Saturday, March 01, 2008

SERMON: I HAVE A FRIEND WHO DOESN'T BELIEVE IN GOD

Preached by Gregory W. Lee
3 February 2008

I. Introduction
-- turn in Bibles to Psalm 53



1. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.
2. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
3. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

-- the title of my message this morning is, "I have a friend who doesn't believe in God"
-- when I first started studying for this message, I immediately thought of a story that you may have heard before -- it's been going around on internet for years -- let me share a version of it with you again this morning

-- On the first day of class, the professor of philosophy -- an atheist -- starts by telling his class about the problem that science has with the existence of God
-- to make his point, he asks the students if any of them believe in God and has them raise their hands -- he points at one of those who raised their hands, and had him stand
-- "So," he said, "You believe in God." -- Absolutely, sir -- "And what scientific rationale is your belief based on? -- the student looked at him and said, None -- I just believe in God and the Bible based on faith
-- "That is the problem that science has with God -- science uses empirical, testable, and demonstrable protocols to prove or disprove the existence of things -- God cannot be proved in this way, so He cannot exist"
-- the professor turns again to the student and says, "We all have five senses that we use to identify and observe the world around us -- tell me, son -- have you ever seen God?" -- No -- "Have you ever heard God?" -- No -- "Have you ever felt your God -- tasted your God -- smelled your God? -- Have you ever had any sensory perception of God for that matter?" -- No sir, I'm afraid I haven't
-- "Yet you still believe in Him?" -- Yes -- "According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, we have just proven that God does not exist. -- what do you say to that, son?" -- Nothing. I have only my faith -- "Yes -- faith -- and that's not science and so that's why religion is nothing but fairy tales that cannot be proven"
-- Sir, can I ask you something? -- "Certainly" -- Is there such a thing as heat? -- "Yes" -- and is there such a thing as cold? -- "Yes" -- No sir, there isn't. -- you can have lots of heat -- even more heat -- superheat -- megaheat -- white heat -- a little heat -- or no heat -- but we don't have anything called cold -- we can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat -- but we can't go any further than that -- there is no such thing as cold -- cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat -- we cannot measure cold"
-- "So, what is your point, young man" -- It's this -- you rightly state that science if the study of observed phenomena -- but, based on your definition, science is a premise which is flawed just like religion -- "Flawed?" -- the professor exclaimed -- "How is science flawed?"
-- Sir, you are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. -- science can't even explain a thought. -- It uses electricity and magnetism, but a thought has never been seen, much less fully understood -- but we all know that thoughts are real and exist -- so, the absence of something observable doesn't mean it doesn't exist
-- the student turned to the class -- Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor's brain? -- Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's brain, felt it, touched or smelled it? -- the class roared in laughter
-- the student turned to the professor -- No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. -- With all due respect, then, how do we trust your lectures, sir?
-- the room is silent -- the professor stares at the student -- "I guess you'll have to take that on faith, son" -- And, that, sir, was my point -- faith -- believing in that which you cannot see or hear or feel or touch or smell -- doesn't make the object of your faith any less real than anything else

-- working in the field of science, I am constantly surrounded by people who don't believe in God -- as scientists, they tend to be just like the professor in this story -- they only believe in that which they can test and see and observe
-- so, knowing that I'm a Christian, I always have folks coming up to me and challenging me and questioning why I believe in God -- they just don't understand how a scientist can be a Christian
-- on the other hand, I just can't fathom how a scientist -- or anyone for that matter -- can't believe in God -- as Abraham Lincoln once said, "I can see how it might be possible for someone to look around on earth and not believe in God, but I cannot conceive how anyone could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."
-- statistics show that the majority of people in America profess belief in God -- they may not fully have accepted the gospel message and the saving grace of Jesus -- but they believe in God -- but, still, there are many people who you cross paths with on a daily basis who don't believe in God
-- so, what do you say to friends who don't believe in God? -- how do you respond to their concerns that God can't be measured or observed or documented in any form or fashion?

