Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christian Atheist - Session 8 - Review

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 hear 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.  

We started with the definition of a Christian definition of the word “Christian” is a person who is a believer in Jesus and His teachings. The definition of the word “atheist” is a person who disbelieve or lacks belief In the existence of God or gods. So Gregson definition of a “Christian Atheist” is a person who believes in the existence God but acts like He doesn’t exist. 

One characteristic is the hypocrisy of coming to 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.

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.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Really Know Him

A Christian Atheist might sound like someone who’s got a faith problem or perhaps at least a spiritual confusion issue. But the core problem for the Christian Atheist Isn't belief; it’s intimacy. The Christian Atheist doesn’t really know God very well.

It says in our book that “A recent Gallup poll reported that 94 percent of Americans claim to believe in God or a universal spirit. However, a quick glance at Scripture and our culture makes it plainly obvious that nowhere near 94 percent actually know God. I mean, really know him—intimately.

Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge. 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 

Knowing God requires more of us than simply believing God exists

You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.
James 2:19 ERV

And it requires more of us than dutiful adherence to Christian rules

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “ Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. 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? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:6‭-‬11 NIV

Knowing God requires loving obedience, an obedience that comes from the heart.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
John 14:23‭-‬24 NIV

“If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15 NIV

Believing In God But Don't Think He Loves You

One of the first Bible verses many Christians memorize is all about love: “For God So loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It’s a foundational truth every new believer claims, but one that Christian Atheists sometimes struggle to fully embrace.

It's one thing to hear this with our ears, and another to understand it with our hearts.

A belief in God does not automatically result in the belief—the genuine heart conviction—that God loves us.

Oddly, our disbelief doesn’t necessarily question whether God can or does love people. Christian Atheists can easily believe that God loves other people; they just can’t comprehend how or why he’d love them. We hide our real selves from other people so they won’t reject us. So we try to hide the real us from God. We feel that there’s just no way God could love someone as undeserving and evil as I am.

One of the questions that Christian Atheists ask is Why would God love someone as bad as me?

Another question is How could God love someone so insignificant?

It isn’t only our sense of guilt that prevents us from believing that God loves us—sometimes it is a simple sense of insignificance. Six billion people inhabit this planet; how could God love us all?

Christian Atheists believe in God and even believe that God loves people, but always other people, who are less sinful or more important.

To truly overcome this feeling, we must understand who God is. According to 1 John4:8-10, God is love.

1 John 4:8-10 (NLT)8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

That means God doesn’t pick and choose whom he loves—he can’t! God is love, and we are loved, every single one of us six billion sinful, undeserving people.

Love is not something God does. It is who God is. And because of who he is, God loves you. Period. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more. And there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.

Benefits of God’s love

His love covers our sin Titus 3:4-5 (NLT)4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

His love makes us significant. you to myself. Luke 15:1-10 (NLT)1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with the3 So Jesus told them this story:4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it?9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.

God loved us first. Before we were even aware of God’s existence, God already loved us.

There’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love. We are already and always loved simply because God made us and he loves each and every one of his creations. There’s nothing we can do to get God to love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to cause God to love us less.

In Romans 8:35 – 39, the apostle Paul offered a list of things that cannot separate us from the love of Christ: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35‭-‬39 NIV

When You Believe In God But Don't Think He's Fair

There are those times when life doesn’t make sense, when all our expectations are shattered, and we wonder, we doubt, we question, we wrestle with this God who refuses to conform to who we want Him to be.

Who is this God?

He isn’t the God we’ve expected Him to be? Life doesn’t turn out as we expect. God doesn’t turn out as we expect. We need to explain to Him the type of God He’s supposed to be. Sounds silly when we say it that way. But when our expectations are broken, we often look at God as if something’s wrong with Him. We lose faith because He hasn’t lived up to our expectations, He hasn’t conformed to our image of Him, He hasn’t acted according to our ideas of what’s right and good.

God explodes expectations.

He does not conform to our view, but instead He conforms us to His.

He is the God who breaks all expectations, who shatters preconceptions, who wants nothing more than to blow apart my ideas of who He is and replace them with a true vision of who He really is.

He is the God who calls us to leave our expectations at the door and come in to sit at His feet.

Three things to remember when you don’t understand something about God:

1. We don’t deserve good things.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you think you’re good, Jesus didn’t come for you

Mark 2:13-17 (NKJV)13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

We are not good in the eyes of God

Romans 3:10-12 (NKJV)10 As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one."

