Beth Haven Baptist Church

A Haven of Rest For the Saint of God


Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Pro. 29:18)

In my many years of preaching God's word, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard preachers misuse and destroy this text of Scripture.

As is the case many times over, we hear a big name preacher, or even our mentor, preach a certain text a certain way and we automatically think that it is "gospel".  Have you ever heard of the "more noble" Bereans? Paul describes the Bereans as more noble because they "... searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so".  They did not believe everything they heard just because a famous or well loved and respected preacher said it was so.  They took the time to compare the sermon with the scriptures. This, my friends, is a noble work that has been left largely undone in today's Christianity.

Therefore, one unstudied preacher passes faulty doctrine and bad preaching on to other unstudied preachers and unsuspecting church members, and before long it becomes impossible for anyone to give a correct sermon or explanation of a very simple and valuable verse such as Proverbs 29:18

Every time, to the best of my memory, I have heard this text preached at a church, or especially in a preacher's meeting, we are subjected to a lengthy pep rally that resembles an Amway Convention more than it does a Biblical sermon.

Let me explain. These men who preach these sermons are telling us that "vision" is a plan or a goal for the future. The whole premise of their message is that if we do not have a plan, goal or a vision for our church, that it will die.  The dictionary definition for this this vision is - The mental image produced by the imagination.  

One Baptist preacher, trying to help raise money to finish a church parking lot, stood before a congregation and had them close their eyes and "imagine" their church parking lot with blacktop on it.  This all begins to resemble Martin Luther King's 1963 - "I Have A Dream", or "The Power of Positive Thinking" with Norman Vincent Peal, or John Lennon's popular song "Imagine".

While I do not have a problem with pastors or other Christian leaders making plans for their ministry, I do have a problem with them using Proverbs 29:18 to support their Amway type of program for church growth.

I once frustrated an Amway salesman because in the opening speal I did not dream as big as he wanted me to. Had I had "vision" and dreamed bigger and joined their company I, according to them, would be a financial success today.

The true success of the church today has very little to do with earthly planning, goals, dreams, visions and hard work.  The success of the church and the growth of God's people has to do with BIBLICAL VISION and not a pastor's dreams and goals.  

What, you say, is Biblical Vision?

Have you ever done a study of the word "vision" in the scriptures? Let's do so now:

In Gen. 15:1 - vision is "the word of the LORD"

In Num. 12:6 - vision is "I the LORD .... will speak unto him"

In Num. 24:4 - vision is "heard the words of God"

In Num. 24:16 - vision is "heard the words of God" and "knew the knowledge of the most high"

In 1 Sam. 3:1 - vision is "the word of the LORD"

In 2 Sam. 7:4-17 - vision is "the word of the LORD"

In 2 Chron. 32:32 - vision is "Isaiah" and "the book of the kings"

In Psa. 89:19 - vision is "then thou spakest"

In our disputed text of Pro. 29:18 - vision is "the law"

In Lam. 2:9 - vision is "the law"

The prophets, such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Obadiah, and Habakkuk, referred their heavenly message as a "vision".

In the New Testament, where the word "vision" is used 15 times, each verse deals with a heavenly message.

Consider, for example, Acts 10:3 and 10:17, both visions were a message from God.  Also, Paul, in Acts 26:19, testified to King Agrippa that he had not disobeyed the "heavenly vision".

Nowhere in Scripture does "vision" even come close to meaning what some preachers are trying to make it mean. Scriptural vision is NOT plans for the future, hopes for the future, dreams for the future, ideas for the future, or even motivation for the future.  Scriptural vision is simply, the word of God, and specifically in our text, the LAW of God.

Now, that makes more sense does it not?  Where there is a lack of God's word being read, taught, and preached - people perish.  Where there is a lack of God's law being observed - people perish.  My friend, there is today a great lack of God's word and God's law.

Let's start with vision meaning "the word of the LORD".  We have long chided the liberal churches and denominations for their lack of Bible use.  Why have a church if you do not use a Bible?  It is somewhat like walking around in a wet-suit, flippers, air-tanks, and goggles with no water within 100 miles.  Seems kind of silly doesn't it?  To watch most people walk in and out of most churches today, you will find them Bible-less. This is because there is very little if any Bible used in the pulpit.  

