Ignorance is not Bliss

See Also: Zombified

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. 
Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light,
and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops."
(Luke 12:1-3)

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

The Day of the Lord

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Be Steadfast

14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3)

Ignorance Of The Bible Isn’t Just A Problem In Our Culture
—It’s A Problem In The Church

36a78784 4840 4e47 9035 4709c0c5213a

Ignorance of the Bible isn’t just a problem in our culture. It’s a problem in the church, and it’s scandalous.

While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular world-view’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home—biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.

How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

Only half of all Christian adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the twelve disciples. According to data from the Pew Research Center, nearly half don’t even realize that the Golden Rule is not one of the Ten Commandments.

Multiple surveys reveal the problem in stark terms. Most Christians in the United States believe the Bible teaches, “God helps those who help themselves” (and some even believe this quote is a Bible verse). A series of Barna surveys shows that only 19% of “born again Christians” hold to the simplest elements of a basic biblical world-view.

We would not expect secularized Americans to be knowledgeable about the Bible. A Barna poll once indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc might be Noah’s wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount.

The larger scandal is biblical ignorance among Christians. Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same among professing Christians. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible. It shows.

How can a generation be biblically shaped in its understanding of human sexuality when it believes Sodom and Gomorrah to be a married couple? No wonder our culture has so quickly embraced the normality of same-sex marriage. And it’s little wonder that Christians show a growing tendency to compromise on such issues.

Worse, many who identify themselves as Christians are similarly confused about the gospel itself. An individual who believes that “God helps those who help themselves” will find salvation by grace and justification by faith to be alien concepts.

Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that place too little value on biblical knowledge. Paul’s words to Timothy are as valuable today as ever: “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention. And while the increasing emphasis on small group ministry has certainly increased opportunities for fellowship, many of these groups never get beyond superficial Bible study.

Youth ministries are asked to fix problems, provide entertainment, and keep kids busy. But how many local church youth programs actually substantially increase their Bible knowledge during the critical junior high and high school years?

Even the pulpit has been sidelined in many congregations. Preaching has taken a back seat to other concerns in corporate worship. The centrality of biblical preaching to the formation of disciples is lost, and Christian ignorance leads to Christian indolence and worse.

Recovery starts at home. Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God (see Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Parents cannot pass their responsibility off to the congregation, no matter how faithful and biblical it may be. Even if they have had little training themselves, it is no excuse. God assigned parents this nonnegotiable responsibility, and children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God’s Word. (Spiritual leadership is far more important than second jobs, second cars, and the many other distractions of modern life.)

Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical teaching and preaching, and refuse to sideline the teaching ministry of the preacher. Pastors and churches too busy—or too distracted—to make biblical knowledge a central aim of ministry will produce believers who simply do not know enough to be faithful disciples. (Worse, they will fail to pass down a clear understanding of the gospel to the next generation sitting in the pews.)

We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.

This generation of Christian parents and pastors must get deadly serious about the problem of biblical illiteracy, or a frighteningly large number of Americans—Christians included—will go on thinking that Sodom and Gomorrah lived happily ever after.

Without a mature knowledge of God’s Word, how can churchgoers expect to make new disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19)?

Answers In Genesis  February 6, 2023.

Darkness of Mind

by Ray Stedman

What a baffling and confusing world we live in today. So many conflicting ideas and concepts are thrust upon us from every direction and many of them seem directly contradictory. Authorities of equal repute tell us one thing and then another and what they say clashes violently. It is hard to know what to believe today. In the last few weeks people have said to me:

"I don't know what to believe about Vietnam. I don't know what is going on out there, or what kind of a position to take on it." Others say, "I don't know what to make of civil rights, and this civil rights program. I don't know what position to take. There seems to be two sides to this." Others say, "We don't know what to believe about the present political outlook and our present administration." Others are concerned about the philosophy of education of our day, the matter of training children, or the great and pressing issue of sliding moral standards which is brought before us so frequently today. Who knows what to believe? Listen to all the voices around and you will come up with many kinds of conflicting philosophies. No wonder that many are confused and ready to follow any voice that seems to offer a way out. Now, to a Christian living in this confusing, baffling, bewildering world, the Apostle Paul has a very definite word to say. It is not another vague, uncertain word of advice, simply another of the voices on every hand today, but it is clear and precise and right to the point of the problem that you and I are facing.

