Summary: There is not other name under heaven given by which one is saved.
Acts 4:5-12 (12)
PROPOSITION: By Christ you are saved.
OBJECTIVE: To lead the church to Christ.
The time following Easter and Pentecost is a time of the birth of the primitive church. It is also a time we consider the basics of our own, personal beliefs and why we believe it. The first few chapters of Acts is a series of experiences in the development and growth of the earliest group of Christians. The church, per se, has not yet been formed. There is no “official” gathering of believers in a constant facility with songs, scripture reading, offering taking. Soon – but not quite yet.
The reading today in Acts 4 actually begins at Acts 3:1. Peter and John were going to the Temple at the time of prayer. Along the way, they encounter and heal a crippled beggar. Taking advantage of an opportunity, Peter preaches Christ, calling upon those listening to repent.
In 4:1, the priests and captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees come to Peter and John while they were speaking. They seized them and put them in jail. The next day they brought them before the rulers, elders, teachers, Annas, Caiaphas, John, Alexander and other men of the high priest’s family. In this audience, Peter and John are asked a question, “By what power or what name did you do this.”
Note the change of reason for their arrest. In v2, “they were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (The Sadducees would be especially critical about this.) By v7, the question has changed to “By what power (authority) or what name did you do this (the healing)?”
Peter begins to speak and combines the two questions into one. He response is vv 9-11. Essentially he tells them that the healing is in the name of Jesus Christ (Messiah!) and that they rejected him. Then is the powerful verse 12.
Verse 12 is not a foreign body in the New Testament. It states in terse terms the teaching found throughout concerning the singular saving deed of God in Jesus Christ. There is no other name under heaven by which the world is saved from sin, evil, death.
Peter is pretty well solid on this. There is no wiggle room here. Verse 12 is rather straight forward, a universal statement – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Salvation is not found in great or small age, not more or less education, not race, not gender, not ethnic grouping. Salvation is not found in who believes something more than someone else, is not a denominational person longer than someone else, is not a more pure heritage than someone else. Salvation is found in Christ alone!
What happened through the ages, and especially in the latter half of the 20th century is that we decided to be pluralistic. Sometimes this is called politically correct. Sometimes this is called not insulting anyone or getting along or being sensitive to the beliefs of others. Just for the sake of our thinking here this morning, the term is pluralism.
The pluralistic view holds that Christians can believe Christ is true for them in making sense in their world. But other religions – it is argued – have the same right to say that they have found their faith meaningful for them and for their world; and when no one (or at least the Christian) criticizes or imposes what is right for them on others, then everyone is right and no one is offended.
Different strokes for different folks! Often, people will incorrectly refer to the 1st amendment in the bill of rights to support their pluralistic theory. The 1st amendment is not a reference to a universal pluralistic view. It states only that the government will not impose a religion. We must be careful not to confuse respect with pluralism. I respect your right to believe or not believe just about anything you want. However, I do not subscribe to the idea that salvation comes to the individual for any reason that makes them happy or works for them.
The problem with the universal pluralistic view is that religion, and being Christian I will refer to Christianity specifically, becomes metaphorical (what appears to be) rather than metaphysical (what is). This is, the words are used as a symbol of ultimate commitment, not as a straight forward assertion that salvation really comes only through Jesus Christ. That was a problem with the religious people in the 4th chapter of Acts – their religion was virtually a universal pluralistic; and that is a problem within the Church today.
Have you ever heard or said, “We all believe the ‘right’ thing, so in the end it will all wash out.” Have you ever heard or said that “God, Allah, Buddha, Confucius” are all different names of the same deity? The issue is there is no getting around the fact that such an argument is incompatible with the Holy Scripture.