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Practical Atheism

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 17, 2021 8:00 am

Practical Atheism

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 17, 2021 8:00 am

As believers, we live with our eyes upon the eternal, but we still have to function now in a world that is wicked at its core. So, how should we respond to the injustices we observe and battle with every day? This week on The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Boice will encourage us to intercede now, plead with God for justice continually, and then rest in the fact that judgement is surely coming.

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As believers we live with our eyes upon the eternal but we still have to function now in a world that is wicked at its core. So how should we respond to the injustices we observe in battle with every day. Today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will encourage us to intercede faithfully plead with God for justice continually and then rest in the fact that judgment is surely coming, and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Let's listen in as Dr. Boyce presents the major spiritual dilemma of today's song. How can God allow the wicked to prosper light were studying Psalm 10 in the theme of the Psalm is practical atheism going to explain as we go on a little bit more what that means but let me begin by saying that it is a characteristic leg of our time. We live in an age in which there are many factors atheist. Indeed, there is a religion of America in the 20th century. That's it like to prove my statement in this way, number of years ago, George Gallup did day extensive survey of the religious beliefs of Americans and he was struck at once by this anomaly. On the one hand, Americans are excessively religious and usually religious but on the other hand, religion makes very little difference in the way they live and give you some of the things he came up with 81% of Americans claim to be religious, which places them second only to Italians is rating is 83%. So Italians only to percent higher 71% of Americans believe in life after death. 84% believe in heaven, 67% believe in hell. Large majority say they believe in the 10 Commandments. Nearly every home has at least one Bible half of all Americans can be found in church on an average Sunday morning only 8% say they have no religious affiliation. Most say that religion plays an important role in their lives on fourth claim to lead a very Christian life. 95% believe in God as the other side of it, although 95% believe in God, and 4/5 say the religious only one in five says that religion is the most important factor in his or her life. Most want some kind of religious instruction for their children, but religious faith ranks far below many other traits they would like to see developed and their sons or daughters only one in eight says that he or she would consider sacrificing everything, or religious beliefs or God Gallup records what he calls a glaring lack of knowledge of the 10 Commandments, even by those who say they believe in them and he observes a high level of credulity, a lack of spiritual discipline and a strong anti-intellectual strain in the religious life of most Americans.

Only one in eight Americans says that religion is the most significant thing in his or her life.

Now I call that practical atheism kind of atheism which professes a belief in God. But for whom belief in God makes very little difference. I think we need to have that in mind when we come to Psalm 10 because of the songs we encounter two different kinds of atheism on kind of atheism is theoretical atheism and it's the kind we normally think of when we use that word when we say well so-and-so atheist, we mean they don't believe in God, there is no God of the Psalms.

Recognize that as well going to come one before very long.

The 14th Psalm says that explicitly in the 53rd Psalm is almost word for word a repetition of Psalm 14 Psalm 14 begins with those very well-known words that fool says in his heart there is no God that's quoted in the New Testament is particularly apt scription of the ungodly fool says in his heart there is no God.

The man or the woman he says is maybe a full, but he says and he really believes that there is no God at Seth theoretical atheism kind of atheism we have in Psalm 10 is not that what I call a practical atheism. This person would say oh yes may be a God.

I don't deny there may be a God.

After all, somebody made everything we see around us. We did make it by ourselves so far as living your life is concerned, it's pointless act as if this God has any concern for you whatsoever.

After all, you have to take care of yourself.

This is a God bless world and so what you need to do is live the best way you know how this kind of a world where everything is competitive and it's a dog eat dog thing to do is get ahead by whatever means possible. This person is. I say lives as if there is no God. As a result of that kind of living is godlessness and wickedness always consequences in spiritual things is anything else you jump out of the building consequences. If you fall to the ground and got hurt and if you act as if there is no God. Going your way will and their consequences as well and on thing. This leads to is godlessness is what led Martin Luther when he was writing about the song say this about. There is not, in my judgment of Psalm which describes the mind the manners that works. The words the feelings and the fate of the ungodly, with so much propriety fullness in light song that always tell a quotation from Luther because he throws all the words together in abundance. You can imagine how powerful it was a spoken German.

