1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Ignorance is no declaration of inability, rather it is the declaration of a lack of information or experience. Having not lived in the time of the incarnation, we are ignorant of the level of physical experience the disciples were privy to. Can you imagine being one of them? To have literally walked with God in the flesh? To have eaten with Him? To have watched Him die and rise from the dead?
These are experiences reserved for those who were alive and present with Jesus when He was here. And we are dependent on their communicating to us these experiences. This is one of the reasons the Scriptures must play a central role in our lives and growth as Christians.
We do, however, have the Holy Spirit amongst us, in a way that was only dreamed of in the Old Testament times. In fact, the writer of Hebrews focuses on the same issue. After one of the most glorious retellings of OT saints and their sufferings he lays down the final verses regarding their lack of experiencing the Promise, the coming Messiah.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Peter says much the same in his discussion of the salvation that his readers had experienced being in the midst of a lack of experience with Christ himself.
1 Peter 1:8-12
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, thing into which angels long to look.
But in our admittedly privileged state of clarity when it comes to the gospel, we sometimes become envious of those who were able to, as John says, "see with our eyes" and "touch with our hands". We want to experience that, if only for a moment, so that our appreciation of the physical realities of the gospel would grow in the midst of our ignorance.
But it is not so.
God has designed that at this time in redemptive history we are to remain ignorant of the experience that the apostles lived through, that we are to depend on their testimony as the foundation of our understanding our great God.
Ignorance of the physical experience is part of it, and it is no accident.
It is by God's design that the church would be driven to the Scriptures to see what is the truth, rather than their own experiences. When we understand that this is not intended to be a cosmic-level frustration for us, rather it is a safeguard of the church's solidity, then we may free ourselves of the pride that somehow God owes us an experience that solves our ignorance, and settle ourselves on our God-given gift of relying on Him and His plan that He knows what is best for us. Even if it means sometimes frustrating, sometimes infuriating, ignorance.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
God's intention, rather than ours, ought to be our preoccupation. His foolishness is wiser than you, and His weakness is stronger than you. The justified ones are those who live by faith and reliance on God rather than themselves. Let's seek to grow in that faith.
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