When it comes to apologetics, it’s a very helpful tactic to show unbelievers the truths of the Bible. But when evangelizing, is apologetics helpful or necessary? Read what Steve Ham has to say on this subject.
September 3, 2020
In Romans 1, the Bible clearly teaches that God has revealed Himself to everyone, and Psalm 14:1 tells us that those who say there is no God are fools. In this fast-paced teaching, Mark first debunks the notion that atheists exist, then discusses the heart of atheists with their foolish, self-refuting claims such as, “There is no such thing as truth” and “Nobody’s right.” Next, he answers some common questions and objections of atheists, such as, “If God is loving, why are there evil and suffering in the world?” and “You can’t trust the Bible because it was written by men.” Finally, Mark shares the greatest need of atheists, which is to be born again.
Romans 1:18-23 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
George Clooney said,
I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell. I don’t believe in God. All I know is that as an individual, I won’t allow this life, the only thing I know to exist, to be wasted.”
His buddy Brad Pitt said,
I’m probably 20% atheist and 80% agnostic. I don’t think anyone really knows. You’ll either find out or not when you get there. Until then, there is no point thinking about it.”
As early as 2016, the statistics show that 1 out of 10 Americans are atheists, 1 out of every 10. Within one year, that statistic has changed. One out of every four people in America one year later claim to be an atheist, an agnostic, a freethinking skeptic. They adhere to the tenets of the flying spaghetti monster. Either way, they claim there is no God, or there’s no ability to know whether or not God exists.
Atheism, when defined by Daniel Webster, is the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. There is no deity. There’s nobody in control. There’s nobody in charge. There’s nobody guiding us with their eye. We as Christians are put right dab in the middle of this very popular teaching.
Understanding the Atheist
I want to divide my teaching into four main sections. Section number one is the knowledge of the atheist. We will go over, as we discussed here in Romans chapter 1, the atheist actually knows that God exists. They have simply suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness. They don’t want God to exist in the same way a bank robber does not want a police officer to exist. He knows he exists, but doesn’t want him to exist. They have suppressed that truth, and they live a lie.
“The atheist actually knows that God exists. They have simply suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness.”
The second portion that I want to discuss is the heart of an atheist. In Psalm 14, verse 1, it says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Notice it doesn’t say, “The brilliant biologist has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” or, “The mesmerizing mathematician has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” or, “The scholarly scientist has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” It says, “The fool.” The fool has said in his heart there is no God. In this section, I want to discuss some very common foolish statements from atheists. I’ve covered a couple of those before in the past, but we’re going to cover more of those here today.
Thirdly, we want to deal with the questions of an atheist. What are the most common questions that an atheist will bring up? When you’re around the water cooler at work, if you have the desire to go door to door or to stand up on a platform at a university, what questions will come hurling your way? I want you to become equipped.
Then finally, I would like to look at the greatest need of the atheist. This section is going to be examining the gospel. Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation for the Jew first and then the Gentile.” In this section, we will also be discussing how to share the gospel with someone who is smarter than you. Do you cower away? Do you run? Do you make the blinds go down? Do you turn on the television and hope that person who is knocking on the door goes away? What do you do? How do you share the gospel with someone who is smarter than you?
The Knowledge of the Atheist
I’ve broken it down into these four sections, and we want to look at section number one, the knowledge of the atheist. The atheist knows that God exists. That’s what our text says. They have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. Verse 19, “Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God Himself has shown this to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,” they’re clearly seen, “being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,” catch this, “so that they are without excuse.”
Within our society today we have a battle. This battle is a battle for this word called truth; T-R-U-T-H, truth. What is it? Some have properly defined it as that which conforms or correlates to reality. I say, “Whose reality?” Yours Mr. Skeptic, Mr. Mormon, Mr. Jehovah’s Witness, or my reality in the world in which I live? Who is right, you or me? Is there a way to know? Is there a litmus test we can take to determine who is correct? I say, biblically put, one can properly define truth as that which correlates to God’s mind. Whatever God says is correct is true.
The only truth you know is the truth you want to know. If someone said you can’t handle the truth, each person needs to decide for himself how much truth he can handle. Isn’t it so that when you begin to open up the Word of God, people’s fingers from time to time will be put inside their ears? They don’t want to know. They don’t want God to exist. Truth is not elastic and it doesn’t change with the times. It’s not movable. It doesn’t expire. Milk expires, truth does not.