In the opening verses of the 4th chapter of Ephesians, the apostle has been dealing with the nature of the church and the part each Christian has to play in its operation and its growth. But now, with Verse 17, he turns to the Christian in relationship to an unbelieving world, a world in which that Christian must live. Though this account was written almost two thousand years ago, it is impossible to read this thoughtfully without seeing that the world today is exactly the same, and the Christian's reaction to it must be exactly the same. Following Paul's usual pattern in presenting a subject, he begins with a general statement, then breaks it down into a more analytical study of the various aspects of the statement he has made. Here is the general statement, in Verse 17:

Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; (Ephesians 4:17 RSV)

Notice the force of that exhortation. The apostle says "I affirm and testify in the Lord." That means this is not merely a piece of apostolic advice. This is not simple human reasoning, this is a result of divine revelation. This is part of that whole revelation of the mind of God that was given to the Apostle Paul in what he calls "visions and revelations of the Lord" (2  Corinthians 12:1), when the Lord Jesus himself appeared to him and instructed him as to the message he should give to the church of his day, and, through it, to the church of our day as well. This then is not mere human advice. Paul says, "I testify and affirm in the Lord that this is what must be done." This is the finger of God placed squarely at the root of a human problem.

Well, what is it he says? He says, "You Christians must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." It would perhaps be helpful to translate the word Gentiles here by the word nations. It is often translated that way elsewhere in Scripture and is the same word. It simply means "the nations," worldlings, those outside of Christ. This has no reference to the distinction between Jews and Gentiles, it refers to anyone who is outside of Christ. "You Christians," he says, "must no longer live as they do." How is that? "In the futility of their minds." Paul is saying, "The place to start in living as a Christian is to recognize you must think differently than the world does." Notice, he does not start with actions. He is not one of these do-gooders who moves in and tries to change the outward scene only. He starts with the thought-life, with the mind, and he declares that the world's thinking is futile, i.e., empty. This is the vital appeal that he makes to Christians, "You must not think like the worldling does, you must not adopt the world's philosophy of living, or follow the world's systems of value." Why? "Because the worldling," he says, "lives in futility, emptiness of mind."

The word for futility, in the original Greek, means "void of purpose or appropriateness," i.e., pointless. Philips, in his modern paraphrase puts it very accurately and beautifully: "Do not live as the gentiles live. For they live blindfold in a world of illusion," (Ephesians 4:17b-18a J. B. Philips). The New English Bible says, "Give up living like pagans, with their good-for-nothing notions," (Ephesians 4:18a NEB). That is exactly it, "good for nothing." Impressive, perhaps, clever, oftentimes startling, provocative, but pointless! The world in its thinking is pointless.

If this is true you can see why there is such a fundamental cleavage between Christianity and the world, and why the Lord Jesus drew a distinct line of demarcation between the thinking of the world, the direction of the world, the destiny of the world, and those of the Christian. This is why the Christian is told he cannot love the world and the Father at the same time. John makes that crystal clear in his first letter (1 John 2:15). There is a fundamental difference between the two. This is why "friendship with the world," in the words of James, "is enmity with God," (James 4:4 KJV). Notice, not friendship with the worldling, that is something different, but friendship with the world, with its ways of thinking, its philosophy. That is enmity with God.

Now this needs to be made very clear, because it is a very important distinction. As we all know, fallen man prides himself on his ability to reason. We consider this the highest function of humanity and take great pride in the ability of man to ferret out knowledge and to put various items of knowledge together to produce very practical gadgets. We point with pride to the technological perfection of our modern developments, to the skill with which science has harnessed the forces of nature and made them the servants of man. Man exalts his reason, but the writers of Scripture universally agree, though all this may be very impressive, clever, and remarkable in the eyes of men, in the eyes of God the reasoning of man is pointless, empty, vain. As the Lord Jesus himself put it, "What is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God," (Luke 16:15 KJV). Now that is putting it very strongly, is it not? That is speaking plainly.