Anyway, that's what Luther says of the solvent is absolutely true. Now that's very tempting approach to solving the basis of Luther's analysis if you heard that carefully, you know, he gave a five-point server there may be preached. Mind the manners that works the words and the feelings and the fate of the ungodly, would be tempting to do it that way but I think this is exactly what the Psalm is trying to do it is true that all of those things are in it what it tries to do in its first half is portray path of this practical atheist Holly manages seven. What is characteristic of them. Then in the second half.

What we have is the reaction of the godly man. This practical atheism. Let's talk about that aside about the practice of atheism as you find it in the 10 song vertebrate characteristics of this person and provide different ways of doing it here but II find five of them there intermingled, which means the description of one particular characteristic will be reinforced later on. But if you take them in the order in which they first appear in the text are in this order. First of all arrogance you find it in verses two through four. As a matter fact that this is a very worthy David uses this practical atheist is an arrogant man or an arrogant woman, he says, verse two, in his arrogance he hunts down the week who were caught in the schemes he devises to other words he uses to describe it or this. He boasts the cravings of his heart is boastful, individual, and in his pride, wicked does not seek him.

So David is saying first thing you notice about the practical atheism is arrogance and it's exactly what you would expect. He doesn't depend on God. He hasn't been anybody but himself. That's an arrogant person. He says I don't need anybody else I get all by myself and doing very fine, thank you I'll push any business of dawn on me if he exists. Doesn't matter. Leslie has to say about this man.

There are several things that this practical atheist says about himself, however, and you find his attitude in verse 611 is man in his arrogance says nothing will shake me always be happy you never have any trouble certainly American statements as well as a foolish one in verse 11, he says to himself, God is forgotten and covers his face and he never sees you know anybody like that lots of people like that. I go through life sublimely arrogant, assuming that whatever they do is certainly unseen by God and wanted to get away with it. Well everything is all right as a second characteristic of this man now. Maybe as we go through these you notice a progression. I'm not sure David intends a progression but I think maybe there is one judge that yourself as we go through. See what you think. Next of his characteristics. As I said is his prosperity is what David talks about in verse five. His ways are always prosperous sees party and your laundress are far from him. He sneers all his enemies over sliced talking about arrogance. Also of course I told you these characteristics are mixed up.

But that new elements introduced here as prosperity and at first glance, that is somewhat surprising is not because being people who know Scripture and being on the side of God as we like to think of ourselves, we would expect that when the arrogant person lifts up his head and says well I just can do what I want. I don't need any God, God would certainly not prosper him fingers like I would get all sorts of trouble and suffering. Sometimes of course he does. Also, quite frequently, this kind of person prospers. That's with David's describing gets rich. He's doing very very well see if he didn't prosper his arrogance wouldn't matter person who is in prospering connected American wages, laugh at it. Foolish person talking like that when he didn't even have enough money to buy a nice car and allow management better than that of my own to godly to see if he's really prospering when his driving around in his Maserati and dressed in designer suits and flying off to all the hotspots of the jet set culture. Every other weekend for his vacation and when he does that and he looks at the godly and says ha got to give up on that business about God. Words ever getting you look at me. That's when it really gets to be top lease when you're looking on.

Wishing you had a Maserati so that's the next step along the line is arrogant man was prospering and it becomes a problem I think describes our culture. We have a very prosperous culture and if you can do it in reverse of prosperity encourages the arrogance the arrogance encourages the godlessness and so on. Well, there's 1/3 thing find it in verse six.

Security is what I quoted earlier he says to himself, nothing will shake may always be happy never have trouble why because I prospering. I was in prospering.

Well, I might worry about the future I might say no are never going to get enough money to get the oil changed my Maserati but one is I've got plenty of money secure and have to worry about anybody else. Nobody's going to shake me money makes money. The more money down the more money I get, the more money I get, the more secure I feel so I don't need to pay attention to this religious stuff. Mussolini was a very arrogant man. During the second world war. There was an instance when somebody shot at and was killed but Mussolini the fascist dictator laughed it off.

