ATHEISTS IN THE RAIN
There was the church sign:
ATHEISTS HAVE NO INVISIBLE MEANS OF
I didn’t like it; I knew it was wrong. No invisible means of
support? Then what powers the atheists? Their own strength? The
devil? I would not give either the atheist or the devil that kind of credit.
Only the spirit of God causes anything to live and move. Satan can’t create
life, and neither can he sustain it; all is out of God. The creature certainly
cannot will itself into life, or sustain its life day by day.
Scripture says that God causes the rain to fall on the just
and the unjust alike. Rain, in biblical days, was a great blessing. In an arid
land so dependent on agriculture, rain was life. The presence of it even
reflected, to the people, the presence of God.
"He causes His sun to rise on the wicked and the good, and He makes it rain on the just and the
unjust. For if ever you should love those who are loving you, what wages have
you?" (Mt. 5:45-46).
The apostle Paul testified to this truth as well. Before the
philosophers and intellectuals and atheists at Mar’s Hill, Paul said, "In Him,
we are living and moving and are" (Acts 17:28). That’s a big "we" there, and it
illustrates a grand truth: even atheists are somehow moving in Christ.
But the church sign knew nothing of this monumental truth
because the pastor who erected it loved cleverness more than truth. No
invisible means of support. Get it? Ha, ha. Good one. If the goal of the
pastor was a clever saying, then the pastor succeeded and my writing is
presumptuous. But if the words were meant to reflect Scriptural truth, then the
pastor tumbles into the abyss of human ignorance.
The first dictionary definition of "support" is "to bear or
hold up, to sustain." We read in Romans 11:36 that "of Him and through Him and
to Him are all things." This verse is even better in the Amplified version: "All
things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and
all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him."
The part of the verse I want to emphasize is: "All things live
through Him." God sustains all creation. Nothing that lives, lives apart from
Him. What keeps atheists alive? Their own wickedness? The devil? Neither. God
keeps atheists alive, for "all things live through Him." Even at the cross,
Christ gave breath to the very soldiers who cursed Him. Such is grace.
Let us never become exclusive by imagining ourselves the only
recipients of grace. Either God sustains and supports atheists, or someone else
does. Either God sustains and supports atheists, or grace fails. How could grace
include everyone but them without losing its essential meaning? How could God
tell mortal men, "Love your enemies" if He, Himself, is incapable of doing the
Job 8:20 says, "Behold, God will not support evil doers." But who said that?
It was Bildad, the Shuhite, one of Job’s so-called friends. But what does
God say of the sayings of Bildad? Job 42:7- "The Lord said to Eliphaz the
Temanite, ‘My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends:
for YE HAVE NOT SPOKEN OF ME THE THING THAT
IS RIGHT." God would say the same thing to
the fashioner of the terrible church sign. I wonder if they know that their
doctrine is that of Bildad?
So we rightly conclude that God supports evildoers. But then
the question arises: Why does He do that? Because, as with Pharaoh, doers of
evil help fulfill God’s purpose.
Proverbs 16:4- "The Lord hath made all things for Himself:
yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."
Isaiah 54:16- "I have created the waster to destroy."
Romans 9:17- "For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, even
for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in
Another dictionary definition of support is "maintenance, as
of a person or family." One way God raises up His pharaohs and keeps them there
is by supporting them physically. Thus, "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil
and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, for if ye
love them which love you, what reward have ye?" (Mt. 5:46).
Obviously, then, God loves and supports atheists. Why did the
sign contradict that truth? (Hint: it was a church sign.)
Another definition of support, and I quote directly from the
Random House Collegiate dictionary: "To endure with patience." Startling it will
be for some to learn that these are the exact words Paul uses concerning the
wicked in Romans 9:22. From the New American Standard Bible: "What if God,
although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured
with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"
But according to this church sign, God endures (or supports)
As for atheists, they are no different than we once were. We
came to God, not of our own initiative, but because of Christ’s spirit. We came
because He first loved and called us (1 Jn. 4:10, Jn. 6:44). He will one day
call atheists, too, because His love is the selfless kind that does not rest
until it seeks and saves the last lost sheep (Mt. 18:12, 1Tim. 1:15, Is. 45:23,
1Cor. 15:25). The blood of Christ’s cross is the most effective prescription for
all enmity, either on earth or in heaven (Col. 1:20).
Remember, "God locks up all in stubbornness that He should be
merciful to all" (Rom. 11:32).
Scriptural truth, not clever phraseology, guide our church sign erectors, not
that I have any real hope of this happening. It will never happen in this
eon—unless, that is, I start a church. Now there’s an idea. The message
on my church sign would teem with life and Scriptural truth. My message would
stop people in their tracks (or in their cars), and probably cause several
accidents. It would be a message so simple, so true, so resplendent with the
wisdom, grace and mercy of God, that none but the scripturally ignorant and
proud of heart would attempt to refute it. My church sign would read:
GOD LOVES ATHEISTS, TOO.