Robert Griffith | 10 July 2022
Robert Griffith
10 July 2022


We read in the second chapter of Acts that in the Church which Jesus was building, “everyone was filled with awe …” It was a miracle of God. Previously antagonistic, hostile people were brought together in love by the power of the gospel. The sense of anticipation and awe at the movement of God’s Spirit among the people was palpable. It was profound. It was tangible. God was manifesting His presence, His power and His Kingdom purposes right in their midst; in their homes; around their dinner tables; on the streets; in the marketplace. They could see the vision and the mission of Christ exploding before their eyes. In fact, they were part of it – every single day. That’s what being the Church really looks like!

In Proverbs 29:18 we read a simple, yet profound truth, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”The word ‘vision’ has been given all kinds of meanings in the modern world and most of them have nothing to do with this verse. But when the NIV Bible was written, the translators tried to be more accurate to the original meaning of the text and this verse became, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.”

What the King James Version translated ‘vision’, the NIV translates ‘revelation.’  You see, vision can (and most often does) come from us. But revelation comes from God. Now this is not just an issue about how a verse is translated. This verse, when properly understood, becomes an explanation for nearly all of the Church’s highs and lows over our entire history.

When the day by day revelation of God is not continually being sought, discerned and applied, then we ‘cast off restraint.’ We go our own way – tragically thinking it’s God’s way because we opened our ‘vision’ meeting in prayer! When Eugene Petersen wrote The Message, a contemporary translation of the Bible, he unpacked this verse even more and made it abundantly clear what Proverbs 29:18 really means for us today:

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.”

If the early Church had persevered in ‘attending to what God was revealing’, then they would have said “No thanks,” to Constantine in 313AD when he signed the Edict of Milan and declared that Christianity was now the official religion of Rome. They should have seen through this ‘victory’ and realized that everything was about the change – and not for the better. They should have remained a loose movement of persecuted pilgrims who worshipped, fellowshipped and ate together in each other’s homes, devoted themselves to prayer and New Testament teaching as they continued to infiltrate every area of society – seven days a week.

If the Church was attending to what God was revealing it would not have allowed Rome to dictate how it behaved and operated and the legalism and corruption which eventually strangled the Church would not have emerged so there would have been no need for the Reformation over a thousand years later. In fact, I believe you can trace every stumble, every error, every backward step, every loss to the enemy of truth back to the Church failing to see what God was doing. Worse still – not looking for God at work in the first place!

Now it’s clear that the people mentioned in Acts 2 saw what God was doing and so they didn’t stumble for a very long time! They attended to what God was revealing and they were blessed beyond measure. I encourage you to read though the book of Acts in one sitting when you have time and something will be very clear to you: God was running the show! What they preached; when they preached; to whom they preached; who they healed and who they didn’t heal; what towns they went to and how long they stayed. Everything was under the day by day direction of God through His Holy Spirit and the more they attended to what God was doing and revealing to them, the more they grew and God’s kingdom exploded across the world.

So fast forward more than 2,000 years and in so many areas of the Church we are stumbling over ourselves and not seeing what God is doing or hearing what God is saying. But even in that statement there is hope – great hope. In spite of our actions or inaction, God is still speaking, for those who have ears to hear. God is still revealing to those who have eyes to see. God is still active and moving among us and fulfilling His purposes. God has never left us – no matter how wrong we get it or how often we do it our way and not His way – He never goes away and He never stops speaking. We just stop listening. Sadly, some of us never even started listening and have no expectation whatsoever of God speaking to us.

For many years now I have encouraged people to ask two questions every morning as their feet hit the floor and they begin each new day. “What are You doing, Lord?” and “How can I be part of it today?”That’s what I’ve been trying to do my entire ministry and I believe it reminds us who we are and Whose we are. I believe the more we ask those questions and learn to discern the voice of God as He answers us – the more we will see the huge difference between ‘going to Church’ and truly ‘being the Church.’

It has been my prayer for many years now that the Spirit of God will lead us all to the point where we stop going to Church!  Yes, you read that correctly. I want you to stop ‘going to Church.’ The term itself is grammatical nonsense and theological heresy. We don’t ‘go to’ Church. We are the Church and we need to learn once more how to truly be the Church. At the height of the current pandemic there were signs in front of many Church buildings across the world which read, “Our building is closed, but our Church is open!” Saying that is easy. Living that truth is the challenge we all face.

When you have finished reading the book of Acts in one sitting, perhaps you could ask God why the Church is not operating like that today. I can guarantee God will not say it is for cultural reasons we have changed, because it’s not. We already know the reason and God warned us a very, very long time ago in Proverbs 29:18.

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.”