Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Christian Atheist - Introduction

The Church of Divine Guidance Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study Group is going through the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel.  A Christian Atheist is someone who believes in God but lives as if He doesn't exist.  If you are courageous enough to admit that sometimes you act like a Christian Atheist maybe along with us we can shed some of our hypocrisy and live a life that truly brings glory to Christ.  To here the audio of the study group session click on the YouTube Thumbnail 

To get your copy of the book click this LINK or the image of the book at the end of my notes for the study.  

This study should take us to the end of the year.   The title may be a little misleading because you think how can a Christian be an atheist?   The author Greg Groeschel is using a little play on words. The definition of the word “Christian” is a person who is a believer in Jesus Christmas a day His teachings.  The definition of the word “atheist” is a person who disbelieve or lacks belief In the existence of God or gods.  So Greg's definition of a “Christian Atheist” is a person who believes in the existence God but acts like He doesn’t exist.  

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, a pacesetting multicampus church and creator of the popular and free YouVersion Bible App. He is the New York Times bestselling author of several books. Craig and his wife, Amy, and their six children live in Edmond, OK.

Craig Groeschel and Life.Church are known for using innovative technology to spread the Gospel to multiple locations around the U.S. and globally via Church Online. With a passion for serving the Church and partnering to reach people for Christ, Life.Church shares its tools, ideas, and resources with churches worldwide.

He starts the introduction to the book with a statement that is similar to the one an alcoholic makes when introducing him or herself.  

"HI, MY NAME IS CRAIG GROESCHEL, AND I’M A CHRISTIAN ATHEIST.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve believed in God, but I haven’t always lived like he exists. Today my Christian Atheism isn’t as large of a problem as it once was, but I still struggle with it. Like a recovering alcoholic careful never to take sobriety for granted, I have to take life one day at a time."

Like a lot of Christians he grew up in a family that had all the trappings of what this culture see as the Christian home; the big family bible that has all the birth dates of the children, and other important family dates, they pray the standard prayers before eating, they teach the children to pray before they go to bed, they go to church on Christmas,  Easter, Mother's Day, and a few other times during the year.  Plus they hung around with other “Christian families”.

Also like many other Christian Atheists he went through some experiences that made Him scared of God.  I bet you had some of those experiences that made it seem that God was an ogre just waiting to “get you” when you did something wrong.   

He then talks about how hypocritical some of us were, and still are.  Preachers talk about it every Sunday of how hypocritical it is when we come and worship on Sunday,  Bible studies, prayer meetings, and leave and act like we never heard what we sang or read or said Amen to it's like,

James 1:22‭-‬24 (NIV) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

He tells a story that I can certainly relate to about his fraternity Bible Study and their prayer in the early days of that study.  “God protect us we party. God, keep Joe's girlfriend from getting pregnant. God, don’t let us get caught cheating on the American history test.”

We’ve all had that moment when we realized that with all of our trying to live right to please this God that we believe exists.  His was when he read;

Ephesians 2:8‭-‬9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Mine was when I realized that God really does forgive us when we agree with Him that Jesus came and died for my sin and that He paid the ultimate price so that I didn’t have to.

Romans 10:9‭-‬13 (NIV) 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Then even if I mess up, because of the price that Jesus paid for me I can confess that I messed up and ask God to forgive me, and He will do it every time.

1 John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Craig ends his introduction with what I want us to get out of this study.  I’ll read it right from the book.

"I'll be honest with you about my struggles, and I hope you'll be honest as well.  And together, with God's hel, perhaps we can learn to know and walk with God more intimately.

What comes to mind when you hear or read it's scripture?

Titus 1:16 (NIV) They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

When we studied Titus we learned that Paul was actually talking about the false teachers that were infiltrating the church however it also fits our definition of a Christian Atheist

Let’s first go back and look at some terms:

THEISM belief in the existence of God

ATHEISM disbelief in the existence of God

PRACTICAL ATHEISM acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest toward belief in God

CHRISTIAN  one who professes belief in the teachings of Christ

CHRISTIAN ATHEISM  believing in Christ but living as if he doesn’t exist

Three levels of knowing God         

  • Level 1: I believe in God, but I don’t know him
  • Level 2: I believe in God, but I don’t know him well.

Galatians 4:8‭-‬9 (NIV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces ? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

  • Level 3: I believe in God, know him intimately, and serve him wholeheartedly.

Example: David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV) But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord ’s command.”
Acts 13:22 (NIV) After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Psalm 63:1-4 (HCSB)1 God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.2  So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory.3  My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.4  So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your name, I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 9:10 (HCSB)  Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.

If you seek God with all of your heart he will reveal himself to you

Deuteronomy 4:25-31 (HCSB)25  “When you have children and grandchildren and have been in the land a long time, and if you act corruptly, make an idol in the form of anything, and do what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, provoking Him to anger,26  I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that you will quickly perish from the land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not live long there, but you will certainly be destroyed.27  The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be reduced to a few survivors among the nations where the LORD your God will drive you.28  There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see, hear, eat, or smell.29  But from there, you will search for the LORD your God, and you will find ⌊Him⌋ when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.30  When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the LORD your God in later days and obey Him.31  He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the LORD your God is a compassionate God.

Ephesians 1:17-19 (HCSB)17  ⌊I pray⌋ that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.18  ⌊I pray⌋ that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints,19  and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

What you call God often reveals how well you know him.

What are some of the things or names we call God?

  • Father
  • Savior
  • Lord
  • Provider
  • Shepherd
  • Master
  • Healer

Bible Study Audio

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