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. Good things happen to bad people.

It’s a good thing God is not fair because then he would give us what we deserve Instead, he gives us grace. God does not treat us as our sins deserve

Psalm 103:10-12 (NKJV)10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

3. God is present in your pain.

When you hurt, your heavenly Father hurts with you and longs to comfort you

Isaiah 49:13 (NKJV)13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.

God isn’t fair. He doesn’t give us what our sins deserve. He is higher. He is working in all things to bring about good.

When You Believe in God but Don’t Think You Can Change

Identifying the Lie

Many Christian Atheists live year after year under the illusion that we simply can’t change. Once we’ve forgiven ourselves for past mistakes, some surrender to present problems, never even hoping to overcome them. We may openly, even proudly, believe in God, but we honestly don’t believe he can change us. Christian Atheists who’ve tried to change and failed, wrongly believe that God simply can’t change them.

The first step is often the most difficult, and That’s admitting that there is a problem. Too many Christian Atheists won’t acknowledge their problem in the first place. If we won’t admit our problems, we can’t change.

Admitting our problems is only the first step. After that, we must invite God to work,
because he is the one who can change any problem. Nothing is impossible with God.

Mark 10:24‭-‬27 NIV The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

With people, change maybe difficult, even impossible—but not with God. God is bigger than our problems, no matter what they are. If you’ve believed that you simply can’t change, acknowledge that that is a lie. With God, all things are possible.

Can the Excuses

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
John 5:1‭-‬3‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

This hurting man was offered the opportunity to see God’s power. But he had grown so accustomed to his condition that he was focused on all the reasons he’d never get better.

If you have any excuses talking you out of changing, capture those wrong thoughts and replace them with truth.

2 Corinthians 10:3‭-‬5 NIV For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Grab any thought contrary to God’s, overtake it, and replace it with truth. Remind yourself that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength

Philippians 4:13 (HCSB)13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Surrender to God’s power

If you believe you can’t change, you’re right—sort of. Your strength is limited. Your willpower isn’t bottomless. Your determination will eventually run dry. That’s why to change for good you need the power of the only one who is good—Christ!

Colossians 1:28‭-‬29 NIV He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When You Believe in God but Still Worry All the Time

For Christian Atheists, our worry proves we don’t trust in God as we claim to. We think,
I know God’s a good God and all that, but I’ve got this situation handled. And when it turns out we don’t have it handled, then it falls to us—not to God—to fix it.

Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin.

But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 NIV

Then we live by faith, we believe that God has everything under control. But if we start to worry, how we live says the opposite. If we are worried about losing our jobs, we are essentially saying that our jobs are our providers. But isn’t God our provider? What if God has something else planned for us? And what if, as unpleasant as it may be to think about, the path to that “something else” is through some pain? Will we still trust in God to provide during that time?

Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It's choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). In this verse, you could also easily translate “fear and timidity” as “anxiety, tension, and worry.” Fear doesn’t come from God. It’s a tool the evil one uses to distract us from our true purpose here.

In Matthew 6:25, Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;
or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” The Greek word Jesus uses for “life” is psuche (SUE-kay). It doesn’t just mean your breathing life, the force that makes your body go. It actually means every aspect of your life, taken together in total: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. It means your yesterday, today, and future life. Jesus is simply saying don’t worry about anything.

No Matter What Happens, Trust God

Who do we believe in more? Ourselves or God? Our actions and decisions will reflect that.

If God does what you think he should do, trust him. If God doesn’t do what you think he should do, trust him. If you pray and believe God for a miracle and he does it, trust him. If your worst nightmare comes true, believe he is sovereign. Believe he is good.

In Matthew 6:33 – 34, Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Godis outside of time. He has no beginning, and no end. That means he has no yesterday and no tomorrow. He just is. So for God, tomorrow is the same as today, same as yesterday.

Was God in control yesterday? Undoubtedly, yes. Is God in control today? You know he is. Then he’s in control tomorrow too.

Even if the future God chooses for you isn’t the one you would choose, trust him.

When You Believe In God But Don’t Want To Go Overboard

When You Believe In God But Don’t Share Your Faith

Many of us, and this includes me, are reluctant to share our faith with others. There may be many reasons; we don’t think the time is right; we don’t know what to say; the other person doesn’t want to listen, etc. If we somehow feel that the Holy Spirit wants us to share our faith with someone, whether we know them or not, I think that He has somehow prepared the person or the circumstance for us to talk to them. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples.

