“Being an atheist must be like living in a closed cell with no windows” – Anthony Hopkins.
If you are a movie enthusiast, I am sure you have heard about the name, Anthony Hopkins. But if you haven’t, a simple check on Wikipedia will convince you that he is not a man of mean achievements in the movie industry.
Let’s take a little peep:
“Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE is a Welsh actor, director, and producer. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1992, and was nominated three additional times. Hopkins has also won three BAFTAs, two Emmys, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In 1993, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts.”
According to a report monitored via Godupdates, “Anthony Hopkins is one of the most well-known actors of our time. For years, he was a well-known atheist, too. But all of that changed when a woman at an AA meeting challenged his disbelief with one simple question… “Why don’t you trust God?“”
It was the expression, “For years, he was a well-known atheist” that first caught my attention. But I’m glad to learn that all that has changed.
You must now use the word “former” atheist when referring to Hopkins, because he has become a firm believer in the existence of God.
Not only that, he now “lives out his real life with Christ in his heart. He’s been an atheist before finding God and now he just feels sorry for atheists, comparing a life of disbelief to “living in a closed cell with no windows.”
Sir Hopkins’s transformation and conversion from atheism to Christianity began with his positive response to that question, “Why don’t you trust God?” at a time he was dealing with alcoholism.
A reputable source has it that,”miraculously Anthony says the craving to drink was taken from him, “never to return again.” And he’s believed in God ever since, working day after day, year after year, to grow in his faith.”
In the end, he not only got helped with overcoming the spirit of alcoholism which had bedeviled him, he transformed from being a man who didn’t believe that God exists to one that now affirms that He does.
“When asked in a CNN interview with Piers Morgan if he believed in God, former-atheist Anthony Hopkins replied wholeheartedly, “Yes, I do. I do.”
You are not perfect – no one is. What you lack in one area of your life, you gain in another.
Just as all men do, you have some strengths and some weaknesses. But which ones do you focus more on?
Often times, you focus mostly on your weaknesses rather than on your strengths. By so doing, you fail to celebrate or properly harness your strengths to your fullest advantage.
How do I know you are not focusing on your strength?
You constantly think of what you don’t have instead of what you have.
You always bemoan what you can’t do instead of doing what you can.
You intentionally begrudge other people’s talent instead of harnessing yours.
You are regularly unhappy about the places you haven’t visited instead of celebrating the places you have visited.
You complain that you can’t ‘see’, but you forgot that you can ‘hear’.
While you are doing all that, you forget that time is not waiting for you. Opportunities are passing by that you could have harnessed to make your life a little better.
If that is you, then you have something to learn from the blind Bartimaeus in the Bible.
An account in the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 verse 46-47 has it that:
… and as [Jesus Christ] went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth…
Did you see that?
When he heard…
That’s the pivotal phrase.
This story wasn’t about Jesus Himself per se. It was the story of Bartimaeus, a beggarly blind man, who could hear, who had faith, had courage, had focus, had a voice, who proved to be unstoppable, and who got his desired miracle: restoration of sight.
As you can see, there are many good things about our man Bartimaeus. But for many years, he failed to harness his strength, dwelling on his weakness (blindness).
Consequently, he became a despised roadside beggar until this documented encounter with Jesus Christ that completely turned his life around for the better.
In the mean time, I will chip in the following counsel:
Focus on your strength. If you use it very well, the resultant gains may cover your weakness.
Focus on doing what you can do and stop being so unhappy about what is beyond your capabilities.
Use the talent you have, and don’t kill yourself over the ones you don’t have.
Bartimaeus was blind but he could hear. He didn’t have the sight to see Jesus, but he had the ear to hear that Jesus was passing his way.
With that information, he activated his faith and his voice. And He called out to Jesus, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” And he got his sight back.
So I will ask you, if you can’t see, can you hear? Harness the power of your hearing first. Who knows, like Bartimaeus you will have your sight back in the process.
Picture Credits: 1. Photo by novia wu on Unsplash. 2. Photo by Stephen Arnold on Unsplash.
