Looking Ahead

By Oscar Vouga

Someone has rightly said, “If our foresight were as good as our hindsight, we would be assured of the future.” It is true that we know the past far better than we know the future, but this does not have to be so, for we can easily know what the future will be by the past. The best possible teacher for this generation is to study history, not
merely to know what happened, but to profit by it and learn what we should and should not do.

We can rest assured that if we make the same mistakes that past generations have made, we will experience the same troubles and problems. On the other hand, if we profit by the errors and mistakes of those who lived before; we can avoid their sorrows and troubles. But do we learn and profit by the mistakes of past generations? Do we listen to what history has to say? Or, are we determined to do what our carnal nature leads us into? In short, if we are led of the Spirit we will listen to history, but if we are led of the flesh, we will pay no attention to history; we will say, “We are wiser than past generations; this will not come to us.”

There are three verses in the Apostle Paul’s writing (I Corinthians 10:6,11,12) which deal with this subject. Verse 6 reads, “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” Again in verse 11 we read, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our
admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” This very clearly tells us that history and the Bible records are for our good. We are admonished to take heed to these events, and warned that if we do not give heed to history, we must suffer the same punishment for our failure as they did. If we lust after evil things, we must realize that we shall fall as they fell, we shall be punished as they were punished, we shall be destroyed as they were destroyed. Notice that it is said that, they lusted after evil things.”

The most important verse to awaken us is verse 12 which reads, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” In other words, if anyone will not listen to history, then history must repeat itself; if any group, or body, or nation will not listen to history, then story must repeat itself. History will be heard one way or another if we listen and act accordingly we shall be blessed of God. The Word of God says, “But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it,” (Isaiah 1:20).

This verse certainly fits into this subject for the preceding verses read, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widows. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.”

As we look back and realize what is recorded in history, let us look ahead and make certain that we do not lust after evil things as they lust. Let us learn from history, and put away the evil from before our eyes, knowing that if we fail to do so, we shall be devoured of the sword.

The wise man (King Solomon) wrote in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Vision is simply “the act or sense of seeing; sight; object of sight; divine revelation; apparition; creation of the imagination” (Webster’s). Vision here refers to a look into the future, or our creating, by imagination, what the future will be.

This is only possible if we keep in mind what the past has been; if we listen to the voice of history warning and instructing us regarding the future. It is not difficult to visualize the future if we accept the lessons of history. Above all, we must study the Word of God, and see what happened to men of old, and know that Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday and forever.

Where men have no vision, there is only one alternative-they must perish. We also must accept the truth that men who are not led by the Spirit of God are walking in darkness. “To the law and the testimony”; if they speak not according to the Word of God, and who disregard history when planning the future, are walking in darkness-there is no light in them. In other words, there is no vision and they will surely perish. One of the strongest warnings to us today is found in Revelation 3:14-22 in the message to the Laodicean Church. They were lukewarm, but felt very sure of their position because they were rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. The inference is
that they did not feel their spiritual need because they were so taken up with their prosperity.

Today we often hear this statement made; “We are an affluent society.” Certainly this is true. We Pentecostal people are in the midst of this affluence, and some are too often carried away with it. Someone remarked at one of our General Conferences that, “Our people dress like millionaires.” We are rich when we can build half million dollar church buildings; when we can invest a half million dollars in a district camp ground; when we drive to church in the most modern cars which cost thousands of dollars; when we can make trips around the world or to Palestine, or anywhere else we desire to go. We are certainly “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.”

But let us not forget that these riches do not enrich the souls of men. Remember that we can have all these things, and all this material wealth, and yet be “….wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

This is a true description of too many people, and even some congregations, today.

Someone will naturally rise up and say, “This is not true, we are on fire for God. Why we shout and do all that Pentecostal people ever did.” Yes, but shouting is not positive evidence that we are on fire for God. Remember how history records the shouting is not positive evidence that we are on fire for God.

Remember how history records the shouting of the children of Israel as they danced around the golden calf This shouting was the result of false worship, and it produced the wrath of God. Three thousand men of Israel died that day because they worshipped a false god. Shouting was not the evidence of the presence of God, nor of the children of Israel being right with God. Neither is shouting alone the evidence that God is in our midst.

The nearest evidence that we find in the Bible of shouting is on the day of Pentecost and just prior to it. In Luke 24:53 it is recorded, “And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” On the day of Pentecost the multitude were confounded, not because of any shouting, but rather they were saying, “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”

Another place in the record where there is a great manifestation is found in Acts 3:8-11, And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” Let us keep in mind that it was not the leaping and praising that brought on the healing of the crippled man, but it was the healing which brought on the leaping and praising.

There is absolutely no evidence in the New Testament that shouting, or worked-up emotions produced the power of God or worked miracles. In every case, the miracles, whether the speaking with other tongues upon reception of the Holy Ghost, or some healing, brought on the emotional reaction which is recorded.

May we know that we can look ahead and see the working of miracles, if we will wait upon the Lord and seek His face. There is no way to bring on the power of God by any purely human effort. The Holy Ghost is received by faith; miracles are performed by faith; the work of the Spirit is purely by faith on our part, as we consecrate and dedicate
ourselves to the will of God, and to His work.

There is another side to forward vision, or looking ahead. The Bible is not only a book of warnings, but it is also a book of examples of how to have the promises fulfilled in our experience. Yet it is true that there are far more warnings given in the Bible records than there are examples of fulfilled promises. Note carefully the writings of the
Apostles in every Epistle. We naturally tend to seek our “good things” to reach to the people, and to pass over the warnings and admonitions.” If we do this, we are not wise.

Let us take a good, long look into the future by a complete and honest study of the past, as given to us in Bible History, and also in the story of every Christian movement which has risen during the Church Age. If we fail to do this, we shall surely be led into the position of God’s wrath, for if we do not listen to history, then history will
repeat itself in this our generation.

God grant unto us a real Holy Ghost vision, lest we perish with others who were blinded by lust and pride.

(The above material was published by THE GOSPEL TIDINGS, August 1993)

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