I Would Not Have You to Be Ignorant

I Would Not Have You to Be Ignorant

I Would Not Have You to Be Ignorant is a sermon teaching us that some choose to be ignorant. But we should not be ignorant. We need to know the word of God so we can do the will of God.

Key Verses:
Romans 1:13-17
Romans 10:1-4
Romans 11: 25-26
II Peter 3:5-9
I Thessalonians 4:13

Paul has written on the subject of being ignorant many times. He wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and points out that we should not be ignorant. The English word “ignorant” is found 17 times in your English bible and it simply means “without knowledge.” It means that you don’t know something. It does not mean to be stupid and is not an insulting term.

When Paul says that he does not want us to be ignorant, he is simply saying that he does not want us to be without knowledge. He wants us to know these things, to be aware of these things. So, he says often, “I would not have you to be ignorant.” There are some very definite things God wants us to know and some definite areas where God does not want us to be ignorant.

Romans 1:13: “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.”

Romans 1:14: “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”

Things God Wants Us to Know

The book of Romans is a very doctrinal book, it is a good book to go through. The whole purpose of Paul writing this book was to teach doctrine, particularly the doctrine of salvation but there are other doctrines included here as well. As Paul writes, he writes to the church in Rome.

In 64 A.D., Nero ruled Rome which led to the persecution of Christians including when Paul being beheaded, and Peter being crucified. This is an incredibly significant time when Paul writes his letter to the church in Rome. As he writes this letter in about 60 A.D and has not yet been to Rome. He wants to go there, and he will be there and end his life there. But before he goes, he writes this letter and teaches the people of this church in the city of Rome, probably made up largely of Jewish believers. He teaches them the doctrines of Christianity. In verse 13, he says for the first time, “Now I would not have you ignorant.” Or “I don’t want you to be without knowledge.”

He goes on to say, “that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you.” He has been wanting to go to Rome, it was his desire to go to Rome. He then says, “but was let hitherto.” Learning old English should be thought of as adding to your knowledge and understanding. He is saying that many times he had wanted to go to Rome, but he was hindered from going there in the past.

Why does Paul want to go to Rome? He says, “I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.” The church there was probably largely Jewish believers and there were Roman believers too. Later on, when Paul is in Rome and towards the end of his life, he talked about how some members of Caesar’s own household had become believers and become part of the church. The Romans who are there, are the ones that he is addressing.

Be Ready to Preach

In verse 14 he says, “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians;” The Barbarians were considered to be those who lived north of Rome, from Europe. He says, “both to the wise, and to the unwise.” — that includes everybody. What is it that he owes everybody?

Romans 1:15: “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”

Paul says as is much as is inside him, he is always ready to preach the gospel. He tells Timothy that later, he says “Be instant in season, out of season,” always ready to preach the gospel. An old preacher once said, “We, as Christians, ought to be ready to pray, preach, or die at any moment.” Think about that a moment. Can you pray at any time? Sure. Can you preach at any time? Most of the time. Can you die at any time? Rather not.

So, Paul says he is ready to preach the gospel at Rome also. He looked forward to that. He wanted to do it and desired to do it. Why?

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Some people are ashamed of or embarrassed by the gospel of Christ. One of the main reasons is because you do not know how someone is going to receive it. Sometimes you talk to people and you say I think ought to learn about Jesus and they may say they are not ready for that. They might turn you away or get angry with you. You do not know what their reaction is going to be. But it is not always like that. Sometimes people are thankful for you coming to tell them about Jesus. They have been needing someone to talk to about the Lord. So, Paul teaches us to not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “for it is the power of God” – power comes from the same word as dynamite. It is that kind of power that Paul speaks of.

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Why does Paul say, “to the Jew first”? Because the gospel came to the Jewish people first. The Word of God came to the Jewish people first. The Savior came to the Jewish people first. The gospel came to the Jewish people first. And then, “also to the Greek.” meaning not just to the people of Greece but to all Gentile people.

