- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Robert Wenz at Derwood Alliance Church in Derwood, Md.

"You Christians are so arrogant," the young man said. "You think Jesus is the only route to God." In an age that celebrates tolerance and pluralism, the claim that Christ is the only way to God is considered offensive. One rabbi has called it "spiritual racism."

But consider this. Theologian Ravi Zacharias, who grew up in India among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs, says, "Every major religion makes truth claims" that are exclusive. On this Easter morning, I would like to consider Jesus' claim to be "the way."

Paul tells us [Philippians 2:6-11] that Jesus has the very attributes of God, being eternal, self-existing and sovereign. He says of Jesus, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

Christ emptied Himself and, while never ceasing to be God, became human. Parents can grasp this. When my son was 5 and wanted to learn baseball, I didn't get him a Louisville Slugger and pitch a fast ball. I got down on my knees and tossed a little plastic ball maybe a hundred time. God did this for us and in Jesus "humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross."

In Jesus we are also presented with the claims of His exclusive salvation, the exaltation of His name, and the eternal consequences of whether we accept Him. The Christian faith validates this on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

One of the earliest sermons was preached by Peter, who said, "There is salvation in no one else." He came into this world to "submit," to suffer an unimaginable death. The word excruciating means "out of the cross." The price was enormous. There was a recent flap in the news about U.S. intelligence officials digging a tunnel under the Russian Embassy here. Hugely expensive, hundreds of millions of dollars. With no access to the embassy, someone decided, "This is the only way."

Jesus claimed to be the only way to God, so if He is not, then we are nowhere. You may want a Christianity without the cross, but it can't work. Can't we just offer a "carefully worded apology" for our sin? The cross says no. Jesus tasted death to disarm its power.

In World War II, a B-24 bomber returned all shot up from a mission over Germany. Unexploded antiaircraft shells had punched through its fuel tanks, and it was found that one of them contained a scrap of paper from a Czech slave laborer. "This is all we can do for you right now," he wrote. He had disarmed the shells. He saved the plane from a fiery destruction.

Jesus' death on the cross has disarmed death. Professor Dudley Woodbridge at Fuller Theological Seminary interviewed 600 former Muslims who follow Jesus, and they said a supernatural experience turned them to Christ. They pointed to Jesus' character. He is humble, He doesn't retaliate, He loves the poor. The power of his love is unique.

God has structured the universe to exalt Jesus. The Bible tells, "Let all God's angels worship him" [Hebrews 1]. Our Lord's title is Savior, King of Kings. And this most most exclusive title of all is validated by His resurrection. Paul tells the Corinthians, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins… . we are to be pitied more than all men."

The resurrection is the best documented event in antiquity. No video tapes, but 500 witnesses. England's Chief Justice once said Christians must take a great deal on faith, but that "no intelligent jury could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection is true."

Everyone will ultimately confess Jesus Christ. Remember the old commercial about Mr. Johnson's car engine needing a $1,700 overhaul because he didn't buy a $4.95 oil filter? What was the mechanic's line? "It's your choice. You can pay me now, or pay me later."

Next week: a sermon by Thomas Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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