But see how the apostle brings Christians face to face with the fundamental issue? We must face this very squarely. Either God is right or the world is right, one or the other. It cannot be both. The Christian must choose on which basis he is going to live his life. If he is to follow Christ, he must be willing to have his thinking changed. When you become a Christian this is the first issue you face. You must be willing to have your whole fundamental outlook on life drastically altered. Christianity is not merely a change in outward actions, a bit higher moral or ethical level. Christianity is a revolutionary change of government which results in a radical change in behavior. Paul certainly brings this out very plainly here. Now he moves on to analyze more closely this problem of faulty thinking. What makes human thinking so pointless, so without ultimate significance? The answer he gives is in Verse 18:

...they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; (Ephesians 4:18 RSV)

He is tracing a chain of cause and effect here. Beginning with the most immediate effect he is tracing it back to that which causes it. The first step is that worldlings think futilely because their understanding is darkened. Just as a cloud, passing over the sun, darkens the light of it, so the thinking of man in his fallen state is shadowed, obscured, darkened. Scripture continually uses these terms, light and darkness, as metaphors for truth and ignorance. Truth is light; ignorance is darkness. Paul's figure declares that men's thinking is shadowed with ignorance, it is pointless because it stems from ignorance. That is rather arresting, is it not? We think we know so much, and we do. We know so much, but we never know quite enough. That is what the apostle is saying.

Again this relates to a truth that we find widespread throughout the Scriptures: Man is ignorant because there is a part of his being that does not function. It is his spiritual life. His spirit is blank, darkened, obscured. In that part of his being which was intended to function as the key to his life there is nothing taking place. As a result, all his knowledge is broken, unrelated, incomplete. That is the picture Paul draws. What man thinks, though it may be very clever, does not bring him anywhere, does not produce anything, does not better him. We are haunted these days with the question: Has this tremendous civilization really done anything for us?

Last week I wandered among the ruins of an ancient Mayan civilization in Guatemala, viewing half-covered temples just now being excavated from the dirt and dust of centuries. The more archaeologists uncover the Mayan ruins, the more we learn of the remarkable civilization of that day. But modern man is continually haunted with the question, "Are we really any better than they?" We may be better off, but are we any better? Have we really advanced in any way? The understanding of man is darkened and it is especially evident in his thinking about himself and about God. It can be seen in his value systems, his evaluation of the power structures of life, in the way he determines what is important and what is not important.

Illustrations abound for this. Coming back from Guatemala last week I had to go through customs in Los Angeles. While waiting for the plane to be reloaded, I sat in the lounge and picked up a discarded newspaper. (That is the Scottish way of reading newspapers and I take advantage of it every chance I get.) Reading through the headlines, my attention was caught by an article headed, Religion Fading, says Psychiatry Professor. I read on and saw that the associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles Neuro-Psychiatric Institute had said that religion is fading away from modern civilization, and he calls this the most hopeful sign of our times. In the article there was this almost incredible paragraph,

The decline in religious feeling among civilized people is an indication that man is steadily becoming more rational and less subject to superstition and therefore less likely to kill and maim those who disagree with him.

That in a day when crimes of violence are at an unprecedented height, when the streets of our cities are no longer safe to walk at night, and when the great cities of America literally seethe with suppressed hate and incipient riot and bloodshed! What a confirmation of the apostle's analysis of human thinking. The mind of fallen man is darkened, blinded, and does not see things as they really are. It can ignore obvious facts that thrust themselves upon us constantly and blithely dismiss them with a wave of the hand to pronounce that man is getting better and better. That is a sign of the ignorance and consequent darkening of the human mind.

