Summary: A sermon on Biblical discipline.
Proverbs 29.18 May 7, 2000
Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
There is an important understanding about the nature of Biblical preaching we must realize, if hearing a sermon is going to make a difference in our lives. Frankly, if I am going to hear three sermons a week for 50 years as a Christian, I WANT it to make a difference. I would want anything that I spend 9000 hours on during my lifetime to be meaningful.
Biblical preaching is when the preacher is less in focus than the Word of God being preached. In order to do that, the preacher must say much less about what he THINKS, and reveal much more of what the Bible SAYS! After all, it is our calling to "preach the word" (2Tim 4:2).
Just to be very clear, I would like you to look over my shoulder for a moment in the study, as I prepare a message. It will help me communicate God's Word better to you when you understand how I go about understanding it myself. FIRSTLY, there is study. I spend much time studying commentaries, and the words contained in the text. This helps me to understand the context of what the
passage meant when originally written. I call this the ambience, or flavor of the text. When you understand the context of anything, you are much closer to understanding what is spoken or meant. A text without a context is a pretext!
When I preach to you I always attempt to give you something of the ambience of the scripture's setting. It is like getting to the movie for the opening scene....Otherwise you don't know what's happening all the way through. SECONDLY, there are the eternal truths that the church has counted on throughout the centuries. Truth never changes. We call this the axioms of the text. This is where the main teaching of a text enters in. For instance, you could preach about the need for salvation in the text of John 3:16; but the main thrust is the love of God. Our need for salvation is evident as a related subject in that text, but God is the real hero of it!
THIRDLY, there is the need to see us in the text, and what to do about it. These are the applications of the text. When all is said and done, Bible knowledge (Ambience and Axioms) is quite useless unless we see where we fit in, and how our lives can be lived more pleasing unto the Lord.
The cry of people today is, Show me how to live my life. Give me meaning and understanding in this crazy world in which I live." Godly Biblical preaching has to do with communicating the Word of God as truth, understood and applied. That will convict the sin-sick soul of his need for God. It will instruct the believer in the ways of righteousness. And it will never return to the Lord void!
Now, with that as a background, let's see the Ambience (context) of Proverbs 29:18.
In 29:15-21 the writer deals with discipline and its effects. Note that in v.15 & 17 he talks of disciplining a son; in v.19 & 21 it is the disciplining of a slave; and in v.16 & 20 he lays out the disastrous consequences of ignoring that discipline.
The text itself (v.18) has two words that open the entire train of thought, vision...and perish. Vision comes from two basic words in Hebrew which mean to see, and restriction. Prophets are people who see. In ancient times they were even called seers. In this case, revelation, or vision is seeing the restrictions. It has to do with discipline. Paraphrased we could say:
When the people are not seeing things
that should properly restrict them,
then they run amuck, unrestrained.
The young man attended the opera for the first time, sitting high up in the balcony. When the leading lady stepped on the stage it was love at first hearing. He was too far to see well, but that beautiful Mezzo-Soprano voice lifted him to the heavens. He just knew he would marry her.
Making his way backstage after the performance, the love-blinded young man quickly began the whirlwind courtship, successfully sweeping the soprano off her feet. The romance concluded only days later, with a ceremony aboard a cruise ship.
That night, as the honeymoon began, the couple were making preparations to retire. As the young man sat watching his new bride, he began to survey her countenance. He had never noticed the aging lines around her eyes. He thought, "It doesn't matter." Then he saw her take off the wig, revealing very gray hair. "So what if she's a bit older than I. That voice will conquer all!"