II. Non-Believing Camps
-- this morning, I want to share with you a few insights into this and maybe help you arm yourself with arguments that you can use to point your friends to the truth of God in their lives
-- let me start by saying something that is going to shock you -- especially coming from the lips of a preacher -- when you are trying to share with your friends the truth of God, don't use your Bible -- I can tell you from experience that that approach just doesn't work
-- if someone doesn't believe in God, then they're not going to believe in the Bible -- and when you pull it out, or when you start quoting scripture, they are immediately going to tune you out -- you are going to have to offer them proofs of another kind in order to lead them to God
-- now, before we get to the meat of this subject, let's consider for a second our friend who doesn't believe in God -- when someone tells you that, then they generally fall into one of three camps
-- first, they might be an atheist -- we're all familiar with that term -- we get this word from the Greek adjective, "atheos" -- which means, "godless" -- to break it down, "a" means "not" and "theist" or "theism" -- means "God" -- so an atheist is against God or without God
-- atheists typically believe in materialism -- in other words, they believe that there is no supernatural -- all that exists is matter -- materialism -- and there is nothing except matter and interactions or relationships with that matter
-- they tend to be secularists -- and want to remove all vestiges of religion from the public arena

-- or, if they're not atheists, they might be agnostics -- an agnostic is someone who says that it is impossible to know if God exists or not -- some agnostics are almost atheistic in their beliefs -- they say it's impossible to know if there is a God, but don't really believe there can be one -- other agnostics believe that there is something out there -- some spirit or force or energy -- that is supernatural -- but it cannot be known or experienced -- all agnostics will fall somewhere in a gradient between these two beliefs

-- finally, if your friend isn't an atheist and they aren't an agnostics, then they probably mean that they don't believe in the God of the Bible -- there's a lot of people in this camp and they have all sorts of beliefs -- from pantheism -- the belief that god and the universe are one -- everything is god and god is in everything -- to new age beliefs -- to pluralism -- the belief that there is only one god and that all religions believe and point to that one god
-- it's important to know what your friend means when they say that they don't believe in God -- because that gives you a starting point for your discussion

III. Proving God
-- so, you've got it figured out -- you know what your friend does and doesn't believe -- so what do you say to them -- how do you start to convince them that God is real and that He loves them and cares for them in a personal way?
-- you know, the professor in my story was right -- generally, God is not observable -- we can't touch God or taste God or hear Him in an audible voice -- we can't see Him or smell Him -- but, just like we can't see or touch or taste the wind, we know God's there because we see signs of His presence all around us -- God has left His fingerprints on this world and on our bodies and in our lives

-- one of the clearest ways that you can express to your friend the existence of God is by showing what happens in the absence of God
-- use this Psalm as an example -- look back at verse 1



1. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.
2. God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
3. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

-- so what happens when someone doesn't have God in their lives -- what happens when someone -- David calls them "a fool" -- lives life without God in their hearts? -- well, chaos happens -- evil happens -- injustice happens
-- I've had people come to me and say, "Look at what happened in the news today -- look at the evil in this world -- this proves that there is no God" -- and I say, "No, this proves that there is a God -- what you are seeing is what happens when people try to live without Him"
-- the psalmist says the same thing -- they are corrupt -- they are vile -- and they are incapable of doing good -- good only comes from those who seek God -- who have God living in their heart -- as God tells us in Proverbs 8:14-21, "Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. -- By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just; by me princes govern, and all nobles who rule on earth. -- I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."
-- this tells us that the concept of evil is like the concept of cold -- it doesn't exist on its own -- evil is the absence of good -- and goodness comes from God -- God tells us that He brings goodness and righteousness and justice and love -- clear proofs of His presence in this world and in our lives
-- so, you can point out to your friend by showing them what happens when God is absent from a person's life

-- another way to prove to someone that God is real is to point them to the wonders of creation -- this world and this universe and our very own bodies are masterpieces of God that just could not have developed by chance -- and this proves that God is real and that God exists
-- think about the earth -- the earth is perfect -- it is just the right size -- if the earth were smaller, say the size of Mercury, we wouldn't have enough room to have an atmosphere to allow us to breathe -- if the earth was any larger, our atmosphere would have too much free hydrogen and wouldn't be able to sustain life -- the earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal, and human lives
-- the earth is in the right place -- if the earth were any farther away from the sun, we would freeze -- any closer and we would burn up -- no other planet is tilted as ours is -- 23 degrees - -this angle allows the earth to slowly turn all its parts before the rays of the sun, kind of like a chicken on a spit -- if there were no tilt to the axis, the poles would accumulate massive amounts of ice and the center part of the earth would become too hot to sustain life
-- point out to your friends the miracle of their own bodies -- think about the human brain -- Sir Henry Fairfield Osborn, the noted anthropologist, said, "To my mind, the human brain is the most marvelous and mysterious object in the whole universe" -- it only weighs 3.3 pounds, but it can perform what 500 tons of electrical and electronic equipment can't do -- it does feats that absolutely boggle the mind and performs calculations quicker than the world's super computers

