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Tuesday
Dec072010

Without God

Atheist groups in America wanted the people of Fort Worth to know that they were out there, so they bought up advertising space on the side of city buses to tell us, “Millions of Americans are good without God.” They chose December for their promotion for obviously offensive reasons, but it is the falseness of their advertising that concerns us more. Surely, millions of Americans are without God, but not a single one is good.

I. No One is Good

    A. All Are In Sin

        1. the implication of being “good without God” is double – they are both morally upright and personally content without having God in their lives, contrary to what Christians believe and say

        2. or so the atheists would have us believe; in reality, no one is good in the sense of moral uprightness who has not a generous portion of the grace of God on his account 

            a. in the Roman letter, Paul was comparing not atheists and Christians, but Jews and Gentiles, when he concluded that they shared on important attribute – the sinful condition (Roman 3:9-20)

            b. Fort Worth’s unbelievers are no more individually good than anyone else who has sinned; yet they would of course suggest that there is no such thing as sin

        3. sin is the transgression of God’s law and pretending that there is no God does not absolve one of the inevitability of judgment; millions of other Americans think they are good without paying their income taxes, but the IRS says they’re wrong and bears the economic sword not in vain to prove it

        4. one believer came to Jesus during his ministry and called the Lord good, but Jesus directed his mind to the one whom the atheist rejects (Luke 18:18-24)

                a. and the problem with atheism is that the unbeliever also sees himself as rich and in need of nothing that a God could provide

            b. either he is materially set, morally ambivalent or spiritually complacent, but he senses no lack the Lord could fill; goodness is not rooted in meritorious works, but divine grace

 

   B. Without God

        1. the atheist rejects a God that created him, wallows in unbelief and sin (sometimes minimally and sometimes to great excess), and turns away every effort to reach his spirit 

        2. there was a time like that when the entire nation of Israel was drifting into idolatry – and that is also what atheism is, for the unbeliever serves a material god or self (Second Chronicles 15:1-7)

  1. Israel was without God and without any teaching about him, but when the nation fell hard into the consequences of that unbelief, she began to look for a way out
  2.             b. Azariah’s message to King Asa indicates the lengths that God will approach in trying to reach out to his skeptical creatures and beloved children, that in spite of human doubts, he is “actually not far from each one of us” and if they “should seek God … they might feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27).

        3. being without God is no way to live (Ephesians 2:11-13)

            a. separated from Christ and strangers to the covenant by which men’s souls are healed, having no promise or hope beyond the beating of the heart, destined for a fate worse than death

            b. in Christ, there is peace beyond comprehension and hope beyond mortality

        4. perhaps the atheist would complain that disbelieves because he has seen no evidence, but there is the essence of faith – not in believing without evidence for God offers much, but in believing before it is too late (Hebrews 11:6-7)

            a. the evidence the atheist awaits is the sound of the last trumpet, thunder pealing in the sky around the world, an angel shouting and a summons to instant judgment – but by the time he hears that, it will be too late

            b. when instead, he hears his heart beating its last upon his deathbed, he shivers at the thought of eternity, but seldom knows how to prepare at that late stage

 

    C. What the Fool Says

        1. King David wrote in the fourteenth psalm: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God” (1-2).

        2. how silly it is to say the designer and builder of the universe and of humanity that if I pretend you are not there, you can’t do anything with me (Romans 1:18-21)

            a. there is more natural evidence of creation than there is of the great masterpieces of art, literature and music

            b. the very laws of science are evidence of design rather than randomness and chaos

            c. the intricacies of the human mind are not merely matters of wiring or chemistry, but are secrets locked inside the creative process of a higher being

        3. Jesus once wondered aloud about his return: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth” (Luke 18:8, NKJV)?

            a. to the extent that Christians give atheists an excuse for unbelief, Jesus will find less faith on Earth than one might expect

            b. if believers live little differently from the atheist, it is hard to motivate them to such a feckless condition as belief

 

II. Saying There Is No God

    A. Ignorance

        1. some will still complain that they see no evidence of God, but Jesus was all about offering evidence to sincere seekers, even if he did turn away from hard-hearted hypocrites 

        2. when Jesus prepared his disciples for the crucifixion, he promised to return because many mansions would open to them in Heaven (John 14:3-12)

            a. Jesus asserted that one could intimately know the character and reality of God simply by learning from the Son who had come to Earth to represent the I AM

            b. and from that, one could know the certainty of God by observing the goodness that his children do as a result of knowing him

        3. we are the world’s Bible when we partake of the divine nature and imitate our savior and teacher, so that the doubter need doubt no more (see John 20:27)

        4. the defining characteristic of Jehovah and his people is love (First John 4:4-12)

            a. the disciples of Christ are subject to Christ, loving God first and neighbor second, long before self

            b. the disciples of Christ are good with God because they operate on a deeper love than exists without him

 

    B. Superfluity of Naughtiness

        1. not all unbelievers are completely bankrupt when it comes to morality, for many have been unwittingly influenced by the Ten Commandments and the New Testament; despite their protestations, their morality is influenced by Christ, even if it is a bit blurry at the edges

        2. without deity, there is no objective standard of morality, no essential right and wrong, no possible superiority of any choice to another (First Timothy 1:8-11)

        3. many, however, as a cause or result of disbelief, are actively engaged in behaviors that violate the spirit of the New Testament, some for no other reason than to do away with the concepts of judgment and Hell (First Corinthians 15:29-34)

        4. the reality of eternal judgment and divine grace motivates the believer to make preparation by living holy, but the unbeliever feels simply doomed to rot in the ground (Romans 1:28-31); no one is good without God who is destined for Hell

 

    C. Enslaved to Idolatry

        1. many atheists brag of their liberation, but no one is more enslaved than the person who works full-time for the devil who is deluding and murdering him (Galatians 4:4-9)

        2. it’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome, where the victim begins to identify with his captor as a defense mechanism against the fear and pain – the unbeliever imagines freedom where he is really a slave to his habits, weaknesses and temptations (see First Thessalonians 4:5)

        3. the Galatians had escaped their captor and all the superstition and idolatry that went along with bondage, but today the atheist feels emboldened to boast in his sense of license or scientific illumination; he is not good without God who will sin his way to loneliness, dissatisfaction, disease, violence, pain, bankruptcy or addiction (Romans 6:20-23)

 

    D. Eternal Destruction

        1. atheism is a bit of a misnomer, for every person serves something, some god, even if that god is simply self or materialistic (Acts 17:29-31)

        2. atheism has a god you can look at the mirror as it gets older and weaker; Christianity has a God who will die to save you from yourself

        3. no one is good without God, for he is doomed at the day of judgment to separation from every goodness (Second Thessalonians 1:5-10)

 

Conclusion

No one who is without God is good, either morally or contentedly. God alone is good and he establishes righteousness and judges holiness. Within the body of Christ, there is true contentment and hope; without God, there is only hopelessness.

 

Questions For Review

  1. What did Paul suggest Jews and Gentiles shared?
  2. How did Jesus respond when the ruler called him good?
  3. What is the dual implication that some are good without God?
  4. What happened when Israel went without God?
  5. Why is it so foolish to argue there is no God?
  6. What is the defining characteristic of the divine nature?
  7. What two classes of people are consigned to doom?

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