The sad truth is that in many of our Independent - Fundamental Baptist churches we are seeing the same thing. Whatever happened to Biblical preaching?

Not too very long ago I sat and listened to a preacher preach on the importance of building a church with the word of God.  As he began, I thought this would really be an excellent message.  I was glad I had driven over 2 hours to this meeting.  Half way through I realized that I had not used my Bible once since he read his poorly chosen text!  Sure enough, 40 minutes later we had not used our Bibles at all, nor had there even been one reference to a Bible text, and this was a sermon on the importance of using the Bible in the building of a church. How ironic is that?  But this is unfortunately not an isolated incident.  IBF churches all across America are lacking good BIBLE preaching.  Whatever happened to the man of God expounding on the Scriptures?  What ever happened to the man of God preaching "thus saith the LORD"?  Too often the text is read and straightway departed therefrom.

Where the "word of the LORD" is not faithfully, honestly, and rightfully divided and proclaimed - people perish! Churches are full and spilling over with unsaved people on their way to hell... simply because there is no biblical "vision".  Where a pastor studies the Bible and faithfully preaches the Bible instead of what he has heard others say and preach... people will be saved and churches will be revived.  Today's Christianity reminds me of I Samuel 3:1 - And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

Now, let's for a moment consider vision meaning, as in our text verse, "the law".  Of course the law is the word of the LORD, but it is a little more specific.  If you agree with me that there is a general lack of Biblical preaching today, then you would probably agree with me that the preaching of the law is almost non-existent!

Somehow and somewhere we have come to this conclusion that we are under grace that the law no longer has any place in our lives.  Let me assure you that the law still has a very important place in the lives of the saved and unsaved alike!

I first realized the full impact of the law about 7 or 8 years ago.  I, of course, had read Gal. 3:24 many times but finally understood it when I began teaching home Bible studies in the homes of the sinners.  In these Bible studies I would take one complete study to define sin as the "transgression of the law" 1 John 3:4, and then go on to Ex. 20 and spend the remainder of the hour explaining the law.  Without exception I could see how sinners were irritated, agitated, convicted and moved by God's law.  I've had people jump up in my face irritated at one of the commandments, I've had people come across the table wanting forgiveness, I've seen a woman confess publicly in a group of a dozen others that she had broken every single commandment. These reactions are normal.  The law is a schoolmaster convicting us and bringing us to Christ.

Where there is no vision (or law) there is no conviction of sin, and where there is no conviction of sin there can be no salvation, and where there is no salvation - people perish!  If "sin is the transgression of the law" how can you explain sin without explaining the law?

What about the law in the lives of Christians?  Well, that can be answered simply enough... which of the laws do you think the Christian can and should ignore?

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain
IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
V. Honour thy father and thy mother
VI. Thou shalt not kill
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false
X. Thou shalt not covet

So, preacher, instead of encouraging other preachers to "dream big and work hard" why don't you encourage them to "Preach the word" and preach the law of God!  Instead of encouraging your people to "dream big and work hard" why don't you encourage them to obey the word and the law.  You may not grow your church as big by preaching the word and the law as you would with dreams, plans and programs... but I promise you will grow a better church!

Listen, Preacher, I am not against being a visionary.  I wish I was a better planner, organizer and visionary.  I have a hard time making and keeping long term goals and plans.  I have a hard enough time with a 1-year plan for my church let alone a 5 or 10-year plan.  I envy those with such foresight, but one thing I do know and that is that Proverbs 29:18 has nothing to do with being a dreamer or planner and has everything to do with being a good preacher and teacher of God's law and God's word!

So, keep your plans and keep your dreams and maybe you can even keep some of your programs, but keep the word of God in your pulpit.  Preach it hard, hot, and honestly.  Keep the law before sinners and saints alike and do your best to keep people from perishing and going to hell!  And next time you decide to preach from Pro. 29:18... preach it correctly!

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)