He said the bullet hasn't been made. They can kill me. Let's guide American security you find here of this man in the 10 song is 1/4 characteristic of them were seven. His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats trouble. Evil renders taught interesting is that we tend not to put much store by speech we think of wickedness. We think of evil acts doing harmful things other people. We don't think so much of words because we regard word says relatively unimportant certainly is harmless somewhat surprising to come to the Psalms, especially as well as other portions of the Bible and find how often writers of the Psalms are concerned about evil words saying harmful things lying, cursing, bitterness, the troubles of a great deal. Therefore wiser than we are.

In that respect because they know it's harmful. CS Lewis at one point in his writings, reflections on the Psalms is that he was surprised when he discovered this to you thought when you went back to less sophisticated age where there was a great deal of external violence that what you would find the Psalms railing against was like kind of physical violence.

What he says although that is there an assault. Surprisingly, with a talk much more about his words says when you read these things, you can almost hear the rumors and innuendos slanderers the backbiting all the vicious comments that were going on in the kingdom went on at that time. He said you don't have to do any kind of cultural transferral to get that down our time and apply. This is a world in which we live is exactly the way people act today and then finally, in verses eight through 11 you have a description of the violence is practiced by such people. David seems to need images to describe it at this point are three of them he described as man is an assassin. He's lying in ambush to murder the innocent.

He describes him as a lion ID of the assassin lying in wait suggest the image of a Lionel I am lying in wait and cover to catch the helpless and then ideally helpless suggests another idea to limit its hunters out hunting, catching the helpless and dragging them off in his net impact is what this man is like a not only is he like that a successful as victims are crushed by collapse, they fall under strength and the bottom line of it all is that this man says God has forgotten he covers his face and never sees as I said I don't know whether David intended a progression there.

But perhaps you've noticed one seems to me there's a progression man starts out being arrogance in his arrogance because she takes advantage of other people. He prospers in his prosperity assumes that he secured nothing ever going to touch them because he is not afraid of anything touching him. He doesn't care what he says he will slander anybody at all. Use words to get his own way of why she didn't do anything like that in the end he practices outright violence against those who are weaker than he is and he successful even at that point you see that's the problem of the song. This is not a theoretical analysis of practical atheism. That's the characteristics of what David is writing this to analyze atheism and say well at this is the way it functions. He's dealing with the problem and the problem is not this guy is prospering. The problem for the more people that are crushed. Of course, victims are crushed the collapse they fall under strength. David wasn't one of those victims. It was never crushed like that. Although there was a time in his life where he had difficulties because of Saul but David was the king he had the power and it's it's not it's the injustice of it bothers him really creates a great spiritual problem for him. How can the wicked prosper to get away with this world in which God is the creator and who is in charge, Peter Craigie, who is one of the great writers on the Psalms contemporary writer puts it in these words it's easy to say that God exists to affirm that morality matters to believe in divine and human justice. But the words carry a hollow echo when the reality of human living indicates precisely the opposite.

Reality appears to be that the atheists have the upper hand. That reality really does not matter and that justice is dormant at the moment that this reality is perceived in all its starkness. The temptation is at its strongest and jettison faith, morality and belief in justice. What good is a belief in a moral life, which appear to be so out of place in the harsh realities of an evil world, indeed, would there not be a certain wisdom and the oppressed joining ranks with the oppressors. What is the problem is, I'd be very surprised if you never asked that question yourself when you've seen some very ungodly person prosper, always helpful helpful I guess to know that the ungodly sometimes trick themselves off in the arrogant sometimes do all quite often they don't release the thing for long periods of time. They don't know if you ever find yourself saying, why should that be true especially. I think we wrestle with it.

When justice is practiced against awesome the person gets away within or against someone we love and we see them suffering in the other person driving in their sin raises the question how do the godly respond to such things. That's what this is about, and in the second half of the song we see it your number things here let me suggest first of all, David, like all the godly calls upon the Lord in such troubles, and what he asks God to do is act verse 12 Arius Lord lift up your hand. Oh God, do not forget the helpless. I would seems like God forgets the helpless and prolonged periods of time. He does seem inactive.

And we pray and we ask them to intercede often frequently. Our prayers are not answered. At least they are not answered immediately in a positive sense.

