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The atheist makers.

Are you an atheist factory?

An atheist factory is known by many different titles: Lukewarm Christian, nominal Christian, professing Christian, Laodicean, hypocrite, etc.

Atheist factories are easy to spot. The gospel transforms what they do on Sunday mornings, who they vote for in November, and what kind of bumper stickers they put on their cars, but that’s as far as the gospel reaches, as it is prohibited from going any further in their lives: It doesn’t transform their compassion for those in abject poverty, their choices of entertainment, their speech, their dress, their marriage, their child rearing, or what they do on a Friday night. After all, they say, that’s “legalism!”

To them, God is just a moralistic, therapeutic, vending machine in the sky summoned upon like a genie to “get us through” whatever bumps we encounter on the road of life like a cosmic Dr. Phil. Yet, when it comes to dealing with their sin and depravity, or with matters such as obedience, holiness, and sanctification, then it’s quickly time to put God back on the shelf.

They only want Him to come out of His lantern when they’ve been made uncomfortable by life, but they want nothing to do with His commands. So there He remains on the shelf until life’s next tragedy or trial (or wedding or funeral), and all the while they drown out the Holy Spirit with copious doses of intoxicatingly happy, chipper, positive, and encouraging sermons, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and K-Love.

I recall an encounter I had a couple years ago while eating at a sub shop with my family one day after church. We were dressed nicely, we prayed over our meal, and the kids were behaving well. A woman approached us and queried of us–not if we were Christians–but if we were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It is to our shame that when a family’s appearance and behavior leads people to conclude that they must be Jehovah’s Witnesses (or because my wife and I have more than the accepted standard in Christendom of 2.5 kids, people assume we must be Mormons). The American church has not only adopted the philosophies of the culture around them when it comes to life, but they’ve also been so successful in their efforts to look and act like the world–for the supposed purpose of attracting the world–that now the world can’t even tell a difference between us and them (and most times there isn’t any difference).

One of the greatest causes of atheism today is the lives of Christians who honor God with their lips but their hearts (and observable lifestyles) are far from Him.

I, just like the atheist (and any other reasonable person), am repulsed by the shallow, mile-wide, inch-deep lifestyles of most professing Christians in the West. But where the atheist sees the average American Christian and uses their hypocrisy as a justification to reject God, I see the same open and blatant hypocrisy of professing Christians as a confirmation of what Jesus warned us about.

These cultural Christians do not fool God, nor should they fool you. As long as there have been wheat, there have been tares. As long as there have been sheep there have been goats. The Bible acknowledges the existence of the tares and goats, but their mere existence does not “prove” God does not exist (no matter how much the atheist tries to make that conclusion). These pseudo-Christians are spoken of by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:13-14,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

and Matthew 7:21-23,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Jesus even tells us how we can spot these false professors by how they respond to Jesus words (see Matthew 7:24-27).

Dear beloved, are you an atheist factory?

When your life draws near to the end and you reflect on how you’ve lived, will your life been an example of God’s grace, with a myriad of people who were drawn to Christ because your lifestyle matched the gospel that you claimed to believe, or will you be guilty of creating a plethora of anti-theists borne out of their contacts and experiences with you? Do not be fooled, you are leaving an impression on those around you, but what impression is it?

19 comments on “The atheist makers.

  1. Thank you for this….very well written. This is exactly what has frustrated me with so many of the “Christians” around me. But I was told I needed to look through eyes of grace. I have a heart over-flowing with love and grace…but have difficulty when others aren’t acting as a Christian should.

  2. JR reblogged this on Shattered By Grace and commented: Awesome post!

  3. A lot of people are becoming atheists nowadays because they have become more materialistic and have drifted away from the teachings of God. Nice post though.

  4. Spot on. I am with Gandhi on this: “I like your Christ but not your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ’. I believe in God and think Jesus was a good and wise man. I don’t know what the problem is with Christians but given the way most of them behave and the way they treat others, I will stay away from church thank you very much.

  5. I just wanted to echo the sentiments of Katy-TheCountryBlossom and say thank you for writing this article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I can wholeheartedly agree with the article and have felt very similar sentiments. I pray that I continue to walk in the Spirit and to be a light that shines for Jesus Christ in dark places. I don’t want to be salt that has lost its savor.

