Our thoughts in this essay will examine some reasons that men might not obey the Gospel, and also why some in the Lord’s body ought to reconsider the attitudes we might have unconsciously developed. Given the conditions of our (and every) society, Biblically uninformed Christians will undoubtedly find themselves with the same difficult task of repelling the considerable dualities of ignorance and/or arrogance that so many in the world will display with reference to God. The Scriptures certainly speak of both as unacceptable with regard to (and in light of) the Day of Judgment.
In II Thessalonians 1:7–9, the Scriptures speak of those who “know not God” and those who “obey not the gospel.” Clearly there are two distinct classes of people being discussed to be judged: those who have no knowledge of the heavenly creator (resulting from any variety of reasons), and those who have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and have (for whatever reason) rejected it.
In Romans 10:3, the apostle Paul writes of those who are ignorant (not having information) of God’s righteousness. In the very next chapter he mentions that the brethren should not be ignorant of the mystery, and in the I Corinthians epistle (chapters 10, 12) Paul states that he does not want the believers to be ignorant of important revelation.
Paul says in Philippians 3:10 that one of the most important things in his life (and we hope our lives as well) is to know God (“that I might know Him”). We are also exhorted to grow in the knowledge of Him (Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 1:9; to name a few). This we can do through a continual study of the Scriptures.
It will not be an acceptable excuse on the Day of Judgment to tell the Lord that we did not have/give/take time to know (learn of, about, and from) Him. We will not be able to lay the blame to anyone else. We will all have to give an account to Jesus for our own actions. Paul summoned the elders of Ephesus to Miletus (Acts 20:28–30) so that they might not be ignorant (unaware) of grievous wolves that would not spare the flock. Paul no doubt surprised them when he told them that some of those “wolves” would come from among themselves.
Jude likewise warned against the ignorance that was allowing false doctrine to seep in among them. God wants us to “rightly divide the word of truth.” Knowing the Lord’s Word does not give us the prerogative to be arrogant (or full of pride) with or about it. Our Christian responsibility is to “search the scriptures,” making certain that the things that are said (preached and taught) are in accord with divine truth (Acts 17:11). In order to discern truth correctly we must “study” the inerrant Word of God diligently, so we might “rightly divide” it (handle it properly—for ourselves and others).
Arrogance is a characteristic of pride. The word means to have an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. God resists such people (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5). When we impart the engrafted Word that saves souls (James 1:21), it is to be in the spirit of meekness and humility. Humility is also warranted when we find that our own opinions or biases are not consistent with (or have the authority of) the holy and Divine Scriptures.