This unaccountable darkness is seen in the glib talk today about situational ethics, i.e., morals determined by situation, expediency, also in the relativity of morals, and the widespread acceptance of the idea that sexual promiscuity is an expression of personal freedom, even though those who indulge in this kind of living inevitably show themselves to be increasingly the slaves of human passion, and suffer in their own lives the consequent inevitable restlessness of spirit and torment of heart. How can man be so blind? It is the darkening, the shadowing of the fallen mind:

It is seen in Communism with its emphasis on the material and economic, and its ignorance of the emotional and spiritual forces at work in mankind. It is likewise evident in American materialism, with its passion for new and better things while ignoring the hunger of the spirit in man, concentrating only on supplying the needs of the body and the soul, especially the body. It is seen in our admiration for aggressive, hardheaded men who get to the top at all costs, and for our belief that power is measured by how many men you control, how many people are subject to you, how many you can get to serve you instead of how many you serve. It is seen, perhaps most clearly, in the naive ignoring of the basic twist of human nature that is evident in panaceas and programs that are continually offered as solutions to the problems of mankind. I read the letters to the editor in the newspaper quite frequently and I am almost amused at how many people offer simple answers to complicated problems. They come out with very idealistic, wonderful sounding programs based on the naive assumption that human beings can be good if they want to badly enough. If they can just be shown that a thing is wrong they will all immediately stop it, yet the record of history is mankind is continually stumbling over its own footsteps. Man is his own worst enemy, and the basic problem is the twist of universal human evil.

In their ignorant blindness, men think themselves all right, and, therefore, fancy they do not need God. The next step is inevitable. They are "alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them." Paul is not blaming men for this, any more than God blames them for it, he is simply analyzing a situation that exists. Because their understanding is darkened, shadowed, incomplete, in their ignorance they reject the life of God and therefore cut themselves off from the one thing man needs to be man! Both nature and Scripture concur that man is incomplete without God. Man was made to be the dwelling place of God. It is God in man which makes man a man. This was fully demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ. It was because he was so fully indwelt of the Father that he was able to be fully and wholly a man, man as God intended man to be. Therefore the life of God is essential to manhood and without it man is blinded, weak, and ignorant. Some of the world's great psychologists have seen the truth of this rather clearly. In a letter to E. Stanley Jones, the great Austrian psychologist Carl Jung wrote:

Those psychiatrists who are not superficial have come to the conclusion that the vast neurotic misery of the world could be termed a neurosis of emptiness. Men cut themselves off from the root of their being, from God, and then life turns empty, inane, meaningless, without purpose. So when God goes, goal goes. When goal goes, meaning goes. When meaning goes, value goes, and life turns dead on our hands.

Jung also saw this evil within himself. He said that the man who used psychology to look behind the scenes of his patient's lives must also use it more especially to look behind the scenes in his own life. If he does not do this, says Jung, he is merely an "unconscious fraud."

But there is yet more here in Paul's great analysis. If men were cut off from God only because of ignorance of him, they might well excuse themselves, for no man can be blamed for not having what he doesn't know exists, but now we learn the whole truth. It is all "due to their hardness of heart." Man is born ignorant and cut off from the life of God, but he remains in that condition only because of the hardness of his heart.

A young Christian said to me recently, "Why is it, when we have the world's greatest product, it is so hard to sell?" The reason is because man resists the truth, rejects light, turns from God's love, clings to his error, and thus renders his heart gradually harder and harder and more unable to respond. All of this marks the twisted, shadowed, empty thinking of the world. Paul says, "You Christians must not think this way any longer. If you are going to live a Christian life, the first place it must become evident is a change in your thinking. You must not follow these philosophies, you must not agree with these attitudes, you must not adopt these value systems." For, if you do, you will go on to demonstrate the inevitable outcome, the next step in Paul's analysis here, Verse 19:

...they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. (Ephesians 4:19 RSV)

He says the same thing in Romans 1, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28b KJV), that they might practice the awful list of evil deeds that is so frankly and bluntly described there. It sounds like it was culled from the pages of any morning newspaper today. Why do people do these things? Why is moral licentiousness so rampant? Why are our standards so constantly deteriorating? It is because men are futile in their thinking; it is because of this shadowed thinking, this incompleteness, this ignorance from which men operate, even the best of them, even the finest of minds, unredeemed, unregenerated.

