THE FOOLISH VIRGINIANS
T. PIERCE BROWN
I heard of a man who moved fromTennesseetoVirginiawhen he was very young. He attended church services regularly, and was asked to read a passage on one occasion. He read the story in Matthew 25, which starts like this, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish.”
With a look of amazement, he said, “If I had not read it with my own eyes I would not have believed it. It says there were five foolish Virginians, and no matter how hard it is to believe, we have to take what the Bible says.”
Paul once mentioned some who had “a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). That fellow inVirginiamight be “likened unto them.” But at least his attitude was good. Even if one does not understand what the Bible says, it is good to have a basic faith that is willing to take whatever it says. That, of course, has led to many misunderstandings, but it is far better for a man to have faith in what he understands about the Bible, even if he misunderstands it, than for one to not even believe what he thinks the Bible says. The first one can be taught, and will do better when he learns better. The second one may be taught, but if he did not do what he thought the Bible taught in the first place, he is usually not willing to do what he learns anew.
Paul is a good illustration of the point. He misunderstood what God’s will was. But he was very much concerned about doing it. God can use a man like that, and use him mightily! But if Paul had not cared about these peculiar people whom he thought were blaspheming God, and cared enough about God’s will to try to get rid of them in accordance with what he thought was God’s will, God could scarcely have found any use for him if he had been dragged into the Kingdom.
We would far rather be in the position of the good, ignorant man who thought Jesus talked about the foolish Virginians than in that of the intelligent people who know what the Bible says and still reject it.
One prominent television evangelist said in his eloquent sermon on “Repentance,” “Peter plainly says in Acts2:38, `Repent, for the remission of your sins.'” We may know that some persons crucified Christ in ignorance (Acts 3:17), but a person who misquotes Acts 2:38 that way has to know what he left out, and do it deliberately. We need people who not only understand what the Bible says, but believe, teach and live it!