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What we Don't Know

13 July 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?

A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

What punishments are there in this world? Of all the pain and sorrow that is our lot, perhaps our greatest misery is ignorance, or therein lies the source of all our sorrows and all our miseries.

When a father holds his lifeless son, the pain he feels comes from ignorance. He cannot know why his son has died, he may not know where his son has gone, and so he writhes in the agony of ignorance. There is tremendous agony in the why, the where, and the what for.

It is felt when the lover is abandoned by the beloved; it is felt in the fear of disease. We feel it in the hour of commitment. We worry our plans will fail, or our partner will betray us, or that the economy will crumble. The farmer feels it when he plants his crop, the policeman when he goes on patrol, and the soldier as he faces battle.

Is ignorance really the greatest punishment of all? It is indeed. Our folly is all rooted in one great ignorance, and it is truly the greatest rebuke and sorrow that God could give: He has with held from us Himself. This is our curse and the source of all of our troubles, that we are fallen from God, that he has withdrawn himself from us and left us to wallow in our ignorance of his glory.

And herein lies the greatest hope for the grieving father, the nervous soldier, and the hard-working farmer: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).