In 1933, a group of humanists including John Dewey, “the father of modern education,” published a manifesto that promoted a philosophy which was secular and hopeful for a bright future. In 1973, after recognizing that World War II did not live up to their optimism, leading secularists published Humanist Manifesto II, which included the famous line, “no deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” Both manifestos leaned hard on public education to promote their view of life without God. Their efforts to promote a man-centered morality have been greatly successful, aided by universities which have almost deified Dewey, as well as by media, entertainment, government, and business enterprises.
But where is the salvation? It doesn’t work very well to speak of how people will get along together nicely in our society if we “imagine world peace” when a terrorist kills or wounds over 100 people in one place. Where is the salvation there? Where is the salvation when the dreaded diagnosis of cancer sends you to the clinic for chemotherapy which may not really touch the disease?
I was sitting in the waiting area hoping for a chair to become available for my infusion to start, when a lady approached me with a question.
“Are you Pentecostal?” she asked, apparently having noticed my wife’s appearance.
“No. We are more Wesleyan, like old-time Methodists,” I answered.
“I was brought up that way but wandered off. Now I’m looking for a church. I need to return.”
She needed salvation that didn’t come from the humanists and their man-centered approach to the needs of humanity. The look in her eyes was hopeful, yet pleading.
The day before this appointment Janice and I were praying and thinking about how we could continue to minister despite the loss of voice, platform, abilities, and traditional opportunities. We concluded that we could pray. And we could give away the small gospel book I had written, “Good News for Bad Apples.” We would take some copies with us to the clinic.
“We attend Hobe Sound Bible Church,” I said. “It’s north of West Palm.”
“That’s a long way,” she said, explaining that she lived very close to the treatment center.
“I have a book I would like to give you,” I said, reaching into a bag my wife had brought with various accouterments. “Lord, thank You for giving us the nudge to bring the books on this particular day when someone came asking.” To my knowledge, despite having gone to that building numerous times, this was the first time I had brought one of the gospel books.
“Oh, thank you! I really do appreciate this,” she said, the tone of her voice indicating genuine gratitude. “Maybe we’ll meet again.”
As she walked off, I noticed the white plastic name tag around her wrist indicating she was there for treatment. And I was sure that she was very interested in a salvation that went beyond the frail and failed attempts of man.
How can a man save himself when he finally acknowledges he is hopelessly addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or pornography, or infidelity? He can hardly look in the mirror because all he sees is a lost soul. What if his parents knew what he really was? What if his wife found out? The secular culture offers their salvation of “everybody is doing it” or “no one will find out, so you are cool” but in the quiet of night when the media is finally turned off and conscience stirs, that salvation vanishes in darkness. How can he save himself from himself?
How can a girl save herself from the guilt of having given in to the suave words of that good-looking guy who used her and left her? How can she save herself from remembering the tragedy of having been shocked at the positive pregnancy test and her desperate trip to the clinic where it was all taken care of? But it wasn’t taken care of. The burden only increased and her heart is too heavy to carry on with normal life. Nothing is normal any more. Where are humanists when it is night?
Iris Dement wrote these words that point to a salvation that is greater than man’s:
God walks the dark hills, the ways and byways.
He walks through the billows of life’s troubled sea.
He walks through the cold, dark, night, the shadows of midnight.
God walks the dark hills, just to guide you and me.
But before He guides us, He walks those dark hills to find us and save us, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus did not come to leave people alone in their darkness and despair. He did not come to ignore their needs. He came to seek them. Like the shepherd who left the ninety and nine, He goes out into the darkness looking for the lost.
Our Lord is the Deity who alone can save. “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior” (Isa. 43:11). In almost a mirror image of the serpent’s contradiction of God’s word in the garden (“thou shalt not surely die”), the humanists replace God with themselves (“no deity will save us, we must save ourselves”). But the Lord has declared it. There is no other salvation. Unless the Lord saves, people are lost.
Without the Lord’s salvation, people are condemned. It is not the purpose of Jesus to condemn. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17, 18).
Jesus does not need to condemn people. They stand condemned by their own deeds. The facts condemn them. Their own consciences condemn them. It is not difficult to condemn people. S. D. Herron used to say that any old southern man on his back porch chewing Brown Mule tobacco could tell people what they’re doing wrong. It is not a great mark of spirituality to condemn people. Lost souls need to be told that there is a savior.
Here is the gospel proclamation about Jesus. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1John 4:14). Jesus was sent to save the world. So He came, born of a virgin, walked among men, died for our sins, arose the third day, was seen of many witnesses, and ascended to heaven. Whoever believes on Him will be saved!
Here is God’s message to any lost person: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).