What else does the Bible say about atheists and non-believers?
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What is the basic difference between believing in God and believing God? It is all the difference in the world. See you can believe in God, and I suppose that 95% of Americans say, “I believe in God.” The other 5% say they don’t, but way down deep when the deathbed comes they do. I do not believe there is an absolute atheist. To believe in God is one thing. To believe God: that enters into faith; that implies that God has said something. And as soon as God said something and we believe it, then it is faith. For example, He tells us (in I Corinthians 15:1-4) that for our salvation we are to believe that Christ died for us, was buried, and rose from the grave, and that he did that for you and me. Now that is faith.
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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath (already) appeared to all men.”
Now granted, when Paul wrote, the Roman Empire comprised ninety percent of the then-known world. But they had all heard. I think Paul is going all the way back to the flood. When Noah and his three sons and their wives came off the ark, they all had a knowledge of God. But what happened? Within a generation or two they began to do what Romans 1:18 says. They began to hold down the truth. They stood on it, and kept it underfoot. Remember all the revelation that God had given mankind, beginning with Adam. Deep in the heart of every human being, even in that Adamic nature, is the knowledge that there is a God. I’ve had people tell me they are atheists, but that’s just an excuse. They’re trying to convince themselves they are, but down deep within each atheist is the knowledge of God. So I maintain there is no such thing as an atheist. They all know there is that nagging desire to fill the vacuum that God placed in mankind when He created them. In history and archaeology you will never find a group or a tribe of people that did not have a worship of some sort. And always associated with a blood sacrifice. They’re going to have that need for a blood sacrifice, and it all goes back to the way God created mankind. So man has that knowledge that there is a Creator. Now verse 21: the reason they are without excuse is:
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations (Solomon said, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” What was he talking about? Humanism! When they leave God out of their thinking, then it’s empty), and their foolish heart was darkened.”
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“…not as fools, but as wise.” Now we all have our own idea of the definition of a fool, but I always have to use the Scripture for the best definition. So let’s go back and look at it in Psalm chapter 14.
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” Now most Bibles will have the “There is” italicized, which means that it’s been added to hopefully clarify it, but in this case they didn’t do this verse any good at all by adding those two words. I like the way it read just by leaving it the way it was intended.
“The fool hath said in his heart, no, God….”
Not that there is no God, because I don’t think there’s a person alive that can honestly say that. Now there are some who try to claim they’re atheists, but way down deep inside of them, when the death angel comes knocking on their door, they’re suddenly going to realize too late, that there is a God, and that there is an eternity. So I don’t like to look at this verse in that light, but rather if you’ll put a comma after the word no, the fool says no to God. Do you see that? The fool says, No, God, I’m not going to do what you tell me, I’m not going to believe what you say. Now that’s a fool! Now as soon as you get the concept that the fool is the person who says no to God, he’s the man who is then destitute of faith.
So the definition of a fool then is actually a person who is destitute of faith, and we’ve had examples in the Scriptures of such people. Cain was the first one. The guy was destitute of faith, and consequently he didn’t bring the kind of sacrifice that God had told him to bring, because he didn’t believe what God had said, he rationalized. The next one we come to early on in Scripture is Ishmael. Ishmael was not a man of faith. He went and did just exactly opposite of what God, through his father Abraham had said, “Not to marry Canaanites,” so he went and did it anyway. He showed the fact that he was destitute of faith because he said no to God.