Ignorance Is No Excuse

2009-08-19 2028

Serenity on Lake Irwin

In his book “The Soul’s Quest for God” R.C. Sproul  says, “Spiritual discernment is neither a new revelation nor an understanding that takes place in a vacuum.  Christianity is not an esoteric religion attainable only by an elite group who alone are privy to divine truth.  The revelation of the Lord of Glory takes place in the open sphere of history.  It is not a secret thing “done in a corner.”  No one exposed to the biblical testimony can justly claim ignorance as an excuse for ignorance.  Though God displayed patience toward ignorance for a time, there was a limit, a terminal point to his forbearance.  Once God fully and finally demonstrated the identity of His Son by raising him from the dead, his forbearance ended.”

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 has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Act 17:29 – 31

This generation likes to use excuses.  That includes this particular Christian generation.  For every downfallen and backslidden Christian there is an excuse:

  • “If God had wanted me know more about Him, He would have taught me through the Holy Spirit so I could automatically know all about Him.
  • I shouldn’t have to study the Bible so deeply.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I know all I need to know because the pastor tells me all I need to know.
  • I know the basics; it’s enough for me.
  • Those people have too much head knowledge and not enough heart knowledge.
  • It’s all about the love, baby.  That’s all I need – God’s love.”
  • If we don’t become culturally relevant, people won’t come to church.

2009-08-20 2081I ran into a local pastor at the grocery store today who is starting a new church in our area. We had an interesting discussion about what the church should be about — should it merely love its people or should it teach its people? Because he had a dysfunctional childhood, he was clinging to the love. Because I long and hunger to understand God — because I’ve been in seeker churches that fail to teach and have watched hundreds leave because their souls are dissatisfied and still hungry — I love strong teaching. My childhood had its own share of dysfunctionality, but that drives me even more to study because my parents didn’t teach me.

In reality, it’s not one or the either – it’s both and more. The church must embrace both love and teaching but it cannot sacrifice one for the other, which is a common occurrence within the realm of Christendom today. The church must provide solid community for its believers. They must share the sacraments together and support each other through the moments of daily existence, as Christ has commanded us. The church must serve the poor and those in need locally and around the world.

Some will find this next statement controversial, but I think this one thing has sorely been overlooked in our contemporary churches. Having bought into the seeker mentality for awhile, I now believe the church is for Christians, not seekers. Seekers are welcome into our worship services, but it is the body of Christ that gathers together to worship. Non-believers don’t worship. By losing this focus, the church has become disjointed, in my humble opinion. It’s even sadder.  How many times have any of you seen non-Christians function in leadership roles in the church. Sadly, I’ve seen it often. I’ve even seen a Mormon woman lead a Bible study/small group at our large seeker church in town (the one I left).

Too often today, one or more of these essentials is absent in the church, (or perhaps one aspect is overemphasized at the cost of another) sending out a false message and representation of the gospel to a watching world. That’s particularly troubling when we know that the soul of a Christian longs for God. It searches high and low to know the things of God. Of all places, the church should be a place to find understand, love and a brotherhood of saints well established and thriving because the things of God are put first – not the things of man. There is a witness involved. There is integrity to maintain — the integrity of God’s Word and the integrity of accurately representing Christ to a fallen world.  We cannot claim ignorance.

If I were to grade the contemporary church and present it with a report card, I’m afraid it wouldn’t want to show its grade to its Father.  I wouldn’t allow the church to blame their failure on ignorance.  If I could leave one thought to the next generation of the church — I would tell them that church doesn’t have to be so complex. It doesn’t have to have the latest and greatest ideology, technology nor cutting edge leadership protocols. In making our churches so ideological and edgy we have lost sight of the core. It can be so much more simple.

Quite frankly, I think people would rather choose to come to church to rest in the Word of the Lord, surrounded by the common love of His people, than they would choose to run feverishly from this committee to the next — going to this conference or that one — trying to figure out how to increase church numbers with some marvelous 45 second video — marketing the next latest pop book to the church congregation — making sure the count-down clock is exactly on time so the service starts with a bang.

Seriously – did every church in the country need to teach The Purpose Driven Life? Wouldn’t the Word of God been more than sufficient and indeed more desirable for God’s people to hear? I would tell them — let’s make the church real, tangible and faithful to the Word of God. Allow the people of God to rest when they enter into community at church. Generations are all the same. Your generation is no different than mine. We all want to know God.  It’s a fact that if the church were doing its job, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time online listening to teachers who do take God’s Word seriously.  I would be able to find it in my own community.  But I hunger — and I thirst.

Sproul is right. The contemporary church cannot declare its ignorance. It knows better. Likewise, as Sproul commented, each of us cannot declare ignorance to be the cause of our ignorance.  I can think of a few other things that are the cause of it. Laziness. Pride. Selfishness. Idolatry. Self. Worldliness. Sin. It’s a long list.

But that’s topic for another day. And there is a future hope that doesn’t let me dwell on it too much.

I also have hope for the younger generation.  I just heard an amazing gospel-driven message by a recent WTS graduate visiting at a small church in our town.  Honestly, it’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve heard the Word of God delivered so powerfully by someone so young.  Maybe you would enjoy it as well.

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