Understanding Divine Vision
A vision is defined as ”Something seen in a dream, in a trance or ecstasy”. Vision can also represent an ideal to achieve, a goal to attain and as “a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.” A vision may be a means of communication from the spiritual world or an experience of the supernatural. It is important for one to know that vision can come from multiple sources. It can be generated by the flesh or by other spirit beings (angels, demons, or God by His Spirit). In true and genuine ministry, a vision must convey a revelation or a divine message, which provides instruction about the future or what one must do to accomplish God’s purpose in his life. In that sense, a vision is this factor, which gives a ministry its specific and unique character. It provides the framework for each task ordained of God and gives the ministry its particular identity. When a vision is personal, it gives directions to the concerned individual and provides a sense of purpose. The same effect is produced when it is a collective vision. Instead of one person, several individuals receive directives and experience a sense of unity and purpose for their lives. These individuals usually bond together and work with a sense of hope, faith and joy to accomplish the divine task.
– Divine Vision: A Powerful Motivator
Having a goal or a purpose in life may constitute a vision. The stronger a vision is, the more it will influence the course of one’s life by dictating the proper steps to take in order to reach or achieve the desired goal. A vision from God can be a powerful motivator in a believer’s life. The bible teaches that without a vision (revelation from God) the people will perish (Proverbs 29:18; Amos 8:11-3). In a practical sense, a vision will give birth and life to ministry; shape the work, and determine the perimeters of the tasks to be accomplished in terms of time, place, magnitude, means, activities and administration.
– God Determines and Communicates the Vision
In ministry, a vision is given by God and it determines the type of work to be carried out, the location and time of execution. For example, a vision may be to build an institution as a local Church, a Bible Institute, an Orphan House, a School, a Hospital, a Canteen; or it may be to conduct salvation and healing crusades, Bible Conferences, Revivals, etc. A vision may consist in the distribution to the multitude of evangelical materials such as: salvation tracts, bibles, hymns books, video, preaching on compact discs, DVD’s, etc. One may be called to provide shelter, clothing, and food to the needy; to rehabilitate and support drug addicts and alcohol abusers; to minister to those in prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, auspices, etc. As you could see the list of ministry is unlimited.
Obviously, from the above list, we can see that each vision will require specific divine instructions as to the location and duration of the work. Also will be required specific gifts and talents; particular preparations and trainings, appropriate resources, abilities and anointings. Finally, some practical knowledge and wisdom will be necessary in order to implement and manage the day-to-day operation of the ministry (1Corinthians 12:4; Romans 12:3-8; 1Peter 4:9-11). The accomplishment and success of each divine vision, in the final analysis, depends on the good will and efforts of those who received God’s communication and the grace to accomplish His purpose. This is why one’s reward depends on one’s faithfulness to bring the Lord’s given vision to pass. Finally, a divine vision can be communicated or revealed in many ways. The most common means of reception are dreams, prophecies and supernatural visitations from God or God’s messengers.
-The Dangers of False Visions
At this point, we should mention that as God gives vision, the devil and the flesh will also be in league to manufacture their own and will try to pass it on to the saints as divine revelation. It is essential for believers to know how to differentiate between the genuine and the false. Most often than not, those claiming to have a vision from God are being deceived and are deceiving others. These are disingenuous ministers without an authentic call upon their lives. Usually their revelations or visions are of the flesh, seeking to satisfy their lusts for grandeur and gratify their competitive character. More often than not, they are motivated by emulation and strife (Philippians 1:15-17). As the devil is a deceiver and a liar, he imitates and perverts what God does, but there is no cause for alarm for the bible gave simple steps to test and detect who is at work.
TEST NUMBER ONE: Who is the Visionary?
In Colossians, the Holy Spirit makes it clear what to watch when dealing with false vision. Frequently, self-declared leaders or ministers operate in false visions and blind believers follow them. It is important to inspect the visionary. Colossians chapter two: list three specific areas to watch.
