The Heavenly Vision
We lost it!

By Dr. Ken Matto

(Acts 26:19 KJV) Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

Have you noticed in recent years that there seems to be an air of discouragement, lack of expectation, and just plain disappointment among Christians. We can see this as there are stepped up attacks against Christians in countries around the world including the United States. As Christians try to live and do the work of the Lord, it seems the attacks are now coming from every quadrant. This type of situation can quell the excitement that a Christian had when they were new. We also see how Christians fit into the day to day commonplace existence of going to work, raising a family, even going to church and experiencing the same old routine day after day without any let up. The joy of many Christians have been swallowed up in daily routine which seems to sap our physical and emotional strengths. When the physical and emotional part of our being are placed under great strain, it will definitely affect our spiritual life and it can cause us to be weighed down by the elements of our life. Sometimes we wonder where is this abundant life which the Lord promised us.

(John 10:10 KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

It seems Christians face defeat after defeat in their lives and I am not speaking of personal sin in this instance. We are not allowed to pray in Jesus name in public, we are not allowed to have the Ten Commandments displayed, we are not allowed to pray in schools, if our churches preach against politically correct sin, then the IRS is right there to close it down because we are accused of hate crimes and being bigots, yet it is not a hate crime to hate Christians. People in corporations cannot even answer the phone at Christmas time with a “Merry Christmas,” instead they have to say “Happy Holidays.” One of the major characteristics of our generation of Christians is discouragement. We are discouraged to the point that even doing the Lord’s work and seeing people become saved does not even produce a smidgeon of encouragement in our lives.

I believe there is one overriding reason that we have allowed ourselves to sink into this mindset of disparagement and that is we have lost “The Heavenly Vision.” I am not speaking of the type of vision that God spoke through while completing the Scriptures, I am speaking of the believer losing their vision of God. Oh yes, we can be very busy in the Lord’s work and that busyness can create a condition in our life of triteness. The Lord’s work should not be business as usual for the Christian. What drove the Christians in the early church and the Middle Ages to live their life in such a way that every day was a new experience with God? Their commitment to the Lord was so great that it cost many of them their lives. There is a saying, “If you are not afraid of death, you can do anything you want to.” It seems like the previous generations of Christians had a grip on something that we don’t. There are groups of Christians in the present who live under hostile governments with the threat of death or imprisonment constantly hanging over them, yet, the Christian church is thriving in these countries with many stories of unswerving Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. What could they be holding on to that would cause them to forsake this life and face persecution with vivacity? It is that these Christians have held on to the Heavenly Vision.

What is the Heavenly Vision? The Heavenly Vision is the redeemed child of God whose life is focused on the Lord and all His eternal promises, who regards not this world as the final resting place but only a stepping stone toward eternity, and sees the vast difference between the greatness of God and the minuteness of this world and lives accordingly.

This is why the Psalmist told us to number our days. (Psa 90:12 KJV) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. This is why Jeremiah wanted to quit preaching the word of God but he couldn’t. (Jer 20:9 KJV) Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. This is why the Apostle Paul could not stop preaching until Rome took his head. (Phil 3:14 KJV) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This is why the Apostles would not stop preaching in Jesus name even on threat of death. (Acts 5:28-29 KJV) Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. {29} Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. This is why Stephen preached until they stoned him. (Acts 7:59 KJV) And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

These brethren all had the Heavenly Vision. They realized that their calling, while on this earth, superseded the day to day worldly activities that we must partake in. Each of them had to eat, had to find a place to stay, had personal items to care for, etc., but they realized that their lives in Christ, extended far beyond anything of this world. One of the greatest hindrances to grasping the Heavenly Vision are the material and social things of this world that tend to consume our time and we need to be freed from many of the things that have no eternal value. Have you ever looked at the word “consume” and its primary definition? It means to destroy or do away with completely. When you partake in activities which consume your time but yields no eternal value, you have completely destroyed a portion of the time God has allotted to you on this earth. Each Christian must assess the contents of their life. Let me give you a quick definition of freedom. Freedom is the ability to release what binds you. When we are in bondage to an overbearing schedule, is it any surprise that we have tied ourselves too close to this world and the Heavenly Vision is choked out.

(Mark 4:19 KJV) And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

The Apostle Paul was a tentmaker and yet that was not his primary function in this life. His primary function was to preach Christ and to start churches in various locations. What the world has done to the Christian, and the Christian has allowed it, is to have the order reversed. Now the Christian sees the things of this world as a priority and the work of the Lord as a secondary routine. Here also, I am not speaking of the Christian involving themselves in some type of sin but I am saying that there is a reversal of priorities which has been slowly fostered upon the modern Christian. It has been done so subtly that many are not even aware of it. This is why many Christians are overburdened and always seem to be tired and never enjoy their spiritual life which is a great gift of God, for the here and now. Instead of having a Heavenly Vision, many are caught up in the earthly vision, which is only a transient life. Is it any wonder when someone is consistently focused on this world, that discouragement is not far behind? Do you know the difference between your primary reason of existence and your secondary reason? Do you see distinct borders or is your whole life one amalgamation? Do you place a higher importance on your spiritual life or your secular life, or are they one and the same in value?