  6. Excellent post Pilgrim. I wholeheartedly agree. And the questions of the last paragraph keep ringing in my head. Well said, brother!

  7. Amen Pilgrim!

  8. Very good post, Pilgrim. A good reminder for all of us to continue to examine ourselves to see whether we are really in the faith. If we look at our lives and there has been no change to a new creation (or continues to be no on-going change), the Bible is clear that we are not one of His children. How sobering it will be for so many to hear the words, “Depart from me for I NEVER knew you!”

  9. Question: What are the Scriptures that outline what makes something heresy or false teaching in general? And how can we condemn someone as a false teacher? Where are the “lines” (standards) for false conversion and false doctrine that we can point to in the Bible?

    I’ve had a very hard time with this today…I had a discussion with a man that I believe may be a false teacher, but he did a very good job of instilling doubt in me about the issue of heresy. I condemned Rob Bell and Charles Ryrie openly on Facebook, and he called me out on it, believing it wasn’t the right thing to do because I’m not really sure that they’re false teachers. And that was the issue – we can’t really be sure in most cases, according to his reasoning. He tore apart my inductive reasoning concerning Scriptures like 1 Timothy 1:20, 3 John v.9 and Galatians 1:9. Suffice it to say that I’m very confused right now.

    Oops, forgot to subscribe to this post. Doing that now….

  10. When I mention I am one of eight children, I am frequently asked (and my parents were frequently asked too when I was growing up) whether I am Mormon, Catholic, or Jehovah’s Witness. I think being asked that probably has more to do with the number of children than anything else.

    That being said, thank you for this sobering post. I am not where I should be with my walk with Christ right now, and I wish I felt comfortable enough with most believers to be able to ask for prayer and support in my struggles. I often wish I could just drop everything, leave the US, and go live with poor, persecuted believers in a third world country. They are actually the rich ones….I am the poor one. I read somewhere that Chinese believers pray we get persecution here in the US, because they realize how much we need it. It is harder to be salt and light in our materialistic, soft, easy lives here than it is in darker, more desperate places like China, Vietnam, and North Korea. As Jesus said in Revelation, “You say ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Save me, Lord Jesus, from my perverse, wretched, miserable, naked, and poor condition. Save all of us.

  11. Amen and amen!

  12. I fell exactly the same way Marie…

  13. Francho:

    Greetings. In regard to your question:

    “What are the Scriptures that outline what makes something heresy or false teaching in general?”

    The Scriptures define and explain God and His Truth. False teaching is any and every teaching which is contrary to, or at odds against, what God has said in His Word. Which is why it is “false teaching”, rather than true. And that can apply to either Christian belief itself, or to Christian behavior. “Heresy” is to choose to believe differently from what God has said in the whole of His Word, and usually involves teaching such difference.

    Thus we need to know and understand God’s truth (from the whole of His Word, the Bible), in order to defend it, and identify that which differs, or opposes it. Then we show from the Scriptures just why a teaching is false (by confronting such teaching with applicable truth from God’s Word). The Christian will encounter many who believe strongly about their chosen errors, and who have become very adept at winning arguments through debate and rhetorical skills. Our focus must not be to win arguments, but to defend the faith by speaking God’s revealed truth in love.

    Regarding your second question:

    “And how can we condemn someone as a false teacher?”

    We actually don’t condemn anyone. Their own false teachings “condemn” them, or place them outside of our fellowship. We merely adhere to the truth of God’s Word, which commands us (for example):

    “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” Rom.16:17

    Regarding your third question:

    “Where are the “lines” (standards) for false conversion and false doctrine that we can point to in the Bible?”

    Please study the teaching on the good and bad fruit (Matt. 7:16-20). He who abides in THE VINE (he who is truly of Christ, is born again, and abides in Him), will bear the fruit in his life of believing and proclaiming God’s truth, and living in accord with God’s word. That is true conversion. He who only professes to believe, yet bears the fruit of believing and/or practicing that which is contrary to God’s Word, is bearing bad fruit and thus is not truly of Christ (refer to the very next section: Matt. 7:21-23). Those who are truly of Christ have the Holy Spirit within them (called the Spirit of Truth: Jn. 16:13-15). The unsaved, unregenerated do not have the Spirit of Truth, cannot know God’s truth and therefore cannot teach God’s truth (Jn.14:17).