In John chapter 17 verse 17, we read that Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth. What was the final part of that scripture? “Your word is truth.” Why do I read God’s Word and meditate on God’s Word in the morning? Because I’m going to be lied to the rest of the day. You can have devotions in the morning, you can have them in the afternoon, you can have them in the evening. It’s not about devotions. It’s about His devotion to us. I want to know this God who’s devoted to me regardless of me.
I’m infatuated with the man in the mirror. I love him. There’s nobody in this world that loves him more than me, but God. He knows all about me and He loves me anyways. This body, I’m 45 years old, is falling apart. I fall asleep. I’ve showered. I’m all cleaned up. I wake up in the morning and there’s now an eyebrow that is three inches long and I have no idea where it came from. It was not there in the evening. This body is falling apart. God says that that is good. It is good that your body is falling apart. It makes you homesick for a home you’ve never been to. We are on our way home and this is not the place.
We Need the Word
Evidence is supposed to lead to the truth. The problem is, according to our text, people that suppress that truth, they have quenched the truth in unrighteousness. They don’t want to hear the truth. When the truth is spoken in love and the gospel is boldly proclaimed, we can have confidence that God’s Word is not going to return void. This is why we need to get the Word in us and allow God to open up the door where He can get it out of us.
Could you, if you’re a plumber, speak about plumbing for 30 minutes? Yes. If you’re an electrician, can you speak about being an electrician for an hour? Yes. I had an electrician say, “Mark, I can speak about being an electrician and all the ins and outs of electricity for four weeks. You’d be bored to tears but I could do it.” Could you talk about Jesus for 30 minutes? Could you talk about Jesus for four weeks, the ins and the outs, the way He’s always been there, the way He’ll always be there? Could you talk about this One who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords? If you are called up behind a pulpit to give a devotion, a 10-minute devotion, simply on the greatest figure who has ever brought a shadow to this planet, Jesus Christ, could you talk about Jesus for 10 simple minutes? Isn’t that convicting?
Always Be Prepared
When I challenged this girl to a debate inside a Wendy’s, she had no idea what I wanted to debate. She said, “I will debate you about any subject you want to talk about.” Her whole debate team was there. I said, “Well, how about whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, whether the Bible is the Word of God, whether Jesus is the only way to the Father, whether Christianity is true?” She said, “Pick one.” There’s only two times we, as believers, we are to be ready to preach the gospel: in season and out of season. Are you? She was and so we debated.
Evidence is supposed to lead to the truth. We live in a society that calls up down, right wrong, left right. The only way we will know what is correct is when we open up God’s Word unashamedly, unreservedly without any hesitation. We need to proclaim it from the mountaintop that God is not on trial. He is the judge. He rules supreme. His judgment is perfect and it’s without prejudice. Whether they’re an atheist or a Mormon, we need to be ready and shame on us if we’re not.
“We live in a society that calls up down, right wrong, left right. The only way we will know what is correct is when we open up God’s Word.”
God loves you just the way you are, Church. He loves you too much to keep you that way. Now is the time and today is the day to prepare for that individual. Abraham Lincoln said, “I will study and I will prepare myself, and perhaps my time will come,” and his time came. We need to study and prepare ourselves. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is His delight.
We Have All We Need
We have inside information on atheists and it’s simply this: we know that they know that God exists. When we try to argue with them, “Hey, listen. God exists. Here’s the ontological argument. Here’s the cosmological argument for the existence of God.” Those are some pretty solid arguments for the existence of God. We say, “So do you believe?” They say, “No.” “Wait a minute. I just gave you some great evidence for the existence of God.” It didn’t move me, wasn’t that great? What happens is they pretend they’re not on trial but God is on trial. You give me evidence for the existence of God and I will determine as an autonomous individual whether or not your evidence is any good. Guys, God is not on trial. He is proclaimed. He has given us this inside information that He does not believe in atheists. God does not believe in atheists. An atheist can say he doesn’t believe in God, but we know the truth of the matter and the truth of the matter is simply this: the atheist does not exist.
Secondly, we have the heart of the atheist. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. In Psalm 14, verse 1, it says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt. They have done abominable works. There is none who does good.” None. Remember, this person who you think is intellectually smarter than you, they may have more degrees after their name than the alphabet, but you know and you have something on them. You have God’s Word and that is a beautiful, brilliant thing.
