This article started with an observation from scripture that the title describes, but I’ll throw in a couple of other observations while we’re on the topic.
Observation 1: Atheists know who the true God is.
Though atheists deny God exists, they quite clearly know who he is and that he exists. How do I know that? Well, first scripture tells us that God has made his existence plain to all (Rom 1.19) so atheists deny him only by denying what’s obvious. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been characterized as “apostles of denial” by former Watchtower member professor Edmund C. Gruss because of all the Christian doctrines they deny but, compared to atheists, the Witnesses are amateur deniers of the truth.
But aside from scripture, consider this: do you ever see atheists mocking other gods, like the Hindu gods – Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) or Shiva (the destroyer)? How about the god of Islam, Allah? (They may be too cowardly to mock that one. Such mocking may motivate a jihad-practicing Muslim to show up at their door and demonstrate how the Muslims treat blasphemers. Remember the Charlie Hebdo attack?) How about the god of Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion? He called his god the True Name. Or what about Ahura Mazda, the god of the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism? Is it because there are none of those adherents of any of those religions here in the U.S. that they don’t mock them as well? This is unlikely since there are many followers of Islam, Hindusim and Sikhism here in the U.S. (Though Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions, its priests tend to stay in the land of its origin, formerly known as Persia but known today as Iran, so it may take some searching to find adherents in the U.S.)
The answer is as obvious as the God they mock. Atheists don’t bother mocking that which doesn’t exist. The nonexistent is no threat to them. But what they can’t stand is the truth of the God they know exists. That’s why they can’t cease speaking against him and blaspheming him with their mocking. How do I know their attacks are focused on the true God? Consider this meme which the troll likes to send to Christians. If you look at his twitter profile as of this writing, you’ll see the troll takes pride in annoying Christians with his blasphemy until they finally block him. Note the ministries he’s harassed. They are all Christian ministries. I see no indications from his twitter feed or profile that he delights in attacking other religions as he does in attacking the one true religion, Christianity. The troll only appears concerned with blaspheming the true God and true religion. The troll knows God exists but doesn’t want to be accountable to him. So, like many other atheists, he pretends God doesn’t exist. Foolish.
Observation 2: Atheists are in Denial of their Destiny.
This point was impressed upon me as I read through gospel accounts of how demons react to Jesus. They seem to have a common reaction. They’re scared beyond death that Jesus has come to cast them into the abyss. Why are they afraid of that? Because they know that God has decreed that such will be their final end and there is no escaping it. (Matthew 25.41; Rev 20.10) The only question is, when it will happen? So when Jesus appears before them, they’re afraid Jesus has come to do what God has said he would do – cast them all into the lake of fire. Here’s the account in Luke (Luke 8.27-31), though you’ll find the same reaction in Mark 5.7 and Luke 4.33-34.
When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.
28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!”
29 For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him.
31 And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
So the demons know they’re going into the abyss and they know they can’t stop it. Their only concern is that Jesus will send them there immediately. Apparently they don’t know when the appointed time is. Or they do know and once again they are blaspheming God by accusing him of going against His word by sending them before the appointed time. Either way my point is the same. The demons know they’re going to spend an eternity in torture in the lake of fire. There is no hope of redemption for them.
And there’s the sad part for atheists. While they walk this earth, they have a chance to stop their blasphemies, stop their mocking, ask for forgiveness and turn to Jesus and let him take the penalty they (and we all) so richly deserve and thus avoid the end demons will suffer. But they refuse to do that. So tragic. This is a clear demonstration that their denial of the truth is deeper than the denial demons, deeper than the angels who rebelled against God but who now know and accept the truth and reality of their destiny. They will spend eternity in the lake of fire. (Matt 25.41) Demons know that. Atheists are in denial of that.
Demons – former angels – never had the blessed opportunity of redemption. When they rebelled, God cast them down out of heaven (Rev 12.9), and decreed, since they had rejected his goodness, that they would spend an eternity without him and his goodness. No more pleasurable things for them. Peace and enjoying pleasurable things are among the good things of God. “For every good and perfect gift is from God.” (James 1.17) But, since they chose evil, they would spend an eternity without those good things and knowing they made the choice of evil. The flames of the lake of fire will be their eternal reminder. So will it be for all who make the same choice to reject God and thereby choose evil.
Observation 3: An Eternity in the Lake of Fire is a just punishment for those who rebel against God and reject him.
One of the objections that atheists offer is: How can God give people an eternal punishment for temporal (by which they mean finite) sins they have committed? First, they fail to recognize the greatness and the magnitude of the person they have sinned against. Sins ultimately are not merely against fellow humans. Ultimately they are against the eternal God as David, the king against whom all kings of Israel and Judah are measured, noted:
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
David is speaking here about his dealings with Bathsheba: committing adultery with her and then killing her husband to hide it. (2 Sam 11.1 – 12.13) Yet he does not speak about the sin against her or her husband. He speaks about the sin against God because, ultimately, all sin is against the Holy One of Israel who is eternal. This brings us to the next point.
Perhaps more importantly, the penalty of eternal separation is just because of this: those who reject God never stop sinning and blaspheming. This is made clear in the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation speaks of the judgments of God to come. As the end approaches they come in three sets of seven judgments depicted by seals, trumpets and bowls.
By the sixth seal, it is clear all mankind recognizes the judgments are from God because the people of that day say:
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
(Rev 6:16 )
But even after that recognition, the rebellious refuse to turn from their sins. Scripture records that they refuse to repent of their evil. This happens during the trumpet judgments which comes after the seal judgments. So by this time they all know who the judgments are from:
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk.
The people in those end-of-days judgments know who they’re from, just as atheists today know that God exists.
So why are they punished for an eternity? Because they are sinning throughout eternity since they refuse to repent.
Atheists should take to heart that God has given them a the chance to be saved; something he never afforded the angels who sinned. That’s why the psalmist can say:
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
Atheist, have you considered that even in your rebellion and rejection, God loves you and has given you a chance he never gave to angels? That he loves humans so much that he has placed all the sons (and daughters) of men over the angels? (1 Cor 6.3, Rom 8.17) I make to you the same appeal that God made through the prophet Ezekiel:
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?
If you’re wondering how to get a new heart and spirit, read John 3.1-21. It speaks of the new birth and, with the new birth, you’re given a new heart and spirit. If that’s too much for you, here’s the shortcut: As Mark put it:
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The good news is that your sins can be forgiven by turning from your rejection of God, believing in Jesus and beginning a life of turning from the sins you formerly held dear. This is the only way to avoid the otherwise certain destiny that the demons fear. Will you repent or remain in denial?
1. Wesley Walters and Kurt Goedelman, “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in A Guide to Cults and New Religions by Ronald Enroth & Others, Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1983, p. 108
2. John B Noss, David S Noss, Man’s Religions – 7th Edition, New York: Macmillian Publishing Company, 1984, pp. 221, 223
3. Man’s Religions, p. 335
Composite, based on Photo © Tijanap | Dreamstime.com