-- but, there's one final way to prove to your friend the existence of God that works better than any other -- and that is to share your own experiences of God's presence in your life
-- a few years ago, I got in a debate with a student of mine about the presence of God -- I used all the arguments I made above to prove to her that God was real -- but that didn't matter to her -- to people in our post-modern world, experience is the defining factor in knowing the truth
-- finally, I had no arguments left -- so I turned to her and said, "Believe what you will -- but I can tell you this -- I know that God exists because I know God -- I talked with Him just this morning -- and He is in my life right now"
-- she told me that of all that I had said, that this was the most convincing argument of all -- sure, I could point all day to the fingerprints of God in nature and in culture and in our universe -- but, when it all came down to it, it was the presence of God in me that influenced her more than anything
-- when someone comes to you and tells you that they don't believe in God, they have probably done so for a reason -- they know that you are a person that professes Christ -- and they want to know what you believe -- but more important than the words you might share, they want to know if believing it has made a difference in your life
-- keep in mind that a life transformed by Christ speaks more than all the words you might offer as proof that God exists

IV. Closing
-- science tells us that we have to have empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol in order to prove God is real -- the good news is that we do -- we may not be able to test and prove God -- but we can show them the fingerprints of God in the universe and in nature and in our bodies
-- and not only can we point someone to the fingerprints of God -- we can point them to Jesus and tell them that He was God in the flesh -- a God that could be touched and felt and heard -- a God that we know existed because of the historical and biblical record and the recorded stories of eye-witnesses
-- as John says in 1 John 1:1-3, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. -- The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. -- We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."
-- but, finally, we can point them to the irrefutable proof that God exists -- and that is what He has done in us and in our lives -- no one can question the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian -- no one can question the amazing change that occurs when someone accepts Christ into their heart and starts living for Him
-- no one should be able to look at the life of a Christian and say that God doesn't exist
-- what do you do when a friend who comes to you and says they don't believe in God? -- point out to them these three things -- first, the fingerprints of God in this world and this universe -- secondly, the witness of Jesus Christ -- and, finally, the testimony of your transformed life

-- I know I've gone long, but I want to close with this -- regardless of where your conversation ends with your friend -- regardless of where you are in your own spiritual walk, know this -- believing that God exists is not enough
-- James 2:19 says, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." -- it takes more than believing that God exists to be saved -- you have to believe in Jesus -- that He was God incarnate -- that He was God in the flesh and that He died on the cross to pay for our sins and that He rose on the third day to prove victory over sin and death -- but more importantly, you have to put your faith and trust in Him -- you have to ask Him to forgive you of your sins and trust that He has paid the price of your sin debt and that you have been granted access to God and Heaven because of Him
-- I pray that all of you here have that faith and trust in Jesus today -- if not, as I close in prayer, may you weigh all that I have said and turn to Him for the forgiveness of your sins and trust in Him for your eternal life and salvation today
-- let us pray

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pastor Gregory Lee,
your sermon has touched me and i hope i can get through to my friend about god.
Thank you.
-Marcus

Anonymous said...

Pastor, may I suggest something for you? An introductory course on logic might help you reawaken some of those brain cells floating, unused, in that puffed up head of yours.

Gregory said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment and for taking time to read through this sermon. I'm not sure if you will ever read this response or not, but I do appreciate your suggestions and wish you well.

Greg Lee

Matt said...

thank you very much for this it was just what i needed :) i love god and he has changed my life so much that i want to share him with the world again thank you and i hope and pray that the ones with angry coments can find the love that christ offers,
God bless,
matt

Texas B-Ball FAN said...

When I was a child, I was given proof that God exists. For some reason, I kept it to myself for so long. My mother passed away and I didn't even tell her. Since then, I have told others my story. The amazing thing (to me) is that people don't believe me. The ones who believe me are the ones who already believe in God. The ones who are skeptical are the ones who are already non-believers. I learned that my brother was agnostic and even my own brother will not believe me, which saddens me. Here I am, with no reason to lie, telling my story that is pure truth and they still don't believe!!

