What happens when we try to make sense of God? How can we even begin to wrap our minds around the vast cosmos that is His being? How can we even start to understand the depths of His person, the heights of His understanding or the breadth of His nature? God is so great. His power is staggering. His mind is eternal. His love and grace are ever-reaching. His wrath is terrible. His anger is to be feared above all else in creation or imagination. The human mind is not able to comprehend the power that emanates from God. He is so big, so awesome, so incredible, our minds would cease to function if God were to enlighten us with a fraction of who He is. He has the power to raise kings, bring down cities, and split the oceans in two. Lightning strikes at His bidding, thunder roars His praises and the the mountains stand in respect as they point to their creator. Creation itself is a testament to the power of God and their speech is plainly heard in every language. All one must do is look to the sunrise over the sea or the blanket of stars in the heavens to see plain and undeniable evidence of God. He is there, plainly seen in His creation.
Yet there are those that refuse to acknowledge this fact. They look to the stars and say “chance.” They watch the sun rise and fall in heavenly glory and heed not the evidence. Creation itself screams “we have a creator and He is above all,” but the proclamation falls on deaf ears. With all the truth surrounding them and the fingerprints of God plainly in view, the atheist shakes the fist and refuses to acknowledge the facts. This simple truth should make one thing clear to us. The problem of unbelief has never been a problem of insufficient evidence. We are surrounded by evidence. The world is evidence. We ourselves are evidence. The atheist does not require more evidence. Yet there seems to be a trend in treating the problem of unbelief as if it resides in a lack of knowledge or proof. So we have Christians (though their intentions are true and noble) attempting to flood those that do not believe with evidences and proofs in order to prove the point that creation itself already makes so clearly. This is not to say that the presentation of evidence is wrong. To the contrary. God uses evidence all the time. However, the issue is when people look to and rely on evidences as the catalyst of change in the sinners heart. When Christians do this, they are relying on the wrong prescription because they have diagnosed the problem incorrectly. Romans 1:19-20 says,
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
The key phrase here is that they are “without excuse.” Scripture itself confesses that this unbelief does not stem from lack of evidence. Evidence for God is “plain to them.” The atheist does not require more proof, they require something much deeper than that. The issue is one that resides in the heart. Vs. 21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” It is my firm belief that there is no such thing as a true atheist. They may deny God’s existence and live in a way that perhaps resembles that belief, but the Bible is clear. All know and all are without excuse. This is the myth of atheism. The problem atheists have with God is not that He doesn’t exist, but rather that they know He exists and suppress the truth in their darkened hearts. It is and always has been a heart issue. The problem is that their hearts are darkened. They do not see because they are unable to see. Their hearts are dark and their eyes unopened. They do not possess the ability or will to see through the darkness that envelops their world and reach out to the light of Christ. They do not want and are not able to do so. They are lost, blind, deaf and dead. No amount of evidence or logical arguments will convince the blind to see, the deaf to hear or the dead to breath. This is the state of the unbeliever. So where is the hope? If they are not able to do anything for themselves, how can there be any change or life? The truth is, in and of themselves, there is no hope and there is no possibility for death to give way to life.
This was the case with Lazarus. The beloved brother of Mary and Martha was dead. He was rotting. He had no ability to will himself into life or cause his heart to begin its rhythm. He lay there helpless and alone in the darkness of death. All was hopeless. Until the voice. The same voice that spoke and caused the stars to come into existence. The same voice that set the planets on their courses. The same voice that spoke through the burning bush to a frightened man. The same voice that spoke to Job in the whirlwind. The same voice that calmed the seas. The same voice that gave the blind their sight and sent demons fleeing in terror. The same voice that spoke the cosmos into being spoke here again. “Lazarus, come forth!” The voice of Christ, calling His own, is undeniable. Those that hear it will pick up their mats and follow Him. Those that are called to be saved, will be saved. It is a fact. This is the doctrine of God’s choice. His choosing. His election. Lazarus rose and responded to the call of His master. He couldn’t do anything different. Christ had called and when He calls, we must come. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says,
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” God chose us to be saved. It is His doing through His voice. If He hadn’t, salvation would not be possible.
So how does this translate into life application? How do we live and how are we supposed to be different in light of this truth? I think there are three main points of application that we must implement into our lives.
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a true atheist. Atheism does not truly exist. The Bible says all know there is a God. It is undeniable and irrefutable. We must first stop assuming that we must focus primarily on evidence for salvation to occur. Again, evidence is absolutely good to know and use, but we must realize that it is not the change agent. We are dealing with hearts that are in a constant state of rebellion against God, not hearts that are unaware. They are darkened and without the ability to see. Without a change, they will not be able to see any truth that you present. Remember this.
Because of the first point, we must focus on the Gospel. That is the change agent. Only through the truth of the Gospel will a heart be changed and the unbeliever come to faith in Christ. Make sure that your interaction with unbelievers is always for the ultimate goal of presenting them with Christ. This is truly the only hope they have. Only the Gospel opens the eyes and brings light into the darkened heart. They need God to infiltrate their darkness and shout for them to come forth. Remember this.
Finally, we must realize that salvation is not contingent on us. We are not responsible for bringing people to faith in Christ. We do not possess the ability to breathe life into them. We do not have this power. Only Christ has this. We are only to be faithful and point them to the One that has the power to give life. The results are up to God and God alone. Do not take the burden of whether someone is saved or not onto your shoulders. You are not meant to carry that weight. Only be faithful to show and share Christ with all who will listen. The Lord knows who are His and His Gospel never returns void in any circumstance. Trust Jesus to do what He said He would do, build His Church. In all things, Christ is supreme. He has all power and all authority. We serve Him and He is with us forever. Above all, remember this.