Trinity Sunday June 7, 1998

INI

Atheism is for Fools!

Psalm 14:1

Hymns

1, 23, 246, 244

The fool hath said in his heart: “There is no God.” Here ends our text.

In the name of the Triune God, the living God, the God who was, and is, and always will be, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

An “atheist” is someone who believes that there is no God. I don’t think there are many true atheists in the world, but there are a lot of people who say they are—and even more who live like they are. An old Christian man was once speaking with a rather strident college student. The young man identified himself confidently as an atheist. He said, “I will not believe in the existence of a God that cannot be seen. We are creatures of reason, you know!” “Well,” said the older man, “have you ever seen France?” “No, but other people have, and my reason allows me to believe in France on the basis of their testimony.” “I see,” said the Christian, “then you will believe only in what you or somebody else has seen?” “That’s it exactly!” said the young man. “Have you ever seen your brains?” the old man asked. “No.” “Has anyone else ever seen them?” “Well, no…” The old Christian smiled at the perplexity of the young man. “Then what makes you think you have any?!”

To a long-time Christian, atheism may seem like a particularly “brainless” belief to hold. But one thing is clear—there are masses of people in our world of today who do hold just that belief. Maybe they don’t say it with their lips, but they say it very clearly with their lives: “There is no God.” And don’t think that atheism is something new to the world; centuries ago already, the Psalmist showed that he was quite familiar with atheism and atheists. He summed up his thoughts on the subject with these words: “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” On this Trinity Sunday, let’s consider the theme:

“ATHEISM is for FOOLS!”

  1. Nature says: there is a God
  2. Conscience says: there is a God
  3. Scripture says: He is the Triune God

Everybody can know that there is a God. His voice can be heard all around us. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” the Bible says, “and the firmament shows His handiwork.” All of the evidence in this remarkable universe of ours testifies to the same thing. Nature says that there is a God.

In fact, the Apostle Paul once said that there’s no excuse for not knowing God exists. Everyone should be able to tell that, he said, simply by looking around at all the things God has created. In other words, if you stand out on your porch on a warm spring evening and look up into the sky, you should be getting a message from what you see. When you see all those beautiful stars, all placed in their exact position and running in their exact courses, it should be obvious that they could just have come into being by accident. The trees, the plants, the myriad species of wildlife—all the evidence says that Someone must have created all these things, and that that Someone is all-wise and all-powerful.

What about the human body? Consider the anatomy of the human eye: it has thousands of intricately designed parts. All these parts fit together just right, to form a picture-taking apparatus more versatile and accurate than the most expensive camera. When faced with such a wonder, it just seems like common sense that everyone should come to the same conclusion that King David did: “I will praise You, Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well!Ps 139:14.

In our day, though, very few people come to that logical conclusion. They prefer to believe in something that seems a lot wilder to me: the theory of evolution. Evolution says that, over millions of years, simple one-celled creatures gradually changed and grew more complex, until eventually our world was populated with a large variety of infinitely-complex creatures. Well if you ask me, it takes more faith to believe a tall tale like that than to believe in the simple Bible account of creation!

There was once a Christian man who worked in a factory that made sausage grinders. He remarked, “It takes an employee in our factory about two days to learn to put the 17 parts of a sausage grinder together. Now, it may be that all the millions of parts in the human body—each in just the right place, and each with a specific function—it may be that they all just came together by accident. I don’t know. I’m just a simple factory worker. But this I do know, that you can take the 17 parts of a sausage grinder and shake them around in a washtub for the next 17 billion years, and you’ll never get a sausage grinder.”

Nature says there is a God! Are we getting the message from the created world around us? Or have we learned to take all these things for granted? Are we so used to the rising and setting of the sun that we’ve lost our sense of awe and wonder over the great designs of our great God? God’s marvels are all around us. Only a fool would say, “There is no God!”

But there’s another clear witness to the existence of God, isn’t there? Something every person on earth has in his heart that should tell him of God’s existence. It’s called the conscience. It’s that persistent voice within us that tells us the difference between right and wrong. And conscience, too, says that there is a God.