One more thing I would like to say here. And pastor, I would like to know what you think of this. I thought about this a lot because of my brother. I do not think I have had success, but he did somewhat agree to try it. He just doesn't talk to me about it any more... This thought I have is for those who appreciate some mathematics and for those who believe there is no proof, the agnostics.

They say there is no proof that God exists. So lets set a probability for them. If there is no proof, does this mean that the probability of God existing is zero?? No.

To them I say there also is no proof that God does not exist. Show me the proof. So you can get them to admit that the probability of the existence of God is not zero. For me it is one, but for them it lies between zero and one. They might say it is .0000000001, but it is still not zero. You might play the lottery with those odds, and so obviously that probability of .000000001 is room enough for some faith. Based on their belief of this low probability, ask them to pray earnestly, while keeping in mind that there is a chance that God exists. The prayer should be something like "I ask you God to be a part of my life, lead me. In Jesus name, amen."

Once they have earnestly asked God to be in their life, ask them to revisit this thought in a few days and I believe they will have seen some changes some evidence and their estimates of that probability will go up.

Texas B-Ball FAN said...

I mean to say at the end, that because their probability will rise, they might let it go all way up to one and become believers...

Gregory said...

Texas B-Ball Fan,

I agree with your rationale. Science will tell you that you can't prove a negative, so science would never be able to definitively say there is no God. They could say there is no personal God as envisioned by the world's major religions, but scientifically, they could never say that there is no God because that cannot be proven.

I would suggest that you challenge your brother to a 30-day (or however long) experiment. Ask him to live as if there were a God. Ask him during this time to read the Bible, to pray, and to ask God to do something in his life that proves God's existence. And then leave it up to God.

Along these lines, Engel developed a scale to gauge a person's belief in God (you can probably find it if you search the internet). He suggested that people on the low end of the scale cannot move to the high end (e.g. believing and living for God) because there is too great a gap. Hence, he advocated the goal of moving a person just one step on the scale. With each progressive step, similar to what you suggest in your comment, the person becomes more aware and more open to God and finally (hopefully) moves to the point where God is part of there life.

Thanks for your note,

Pastor Greg

Anonymous said...

What utter drivel. Perhaps you should study the actual philosophical arguments for the belief in God. As a believer myself, I find this kind of illogical nonsense embarrassing.

You also fundamentally misrepresent the opposing arguments.

smile4me said...

Such great advice! Thank you for sharing! I Love Our Lord and Saviour!

Joe Bigliogo said...

That story was clearly made up to validate the theist position. Pastors often use the same fabricated stories custom designed to validate the Christian position. If people knew the number of contrived stories experiences Pastor's use that simply never happened they would be shocked.
A real conversation between a student and professor simply would not go that way and anyone smart enough to be a professor would not engage in an open conversation in class challenging anyone's faith.

If such a conversation occurred privately an intelligent professor would instantly recognize he student's statements are riddled with logical fallacies and gross distortions of the atheist position. The student wouldn't even get to his conclusions because the assumptions he starts with would be challenged and disposed of from the get go.

Gregory said...

Joe,

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my sermon. As I noted in the sermon, the opening illustration I used was a common story that had been making the rounds on the internet for years, obviously "clearly made up to validate the theist position" as you pointed out.

But, isn't that the case of illustrations that many speakers use, both religious and secular? Isn't the purpose of such illustrations to bring home a point and to illustrate a greater truth the speaker is hoping to convey to their audience, whether the story is "fabricated" or born out of a true experience?

And, even though I agree that the story is a little cheesy, the statement made at the last by the student and the point that I was trying to make in the entire sermon remains true and valid --"faith -- believing in that which you cannot see or hear or feel or touch or smell -- doesn't make the object of your faith any less real than anything else" -- even if you cannot defend it in a way that impresses this modern world.

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading well-written logical arguments regarding Christianity, I would refer you to the writings of C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, G.K. Chesterton, or Josh McDowell.

Cheers,

Greg

Anonymous said...

This really helped me explain my belief to friends! Thank you and may God continue to bless you

StEwPiD_MoNkEy said...

Pastor Lee,

I am an atheist. A little background on me. I was, at one point, a fundementlist Christian. I realized my lack of belief and faith in the Christian god while I was on mission. That being said, I fully understand the Xian point of view. There are a few things wrong with your blog/sermon.