Matthew 10:19-20 (NLT)19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

What we have to remember is that if we don’t share our faith it may be the last opportunity for that person.

We Should Always Be Ready To Share Our Faith

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Maybe you can relate. You’d like to be ready for anything, but you’re afraid you might choke under pressure. So to be prepared.

Preparation—studying and thinking about what you’ll say—will give you confidence. Not every chance to share will be set up for you. But no matter who starts the conversation, if you engage enough people, you’re going to be amazed how many of them are genuinely hungry to hear the truth from an honest, caring heart.

When You Believe In God But Not In His Church

Many Christian Atheists don’t really believe in the church.

There are lots of Christians that say they don’t do church. They don’t do church for various reasons. They had a bad experience with a church member, or pastor, they fell for a false teaching and got hurt, they don’t see any difference in church goers and people who don’t go or are not even believers, they think they can read the bible and gain as much knowledge by themselves as if they went to church every week. Church repulses them because they feel it’s full of hypocrites.

Other people accept that people are hypocrites by nature; they just can’t stand churches talking about money.

Even if they can get past those issues, still others steer clear because church is irrelevant to their everyday lives. They tried church before, and it didn’t make a difference. Why bother?

Maybe they even want to attend church, but when they do, they feel even guiltier than they did before. The pastor and all the other put-together, perfect people just make them feel worse about themselves.

Finally, there a the “super spiritual”. Their ideals are so high that no church can possibly meet their standards. They have detailed lists of what’s wrong with each church in town. The worship music isn’t “Spirit-led” enough, or it’s too loud, too soft, or too whatever. The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual. The missions program isn’t aggressive enough or it’s all the church talks about. They spend too much money on the building or not enough. Churches, with their mere mortals, can never measure up.

Here’s The Key, Don’t Go To Church Be The Church

To many people, church is a place. It’s a building, bricks and mortar, a destination. We know that God isn’t confined to a church building or only available at certain times of day. So we don’t have to wait until we come to church or a certain time of day to worship Him. We don’t even have to wait until we feel spiritual. If we are delighting ourselves in Him we can be confident of His presence all the time.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Church allows you to do both and the church needs every believer.

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other

1 Corinthians 12:12-20 (NLT)12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

A Place to Belong

While the church meets physical needs, it also provides a place for us to belong. A Barna poll revealed that 92 percent of Americans claim to be independent. Though Independence is a goal for many, God never intended for his believers to be independent.

A Place to Believe

In addition to belonging, church also gives us a place to grow spiritually. Romans10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Our faith grows as we hear God’s Word taught and proclaimed. Living out what we've heard solidifies it for us. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Many Christian Atheists hesitate to join a church because they don’t think there's any way God would work through them and their imperfections. But the Bible says differently

When Jesus called his first followers, he recruited tax collectors, uneducated fishermen, and dangerous revolutionaries. Notice who Jesus did not call: not one rabbi, scribe, or priest. Not one Pharisee or Sadducee, nor any other person from the formal religious establishment of the day. When he chose friends, Jesus surrounded himself with the lonely, the broken, and the overlooked. God is calling you to be a part of his church, to be his church.

If we’re not overboard for him, then chances are we don’t really know him.

It’s time to seek him. It’s time to surrender everything. It’s time to let go of everything in this world.

“Whatever it takes” became my heart’s cry. Whatever it takes to know him. Whatever It takes to live like I truly love God. Whatever it takes to love eternity more than this world. Even if I have to fight, scrape, and crawl away from my Christian Atheism Into a genuine, crucified life of faith and radical obedience to Christ, I’ll do whatever it takes. - The Christian Atheist, page 235

Wholly surrendered. Those are beautiful, nourishing words for a God-hungry heart. They mark the beginning of a journey from life as it is to life as it could be. A life of knowing God and allowing yourself to be known by him. Of walking through hardships and loss steadying the hope that God is out to do you only good. Of experiencing the deep love of Christ every day. Of discovering God’s trustworthy provision when you put him in charge of your money and your happiness. These are the kinds of things that lead to the life that is truly life. And isn’t that what you really want? If so, it’s time to jumpship from Christian Atheism and go completely overboard — take a flying leap of white-hot faith and let the God who loves you catch you.

Bible Study Audio

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