Dear radio friends,
Is there more than one road to heaven? How does one get there? Is there more than one way by which the soul of a man or woman may be saved?
Could you think of a more important question to ask than that question? Can you conceive of an answer more important to know than the answer to that question? Most of us, I am sure, would say that we expect to go to heaven. There are very few people who would say that they are going to hell. Yes, the depth of folly does write upon men’s lips the words, “Well, if there is a hell, I’m going to go there.” And we tremble when we hear that. But for most, I would say, they are confident that if there is a heaven, they certainly are going to go there.
On what do you base that hope? What is the way to heaven? The Bible answers that there is only one way. Salvation is only in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Salvation is the gift of being united to Jesus Christ by a living faith, a gift that God gives. Salvation means that you have been made a new creature in Jesus Christ, that is, that Christ actually lives within you and you live in Him.
There is only one way of salvation. That is the way of the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the life of Christ being given to you. Do you know that? Is that true of you in your heart of hearts?
Many today, although they claim to praise the name of Jesus Christ, answer the question, What is the way to heaven? by saying, “There are many ways to heaven.” There are attempts to build a multitude of ways. Heaven, supposedly, is a place which is intersected by a host of roads. The way to heaven becomes a six-lane freeway, a thoroughfare. If you are decent, if you are sincere, if you are outwardly moral in your life, this will get you to heaven. If you are a mere outward member of a church, if you do the best you can, if you have good intentions, you will go to heaven. In other words, men like to think that God will take just about anyone, and that the works that a person has done certainly can get him to heaven. If one is good to his fellow man, then he goes to heaven. And finally, most people will say, “Well, we don’t believe in hell. All are saved and there is no such thing as hell.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, and on the testimony of God’s own Word, I denounce all of that as delusion, false, another gospel, sinking sand. There is only one way of salvation. That way is not cheap; that way is not easy; that way is profound. That way is built upon the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ. That way is built upon the work of Jesus Christ alone, brought to our hearts to give us to know our sins before God, brought to our hearts so that we are given to know Christ our Savior.
Listen to what we read in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Those words are very striking. They are even more striking when we begin to consider when they were said and by whom they were spoken. Those words were spoken before a persecuting Jewish council which had threatened a man not to speak in the name of Jesus. It was spoken before a group of men who were filled with blind rage against Jesus Christ crucified and risen. The words were spoken by a poor, unlettered fisherman who, apparently, was friendless and had no one to stand with him. They were spoken by Peter. They were a grand confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Peter – the disciple who of himself forsook Jesus and fled. Peter – who denied Jesus three times and the last time with cursing and swearing. But now another spirit is in Peter. We read in Luke 21:15, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” Boldly Peter testifies before the face of the Jewish council that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
Note, very carefully, that Peter is not defending himself. Peter is not arguing the point. Peter is preaching. He is declaring the truth in God’s name and under the unction of the Spirit. His sole concern was to glorify Christ as Savior. The councilmen have been questioning him concerning the One in whom he was healing people. Peter has answered their questions. He says to them that they, the Jews, and especially the Pharisees and scribes, were the ones who had been appointed to build the kingdom of God. But they have rejected Jesus Christ crucified. He tells them that this was a fatal error, that Christ is the cornerstone of the whole work of God. More, that Christ is the only way of salvation. Peter stands before a group of men who believed that because of their works and because of their race and because of their color and because of their ancestry, they were going to go to heaven. He stands before such men and says, “Not your works, not your race, not your color, not your parents, not anything of yourself, not anything under the face of heaven can save you! Only in the name of Jesus Christ. Only by the power and the authority of Jesus Christ. Only by the love and grace of God resurrecting you from the dead and uniting you to Jesus Christ. That is the only way that you shall live and stand before God in glory.”
In this program, we desire to be a faithful witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We desire to be a faithful signpost marking the way. As you travel down the highway, you see different signs. Perhaps you say that is not very interesting. Many of the signs are not poetic. Some even question whether those signs should adorn the road. And some signs have only one or two words. But to those who are lost on a dark and foggy night and who do not know the way, a sign is a most pleasant thing to meet. The night is falling around you – the night of time. You are dying. What is more, Jesus Christ is coming. There is only one way. And we desire in this program to be a faithful witness of that way.
