Answering An Atheist

Q. When talking to atheists, I am often asked some very difficult questions. It becomes frustrating at times, but I need help on how to properly address certain things they bring up.

One question was one that I probably should expect from them, it goes like this “If God told you to kill someone would you do it?” and of course they bring up Abraham as an example. My response was on what basis do you ask this question? Are you assuming things about God?

Then they tell me its not a hypothetical scenario, and that I’m not answering the question. The thing is that I know they are trying to back me up into a corner. They also said this “Many people have killed because they heard the voice of God”. The conversation then becomes very frustrating, and they often go to make insults from there.

The other thing that I want to address properly is the laws. Christ was sinless and he fulfilled the law. However, atheists always bring up the OT laws-the Mosaic and Levitical laws and so forth, and ask why we don’t follow them. So, if the keeping of the Sabbath is brought up, -and Jesus mentioned if a sheep falls into a pit, will not the man lift it out- how do I answer to them if they say he wasn’t keeping the commandment.

In other words, did the original commandment even restrict works on the Sabbath to the detail the Jews took it as being, or was the Sabbath just a day where no work was to be done in “general”, for lack of a better word.

Any answers or advice would be great, I just want to make sure that I answer them properly.

A. A careful reading of Genesis 22 shows that Abraham knew that he was acting out a prophecy to show how God would one day offer His only son as a sin offering. This can be shown in his instructions to his servants in Genesis 22:5. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” In Hebrews 11:17-19 we’re told that Abraham’s faith was so strong that he knew that God would bring Isaac back from the dead if it came to that.

The Old Testament Commandment to rest on the Sabbath is the only one of the 10 not repeated in some form in the New Testament. This tells us it’s a model of something else. And sure enough in Hebrews 4 we learn that it represents continuing to work for your salvation after you’ve already asked for and received it. It shows that you don’t really believe that the Lord’s death saved you, and therefore you aren’t saved and will die in your sins.

And in Matt. 12:12 the Lord showed that the prevailing view about work on the Sabbath was excessive, and that doing good on the Sabbath was lawful. Therefore He didn’t break the commandment.

It’s good to be able to answer the questions of doubters, but you should also know that some don’t want to hear an explanation. They are just trying to get you to doubt the correctness of your own position.

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