|Vol. 14 No. 6 June 2012||
Adam B. Cozort
Recent polls have shown that over 85% of Americans believe God exists. Many consider that to be proof the majority of Americans are godly and righteous people. However, it does not take much observation and consideration of American life and culture to recognize that many people in this country believe in the existence of God, but they live their lives as practical atheists.
What is a practical atheist? The term “atheist” is one who is “against theism” (i.e., he or she does not believe in Deity). The term “practical” has a number of meanings, among them: “practicing, suitable for everyday use, virtual.” Therefore, a practical atheist is one who verbally promotes the existence of God, but practices an everyday lifestyle that denies the admission. Consider some ways one can be a practical atheist.
Practical Atheists are Unconcerned with God’s Word
If one were to believe that a Supreme Being created all things and is responsible for my very existence, and that He has taken the time to communicate to me information about who He is and what He expects, one would be considered wise and prudent to take the time to read and understand what has been given. Yet, most people do not have even a primitive understanding of the Bible. Their admission of belief in God is worthless because they do not know why they believe in Him, what He has commanded them to do or what He has said to mankind. There are many atheists who know more facts about the Word of God than people who claim to believe in God, because they have at least taken the time to examine things about the book, even though they misapply and contort its passages to their own devices. The first sign of practical atheism is the lack of desire to understand God’s Word.
Practical Atheists Believe God’s Commands are Just Suggestions
The practical atheist will tell people he believes in God, until such a time as the laws of God conflict with his own desires and beliefs. This is often seen with social and moral issues such as sex before marriage, homosexuality, drinking, modesty and the like. Many people want to believe in God, but consider the laws of God too stringent upon their lifestyle. So, while they profess to believe in God and love Him, they also pretend that His expectations do not exist, or feel that if they ignore them long enough that they will simply go away. This apathetic attitude toward God is one of the leading evidences of practical atheism. If people really believed in God, they would be willing to put His commands at the top of their priority list.
Practical Atheists Have No Convictions
When people are practical atheists, their foremost opinion is that everyone’s opinion is equal and acceptable. They do not care what anyone else believes, says or does; their only concern is that everyone gets along. This mentality is often seen in those who want to proclaim “God is love,” and then exhibit their version of “love” is ways that God finds abhorrent and sinful. It is this mentality that causes people to accept the moral relativism that assures all beliefs are equal and without rebuke; you can worship anyway that you like, preach any doctrine you like and practice any morality you like. Just make sure you accept theirs with the same “love and understanding.”
The individual with even a minimal knowledge of God’s Word understands that this simply does not fit the true and living God’s perception of acceptability in life. There is right and wrong, wise and foolish, good and evil. There are things for which we must stand, and things against which we must fight. An individual who does not believe such is nothing more than a practical atheist.
Saying you believe in God is not enough. True biblical faith is more than just belief; as the inspired writer put it, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). If we truly believe in God, we will constantly seek out His will, obey His commands and fulfill His expectations to the best of our abilities. If we do not believe in God enough to do that, we are nothing more than practical atheists.
Denver E. Cooper
We live in a society that does a great deal of traveling. Before starting, people look at maps and some have electronic equipment sitting on the dashboard that maps the way for them. Not many depend on friends to personally give directions. Some folks, though they know the way, just cannot give proper directions. I have always endeavored to give careful, precise instructions when telling people how to get to Heaven. It is so sad to observe TV audiences in the thousands listening to someone tell them words that they are depending upon which cannot possibly get them to Heaven.
Isaiah penned, “An highway shall be there, and a way” (Isaiah 35:8). It seems to me that he is telling us that there is one way with two descriptions. In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus did come, and He performed miracles aplenty proving His divinity. The eyes of the blind were opened, the ears of the deaf were unstopped and the lame were able to walk. There is no shortage of the evidence of Christ having come to Earth and performing the work God gave Him to do.
In the great sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Isaiah also declared that “the unclean [sinner] shall not pass over it.” I believe, therefore, that there is a way to Heaven.
Now, the question is, “Where is the way?” Many answers are given by many teachers, but the answer we need comes from Jesus. He explained to His disciples that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would come to receive them where He is. Thomas questioned him asking, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am THE WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:5-6). Please note Jesus did not say, “I am a way”, but “I am THE WAY.” People often say, “There are many ways to Heaven, and I’m going one of the ways.”
Next is, where do I get information concerning the way? In John 5:39 Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Me who? “I am the way.” Every word of instruction is found in the sacred Word of God. Hence, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Now, how does one get in the way? Jesus says, “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). What is that power that is used by the Father to draw a man to the way? Paul describes it when he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
The only way to get in the way to Heaven is by hearing: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), by believing (Acts 16:31), repenting (Luke 13:3), confessing Jesus to be the Christ (Romans 10:10) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). There is just one WAY into the body of Christ.