We don't understand and were confused, we don't know why God delays even if we believe eventually is going to answer. We don't understand why doesn't do it right away.

Just even though we are confused, and even though we don't always see the answer is nevertheless not wrong to ask. We should ask often God does answer that's what intercession is all about.

We are to intercede for those were suffering and as God intervened and it's what David does not want to do that we ought to be doing it if we have any sensitivity to injustice, we should pray for those who are experiencing it at the hands of wicked people and the second thing he does and that is he reassures himself that God really does see you notice the great contrast there between verse 11 verse 14.

I'm sure verse 14 quotes and godliness, wicked, arrogant, boastful man says God has forgotten he covers his face and never sees David verse 14, reminding himself of the reality of the situation says, but you will God do see trouble and grief to consider it to take it in hand. God doesn't always do it right away, but he does see it. Sometimes he brings down the wicked in this life but even if he doesn't do it in this life. It will certainly happen in life, you and I need to remind ourselves of Adam live by what is right regardless of what's happening round about us. No matter that the godless golf matter that they look at you and say well you're just foolish to live that way. They're the ones are foolish in the long run. Peter talked about it. Peter obviously face people like that in his day and he said the same thing is going to happen in the future. They're going to be scoffers in the last days. Here's the way described in the going to say where is this coming he promised that is the second coming of Christ, which is connected to the final judgment where is it they say when way long long time hasn't come. Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. Peter says they deliberately forget the words things of mock continued always as they have from the beginning of creation. They deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water that is God made all we see and by water. Also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. It's talking about the great flood says they willingly forget the God in history gave one great demonstration of the fact that he does not always ignore evil and he will not ignore evil inevitably and forever, so he intervened with the flood and the flood came out he says are the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, final judgment by fire, being kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men.

They have the Lord will come like a thief.

The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire on the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. That's Peter's testimony that's the apostle of the Lord, and it's something that David recognizes as well.

God is going to intervene because God does see trouble and grief. Sometimes he does partially now, but he certainly will do it in the fullness of the last day. Lets two things intercession proper response reminder that God does see in the judgment is coming is or anything else, yes, is the third thing that is in such difficult times the godly live by faith, but his faith in these things, and faith in God to keep them and sustain them even during the difficult times. Know how Habakkuk experience that Habakkuk was a prophet to lived in an age just before the destruction of his kingdom by a foreign nation. The Babylonians were going to come and destroy according to God's own prophecy to him and through him. Habakkuk was greatly distressed by that because it meant that these practicing atheists. These people, the Babylonians will act as if God does not exist were going to triumph prospering over his own people, and it was greatly distressed by that God told him what he was to do. He said the just shall live by faith and became a great text that Martin Luther discovered and found in the New Testament in three different places.

It really is a great text about justification, but what it means to mental Habakkuk is that in these difficult times. Ones who know God should live and will live by keeping their eyes upon him and trusting him to help them through those times.

Habakkuk is a great testimony. Toward the end of his prophecy which is poetic and the most beautiful sense and yet powerful as well is looking forward to these bad days when everything's going to be destroyed, and here's what he says of the fig tree does not bother there no grapes on the vine.

Slowly all of the crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pan and no cattle in the stalls that I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.

This great testimony.

The sovereign Lord is my strength. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and enables me to go on the heights of faith. David had and that's the faith of breeze through this all David ends by saying the Lord is King forever and ever. The nations will perish from his land when I need to learn to live that way with arise upon the eternal looking to God, trusting him to make a difference in how we face things, but more than that, it would be a testimony to his grace, something he will honor as he did in the case of David, has the case of all the righteous pray our father, we thank you for the song. We thank you for its encouragement. How Christian people, godly people, people who know you are to live in days that are characterized by a kind of practical atheism. We see around us in our own time. People living as if there is no God, making prosperity, security and dominance over others.

The chief end of life here is your word to remind us that the end of such conduct handle such people's judgment judgment of the last day, and perhaps even now that in the meantime, we are to live with.

Arise upon you and in obedience to what you have all this to do to strengthen us.

To that end, and give us the joy and that knowledge joy even like that that Habakkuk showed up rejoiced in and help us to live triumphantly for the sake of Jesus Christ, right, thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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