India is an interesting country: although it has only one-third the land mass of the United States, it has roughly twice as many people. In 1981 a census was taken in India which asked, among other things, the religious persuasion of each person. Out on 6.5 million people, only 20 claimed to be atheists. Those 6.5 million people all had that voice inside them, telling them it would simply be foolish to deny the existence of God. Why do you think that someone who has committed a sin in the secrecy and privacy of his own home, where nobody could possible have seen it, still feels the twinge of a nagging conscience? Because every person knows in his heart that there is a God, that God is against sin, and that God will one Day call man to account for his sin.

Some of this world’s most brilliant people have claimed to be atheists. Voltaire, the great French philosopher and leader of the enlightenment, denied the existence of God throughout his life. But on his death-bed, he suddenly changed his mind. Standing on the brink of eternity, he couldn’t shake the terrible conviction that there really was a God, after all. His last words were an agonized cry: “I am abandoned by God and man: I shall go to hell!”

The fool hath said in his heart: ‘There is no God.’” All the evidence—in nature, and in man’s own heart—says, “Yes, there is too a God—a God who is all powerful, and a God who will judge mankind.” You’d have to be a fool to deny it!

God exists, alright; down deep, everyone knows it. But it’s not enough just to know God exists. There’s something else we need to know—vital information that can only come from one source. Only the Bible can tell us who this God is. The Lord has left an unfailing revelation of Himself in His Word. This testimony shows that he is the Triune God.

The true God, the God of the Bible, is the Triune God. A few moments ago we said the Athanasian Creed together. That is a long creed, and it is kind of difficult to get through it all. But I think it’s well worth it, if it reminds us how important the Doctrine of the Trinity is. It was important enough to the Christians of the 4th century that they nailed down the Biblical teaching of the Trinity with this creed. They did that because a lot of people were making errors about the nature of God. Some said that Jesus and the Holy Ghost were somehow inferior to the God the Father. Some went the other way, and said that there wasn’t one God, but three Gods!

The error of denying the Trinity—three distinct Persons in one God—is still around today. The Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses deny the Trinity, and that’s why our church makes a clear stand against their false doctrine. We stand against the lodges; they proclaim a belief in a Supreme Being, the “great Architect of the universe,” but they don’t acknowledge the Trinity. In fact, they leave out any mention of Jesus Christ. Which brings us to a vitally important question: can a person leave out Jesus, and still stay he’s worshipping the true God?

A lot of people think so. How many times have you heard a person say, “Well, at least I believe that there is a God—that must count for something!” In point of fact, however, if you leave out Jesus it doesn’t count for anything. Our Savior said, All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Jn 5:23. In another place, Jesus says, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. Jesus Christ is the only Way of salvation. He gave Himself on the cross to pay for our sins—ALL our sins—and to free us from eternal death in hell. He rose triumphantly from the dead as the “firstfruits of those that rise,” showing us that we will one day rise to everlasting life. You have been handed a free pass to heaven…not because of your own merits or worthiness, not because you are by nature “more righteous” than others, but because God has given you the perfect righteousness of Christ through faith.

We need this Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the midst of a world of uncertainties, the promise of entering eternal life through faith in Jesus is a sure thing. You know, I’ve often thought that it’s a good thing my salvation doesn’t depend—even in part—on my own efforts. Because if even one percent of my salvation depended on me, I have a feeling I’d find some way to mess it up! Thank God it doesn’t! What a comfort to know that one hundred per cent of your salvation depends on Jesus, and zero per cent depends on you. Paul says, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Rom 3:28. What a relief to know that the question of your eternal future has been settled! It’s not being decided on a day-to-day basis, according to how you live your life, whether you make good decisions or bad, whether you’re faithful or unfaithful in your Christian duties. It’s not a contest whose outcome is in question. When it comes to your salvation, the game is over, and the results are already in the record books. Your eternal salvation was finished and accomplished, in historical time, some 2000 years ago, when Christ gave up the ghost on Calvary. The Apostle asks, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again. Rom 8.33-34.

—Pastor Paul Naumann

Sermon Preached May 25, 1997
Ascension Lutheran Church, DuPont WA


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