This one’s surprising, but we actually don’t have the original Bible. We don’t have the original letters, the original “autographs” as they’re known. What do we have? We merely have letters that have circulated. We have fragments that we have pieced together. In fact, the oldest New Testament manuscript we have is found in the John Rylands Library. Tune in students, because this is remarkable. On this fragment found in the John Rylands Library, it’s known as the John Rylands Fragment, the P52. P stands for papyrus. It was one of the types of material that this scripture was written on. It’s 52, meaning it’s the 52nd categorized material that was found concerning the Bible. Simple enough, P52.
What’s on the oldest New Testament manuscript that we have in existence? Since we don’t have any of the autographs, any of the originals, no letters, no Bible, what do we have? What’s written on this little piece? It’s this scripture where Pontius Pilate says, “What is truth?” A very provocative question asked, in fact the most important question ever to be asked by a very influential person. He walked away before he got the answer. He washed his hands of his own question. What a great question, but he didn’t wait around for the answer. What is truth. What is truth? Somebody said, “We don’t get to choose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it.”
There Are Answers
I shared last time I was here that when I go to the universities and students will begin to ask me questions and a barrage of questions come out, what do I say? “Hey, well, slow down man. I’m not your enemy because I have a differing worldview. Let’s deal with your questions one at a time. I don’t have all the answers. I’ll do my best, but you need to be careful with the questions you asked.” “Why?” “Because there’s answers.” What a beautiful response. You have questions, guess what? There’s answers. There’s answers to questions that are being asked. Thomas Jefferson said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
In other words, there are some things that need not explaining. An atheist, when he comes up with his self-refuting statements, we merely have to point those things out. I want to go over a couple of those with you. As I’ve done in the past, I’ll give a little bit more detail. This is the heart of an atheist, the heart of the skeptic, the heart of one out of four people, somebody who comes along and says, “You can’t know anything for sure.” This is the supposed modern world in which we live where everything is relativistic to each individual that there’s no right, no wrong, no good, no bad, no sacred, no secular. Each person is merely dancing to the beat of their own DNA. They can do whatever they want to do and they answer to no one. That each person is their own sovereign, which means they do whatever they want whenever they want to whomever they want and they answer to no one. This is the ideology of Brad Pitt and George Clooney as we saw earlier.
How do you respond to someone who says, “You can’t know anything for sure?” You simply say, “Do you know that for sure?” The heart of an atheist. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” What does it cause the atheist to do? It causes them to begin to think. Then he comes up with his next question, “You Christians are so judgmental. What do you mean I need to get right with God or I go to Hell? What kind of a loving God would ever send somebody to Hell anyways?” A God who cares. A God who cares about right and wrong and good and bad. “You Christians are so judgmental,” to which we say, “Is that your judgment? If it’s wrong to judge, well, then why are you judging me? Don’t judge my judgment.” This is their worldview. It’s like a shot to the head.
Then they begin to cry out, “Nobody is right.” Nobody is right. There are so many worldviews. Mormon temples are being built at a rate of two per day around the world. Are you going to say that they’re wrong? Yes. Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Kingdom Halls, very militant as they go door to door. You can say that they’re wrong? Yes. So is Islam, it’s wrong. The only way you and I know that it’s wrong is because we have God’s word on it. We can compare God’s Word to anything and everything else. Ron Rhodes in his book dealing with Jehovah’s Witness, he said, “The average Jehovah’s Witness can turn the average Christian into a doctrinal pretzel in less than 30 seconds.”
“Nobody is right. There are so many worldviews.” Well, are you right? Are you right that nobody is right? Because if you are right that nobody is right, well, then you’re wrong about nobody being right because you claim to be right, and that’s not right, right? Somebody must be right or everybody is wrong. I say God is right. God’s ways are right. His judgments are right. God is the arbiter of the Law. He is above the Law and the Law represents Him. We can go through the Law; it brings a knowledge of sin and we want to get to the gospel. What is the gospel? The life, death, burial, and resurrection of the King of kings. This gospel will change and transform an atheist’s heart the same way it did you and the same way it did me. The same it’s done to people of past and the people of the future should God tarry before He comes.
What About Absolute Truth?
