KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
(Proverbs 29:18 ESV) “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
(Proverbs 29:18 AMP) “Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.”
Each of the subsequent translations amplifies the previous one. The “vision” is God’s Word - right doctrine. God’s Word reveals how we are to be made in right standing with God and how we are to live - that simple. There is no other meaning intended or implied.
If we are to focus on and work to fulfill “the vision,” then all of our efforts will be in seeking understanding the right doctrine of God for the purpose of ministering out of that understanding to the people God entrusts to us. However, if we have separate visions, then we will find ourselves competing with one another to build a bigger building, church or ministry.
Notice that there is one vision for all the people. The word “vision” is singular while “the people” is plural. There are not many visions for different people.
“The vision” is revealed knowledge of God. However, that revelation is not of a project or an assignment, but rather of what is right with God - the law. While many ministers use the principle of revealed knowledge in relating what God has told them to do, it is still an inaccurate application of this scripture. This is important because each time it is misapplied, the real reason it was given to us is ignored, and that opens us to error and corrupted doctrine.
The Word is not a collection of hidden principles to live by. We must never forget that the Word is a person and it is not a system. The Word is not simply a “handbook” for mankind, it is a person talking to His creation. As a person, I am writing this article with a very specific purpose in mind. I am saying many things in an attempt to covey what is on my heart. I would be very disappointed if people took things I am saying and used them as some sort of life enhancement tool for their own purposes.
The Great Commission is the Only Vision.
(Matthew 28:18–20 ESV) “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus as the administrator of the one vision. Jesus is the Word of God and He presides over the one Body. His Body has been given a singular vision containing many different assignments.
Authority was given for purpose. A police officer is given a gun for the purpose of protecting himself against bad guys while he serves the population. That policeman can take his gun and go hunting with it if he wants. Hunting is not the intended purpose of him being delegated the use of a gun though. The body of Christ was delegated all authority specifically to make disciples. Yes, we can use that authority in other places and in other ways and it will work.
A disciple is a replicate, not a duplicate. We have been delegated authority to reproduce God likeness in others. We are not working to make another one, we are working to make the same one again and again. This can only be done by using the same material from the first One. If that material is not pure, then there is no replication. Our focus should be on pure doctrine and not on some project that we think is so important.
“Teaching them to observe”
The word “observe” means to guard from loss by keeping a protective eye upon it. The use of this word is a warning within itself. By using this word you are indicating that there will be loss if you fail to “observe”. For loss to occur it only takes putting your eye on something else. Because you are preoccupied with something else, which may be something good, you lose what you have been entrusted and may not even be aware of it. It’s the old “bait and switch” routine that works on anyone not paying proper attention.
The reason the pure doctrines of the Lord are being corrupted at an alarming rate is the result of ministers pursuing “their visions” for the last thirty-five years or so. Some of the largest, and therefore considered successful, churches in America are pastored by ministers with corrupt doctrine. I don’t believe they are even aware of it. Their eye is on the wrong thing and they are failing to “observe” what has been commanded. They are not making disciples, they are pursuing “their” visions.
While everyone in the Body of Christ is commanded to “make disciples”, Jesus was speaking to the eleven disciples (Matthew 28:16). That Commission made them Apostles. Not every believer is a ministry gift of Apostle, but every believer is sent to the lost.
A great detriment to the Body of Christ has been how our teaching has put everyone on the same level. This is another corruption of doctrine. Every believer is equal in the sight of the Lord but not every believer is equal in calling and function.
Not every believer has the same ability to make disciples of all nations. When the shock of that statement wears off, please let me explain.
In Ephesians chapter four, Jesus Himself, called and graced some Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. Ministry gifts have a grace from God to train and equip the saints. That means that the saints do not have that grace. Think about it, if the teacher and the student have the same knowledge and ability then we don’t need to have class. This really bugs many of the rebellious saints.
Extremes are always the problem. The Catholic Church has declared the pope infallible. The independent churches have made the ministry gifts equal to themselves. Regardless, God has set things up the way it pleases Him.
Strongholds are a corruption in doctrine.
The war and battle the Bible speaks about takes place between the ears of humans - primarily the children of God. Specifically, the war is that of ministers working to maintain pure doctrine within the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul makes a clear distinction between ministers and the members of the Body of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:1–8 ESV) “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.”
Most people ignore the “us, we, our, your and you” found these verses. Paul makes a strong distinction between ministers and members.
Any believer can displace corrupt doctrine and wrong thinking by renewing their minds with the Word of God. That is not what is being spoken of here. The reason there is a war is because Paul is being resisted by the Corinthian believers who had embraced false teachers and false prophets. Context is key. No devil or demon is being spoken of here. Incorrect focus means your eye is off of the place it is to be on leading to corrupted doctrine.
The Corinthians were accusing Paul of being carnal and he is here defending his ministry. Notice Paul says “our warfare” referring to that of the ministers. As ministers called by the Lord Jesus Himself, we are responsible to keep the doctrine pure. While every believer has the responsibility to maintain right doctrine, the ministry has not only more responsibility but more grace to do it with.
Paul said the ministry is to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion.” These are not demons, these are humans with corrupt doctrine. No doubt the corrupt doctrine was planted in their minds by false ministers working with the devil, but the devil is long gone at this point. These people are now their own worst enemy through wrong thinking and wrong believing.
Paul goes on to say “our authority.” This is not speaking about the believer’s authority in Christ. This is an authority given by Jesus to the ministry for the purpose of maintaining a watchful eye on His doctrine. Paul states that this authority is for building “you”, the rebellious Corinthians, up. There is a clear distinction between the minister and the member.
Here is a companion verse in the Old Testament. There are striking similarities.
(Jeremiah 1:9–10, 19 ESV) “Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”
Jeremiah had to destroy the strongholds in the minds of the people before he could plant the Word of God to build them up. Corruption and incorruption cannot dwell together. You must displace one to place the other. Paul, also, had to destroy the strongholds in the thinking of the Corinthians before he could build them back up.
The “warfare” Paul experienced and the “fight” that Jeremiah fought were one and the same - resistance from God’s people who had gone out of the right way. You know, the devil has to obey us in the Name of Jesus, but Christians do not have to. In many ways it can be easier to deal with some demons than with some Christians.
The battle of the ages and the battle we are in right now is to keep the doctrine pure. The vision is to make disciples and “observe” the doctrines Jesus brought by keeping a watchful on on them. Anything else is a distraction and ultimately will not survive.