In the previous blogs, I have written about how critical it is that we interpret scripture in light of the purpose and the glory of God. Failing to do so leads us to misinterpret or to misunderstand the meaning of Scripture. I illustrated this through a discussion of John 3:16.
Here, I want to show how a correct doctrine of God can lead to the correct application of Scripture, a clearer understanding of redemption, and a clarion call to missions.
Correct Application of Scripture
One of the most misapplied texts in the Bible is…
Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish… (KJV)
Motivational writes and speakers, pastors, and just every day Christians use this verse to encourage individuals and organizations – including Christian organizations and missions groups – to get a vision for what God has called them to do – that without a vision or a clearly-defined ministry plan, they will not be successful.
While this belief is true, this particular verse has very little to do with creating a vision or having a dream or setting goals for some project, for one’s life, or even for the church.
The word “vision” literally means revelation or divine communication. The Amplified version translates the word as “no redemptive revelation of God.” The ESV says “…no prophetic vision…” The primary emphasis of the word is not on the vision or dream so much as it is on the message.
The word “perish” may mean to let loose, to cast away all restraints, or literally, to get naked.
A literal translation would say, “When people do not have or ignore the truth of God as He has revealed himself, their tendency is to do what they want to do without any regard to law, ethics, morality, or righteousness.”
We can read the direct consequences of such an event in Romans 1:18-32.
Unfortunately, I believe that this is what has happened in the contemporary church. We have lost the truth of the doctrine of God and replaced it with tradition and our own imaginations. Thus the church – those who once professed to love God – quickly abandons its very foundation and thus loses its effectiveness in reaching lost and dying world.
When the knowledge and the glory of God is not the central theme of the church, the membership gets so focused on what everyone else is doing or not doing or how this program is run or ought to be run, or the quality of the music or the preaching and that they forget that the purpose for the very existence of the church is to give glory to God.
Then we become like one pious old gentleman of an earlier generation who used to get up regularly at prayer meeting in his church to pray: “Use me, O Lord, use me – in some advisory capacity!”
Clearer Understanding of Redemption
Correct knowledge and understanding of God is critical…
- to man’s success in the creation
- to our understanding our purpose on the earth
- in our understanding of God’s gift of grace and salvation
We tell the story of redemption as if one day God looked down upon wicked man and, filled with compassion, developed a plan to save those poor, fallen creatures from their sinful condition and deliver them from hell and pamper them for all of eternity.
It makes a pretty story and softens the message for evangelism purposes, but it isn’t what the Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches that God’s plan of redemption was established in the far reaches of eternity past – before ever a man was created – before there was sin and the need for redemption.
In Eph. 3:11, Paul talks about God’s “eternal purpose that he has accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In 2 Tim. 1:9, Paul wrote to his own disciple that God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works (not because there was anything of merit in us that was worth saving), but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
In Titus 1:2, Paul reminded his young protege that God, who never lies, promised the hope of eternal life “before the ages began.”
In 1 Pet. 1:20-21, the Apostle Peter tells us that Christ Jesus “was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
You see, one of the primary reasons we struggle with evangelism and sharing the gospel message is because we believe that the focus of the plan of redemption is man, when the focus is God and His glory.
Even though we teach that such is true, God does not save men to deliver them from sickness or pain or suffering.
There are plenty of people who live every day in the midst of extreme pain and deep suffering who love God and who are loved by God, yet God does not deliver them from their circumstances. Remember or read about Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor. 12:7-9.
God does not save men to deliver them from earthly prisons or slavery.
There are men and women in prisons or in some form of bondage all around the world who continuously rejoice in the fellowship of an Almighty God, but God never frees them from their confinement.
God does not save men to deliver them from poverty or prejudice or persecution.
There are people all over the world who live in the most abject poverty, who experience the most extreme prejudice, and who live in daily persecution and the presence of death on a daily basis who faithfully worship and proclaim the God of grace, yet God does not deliver them out of their chains.
Certainly, wonderful things come as gifts of salvation – deliverance from the curse and penalty of sin, forgiveness, blessing and comfort and the promise of Heaven, peace, love and joy, and so on. However, being broken and corrupt people, we have put most of our emphasis on securing the gifts instead of serving the Gift-giver.
Unfortunately, this promise of gifts is what composes the majority of the content of our evangelistic efforts. We call people to the gifts and seldom to the Christ from whom those gifts emanate.
Dr. Frederick Edward Marsh (1858-1931) said over a century ago, “There is also a grave danger to which believers in Christ are exposed, and that is, lest we be occupied with the things of God, and forget the God of the things.” 
The ultimate purpose of God’s redemptive plan through the birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was not simply to save us from hell or to make sure our sins were forgiven or to make us happy and blessed or to comfort us when times are hard – but to glorify His own name.
Romans 3:23 tells us that, because of sin, there has never been a person born who could, of his or her own will, volition, or power, give glory to God. Salvation reverses that condition and makes us capable of giving God His due worship.
God saves us…
- that we might escape the wrath of God (Romans 5:9)
- to deliver us from a living death in a world of trespasses and sins (Romans 6:23)
- to make us “holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4) and
- to seat us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6)
- so that we might one day join the congregation of the millions upon millions of the heavenly host and the 24 elders and the four living creatures (Revelation 4:8) and
- all of the martyrs of all history
- as they gather before and around the throne of God proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
Clarion Call to Missions
One of the greatest sermons I have ever heard is by Dr. David Platt, former President of the International Mission Board.
He began the message by saying, “A high view of God’s sovereignty fuels death-defying devotion to global missions.”
Since he was addressing a pastor’s conference, Dr. Platt added, “Pastors who believe that God is sovereign over all things will lead Christians to die for the sake of all peoples.”
To the church in general, let me add this: Christians who have a high view of God’s sovereignty – who have a clear understanding of the person and nature and purposes of God – will be willing to die for the sake of all people.
Only when we have a clear and correct understanding of God’s character and His sovereignty over all things will we become a people who “loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rev. 12:11)
In the final chapter of John’s gospel, John recorded Jesus’ prophecy concerning the death of Peter.
John 21:18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go. 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus actually spoke these words directly to Peter. Why would Jesus do what appears to be such a heartless thing?
John told us why Jesus did it in a parenthesis at the beginning of verse 19: “This he said to show by what kind of death he (Peter) was to glorify God.”
Jesus reminded Peter that not only Peter’s life but also the manner and time of his death were in God’s hands.
As harsh as this may sound to our ears, the most startling part of this one-sided conversation comes at the end of verse 19 when Jesus, after telling Peter what was going to happen to him as a result of his faithfulness, closed the conversation with two words: “Follow me.”
The remarkable truth is that, in spite of Jesus’ specific warning of the consequences of his obedience, Peter did follow Jesus right up to and through his own death on a cross.
When God calls men to salvation, the picture he paints is not one of deliverance from pain and suffering and evil, but it is a call that demands their very lives to be forfeited to God. Just read Matthew 10!
Here is Jesus’ idea of an invitation…
Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Only when we are willing to die for Christ and realize that our death brings glory to God will we ever understand the promise of Christ in John 10:10 where Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”
You may not be able to determine what kind of death you will experience, but you can know if your death will glorify God by whether or not you have yielded your life completely to Him.
If you’ve never done so, here is an opportunity for you to respond to the call of God on your heart.
Take advantage of this opportunity to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and a true worshiper of God.
I would love to hear from you about your decision or your thoughts on this article. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 I regret that I did not note the source of this quote. I pray it will suffice that he is credited with the saying.