Romans 1:17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest who was desirous of knowing God. Though he was a priest, he felt that he did not know God. He felt God did not like him because of his sin. There is one story of him climbing on his knees up the steps of a cathedral and taking a whip and whipping his own back as he climbed up every step confessing his sin on every step. Why did he do that? Because he wanted to be forgiven. He thought if he punished himself, he would earn God’s forgiveness.

But then, as he studied the book of Romans he comes to this phrase, “the just shall live by faith” – the righteous shall live by faith. Martin Luther said that is it. He could not do enough or go through enough or confess enough to earn God’s forgiveness, but it is by faith. That was a turning point in the European continent as far as the doctrines that were taught in the churches there and a large part of the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation started before that. But it was a major turning point in the Protestant Reformation.

A Desire to See People Saved

So, Paul is saying that he does not want us ignorant. He does not want them ignorant that he has a deep desire to see people saved. Do we have a deep desire to see people saved? We need to. What this world needs, our cities need, our counties, our states, and our country needs, is to be saved.

Until we come to know Jesus as our Savior and ask his forgiveness, we will not know that life-changing event of salvation that is literally expressed in the term “born again.” Peter writes of being born again not of corruptible but incorruptible. Jesus says “ye must be born again.” That total transformation that takes place there, Paul writes “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, a new creation.” What does that mean “a new creation”? Being born again.

Until we come to that point, we do not really know God. Until we come to that point, we don’t have eternal life. You cannot have the assurance of eternal life if you don’t have eternal life. But when that happens, that life-transforming point comes, when we know that the Lord is our Savior, we know our sins are forgiven, our soul is saved, and we are on our way to Heaven, then, life really begins.

So that is why Paul says he desires that he might have some fruit among them. He doesn’t want us to be ignorant of the fact that he wanted to come again and again to preach so that others might be saved.

Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Paul wanted us to know one area where we should not be ignorant in that there are those who deeply desire to see others saved.

Know God’s Righteousness

Now we’re going to learn another area that Paul would not have us be ignorant in Romans chapter 10:

Romans 10:1: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”

Romans 10:2: “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.”

The people of Paul’s day and time had a zeal for God, they wanted to serve God but there was something they did not know. Paul could say this because it was his own life story. Paul was very zealous in serving God to the point of persecuting the church, but he was missing something. Having a zeal for God but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:3: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

They were ignorant, they did not know about God’s righteousness and tried doing their own righteousness before God. When you are trying to build your own righteousness, you have not submitted yourself to the righteousness of God. We need to be submitted to God. We need to surrender ourselves to Him.

Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

How do you get the righteousness of God? Through Jesus Christ. How do you do that? By believing. Paul is saying that the Jewish people of his day were zealous for God. They wanted to serve God, but they lacked a certain knowledge. They did not understand that the way to righteousness is by faith. Just as Paul had said earlier, “the just shall live by faith.”

We need to understand that the gospel is for everybody. And the gospel is the only hope for a lost and dying world and it is the only way to be righteous. This is an area in which we cannot afford to be ignorant. We need to know that no one can be saved apart from Jesus Christ. He gives righteousness to everyone who believes, but you must believe.

Some people say, “you have your religion, I have mine.” That is not correct. Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the belief in a person. It’s putting your faith in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a system. It is not a collection of doctrines and teachings. It is trusting in the person of Jesus Christ to be the propitiation, payment in full, for our sins, and to be your Savior to forgive you and grant you eternal life. Accept Him for who He is. And let Him bring you to who you should be and who He wants you to be, and if you are not ignorant, who you would want to be.

Blindness in Part

Romans 11:25: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

Paul says again that he would not that we be ignorant. He wants us to know and understand things. A “mystery” in the New Testament means “a new truth,” something you did not know before. Something that you were not ignorant of and simply did not know about it. Here Paul is saying that we are not to be without knowledge concerning this truth “lest you be wise to your own conceits.” Paul is writing to Gentile believers in Rome. In previous chapters, Paul was writing to Jewish people. But, here, Paul is saying “lest you be wise to your own conceits.” For example, “We have Jesus, but those Jewish people don’t. We must be better than them.” Do not ever think like that ever. Someone wisely said, “there’s level ground at the foot of the cross.”