    To sum up, there are no shortcuts, no convenient list of what is truth, what is false. It’s a matter of understanding what God has said in the whole of the Bible (which takes diligent study and prayer), and applying or confronting His Truth to every teaching which conflicts with that Truth. And whatever doubts people try to put in our heads, we CAN and ARE sure of God’s truth, because we have the very words of the Supreme Creator and Judge of the Universe, given to us in what we call the Holy Bible.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Thanks for sharing, Marie. I feel like such a lousy “Christian.” I am burned out with life half the time. It seems like the harder I try to live a sanctified life, the harder I fall. I live alone and work with a bunch of rowdy women, 12 hours a day, and it is tuff a lot of the time to not respond to their “hormonal” personalities and lousy work ethics. (My thoughts and feelings really tear me apart by the end of the week). I hope that I have not fallen on rocky soil. I am fearful as I think of how many got on the Ark and how many passed into the promised land. Will there be many caught up in the Rapture? Living for Christ is not for sissies. My only hope is in a merciful God. I pray that I will learn to trust Him more and keep my focus on Him and His word.

  15. You should look up the book “Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.” I think it’s relevant to you, your work environment, and your struggles. I’ve been reading it and it’s shown me a lot.

    Listen we all go through hard times but if you have put your trust in Christ and repented of your sins, then you are sealed with the Holy Spirit my friend. You didn’t choose God, He chose you. Being “good and fervent and non-lousy” isn’t going to get you to heaven, the blood of Jesus Christ which washes away all sins is going to get you there. TRUST in the Lord. “Abraham BELIEVED God and it was CREDITED to him as righteousness”. The devil wants you to doubt your salvation, get your spirits pessimistic, and render you fruitless. Keep persevering; this will pass.
    “For it is by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH.”
    “…even the righteousness of God through FAITH in Jesus Christ for all those who believe”
    “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness”

  16. Julie,

    I wanted to respond to you from above. This is a quote from your comment:

    “I feel like such a lousy “Christian.” I am burned out with life half the time. It seems like the harder I try to live a sanctified life, the harder I fall.”

    This breaks my heart. I have so much to say in regard to this, yet it is so hard to communicate the beautiful gospel of Christ and the rest that we find in him. You cannot live a sanctified live…the more you try the more you WILL fall. All you can do is rest in Christ. All you can do it ABIDE in Christ and he will do the work. He will sanctify you. These may be encouraging to you on this subject. I wrote these recently. I pray that you will immerse yourself full blast 100% into the Word of God and Prayer. The only way to abide in Christ is to be saturated with the Word of God and to pray without ceasing. If you do these alone, the sanctified life will be a by product because God will grow the fruit through you for his purposes.

    Please take a read thru these for encouragement:

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/09/13/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-1/

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/09/23/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-2/

    http://defendingcontending.com/2011/10/22/what-vine-are-you-abiding-in-part-3/

    I pray that you will be stunned with the Glory of Christ and that His love would give you great rest and peace and assurance in your walk.

    -abidingthroughgrace

  17. Thank you, Alan and Abiding. It is true I can do nothing good of myself but only by the grace of God have I been saved. (I have had a really trying year with family that I won’t get into at this time. I think it has worn me out mentally and physically to a point where I have often wondered if I have really been saved). I appreciate your encouraging words and it has blessed me again to read “What vine are you abiding in?” Thank you for your exhortation and encouraging words.

  18. Pilgrim, just re-read this. Thanks for posting it. This quote ”

    One of the greatest causes of atheism today is the lives of Christians who honor God with their lips but their hearts (and observable lifestyles) are far from Him.”

    Truly a sad commentary against the so-called evangelicalism found in western society today. People do not wish to believe what we eagerly desire them to believe simply because we do not eagerly desire to live what we say we believe.

    TDP

  19. I like this just cuz it got me thinking in the end. I want that last part about my life leaving an impact through the way I live the gospel to drive me forward. I want to see the lives of those around me change because God gave me the grace to follow him closely. To see even little things I do encourage my friends is such an encouragement to me because I know once I was the most wicked man and quite often I fall into horrible things and to think that I could positively influence someone just shows the extent of God’s grace in my life!

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