The atheist begins to grasp its straws and he says, “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” This is what that professor said to me when I was in Long Beach, “There is no such thing as truth.” I said, “Is that true? Is it true that there’s no such thing as absolutely truth?” only leaving him frustrated. He responded and said, “Correct. There’s no such thing as truth and that is the truth. I have no problem with that.” “You have no problem with contradictions? You have no problem with contradicting yourself when you talk?” He says, “No, I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with contradictions.” I said, “Oh, so there is a problem with contradictions.” He said, “No, I just said there’s not, there’s nothing wrong with contradicting yourself when you communicate.” “No, right, I got this. You’re saying that you do have a problem with contradictions.” “There’s nothing wrong with contradictions.” “Right, so I’m going to contradict you and say that you do have a problem with contradictions.”
He said, “Aren’t you listening to me?” I said, “Yes. Are you listening to yourself? You said there’s nothing wrong with contradictions. You’re contradicting yourself by saying that and now I’m going to contradict you and now you have a problem with it.” “There’s nothing wrong with contradictions.” “You have a problem with it, don’t you?” So do I and so does God. You see, contradictions equate to lying and lying is wrong with God. There are things that God detests and a couple of those is lying. God desires truth in the inward parts. We must speak the truth and we must speak it in love. The heart of the atheist.
Are There Moral Absolutes?
R. C. Sproul said, “As the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, so the denial of God is the height of foolishness.” I ask atheists all the time, “Are there moral absolutes?” to which they typically say, “No, there are no moral absolutes,” and that puzzles me. Then I respond with, “Well, is it okay to torture babies for fun?” The usual answer to that is no. Sometimes occasionally somebody wanting to be consistent within their worldview will say, “You know what? I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s wrong to torture babies for fun.” If somebody responds like that, they don’t need an argument; they need a therapist. There will be college professors from UC Berkeley down to San Diego State and I’ve heard them all, they say the same thing. There are no moral absolutes. Really? Then I go through that argument.
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” As you can see, the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. We looked at the knowledge of the atheist. We looked at the heart of the atheist. The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Now the questions of the atheist. As I begin to prepare for this, I want to answer some of these common questions that they’re going to ask.
Common Questions from Skeptics
First, we see James. He says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, and then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
“The church is filled with hypocrites.” So what? Jesus never said to “Follow My people.” He said to “follow Me.” The only person who can be a hypocrite is someone who has no moral value whatsoever. No moral compass. The only person who can truly never be a hypocrite is an atheist. You can never be a hypocrite because you have no moral compass telling you what is right or wrong. You and I know that he does have a moral compass. God has shed this inner light, a conscience, and He has given it to every man, woman, and child so that they’re without excuse. I just simply answer as simply as put, “Jesus never said to ‘follow My people.’ He said to ‘follow Me,’ but within your worldview, what is wrong with hypocrisy?” We were not living according to a specific predetermined way of living.
“‘The church is filled with hypocrites.’ So what? Jesus never said to ‘Follow My people.’ He said to ‘follow Me.’”
It’s easy to rip that apart because atheists really do have a conscience. I’ll say, “Is it wrong to commit adultery?” They’ll say, “Yes.” “Ever done it?” “No.” They’ll then say, “Is it wrong to lie?” I say, “Yes, it’s wrong to lie.” “Ever done it?” “Ah, yes.” They’ll say, “So you’re a hypocrite.” I respond with, “Ever stolen anything?” They usually say, “Yes.” “Is it wrong to steal?” “Yes.” “So you’re a hypocrite, too. Welcome to the family.” Just not the family of God, not yet.
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, that only happened once and He volunteered, because there’s only one good according to God and that’s Jesus Christ. There’s none good but one. I like what Voddie Baucham said in response to that very question: “Why didn’t God kill me in my sleep last night for the rebellious thoughts I’ve had against Him?” The question should not be why do bad things happen to good people, but why do good things ever happen to bad people? Guess what? You are like me. You’re bad and that’s why you need a savior.
Moving along: “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s written by men and everyone knows that men make mistakes.” I was faced with this question. I was on Daystar TV with a man named Ken Ham. There was this 19-year-old boy named Mikey, who came up and he asked this question, more like a statement, that “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s written by men and everyone knows that men make mistakes.” I said, “Are you secretly trying to tell me that you can’t trust secular science public textbooks? Because those are written by men and everybody knows that men make mistakes. Or maybe Mike you’re trying to tell me that just men can’t be trusted, to which I say, men? If you’ve looked in the mirror recently you’re a man, maybe you’re saying you can’t be trusted. Man, I’m just giving you a hard time. Really honestly, I think what you’re trying to say is you don’t have a problem with the Word of God. You have a problem with the God of the Word. You have a problem with God, not with “Are there mistakes inside the Bible?”