So, Paul says here, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part” not total, but blindness in part, “is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” That is an especially important phrase. So he’s saying that the people of Israel are partially blind, not completely blind where they cannot see, but you need to know and understand “blindness in part” until – it is a temporary situation – “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

The Bible opens with the beginning of man on Earth. Shortly thereafter was the fall of mankind and the very first child born upon the Earth becomes a murderer. It is obvious that man has plunged into sin. But then you follow after the first eleven chapters is the history of the world in general. Beginning in chapter 12, it becomes the history of one man’s family. A man named Abraham and his descendants. There were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve children who become the nation of Israel. From there out through the rest of what we call the Old Testament is the story of God dealing with Israel. How God deals with Israel is how God wants to deal with everybody.

Then, in the New Testament, the Savior is introduced, and there comes a turning point. In the book of Acts is the beginning of the first church. In that first church which was in Jerusalem, everybody in that first church is Jewish. There was not a Gentile in the group. When Gentiles first wanted to come into the church, it was a bit of a controversy. “Should we even let them in?” They had a debate over that.

By the time Paul writes this, it is decades later, and he writes this letter when there are a lot of Gentile believers. Apparently, some of them in Rome had an attitude of conceit, saying, “Yes, the Savior came to Israel but we’re the believers. We’re somehow better than they are.” Paul says not to be ignorant of that truth. It is not right. What is this “fullness of the Gentiles be come in”?

The church which we see beginning in the book of Acts is a temporary situation here on earth. God worked through Israel until the period of the church began. Now, we are living in the Church Age. The Church Age is a temporary situation. When the Lord Jesus comes when what we call the Rapture, He is going to take the church out of this world.

And who is going to takeover spreading the gospel to the rest of the world? The people who started to do that, the people of Israel, the Jewish people. So “blindness in part” has happened to Israel until the “fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” That means until the last of the Gentile people are saved. When that time is up, God says it is time and the Lord comes to take His church out of the world. Jewish and Gentile believers alike will be taken out of the world. Then what happens?

Romans 11:26: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:”

Do not get thrown off by “all Israel shall be saved.” It is saying after the time when the church is removed and then when the Lord comes back in victory and establishes His kingdom, then all Israel will be saved. What about all the others who have lived in the present and the past and will live until that day comes? They need to be saved. “And so, all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” They are going to turn to the Savior. Some will, but blindness in part is Israel now. But that is going to end. When will it end? When the Savior comes in visible form and comes and rescues the people of Israel from the attacks from the rest of the world and then they will turn to Him as they see Him come in His power and His glory to establish the kingdom on Earth. And then we enter the Kingdom Age.

So we need to know that the spiritual blindness of Israel is a temporary situation and that the people of Israel in this age in which we live need the gospel just like everybody else because everybody does.

They That Are Asleep

I Thessalonians 4:13: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”

Paul wants us to know about those who have died, those believers, those family members and friends who we love, who have gone before us. They died in faith and we are not to sorrow like those who have no hope. If you do not have a Savior if you don’t believe in Jesus and someone you love passes on, you’ve seen them for the last time ever. You have no hope.

But if you are a believer and that person you love is a believer, yes, you have seen them for the last time here on Earth, you will sorrow and grieve for that and miss them. But we should not grieve as one who has no hope because one day we are going to see them again. And that is the hope. Paul does not want us to be without knowledge concerning the fact that we will see loved ones again and we will be with them again. It will be a great reunion day and therefore you can have hope. We need to know there is hope beyond this world and beyond this life.

Willingly Ignorant

II Peter 3:5: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”

Paul talks about a willing ignorance and that is sad. There are a lot of things we do not know simply because nobody has ever told us. A lot of things we do not know simply because we have not had the opportunity to learn them. But to be willingly ignorant, to choose to be ignorant, to know that there is something there that can be known but we do not want to know about it. We reject that knowledge.

Paul writes that there were certain believers that are willingly ignorant of “the word of God the heavens were of old,” meaning God spoke the universe into existence. You read the creation story back in Genesis 1:3 where it says, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” And God said, “let the sea bring forth life.” God spoke the world into existence.