1. "generally, God is not observable -- we can't touch God or taste God or hear Him in an audible voice -- we can't see Him or smell Him -- but, just like we can't see or touch or taste the wind, we know God's there because we see signs of His presence all around us" <- This is totally illogical and is also an argument of Biased Sample. You cannot compare something like the wind to a belief in God because you think it reinforces some kind of abstract qualties that your god posses. We can measure the wind. We can directly observe it's effects. Also the wind is something that is dependant upon the physical world. Can the same be said of your god?

2. "-- I've had people come to me and say, "Look at what happened in the news today -- look at the evil in this world -- this proves that there is no God" -- and I say, "No, this proves that there is a God -- what you are seeing is what happens when people try to live without Him" <- This is misleading vividness. I would say that the same type of negative events happen wether someone is a theist or not. If this were the case then you could claim that Xians have a better life because they believe. We all know this is not true.

3. "-- another way to prove to someone that God is real is to point them to the wonders of creation -- this world and this universe and our very own bodies are masterpieces of God that just could not have developed by chance -- and this proves that God is real and that God exists" <- This example and those right after it are simply arguments from ignorance; at best. Just because you can not answer the question means that you are either unknowing on the subject or refuse to know. Also, a god of the gaps argument is not justified. You can't say, "I don't know exactly how it works so...god did it."

3. "-- but, there's one final way to prove to your friend the existence of God that works better than any other -- and that is to share your own experiences of God's presence in your life" <-This is, with out a doubt, the worst example to ever give. This is simply an appeal to emotion. I am so excited that you feel as if you have had a personal experience that justifies your belief. So have buddhist, Muslims, Mormans, Jews, Hindu's, Gnostics etc. How does this show proof god exists and proof that your particular flavor of god is real above all others?

To your closing statements. These are just opinion. There is no proof of your god, just as there is very little if any concrete proof of Yeshua (btw, a rabbi named Yeshua is not a great feat. Even if you can show that one existed, you will still need to show divinity).

I know I am going to get slammed by those saying, "he just doesn't understand..." or a myraid of other inaccurate statements. This is not for them. This is for those that are not sheep and blindly following all that their "pastor" tells them. I hope some do listen because the examples you have given are general apologetic drivel that has been spewed over and over again and have been shown to be illogical and wrong. I'm sorry, but anyone who is as unlearned as you, teaching the masses is a very scary thing. I hope you do educate yourself more on what science has to say about our world and universe. Thank you.

Gregory said...

StEwPiD_MoNkEy,

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this message.

I really wish there was some way that we could get together and discuss your thoughts face-to-face. The internet is a good resource, but not always the best to carry on a meaningful discussion, especially in the comment section of a blog. If you're ever in south Georgia, send me a note and I'll be happy to meet you somewhere.

I can tell you feel strongly about this subject, so I'm not going to try to defend anything I wrote in this message. I do, however, want to point out two things for you and for the others who have criticized this particular sermon.

First, keep in mind the context of these messages. Sermons are not theological treatises nor apologetic discourses. They are not meant to be. As any speaker will tell you, messages have to be crafted with the audience (congregation) in mind, and this message, as simple and unlearned as it appears to be, was my attempt to express biblical truth to the particular audience I was addressing. If I was speaking at some other type of forum, this message would undoubtably have been presented differently.

[Continued below]

Gregory said...

Second, I don't think it's fair to discount another's spiritual experiences. I certainly would not do so to you and would not try to belittle the experiences on your mission trip that led you to abandon your faith.

That said, I stand firm in my experience with Christ. Regardless of scientific proofs or physical factual information, I know that Christ is real because I know Him personally. He changed my life, and He continues to work within me to make me a better person. I have seen the change in others as He has come into their lives. I have watched Him take lives broken through promiscuity and addiction and abuse and bring beauty out of those ashes. You ask about measuring the effects of the Spirit. I can measure it through lives changed, hearts transformed, and relationships healed.

There is a point where evidence fails and where faith begins. Christianity resides at that point -- at the place where you are sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. I know what I hope for and I am certain of what I do not see but know to be real because Christ lives in me.

StEwPiD_MoNkEy, I sensed a hurt in your response from your past experiences. I don't know what happened that caused you to leave your faith, but know that I have prayed for the situation and for healing for any hurts that might be there.

Pastor Greg

Anonymous said...