Last October, I was speaking with the Denver Broncos and this guy came up to me and he said, “The Bible is filled with mistakes,” one of the players. I said, “Yes, it is. The Bible is filled with mistakes.” Everybody is just like, “What?” I said, “Yes, the first one was when man rejected God back in the garden. Don’t do the same.” All his brothers were like, “Yeah!” They’re like chest pumping, giving high-fives. I tried to jump in the midst of that and missed all their hands.
“You can’t trust the Bible because it’s written by men.” “How old are you?” “I’m 22.” “How do you know you’re 22 years old?” “Well, I have a birth certificate.” “Written by?” “I also have a driver’s license.” “Written by? You do trust things written by men. You just don’t trust the Bible because it speaks of God and how man is ultimately responsible to Him.”
The Bible is not one book but 66 books. It’s written over a period of 1,500 years on four different continents, 40 different authors, many different occupational backgrounds with one central main theme: how does man avoid Hell, come into relationship with his maker, have fellowship with God and his fellow men. How does that take place?
Defending the Faith
“Could you be wrong about Christianity being true and God being real?” “No, I can’t.” “Well, that’s very frightful.” “Is it frightful to say two plus two is four? See, when you find truth, you wrap your brain around it, put it inside the vault and you don’t let it out. There’s truth to be known, so I know that God exists.” “How do you know that?” “Because God has revealed it to me.” “How did He reveal it to you?” “I don’t know, He just did.” “Answer the question.” “I did answer the question, you just don’t like the answer.”
I’ll then ask them, “Is it possible for God to exist?” “Yes, I guess it is possible for God to exist.” “Is it possible for this God who might exist to reveal truth in such a way that His creation can know for certain that He is real?” “Yes, I guess that’s possible.” “That’s what He did.” “How did He do it?” “I don’t know, but He did. He did it. He opened my eyes. I was once in darkness, loving darkness and being darkness, heading and running in the wrong direction, loving sin and fornication, loving getting high. God reached down into the dark cavern of my heart. He did the one thing for me that I couldn’t do for myself. He could do the same thing for you, but you got to repent and place your trust in Jesus. Are you willing? Are you ready?”
“If I could answer all your questions to your satisfaction, will you walk away and go, ‘Man, that guy’s smart, those are good answers’? Would you be willing to bow your knee to the God of the Bible and confess Him as Lord?” You know what they say? “No, I’m not.” “You realize that it’s not an argument that’s holding you back. It’s your heart that is holding you back. The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
“Christianity is unscientific. Miracles don’t happen.” That was David Hume’s argument. Miracles are impossible because they are impossible. Circular reasoning. He’s begging the question. Surely, you have to come to the place and you confess to the idea that if God is real then miracles can exist. “Yes, show me a miracle.” “Nope, I am not going to do it.” “Why?” Because an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. Even if I could perform a miracle, they’re not going to believe.
I like sleight of hand. I toured around Europe, escaping out of a straight jacket and a chain and doing sleight of hand magic. I performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I will from time to time perform a little sleight of hand magic trick and they’ll go, “How’d you do that?” I go, “Are you ready to believe? You said perform a miracle.” He’s all, “That’s not a miracle.” “How do you know? You have no idea how it was done.” A miracle is not holding back an atheist. “I don’t believe in God and I’m just as good as any Christian.” This is where I go through the Law of God, the commandments of God; we’ll look at that in just a moment.
“Religion has caused more wars than anything else in history.” “Well, you sure about that one?” Firstly, I would say, well, according to atheism, what’s wrong with war? Doesn’t your motto fit into the box that says, “Only the strong have survived”? Survival of the fittest. You should be applauding God for getting rid of the weaker race. You should applaud God for getting rid of the Canaanites and the Amorites and any other ites that don’t belong according to Him. You can only tell me you don’t like war but then we’re simply arguing ice cream flavors. If you have no objective foundation, no place for right and wrong as we do with the Word of God, then you can’t tell me why war is wrong. It’s just merely not your preference. Let the record show religion is actually number two.
What’s number one in the cause of wars across this planet in which we live? Atheism. Atheism is actually number one, the cause of more wars from Lenin to Stalin to Mao who exterminated more than a hundred million people in the 20th century alone. Their institutionalized atheism lead to an unprecedented loss of human life. The fact of history is that the greatest evil has not come from zeal for God but from the conviction that there is no God to answer to. Religion has not caused more wars.
