vBlog Post #012
Answering An Atheist Who Claimed He Once Was A Christian
Welcome to another edition of the Science Pastor, my name is Steve and I'm the Science Pastor... and today I'll be responding to a YouTube comment on our video about the Ark Experience... and it has nothing to do with the Ark... but we are going back to Kentucky... this time to Fort Knox...
So why did I go to Fort Knox? Yes, I'm talking about the Fort Knox where all the gold is kept... the actual building where they have the gold stored is in the middle of a vast empty field. That building is one of the most secure places on earth... impossible to get into without clearance... and I've heard that the clearance has to come from the president.
This place is secure. I didn't get anywhere near it. The building with the gold is a part of the Ft. Knox army base... and this visitor center is where visitors are cleared to enter the Army base... there is no visitor center for the building with the gold.
So why did I go there? I went there because Fort Knox is the most secure place I could think of. And one of the YouTube comments we got on our show about the Ark Encounter had to do with security... the security of our faith.
Someone calling themselves “Born Again Atheist” wrote: “I was a fundamentalist Christian from an early age until around the age of 30.”
He then goes on to explain why he turned away from away from Christianity and was now an atheist. The reasons he gave were all objections I've heard before, and have answered many, many times in the past. It is so easy to see the truth of Romans 1:18 – atheists claim they are atheists because they don't see any evidence that God exists... yet these are people who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” – meaning they know the truth... they know God is real... but they willfully and intentionally suppress that truth.
And if they actually wanted the answers to their questions, the answers are out there.
Atheists claim they don't see any evidence God exists, yet I don't see the
evidence they've done any serious looking. And here is where we get to the point... in many cases the supposed evidence is that they were once a Christian, and thus are supposedly familiar with Christianity.
Some say they went church for decades... grew up in a Christian family... maybe they went to Sunday school as a kid... maybe they even taught Sunday school.. so of course they know all about Christianity and god.
And... here's the point they are making... after all of this Christian training and upbringing... all of the teaching about the Bible they've had... in spite of learning about Christianity and learning about god from the inside... when they looked at all of this... there was nothing... no god... it was all a myth... a fairy tale... just a story. There is no god. So they left Christianity. They were no longer a Christian.
However... here's the problem with this reasoning... they never were a Christian. They may have had some knowledge... may have had a lot of knowledge... or maybe no knowledge. It is very common in churches today to teach worldly wisdom and values, claiming it is from the Bible. That's very common... and just because there is a building alled a church, that does not mean there are actually Christians there. So what these atheists learned about was not Christianity.
Just because there is a group of people calling themselves Christian, and they are all getting together in a building called a church... that does not mean they are Christians. The number I've been hearing is that close to 85 to 90% of the people calling themselves Christian, are not... in fact... a Christian.
[WOMAN SPEAKING] - “I accepted Christ when I was around five. But it was more of a formality because everyone in my family was doing it. I thought I was saved.”
Jesus himself makes this very clear in multiple places in scripture, for example Matthew chapter 7 starting in verse 21...
21 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
These are people who are not just calling Jesus Lord... they are calling Him Lord, Lord... they are emphasizing that Jesus is their Lord. They call Him their Lord and Savior... but not everyone who does this will enter heaven.
Notice what Jesus says next... “many.” Jesus is not talking about just a few people... but many...
22 - Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’"
These people not only call Him Lord, they are serving Him. And these are the cream of the crop... they prophesy in Jesus' name. They cast out demons in Jesus' name. Wow... they have the power... They are even performing miracles in the name of Jesus. These are not just Christians... these are the best, the most devoted, the ones God is blessing with incredible power. These people are so obviously Christian... and yet Jesus says...
23 - And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
They truly thought they were Christians... they truly thought they were believers. But they were not. Jesus does not know them.
[WOMAN SPEAKING] - “When I was ten I had some kind of experience. And I decided to follow Christ. But honestly I did not know what that meant.”
How could someone think they are a Christian and not be one? There are some people who have virtually memorized the Bible, and are not Christians. They know all they words... they have knowledge... but they are not saved... they are not Christians. I've met people like this as I've been out on the street sharing the gospel. People who knew God's word, had it memorized... and could quote chapter and verse, and they used it to supposedly refute the truth of Christianity.
I've met atheists who know the Bible better than most Christians. How can someone know the Bible and not be a Christian? Because... they cannot understand... they're blind...