But the good news of the gospel is that God reaches even these kind of people. He draws and softens and melts. The amazing love of Christ penetrates even the hardness of men's hearts. Therefore, we are not to blame people like this, or to withdraw from them. We are to remember that we, too, had the same mind, the same outlook on life. As Paul says in Colossians 1:21, "...you who once were estranged and hostile in mind," that is the way we thought too, until God's love reached us. So we are not to be judgmental, not to be hard and harsh toward these who think this way. This is the basic condition of humanity to which the gospel makes its appeal.

Now the apostle goes on to trace one other thing. The only hope of helping these people is to demonstrate a wholly different pattern of thought, a wholly different set of values. The implication is clear that if we live like the world lives, even though we are Christians, there is not a thing we can do to help them, not a thing!

You remember the story of the boy who thought he would teach some sparrows to sing like a canary, so he put them in a cage with the canary, hoping the canary would teach them to sing. In a few days he found the canary chirping like the sparrows. This is always the case, is it not? If we give ourselves to the attitudes and ways of thinking of those around us, we will inevitably do the same things, there is no avoiding it. The only way to help them is to demonstrate a completely different level of life. Many of us have been astounded this past year at leaders who have gone through moral breakdowns. Why? Because somewhere along the line they succumbed to the futile thinking of the world. They gave way in their thought life. This is what makes a man turn from the things of Christ to pursue materialism or personal ambition: He succumbs to the philosophy of the world around. But now we come to the reason why Paul speaks so strongly. He says, in Verse 20,

You did not so learn Christ! -- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. (Ephesians 4:20-21 RSV)

In other words, you must not live like the Gentiles because you need not. In Christ, you have a different principle of living, a different way of thinking. In Christ, you have the truth by which you can test everything else, the truth as it is in Jesus. That is a wonderful phrase. That ought to form the basic concept of all Christian thinking. You have found in Jesus Christ the truth, the simple truth: About life, about yourself, about the world, about the makeup of science and nature, about human behavior. "In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Colossians 2:3). You have found in Christ the truth. I wish to stress that, for this is the point the apostle is making.

The Lord Jesus said these challenging words. "If any man follow me, he shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life," (John 8:12). That means a Christian does not need to walk in uncertainty about things, in lack of knowledge. It means that, in Christ, we have the truth that reveals. It is popular today to think that nothing can be known for sure. That is part of the futility of the world's thinking, to think that there are no final answers, no ultimate knowledge, no ultimate truth. Recently I heard even a Christian pastor say that all knowledge must at last be reduced to the tentative, we can only think we know but we never know for sure. Now Christianity repudiates that concept utterly. The New Testament denies that. Christ has come that we might know -- not everything, that is true. We do not become paragons of knowledge automatically spouting out revelations of ultimate truth about everything. We do not know everything, but what we do know, we know. Christ said to his disciples, "If you continue in my word ... you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free," (John 8:31b, 8:32). That is what the truth always does, it sets men free. Truth, even though it is hard truth, difficult truth, is realistic and therefore it sets us free and tears away the veils of illusion.

Perhaps I should add this qualifying word here. Not everything a worldling thinks is wrong, because obviously God's truth is at work in the world as well, and the world has picked up a good deal of it. The world knows quite a bit of truth, but the point is, it is so intermingled with error that it is indistinguishable until you lay it alongside the truth as it is in Jesus. That is the only measuring stick we have. How can you tell what is true? How can you tell what is wrong? How can you tell what is error? There is only one way, the truth as it is in Jesus. That truth is always to the point, it is purposeful, it leads to significant, useful, appropriate living. It is this the apostle is stressing. We must learn to test all our thinking by what the Lord Jesus has revealed, either directly himself or indirectly through the apostles whom he has sent to tell us the truth: The truth as it is in Jesus.

Tested by this, we discover there is much we must reject today. I do not have any problem with this "God Is Dead" movement. It does not bother me in the least. I know it is one of those things that sweep like cyclones across the landscape of human thinking and then is gone again, to be replaced next year by something else -- one of those fads or fashions in theology that come and go. But do I give any credence to it, do I think it has any weight or merit? Of course not! For the Lord Jesus has said that God is not dead. God is an eternal Father, God is Spirit, eternal, immortal, invisible, constantly underlying all of life. Measured by the truth that is in Jesus all such nonsense is immediately rejected as unworthy of consideration.

