Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

Is there really a blessing in not knowing? Are we better off to “tend to our own affairs” and pass through life blissfully unaware of facts and obligations that might “bother us”? Many have this selfish attitude, and some even offer scriptural “proof” (It is nice to know just enough to know one does not have to know).

Jesus’ Teaching

Let us look at Jesus’ teaching regarding ignorance. Jesus once told the Pharisees, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains” (John 9:39-41). The lesson is related to the healing of a man born blind, who had never had the capacity of sight. One mentally incapable of knowing would not be accountable, so, would have no sin.

But when Jesus said (vs. 39), “I am come into this world that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind;” he referred to (1) meek and humble people who had never had the opportunity to perceive truth (Matthew 11:25), whose eyes would now be opened; and (2) those like the Pharisees, who had the opportunity, but who refused to see. A haughty and self-righteous attitude (John 9:24-29,34) compounded their sin and blinded them to truth.

Luke 12:48 reads, “but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.” This is the portion of the parable regarding slaves and masters when being “cut to pieces” (vs. 46) and “receive many lashes” (vs. 47) were practiced. The purpose of the parable is clearly stated in vs. 48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” or, accountability goes hand in hand with opportunity (cf. Matthew 25:14-30).

The slave who failed his master was not free of guilt. He was “worthy of stripes” (Luke 12:48). As God’s creatures, pilgrims through this life, we have obligations to our Maker and fellow-travelers — to know and accept our fair responsibilities. In a real sense, the parable teaches that one who fails to use opportunities to learn truth and obey, is worthy of “many stripes” (Luke 12:47).

Paul’s Ignorance

Paul was “shown mercy,” because he “acted ignorantly in unbelief.” But 1 Timothy 1:13-15 does not equate ignorance with justification.

In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul says he was “chief” of sinners. He just says his was no presumptuous or highhanded sin (cf. Numbers 15:27-31). His railing and persecuting was done in good conscience (Acts 23:1) in keeping with what he “thought” to be right (Acts 26:9). The mercy he obtained is available to us in the person of Christ, who died for those who will do what Paul did when he learned the truth (Acts 22:16).

Writings Of Peter

Peter writes of those who allow it to “escapes their notice” of God’s power and judgement (2 Peter 3:5). He admonishes, “do not let this one fact escape your notice” (2 Peter 3:8) for though God is long-suffering, we must all stand before His throne (2 Corinthians 5:10). Beware presumptuous ignorance! (Psalm 19:13).

Conclusion:

Finally, “if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized” (1 Corinthians 14:38) is an admonition to cease to cast pearls before one who obstinately rejects the unified revelation of God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:37; Gal. 1:12; Ephesians 3:3). “Let them alone” (Matthew 15:14). There will be no way to “ignore” eternal condemnation (cf. Revelation 6:12-17).

Brethren and friends, ignorance is not bliss!

If You Were to Ask God for One Thing…

We’ve all heard the stories about a genie offering to grant wishes, and most of us have probably spent time imagining what wishes we would make. While genies are, of course, imaginary and fanciful creations of some clever minds, there is a story in the Bible about God asking a man what he wanted.
In 1 Kings 3, “the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night” (3:5). Some translations have the words of God on this occasion as a statement of instruction—“Ask what I shall give thee” (KJV); “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (NIV). I like the way the New King James Version translates it as an exclamation, followed by a question—“Ask! What shall I give you?”
Forget the imaginary genie! This is the Almighty God! Suppose the Almighty God said to you, “Ask! What shall I give you?” For what would you ask? If the One with whom all things are possible told you to “ask for whatever you want,” what one thing would you request?
Some would ask for wealth or material possessions. Let’s face it, many are living today with their lives focused on the goods of this world, and that would, no doubt, be the one thing they asked of the Lord, if given the chance. Later in life, Solomon petitioned the Lord, “Give me neither poverty nor riches—Feed me with the food allotted to me” (Prov. 30:8). Perhaps contentment should be the request we make (Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6-8; Heb. 13:5).
Some would ask for a long life with perfect health. Many today would love nothing more than to live as long as possible on this earth, enjoying every pleasure the world affords. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a long life on this earth, our eternal life in our eternal home should be the focus of all we do, and that should dictate how we live this temporary life in this temporary world (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Pet. 2:11-12; Heb. 11:13-16).
When he could ask for anything, Solomon asked for wisdom to discern good from evil. Sin results when we choose evil instead of good. Shouldn’t it be of foremost importance to us to know good, to know evil and to know the difference, so that we do not choose actions, thoughts or words that would separate us from God?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Ask God for wisdom!

(Gambling Part 2)

What Is Wrong With Gambling?
This is the second part of the article. In it, Strickland deals with what gambling is and the reasons gambling is something Christians must avoid.
First, there are three legitimate means of transferring property: (1) By the law of LABOR where money is earned and paid for effort and labor expended, whether the effort or labor be mental or physical. Since Adam and Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit, it has been God’s law that man work for his food (Gen. 3:19), and the Apostle Paul charged that “If any man would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10). (2) The law of exchange, where something is exchanged for its value in money or goods. In John 4:8, while Jesus rested at Jacob’s well, His disciples went into the city TO BUY food, not to gamble for it. Joseph’s brothers went down into Egypt to buy corn (Gen. chs. 42 and 43). And when Araunah offered to give David his threshing floor, the oxen and the wood, with which to offer sacrifice, David replied, “Nay, but I will buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24: 23, 24). And (3) The law of love, where money and or goods are given with no expectation or desire of any return. The Samaritan of Luke 10:30-37 is a good example to follow here. Also, see Acts 20:35 where Paul states that: “So labouring we ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Gambling does not qualify when measured by any of these laws or rules.
Second: Gambling does not contribute anything laudable or good to society. Rather, gambling supports and is supported by a corrupt segment of society and is contrary to the very principles, which should undergird true human relationships. It has been said that “gambling is stealing by mutual consent just as dueling is murder by mutual consent.”
Third: By gambling many a poor man has robbed his wife and children of the food and clothing they so desperately needed; many suicides have occurred as a consequence of gambling, and wrecked homes, financially and by divorce are among its fruits.
Fourth: Gambling is “of the world” (I John 2:15-17), and it is a tool of the Devil. Gambling is ugly, degrading, and sinful. Truly, “They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Finally, gambling has an evil influence. And the Christian must maintain an influence “void of offense.” There is nothing wrong with eating meat, and the Christian has the right (privilege) to eat it (1 Tim. 4:3-5), but the Apostle Paul wrote: “Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor.8:13). Gambling is wrong and the practice of it is sinful, but if it were not, since its practice robs one of his good influence, the Christian cannot afford to engage in its practice.

