Death of a Vision
The call to become a believer in Christ is a call to eternal life. But it is also a call to death. We have to die to the Old Life. And then we are to walk in newness of life. This is what our water baptism signifies. It is a death, burial and resurrection. The old man has died and is buried symbolically through the act of baptism by immersion. And then we arise to walk in newness of life.
But this process of death, burial and resurrection needs to be applied to all areas of our lives. And it also needs to be applied to the area of ministry. Unless a call to the ministry is subjected to death, burial and resurrection it seldom becomes all that God intends in a person. But most people do not understand the mechanics of this and become confused when they are put through the experience. This study is an attempt to explain exactly what it is and why it is has to take place.
We will start with some clear passages of Scripture.
John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, Unless a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Romans 6: 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
1 Corinthians 4: 9 For I think that God has displayed us the apostles last, like we were sentenced to death: for we are made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.
2 Corinthians 1: 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
2 Corinthians 4: 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
Galatians 2: 20 I have been crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Philippians 3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
All of these passages speak about us being identified with Jesus in death. They
speak about death to self, death to the flesh etc. But there is more to the spiritual life than death. There is also resurrection. We are to be identified with Jesus in His resurrection as well as in His death. This applies not only to our spiritual lives, but also to our calling and ministry. And there is a very good reason for it, as I will explain shortly.
Jesus gave us a perfect illustration in the example of the corn of wheat. If you take one corn of wheat it has limited power. But when you sow it in the ground, it grows into a tree that bears forth many grains of wheat. The trouble is that the process involves death to the original grain. It has to die before the new can come. It has to die before it can be increased.
When Jesus walked the earth, He came to show us what man was meant to be. What Jesus did in His life was what Adam was capable of before the Fall. Remember that He had put aside his divinity and came in the form of a man.
Jesus was the last Adam. But after He died and arose again, He was lifted up to a far higher plane. His Name became the highest name in the universe. He was lifted up far above all principality and power. He is far higher than Adam ever was.
Now in Christ the same thing applies to us. We can rise up higher than what Adam was. If you compare Genesis to Revelation you will see that the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem are very similar. But the second is greater. In the prophecies given by Haggai in
Haggai 2: 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
God told the Israelites that the latter house would be greater than the former. The first was destroyed, but the resurrection of it would produce something far greater. You will see this pattern all the way through Scriptures. The early outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost was known as the former rain. The end times outpouring is called the Latter Rain. The latter rain was always the greater. But between the two is a time of no rain.
I could go on and on, there are so many examples in Scripture. But the key issue here is that God always wants us to go on to greater things. Now when this principle is applied to your ministry, it happens like this. You receive a vision for ministry from the Lord. It is an exciting call and you go for it with great enthusiasm. You pour all your time into your vision and you know that this is what the Lord wants you to do. This is the birth of the vision phase.
But then suddenly, out of the blue, you get a clear indication from the Lord that says, “Cancel!” “Cut!” “Abort!” “Stop what you’re doing!” This is totally confusing to you. You know that you were doing the right thing, but now suddenly it starts to die on you. You might think that Satan has got in and is destroying the work of God. You might think that there is something wrong in your life that needs to be dealt with. But it is a lot more than that. It is God preparing you for an increase. But before He can do that, you have to go through the Death of a Vision phase.
During this period you might lose all enthusiasm for ministry. You stop trying to do anything, because it all collapses around you. You are ‘confined to the grave’ for a period, as Jesus’ body was left in the tomb for three days, pending His resurrection. It is a very difficult period, during which you might go through a lot of soul searching and come under a lot of attack. But you cannot touch it, just as Jesus’ body had to be left alone. There is something deeper taking place that is none of your business. The Lord is bringing about a death in order that He might bring forth a resurrection.
Your experience during this phase can be like going through bereavement. Your ministry was your baby, and now it has died. You can be overwhelmed with grief and become quite depressed if you are not careful. The most difficult thing to do is to let it go. You struggle to keep it alive and fight the death just like you would fight a natural death. But until you let it die, the process goes on.
Then finally, when the Lord has done what needs to be done within you, there comes the glorious resurrection. But the vision that is resurrected is not at all like the original one. It is far greater and more powerful. It has new dimensions that the first did not have. And yet it still follows in a similar direction. It is the grain of wheat highly magnified.
Every great man or woman of God has gone through this process. I have experienced it many times in my life and ministry. Moses faced it when he started out with a great vision to deliver his people from the domination of Egypt. But he had to go through 40 years on the backside of the desert in death of a vision before the vision came to life. When God approached him to return, the vision was so dead that he was not even keen to do it.
David faced it when he was anointed to be king by Samuel. He went through a season of being in the enemy’s camp before he ever came close to being the king of Israel. Gideon faced it when the Lord removed from him all possible hope of deliverance, before he was sent out with just a small band of men. Abraham faced it when he lost all hope of seeing his wife give birth to the promised seed. He tried to keep the vision of Ishmael going, but it had to die before Isaac could be born. Then he even had to die to that, by being prepared to offer up Isaac, the promised seed.
In the New Testament the Apostle Peter faced it when all his hopes of being the great disciple of Jesus vanished into thin air with Jesus death and his denial of his master. He decided to go back to fishing again. Then Jesus resurrected his vision and gave him an even greater calling. Paul faced it after he met Jesus on the Damascus road. He sat in obscurity for years before he was permitted to get active in ministry. Then he became the great apostle to the Gentiles.
Jesus Himself faced it when His attempt to minister to his own people, the Jews failed due to their rejection of Him. He stood and wept over Jerusalem. He died of a broken heart. But then He became the Savior of the whole world and not just the Jews.
So you see this concept is well entrenched in the Scriptures. And if you have received a call of God to be used in His work, you can be sure that you will have to go through it before you can enter into all that He has for you. It is painful and frustrating. But when the resurrection comes you will be glad that you went through it.