So far, during our extended stop-over at the Welcome Center of the Word, we have taken time out for:
Now that we have taken care of these first few essentials, let’s make our way on over to Booth #4, where we will also take some time for a vision check. Why a vision check? Well, before proceeding any further into the Land of Revelation Knowledge, and so that we will be able to behold all of the beautiful truths waiting for us up ahead, we need to make sure that our ability to see them will not be impaired in any way.
I am pretty sure that when most of us hear the word “vision,” our thoughts automatically turn to our physical eyesight, or our ability to see the material things that exist in the natural world around us. But our physical eyesight isn’t the kind that we need to be concerned with on this trip; the type of vision that we need to check, and possibly even correct, is our spiritual vision.
To better understand what I mean by this term, let’s pause briefly for another one of our DOTS—better known as a definition of terms. Referring once again to my trusty pocket dictionary, I have learned that:
- Spiritual—is defined as of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit: incorporeal;
- Incorporeal—is defined as having no body or form; and,
- Vision—is defined as the act or power of seeing.
So then, if we put the three of these individual definitions together, this will produce the kind of collective definition that will be most meaningful to us—and that is…
Spiritual vision is the act or power of seeing that which has no body or form.
This seems like a relatively simple and straightforward definition, doesn’t it? There is only one problem with it, though—just how is it possible for any of us to see “that which has no body or form?” Or, to put it another way, how are we supposed to see that which is unseeable with our physical eyes?
For the answers to these questions, I think we need to look no further than the following Vision Check Questionnaire:
Question #1: How can I get or know if I have spiritual vision?
If you have experienced the New Birth, then you already have spiritual vision. That’s because, when you were born again and the Holy Spirit quickened your previously dead spirit, He also opened the “eyes” of that spirit so that you would be able to “see” the things that He, over the course of time, would be showing you. Unlike our physical eyesight which (barring any impairment by accident or disease) begins to function soon after our births, our spiritual vision frequently takes some time to develop. So, even if you are not aware of its existence right now, this does not mean that it isn’t there. A good illustration of someone in the Scriptures with undeveloped spiritual eyesight can be found in Mark 8:23, where Jesus healed a blind man who had been brought to him at the village of Bethsaida:
And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again, and when he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (For more on seeing men as trees, please check out some of our earlier “tree” reflections, particularly Of Trees and Tapestries.)
Question #2: Why do I need to see spiritually?
Since God is Spirit, the only way that we can “see” Him is through our spirits. This is exactly what Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:24, when He stated, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Apostle Paul went on to explain this principle in more depth in 1 Cor. 2:7, and in the verses that follow:
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory…these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in Him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truth to those who are spiritual. [For] The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Question #3: What is needed for me to begin seeing with spiritual vision?
To begin seeing with your spiritual vision, you need to develop eyes of faith because, as we are told in Hebrews 11:6: “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” And, as for what faith is, according to Hebrews 11:1ff, it is “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…by faith we understand that the universe was created by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
Question #4: Where do I get the faith I need to see things that are spiritual in nature?
The only place to get this kind of faith is in the Bible for, as we are told in Romans 10:17: “…faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of God.” It is as we study the Word of God that the Holy Spirit begins speaking to our spirits, making known to us the things about God which would otherwise remain unknowable to the natural mind of man. He does it by using the things in the world that we can see to explain to us the things in the spirit world that we cannot see.
Question #5: What are some of the things that will impair my vision?
Sin is one thing that will limit what we can see with our spiritual eyes. In Matthew 6:22, Jesus warned us of this when He said:
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Because they are the portals to our innermost beings, our eyes will determine the amount of light, or enlightenment, which will be sent to our spirits. If our eyes are clear, the light will flow through them in abundance; however, if they are darkened or clouded over by sin, no light of understanding will be able to penetrate, and our spirits will remain in darkness.
Another contributing factor to poor spiritual vision is our negligence when it comes to the study of God’s Word. Since the Word is the source of our faith, and faith is what it takes for us to see spiritually, then logically, No Word = No Vision.
Disease can also be an impediment to our ability to see things clearly, and the disease that is most often at fault is something that I call Spiritual Myopia. By definition, myopia is the condition in which visual images come to a focus in front of the retina, resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects. When we apply this definition to our spiritual vision, we learn that Spiritual Myopia is really spiritual nearsightedness or our inability to see distant objects clearly—with the distant object in this case being the Big Picture of God’s plans and purposes for mankind. This disease can afflict anyone at any time–with even the most devoted students of the Word falling victim to it–causing them to get so lost in the many smaller details and stories of the Bible that they often fail to see the really Big Picture that God wants to show them.
Question #6: What can be done to improve or correct my spiritual vision?
To be sure that your vision remains clear, you must:
- Be vigilant in guarding your heart against sin;
- Stay in communion with God through a regular program of prayer and Bible study; and,
- Learn to identify and eliminate any spiritual farsightedness which may be hindering your ability to see through your eyes of faith. To do this, you must learn to expand your spiritual vision by exploring new ways of looking at the Bible; ways which will allow you to see the broad, over-arching story that God wants us all to know.
Because this process of learning new ways of looking at the Bible is so crucial to the development of our spiritual vision, it is something that we will be undertaking throughout the remainder of our journey through the Land of Revelation Knowledge. It is a process by which we will learn to:
- Distinguish between story and structure—for when we do, we will find that there is One Main Plot to the Bible;
- Think corporately—for when we learn to view the people in the Bible collectively, we will find that there is a very small but specific Cast of Characters there;
- Acquaint ourselves with God’s Principles of Explanation—for when we understand that God’s method of explanation is to use the known to explain the unknown, it will be easy for us to identify the recurring Theme or Motifs running throughout the Bible; and,
- Interpret the text on multiple levels—for when we do that, we will discover the Different Levels of Truth that the Bible reveals to us.
The very best part about all of this, though, is that once we learn to view the Bible in these new ways, not only will we able to see God more clearly, but the study of His Word will become a true delight to us; no longer being something that we have to do and becoming, instead, something that we really want to do!
Join Selah in “Be Thou My Vision…”