OceanSide church of Christ
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IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS
Victor M. Eskew
The phrase, “ignorance is bliss,” can be traced back to a poem written in August, 1742 by Thomas Gray. The poem is entitled, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” The last line reads as follows: “When ignorance is bliss, ‘till folly to be wise.” Many individuals have taken this phrase as a statement of truth. Information, reality, facts, and truth are rejected by many. These individuals continue in a condition of being uninformed, uneducated, lacking in knowledge and information. They continue in their ignorance with deep peace and extreme contentment. To them, ignorance is bliss.
God does not support this concept. Deity declares that ignorance is dangerous and destructive. The children of Israel were rejected by God because of ignorance. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou should be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6). Eventually, the ignorance of the Jewish nation would lead them into Babylonian captivity. “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…” (Isa. 5:13).
In this article, we want to look at some areas wherein ignorance can lead one to destruction. First, there are many people, some very religious, who are ignorant of the Lord’s church. In Matthew 16:18, the Son of God promised to build His church. “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Not only did Jesus build His church, he also purchased it with His own blood. In Acts 20:28, the elders of Ephesus are exhorted “…to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This church is singular in nature. In other words, only one true church exists. “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4), and that body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). The saved are added by the Lord to the church when they initially obey the gospel (Acts 2:47). When the Lord returns, He will be seeking this body. “That he might present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). These concepts are foreign to many. They believe that one church is as good as another. They even believe that the church is not important. Their ignorance of Bible teaching is going to cause them to miss the bridegroom when He comes for His holy bride, the church (Rev. 21:2).
Creationism is another area wherein ignorance is believed to be bliss. The government, schools, and state universities will not allow the subject of creationism to be taught. It if is taught, some might believe it. If it is believed, then one will believe that an all-powerful God exists. It will mean that He is the Creator. It will mean that all things, including man, are His creation. It will mean that as the creature, man must bow before the Creator. To all of these things, a great host would say: “God forbid.” They are happy not to know the facts. They are content not having the information proving that God exists. Ignorance is bliss.
Their ignorance does not change the fact that God exists. The evidence abounds within the creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Ps. 19:1-3). So much evidence is available that all who reject God will be without excuse on the last day. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). On the day of judgment, these individuals will stand before the great God that they have denied, and He will reject them. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God…who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:7-9). They will learn that “God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29); and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
A third area wherein ignorance appears to be bliss involves the practice of church discipline. Church discipline is not the mere reading of a letter from the elders to the church informing them that this action is being carried out. It is an action, a practice, involving the entire church (I Cor. 5:4-5, 11). Some seem to be very uneducated with regard to the actions they are to take when fellowship has been withdrawn from the disorderly. An alarming number would rather not know about their responsibility. The actions demanded by the inspired writers involve sacrifice, standing for one’s convictions, confronting the erring, and being ridiculed, at times by one’s brothers and sisters in Christ. To remain uninformed seems to be a blessing. Again, ignorance is bliss.
The reality is that the actions on the part of the faithful are not that difficult to understand. The New Testament is very plain and very blunt.
Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matt. 18:17).
Mark them…and avoid them (Rom. 16:17).
Not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator… (I Cor. 5:11).
With such an one no not to eat (I Cor. 5:11).
Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:11).
Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly (II Thess. 3:6).
Note that man, and have no company with him (II Thess. 3:14).
Admonish him as a brother (II Thess. 3:15).
From such withdraw thyself (I Tim. 6:5).
From such turn away (II Tim. 3:5).
Reject (Titus 3:10).
Receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed (II John 10).
The sinner is to be kept out of the midst of the faithful. He is to feel the removal of the ties of fellowship. He is to understand that his sinful actions have caused this disruption of fellowship. If the spiritual continues to fellowship the erring, the discipline is of no avail. God will hold that person accountable for his disobedience to His will. “For his that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 11).
Ignorance is not bliss. It can bring the soul of man to eternal condemnation. Our prayer for all is the same prayer Paul issued unto the throne of heaven on behalf of the Colossian brethren. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:9-11).