If you are an Atheist or a non-Christian… does any of this apply to you? Of course it does.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Of course, this is what I believe. You are free to accept or reject it. This is the very basis of the principle of liberty. At one point in my life I rejected any notion of any god, gods or spirits (this is exactly how I defined my atheism). While my mind was changed by clear and irrefutable instruction, I quite understand how one can absolutely resist the truth – especially considering the abundance of ill-conceived man-made doctrines scattered everywhere. The adversary has done a remarkable job corrupting the minds of men.
For the record, I will not detail my own journey as I realize my own perspective is nothing like your own. All I can say is if you truly seek truth – you will find it!
Meanwhile, even if you do not or can not accept the existence of the One True God – why accept any other – you should still be able to accept the idea that our rights are natural and equally applied to all men and women. This is all you need. I attribute my rights as God-given because this is what I freely believe and I will not deny my own understanding of truth.
Back when I considered myself an atheist, I would mentally “weed out” references to God while keeping the general idea. It was a mental “trick” that worked for me. You are naturally free to deal with things however you like.
What about those who do not believe in Christ?
Once again, this is your prerogative. I have friends who are Jewish – most by nationality who also practice their faith. They do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. I believe Our Heavenly Father will deal with these things at the appropriate time and I am confident He will be merciful to them.
As for those who believe in other Gods? It is your choice. It is not my place to interfere. If the One True God wants your attention, I am confident He knows how to get it.
Finally, there are those brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those who claim Christ who may or may not actually believe. Again, you are where God has placed you. Who am I to declare your error? I have a very dear friend, a Christian – I’m certain – who discovered I speak in tongues. We have had few words since. He apparently considers me a heretic or some such. I believe he is unlearned. To my regret we seem to have parted ways. My last encouragement to him was to read 1 Corinthians and Acts. The fact is I believe many things other Christians don’t. Many have already accused some of my beliefs heretical. Where did those beliefs come from? I read scripture. Bluntly put, I find many modern “Christian” doctrines have little or no basis in scripture. For example:
Does one go to “heaven or hell” immediately upon death? Most Christians would answer “yes” to this question. I disagree. Once when asking a Baptist pastor how, then did Jesus die and was raised from the dead after THREE DAYS, only then to be raised from the dead by God? He replied, “Well, Jesus didn’t really die.” Okay then, such a statement opens a very large can of worms. For more information, read 1 Corinthians 15. Yes, read the whole chapter. Read Acts 2:29-36. These are not the only scriptures available, however they are plain enough to me.
I cannot tell you how many men have trotted out a handful of verses, to “prove” their doctrinal positions. Often these verses are taken far out of context with the meaning twisted to something the scripture does not say. Do not get me wrong – I do not claim to be an expert on scripture or some learned biblical scholar. I simply read the words and consider what they mean. Do I get stuff wrong? I have no claims on perfection nor any holy calling beyond any other son of God. God will judge. I will be at His mercy.
One final thought on two books in the New Testament – 1 Corinthians and Acts. As I reviewed this page, I realized I referred to these two books twice. Each time, they were mentioned in almost the same breath. While I consider these two books to be quite important, there are no “unimportant” books in scripture. That said, I often recommend these two be read by those just discovering scripture. Why? Acts is an account of events from just before the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah to several decades afterward. Much of what is taught or spoken in these passages are less filtered. A careful reading provides some interesting insights. Acts 15 covers what happened when the question of Christians and Jewish law was brought to the elders of the Church. What fascinates me more than what they replied but what they did NOT say as well. As in Genesis where Adam was given just one command, the early Gentile believers were not burdened with so much of the “rules” and “doctrines” we face today. Why? As far as 1 Corinthians is concerned, this “book” was an epistle, a letter written to the Corinthian believers and likely meant to be shared with area churches. This letter is a wealth of information! It details some of the strife in the early church, it covers a blatant sin committed by one of the members and what was expected of his brothers and sisters in Christ. It goes into detail about the manifestations (often errantly referred to as “gifts”) of the spirit. It reveals much about death, resurrection, the return of the Messiah and so much more. Ask almost any Christian what to read first in the Bible and they will almost always point to John, then Romans. Do not get me wrong – these are exceptional books in and of themselves and should not be overlooked at all but I feel one would be much better off beginning with Acts. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are wonderful but one must keep in mind Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews. Does this mean his words do not apply to us? No, but they need to be understood within the context of his audience.
The bottom line here is I have no intention of trying to convert or prove anything to anyone. However I will not back down from my understanding to placate anyone. As for those who do not accept Christ or who do not believe as I do in Christ, I suggest you reconcile what you read with what you understand to be the truth. Whether you understand your rights as natural or God-given, you have the same rights as I or any other citizen of this nation.