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Ignorance: Could this be the primary problem?

Gary Googe Nov 20

There’s a phrase I’ve heard off and on all my life—“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” Have you heard this statement before? Is it true? It may be true about some things, but not as it relates to the things that count most. The fact of the matter is that not knowing can be costly, even deadly, having an everlasting effect!

Let’s begin with the basics.  What does the word ignorance mean? Fundamentally it represents the absence of true knowledge.  It is simply not knowing. It doesn’t mean one couldn’t know.  It just means that, for whatever reason, one doesn’t know. But what is the most important area of truth for one to be sure they know? You may know a lot about history, math, engineering, and on and on it goes.  There’s certainly a lot one could learn about a lot of things.  In fact, one can come to have great wisdom in any one or even in all areas of life, but how important is that?  One person who did such was the man we find in the Bible named Solomon.  Here are his own words about this.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

But notice what this wise man who knew more than all his predecessors tells us next.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. [Emphasis added]

Here’s a guy who had it all.  I devoted a whole chapter to him in my book—Discovering God’s Rich Blessings in Times of Suffering. This man Solomon is said to be the wisest man who ever lived.  What so many don’t realize is that there’s what we might call natural knowledge, but there’s also spiritual knowledge or spiritual wisdom. These terms represent two entirely different worlds, so to speak.  Most people, who are called the natural man, are only familiar with one of them.  Please note what God tells us about such a person.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But then please notice what this next verse tells us.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth [ANAKRINO = discerns] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [Emphasis added]

Some of the smartest and most educated people I’ve ever known were totally ignorant about spiritual things.  They knew absolutely nothing about such things.

Psalm 73:22

22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. [Emphasis added]

An ironic thing about this is that unbelievers tend to think Christians are the ignorant ones.

Acts 4:12-13

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [Emphasis added]

Many of these people who were making these comments about Peter and John were smart and “religious” people who thought they knew God well.  But notice what the apostle Paul said about such people.

Romans 10:2-4

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Then he notes one of many areas of their ignorance.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. [Emphasis added]

To these people, simply believing something for salvation seemed too easy.  Today such people often call it “easy believism.”  But the Scriptures tell us that’s really all a person has to do to gain salvation, the most important thing anyone could ever attain in this life. To attain it they simply must accept or rely on the provision God made for them through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

Contrary to popular opinion, people don’t have to do anything to be saved so as to end up in Heaven.  They simply must accept by faith the provision God made for their salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

Salvation comes by God’s grace through our faith in what He provided, not by our works.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [that salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul acknowledges that he once ignorantly thought his religious works would provide him with salvation and favor with God.  He even persecuted people who thought otherwise.  He clearly admits his former ignorance in all this.

1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

But then notice His appreciation for God’s grace in the matter.

14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]

This is the message of grace you need to proclaim to others.  Most people tend to run on some system of works by which they hope to find favor with God so as to be saved.  This was the case for the apostle Paul’s fellow countrymen, just as it is for most people today.  They were not only ignorant of the gospel message but that which he spoke of as having been a mystery, a secret truth God first revealed to the apostle Paul. 

Romans 11:25

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [MUSTERION = secret], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in [speaking of the end of this age of which we are a part today]. [Emphasis added]

If you’re not familiar with this message that had been a mystery, please study my articles about it.  Here are the names of two of them.

Mystery: What is this secret that Paul wrote about?

Mystery: What is The Key to Understanding the Bible?

People need to learn about the role the apostle Paul plays today in helping us all with our ignorance about these things.  Unfortunately, so many, even most pastors, believe that the words of Christ in the time of His earthly ministry are more important than anything Paul has to say.  But note what the Bible tells us about this.

I Corinthians 14:37-38

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. [Emphasis added]

It is Satan who has worked diligently to keep people blind to these marvelous truths.  It is only the believer who has studied the Scriptures and become spiritually mature who has come to fully know and understand these things.

2 Corinthians 2:11

11 Lest Satan should get: an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. [Emphasis added]

Of all things in life, this is the one thing you don’t want to be ignorant of.  However, I assure you that apart from diligent study, especially of the Pauline epistles, you will be ignorant of these and many more things God wants you to know.  That is why even in what we believe to be Paul’s last written epistle he emphasizes the importance of this.

2 Timothy 2:15

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]

There’s nothing more valuable in your life than the Bible, the Word of God.  It is only there that you will find these marvelous truths.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God [THEOPNEUSTOS = God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect [TELEIOS = brought to maturity], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]

As you study the Bible, you’ll have the opportunity to grow spiritually as you believe and apply the things you learn there. Apart from studying it there is no growth. There is no right understanding of things.  For instance, in the death of a loved one who is a believer there’s only grief, instead joy for the person’s “homecoming” into Heaven if these things are not known.

2 Corinthians 5:1-2

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [Emphasis added]

We will eventually get to be with loved ones whose bodies died before ours.  We’re not to live ignorantly of these things. All too often funerals are public displays of ignorance by people who should know better.

I Thessalonians 4:13-14

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [a reference to believers who have died], that ye sorrow not, even as others [unbelievers] which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [Emphasis added]

Verse fourteen is of course referring to the good news message of what is called the gospel.  It is this that is the most important thing we could ever discuss with anyone.  No one needs to be left ignorant of this message because it is the primary need of all mankind.  It is this message that always gives us something good to talk about. But if you’re not familiar with it and all that it means, how can you effectively talk about it? All too often false information, even a false hope is given to people when it could have been otherwise if there’d not been such ignorance of what should have been communicated.

On numerous occasions I’ve heard well-meaning people providing a false hope at funerals.  If a person dies without ever having accepted Jesus Christ as their only means to salvation and entrance into Heaven, they have not gone on to “a better place.”  On the contrary, as sad as it is, they’re then already experiencing the miseries of hell.  Such is sad indeed! But God certainly provided a means for things to be otherwise for them.  But that “means” must be personally accepted by faith alone sometime before they die.  Rejection or simply unbelief of this provision has serious consequences every unbeliever should fear.

Questions: How familiar are you with this message of truth we speak of as the gospel? Have you accepted it? Furthermore, how willing are you to speak up about it and share it? I hope you’ll even utilize this website to become knowledgeable of many truths we’ve been given in this wonderful book called the Bible, for ignorance of spiritual truth surely is the primary problem of life for so many.

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