The dedication of the American Embassy in Jerusalem was monumental. For multitudes, the event was a monumental blessing. For many others the day constituted monumental crisis.
For Mitt Romney, would-be United States Senator from Utah (and perhaps still aspiring to the presidency of the United States), the historic event gave opportunity for a cheap shot at President Donald Trump—himself a master of the lamentable ad hominem style (See my recent CP column about ad hominem).
Romney attacked Trump's choice of Dr. Robert Jeffress to pray at the Jerusalem dedication, calling the Dallas pastor a "religious bigot." The alleged "bigotry" is in Jeffress' belief in the Bible's teaching that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone.
Yet Romney's own Mormon Church is famous for sending young people on evangelizing missions globally. Apparently they believe the Mormon way is the true road to God. Otherwise, why would young adults at a crucial stage of life sacrifice two years to convert the world to Mormonism?
Jeffress is "bigoted," said Romney, because he must believe that Jews who do not receive Christ's salvation are destined for Hell, along with others. But if those Mormon missionary evangelists try to reach Jews as well as Gentiles, then they must believe that Jews are lost without Mormonism.
Romney is right that evangelical Christians like Jeffress take the Bible seriously when it says that all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23) and that "the wages of sin is death," while the free gift of God is eternal life "in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"I am the way, the truth, and the life," declared Jesus about Himself (John 14:6), proving, as C.S. Lewis wrote, that Christ is either a liar, lunatic, or the Lord. The Apostle Peter (himself a Jew) preached, regarding Christ, that "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12)
This claim is entirely logical in light of what the Bible reveals about God and Heaven.
Hebrews 12:29 gives the startling revelation that "our God is a consuming fire." This refers to God's absolute purity, holiness, and intensely radiant glory. God refused to allow Moses to see His face because the awesomeness of it would kill him. God made His presence manifest in the resplendent Shekinah-glory hovering over the Ark in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. No one could enter except the high priest on the Day of Atonement. It wasn't that God did not want people to see His glory, but that fallen humans could not exist in its searing intensity.
As we cannot live in the unfiltered radiation of the sun, so we cannot survive in the atmosphere of Heaven—fully charged with the radiance of God—without some kind of covering.
Or a new quality of being.
Imagine a human trying to live in the Pacific's Marianas Trench. The only way to be a "resident" at that 36,000-foot depth is to become like the animals who are equipped to endure the immense pressure, and breathe at the sea-bottom.
It is logical, therefore, that if we are to live in the intensity of Heaven that we must somehow become like those who inhabit it. But how is it possible for sinful, finite human beings to dwell in the searing brilliance of absolute holiness and infinite glory? Such beings would have to somehow become a qualitatively "new creation."
To accomplish this, God's absolute mercy must meet the requirements of His absolute justice. Only the Lord can do that. If He is to represent us, He must somehow step into our world as one of us. This qualifies Him to take the just penalty of our sin (Romans 6:23) and give us His holy character. Through our identification with Christ's perfection, and our immersion in Him, we receive the quality of being that can survive the intensity of holy Heaven.
For Jesus, this required both the crucifixion and the resurrection. In dying on the cross, Jesus wiped out the penalty for our transgressions, and in rising from the dead Jesus can transfer to us His very life and its character, removing the very causes of our guilt. Thus we can be reconciled to God through Christ's death on the cross, and saved eternally by His life. (Romans 5:10)
Who else in history has done this?
One day years ago, while working at the White House, I saw the Washington Fire Department at the Southwest Gate. Later I learned that when the president is traveling to Andrews Air Force Base he flies on Marine One, a helicopter, which lands on the White House lawn.
Some of the firefighters are dressed in fireproof suits. If Marine One were to crash, their mission is to run into the flames and rescue the president. The only way we can go into the absolute presence of God in Heaven is to "put on Christ" (Romans 14:13) as those firefighters clothe themselves in flame-resistant apparel.
Jesus alone, fully human, fully divine, is qualified for Heaven. No other person in history has lived a sinless life that also enabled him or her to take on the sin of all the rest of us, and then rose from the dead, making it possible for us to receive His heavenly quality of life.
The way of salvation in Christ alone is sublimely beautiful and transcendentally logical.