Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Ex-Christian Atheist

"Ray, Could you explain to me what it means to ‘know the Lord’? I often hear you ask 'ex-Christians' (in quotes for your benefit) if they 'knew the Lord'. I would like to better understand your relationship with the Lord. How do you communicate with Him? How does He communicate back? In what way can one know that they know the Lord in the same manner as you? Thanks, Jay."

This is a great question. Let me first explain why I use the wording "know the Lord." This is the biblical definition of a Christian. It is used many times in Scripture, but it is particularly used in reference to the gospel, in Jeremiah 31:34:

"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

It is because Jesus took our sin upon Himself that we can be forgiven. That means instead of being separated from God (have no real consciousness of His presence or reality), we can have fellowship with Him. Jesus said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3--NKJV).

I often say that there’s no such thing as an atheist who is an "ex-Christian." This is because there are only two alternatives that the “ex-Christian” can choose. If he knew the Lord, then "the Lord" exists and there is therefore no such thing as atheism. Or he simply "thought he knew the Lord," then he didn’t, and was therefore a false convert (a hypocrite). Some in this category fall away from the faith, but many stay within the Church as "goats" among the sheep and will be sorted out on Judgment Day. Notice Scripture’s wording in reference to that Day:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-24, italics added).

False converts don’t "know the Lord." He "never knew" them. There was no intimate relationship with them because they were still in their sins (playing the hypocrite).

Now to the essence of your question. What does it mean to know the Lord? Probably the best way I could relate it to you would be to say that it is very similar to me knowing my wife. We are best friends. She is forever in my thoughts. At the moment we are in different locations--I am at my home office, and she is at our ministry. Our different locations doesn’t change the fact of our relationship. I still know her, love her, and trust her implicitly.

The moment I repented and put my trust in Jesus, I began a relationship with God that is more real than my relationship with my wife. It has the same feelings, but it’s not contingent upon those feelings, but rather on trust (as are all relationships). Even though I don't "see" God, as with the relationship with my wife even though we are apart, I still have a relationship with God. The Bible puts it this way:

"Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls"(1 Peter 1:7-9, Amplified Bible).

How do I talk to God? The same way everyone else does. Most nights I get up to pray (around midnight--something I have done since 1982). How does He talk to me? Through the Bible. It's a "lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." I have read the Bible every day without fail since my conversion in 1972. I communicate with Him through prayer, and He speaks to me through His Word.

Your final question was "In what way can one know that they know the Lord in the same manner as you?" Simply humble yourself, and take a tender-conscience look at the Ten Commandments--have you lied, stolen, blasphemed, looked with lust (adultery of the heart), and judge yourself--guilty or innocent? Heaven or Hell? Then look to the cross--God in the person of Jesus Christ taking your punishment upon Himself--paying the fine so that you could leave the courtroom. Through His death and resurrection, you can have everlasting life, if you will repent (something the hypocrite fails to do) and trust the Savior, you will come to know the Lord (see John 14:21 for details).