Ignorance Is Not Bliss!

“But I didn’t know!” Are we really better off to “turn a blind eye” 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

Having asked the question, let us look at what Jesus teaches regarding ignorance. Jesus 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 came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become 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 “foremost” 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!

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Are You Praying to a False God?

Elijah and the 400

One of the most dramatic and exciting stories in the Scriptures is the account of the great contest between the 400 prophets of Baal and Elijah, the lone prophet of Jehovah on Mt. Carmel. The story is found in 1 Kings 18. For many hours the 400 prophets of Baal called to their god, danced about, cut themselves and generally, made a spectacle of themselves trying to evoke a response from their god. How they have been humiliated by Elijah. Their god, Baal, is the “storm” or weather god. Many representations of him depict him with a thunderbolt in his hand. Certainly, he can spare just one little flash of lightening to ignite their sacrifice and prove that he truly is a god. There is just one problem. He is NOT a god. He is the device and figment of human imagination embellished with graven images. He is a false god and would give no answer by fire or any other means.

Of course, we know this and chuckle to ourselves at the foolishness of these and any who would believe in Baal and behave so foolishly. I wonder, however, if we do not need to learn the lesson in this story. The lesson of the futility of praying to a false god. Certainly not! You reply. I attend worship regularly. I attend Bible class regularly. I certainly am no idolater. Perhaps all you say is true, but are you still praying to a false god by praying to a god of your own invention or imagination? I fear many are. Perhaps if one is wondering why God is not answering his prayers, he may need to ask the question, “Am I praying to the God of the Bible or a god of my own invention and imagination?”

If I asked you to close your Bible and tell me all that you know about God without your Bible, what could you tell me? Certainly, we know some about God from nature and His creation (Psa. 1:1-3, Rom. 1:20). Do we, however, learn enough from creation to pray to our God as our Father and our Savior? We do not. Do we know anything of His will so that we may pray accordingly? Again, the answer is no. Most of what we know of our gracious and loving Father in heaven, we know from Scripture.

False Ideas

Many hold false ideas of God in their hearts, ideas and imaginations that are not based upon scripture and contrary to Scripture. Consequently, when they pray, they are doing very close to what an idolater does, praying to a false god. Certainly, God is just and can mete out wrath and vengeance, but if I see God as always angry and never loving and gracious, I am not seeing Him rightly. Conversely, If I see God only as loving and gracious and never willing to exact punishment, once again, I am not seeing Him rightly. Do I perceive God as a glorified “Santa Clause” whose sole purpose in existence is to grant my every whim, wish or desire? If that is the case, I do not perceive God rightly. Some understand God to be aloof and disinterested in human affairs? This also is a wrong understanding of God.

To pray to the one true and living God, I must know Him accurately. I only know Him accurately from learning about Him through His Word. He is a loving God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Yet He is a just God who will condemn those who reject Christ. He desires to bless us and provide our needs, but we must not see him only as a benevolent gift giver. He is supremely interested in the affairs of men to the extent that he became man in the form of Christ.

Know the true God. Pray to the true God.

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Differing Paths

When traveling throughout the country, you will come to markers indicating the Continental Divide. Rain or melting snow on one side (via rivers and streams) flows west to the Pacific Ocean; on the other side, rivers and streams flow northeast to Hudson Bay, Canada, or southeast to the Gulf of Mexico. Two drops of rain, falling only inches apart on the ground, will end up separated by hundreds of miles before they reach the end of their journeys.

As we consider, personally, the choices we make each day, we should recall the words of our Lord, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10) The small things in our lives can well lead to big changes, either for good or for evil. This principle extends to congregations, as well.

Frequently, an emphasis on doctrinal exactness is greeted with a roll of the eyes. Why should we, after all, be concerned over small departures here and there? Isn’t it just nit-picking to question everything that doesn’t measure up to the truths we understand from Scripture?

We should be concerned about apostasy, even in the smallest measure, because it is a step down a path which will end in destruction. Every heresy that has divided the church began with a small departure from the truth, which lead to greater and greater departures over time.