Gregory, you did a very nice job in this post as well as your replies to harsh comments. ive been getting tired of reading things like this and have the orig. poster argue or fuss at the people who dont understand. may God bless you in many ways sir. StEwPiD_MoNkEy and Texas B-Ball Fan and all the anonymous people, i will pray for you.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add something. Do atheist love? How can you measure love. Is it just a chemical reaction? Is it a different chemical than anger, being amused, the desire to learn and confusion when you can't understand something? Do none of these feelings truly exist? Is every action of a person chemical and not right or wrong. Does life have no meaning? How bleak life is without faith! I believe God created everything including science. I think if he wanted us to be able to created a scientific way the measure his existence he would have. The angles knew he existed and still some turned away. He made us in his image and wants us to have faith in him.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I meant angels not angles!

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I just found out my friend, who was a Christian, but now if questioning the existence of God. She was asking how I have such strong faith even with everything my mother is going through. (She has had breast cancer and now has Colin cancer that is in the liver and lungs with chemo every other week) I started crying and could not answer because I was so sad for her and we were in a restaurant. I need to find out why she is questioning it to give her an answer but what can I say? She has gone to church growing up. I am having a hard time with this because I have two other close friends who do not believe in God and I have a hard time reaching them. I pray I can find the right words and time to talk to them. I feel it's so important for me to do a bible study to arm myself for these situations. One thing, while preaching to a congregation I feel like it is very important to help arm them with the right words and understanding for when they talk about God to a non-believer. I feel like this sermons should be pack with as much fact as possible but it is still great! (I am the anonymous above that misspelled angels :)

Gregory said...

Anonymous,

I feel for your friend who is questioning her faith because of the difficult situations she has been going through. There is no question that life is tough, and Christians are not immune from hardships. As it is pointed out in Scripture, we should expect sufferings and hardships to come our way.

However, these can certainly cause someone to question their faith. I have to say I've done the same myself, from time to time. "How can this be happening to me when I'm a Christian?" "How can I be going through this when I'm serving the Lord?" When you're in the midst of a storm, it's hard to remember that the sun is shining on the other side of the storm clouds.

(Continued below).

Gregory said...

In regards to your friend, my advice to you is to not offer platitudes or assurances in this time. Just be there. Love her through this. Cry when she cries. Be a shoulder for her when she needs support. Sometimes (most times), the best thing to say is nothing at all. Just pray and let the Spirit minister to her through this time. In my experience, people's faith seems to deepen as they begin to walk through these storms.

In regards to your friends who do not believe, all you can do is pray for them and witness to them with your life. Show them Christ in you. This is more valuable than anything you can say until they are receptive to hearing the gospel. Sometimes a person needs to see Christ in someone else before they are ready to hear about Him and receive Him on their own.

Also, thanks for your kind comments on the sermon. I agree, it would be better to pack more into such sermons, but the limitations of time keep me from doing so. I have found that small group Bible studies or one-on-one sessions are better for transmitting deeper insights and teachings on subjects such as these.

Thanks for reading!

Pastor Greg

Anonymous said...

Pastor Greg,
Can this apply to a family member aswell?

leee2019 said...

Thank you, I think this will help! My friend is someone who likes science and I think this is perfect! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

-Lizzy

Emily Stocks said...

Pastor, can I please ask you for some advice? My close friend doesn't believe in God, I really don't know what to say to her to get her to believe I read through your sermon and I found it very inspirational, it made me want to talk to my friend about God's love for her but I don't know how to bring up the topic or how to get her to listen and accept what I am saying. Her mother doesn't believe in God either, and my friend is influenced strongly by her mother, and since her mom doesn't believe I find it very hard to find a way to make my friend believe. Please can you help me in this situation

Gregory said...

@ Emily Stocks:

I really feel your pain and concern for your friend. I wish there was an easy answer that would lead your friend to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, but for some people it takes a long time for them to really hear the gospel, much less respond to it.

The Bible tells us that Satan (the god of this age) has blinded the eyes of this world to the truth. I would suggest your first step be to pray on a regular basis, and especially before you spend time with your friend, that God would remove the blinders Satan has put on their eyes and to open their eyes and ears that they might see and hear the truth from His Holy Spirit.

Then, I would suggest you just follow the principle of "Listen, Listen, Love, Love." The more time you spend listening to your friend, the more you will gain clarity into the real concerns of their life, and as you respond to them with love, the presence of Jesus in your own life will be the greatest witness of all. Don't force the gospel message -- just let your life shine and be ready to give the reason behind your faith when the opportunity arises.

