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February 19, 2021 2:00 am
Pontius Pilate was a secular pragmatist concerned about Roman order and personal advancement. In the message "Jesus Loves Atheists," Skip shares how Jesus loved and handled atheists like Pilate—and how you should, too.
This teaching is from the series Jesus Loves People .Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
See the world is like a living, dynamic courtroom people are always on a daily basis. Deciding to receive Christ to inquire about Christ to move a little closer to that position or to reject him, people in our culture, heard about Jesus.
They know about Christianity. They know about those who claim to be Christians and their there always deciding so, as I discovered atheists have good questions. Make sure that you have good answers BW toes reset unbelievers actually promoted faith, Ford puts his faith, not of the living God.
But in dying men today on connect with Skip Heitzigs escape give you some pointers on how you can share God's love with those who don't believe in him or we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that gives you practical insight on how to love others like Jesus people everywhere having God-given needs to be left but sadly sometimes the people who need love the most the most rejected here.
Skip, I think we all crave love. We will do sometimes almost anything to get it to know that we are loved by somebody else unconditionally. No wonder that better than Jesus love the worst of sinners. You love the best of saints Jesus. So the love of God in human flesh we want to give you a glimpse of God's relentless love for all people including you by sending you that Jesus loves people for booklet collection by skip. I think all four Jesus loves people titles including Jesus loves the broken RR thanks for your gift of $25 or more today to help connect more people to God's love through his word connectwithskip.com/offer to give online securely or call 892 1888 okay will be in John chapter 18 for today study so let's join Skip Heitzig. No one is born an atheist. That's a choice that a person makes. It is a belief system. It requires a certain amount of faith to be an atheist just like no one is born a Christian we cooperate with God's calling on our lives and we do that by faith.
It's a choice that we make. It's a belief system, but there is a dilemma that the atheist had and has and it's simple really. When an atheist feels grateful. Who do they think and I don't say that flippantly I said sincerely because gratitude is a basic human trait, and I found it interesting that Richard Dawkins, who is one of the most recent and very vocal atheists is that when he looks at the Milky Way galaxy or the Grand Canyon or even under a microscope that is overcome by profound feelings of gratitude and he said and I quote.
It's a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I'm alive to appreciate these wonders." So, to whom does Richard Dawkins give thanks atheism is not a new concept. It's been around a long time.
The Bible speaks about the one who says in his heart there is no God. You know the text, the writer says the fool has said in his heart there is no God.
As long as there has been belief, there has been unbelief as long as there is been theism there is been atheism but you be interested not to know that atheism does not appear in the English language until the 16th century.
The first documented use of the term atheism was in the year 1568 and it was a term borrowed from another language by Miles Coverdale and what appeared and when it was first in Houston was considered to be a new phenomenon, a rare thing wasn't until the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th century that atheism really became an intellectual force and then by the 19th century there was a massive cultural shift in the West during that century came for unique gentlemen we could call them before horsemen of the atheistic Apocalypse. They are Friedrich Nietzsche Karl Marx Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud. They brought this massive cultural intellectual shift in Western thought and became more or less a part of the cultural landscape of our country and many others in the 20th century, so that by the 1960s.
Even time magazine ran as a cover article saying is God dead.
That was on the front of the cover the big? Is God dead even though a small minority really might blow your mind to know that only 2% of our population claim to be atheist.
Now many more may be, but they're not stepping up to the plate and saying so maybe that in the agnostic camp but 2% say their atheist. However, the number is growing.
One of the reasons it's growing is because of the wave of new atheism. Authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and others who made it to the New York Times bestseller list. Many of these are very very vocal against our faith and for their faith. They basically say the belief in God is nothing more than organized ignorance and that atheism is freedom from such ignorance. Moreover, they will say, among other things, that belief in God is one of the chief problems with the earth today is the cause of violence is the cause of bloodshed. It's the cause of war look back to the Crusades were people were slaughtered in the name of religion. The looks of the Middle East were so many atrocities are done by people who claim to believe in God.
I bet she returned to John chapter 18 to look at a man named Pontius Pilate who is not an atheist, per se, he would probably fall more into the agnostic camp there was a Roman belief system. They had certain gods they really deified the Caesars. The emperors of Rome but would seem that pilot only tipped his hat to any worship system but he was jaded in his response.
He's cynical secularist all call him a cynical secularist who opines before Jesus by saying what is truth. Toward the end of the text. We will read. I think pilot was confused really think he was a walking conundrum found it interesting that CS Lewis was one time in about atheist before he came to faith in Christ. CS Lewis wrote I was living like so many atheists in a world of contradictions. I maintained God did not exist, but also I was very angry with God for not existed.
