Robert Jeffress - What Every Atheist Knows - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. A hundred years ago in America, atheists were the exception. But tragically, today they're becoming the norm. As secular scientists position themselves as opponents of faith, more and more people are buying into the lie that religion and reason can't coexist. And the result of the trend is devastating. Today, we're going to look at the difficult truth of what happens to every person who rejects Jesus Christ. My message is titled: What Every Atheist Knows, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
I told you few weeks ago about being in the Greenroom at fox in New York with David Silverman, the president of the American atheist association. And we had about 20 minutes before we went on our program and we've debated on air before but I'd never met him in person so I thought, "I've got 20 minutes here," instead of talking about the weather which was lousy, I decided this is a great opportunity to probe the mind of an atheist, to find out why he believes the way he does.
So David told me about his upbringing and so forth and on and on and on and I said, "David, is there anything that could cause you to change your mind? Is there anything that could happen that would make you believe there is a God"? He said, "No, absolutely nothing". I said, "Really, nothing"? And then he corrected himself. He said, "Okay, Robert, here's one thing that would cause me to believe in God. If there was an end to world starvation. An end to world starvation, I would believe there is a God". I said to David, "Be honest, if there was suddenly an end to world starvation, you would credit man with that, wouldn't you? You wouldn't credit God with it". He smiled, he said, "You're right, I wouldn't". He was saying there is absolutely nothing that would convince him there is a God. And that's what Paul is saying here. The evolutionist, the atheist has received the knowledge of God, it's abundant but he has rejected that knowledge of God. Why has he rejected it?
R. C Sproul in his book "The psychology of atheism", lists three reasons that people are naturally opposed to the existence of God. First of all, all of us, believers and unbelievers alike naturally we rebel against God's sovereignty. Mean the unbeliever doesn't like the idea that there is a sovereign God who is in control of everything because if that is true, then it means that unbeliever has to submit his life to that sovereign God and the unbeliever is unwilling to do that, the unbeliever doesn't want anybody calling the shots in his life except himself. Secondly, we rebel against God's holiness. We rebel against God's holiness. We have all kind of examples in the scripture of people, even believers who were repelled by God's holiness. God is holy, we're not, we feel awkward in his presence.
Remember Isaiah the prophet, when he saw that vision in Isaiah 6 of God on his throne and share of beam flying around and what did he say? He fell down and he said, "Woe to me, for I am a man of unclean lips". Or remember in Luke chapter 5:8 when Peter saw the holiness of Christ, he fell down and said, "Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man". Now, think about it, if people, men and women who have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ are still afraid to be in the presence of a holy God, what about the unbeliever? We are repelled by the holiness of God. I've said it often but I'll say it again. The reason an atheist cannot find God it's the same reason a thief can't find a policeman. We're not looking, the atheist isn't looking, he's running from a holy God.
Number three, we rebel against God's immutability. We rebel against God's immutability. God's immutability refers to his unchangeableness, his unchangeableness. People change, cultures change but God never changes. And the unbeliever rebels against that. "I know you've said this is sinful in the past but surely you'll change your mind on this". Or they want God to change his mind about the exclusivity of Christ. "God, don't you understand the importance of tolerance? You can't just say there's one way to you, there have to be multiple ways to you". Or, "God, surely you're going to change your mind about casting unbelievers into an eternity of hell, that's just not fair, that's not right". People want God to change and when they realize he's not going to change or his spokesmen are not going to change, that is when they react to the idea of a holy, unchangeable God. Why is it people reject God? They don't like God, they don't like the nature of God, his sovereignty, his immutability, his holiness.
Now, what has the unbeliever done? I want you to notice here, the unbeliever has not only received the knowledge of God and rejected the knowledge of God, the unbeliever has replaced his knowledge of God. Look at verses 22 and 23. Professing to be wise, they became fools. And they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Now, if you've ever taken a course in comparative religion, you know what you're taught in comparative religion classes. You're taught about the evolution of man's spirituality. The thesis is just as man is evolving physically and emotionally, he's also evolving spiritually. And when man was down in the slime and in his formative stages, his spiritual bend was toward animism, that is the worship of statues and animals and other objects. But then as man evolved physically and emotionally, he also evolved spiritually and he moved up from animism to polytheism, the worship of a number of gods and then as man continued to evolve, his evolutionary process lead him out of polytheism to monotheism, the worship of one God and that's where we are today, the evolution of man's spirituality.
The only problem with that theory is it contradicts history as well as the Word of God. Because the Bible says just as the opposite. Man is not evolving, he is devolving. Man is not ascending, he is descending. And the fact is, you look at God's word, look at history, man started with a knowledge of one God, the true God and when he rejected that knowledge of the true God, he exchanged the knowledge of one God for the worship of many gods and the worship of many gods gave way to the worship of statues and animals and everything else you can imagine. Man is descending, he is not ascending. That is what the Bible tells us. I mean, think about it. How absurd is it for a man to worship a fly or to worship a cow or to worship a Wooden statue that he's made with his own hands? Does he really think those things are God? Of course not. What he has done is he has created for himself a God he can control. That's what he's trying to do.
Isaiah the prophet describe that process in Isaiah 44:14-17, surely, man cuts cedars for himself and he takes the cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir and the rain makes it grow. Skip down to verse 16, half of the wood he burns in the fire, over this half, he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire". But the rest of the wood, he makes into a God, his graven image and he falls down before it and worships it and he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for thou art my God". Do you see the insanity of that? To take a piece of wood that you have hewn yourself and you have carved yourself and once you have finished molding it, setting it in front of you and bowing down and saying, "You are my God". It's insane. He doesn't believe it's God, he's created a God in his own image.
