As you know, I’ve been participating in a short exchange of letters with Luke Muehlhauser who blogs at Common Sense Atheism. Here is where we’ve been so far:
And here is my third and final letter.
I guess this brings us to the final letter in our brief exchange. I have enjoyed this little series. As you no doubt know by personal experience, blogs tend to attract a very homogeneous readership–people tend to read blogs for which they identify with the author. Generally that means that they are quite similar to the author in the most important ways. Every now and again, though, for the sake of growth and variety, it is interesting to break the mold a little bit and we’ve done that here. It has been a learning experience and one I’m grateful for.
I’ve delayed this letter just a little bit as I’ve been wondering what to say and how to close out this exchange. With such vast differences in our belief systems, there is an endless list of issues we could discuss. But ultimately, I care a lot less for issues than I do for people. So I’d like to close in this way. I know in saying these things I may well be falling into exactly what you had hoped or expected. But I fear for you and find that there is nothing else I want to say as urgently as this.
In my first letter I quoted words from the book of Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” God has given you a remarkable privilege, Luke. Not only did he give you knowledge of him through all that he has made (including you!) but he also allowed you to be born born into a home where you had access to the Bible, where your parents took you to church, and where you enjoyed countless other blessings. And yet you are suppressing the truth about who God is and about the very fact that he exists. In so doing, you are provoking God’s wrath. God cannot and will not abide such sin.
Yet God is gracious. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). God commands all people everywhere to repent. God commands you to repent, Luke. He tells you to turn away from sin, to stop suppressing the truth and to turn toward him. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). God commands that you turn and he is patient as he waits for you to do so.
But he will not wait forever. “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:4,5). In continually turning your back on God, you are storing up wrath for yourself. “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Romans 2:6-8). This is your future, Luke, if you do not turn from your sin.
My prayer for you is that you would turn to Christ. In fact, I call on you right here and right now to do just that. Turn from yourself, look to Christ, and find life in him! Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Heed his call; turn to him; find life.