I recently had a talk with a friend about a witnessing encounter he had. The individual he talked to is of the type I would generally refer to as an “angry atheist,” the type that seems to be looking for any excuse to deny God. Of course, I don’t know the man, wasn’t part of the conversation, and can’t judge his motives. However, based on my friend’s account, I have had similar conversations, and many of them. And the problem is generally not the individual arguments offered by the atheist or our responses to them. Some atheist questions can be tough, and there is nothing wrong with answering sincere questions. We should be prepared to do so. But at base the problem is generally not intellectual, but moral. Men are in rebellion against God.
The flow of Nehemiah is a perfect representation of this. When it comes to lack of belief in the Biblical God, men are without excuse, and this was certainly the case for the nation of Israel. They saw God move in power directly time and time again, yet even after the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and being led to safety by pillars of fire and smoke, in a matter of a few weeks the children of Israel were casting their own idols. They wanted what they wanted when they wanted it, and were not above idolatry to justify getting it. That is also true of most people today, and I would argue it is true of all militant atheists.
As a response, I think it is vitally important not just, or even primarily, to preach against falsehood, but to lift high the truth. We need to talk about God and who He is, as it is demonstrated repeatedly in Nehemiah 9, and many other places in scripture. We need to follow this example, and call people to account for the truth they all know. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but God’s word will not return void, and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. So don’t be afraid to address tough questions, and don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Humility is a good thing. But keep the focus on God and who He is, and seek to bring glory to His name first and foremost.
Thanks for being part of Project Ezra. I pray this outline is a blessing.
All for His glory,
READ NEHEMIAH 9
The prophet Isaiah said, in Isaiah 29:16 - You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?
The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, did this time after time, and it is likely that many of you have done the same. They forgot who’s world they were living in. Have you forgotten?
One thing has not changed over the thousands of years. Mankind is faithless and disobedient, but God remains faithful in all things.
In Nehemiah 9, we hear that God’s nature, and His works, were made obvious to the children of Israel. And in the same way, they have been made obvious to us as well.
The nation of Israel saw God act very directly. Though we not think we have seen that direct acting of God, yet still His works are obvious, both in the revelation of His word, and in the way He has acted in our individual lives.
God and His word have remained true, while our word and motives have remained false.
You may have chosen to deny God’s existence, claiming a lack of evidence as your excuse.
But do you truly have a lack of evidence for God, or do you have a lack of desire for God?
Could it be you can not find God for the same reason a criminal can not find a police station?
You may have claimed that God has never done anything for you, or that He has been unfair in His treatment of you.
But has He really been unfair, or do you have a false view of what you deserve from God’s hand?
He’s let you continue to walk His earth, breath His air, eat His food, and has not given you the punishment you deserve for your open rebellion against Him.
God is patient. We deserve wrath, but receive His good gifts every day.
You may have acted contrary to God’s word, ignoring His law and using the excuse that it is either unclear, outdated, or not relevant to modern culture or your situation.
But is His law truly not relevant, or are we just willfully disobedient?
God is and always will be faithful in His justice, and if we have broken His law, we deserve to feel the sting of His punishment.
Do you doubt that you are deserving of His wrath? Look at His law! Have you broken God’s law?
The God of the Bible is the one true God, the creator and sustainer of all. If we have worshiped any other God, made or worshipped any false image of Him, whether with our hands or with our minds, than we have been unfaithful to Him
Have you lied? God is truth, so if we have lied, we have been unfaithful to Him.
Have you coveted or stolen? God has given you every good thing you have, and every good thing you need. If you are burning from desire for something that is not yours, you are not trusting in God’s provision, and you are being unfaithful to Him.
Have you blasphemed God’s name? If you have taken God’s holy name, the name of He who created you, and sustains you, and brought it down to the level of a filthy word to express disgust, then you have been unfaithful to Him.
As Israel deserved to be, and was, punished, so we deserve to be punished. And our ultimate punishment, if we choose ongoing rebellion against God, is an eternity in hell.
Hell is not a place of freedom from moral boundaries, where you will spend your time enjoying the pleasures of sin with Satan and your friends. It is a place of fire and torment and darkness, where there will never be any rest or reprieve, and where you will never again get a taste of God’s goodness.
In hell justice will be served. Every sin will be punished to the fullest extent. In hell, we will truly get what we deserve, because God is faithful in His justice.
But God is not only faithful in justice. He is faithful in his mercy, and love, and long-suffering.
God is faithful in His love, and He demonstrated His love it that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
He is rich in mercy, and that mercy was demonstrated on the cross. Sin was not passed over, but paid for in full. What we could not do, God did for us.
Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, humbled Himself, came to earth, and lived an absolutely perfect life.
Then Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, died a perfect sacrificial death. By His blood our debt of sin is satisfied.
We deserve judgment, but because of God’s faithful love and grace, through Jesus Christ we can receive mercy.
Now the Bible commands all me everywhere to repent. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
Don’t just believe that He exists. Even the demons believe that, and tremble.
But turn from your sins, and trust in the sacrifice He made on the cross for you. And through faith we can be justified, and have peace with God through Christ.
I pray that today, you will learn from the actions of Israel. I pray you to will turn from your sin, and throw yourself on God’s mercy.
God has graciously given you time, though you don’t deserve it. Turn to him today and be saved.