The Big Question
“If God is good and all powerful, why is there evil and suffering in the world?” The most common question. I say, “What is evil? Remember, without a foundation of truth you can’t tell me what evil is.” In fact the pope of atheism, he said, “There is no purpose, no evil and no good. We are merely dancing to our own DNA.” You cannot have evil without good and you cannot have good without God. Someone once said, “If there is no objective morality, then there’s no difference between a man who kills his dog to feed his son, and a man who kills his son to feed his dog.” We know that God is real and so do you. He has given you a conscience. That word “con” is “with” and that word “science” means “knowledge,” that every time you do something right or wrong you do it with knowledge that it’s right or wrong.
When I’m on the college campuses, I’ll ask the students all the time, “How many people wish that God would show up and get rid of all the evil in the world?” All these hands are raised up. “How many people would like to see God get rid of all the rapists and the kidnappers? How many people would like to see God get rid of all the liars and the thieves and covetous individuals and those who had sex outside of marriage? Where did the hands go? Your checklist on what evil is is very small and your definition of good is very low. God’s definition of good is very high.” It represents Himself. It’s to be perfect in thought, word, and in deed. If God were to come at 12:00 to get rid of all the evil in the world, where would you be at 12:01? Because you’re holding the smoking gun. We’ve all lied. We’ve all stolen. We’ve all looked with lust. God made a way for us to be forgiven, a way for us to be redeemed.
Second Peter 3:9 tells us why God has not come to get rid of all the evil in the world and it’s this: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
“The God of the Old Testament is evil, got rid of all the Canaanites.” Yes, He sure did. “Destroyed the babies.” Sure did. “Destroyed the children, the mom who’s suckling the—” yes, sure did. Sometimes we have history. Sometimes we have insights. Sometimes we see the culture and the customs and sometimes we don’t. We know the Canaanites were very evil people. God gave them 400 years of warning where they sacrifice their babies on the molten hot stone of their Molech god. The drummers would beat so loud so that the parents would not hear the crying of the babies.
Look, atheist. You say, “God, where are You? Why don’t You show up and do something?” Then He shows up and He does something and you raised your fist at Him. Is it interesting to know, Church, that the same people who are against God for killing babies are the same people who are for the killing of babies in the womb? 4,000-6,000 babies every day will never breathe oxygen, and that’s not evil? It’s choice, really.
“Is it interesting to know, Church, that the same people who are against God for killing babies are the same people who are for the killing of babies in the womb?”
The Atheist’s Greatest Need
We looked at the knowledge of the atheist and the heart of the atheist, the question to the atheist. Let’s look at the greatest need of the atheist. What is the greatest need of the atheist? It’s to get born again, man. It’s to come to a relationship with the God who knows all about you and your excuses and loves you anyways.
We get our righteousness through the life of Christ. We get to ground zero through the death of Christ. We’re all little Adams at the death of Christ. If you want the righteousness of Christ, that comes through the light and this is why Jesus had to live a perfect life, for He never lied once. He never stole and he never looked with lust. He always obeyed the Father. He always pleased the Father. Jesus Christ became something He never was and that is a man, so that you and I can become something we never were and that is righteous, to have a right standing before the Father. We have the opportunity to share the greatest story ever told that talks about grace, God’s unmerited favor to the infinitely ill-deserving. The gospel, it’s not something to be hoarded. It’s something to be shared. I will go anywhere that the Lord sends me as long as it’s forward.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a men’s gathering where they’re all Catholic three days ago in Iowa. “Mark, would you be willing to come speak to the men?” “Let me pray about it. He said, ‘Yes.’” Absolutely and unreservedly, unashamedly; being able to get in there and just preach the good news. One of the guys who is a lawyer, he had four books on his table. They were commentaries by Barclay. I said, “Hey, I’ve read those books. Those are good books. William Barclay, he is a great guy when it comes to culture and customs and the traditions of the early church, terrible when it comes to miracles. He doesn’t believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.” He goes, “You’ve read these?” And I said, “Yes.” “Because I’ve never met anybody besides a priest who has read these books.” Then later on, he says, “All right, guys. Make sure you have your Bible reading done by next week. Jesus said He is the light of the world. He who follows…um…hm…” and I just finished the verse for him.