Have you ever let opportunities pass you by because you were focusing on your weakness rather than on your strength?
As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s relate that to our attitude towards the free gift of salvation we received from Above.
Many of us would say that our salvation is what we are most grateful for in this life. And that’s a great thing!
Jesus Himself taught that our greatest joy should be that our names are written in Heaven (See Luke 10:20). So it is well in order to feel immensely grateful to God for our salvation and also allow that joyful attitude to reflect in our daily living.
But do we really live our lives daily in a way that demonstrates that we truly appreciate our salvation? Are we as joyful as we should be?
Probably not! That’s why I am writing this post, because I’m convinced some of us are falling behind expectation in that regard.
If you don’t value your salvation, you will underestimate the need to love other people with the same love God has loved you with.
Sometimes we are immensely grateful we are saved. Some other times we don’t even seem to remember we are saved. So we go about our lives not reflecting the attitude of gratitude both before God and our fellow man or woman.
It is my believe that if we are constantly thankful to God for the free gift of salvation we received in Christ, it will positively impact on the way we respond to God and the way we treat other people.
In this post, I will highlight five ways being grateful for your salvation will impact your life positively.
1. You will find it easier to live a life of gratitude, irrespective of your estate in life
You have the capacity for gratitude that does not depend on your external circumstances. But the question is, “Are you using it towards God and your fellow humans?”
The Bible tells us that “In all things, we should give thanks to God.” That’s a way of saying you should always maintain a heart of gratitude.
I am not saying it will be easy to do. But it is something that can be done, even when life doesn’t go the way you want it.
As someone pointed out, “It is not everything that happens that is the will of God. But it is the will of God that you should give thanks to God no matter what happens.”
2. You will live to please God rather than yourself or anyone else
When you appreciate your salvation as something you could never achieve by your best efforts, but which God delivered to you undeservedly, it becomes imperative that you focus on pleasing the One Who got you saved in the first place.
God paid the highest price for your salvation so He deserves to get your highest love, greatest pleasure and deepest loyalty.
Ingratitude will drain your strength! But gratitude will empower you.
The greatest thing God did for mankind is sending Jesus to die for the salvation of the world. This singular act coupled with your positive response to it by faith is what afforded you the benefit/hope of eternal salvation.
If you appreciate this on a personal level, it will strengthen your faith in God and in the belief in His willingness to answer your prayers.
Just like Apostle Paul, you will reason that , “He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32, NASB
In what other ways do you feel being grateful for your salvation in Christ will positively impact your life?
… Belief in God isn’t blindly based on acceptance of the Bible as truth, or simply because the argument makes sense, but because when we begin to truly look for him, we begin to find him everywhere. In nature, in science, in supernatural experience, and perhaps most compellingly of all in the transformed lives of the people who have already believed in him – Martin Saunders,Contributing Editor, Christian Today.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that God exists. But I also know there are atheists everywhere around the world – people who do not believe in the existence of God.
Just like Jesus wants us to do, I owe it to such people in particular and to humanity in general, to tell them about God. Not just because of the earthly benefits but for the eternal significance as well.
As you well know, I can’t force anyone to believe in God. But I can at least let them know some things that may help them make up their mind in the affirmative. After all, acknowledging Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and personal Saviour remains a decision everyone has to take by him/herself.
So if you are an atheist, here are 16 sobering truths I wish you to know.
1. God exists – whether you believe it or not.
I had to say that first because it is the main thrust of this discourse. This article is of no effect if God does not exist. What is the point of life if there was no God?
Sorry to disappoint you: the fact that you do not believe in God does not diminish Him one bit. He is an all-sufficient God. Even if you change your mind and decide to believe in God today, it still does not add to His value.
But you know what? It is in your best interest both in time and in eternity to acknowledge Him. I hope you will find the impetus to continue reading after hearing that!
2. To know God, check the Bible
The Bible is the manual of life God gave to man. It is the final authority on anything there is to know about God and His creation.
