20 years ago, John Blanchard published a book titled “Does God believe in Atheists?” This was a clever turn of phrase, since the definition of an atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of God. However, the question “does God believe in Atheists” must be answered biblically with an astounding “Yes!” Of course God believes in atheists!
God believes in atheists in a material sense. For if God ceased to believe in an atheist, then that atheist would cease to exist! God alone is the sustainer of the universe. He gives life and breath to every living being. He didn’t just set the world up in orbit and then leave it to spin on its axis; He is actively sustaining His creation… even those who refuse to believe in Him. He continues to give them common grace by giving them one more day to live and one more breath to breath, even if they use that breath to declare “There is no God.”
But God also believes in atheists in a spiritual sense. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. God, in His infinite grace and mercy, wants every person, even those who declare “there is no God,” to be saved from their sin and come to a personal knowledge of Him. There are many examples of people who formerly believed that God did not exist, only to be confronted with the truth, which led them to become followers of Jesus.
Unfortunately, while God shows abundant grace and love to all those who surrender to Him, many people still choose to believe that He doesn’t exist. In Psalm 14, David calls them “fools.”
We won’t get past the first phrase of this Psalm today, because there is a lot to unpack. But it is still good to read the entire Psalm so that we can unpack the first phrase in context. Please read psalm 14 now.
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Let’s unpack this for a moment. The word used for ‘fool’ is the Hebrew word nabal, which means fading, dying, or falling away, as a withered leaf or flower. Everyone who denies the existence of God is in such a state: fading, dying, and falling away. They are here today and gone tomorrow. Their life is but a vapor dissolving in the air. God offers them eternal life, but He requires them to accept it in humility.
In their pride, they would rather live their own way, and deny the existence of any external person who could judge them for their actions. However, denying the existence of fire does not keep you from getting burned. God is the all-powerful judge of the universe, and denying His existence will not keep you from standing before Him one day as a breaker of His holy law.
Still, the fool insists on this belief in his heart. Today, it has become common for many fools to express their doubts of God’s existence out loud. But these doubts needn’t be expressed out loud for one to believe them. It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. The fool is someone who, deep down, truly believes that God does not exist. Their words and their actions reflect this; they live and speak as if they are the captain of their own ship, the pilot of their own plane, the ruler of their own life.
Many such fools go on to have great success in areas of intelligentsia, athletics, business, or whatever field they set their mind to. But they remain a fool in God’s eyes, because they believe ‘there is no God.’
David specifically used the covenant name for God, Elohim, rather than the more generic Jehovah. The fool may believe that there is some supernatural power out there. Many fools believe in the occult, a plethora of deities, karma, mysticism, and other aspects of the supernatural. In fact, a fool will believe in just about anything, and lead others to believe in their foolishness with them. But they refuse to believe in the God of the Bible, who has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ, and will one day return to judge us all on the basis of our adherence to His commandments.
God still believes in those who deny His existence. He desires for them to come to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance. If a person rejects this offer, it doesn’t matter how smart he may be, how rich he may be, how famous or successful or powerful he may be--as long as a person rejects Christ, he is a fool.
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