So how can we actually reach out to someone who is intent on destroying Christianity? Or how do we reach out to someone who is apathetic towards God? Like we do with any person we first meet, we build a relationship.
Since we know atheists don’t believe in God, it is not necessary to ask their beliefs on God. But all people have some type of spirituality, so ask them about their spiritual beliefs. It is important to first understand what it is that person worships, even if they aren’t fully aware of the object of their worship.
Most atheists worship themselves; most are very intellectual. They consider the Bible a book of man-made fairy tales, so they will not be willing to acknowledge Biblical truth:
“I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.” (Hosea 8:12)
As I said earlier, much of apologetics toward atheism is in proving the existence of God. This is a fool’s errand because you cannot prove it. The Bible never proves God; it assumes God. The other cautionary note I would give to someone witnessing to an atheist is to avoid initially talking to them about the Bible. Most of them know the Bible better than you and will kick your tail in a Biblical argument. However, hold that thought.
How do I begin this conversation with an atheist? Ask them what their spiritual beliefs are, if they are intent on telling you they don’t believe in God and want to argue the point, then ask them what about God do they not believe. Let them give the whole laundry list, without interruption. Ask them if it is okay if you write them down. The purpose of this exercise is you can probably look at all the things atheists don’t believe about God and agree with them. Most things they don’t believe about God you don’t either, but for other reasons.
Remember that before you got saved you had false beliefs about God, right? You didn’t believe you were bad enough to need a Savior. You did believe that you were good enough to go to heaven, if you even believed in heaven. When a person is lost without the light of the gospel, your whole life is a lie:
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity.” (Isaiah 59:2-4)
In my own case, when I finally read the Bible trying to find the truth, that is when God broke through. It took revealing my preconceived notions and having the Bible counter them for me to accept my lost state. Most atheists don’t believe in sin so why should they need a Savior? I believed I was going to heaven based on works and the Bible proved to me that salvation come through grace alone. I had to actually approach the Bible to see my beliefs were counter to what the Bible said. Beforehand I was reading the Bible for all the wrong reasons. Before I was looking for knowledge and one day I finally sought the Bible for truth. Our new friend Mrs. J shares her journey with the Bible:
“One day I had an argument with a Christian,” she began. “He told me that I was missing the entire point of Christianity by arguing every point. I thought about what he said, and it really irked me. But I couldn’t get his words out of my mind. I began to ask myself, What if he is right? Maybe I am reading the Bible the wrong way?” (The Unexpected Journey by Thom Rainer, p. 67)
That really spoke volumes to me the first time I read it because, although I wasn’t an atheist, I was approaching, or reading the Bible in the wrong way. That is the case with most lost people who cannot find the truth when they are reading the Bible. This is an important point to remember.
The Prophet Jeremiah shared an incredible promise to the apostate nation of Israel. We can apply this to our nation today, but more importantly to ourselves individually, and particularly to the atheist:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
Beloved, therein lies our blessed hope for those we know who do not believe in God. It is also a reminder for us. We are capable of evil thoughts towards atheists, but our God wants them to come to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is always foremost on His mind. Our job is to somehow point that person to the Truth because if we can get them seeking God, we have His promise that He will be found.
So how do we do that? Do we have to live our faith for an atheist to desire God? Do we have to defend our faith to an atheist for them to finally believe in God?
We’ll answer those questions tomorrow.
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please click here and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject.”
Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers
Aletheia, Apologetics, atheism, Bible, Christian Activism, Christianity, Covenant, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Guilt, Hell, Holy Spirit, Honesty, Israel, Mercy, Morality, praise, Prayer, Revival, Sin, Truth, Wisdom, worship