Life often presents us with difficult situations. One of these situations is not wanting to hurt a person’s feelings, but being unable to accept what he or she believes. This is often our experience when the subject is religion. Our world has grown smaller, and some of our friends are no longer of the same religious background. They may be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish. As we discuss the differences in our religion, the conclusion that is often drawn is this: We have our differences, but it really does not matter because there is only one God. We simply have different ways of understanding Him, and we do not want to let our religious conventions come between us.
We are increasingly being told that Jesus is only one of several religious leaders, and we must treat Him that way. If we carry a narrow-minded conviction on Christ, our dogmatism will cause serious divisions within our nation.
In this series of sermons on Christian basics, we are asking the question this day, who is Christ? Let us discover how the Bible answers this question, for to the Christian this is the only answer that is important. What culture teaches is secondary.
Turning to the Bible, we read that Jesus is God. He is the Creator of all things, who came as the God incarnate and dwelt among us for thirty years. We read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1, 14). Note, the Bible says Jesus is God. No other religious group makes this claim for their religious leaders. The Christian teaches that Jesus is not simply a great man – He is God.
The Bible tells us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (I Peter 2:24). Jesus did not come to this world to be a great teacher, though He was the greatest teacher of ethics and morals this world has ever known. Nevertheless, the world could have gotten along without another teacher. Christ came to take our sins upon Himself, and die as the sacrifice for them. When I confess my sins to Christ, he forgives me, and I am restored into fellowship with God forever.
Jesus is also presented to us as the Mediator. Paul writes, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (I Timothy 2:5, 6). He is the One who pleads our case before the Father and intercedes on our behalf. None of the other religious leaders assume this office.
Jesus also presents himself as a very personal God. The writer of Hebrews says, “Since we have a high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidences, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Just imagine it! The same God who created this world is anxious to live in a personal relationship with us. He is the One who comes to us and desires to establish a personal relationship with us. No other religious leader presents himself in this way. He invites us to come with all of our cares. He is anxious to direct us when we are confused about a decision. He is the One who does not condemn us but forgives us all of our sins and gives us the opportunity to start over.
Jesus’ statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father but through me,” causes much discernment. What Jesus is teaching is that the only way we can get to heaven is through trusting in Him. My Moslem friend will tell me that he is willing to receive Jesus as a great spiritual leader. However, he cannot understand how can Jesus be so arrogant as to say he is the only way to God.
Our culture might dictate that we must drop this belief, but the evangelical Christian simply says, No way. This confession is the core of my faith.
When Christ has grabbed our hearts and we understand these truths, we know that we cannot say we all have the same God; we just have different ways to reach him. Absolutely not! This is why the Christian is anxious to share his/her faith and send missionaries not only to our nation, but also around the world.
Having said all of this, we must be loving, kind, and understanding as we point people to Jesus. Our witness must be positive. We dare not belittle or attack another person’s beliefs, but instead present the Lord Jesus who loves all people and wants them to know Him.
The challenge to be a Christian and remain inoffensive to others is not easy in our day. In fact, it is much harder than when I was a young person. In the neighborhood where we lived, there were Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. Each of us might have done battle with the other as we held out for our own convictions. Lutherans and Baptists might have argued over baptism. Presbyterians and Methodists might not have agreed on the topic of predestination, but in the end, we agreed that Jesus Christ was and is the only Savior and Lord. Those who trusted Him were members of His Church here on earth now and then, one day, in heaven. However, today, when I discuss my Christian faith with a person of another religion, there is a vacuum. Without Christ there is little that can bind us together.
In this world setting, we must be Christlike in our spirit, and faithful in our confession, affirming all religions are not alike, and we are not all headed for the same heaven. This might sound pleasant; it could even win you friends and influence people. However, it is not Biblical. Thus the Christian dogma teaches that “Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, is my Lord.” He, and he alone, is Lord. Amen.