Gregory said...

To those who have asked about whether these simple remarks would apply to our family relationships, I would say of course they do. However, reaching a family member is sometimes harder than reaching a friend or even a stranger. Because of lifelong relationships with family, it can be difficult to broach the subject of faith and make them less likely to listen to you.

As Jesus said when the people of his hometown rejected the word of truth, a prophet is without honor in his own home. The same tends to hold true in families, too.

In my own family, I have tended to pray for two things to happen as I longed to see them come to faith: 1) Pray for their eyes and ears to be opened to hear and see the truth of Jesus; and, 2) Pray that God will send someone to them who will be able to reach them in a way you cannot.

Sometimes the truth must be heard from outside the family before it can be accepted and received.

Hayley Egling said...

I have a friend who used to believe in God and is now not a believer anymore but a believer in science. And he has done nothing but question me this morning on my beliefs. It all started with this comment on Facebook: "Bibles arent allowed in schools anymore, but are encouraged in prisons. If kids were allowed to read it in school, they might not end up in prison"

Here is our discussion:

Him:bull crap! separation of church and state! the bible states that men are allowed to stone women if they talk back! u really want people reading that??? don't even get me started on all the death and destruction the bible spews!!!
Me: LOL you used to believe yourself!! Don't hate!!


Him: I was clouded.......I am a better person without religion!


Me: And that's great if you feel that way but don't knock down those who believe and have their own opinions. You have your own opinion and that's great! I used to be how you are now. In fact when I met you I was that way, but I have prayed many times and been back and forth and I will tell you straight up that God has answered every prayer and been there for me every time. Not always the way I want but I understand And that's why I believe!!

Him: haaaaaa so funny! so u don't believe in science??? and did god answer you directly through voice? how can u prove it??? maybe u just made it happen.... maybe it was coincidence.....????? evolution is real and proveable, so is global warming, and the world is over 14 billion years old not 6 thousand like the bible dwellers think...


Me: Wow you really sound like you are full of anger these days.. you never used to be like that! Again we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs and mine is n God that gives me peace and makes me want to be a better person and doesn't judge people. I don't need proof because I have faith and faith is all I need!


Him: faith without doubt leads to moral arrogance!


Me: Yup just like your moral arrogance! I will pray for you JZ!! Oh and if you believe in science, surely you should know that there is no such thing as Coincidence!!!

I want to know more how I can come back at his argument about scientific facts in his first couple of responses!

Gregory said...

Hayley -- In my experience, when someone used to be a believer but now have turned away from God, and especially if they are hostile towards God and other believers, it is more than likely because they were hurt by the church or by an individual Christian. And if this is the case with your friend, it is unlikely you are going to be able to say anything that is going to reach him because he is not reacting with his head, but with his heart, even if he doesn't realize it. I would counsel you to make sure you respond with grace to his verbal attacks rather than react with anger because that is really what he wants you to do. Remember the example of Christ before the Chief Priest and Pilate when He was accused falsely -- He did not speak out or defend Himself -- He responded with grace and let the Father intervene. Above all, pray for him.

In regards to your friend’s scientific reasoning, I would suggest you check out some of the many resources online and in your Christian book store about science and religion. The two are not opposed to each other. I, in fact, am a scientist as well as a pastor, and many of the great men and women of science, such as Isaac Newton, have been Christians. Christians are not opposed to the concept of global warming (although climate change is a more accurate concept), and not all Christians believe in a young earth but believe the geologic records are accurate. There are good resources online refuting evolution and demonstrating the value of scientific creationism as a valid model for the development of life. You’ll really have to do research if you want to refute his arguments.

You were correct in standing on faith in Christ. Faith without doubt does not lead to moral arrogance -- it leads to moral humility. It leads to the recognition that mankind is inherently evil, but there is source of morality known and recognized by every culture and religion. An absolute truth that all know to be moral and right and that we know as God. Faith lets you know that there is a God and you are not Him. For your friend to stand on faith in science without doubt is just another form of arrogance.

Hope this helps some. Pastor Greg

Anonymous said...

i have a friend who believes in God but she believes in greek gods supernatural creatures and stuff like that when i try to talk to her about God she doesn't want to listen i don't know how to get her to believe she is a really close friend and i want her to believe.