I do not know the weather the day Paul strolled into Athens, but the atmosphere was one of persecution, and his broken heart was stirred. Paul’s heart, sold out but never burnt out, was moved because of all the idols he saw. I believe Paul’s heart would break if he were allowed to walk down the roads of evangelicalism. He would see our preacher idols and missionary elevations and be moved to nausea. Paul even saw an altar to an UNKNOWN GOD. Paul used that temple as a springboard for his message. He tells those Athenians plainly that what they have worshiped in ignorance he would declare to them openly and honestly. You see, idolatry always leads to ignorance of the True God. When you worship the wrong thing you cannot know the Real Thing. The problem Athens had is the same one that the modern church currently possesses.
God, for the most part, is not known by the modern church. This is not a problem caused by God. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. God has not hid Himself from the modern church; however, the church has attempted to hide away from God. As we hide in the bushes keenly aware of our own nakedness, God walks by and we curse Him for His concealment. Ravenhill said “a man may read because his mind is hungry, but he prays because his soul is hungry.” Our souls are deprived, but they believe themselves to be sufficient. Depravity never confesses itself, but it will exhaust all energy concealing itself. The church doesn’t know God, because the church doesn’t want to know God. The tares seem to be outnumbering the wheat. The goats seem to be multiplying while the sheep sit idly by. We sing our hymns because carrying a tune is easier than carrying a cross. We show up at church because attendance before peers is easier than attendance before God in prayer. We lift up our hands and we toss into the plate, but it’s all in ignorance. This is not just any ignorance, but the worst kind because it is self inflicted ignorance. I do not doubt that it may be sincere ignorance, but it is ignorance all the same.
We need the declaration of Who the True God is. Truth is the cure of ignorance. We need powerful proclamation of the potentiality that man can know God. Worship does not have to be ignorant. It should be invigorating, enlightening, and unmistakable, but never ignorant. Ignorant worship has never glorified God and it never will. It is difficult to process that 2000 plus years later, the modern church has yet to come to terms with the Athenian enigma. The most revolting notion of this is that the modern church is ignorant and its ignorance. There appears to be bliss implanted in the ignorance! I do not want to be happy; my passion is truth. My love is holiness. Oh sure, if we leave well enough alone, the modern church will happily and ignorantly “worship” on as it has been. Church members will keep on “believing that they believe” (to use Tozer’s words) but never actually believe. Ignorance has a high price. Ignorant worship means that we have no Gospel to share. We have become the proverbial “blind leading the blind”. I’m tired of ignorance. We all need some war torn preacher to walk into our cities, and get stirred up enough to tell us the truth. We need some man of God to love us enough to share the truth with us. We need a missionary declaring to us what we thought we already knew. He won’t be a babbler, he’ll be a beggar. One true worshiper will clear out one thousand ignorant ones.