In the Trenches with an Atheist
In part 1 I discussed my recent adventure of going outside the four walls of a church building to do some open air preaching at a rock festival in Denmark. But there is another story from that day about a witnessing encounter with an atheist called Niels that I want to recount.
Yesterday this witnessing encounter was quickened to my memory as I helped a friend of mine Jens-Peter with renovating his house. We were making very good time so he stopped to ask me some questions regarding how I witness to people who don't believe in God. His assumption was that reasoning of sin and righteousness and judgment with a complete heathen would be a waste of time because they reject God's existence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As I was handing out Gospel tracts (at the rock festival) a guy (Niels) spoke to me in an Australian accent. It turned out that he was Danish but had spent a year living down under. We got chatting about Australia and traded stories. He then asked me about the tracts I was handing out and I told him they had the answer to the million dollar question (it was a million dollar bill). He asked me what the million dollar question was and I asked if he knew where he would go when he died. It turned out he was an atheist and I started witnessing by revealing the proof of God's existence through creation.
Always in the back of my mind is the truth that the atheist already has knowledge of God but suppresses it in unrighteousness. This is why I didn't invest time in dazzling Niels with wizz bang apologetics (I'm not smart enough for the wizz bang apologetics anyway) concerning God's existence when the issue was not one of knowledge but of sin.
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
These verses from Romans 1 tell us "that which may be known of God is manifest" in the unbeliever "for God hath shown it unto them". They are holding "the truth in unrighteousness". And what is it that testifies God's existence to sinful men? Verse 20 tells us the answer. The "invisible" things of God are "clearly seen" in God's creation "even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse". Put simply, the creation compellingly testifies to the Creator God Himself. I am not opposed to apologetics but in a situation like this, persuasion is not the problem. The atheist already has knowledge of God's existence and time is better spent trying to awaken this knowledge rather than try and win an argument with him. Because the atheist's problem is not a lack of proof concerning God's existence, but rather one of human pride and a love of sin.
As I spoke with Niels he told me that he didn't believe the witness of creation. Trusting God's word I then stepped out in faith and said something quite provocative to him. I told him "the evidence is not the problem Niels, it's because you love your sin too much". Time stood still for a moment as I beheld the shock on his face, I prepared myself to duck in case his fist came hurtling my way. One thing was for sure - now I had Niels' undivided attention!
To be continued tomorrow - The Battlefront of the Conscience
Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1
God, You've Got the Wrong Guy
11 hours ago