If in your search for God, you have not checked the Bible, then you have been looking in the wrong direction. And if you have checked it before, you have to check it again. This time, do it in faith.
God has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible. The Bible has the correct answer to all the questions about life and the after-life. If your disbelief in God has come from reading other books, it is now time you read the Bible with an open heart and with faith.
3. God loves you, I thought you should know.
Contrary to what you might have heard about Him, God is a loving God. As the Bible puts it, “God is love.” God loves you even if you do not acknowledge Him yet.
You don’t believe in Him, He loves you. You hate Him, He still loves you. Because of that love, He does not want you to perish in your ignorance of, or disbelief in, Him.
He would rather have you come to Him humbly in faith through His only Son Jesus Christ, whom He allowed to die in the hands of wicked people for your sin and those of mankind.
4. God is not angry with you.
Has anyone ever told you that God is angry with you? That will not be true! The fact that you don’t believe in God does not mean that He is angry with you. In fact, He loves you too much to be angry with you.
God should have been – and He has every right to be – angry with you for not believing in Him. But His Son Jesus Christ has paid the price for you once and for all. For now, you are covered by His abundant grace.
The only thing that can provoke God eventually is if you fail to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you before you leave this earth. If that happens, there is nothing God can do for you again; His anger would then no longer be restrained on the other side of this life.
Anyone who fails to believe in God while alive will be eternally separated from Him after death.
5. Jesus Christ is the only Way to God.
That is an audacious claim, I know. But it is not outrageous.
It is true that there are many ways to arrive a given destination. But when it comes to going to God, Jesus Christ is the Only Way; there is no shortcut and there is no roundabout way.
There is no other way to God apart from through Jesus Christ. That fact cannot be overemphasized.
Jesus Himself declared unequivocally: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:16.
6. You are not the first person to doubt the existence of God.
I guess you know that already! There have been people before you who did not believe in God and there will still be people after you who will not believe in Him.
For instance, Marilyn Adamson confessed in her expository article Does God exist?:
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly…
However, the fact that you are not alone in the disbelief in the existence of God should not give you any comfort. Being in a state where you do not believe in God is not the best place you can be.
7. The Bible has a word for anyone who doesn’t believe there is God.
You should hear that word as stated in Psalms chapter 14:1:
A fool says in his heart there is no God.
That is it. According to the Bible, anyone who says there is no God is a fool. Such persons may or may not be educated, lowly or highly placed in the society, if they do not acknowledge God, they are fools. That may sound harsh I know, but then it is the harsh truth.
So you can see that it is wisdom to acknowledge God. It is foolishness not to.
I know there are people who think they are wise so they think have no need of God. But for such people, the Bible says, “In professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).
No matter how you feel about it, there is no wisdom in saying there is no God. If I say there is no God, it means I am foolish.
The only good news after this is that this kind of foolishness can be cured. The cure is to turn to God in faith through Jesus Christ.
8. There have been people who turned from atheism to God.
Sad to say, some people have died in their atheism, thereby sentencing themselves to eternal damnation. But thankfully, there have also been people who moved from atheism to faith in the true God.
Growing up in a non-Christian family with intellectually gifted but unbelieving parents, I used to think that belief in God and the supernatural had been discredited by the advance of science, and was incompatible with liberty. Religious faith seemed to me to involve the blind worship of a cosmic dictator, and the abandonment of reason in favour of ‘revelation
Similarly, in Five atheists who lost faith in atheism , Martin Saunders, a Contributing Editor for Christian Today, writes about some “former atheists who found that their belief in nothing ultimately led them nowhere.” These people were intellectuals who departed from their avowed atheism to robust faith in God. That can be your story too!
9. Your lifetime is your only opportunity for you to know God.
The nine months spent in your mother’s womb prepared you for the life on earth. Similarly, your life on earth prepares you to be birthed into eternity.
Therefore, your life on earth is your only opportunity for you to know God, personally. If you miss it, you miss out eternally.