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk in him. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy, and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, not after Christ, for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily… Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holiday or the new moon, or of the Sabbath days… Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God (Colossians 2:6-23).
- a) Beware lest any man spoil you
Throughout the ages, false visionaries have taken others as easy preys, those who innocently have joined with them to help with “their vision.” As mercenaries and false shepherds, they are predators. As hungry wolves after fresh meat, they will violently snatch and devour. They will not hesitate to steel and commit fraud to the detriments of their followers. That is why the first signal given by the Apostle Paul is: “Beware lest any man spoil you.” To spoil in this instance means to plunder, to overtake one’s goods by force, as in “spoils of war.”
After his warning, Paul went on to describe false leaders’ techniques or Modus Operandi: philosophies, vain deceits, traditions of men, and rudiments of the world. Any vision based on any of these must be rejected for it will lead into bondage “For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” This verse is translated in this manner in the amplified version of the bible “For you endure it if a man assumes control of your souls and makes slaves of you, and devour |your substance, spends your money| and preys upon you or deceives and take advantage of you or is arrogant and puts on airs or strikes you in the face (2Corinthians 11:19-20 AMP).
- b) Let no man therefore judge you
This particular warning has to do with religious traditions and of keeping the ceremonial Jewish Law. Though it might seem benign or insignificant, one has to be careful with practices and requirements that are not conformed to New Testament or Apostolic principles and standards. Paul warns about not to accept judgment (condemnation) from anyone about observances conformed to Judaism. Visions that are upholding prescriptions for holiness or godliness, based on food, drink, new moon, Sabbath days, etc, must be discarded, for Christ is the end of the Law for the justification of all who believe.
- c) Let no man beguile you of your reward
This third warning is to be taken even more seriously for it has to do with the believer’s reward for eternity. Through what seems to be voluntary humility, one can end up serving and worshipping satanic angels. Wrong understanding of humility may give access to evil spirits, presenting themselves as angels from God, but their goal is to deceive believers into giving their allegiance to other beings and to worship false gods. These evil beings will bring about false visions and ministries. Through signs and wonders, through craftiness and lies, they will create “… false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2Corinthians 11:14-15).
Yet, true angels and true servants of God will not be puffed up with pride, nor will they receive worship from anyone, but they will always point to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Revelation 19:9-10; Acts 10:26; Acts 14:14-15). As one is detached from Christ, the supreme head of the Church, one is also separated from the body of believers. In following visions that do not promote Jesus and his Gospel, but some man or other spirit, or some other cause, one will end up losing his divine reward and be miserable at the time of Christ’s coming and possibly even for eternity (John 15:5-6; Matthew 25).
TEST NUMBER TWO: Examining the Vision
Many criteria are used in examining a vision to determine if it is of God or from some other source. After evaluating the visionary, one must study the vision carefully. Most visions pretend to be of God and make believe they are honoring Christ, but certain aspects of a vision will not be known until one is exposed to the practical and daily operation of the ministry in question. Nonetheless, the following questions must be asked and inquiries must be made, if one truly desires to know if a vision is genuine. It is the believer’s personal responsibility and duty, if he is to participate in a ministry pretending to be called of God. One should be wise enough to investigate the following:
1) Does the vision glorify God?
2) Does the vision glorify Jesus or does it promote others or something else?
3) Is the vision in line with God’s Word principles from reception to implementation?
(At times a vision starts well with God but loses its divine direction and purpose)
4) Is the vision in its goals and accomplishments profitable to the whole body of Christ, the Church; and does it promote or cause the salvation of those in the world?
5) Can believers from other churches participate and contribute in the vision?
6) Are the fruits produced or results worthy of righteousness and truth?
7) Is the vision’s operation according to New Testament principles of government and leadership as opposed to just following spiritual and angelic revelations?
Of course, the investigation can a lot more detailed, but answering objectively the above questions will provide enough insights about the vision to determine its nature.
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