|Volume 19 Number 1 January 2017||
Nobody wants to be described as, referred to or believed to be ignorant. Yet, we all are ignorant—just on different subjects. However, ignorance of the teachings of the Bible is deadly because of the irrevocable consequence of eternal punishment. The nature of this everlasting disaster defies our comprehension.
Psalm 119 is God’s revelation of how imperative the Word of God is to the world. In this Psalm, it is described, exalted and adored. These descriptions are made known through God’s (1) word, (2) commandments, (3) precepts, (4) testimonies, (5) law, (6) way, (7) truth, (8) judgments, (9) righteousness and (10) statutes.
Studies in Psalms by Robert R. Taylor, Jr. gives definitions of these divine aspects.
How deadly is ignorance of God’s Word? Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words defines ignorance in several ways. It is “want of knowledge or perception.” It includes “the idea of willful blindness.” It is “unwitting error.” It is “to be unknown; not to understand.” Several accounts are addressed briefly of these various forms of ignorance.
Paul addressed the men of Athens at the Areopagus [Mars Hill] in Acts 17:29-31 by saying, “Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (ESV).
In Romans 10:1-3, Paul was most concerned about the salvation of Israel. He said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” The righteousness of God is the right doing of God. We strive to make His ways, His will, His character and His standard ours in every facet of life.
Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to forgive and receive in love a sinning brother who had repented and returned to God. In 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, he declared, “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” All of Satan’s devices or purposes are driven by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, which is not of the Father but of the world. All that is in the world falls into one of these three categories according to 1 John 2:15-17.
Paul addressed the church in 1 Thessalonians 4 to increase in their love for one another, to lead quiet lives, to mind their own business and to work with their own hands. In verses 13-14, he wrote, “But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
Paul got extremely personal as he told his son in the faith, Timothy, about his life before he was converted. In 1 Timothy 1:13-14, he candidly stated, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violently arrogant man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
Hebrews 5:1-2 refers to the priesthood under the Jewish system. “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weaknesses.” Priests came from the family of Aaron; the high priest had to be chosen, called and appointed by God. He could deal gently and compassionately with those who were ignorant of God’s will in so many areas, as well as with those who had yielded to their weaknesses.
There were several occasions when Jesus was questioned about a certain matter, and He would reply asking them, “Have you not read?” “Have you never read?” “Have you not even read this Scripture?”
Matthew 19:1-12 records the Pharisees coming to Jesus, testing Him by asking Him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause. “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (verses 4-5)?
In Matthew 21:14-16, the blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. However, when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the praise of the people, they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise?’”
In Mark 11:27-33, the chief priests, scribes and elders came to Jesus and asked Him by what authority was He doing those things and who gave Him the authority to do those things. Jesus then asked them the question about the baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? He instructed them to answer, but they refused for they feared the people in either way they could answer His question. Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” At this point, Mark 12:1-12 says Jesus began to speak to them in parables. In verses 10-11, He asked, “Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, this was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” The leaders tried to lay their hands on Him, “but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.”
How is it that people think they know what the Bible says, and yet they have never read it? This has got to be the height of idolatry, arrogance and self-exaltation. Proverbs 30:32 warns, “If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth.” We are exhorted to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. How can that ever happen if the Bible has neither been read nor embraced in obedient, submissive faith?
This was part of an email this writer received years ago. “Without God, our week is: Mournday, Tearsday, Wasteday, Thirstday, Fightday, Shatterday and Sinday. So, allow Him to be with you every day!” One week without being nourished in God’s Word makes one weak. The decision to rid ourselves of biblical ignorance is a choice none of us will ever regret!
Reading, studying, meditating and demonstrating God’s Word in our daily lives is an imperative for us to receive the eternal crown of righteousness. Jesus said:
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. (John 12:48-50)