I don’t want you to miss out. Hence, I am writing this post to you as an individual.
The point is, if you do not get to establish a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ while you are still alive, you will inevitably be faced with the stark reality of being forever separated from God. That’s not something to look forward to, I must say.
10. Whatever misgivings you have about God can be handled.
That’s a promise, trust me! God is big enough to handle any (mis)guided thought you might have about Him. But nothing can be sorted out without your cooperation.
As Saunders stated, “when we begin to truly look for [God], we begin to find him everywhere. In nature, in science, in supernatural experience, and perhaps most compellingly of all in the transformed lives of the people who have already believed in him.”
You were not born an atheist, just as I was not born a Christian. I became a believer in Jesus Christ and so can you.
At some point in your life (or is it over a period of time?), you came to believe there is no God. You have your reasons, rightly or wrongly, for the claim that there is no God. But He is such a gracious God that He would not force you to acknowledge Him.
Therefore, if you would make up your mind to seek Him in faith, you would find Him. This is a guarantee because God said through prophet Jeremiah that:
“… ye shall seek me, and find me [God], when ye shall search for me [God] with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13
11. God has numerous children and He has room for you too.
The key is in your hands! God created everyone but not everyone is His ‘child’. I hope you didn’t find that confusing?
The children of God are those who believe in Him through Jesus Christ. You may say you do not believe in God. But it is that same God that you don’t believe in that created you.
It is true He created you but He cannot force you to become His child. Becoming his child is something you would have to do out of your own volition, without any force from me or from anyone else.
To become a child of God, you have to be given the right. As the Bible says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to … But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become sons of God” John 1:12
The good thing is that the right to become a child of God is yours for the asking… even right now!
12. If you die today, where would you spend eternity?
Would you not want to find an answer to that question before it becomes too late? That’s a question not only for you but for all humans. There are only two possible options – eternity with God or eternity without Him.
Fortunately, anyone who believes in God through His Son Jesus Christ has already settled that issue. For such people, there is nothing to fear; their place is in God.
You already know that the fact that you don’t believe in God does not preclude you from dying. And death is the gateway to eternity. Once you die, you have lost all the chances of ever knowing God.
Your present life is the only chance you to make the decision about where to spend eternity – with God in Heaven or with satan in hell. There is no sitting on the fence between the two choices.
Failure to choose God is already an automatic choice for hellfire. Hope that doesn’t sound too harsh?
13. The question of sin cannot be cured except in Christ.
There is no substitute to Christ at all! Even you yourself know that you are not perfect; you are not without blemish. In order words, you are a sinner who needs the forgiveness of God.
I didn’t say that to condemn you, but rather as a kind of reality check. You have to know this (in case no one ever told you before now): just like all humans, you are a sinner because you were born that way.
Sin is the nature of all men. You cannot solve the problem of sin on your own; you need help – God’s help.
The only authentic remedy for sin is in the blood Jesus Christ. All it requires is a simple faith in His sacrificial death and resurrection. It is only in believing in God through Jesus that your sin nature and its eternal consequence can be permanently dealt with.
14. You are accountable to God, now or later.
This is inescapable! You may not believe in God but you should understand that you are still answerable to Him. Whether you chose to accept Him or not you will still be accountable to Him for your actions.
One day, you will stand before Him to explain how you lived your life here on Earth and what you did with the offer of grace by His son Jesus Christ. I thought you should know that too.
15. There is a future reality called Hellfire.
Many people don’t like to hear that word ‘hellfire’. But I care about you too much not to warn you about it!
It is the final destination reserved for everyone who rejects the salvation that Christ offers. The place was originally meant for satan and his angels. But sadly, anyone that rejects God has sided with satan and so will ultimately end up where satan himself will be confined to too, forever.
You don’t have to go there if you decide to accept Jesus Christ now that you are still alive, otherwise, hellfire will be an inescapable reality. This is not a threat; it is the truth I just tried to share in love.