I thought I was a Christian until I truly became a Christian at the age of 49... I was 49 years old. For over 30 years I claimed to be a Christian, and never doubted I was a Christian... but I was a false believer. I was blind.
Here's an interesting statement from 2 Corinthians, starting in verse 3, about the gospel being... veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ... those who are unbelieving... are prevented from understanding the truth of the gospel... the truth of God's word.
The god of this world... that's Satan... has blinded their minds.... he is preventing them from understanding.
If this is true... and it is... we seem to have a catch-22. If only believers... true believers not people who just think they are Christians... if only true believers can understand the gospel, then how can an unbeliever ever become a Christian?
So we have all of these people who think they are Christians. They know without a doubt they are a Christian.
[WOMAN SPEAKING] - “And so I was a 'Christian' and I wasn't following Jesus. I didn't have any life. And then I was going to church and middle school and I was hearing about Jesus and I wasn't reading the Bible, but I was learning more. I went to church to show I knew things when I really didn't know anything. But for some reason I was pretty good at showing that I knew things. I don't know what it was. I was really deceived, thinking I was good and that I knew a lot of stuff.”
They go to church. They teach in churches. They sing in the choir and play the organ. They bring their kids to church. They dress nicely... they don't drink... they don't cuss... they look like the perfect Christians. But they're not... they are deceived.
[WOMAN SPEAKING] - “When I was a child I went to church with neighbors of mine and my mom. I had heard about Jesus ad as I grew up I think I always thought of myself as a Christian. I wasn't until I was 18 years old that I went to church. I hadn't gone for a long time. I had a boyfriend at that time and I went to church with him and his mom. They said during the service that if I wanted to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and I said 'yes.' I rose my hand and somebody came and prayed with me.”
They are self-deceived into thinking they are Christians. And Satan has blinded their minds so that they'll never see the truth of the Bible... they'll never actually understand what the Bible says... Satan has blinded them, deceived them. So how could they ever become a Christian? How can they overcome the blindness?
Ephesians chapter 2 explains...
8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith
There you go. We are saved by faith. But where does that faith come from? As we just read “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.”
The blind cannot see. In fact, if we just jump back to the first verse of Ephesians 2...
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins – before we were saved, not only were we blind, we were dead. What can a dead blind person do? Nothing. They are dead. What can a dead blind person do to save themselves from death? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not only are they blind, they are dead. But... God has an answer...
8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 - not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
It is God who saves us. We are saved through faith... but it is not our own faith... it is a gift God gives us. God choses to give us faith... He choses who He will give faith to... and He gives that blind, dead person the faith they need to believe.
So what does this have to do with Fort Knox? I haven't forgotten about Fort Knox.
If God chooses those to whom He gives the gift of faith... and God gives them the faith to trust in Jesus as their Savior from the consequences of their sin... can they ever lose that faith?
Remember who we are talking about. This is the God of the universe. He spoke everything into existence including the stars and galaxies... billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars... a universe so vast and complex that it is beyond our imaginations.
This is God who never learns anything new... that's what omniscient means... God knows everything and always has.
Would this powerful, all-knowing, loving, perfect God select someone to save, give them the gift of faith that only He can give, and then take away that gift of faith?
That would be cruel. That would be a very weak God. A God who cannot keep those whom He has chosen... who cannot protect... who cannot preserve those who are His... is no God at all. That's why God says in Romans 8..
29 - For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 - and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
And that's why God says in John 10...
28 - I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
29 - My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Fort Knox is secure. As secure as humanly possible. Your salvation in Jesus Christ is secure... more secure than Fort Knox. Nothing... absolutely nothing can take away your salvation. Once someone is a true Christian, they are secure... they always will be a Christian.
Anyone who says they were once a Christian, and they are now an atheist... never was a Christian. Anyone who says, once they were a Christian, but now they are a Buddhist, was never a Christian.
They believed they were a Christian... they may have called Jesus “Lord, Lord” but Jesus never knew them. They are blind and dead, and condemned to eternal punishment for breaking God's laws. And have always been blind and dead. So our prayer for the “Born Again Atheist” is that God would give him faith... that God would remove his blindness... give him a new heart... give him life.
So one final point... you've been listening to this... are you a false believer? Are you a false Christian? How can you know?
After all, every church... even false churches, claim to be following the Bible. Every church claims to have the truth. However, the question is, does that “truth” actually match scripture? And if say you are a Christian and nobody can dispute it... You need to do what scripture commands: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” that's 2 Corinthians 13:5
What are the marks of a true Christian? One indication, not a proof but an indication, of a true Christian is that they know the gospel... they know how they became a Christian.