This is why God wants us to maintain the Heavenly Vision! When we have the Heavenly Vision, no matter what our circumstances may be, there is always a God-sized hope within those circumstances. If we focus on the circumstances, then we lose our Heavenly perspective which can toss us into the dungeon of despair. In the dungeon of despair there is a God-sized void. One of the primary keys to maintaining inner peace in this world is found in the book of Isaiah.

(Isa 26:3 KJV) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Notice that this verse speaks of a two way commitment. For us to continue in a state of peace, we must keep our mind focused on God. When our mind is focused on Christ, then He promises to keep us not only in peace, but perfect peace. In fact, the term “perfect peace” actually is the word “shalom” repeated twice. You can translate this phrase, “peace, in peace.” So God will keep us in peace, and in peace, will he keep our mind. Let us look at the word “mind” in this verse. It carries with it the meaning of the way a thought is formed. This is important because the way we form an opinion is the way we will assess our situation and the motives of the Lord. If our minds are not focused on the Lord and we are thinking without filtering the situation through the Heavenly Vision, then we will come up with all kinds of spurious thoughts which will impact our Christian walk. We would then probably try to fix a blame for our circumstances on God, rather than taking our circumstances to the Lord and telling Him of our frustrations. One of the ways that God gives us that double peace, is to keep our mind stable during times of crisis. When we focus on the situation, we allow ourselves to be tossed about throughout the situation, one day we could be up, the next day down. The stability in peace that God gives us keeps us in a state of peaceful constancy which is a trait that is endemic to Christians. When our minds begin to form opinions extra-biblically, we will lose our inner peace and that will surface in erratic behavior and thoughts.

When we read 2 Corinthians 11 and see all the things which the Apostle Paul suffered for the Kingdom of God, we could easily assess that he suffered far beyond what you and I will suffer. Yet, through it all Paul maintained the Heavenly Vision. We know this because he gloried in his infirmities. While he was suffering, his body was made weak, but he was being strengthened through these sufferings. (2 Cor 12:10 KJV) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. What the Apostle Paul was sharing with us here is that during his weakest times, he was the strongest. Why? Because it was the Lord who was being strong through him. We learn from this that when we also become weak, and are stayed upon the Heavenly Vision as Paul was, then though we are physically weak, we shall be spiritually stronger.

Many Christians have boldly proclaimed that they would be willing to follow Jesus anywhere or go anywhere He sends them. This is a noble gesture and one that should be the attitude of every Christian. We should definitely be willing to go where the Lord Jesus sends us. Now let me ask you a question. What if the Lord Jesus sends you to a wheelchair? What if the Lord Jesus sends you to a sick bed? What if the Lord Jesus takes your arms and legs in weakness and you are unable to care for yourself? Do you still want to believe you are following the Lord Jesus? The answer is yes! If you maintain the Heavenly Vision throughout these dire circumstances, you will focus on what you can do and not what you can’t do. The Lord Jesus knows that you are in a wheel chair, you would be unable to go to the streets and hand out tracts. He is well aware of the fact that if you develop a degenerating disease, that you can no longer do what you previously did.

For those of you who have strong bodies, understand this principle, because someday you may live by it. “Sickness and Disability is not for the Weak!” When the Lord directs one of His children into a disabling condition, we then need to seek the Lord and ask Him why He has sent us to this particular mission field? Once we gain the mindset and accept the fact that God has redirected our life, then we can begin to seek the Lord for the ministry He is setting up for us. Notice I said we ask the Lord for the mission He sent us to and not why the circumstances. This is because He is under no obligation to answer us on the latter but He will make known to us the mission field we are to enter. What happens to us in our life is all in the perfect will of God. We may not like the circumstances we are in, but they are divinely engineered for a specific purpose. If we don’t maintain the Heavenly Vision, we can become depressed and very self-centered instead of God-centered.

In conclusion, we have gone from healthy to sick, and in between, and realize that whenever we lose the Heavenly Vision, which should be so strong in every true Christian, we will become part of the world and will share in their depressed outlook. As Christians, this world is only a steppingstone to our eternal home. Even if there is a One World Government and we are herded into camps, how long will it last? A few months, years, maybe? No matter how bad it gets on Planet Earth, it is only a temporary situation and this is why God wants us to cling to the Heavenly Vision, because it is the Vision of Eternity. As Christians, we haven’t even begun to live yet.

(2 Cor 4:16-18 KJV) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.