16. Very far from God is not too far yet.
You might think that you have gone a long way in the journey of your (wrong) belief that God doesn’t exist. But I would say you are yet to reach the point of no return. God is ready to accept you as his son/daughter if you give Him the chance now.
Once you realise that you are on the wrong part, the honourable thing to do is to retrace your steps. Anyone who fails to acknowledge God is already on the wrong path.
If you don’t want to end up in the wrong destination, you should not continue on the journey in the wrong direction. The prodigal son found his back to his father, so can you!
Forget about the wrong things you might have been told about God. Dismantle your previous mindset and seek God yourself with all your heart and with faith.Give Jesus an invitation into your heart and I can assure you He will honour it.
Would you acknowledge God through His son, Jesus Christ now?
P.S: To you that believe in God through his Son Jesus Christ, if you have any sobering thing you would want an atheist to know that doesn’t fall into any of the ones listed above, do me a favour by commenting. You may be the voice that someone may hear to turn to God. Those that have contrary opinions are also welcome to comment.
I have never met an atheist face to face before. But I was fortunate to encounter one who recently visited this blog and was kind enough to leave a comment.
I had just published on my blog a post entitled “To Those Who Say There Is No God.” In the post, we construed an atheist as one who believes that there is no God. The following points were also covered in the post:
I am a Christian and so I believe there is God;
There are enough pieces of evidence within and around us to prove that God exists. And so I wondered how some people find it so easy to claim that God does not exist;
That according to the Bible, anyone who says there is no God is not wise;
That Jesus Christ Himself told us during His earthly walk that He is the ONLY WAY to God.
Following that post was a protracted online discussion with an atheist blogger who engaged me over his claim that there is no God. The full content of the online exchange between both of us has now been packaged into a five-part series to be posted on this blog, beginning with this one. (Note that instead of his real name, I will simply refer to the said atheist blogger as TAB.
The Atheist, TAB
I grew up “spiritual” with no religious training other than the random christianity events for holidays. As an adult, I became a Christian, then got into messianic christianity. Then I rejected christianity and became a Jew. Then I rejected that too. I can’t say with 100% certainty that there is no god, but I’m about as certain as saying there probably aren’t unicorns either.
Ultimately, it was my incessant needs to have questions answered. Religion couldn’t answer them. I found the natural world to provide a better source of understanding the world than a sky man watching me.
TAB, thanks for stopping by and for commenting. As you found out, engaging in the so-called Christian holiday events doesn’t make one Christian.
To be a Christian is to ‘know’ God. To know God, one has to begin with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is based on faith.
It is not religion or religious training that can save anybody, but faith in Christ. Anyone who talks about being a Christian without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is involved in mere Religion, not Christianity.
It is good that you have not come to that point of categorically saying there is no God. I hope I understood you well there? If yes, then I take that to mean that you still have an open mind about this ‘God exist or not’ stuff.
When it comes to ‘searching’ for Him, God speaking through prophet Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). This shows that anyone who seeks God with all his heart will find Him. You can say it is guaranteed!
I am not talking about religion in the common sense of it because religion is not what makes the difference. The difference comes from beginning a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In my own case, I found that knowing God through Jesus Christ has helped me [to get] answers for the questions that most troubled my heart. So if you don’t mind, I would gladly recommend that you establish a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ. Only then will some things begin to add up for you.
You said the natural world have helped your understanding [more] than the Man in the sky. First, we believe that God put the natural world in place too. In fact, the Bible has it that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). Although some people do not agree, nature itself speaks eloquently of the existence of God.
Simply put, the natural world was created by God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.
Secondly, my own concept of God includes the fact that He is inside of me through the Holy Spirit, not some unimaginable being out there in the sky as you put it. I totally understand if the last statement didn’t make any sense to you.
In conclusion, let me add that what God offers us is a close personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, not religion. This is what true Christianity is all about.I once heard a preacher explain it like this:
Religion is man[kind] attempting to reach God, whereas Christianity is God reaching out to man[kind].
Understanding this simple analogy will make a whole lot of difference in anyone’s life.