There are so many things we can measure this way. Today the theological world, and many Christians, are troubled by the rise of the idea of universalism again, the hope that all men will be saved, that no matter what they do, all are redeemed, all will be saved. But, measured by the truth as it is in Jesus, we reject that statement -- much as we would like to believe it. For, you see, Jesus says something different, and, though it is hard, he is the authority we accept. Reading an article in His Magazine recently on this very subject, I found deep agreement with these words. The writer says,

I am deeply impressed by the argument of brilliant thinkers like Tillich, Ferre, Bultmann, Bruner and Barth, not to mention John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, the Pope, Nietzsche, Feuerbach, Bertrand Russell, and many more. But what do these men know? What are the data on which they base their judgments? When it comes to the important question, "What is man's destiny after this life?" I prefer Jesus Christ, the God-man, to Paul Tillich, as my authority. I prefer Jesus Christ to Rudolf Bultmann. And above all, lest you misunderstand me, I prefer Jesus Christ to my own blind human guesses based on woefully inadequate data.

Exactly! Christ is the authority. The truth is revealed in Jesus, therefore We reject all philosophies that urge the necessity of "getting even" as a way of living with one another. We reject all philosophy that says that trials are tragic occurrences for which we ought to feel sorry for ourselves, and act as though we have been offended when they come into our lives as though we had been specially singled out for difficulty. We are to remember, in the light of the truth as it is in Jesus, that these trials and sufferings are part of the program, part of God's ministering to us, part of that which it takes to make us what God wants us to be.

We are to reject the common philosophy of the day that others are to blame for our weaknesses, that if we lived in different circumstances, with different people and had to face different problems, we could be different. The truth as it is in Jesus says that there is adequacy in Christ for any situation, any place; that God has put you where you are because he wants you to live the Christian life right there; that those around you will never have the chance to see the tremendous, revolutionary difference that being a Christian makes unless they see it in your life right where you are right now.

That is where we are to begin to live, and this is why Paul says we "must no longer live as the Gentiles do," in the emptiness of their minds, for we "did not so learn Christ." There are resources in him far greater than any worldling every dreamed of. There are possibilities of fruitfulness and glory and grace in Jesus Christ which, if they begin to manifest themselves in your life, will set your neighbors and friends saying, "What has this person got? "What kind of a faith is this? "What do these people have that makes them able to live like this?" Now, that is the challenge the apostle sets before us.

In the rest of this chapter he will detail it for us in specifics, bringing it right down where we live. As we go through this, we shall see that what we do is itself witnessing, telling what we are. Therefore, what we are must be what Christ is, for that is the only life that arrests and changes and challenges men.

Darkness of Mind
MAY 08, 1966

Lithos: Living Stones

Lithops is a genus of succulent plants in the ice plant family, Aizoaceae. 
Members of the genus are native to southern Africa. 
The name is derived from the Ancient Greek words λίθος 'stone' and ὄψ 'face', 
referring to the stone-like appearance of the plants. Wikipedia

A young friend of mine, an evangelist, noted recently that many different postings were appearing daily, all pointing to Jesus, but each in a different way. Immediately I thought of these Living Stones. I replied, "The Church that Jesus Christ has been building for two millennia is made up of living stones (us). All hand fitted, Each important, each unique."

My main concern is for that special group of people (the ekklesia, A Glorious Church) whom God has called out of this lost world to be a new kind of family, a new community which is all His own:

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame."

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:4-10)

In other words, God is not saving the world and He is not busy fixing society. His main work is focused right now on a special minority--He is nurturing a small group of people on the earth today who are connected way down deep inside--to Jesus Christ the Lord. This group is the family of God--those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God through their trust in Jesus Christ. These few--a godly remnant--constitute the very temple of God. See:The Glorious Church.

Ignorance is Not a River in Egypt

Lambert's Main Library 
Email is welcome: Lambert Dolphin
Library Annex (678 new articles since 2018)  

February 14, 2023. April 21.2023

Archive for Newsletters

#44 Ninety Years Old October 2022
#45 Grace and Mercy 12/25/22

      Google Custom Search