by Joseph Franks
“Hello, my name is Joseph Franks, and I am an atheist.”
In Psalm 53, David addresses the sinful dysfunction of being an atheist. It is my contention that atheism is a sin which consumes the unbeliever. It is also my contention that atheism is a sin which continually plagues true believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, before trying to prove my point, allow me to provide for you the inspired words of the holy prophet:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have those who work evil no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror! For God scatters the bones of him who encamps against you; you put them to shame, for God has rejected them. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. (Psalm 53)
Friends, let us not be foolish unbelievers who reason, “There is no God.” We are not meaningless consequences of a cosmic explosion. We have been created, positioned in the universe, and consistently sustained by God with the intention that we would worship him with all our neighbors. We might like to view ourselves as gods. We might like to reason we have no divine law to keep. It might make us happy to conclude we have no one to whom we must answer for our conduct. However, this is but a mere rebellious, human fantasy. There is one God. He has one standard, and when he looks down from heaven and reviews his creatures, his verdict is the following, “We are corrupt; we do abominable iniquity; we are not good; we are not wise; we are all fallen.” Many are the religious folk who see God as the disinterested deist. Many more are those who see God as the beneficent grandfather in heaven who refuses to discipline and condemn his children. However, the totality of scripture teaches otherwise. God, the creator, is a just judge. He will either condemn the sinner, or condemn the Son as a substitute for the sinner. Either way, someone will be condemned by the just judge; justice demands it. So, how much longer will we partake of the common grace of God and refuse to call on his name and be saved? Jesus Christ is our substitute righteousness. He is our refuge and salvation. He is our shelter from the wrath of God. And according to this text, he is our joy; Jesus is the one who causes terrorized people to rejoice and be glad. Will we not forsake our pretended atheism? Will we not let go of our meaningless and purposeless existence? Will we not submit to your loving Creator who sees our sins and sends his Son to die in our place? Dear friends, we will not be atheists forever. Why don’t we stop our insanity today and proclaim ourselves to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, children of the Father, or the people of God?
Friends, let us not be foolish believers who reason, “There is no God.” Like the psalmist, we can consistently be overwhelmed by the advances of wickedness. We consistently forget our theology, or in the words of the hymn writer, “We are prone to wander … prone to leave the God we love.” In some ways, we are members of Atheists Anonymous; we are addicts continually going back to our sin of atheism. Well, let us repent. In the midst of our wicked culture, let us not forget that God is eternal; he is alive and well. Let us not forget that God is omnipresent; he is with us till the end. Let us contemplate his omniscience; there are not actions, words, or thoughts that pass him by. He is omnipotent; he causes and/or allows all that happens on his planet. In him all thinks move, breathe, and have their being. He is merciful and gracious; eternal blessing has been given to all who bow the knee. And he is immutable; this is a fancy word for “he changes not.” So in the midst of our pain and confusion today, let us repent of the sin of atheism. Let us repent of pretending or thinking that God is not really a very present help in our time of trouble. Let us not be depressed. Let us not be hopeless. Let us not be defeatists. And because we need help in this regard, let us attend the upcoming meeting of Atheist Anonymous this coming Lord’s Day. There we will gather, confess our atheistic tendencies, and find strength to stand from the Holy Spirit who uses the Word of God, the sacraments of God, and the people of God to encourage his friends.