Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12


Opposing Views to the Existence of God


The United States was founded on Biblical principles, but in recent years we’ve seen a growing opposition to the things of God. In the other articles in this series we discussed The Existence of God Assumed in Scripture and Arguments for God’s Existence. In this part of the series we will discuss two major opposing views to the existence of God.

Atheism

Webster’s definition of atheism is, “A disbelief in the existence of God or any other deity. The doctrine that there is neither god nor any other deity; godlessness in conduct.” An atheist is someone who denies or doesn’t believe in the existence of God. There are five categories, types or aspects of atheism.

Theoretical. This is the intellectual belief that God doesn’t exist. Many make this claim, but I personally believe there are few true atheists. An atheist is someone whose disbelief in God remains in every situation or circumstance. My dad, a World War II veteran, used to say, “There are no atheist in foxholes.” When a person has gunfire and bombs exploding around them they seldom doubt the existence of God. They are, in fact, usually crying out to Him.

Also, there will be no atheists in the presence of God. I gave my life to Jesus in prison when I was a young man. There was another young man there who claimed to be an atheist. One day a man, who was doing a life sentence, came and talked with us about God. Before leaving, he asked if he could pray with us. As he began to pray, the atheist began to weep. He was in the presence of God. Needless to say, he was no longer an atheist. A few days later, he was miraculously released from prison and his life changed forever. He had been in the presence of God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

No one will deny the existence of God in His presence on the day of Judgment. When they stand before God, at the great white throne judgment, they will not be in doubt of His existence any longer. John wrote, “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Bible says, on that day every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus to be Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). At that time, all atheists will know God exists and that He is real. Sadly, at this time it will be too late. Outside of a relationship with Christ, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrew 10:26).

Foolish. “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalms 14:1a). All atheists fall under this category. It’s foolish not to believe in God. They are an atheist because they are first a fool by their very nature.  Their disbelief in God stems from their sinful and foolish nature. It’s interesting that most people who claim to be atheist do so because of so called “intellectual reasons.” Romans 1:22 says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God, for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 and 3:19). Most claiming to be atheists are self dependent and leaning on their own strength but “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Corrupt. “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good” (Psalms 14:1b). They are an atheist because they are corrupt by nature. Let’s face it, most of us don’t want to change until we are faced with circumstances or problems that force us to. It’s easier not to believe in or make a commitment to God so we can continue to live the way we want. Once we commit our life to Him, we must be willing to change and do things His way. We want to remain corrupt in our thinking and actions. If we believe we must change.

Practical. Many Christians fall under this category. We have an intellectual belief in God, but in practice we deny Him. James 2:14-19 tells us that faith without works is dead. Our walk doesn’t match our talk. We deny Him by our life. “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Romans 2:24).

This doesn’t mean we should be legalistic (Romans 11:6, Galatians 2:21, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 5:4). On the other hand, our faith must be put into action to demonstrate to the world true belief in God (James 2:14-19, Mark 2:5, Matthew 7:21-27, 1 John 3:16-18). Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Rebellious. Again, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalms 14:1a). This verse could also be translated, “The fool has said in his heart, No God.” How many of us have said no to God at one time or another? Obedience is the key to receiving God’s blessings (Joshua 1:8, Psalms 1:2-3, James 1:25).

We often cover our disobedience with tradition and superficial spirituality. It was Peter who said, “Not so Lord” in Acts 10:9-15 when told by God to eat meat that was considered unclean. What a contradiction of terms. It is virtually impossible for Jesus to be truly Lord and to say those words. There are times our religiosity gets in the way of our obedience or our willingness to obey Jesus. This experience of Peter’s happened while he was seeking God in prayer. It went against the grain of his religious background as a Jew. It’s important to realize that Peter ultimately did obey, but he first had to work through his religious misconceptions.

Saul was told to destroy the Amalekites and all they had. He returned with the King and the best of their flocks. When confronted by Samuel, he said he kept them to sacrifice to the Lord his God. He thought he could cover up his disobedience with a spiritual act. As a result, he was rejected as being king (1 Samuel 15). How often do believers today cover up a life of disobedience with spiritual acts. God may be requiring something of us and we cover up our disobedience by attempting to appear spiritual. We are an acting atheist when we rebel against God. It is a fool who says no to God, even if he says so just in his heart.

As a result of Saul’s disobedience, he was rejected from being king. Samuel’s response to Saul was as follows, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft), And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king ” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

Agnosticism

The Greek word “gnosis” means knowledge or knowing. Agnosticism means you don’t know. The man who discipled me said “agnostic” in Latin means “ignoramus.” That really sums it up. It’s interesting to me that most people who claim to be agnostic consider themselves intellectual. Agnostics are in essence saying, “I don’t know, I don’t think it’s possible to know, I’m an ignoramus.”

Many who claim to be agnostic don’t grasp the magnitude of what it means or what they are saying. The point is, wouldn’t you rather know one way or another? Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” I dare you to seek Him with all your heart and see if He will not reveal Himself to you.

Starting a new church or ministry is one of the most rewarding things you can do to advance the kingdom, but it can also be very challenging. With over 40 years of church planting and ministry experience, Dr. Linton's passion is to encourage, support and equip pastors and church leaders.