I received a comment from an Atheist on a post regarding friendship evangelism at airō yesterday, and wanted to share it here with you. Cary seemed honest in his inquiry so I was happy to reply to him candidly. His comment was a bit lengthy (read it in its entirety HERE), so I will just post the crux of his question:
Why do evangelists always seem to think that the only reason I’m not a Christian is because A) I hate Jesus or B) I’ve never heard of him?
Below is my response to Cary. Keep in mind that when engaging Atheists, we are not mandated to convince them with arguments (although argument certainly has its place), but rather we are to proclaim the truth as it is written in the Word of God. We must be honest and true to Scripture, no matter how difficult these truths might be to the hearer. Proclaiming these truths, we trust that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit,
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication… that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:17-20.
Thanks for the reply and I appreciate your honest and amicable tone. It seems some of your reply was directed at the girl who wrote Tony the letter, so I will reply to points where I may be able to answer biblically and theologically.
Firstly, I can empathize with your feelings toward Christians whose motivation for evangelism seem to be about numbers or winning arguments. The biblical mandate, however, is to proclaim the Gospel biblically without concern for numbers or winning arguments. This should naturally lead to witnessing encounters rooted in genuine compassion and concern for the lost soul, thus taking however much time is necessary, if possible, to convey the truth of God’s Word regarding salvation.
To your first question, non-Christians may not openly profess to hate Christ, but their not loving Him by acknowledging Him as Lord or submitting to the Law of God is rebellion against their Master. Further, professing Christians can and often do hate God as revealed in their lifestyle of sin and love for the world. Jesus is clear that the world hates Him, and as a result will hate His chosen ones and the truth:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. – John 15:-18-19
We find in James 4:4:
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
These are just a couple of examples for why the Bible says you hate Christ. You may not hate Him as much as you possibly can, but you are naturally an enemy of Him because you do not worship Him. According to the Bible, this would make you in violation to the 1st Commandment because you have placed yourself on God’s throne to live your life according to your will, instead of submitting to the Lordship of Christ and acknowledging His rule and reign in your life. This holds true for the Christian false convert who professes to know God but by their deeds they deny Him (Titus 1:16). Paul also talks about them in Philippians 3:18-19:
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
I was one of those false converts for many years. So whether false convert or Atheist or idolater, the Bible defines these types as enemies of God because they do not love Him. You might find the following article helpful that contrasts the difference between a child of God and a child of the god of this world (Satan): Who Am I According to God? Who Are You?
To your second point, you say you and “we” already know “all of this”, but what you fail to understand is head knowledge does not equate to salvation. My experience has been, even here in the “Bible Belt”, is that most professing Christians do not have a biblical understanding of the Gospel. We do not, then, operate on assumptions when evangelizing that everyone already knows the Gospel. I have heard it said by 2 or 3 different foreign missionaries asking when American churches will be requesting missionaries to come to the U.S. to proclaim the Gospel in America. It is truly a sad state of affairs in a country that was so rich in Christian heritage, but has now fallen into grave rebellion against God.
Biblically speaking, the reason why you are not a Christian, perhaps at least not yet, is because you are still dead in your sin (Ephesians 2:1). Not only are you born condemned in sin (John 3:18), but the god of this world has blinded your mind so you cannot see the light of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Therefore, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Moreover, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Speaking of childbirth [as you mentioned], the Bible says you must be born again to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). That is why you cannot see. You can no more cause yourself to be born again than your child can cause himself or herself to be born from the womb. No intellectual argument, no matter how convincing, can convert you. It comes “…not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). However, the Bible also says in John 6:37, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
So the question for you, Cary, is will you continue to suppress the truth of God (Romans 1:18), or will you exercise faith and trust in Christ? God says in Hebrews 11:4 “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Perhaps God will use this discussion to draw you close to Him by seeking the truth in His Word. Perhaps He will have mercy on you and reveal Himself to you in greater measure that you might turn to Him and be set free from the bondage of your sin and the god of this world. Perhaps you will hear the voice of the Son of God and He will call you forth from the spiritual dead to give you eternal life. Perhaps you will recognize Christ calling you to come eat from the Bread of Life and drink from the Living Water, that you may never hunger or thirst again. Perhaps God will produce in you a contrite heart that you will grieve over your offenses against Him, which will produce repentance leading to salvation. Perhaps you will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, who calls His sheep by name, that you may respond to His irresistible call of grace to follow Him. Perhaps your soul will be awakened that you might receive the reward of your inheritance as an adopted son of the Most High and a co-heir with Christ to rule in His eternal kingdom.
But then again, perhaps you like your life just the way it is and would rather be left in your trespasses and sin. God is rich in mercy and grace, and the door is open for you to walk through. We are told to strive to enter through the Narrow Gate, meaning we must do everything in our power to be sure we are on the narrow road that leads through the narrow gate to eternal life. Are you happy with the status quo to continue doing things your way, or are you honest enough in your search for truth that you would embark on a journey to investigate the claims of Christ? The truth is there for those seeking it, so the ball’s in your court. I suggest you start in the Gospel of John or the book of Romans.
I hope to hear from you soon, Cary – I’ll be praying for you and thanks for taking the time to comment.
This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project