Functional Atheist (Psalm 10)

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’ ” —Psalm 10:4

There is not in my judgement, a Psalm which describes the mind, the manners, the works, the words, the feelings, and the fate of the ungodly with so much propriety, fullness, and light as this Psalm. So that, if in any respect there has not been enough said heretofore, or if there shall be anything wanting in the Psalms that shall follow, we may here find a perfect image and representation of iniquity.” —Martin Luther

All sin is atheistic. It matters not what your creed may be, sin is functional atheism. Sin behaves as though God were not.

Sin seeks to de-god God and to deify man. As in the garden, sin disbelieves God’s threat, and trusts the promise of God-likeness.

The puritan Ralph Venning, writing at a time when plagues were dreaded, in a book originally titled The Plague of Plagues, captured this well. “In short, sin is the dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love, as one writer prettily expresses this ugly thing. We may go on and say, it is the upbraiding of his providence (Psalm 50), the scoff of his promise (2 Peter 3:3-4), the reproach of his wisdom (Isaiah 29:16). And as is said of the Man of Sin (i.e. who is made up of sin) it opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God (and above all that God is called), so that it as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing itself as if it were God (2 Thessalonians 2. 4).”

Sin is atheistic. Yea, it is more. It is anti-theistic, anti-God, anti-Christ. Who is anti-Christ? The whole of fallen humanity.

The Apologist: Men’s Imaginations Don’t Grow Up, They Grow Sinful

A child may feel sure of himself as he schemes his schemes. When he was a little boy, my son used to devise great plans for fighting off the Russians if they were to come up the mountain. And he was totally serious. But if Russian tanks had ever begun to roll up out of the valley, we would know we were going to be overrun. When the force of reality strikes us with all its drive, our own imaginings are seen in their proper perspective. —Francis Schaeffer, No Little People

They Hate the Scriptures because They Hate the Author and Subject

By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition. Christ bore a cross, and the servant [Scripture] is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: No One Rejects the Scriptures for Intellectual Reasons

Whether revelation is accepted or not is decided by our whole life-and-worldview. Decisive here is not historical criticism but self-criticism, not science but faith, not the head but the heart. Also obduracy comes out of the heart (cf. Mark 7:22). Our thinking is rooted in our being. ‘What you do follows from what you are’ (Operari sequitur esse—Schopenhauer). ‘Your choice of philosophy depends on the person you are. Our ideology is often only the history of our heart’ (Fichte). —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Pilgrim: Romans 14:23

By this, therefore, you see the miserable state of the people that have not faith ‘Whatever they do, they sin’; if they break the law, they sin; if they endeavour to keep it, they sin; they sin, I say, upon a double account, first, because they do it but imperfectly; and, secondly, because they yet stay upon that, resisting that which is perfect, even that which God hath appointed. It mattereth not, as to justification from the curse, therefore, men wanting faith, whether they be civil or profane, they are such as stand accursed of the law, because they have not believed, and because they have given the lie to the truth, and to the God of truth. Let all men, therefore, that would please God make conscience of believing; on pain, I say, of displeasing him; on pain of being with Cain rejected, and on pain of being damned in hell. ‘He that believeth not shall be damned,’ Mark 16:16. Faith is the very quintessence of all gospel obedience, it being that which must go before other duties, and that which also must accompany whatever I do in the worship of God, if it be accepted of him. —John Bunyan, Justification by an Imputed Righteousness

The Pilgrim: Tainted Love

I still see sin, new sin, mixing itself with the best of that I do; so that now I am forced to conclude, that notwithstanding my former fond conceits of myself and duties, I have committed sin enough in one duty to send me to hell, though my former life had been faultless.  -John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 & The Pew or the University?

When you think of the seed falling on the path, hard hearts, deaf listeners – who comes to mind?

Agnostics?

Atheists?

Doubters?

Cynics?

Skeptics?

Yes, they have hard hearts, but that isn’t the most vivid and immediate illustration we have in our context – the Pharisees. The hard hearted believed in Yahweh. The hard hearted loved the Old Testament. The hard hearted were zealous worshippers and tithers. The hard hearted were teachers and leaders. The heard hearted were ardently moral and religious.

Beware! The pew may be the best place to bake and harden.

Beware if you think this has never been the condition of your soil (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The hardest of hearts as easily belongs to the legalist in pew as the relativist in the university.

Matthew 12:33-37 & Evil Trees Cannot Produce Good Fruit

When Jesus asks the blaspheming Pharisees (Matthew 12:24), “How can you speak good when your hearts are evil?”, he means for us to realize that this is impossible.

But don’t fallen, unregenerate men do good? Yes, in one sense, by God’s common grace, on a horizontal plane, men do “good” things, but on a vertical plane and in the most ultimate sense, all of their acts are evil. Consider pirates.

In a gang of pirates we may find many things that are good in themselves. Though they are in wicked rebellion against the laws of the government, they have their own laws and regulations, which they obey strictly. We find among them courage and fidelity, with many other things that will recommend them as pirates. They may do many things, too, which the laws of government require, but they are not done because the government has so required, but in obedience to their own regulations.”  – W.D. Smith

As fallen, unregenerate men we are pirates, glory thieves, stealing the glory of God and giving it to other things. All of our life is one of idolatry. All behavior flows from the heart. If our actions are not springing from a heart that treasures Christ supremely, something else is being treasured. In doing “good” we are doing a greater evil. We “keep” other commandments only to break the first one (Exodus 20:2). As fallen men we are never truly good, at best we are subdued. We “obey” only when it is convenient to get what we want, only so that we can live to rebel another day.

Where then do the good trees (hearts) come from that bear good fruit; fruit that will serve as evidence of one’s justification (v. 35, 37)? Answer: Regeneration.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  – Ezekiel 36:26-27

All praise be to Jesus for the good tree that I am and the good fruit I produce.