And that's why Paul says people are without excuse. Well, it's sure good we have ascended beyond that today. It's good that we no longer do foolish things like that in trying to create a God in our own image. You better think again, the Hindus today have over 300 million gods that they have created and we in the west are doing the very same thing. I have an article in my file from "Christianity Today". It describes a group of women from mainline denominations who gathered together for a weekend retreat. They called it a re-imaging conference. They wanted to re-image their concept of God and so in this conference, they imagined God to be a woman that they named Sophia. And the reporter from "Christianity Today" was there recording what happened. He writes, together these women got in a circle and chanted to their new God, "Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image, with the hot blood of our wombs, we give form to new life. With our warm body fluids, we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations".
I can't even repeat what was in the rest of the prayer in a mixed audience. After the chanting stopped, one of the attendees said to the reporter, "I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent and Jesus as the obedient trusting child". Another attendee said, "I don't think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff". Another woman said, "If we cannot imagine Jesus as a tree, as a river, as wind and rain, we're doomed, doomed indeed". Paul says, the unbeliever who is damned is damned because he has received a knowledge of the true God, he has rejected that knowledge and he has replaced it with a God of his own making.
"Okay pastor, you've danced around the topic now for 35 minutes. So, what do you say about that person in Africa, China, Russia or living across the street who has never heard the Gospel? Are you saying that they are damned forever and in eternity of hell"? I want to conclude today with four statements I want you to write down that will help you get the biblical understanding of this question because somebody is going to ask you this question if you haven't already been asked and you need to be able to answer not from your own imagination, opinion or speculation but from the truth of God's word. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ? Four things I want you to write down.
Statement number one, everyone is guilty before God. Everyone is guilty before God. The question, how could God send a 12-year-old girl in China who's never heard the Gospel to hell? That question presupposes that that girl is innocent but the Bible says she's not innocent, she's guilty. In fact, all mankind is guilty before God. Romans 3:10 says, for there is not one righteous person among us. No, not even one. Verse 23, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is the fact over which most unbelievers and many Christians stumble, the guilt of all humanity. Ladies and gentlemen, if God sent every human being who has ever lived straight to hell, he would be completely justified in doing so. There would be no injustice in God, God would be completely just in sending everyone to hell, the whole race is condemned. The fact that God in his mercy chooses to save some is a testimony of his kindness and his goodness and his grace. Everyone is guilty before God.
Number two, no one is saved apart from faith in Christ. No one is saved apart from faith in Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible does not stutter or stammer on this issue. There are not multiple ways to be saved, there is only one way to be saved and it is through a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter said in acts 4:12, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. It is a personal faith in Jesus. For whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. That's what Jesus said, he linked God's forgiveness with that personal belief. And you say, "Well, wait a minute, what about those who haven't heard of Jesus"?
Don't jump to a conclusion yet, go down to statement number three, everyone has a knowledge of God. And that's the whole argument in this passage. Everyone has received a knowledge of God and again, while that knowledge is not sufficient to save them, it is sufficient if rejected to condemn them. "Oh, pastor, you're getting me confused now. You say everybody has the knowledge but the knowledge isn't enough and everybody has to believe in Jesus to be saved but not everybody has heard the name of Jesus. How do you get out of this quandary"?
Statement number four, anyone who wants further knowledge of God will receive it. Everyone who wants further knowledge of God will receive it, that is, if a person receives the limited knowledge of God and he responds to that, he believes in a God who created this world, a God to whom he's accountable, God will respond to his response by sending the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that he can be saved. You say, "Pastor, that's preposterous. Think about how big this world is. Are you telling me that God cares about people enough that if he sees somebody whose heart is open to knowing him, he'll send the Gospel"? Absolutely I'll say that. First of all, it's technologically possible now to do it. I don't think it's any accident we have missionaries where we have them. It's no way accident that Pathway to Victory is being beamed all over the world and other programs like it. Anyone who wants the light can receive it.
And remember this about God the Father, God is not trying to damn as many people as possible, he wants to save as many people as possible. And God cares about that person who has not yet heard the Gospel much more than you or I could care about them. And the Bible says when God sees a heart that is open to him, he will send the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that they can be saved. There are many examples of that in the Bible, perhaps the best one is found in Acts 10. Remember the story of Cornelius, the Roman centurion? Cornelius was a worshiper of God. He prayed three times a day, he gave his money to the poor.
Now, by most people's standards today, he ought to be in heaven. He prays, he wants to know God, he gives money to the poor but that wasn't enough to save Cornelius. But God looked at his heart, knew that he wanted to worship God so what did God do? Supernaturally, he intervened. He took Peter who was over here in Joppa and supernaturally transported him to Caesarea to preach to Cornelius the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Cornelius heard the Gospel, he received the Gospel, he trusted in Christ along with all of his family and they were saved. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to know God, God will send the information you need to be saved. There's an old adage that says, light obeyed bringeth more light but light rejected bringeth the night. Do you sincerely want to know God? Do you want to know how to have a relationship with him? Remember what God said to the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 29:13? And you will seek me and you will find me when you search for me with all of your heart. A sincere desire to know the one true living God will always lead you to the foot of the cross of his son, Jesus Christ.