Friday, July 11, 2008

Denying the obvious

by Charles E Ramsey

Humanism is man-centered. All religions that deny a Creator God are based on self-centered humanism. So are self-centered people that believe God cannot get along without them. A Biblical Christian is a follower and learner of Christ, which means they walk behind not ahead of Christ. Believers love and obey Christ. They revere the Bible, God’s Word, as truth expressed by God. True Christians desire their days and lives to be God-centered.

These two world views stand in opposition to each other-- Biblical Christianity versus Humanism. The 1933 Humanistic Manifesto reads: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created,”[1] The 1973 Humanist Manifesto II states: “As non-theists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.”[2] In contrast Biblical Christianity is Christ-centered. (John 14:6). The Bible declares “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1) Humanists want us to understand that they advocate a “complete break with the past.”[3]. “Humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvation… diverting people with false hopes of heaven.”[4] (Emphasis mine) Christ proclaimed “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:16-17

Christian salvation begins by accepting the truth that all are sinners. (Romans 3:23) Biblical Christians acknowledge that Christ paid the price for sin when He took our sins upon Himself on the cross. (1 Peter 2:24). A new life begins with a spiritual birth by the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3). Without the new birth no one will be saved. (Romans 8:9). The believer is assured of eternal life because Christ rose from the dead. Jesus promised to give us eternal life. (John 3:15-16). Salvation is the work of God’s grace, and after trusting Christ we are given understanding that His way is the only way. (Ephesians 2:8; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

After Alexander the Great conquered the known world, he developed words that distinguished even the tiniest shade of meaning. Greek became the universal language. What was God’s purpose in orchestrating Greek into an exacting world-wide language?. During Christ’s time people world wide understood Greek, making ready for the wide spread of the gospel. A similar purpose exists today for the English language. Non-English speaking people everywhere are eager to take English classes taught by missionaries.

My college Greek professor emphasized the importance of Greek. With only three years of New Testament Greek, I am not a Greek scholar, but the Greek language does help me realize the power of particular words. In this article we will look closely at invitations Jesus made at different times. He invites us to “Come to Him.” Many Greek words with special meanings are translated in English as “come.” Scholars look at the way a word was used in secular writings to help determine their meaning. Just as Jesus Christ is creator of all life He also is the author of all language. I look at Jesus’ use of a particular Greek word to gain a better understanding of it.

The New Testament Greek “Deu/te, Deute” (come or follow) numbered 1205 in Strong’s Concordance is used in the verses selected for our study. Jesus used 1205 because it is an invitation with a promise He offers. This word for “come” is a profound expression of who Jesus is. Being omnipotent Christ has the power to deliver what He promises. The common word for come ”ercomai, ercomai” 2064 does not carry the preciseness of 1205 as illustrated in the following examples.

Matthew 11:28 Come (1205) unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Jesus addressed the question from John the Baptist, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus commended John’s ministry and referred to the evidences that would remind John of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the Messiah. (Isaiah 35:5-6; 42:7; 61:1). John had been faithful. The message he received was reassuring. However, the cities where Christ ministered with the same signs were troubled by religious leaders condemning Christ’s work.

Because these highly educated men were envious and offended, they spoke negatively of Christ’s work. (Matthew 15:12; Mark 15:10). Even Jesus disciples were troubled by the opposition He faced from religious rulers. Jesus, being above all His critics, denounced their unbelief. He announced that He was able to bring peace and rest to all who trusted Him. Jesus predicted that believers would be hated by man-centered unbelievers until the end of time. (Matthew 10:22; John 15:19-21) Believers find strength when they follow Christ’s command to come to Him for rest.

Mark 1:17 Jesus said unto them, Come (1205) ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. After John the Baptist was put in prison Jesus assembled His disciples. At least two of these four fishermen had been disciples of John the Baptist. All of them were aware of Jesus’ ministry. As fishermen they understood that they were being called to be learners and to follow after the Teacher.

The real work was Christ’s. I will make you to become fishers of men. Men of the first century understood that they were giving up something of value to gain something of greater value. Peter later referred to the fact that they had left everything to follow Jesus. (Mark 10:28). >From these four fishermen Jesus choose Peter, James and John, for special experiences because they realized early that Jesus was the Messiah.

Mark 6:31 Come (1205) ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. The disciples had just finished a long period of instructions by Jesus. Crowds interrupted with requests for healing. Jesus never turned anyone away. All of this plus the grief over John’s death wore them down. Jesus’ call to get away from the crowd was welcome. His promise of rest was appealing. Sailing across the Sea of Galilee may have afforded brief relaxation. But when they landed they were met by 5000 hungry people. Jesus had compassion on the multitude and told His disciples to feed them. For a short time they wrestled with the idea of how to feed 5000. Then Jesus showed them He could meet the needs of the multitude. The disciples rest came from sharing their joy. Jesus’ prayer, his multiplying the loaves and fishes enough for 5000 was an exhilarating experience. Rest in one’s spirit comes when prayers are answered and knowing God has everything in control. Complete trust in God brings rest.

John 4:29 Come (1205), see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? This is a different kind of example. In the others we have seen Jesus as the powerful provider. Here Jesus is talking to a sinful woman who has come to the well for water. Jesus engages her in a conversation revealing His omniscience and concern for her salvation. She concludes that Jesus is the Messiah. In her exuberance she left her waterpot and went into the city to proclaim her news. “Come” as used here proclaims Christ as the Great One. When we exalt Christ people see the power of God. She won the whole town with her good news. This Samaritan town became the first to embrace Christ’s message without controversy.

John 11:43 …He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth (1205). Jesus raised several people from the dead. Lazarus’ situation was unique because Jesus postponed his arrival until Lazarus had been buried four days. Martha and Mary complained that if Jesus had been there Lazarus would not have died. Jesus called Himself the resurrection and life. He also promised if they believed they would see the glory of God. Jesus called to Lazarus “Come forth” and the dead man arose with burial cloth wound around his face and body. “Loose him and let him go.” Even Christ’s enemies, astonished though they were, complained that if he were not killed everyone would believe on Him. (John 11:48, 50) This miracle plus His own resurrection a few days later was the absolute proof of Christ’s deity and omnipotence.

John 21:12 Jesus said unto them, Come (1205) and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. After Christ’s resurrection His disciples still could not comprehend the truth of Christ’s coming back to life. He had told them to meet Him in Galilee. They obeyed and while they were waiting they went fishing. All night they caught nothing. From the shore Jesus told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. Usually experienced fishermen would resent the suggestion, but they had mellowed under Jesus teaching and obliged. The unusual catch of 153 large fish surprised them. John said “It is the Lord!” While they pulled their catch to shore Jesus prepared a breakfast of fish and called Come and dine. They didn’t ask where Jesus caught His fish, but realized again that all things are possible with Christ.

To embrace the Humanist world view is to deny the obvious. The proof of the God-man Christ Jesus has been witnessed and faithfully reported in precise language. For mankind to look to other humans for answers to life and death is foolish. Our Father God is the initiator of all life—temporal and eternal. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Experience the new life in Christ by coming to Him and accepting His promise of eternal life, peace and rest.

[1] Humanist Manifesto I, 1933, the First declaration

[2] Humanist Manifesto II,1973: Religion section, FIRST Proposition, 2nd Paragraph.

[3] Humanist Manifesto I, 1933, the First declaration. 3rd Paragraph.

[4] Humanist Manifesto II, 1973, Introduction, 3rd paragraph.

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