Going to church does not mean you are a Christian. Being baptized does not mean you are a Christian. Teaching Sunday school does not mean you are a Christian. In fact, if you name any of these as indicating you are a Christian, you have proven you are not a Christian.
Saying a prayer does not make you a Christian. Going on a mission trip does not mean you are a Christian. Helping at a food pantry, singing in the choir, serving in your church... being a priest or pastor does not mean you are a Christian. Being a member of a church, or an elder, or a deacon, or an usher, or a monk does not mean you are a Christian.
If you claim any of these things as identifying you as a Christian, you most likely are not a Christian... because you don't know what a true Christian is.
What identifies a Christian is that they are a person who is growing in righteousness... meaning they are rejecting sin … sin as defined in scripture … and they are continually turning toward God.
Christians are not perfect. We fail. We disobey God... but there should be a battle going on... the fight against the sinful desires of our flesh. And I want to make it clear it is God who defines sin... and we can't change His definition of sin.
Another sign is that a Christian loves scripture... wants to be reading and learning from scripture... and wants to be with other Christians.
A Christian knows who Jesus Christ is. This is a big one. Those falsely claiming to believe in Jesus, invariably are thinking about an imaginary Jesus. Catholics, for example, have an imaginary Jesus. A Jesus who, on his own, cannot save you... their Jesus requires things you must do to contribute to your salvation. That's not the Jesus of the Bible...
That's not what scripture says:
8 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 - not as a result of works, so that no one may boast
And a believer knows how they were saved. That's why when two Christians meet, one of the first things they often talk about are their testimonies... their stories about how they were saved. A Christian knows who they were: a wretched sinner. A person who broke God's laws. A person who deserved the just punishment that is due a lawbreaker... eternity in hell.
But then God gives them a new heart.... new life...
[TESTIMONY OF A TRUE BELIEVER]
And so I called my husband's aunt, because I knew she was a Christian. And she goes, “Are you busy now?”
And I said, “No.” And so she invited me to coffee. And she said, “I have some questions to ask you. First of all, do you think you are a good person?”
And I said, “Yeah. I mean I haven't kidnapped any children or murderer anybody. Yeah, I guess... I think I'm a pretty good person.”
She goes, “Okay. Well, have you ever told a lie?” And I said, “Yeah.”
And she said, “What does that make you?” And I said, “A liar?” She said, “Yeah.”
And she said, “Jesus said if you've ever looked at somebody with lust, then you are guilty of committing adultery. Have you ever done that?” And I said, “Yeah.”
And she goes, “The Bible says that you shall not murder. But Jesus said that if you've ever hated somebody you are guilty of murder. Have you ever hated somebody or been angry with them?” Oh, and by that time I just couldn't even look at her. I felt so shamed. I said, “Yeah.”
She goes, “If God judged you based on His Ten Commandments, His commands which some of those are, would stand before Him innocent or would you be guilty?” And I said, “I would be guilty because I've broken those.”
And she said, “Does that concern you?”
“Yes, yes, that concerns me,”
She said, “You know what God did for you, so that you don't have to spend an eternity in hell?” I said, “No.”
She said, “He sent His only Son to take the punishment that you deserve. For all the bad things that you have done. So that if you repent of your sins, turn from them, and trust in Jesus Christ, you can be forgiven of all of that, because of what He's done for you.”
And I felt so horrible, and yet so relieved at the same time because I knew it was true. And she gave me a Bible. She said, “I want you to go home and I want you to read this and obey what it says.” And I went home and I began reading it in Matthew. And it says, “Many in that day will say to me 'Lord, Lord.' And I will say, 'Depart from Me, I never knew you.'” And that was terrifying.
But later on in Matthew He talks about the parable of the soils and He says that He casts the seed out. The seed is the word of God cast out onto all these grounds. All these different soils. And people respond to the gospel in different ways. And there is only one response that is a response of salvation and at that moment I was terrified, and I wanted to know. I had to know which soil, which soil am I?
And I got on my knees and I prayed, and I said, “God, I don't know what to say. But I need to know if I am yours. Because I don't want to be any other soil but the good one. I want to know. I want to be yours.”
And from that moment on He regenerated my heart. He saved me. And today, six years later I'm His. I know it. I have full assurance of that because of His word. And just praise Him and I'm so thankful for Him. And He stepped into my life and changed it completely.