Gambling (Part 1)

This article was written by a good friend and faithful gospel preacher (J. Clyde Strickland) several years ago. It is as apropos today as it was when first written.
That GAMBLING is very widespread must be admitted by all. Will Rogers is reported to have said, “There is a wide streak in nearly every American man and woman, a fat streak, fat as a prize hog’s bacon’ (WIN OR LOSE, by Stephen Longstreet, Introduction, p. IX). But why do people gamble? And is there anything wrong with gambling? Is it a sin to gamble? These are questions, along with others; I shall endeavor to answer in this article.
The Practice of gambling in its many forms dates back to ancient times. Artifacts of gambling paraphernalia have been discovered in ancient China, India, and in Egypt. For example, ivory dice which date back to 1500 years before Christ were found in the city of Thebes, an ancient city of Boeotia, a region located in central Greece, and gambling is mentioned in still older tablets found in the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt (AMERICANA ENCYCLOPEDIA, vol. 12. p. 264, 1988 ed). Gambling is found in countries and societies from the most civilized to the most primitive; and it is engaged in by the rich and best educated, the middle class, and by the very poor. America, our beloved country, has been called “The gamblingest nation that ever existed,” a dubious honor which no right-thinking people would ever covet.
Definition
Gambling is defined as: “vt. 1. To play a game of chance for money or other stakes on an uncertain outcome (as of horse race or an athletic game); 2. To stake something of value on an uncertain event or contingency. Vt. 1. To risk or lose by gambling; wager, bet (“They’ve all been gambled and lost by her husband this morning”); 2. To expose (something of value) to risk or hazard in hope of advantage or gain” (WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY). Other sources give approximately the same definition. For example, the ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA gives the following: “Gambling generally is defined as the voluntary risking of a sum of money called the stake, wager, or bet, on the outcome of a game or other event” (1988 ed., vol. 12, p. 264). Then too, gambling involves each participant in an effort to take from the other that which he has, or has wagered, without his giving anything in return–an effort to obtain something for nothing.
Chance, Risk, Gambling
Many have argued than many of the things we do, and maybe most things, involve gambling. It is contended that the farmer gambles against the elements, rain, hail, drought, insects, etc., every time he plants seed in his effort to make a crop; that we gamble against other drivers whenever we drive our cars on the highway, and that when we go to bed at night, there is a chance, a risk, and therefore, we gamble that we shall see tomorrow’s sun. But look again at the definition given above for gambling. Gambling is not just a chance; gambling is a wager, a stake, or a bet on a chance! It is an effort to get something of value (money, property, or service) without giving the equivalent in return.
The farmer plants and cultivates his crops; he labors for that which he receives. True, his wages received for his labors sometimes may be small, but he didn’t gamble. Also, a risk is taken when we drive our cars out on the highways, a necessary risk, but in the light of the definition above, it is not gambling. And there is a chance that something could happen (heart attack, etc.) which could prevent our seeing another day. These are but chances we have to take, necessary risk, but do not involve gambling. If we should make a bet or wager against these risks, then we would be gambling. Further, in these risks one does not take to himself; money or property (possessions) which belong to the other. Thus, gambling is not involved.
Why People Gamble
It may seem strange for one who has never gambled to undertake to tell why people gamble, yet, gamblers have given their reasons as to why they gambled. I can report their reasons for gambling.

  1.  Some gamble in the hope of obtaining money without having to work for it–the love of gain without labor! And what started out on this basis for many resulted in their losing great amounts of money and their property.
  2. These losses then gave reason for their continued gambling: Efforts to recoup their losses, thinking: “I just had a streak of bad luck, but I can win it all back!” Many never do.
  3. Some gamble for the thrill it gives them. The thrill of pulling the lever and hitting the jackpot; of making the bet and winning the hand at cards; guessing the number on which your put will land on the roulette wheel, or at some other game. “The thrill of the game brings many back to the table!”
  4. Addiction: Just as experimenting with drugs leads to addition, so the thrill of gambling leads to addiction. One becomes a “compulsive gambler.” And regardless of the number of losses and debts incurred, he returns to the table again and again. In order to learn gambling is addictive, one need only read the testimony of doctors who have treated gamblers for their addiction to gambling. Also, there is an organization called GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS which was established just to treat those addicted to gambling in much the same way that ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS endeavors to treat the alcoholic.

In light of all this, would one still argue there is nothing wrong with gambling?
The gambler is a perpetual optimist. He is just certain that with the next roll of the dice, the next pull of the lever, the next spin of the wheel, or the next hand of cards will win for him the jackpot. The sad thing is, it rarely ever happens that way. It is reported that for the professional gambler, when his year’s losses are totaled he ends up in the minus column with a deficit of from ten to twenty thousand dollars, and if he is not otherwise wealthy, banks will not lend him money. The gambler is a bad risk.
(To be continued)