Our fellowship must stand firm on the inerrancy of Scripture, the total truth and authority of God’s word. We must stand firm in attempting to understand and follow the pattern of faith and practice outlined in the Bible. Most centrally, we must stand firm in teaching the exclusive truth of God’s way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Even the slightest deviation in our commitment to these basic truths will plunge the church quickly into all manner of false teaching.

When Christian teachers and preachers depart from a complete confidence in Scripture, they stand in danger of losing their faith altogether. When congregations begin introducing unauthorized elements into the worship and work of the church, there is no end to the changes which will occur. When the church begins to fellowship outsiders as if they were members of the Lord’s church, soon the very heart of the gospel is laid aside. Constant vigilance is needed to keep the Lord’s church true to the Lord’s way.

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Is God A Priority In Your Life?

Most people would say finding a job when your unemployed becomes a priority. When you are in great pain, finding relief is a priority. If, in the middle of the night, your are awakened by water dripping in your face because of a roof that is in need of repair, repairing the roof becomes a priority. In life, those matters most important and urgent to us, are the ones to which we attend. How important is God to your? Is He a priority in your life?

Are You A Doer?

  • (James 1:22 NIV) “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
  • (Rom 2:13 NJKV) “for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.”

These verses indicate how important it is that we be an active participant in God’s church. Many churches today have too many members sitting on the sidelines. The big question is why do so many Christians try to just get by and just do the minimum? Unfortunately, to many Christians, God is not a priority in their life. Their actions indicate this very clearly. Therefore, we ought to ask the question, what is involved in being a Christian?

It is more than attending services a few times a week. It is more than remaining morally pure. It is imperative that we go beyond superficial perceptions of what a Christian is. To a Christian, God must be the most important thing in his/her life. To emphasize this, look at Mk. 12:30, “‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.” In order to better understand this, look at these illustrations:

  • A man who never wants to be with his family–Is his family a priority in this man’s life?
  • A man is constantly late for work, takes long breaks and lunches, and leaves early every day. Is this man wholly committed to his job?
  • A man one day a week speaks sweetly to his wife, tells her how much he loves her, takes her out to dinner and takes care of all her needs. But, the other six days a week he ignores her, refuses to take care of any of her needs and in many ways tries to act as if he isn’t married. Can it honestly be said this man loves his wife?

Another important aspect of being a Christian is being willing to serve others. It is interesting to note, the criteria for judgment found in Matt. 25:31-46 is serving others. From this, it would appear God places a very high value on service.

Do you find Bible study a delight or drudgery? Notice what David said in Psa 1:2 (NKJV) “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” People use many excuses to justify their failure to study the Bible. “I don’t have the time.” I don’t understand what I read.” “It’s boring.” Friends, it all comes down to a matter of motivation. Let me illustrate this point. Your boss calls you into his office and offers you a huge promotion. Your salary will increase significantly. The only question your boss asks is would you be willing to attend a special night class that would take about a year to complete. You respond by saying, “Certainly.” You see; motivation is everything.

In 1 Pet. 2:21, we are instructed to follow in Christ’s footsteps. In Matt. 16:24, Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” One little mental exercise that often helps to determine if I should do something or not, is asking my self the question, “What would Jesus do?” To fully understand this, let’s take a look some different scenarios.

  • Your tired, you’ve had a hard day, you would like to stay home and not attend mid-week Bible study. What would Jesus do?
  • Some one approaches you and begins to tell you about the terrible things someone you know has done. You know this is gossip, but it sure is interesting. What would Jesus do?
  • Someone has hurt you terribly and you have hard feelings for that person. This person comes to you and seeks forgiveness. However, you don’t know if you can forgive them. What would Jesus do?
  • Young people: You’re at one of your friend’s houses. You didn’t know there would be alcohol and other drugs at the party. It seems as if all your friend are drinking and having a good time. One of your friends hands you a beer and says, “Here, have some fun. One beer isn’t going to hurt you.” You begin to think your friend is right. What would Jesus do?

We all know the reaction of Jesus would be to do His Father’s will. What about you? Are you a Christian? Is God a priority in your life?

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