How to Witness to an Atheist

Proposition: God is alive and He has spoken in the conscience of individuals who know there is a moral oughtness to life, and in nature, specifically in the DNA.

Proposition: There must be an Intelligent Design to put the DNA together. Therefore, atheism cannot be true.

A practical dilemma for a self-professed atheist is a known commitment to an untenable position. Rather than humble oneself, admit an error in thinking, and confess God, there is the issue of pride. The problem of personal pride is not a small matter, for it is united to a lifestyle, and that lifestyle is usually united to various expressions of immorality.

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), was a British world philosopher, political activist, and world-renowned atheist. He influenced many of the Liberal political and social leaders controlling the country today. According to his three-volume autobiography, Russell became an atheist at age 19, not because, it could be argued, he was emotionally and intellectually mature enough to reach such a conclusion, but because there was a world of sexual excitement and licentiousness to explore, enjoy, provided there were no restraints imposed by a Holy God and a religious community of faith. The story of Russell’s life is a mixture of intellectual achievements, including being a Nobel laureate, with incredible personal debauchery, and cruelty, reflected in four marriages and affairs. Russell died of influenza a little after 8 pm on 2 February 1970.

Scholars still study his legacy and influence on American culture, but it will prove to be of limited value. He was controversial, but a cynic to the end. “I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong”, he said.

Christians will die for their beliefs, because they love Christ who is the embodiment of all truth. Christians understand that if a person has nothing worth dying for, they have nothing worth living for.

In February, 1901, when he was 29 years old, Russell experienced a “sort of mystic illumination”, after watching the wife of Alfred North Whitehead, suffer an acute angina attack. “”I found myself filled with semi-mystical feelings about beauty … and with a desire almost as profound as that of the Buddha to find some philosophy which should make human life endurable”. Russell would later recall. “At the end of those five minutes, I had become a completely different person.”

Russell gave himself to a life of pseudo intellectual Liberal pursuits, and personal pleasure, that he simply did not want to give up. No atheist wants to give up their autonomy. Every Christian knows they must. Jesus does ask individuals, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

If a person comes to the point of gospel repentance, and turns from unbelief to faith, if a person does bow before God, and acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior, that is an act of sovereign grace, for repentance is a gift of God.

The God whom Bertrand Russell denied, in the end, denied Bertrand Russell the gift of repentance and eternal life. Jesus said, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”

The modern atheist must be warned afresh that denying God is dangerous. Denying God leads to a meaningless life, and a Christless eternity, without love, without hope, without life. The Bible speaks in terms of a Second Death, the death of the soul.

When witnessing to an atheist, the Christian evangelist does not need to be discouraged for it the Lord who gives life. It may be that God will be pleased to use the words of the gospel to touch the cold dead heart with the good news that sins can be forgiven, and life can have purpose, definition, and meaning.

What is the gospel that must be preached? It is that message which tells of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8). “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Cor. 15:1-11).

If you want to be an effective witness to an atheist, do not worry about trying to match wits with them; give them the gospel. Tell them about the ruin of man, the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Let Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration be your simple gospel outline, and all shall be well.

If the attempt is made to witness to an atheist through the mind, the battle is lost, because the mind is darkened already against God. “Prove to me that God exists,” demands the atheist. “I cannot do that,” is the honest response by the Christian, because the mind of the atheist is prejudiced against any evidence, such as creation.

Therefore, let the Christian appeal to the conscience of the unbeliever and ask, “What do you do with your guilt? How do you resolve the wrong you have done in your life? Would you like to be forgiven? Only God can forgive sin, and He does forgive, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He has provided as a sacrifice for sin. Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

 

The atheist can stop being delusional. The atheist can stop lying to himself. Let the guilty heart come to Christ and ask for forgiveness. God will resist the proud and give grace to the humble. There is no need to die in sin, but die we will. Every minute 100 people die, every day 150,000 die, and every year 54 million people die.

“Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my sickness into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy home,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.”

William T. Sleeper

 

3 thoughts on “A Practical Problem for an Atheist

  1. I have a question, isn’t your argument at the beginning “We can be sure, god exists, so it’s ignorant to say he doesn’t.” But isn’t that an argument that proofs itself (which is wrong)?
    It boils down to “Proof that A is true: We can be sure A is true. Therefore A is true.” That’s not a proof nor an (good) argument

  2. It is easy, and foolish, to mock the existence of God. It is childish to deny the Creator exists. The Bible does not seek to prove the existence of God, God does not seek to prove He exists for His being is self evident in nature, and in the conscience. The Bible begins, not with proof, but an assertion: “In the beginning God.” The ungodly will never accept any proof that God exists for their minds are made up against Him. They can only hope they are right because if the skeptic is wrong, they will be judged by the God who is There, but whom they have denied and hated without a cause.

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