They’re looking at me. I go, “Let me give you some quick culture behind that. There’s the festival of light where there’s these two big 12-prong lamp stands that were behind them. They were distinguished after the 12th day. Jesus stands up and He says, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ Man, you’re going to see that inside that book, it’s really great.” They’re all, “How do you know that?” I go, “Read the Word. Get some commentaries.” I actually just finished teaching on that exact passage unbeknownst to him so it worked out really great. They thought I was the smartest man in the world at that point. When I was laughing they were just like, “Hey, can we stay in touch?” I said, “Absolutely, my Catholic friends. Write to me anytime.”
The guy who invited me to speak to those group of men just came from Haiti on his Catholic missions trip. Well, within my family devotions just a week prior I showed my kids a little video of people in Haiti eating mud cookies, made out of mud. So, I gave the Catholic man the history behind it and talked about how the average person in Haiti survives on less than two dollars a day. Well, this guy just got back from Haiti. This guy looked at me like I knew everything about geography and the world. I just finished on a video, studying it not even a week earlier. Have you noticed that God will use you right where you’re at? You have to be willing to look for that opportunity, for that situation. God will position you in a place if you’re ready and willing to be positioned.
If you suffer with “Here am I send him,” well, then God will never speak louder over your commotion than He needs to, because He won’t compete with your commotion. He loves those words, “Here am I, send me. I can’t, You can, woe is me, but wow is You. Here am I, send me. Whether it’d be an atheist, an agnostic, or anybody else.”
Sharing the Gospel with Smarties
Finally, I said I will share with you how to share the gospel to somebody smarter than you. It’s really simple. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about the hive if they come knocking at your door, which they won’t. Or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons. The knock comes. You look out and you go, “Hey, there’s a couple of Mormons, Latter Day Saints.” You want to demonstrate to them that they’re Latter Day Ain’ts—that you are a saint, that Christianity is true. What do you do? Where do you go from there?
Say, “Hey, listen. I just want to thank you for having the courage of your conviction, coming up to my door and being willing to share when others are enjoying their Saturday watching football. I had a quick question for you. I’m wondering if you have some time.” They’ll say, “Yes, sure do.” “Well, I’m a Christian. I’m a Protestant. In fact, I’m celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation this year as a Protestant. I was wondering if you could tell me what is your understanding of what I believe is going to happen to me when I die? Do you have a couple of moments to share that? I’d love to get your opinion.” I’m boosting their ego up. They want to talk about their favorite subject, which is themselves, not Jesus.
“Hey, what’s going to happen to me when I die? What do you think? According to my belief, what do you think?” Then they share whatever their understanding is. Then what do you do? You know they’re going to leave something out. What is it? Grace, elevating Jesus. They themselves are probably rich in good works to earn favor with God. We don’t serve God to gain His favor. We are favored, therefore we serve God. It’s completely different. “Hey, so what is your understanding of what I believe is going to happen to me when I die?” “Well, when you die you think this, this and the other, etc.” I say, “Well you left something out. Let me share with you then I want to get your thoughts.” Why am I doing this? Because Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
I go, “Here, let me share with you what you left out.” Then I share the gospel from the beginning until the end. Then I look at them. Before I ask what their thoughts are, I say, “So does that sound like something you want to do? Do you want to confess your sins right here right now? Today is the day to prepare for your last day. Today is the day of salvation.” Notice there’s no apologetical sword fight going on. I’m not worried to get into apologetics. I’ll do that when needed, but the average person doesn’t know apologetics. Does that mean God doesn’t want to use you where you’re at? No, God wants to use you where you’re at, right where you’re at. So then when they fail to give a proper definition of what the gospel is or what’s going to happen to you, with confidence you just go through the gospel. Man, you start with who God is. You talk about being an image bearer created in the image of God. Sin came into the world. We love sin. We’ve broken His Law, and now that paved the way for grace and mercy and forgiveness and the resurrection.
That’s really simple. I’ll email you my gospel presentation. Email me and I will email you a 1-minute gospel presentation, a 3-minute, a 5-minute, a 10-minute, a 45-minute, a 60-minute presentation; firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve done all the work. You don’t need to do it. You can have it right there. You can read it to them and see where they stand, how they’re going to respond. What happens as Christians, we get into an apologetical sword fight with that culture, the culture of that atheist. We fail to recognize that it’s the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. When you’re done going through the gospel, you say, “You know what? Look at that time. I got to get going. Hey, thanks for coming to my door,” and you just move on. You move on and you let them move on, unless you’re like me. If it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, I just follow them and go door to door in my neighborhood.