Sort of like the man who when he was asked what he believed and he said I'm an atheist thing God but in this text Pontius Pilate encounters Jesus Christ there face-to-face. There I die.
There are words and looks that are exchanged and in looking at this text with you in the 18th chapter of John, beginning in verse 28 to give you five qualities that we should exhibit whenever we encounter an atheist or an agnostic. First of all, be confident. Be confident in verse 28.
Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorian and it was early morning, but they themselves did not go into the praetorian class they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover pilot then went out to them and said what accusation do you bring against this man. They answered and said to him, if you are not an evildoer, we would not have delivered them up to you. Then Pilate said to them you take and judge him according to your law. Therefore, the Jews said to him is not lawful for us to put anyone to death that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what death he would die that when you agree that it would be awfully intimidating to stand before Roman justice before a man who is the power of life or death. With a flick of the wrist. Pontius Pilate let me give you a thumbnail sketch, he was the fifth governor of Judea.
He was appointed to the post.
In A.D. 26 by Tiberius Caesar. He maintained that post for 10 years.
Pontius Pilate was not a Roman.
Did you know that he didn't come from Rome. He was Spanish.
He was from Seville, Spain. He became part of the Roman army. He was enamored with it and eventually he lucked out.
He married the right gal.
He married the granddaughter of Augustus Caesar named Claudia Pakula and basically she got the job of Gov. over the province and this was the province of Judea. Now he appears in the Bible about 21 times, but secular historians, other historians like Tacitus, the Roman historian Josephus, the Jewish historian Philo from Alexandria all paint a picture Pontius Pilate as being oppressive and cruel, stubborn, greedy, and I think the text that we have before us gives us a hint as to why in verse 38 when Jesus talks about the truth, it is Pilate who says in discussed seemingly what is truth what is truth we are dealing with the burned out cynic for pilot life has no answers for pilot.
There are no absolute truths.
History tells us he hated being in Judea.
He hated the Jewish religion and this is the one who is standing before Jesus Christ, as we read the story, it would seem like pilot has total control. He's in charge.
He's calling the shots until until we get to verse 31 verse 32.
These verse we just sort of read over and I really I analyze like we should, but I want you to notice what it says. Pilot said you take him and judge him according to your lysing that the Jewish leaders before the Jews said to him it's not lawful for us to put anyone to death that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what death he would die.
Do you remember that Jesus Christ not only did he predict that he would die, but he predicted precisely what kind of death he would die in Mark chapter 10 he said to his followers. We are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand them over to the Gentiles the translation say the Romans will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him. I am going to die when the Jewish leaders deliver me over to the Romans, but he was more specific, he said, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the Son of Man must be lifted up. John chapter 12, he's even more at the specific, he said if I be lifted up from the earth.
I will draw all men to myself.
John gives us a footnote. This he spoke, signifying by what death he would die. You see, if you was delivered over to the Jews for them to kill him.
He would be lifted up, he would be thrown down. He would be stoned to death to be lifted up on the cross was a distinctly Roman form of execution. So here's my point is what I don't want you to miss. Pilate wasn't in control.
Jesus Christ was calling all the shots he was firmly in control. Remember, just hours before he had told his disciples before the Passover said you can go in the city are to meet a man carrying a pitcher of water is in the lead you to a house you to talk to the owner the house. The owner the house and show you a large furnished upper room with a lot of details make ready their the Passover, they went bad.
The Passover afterwards. Jesus said, arise, let us be going and led them to the Kidron Valley where he was arrested, and now this. And, signifying by what death he would die the Romans get involved. No wonder Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, not like a shaking leaf, not like the cowardly lion before the Wizard of Oz, but with poise with confidence with assurance. He was an absolute and total control of the situation know you need the same kind of confidence whenever you are face-to-face with an atheist or an agnostic because such conversations can seem to you very intimidating. I know some of you have told me you need to be confident, confident that God is allowed you this opportunity this conversation. This interaction and confident that God is in control when you feeling intimidated by an unbeliever, you need to recognize three things, recognize your inadequacy recognize God's sovereignty and recognize their necessity. They need this.
They need this AW toes about where every man on earth to become an atheist, it would not affect God in any way.
He is what he is in himself, without regard to any other to believe in him adds nothing to his perfections to doubt him takes nothing away so first quality to exhibit B, confident second be engaging atheist don't have the plague. You don't have to run away or avoid them. It was a cynical man cynical secularist who doesn't believe in the Jewish God was standing before the son of God and Jesus engages him a bit. Notice verse 33 Pilate entered the praetorian again and called Jesus and said to him, are you the king of the Jews, Jesus answered him, are you speaking for yourself about this or did others tell you this concerning me. I think of the question. The Pilate asked Jesus.
