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God Loves The Atheist

September 23, 2015

I know quite a few people who don’t believe in God, some I even think of as good friends. One in particular loves to debate me on a wide range of topics, including God. I absolutely love this friend, even when he stirs up my blood pressure a bit. Today he asked a very honest question. “An atheist that is an altruist and helps make the world a better place without any ulterior afterlife motives should go to Hell instead of a serial killer that sincerely asks for forgiveness and worships?”

The answer to me is twofold. First, since we all sin and have sinned, both actually deserve Hell. Secondly, while none of us deserve Heaven, God made a way for us, but there is only one way. The fact is, before sin entered the earth, there was only one way to ruin eternal life for man. God created all of the earth and put Adam and Eve in charge of it and said they could eat off any tree in the garden, except one. This story is called the “fall of man” by most, but to me there’s a deeper message. Even if we have just one rule to follow, if we try and do it under our own power, we will fail!

Throughout the Old Testament it was proven over and over again that man couldn’t follow the laws of God that were placed on them after they were kicked out of the garden. There are certainly good people who don’t believe in God and those who believe differently. However there is no magic code for how many good works or how well behaved someone can be to achieve salvation. That again is done only one way.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to become flesh like us. He lived a sinless life among us for 33 years. He was the only one who could follow those rules and He offered Himself as the atonement for our sins by sacrificing Himself on a cross for us. Jesus then conquered death and the grave and rose again! He could have just let us die without a way, He didn’t owe us anything. My atheist friends like to question how God could save the killer, the rapist, the drunk and not the guy who does good? It is a fair question, but I don’t pretend to understand God. His ways are not our ways. Just look at the people He used to write the Bible.

Moses killed a man and fled. After forty years in exile, he returned to take God’s people to freedom. David gave us the Psalms, is called a man after God’s own heart, yet very publicly sinned by not only taking a married woman to be his own, he also had her husband sent to the front lines in battle to try and cover it. If we were writing the Bible I doubt we tell that part. Most of the New Testament was written by Paul. He was first known as Saul and devoted his life to kill the followers of Christ until a resurrected Savior met him in the middle of a road. As for me, even though I knew better, I spent a couple decades just trying to live for a good time – kind of like the prodigal son.

I know I don’t deserve God’s grace and forgiveness. I feel for those who try and earn their salvation as it can’t be done. Sure, I like people to notice the changes in my life, but not for selfish reasons. Yes, I’m human, and it does feel good when someone says they noticed. The thing is, my desire isn’t that they notice me, it’s that they notice Him in me! You see, for the Christian, doing good works isn’t about trying to earn salvation. We aren’t saved because we do good, we do good because we are saved. I am still very much human and make mistakes, and maybe nothing I said will help an atheist believe the way I do. How will I ever know if I keep what I think is the best thing in life a secret? Yes there are good atheists, and yes God loves them. I love them. They have the same free offer of salvation anyone does, they need only accept it.

My life’s journey is so much better when I’m relying on God. I can’t prove He exists to a non-believer anymore than they can prove He doesn’t to me. I will say this, I don’t know anyone whose life was changed for the better because they don’t believe in God. That’s not saying there aren’t great people who don’t believe. I understand questioning the fairness of salvation, but the fact is, none of us deserve it, which makes the fact it’s offered to all of us that much more of a love story.

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One Comment
  1. Karen permalink

    I struggled with that question when I was younger. My solution, for me, is that as long as you don’t ask for forgiveness and turn to God, you are in rebellion to His authority over you. You harden your God and He has given us free will to choose that path, if we so choose. If the murderer, acknowledged his rebellion and surrendered to God’s authority, he is given mercy and is saved. The choice is ours.

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