And that is what Peter says in II Peter 3:5, that they were willingly ignorant of this, “that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” The waters were separated, and the dry land appeared. When? When God spoke. All of the creation happened by the word of God. There are people who do not want to believe that and are willingly ignorant of it. Why are they willingly ignorant of it? Because if they acknowledge creation, they have to acknowledge a creator, and if they acknowledge a creator, they have to acknowledge the authority of the creator over their life and that is what they don’t want to do.

Mankind in general is a rebellious creature and we do not want anyone telling us what we can and can’t do, what we should and shouldn’t do. And that “anybody” includes God. So, they reject God so that they can be their own independent free agent and just do as they want. If you choose that route, God will let you. He will let you go your own way. He will let you “do your own thing” as people say. Again, look at Peter’s words:

II Peter 3:5: “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”

II Peter 3:6: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:”

Peter is talking about the days of Noah’s flood. People are willingly ignorant of the fact that God created the world, willingly ignorant that there was once a worldwide flood. Let’s put this in context today. People say today that the whole world is going through some climate change. People have made many predictions over the years about sea levels rising and lands being covered by water and if we need to act now to change it. Rarely does someone come up with a viable solution.

Those same people will deny that there could have been a worldwide flood. There is evidence on every continent of the world that the world was once underwater. If every continent in the world has evidence of being underwater, why is it hard to believe that there was once a worldwide flood? You can go to every continent and see the evidence of a worldwide flood, yet people say there was no worldwide flood. That is what Peter is saying.

II Peter 3:7: “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

The next judgement on the world will not be a worldwide flood, but fire. God promised not to flood the world again, but it is going to be a worldwide fire.

II Peter 3:8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Peter says what Paul has been saying, “beloved, be not ignorant” – don’t be without knowledge. Isn’t it interesting that Peter and Paul use the same phrase? Not surprisingly, they were both led by the same Holy Spirit. Peter is saying not to be ignorant of this, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” – that God lives outside of time. God is not governed by time as we know it. You and I are governed by time, but God is not. We live in the realm of time and God lives in the realm of eternity. So, God is never late. God knows things that you and I do not. And here is the conclusion of it all:

II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

God does not promise something and then backs off on it as people do. But God is longsuffering toward us, he is very patient to you and me and He’s not willing that any should perish. Let that phrase sink into you, “that any should perish.” It means God does not want people to go to Hell. In Ezekiel chapter 33, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, saith the Lord.” And here He says, “not willing that any should perish.” How does that square with some of the teachings where people say God has selected those to be saved and everyone else is not going to be saved and no matter what they believe or what they do they can’t be saved? It is not what the bible says, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God wants us to repent, to turn away from our sin and turn to God.

Dr. Lee Roberson once said, “The condition of salvation is repentance and faith.” That’s it. Repent of your sins and turn to God. Some people say they have to get rid of all their sins before turning to God. No, just repent of your sin and turn to God and He will take care of the rest. Repentance has a lot to do with a cowboy proverb I previously said, “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.”

But here is the point that Peter wants us to understand. Do not be ignorant of the fact that some people choose to be ignorant, they want to be ignorant. Why? Because coming to faith interferes with what they want to do with their life. But our life here is temporary. Why not turn to Him who can give us eternal life? Because God wants us to be saved. You and I should not be ignorant of that.

So what’s the conclusion of the whole matter as Solomon would say?

  1. We must not allow ourselves to be ignorant. We have the truth, the bible. Do not be ignorant of God’s word. Do not be ignorant of God’s truth. We have the word of God. If we are ignorant, it really is our fault, isn’t it? We have the opportunity to learn.
  2. You and I must help others to know the truth. Blindness in part happened to Israel. Blindness in part has happened to people. But do not let that lead you to think that you cannot reach people with the truth. People reach for the truth all the time. Somebody reached you with the truth.
  3. With so many false witnesses and liars in this world, somebody needs to tell the truth. People are lost because of their ignorance. Somebody needs to tell the truth.
  4. We need not be ignorant. We need to know the word of God so we can do the will of God.

Get in-depth knowledge by viewing or listening to the sermon: I Would Not Have You to Be Ignorant

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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