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Practical Atheism

Updated on July 31, 2015
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I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.

Christianity Without Evidence?

As I was growing up, we used to sing a song that went like this:

"I wanna be more than a Sunday go to meetin' Christian; I wanna religion that thrills me every day. Sayin' amen to the preacher is fine; If all the week I let my light shine. I wanna be more than a Sunday go to meetin' Christian."

Just what is a "Sunday go to meetin' Christian?" It is one who professes to know Christ as Savior on Sunday, who does all the right things and says all the right things one day a week. Even worse than that, he looks like and acts like a lover of the Lord just one or two hours of one day a week. The rest of the time he lives for himself, never thinking about what a real commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord looks like.

Worse yet is the Christian who says he believes in God and doesn't go to church, pray, read Scripture or do anything else that would indicate to the world that he is telling the truth. I call this person a practical atheist.

Atheists, don't believe in God and they assert that they are the final authority for their own lives. Therefore, they live like they please. How are Christians who do this any different?

I. A Growing Relationship With Christ

It is true that a new babe in Christ will not have the spiritual discernment of someone who is a more mature Christian (I Corinthians 3:1; Hebrews 5:12). He may have habits of the old nature that need to be changed. However, the Christian walk is meant to be one of continuous growth and maturity, with the ultimate goal in eternity of being conformed completely to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18).

In the physical realm, we see examples of some people whose brains are developmentally disabled. In other words, their mental faculties don't mature as they should. I have worked with men and women, for instance, who have the mind of a child. They don't think like adults, even though, in every other way physically, they are obviously fully grown. In the same way, there seem to be Christians who don't appear to mature much past the beginning stages of spiritual rebirth. However, neither of these is a natural state. A normal baby, with the proper food and nutrition, will grow to adulthood. In the same way, with the Spiritual nutrition of the Word of God and the help of the Holy Spirit, a babe in Christ should grow spiritually as well.

One who is a Christian should naturally want to do all that they can to follow their Lord and Savior. They should get to a point where they desire the meat of the Word of God and grow to be more like the One who died for them.

II. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord

Scripture teaches that: "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). The true Christian has declared a new allegiance. Jesus Christ is not just our cosmic buddy. He's not the person we sing and talk about once a week. He's not a genie in a bottle who grants our every wish. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father (Philippians 2:9-11).

A real Christian already is aware of this and has voluntarily chosen to bow the knee before Him in honor and worship.He demonstrates that honor and worship by obeying, as nearly as he possibly can, the teachings of the Word of God, the Bible. He is not perfect and won't ever be completely sinless in this life, but confesses quickly any known sin and turns around, seeking to continue to be better, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in him.

The true Christian realizes that without the Lord we can do nothing. Jesus Christ controls everything, including our very heartbeat. The one that calls the stars by name (Isaiah 40:26), holds the very universe together (Colossians 1:17). If indeed it were possible for Him to take His eyes off of this world in which we live, even for a second, it would at that moment cease to exist.

III. Two Possible Reasons for Practical Atheism

It seems for Scripture that there are two possible reasons people don't live like they say they believe. Either, they are are a carnal Christian, or they have never been saved in the first place.

Carnal means fleshly, or living in the old nature, and not by the new nature given at conversion to Christ. In I Corinthians 3:1-3 Paul addresses the people of Corinth as brothers. However, he goes on to refer to them as carnal. The Church at Corinth had many problems. They were divided. Some said they followed Paul, some Apollos, and some said they were followers of Christ. Paul asks them: "Is Christ divided? (I Corinthians 1:13).

One guy in Corinth even was having relations with his father's wife, and no one was confronting him on it (I Corinthians 5:1). And in I Corinthians 11 the Corinthian church was abusing the Lord's Supper. Some were coming early and getting drunk and eating their fill, while others came later and had nothing. They weren't treating the Supper properly as the memorial of Jesus' death until He comes back, as they should have done.

Paul talks about the judgement of all Christians, including these carnal Christians in I Corinthians 3. He says:

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

I can't imagine standing before the judgement seat of Christ and watching my whole life's work burn before my eyes because I refused to live out the purpose the Lord intended for me.

Of course the other possibility is even more unimaginable. Jesus said that people would know His disciples by their fruit (Matthew 7:16). There is no place found in Scripture where someone who is a Christian has absolutely no evidence that they are saved. If you know Christ you will produce good works (James 2:14-26). Good works alone won't save. Yet they are the evidence of faith. The sad end to the person without Christ is eternal separation from God in Hell (John 3:36; Revelation 20:11-15).


Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (II Corinthians 13:5). Sunday go to meetin' Christianity is no Christianity at all. You can't go to church on Sunday and live like a child of Hell the rest of the week. If you don't know Christ, then fall on your knees before Him this very moment and give your heart and life to Christ. If you have accepted Christ as Savior, then live like it. God hates lukewarm Christianity. It makes Him want to vomit you out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). Let us all give God the honor and glory He deserves by living a life that pleases Him. Let's live for an audience of One.


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    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      4 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks Bill. I appreciate your faithfulness at reading and commenting on my writing here. God bless.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      A wonderful message, Jeff - practical, and what many need to hear today in a time when church going isn't even seen as practical. Thanks for sharing the truth of this with us here at HP.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      4 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks MsDora for stopping by. God bless.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the challenge to live our faith all day, every day. "A Christian should naturally want to do all that they can to follow their Lord and Savior." Amen to that.


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