Are you the king of the Jews. In other words, do you plead guilty or not guilty to this charge of insurrection. It's a it's a perfectly standard question I have is simply trying to determine the threat level of the prisoner. Are you a flat to Roman rule. Are you claiming to be a king that would be in, in contradistinction to Caesar who is the king of the Empire.
It's a simple straightforward question. But then Jesus engages him and he asked the question, are you asking this because you think I'm a political threat or are you asking this because you're just parroting what you have heard others say about it actually reminds me of what it says in Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, now, let us reason together, says the Lord listed out.
Let's talk this over this reason this out.
Let's think it's true though your sins are as scarlet, or make them as white as snow to engage an unbeliever means you listen to them when they ask you a question you listen you respond you talk back in a nice way you listen again you you engage them. Now some atheists are very intelligent and they have fought through their position and they have come to their conclusion and honestly I admire anybody who thinks through their position and is thought critically and has come to a settled position based upon critical thought. However, other atheists want to be seen as intelligent and for them in their minds to be seen as intelligent for that to happen. They think that they must tell people there atheists because people look at them in the you're so enlightened you have shed the skin of superstitious religions of the past. You're a freethinker so they sort of take pride in a want to be thought as intellectuals of the sick. I am an atheist and then there's another category.
There are some people who have chosen atheism as a moral convenience. It's simple really. If you can dismiss God you can do anything you want. There's no ultimate accountability. There's no moral judge. There's no absolute so you can live any way you want. There is no morality, so just get rid of God, so people conveniently for moral reasons proclaim to be atheists. But here's the hitch. You don't know which is which is what you engage them. That's why you ask them and when you have a conversation with them. Talk with them. Don't talk at them. The other night. It was downtown with my wife. We were walking down the street and there's a huge line of people waiting to get into a concert across the street were a few people who would set up a megaphone and I think they thought they were witnessing to them and they were broadcasting from one side of the street really loudly.
On the other side of the three things like you're going to hell. You need God you and one even said you need to hug the Bible on over that's all about but I was looking at the side of the street where the concert crowd was into seeing their response. Not one of them was on their knees in repentance. Most of them get paid no attention to it all. Engage them talk with them.
Talk to them don't speak at them actually first Peter chapter 3 verse 15, Peter talks about how to engage in believers.
He said always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asked you to give the reason for the hope that you have be ready to engage see the world is like a living, dynamic courtroom people are always on a daily basis. Deciding to receive Christ to inquire about Christ move a little closer to that position or to reject him, people in our culture of heard about Jesus. They know about Christianity. They know about those who claim to be Christians and their there always deciding so is what I discovered. Atheists have good questions. Make sure that you have good answers for them. Dinesh Desousa, who wrote a book called what's so great about Christianity, said it's precisely because the Christian will usually dock and run that the atheists and had it too easy. Their arguments have gone largely unanswered. They have been flogging the carcass of fundamentalism without having to encounter the horse kick of a vigorous traditional Christianity is and we need to engage their minds, while praying for their souls. We need to Employ What William Ln., Craig calls reasonable faith come let us reason together were dealing with smart people who have deceived souls yes even very smart people can be deceived. No, I know some of your thinking. I don't really like to engage these people about these arguments and the last time I tried that it went south really quick and you're afraid that you won't have the perfectly articulated answer, please know that that's okay even if your answer is in perfect you might be planting a seed and you might think you did a poor job. You don't know what that seed will produce in time to come. Here's an example I was reading a book of a one-time atheist and was talking about his journey was a very famous still is a very famous research scientist. He was a doctor.
Research scientists in in them. The DNA and he said he was an agnostic and then he became an avowed atheist as a doctor he was treating patients down in the south southern part of the United States and he said a lot of my patients were pretty uneducated people but I noticed that they had a faith in Christ apiece. A calm and an assurance even when I delivered in the worst possible news like you're going to die, or you have this lingering disease.
And here's the course of an just the kind of peace and calmness and how they would turn it in and they would share with me the gospel and he said honestly.
I left those encounters very uneasy about what I believed I had gotten so sure about my position but I left very unsure that planted a seed in him that eventually sprouted basket with the message from the series Jesus loves people who Skip to share how you can help keep this broadcast going strong, connecting more people like you to the gospel of Jesus Jesus Christ is truth incarnate.
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