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Author: Ron Graham


They Don’t Know
—what they need to know

It's an unpleasant fact that many people in this world are ungodly and in spiritual darkness. In regard to God, they don't know what they are doing, or what they are talking about, because they don't know the God who enlightens. They need to know him (John 1:1-5,9).

1 They Don’t Know What They Do.

Luke 23:34

"Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do.'"

In this short plea om the cross, Jesus shows concern that some who were crucifying him did not understand what they were doing. He wanted them to be forgiven by his Father.

Stephen spoke similar words when he was being stoned to death. And he knelt down, and cried with a loud voice, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death]" (Acts 7:60).

How many sins was God asked to forgive?

It is unlikely that Jesus or Stephen had in mind forgiveness limited to the one particular sin, namely their murder. What good would it do the perpetrators to be forgiven of only the one sin, since they would still have many other sins held against them?

God assures the sinner who responds to him, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Why would God make one or two sins white as snow, and leave all the others red like crimson? There is no salvation in that.

It is far more likely that Jesus and Stephen wanted the sinners to be led out of their ignorance and into faith, repentance, and confession of Christ, leading in turn to salvation from all sin (Romans 10:8-13, Acts 2:38).

For example, the Roman soldiers involved in the crucifixion were opening their hearts to God."So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" (Matthew 27:54).

Then there was Paul’s experience (when he was known as Saul). Paul says, "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man. However, I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1Timothy 1:13).

At that time, Paul did not realise that his actions were sinful. He did not know what he was doing! He had thought he was acting righteously. God took account of Paul’s ignorance and unbelief. But God did not pardon Paul until Paul had heard and obeyed the gospel (Acts 22:16).

Many people today are like those we've mentioned above. They are living in darkness and acting against Christ. They can, however, let God open their hearts to the gospel that he provides and to which they can respond —and if they do this, God will ensure that they do know exactly what they are doing.

2 They Don’t Know What They Say.

1Timothy 1:7

"They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are talking about..."

Some who are in darkness want to be teachers. They want to lay down rules and ideologies built on lies. They want to further their influence, and spread their false ideas, but Paul says that they don't know what they are talking about! On the other hand, many of them have large followings.

Paul warned Titus, "Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9 NKJV).

The main reason such disputes occur is that many people believe the Bible to be unreliable and therefore largely untrue. When we know the truth, we know what we are talking about. But if we think the Bible is not true, then we each rely upon our own version of what we think and insist is truth.

Paul says, "Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools... " (Romans 1:21-22 NKJV). Later, in verse 25, Paul adds, "They exchanged the truth of God for the lie".

This lie is that something replaces God. It may be the State; it may be an idol; it may be the sun or moon; it may be oneself; it may be a supposed intelligence cosmic or artificial. Whatever it is, it replaces the eternal God, and consequently replaces his eternal truth with falsehood.

A Modern Example

An example of this, in our time, is the denial of the biblical statement, "Then God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

It is denied that God created anything; it is even denied that such a God exists. Furthermore, it is denied that man is made in two genders, male and female, also known as man and woman.

3 They Don’t Know God.

Titus 1:16

"They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny God..."

Paul said to the Galatians, "¶ You have come to know God, or rather to be known by God. So how is it that you turn back again to the crude principles that are powerless and worthless? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?" (Galatians 4:9).

Paul told the Philosophers of Athens that God made man to grope for God and find him so that he will no longer be "the unknown God" (Acts 17:22-31).

Knowing God through Jesus Christ

There is only one way to know God, and that Way is his unique Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also..." (John 14:6-7).

Paul said to the Thessalonians that Christ will take , "vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thessalonians 1:8). That implies that we know God through Jesus Christ and his gospel.

We close with this word from John: "We know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20 NKJV).


Webservant Ron Graham

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