How to Share the Gospel With an Atheist
Atheism is defined as “not having a ‘god belief’.” This is important to remember, because it’s not that an atheist doesn’t believe in god, because that statement opens the possibility that god or a supreme being exists. The atheist’s worldview is driven by pure rationality, reason, and the scientific method. The result is that most atheists believe in the theory of evolution and reject the possibility of the spiritual world and an afterlife. Most surveys show that around 15% of Americans call themselves atheists.
Questions You Can Ask
- What makes you most excited about being an atheist?
- Do you ever feel judged by others for rejecting the existence of God? If so, how does that make you feel?
- Have you ever been mocked or rejected for being an atheist by those who claimed to be Christians?
- Why have you chosen to not believe in the existence of God?
- Are you willing to go wherever the evidence leads, whether or not it supports your worldview that there is no God?
- Some in the scientific world have concluded that evidence like the specified complexity of DNA and the fine-tuned universe point toward an intelligent designer. Do you think it’s theoretically possible that there was a Designer behind the universe we inhabit?
- Have you ever considered the possibility that you could be wrong about the existence of God? What might the consequences be if you are wrong?
- Do you think there is a difference between “religion” and a “relationship” with God? Why or why not?
- Has anyone ever explained the gospel to you?
Areas You Can Admire
- Their commitment to reason and logic.
- Their willingness to wrestle with tough questions.
- Their belief that no one person has all the answers.
- Their courage in facing life and all of its hardships without a belief in a loving and all-powerful God or an afterlife.
What an Atheist Believes
An atheist believes that their worldview is the most rational and reasonable, sometimes because of the ‘damage’ done by religion throughout the centuries, but mainly because it seems to be the most consistent with the observable world according to the scientific method.
Atheists don’t have any sort of a ‘god belief’.
About the Trinity:
Since they lack a ‘god belief’, the concept of the Trinity is totally irrelevant.
An atheist believes Jesus was either just an ordinary person or never existed at all. They will often refer to the ‘Jesus-Myth’ or ‘Jebus’ (a sarcastic reference to Christ).
About the Bible:
They believe that the Bible is a collection of myths, half-truths, and lies designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses.
About the Afterlife:
Atheists do not believe in an afterlife.
To an atheist, there is no need for salvation from sin and hell. They don’t believe that these things exist, so why does anyone need to be ‘saved’?
What the Bible Teaches
God identified Himself as “I Am” (Exodus 20:2), meaning He is the self-existent (has no beginning or end) eternal Creator of the universe.
About the Trinity:
There is one God and yet three Persons (Isaiah 45:5; Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19).
Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is not just an enlightened man. He is the God of the universe (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 10:30. Compare Titus 2:13 and Isaiah 45:21), and He is equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
About the Bible:
The Bible alone is the word of God. It is without error. It cannot and should not be added to or subtracted from (2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; Revelation 22:18-20). It backs up its claim as the word of God with accuracy, historical correctness, and fulfilled prophecy.
About the Afterlife:
Those who trust in Christ alone as their only hope of salvation will spend eternity in heaven; those who reject Christ will spend an eternity in hell. (John 5:24-30; Revelation 20:11-15).
Every person born on this planet is born into sin, is destined for hell and needs a Savior. Salvation is by faith in Christ on the basis of His death on the cross. Good works or self-denial have nothing to do with being saved (John 3:16-17, 36; 6:29, 47; Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
Things to Remember
- The first thing you need to ask an atheist is “do you really seek to discover the truth, even if it costs you your reputation, and even your friends?” If the answer is no, then realize that they are not willing to go where the evidence leads. You won’t be having an honest intellectual dialogue, but your conversation may still have a spiritual impact.
- Don’t talk about sin with an atheist. In their worldview, morality is generally dependent on the situation and is neutral, so there’s no reference point in their minds for a concept of breaking God’s universal laws.
- Don’t get dragged into arguments about what God did or didn’t do. Focus on the evidence that Christ existed, died on the cross, and came back from the dead. As well, your personal testimony can be a powerful tool because it’s very difficult to ‘disprove’ the real and lasting change that Christ has brought to your life.
- The bottom line with an atheist (or anyone else for that matter) is that you cannot argue someone to faith in Christ. However, you can and should live in such a way that those around you sense something different, which opens the door for you to explain the ‘evidence’.
For Further Research
- Pick up a copy of Greg Stier’s book Dare 2 Share Field Guide
- Check out firstgen.org