Ignorance Worthy of Death

Norman E. Fultz
Beaver Dam, Ky.

The greater part of the first three chapters of the book of Romans was used by Paul to show conclusively that all men, whether Jew or Gentile, are under sin until re deemed by Christ's blood; the wages of that sin being death. In that great catalogue of evils wrought by the Gentiles and for which the apostle affirms they were worthy of death is the phrase "without understanding" (Romans 1:31) . They were lacking in proper concepts of God and of His power and divinity. But why were they "worthy of death" being "without understanding?" No doubt, because it was a willful ignorance. God had been manifested among them, and the "the invisible things of Him . . . were clearly seen . . . by the things that are made" (Verses 19-20). But they refused God, and in their own humanly finite wisdom, they became foolish. God, therefore, had given them up to uncleanness, vile affections and to a reprobate mind (Verses 21:28). Their lack of understanding was willful "as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (Ver. 28). Could any wonder, therefore, that it was a sin "worthy of death" (Ver. 32)?

But to these Gentiles the written oracles of God had not been committed as it had unto the Jews (Rom. 3:1-2). Yet because of their willful ignorance and their refusal to retain God in their knowledge they were worthy of death. What, therefore, of those in this "sunlight age" who are "without understanding"? Concerning those who would scoff at the idea of "the end of the world". Peter says, "For this they willingly are ignorant of . . ." (2 Pet. 3:5). In the things having to do with the religion of Christ, ignorance is not bliss, not even in some small degree. "The times of ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).

Many who profess to be Christians are nigh unto boastful of their lack of understanding of God's word, of His will and of His ways. But are they "without understanding" because they cannot know? Of course not! God's will for man has been fully and unreservedly revealed, and He tells us to "be not unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5 :17). This understanding cometh of diligent study and meditation (2 Tim. 2:15). Men who are, therefore, "without understanding" are "willingly ignorant" of God's way.

The gospel of Christ by which we are saved (I Cor 15:3) is such that if one truly "hungers and thirsts after righteousness, he shall be filled" (Mat. 5:6). But to those who have not the love of the truth "God shall send them strong delusions that they should believe a lie: that they might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Of such, Paul states, ". . . the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not" (2 Cor. 4:4).

Those who are willfully "without understanding" in this great age are as those of Christ's day who in seeing were made blind (Jno. 9:39) . They had no desire to see (believe); and when they were convinced of His divinity, they closed their minds. "In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross and their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Mat. 13:14-15) .

There are some things in which our religious neighbors are willingly "without understanding." No one who studies the word of God and accepts it as the word of God (I Thess: 1:13) can believe in the practice of sprinkling or pouring for baptism. So clear is the Bible in teaching that baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12), that one who practices otherwise is "willingly ignorant."

But one had as well change the "mode" of baptism as the purpose. Some religionists affirm baptism to be a burial in water and then teach that it is to be administered "because one is already saved from sin", thus portraying their lack of understanding. The Bible again tells us that baptism is "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38), that it "washes away" one's sins (Acts 22:16), that it puts one into Christ (Gal. 3 : 2 7) , and that it saves (1 Pet. 3:21) . To be "without understanding" on this point is to be without excuse.

But this lack of understanding is to be found, not only in the expansive realms of denominationalism, but to a far too great degree in the church of our Lord. Few are the Christians that are capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation on Bible matters. The number of those who are able to teach others effectively is certainly limited. Those who have an understanding of the nature and characteristics of the church are definitely in the minority. But what is worse is that these same ones do not seem to care. They are content to remain "willingly ignorant." Are we to be "destroyed for lack of knowledge," as the Israelites (Hos. 4:6)? Understand we not that the obligation rests upon us to try to learn ever more of God's word and to them communicate it unto those who are lost in sin? Are we void of the understanding that we must ever meditate upon that pattern for His church that we may see to it that we do not invent and introduce innovations into its work and worship? If we are, surely it is a "willful ignorance" so that we can be naught but "without excuse."

The New Testament is our guide. It reveals the operation as well as the establishment of the Lord's church. The early church established under the direction of the Holy Spirit is the Model church. Let us, therefore study this guide book and this model church and let us walk accordingly. The word of God "giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psa. 119:130) ; let us study it.

Truth Magazine, V:8, pp. 23-24
May 1961