That faithful witness is founded upon the Word of God because the Word of God is sure. I wish to declare this way plainly to you in order that I might be free from your blood. Perhaps deep down you deny heaven and hell altogether. You believe that you are your own. I will not argue with you except to tell you from the Scriptures that that is a lie of your own proud heart. God is, and hell is reserved for the wicked. Heaven is, and you cannot change that truth. Perhaps you live as though these are not realities. You say, “Oh, yes, yes. It’s wonderful that we have religious programming and all the rest.” But you push them far away from you and you live as if you are part of the world and you do not like the pinch of the gospel upon your life, and other things are more important to you right now. You say, “Well, religion later in my life, but other things are more important now.” May God awaken you out of the stupor of death and the deceit of your sin.
Or, perhaps, today you groan and have despair. You see how unworthy you are, because of your sins, to stand in the presence of God. Then you must hear the gospel, Jesus Christ, who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Let us listen to what Peter said. Peter said in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Now what does that mean? Well, the Bible is talking about salvation. That word all too soon becomes a word instead of a wonder in our hearts. Sadly, it becomes drained of all of its precious truth and significance so often today. The word itself, “salvation,” means “to be delivered from the greatest evil and to be brought into the greatest good.”
What is the greatest evil from which a person could be delivered? There are many answers to that question today. Some would say, “poverty, abuse, prejudice, taxes, sickness, death.” Others would say the greatest evil is other people. And still others would say that the greatest evil is God’s law, it stands in my way; I don’t like it; it is contrary to my will. What is the greatest evil from which a person can be delivered? The Bible will give you one answer. Read it for yourself. The answer of the Bible is: sin. Sin is the greatest evil, the plague of the heart. Sin, which is rebellion against God. Sin, which means “to miss the mark – deliberately miss the mark – of the glory of God.” Sin, which is an evil, a corruption of the nature, a vile wickedness of the human nature. Sin, which is placing one’s self upon the throne of their life. Sin, which, the Bible says, is a matter of the very nature of a person. We go astray, Psalm 58; from the womb we stand in enmity, that is, bitter resentment against God, Romans 8:7. Sin, which brings guilt before a holy and living God. That is the greatest evil: sin.
What is the greatest good? Again, there are many different answers given. Some would say: Money, pleasure, honor, praise, power among men, possessions. Others would say: No, beauty, health; if you have your health you have everything, right? Again, the Bible gives an answer. It answers with one word: God. The true God, Psalm 16: at Thy right hand are pleasures for ever more. Matthew 19: There is one good and that is God. God, in His being, and in His perfections, and in His fellowship; so that we may sing with the psalmist in Psalm 73, “Having thee, on earth is nought (there is nothing) that I can yet desire.”
Now, what is salvation? Salvation is to be delivered from the greatest evil, sin, and the guilt and the penalty and the power of sin. Salvation is to be brought to the highest good: God, God’s fellowship, God’s favor, God’s presence. You see, salvation is not learning new habits. It is not improving personal relations. It is not merely the ten commandments in society. It is not simply learning to be a nice guy. Salvation is to have the damning guilt and the penalty for your sin lifted by the grace of God. Salvation is to be forgiven a debt that you cannot pay, a debt that has reached to the highest heavens before God. Salvation is to be spared the punishment that your sin deserves, which is eternal death. It is to be pardoned and to be made righteous, to be seen in Jesus Christ as if you had obeyed the law. It is to know that God smiles upon you and in His Son has paid your sins in the full.
But still more. Salvation is to be transformed. It is to be created anew by the great Jehovah so that now I stand radically different towards sin than I used to stand. Salvation is to be delivered from its power – the power of sin – so that no longer am I a slave of sin, willingly do it. Oh, I sin! But now that sin in me is something I hate. I love God. I would be brought under living submission to God. I would be rescued from the course of a wicked world. I would live my days united to Jesus Christ.
Still more. Salvation is perfected. It is the time when we shall be brought into the presence of God, when all those for whom Jesus died and in whom now His spirit lives and works shall be brought before God. Then all the foes of death and sin and the devil will be forever gone. That is heaven, the eternal home of the saved in Jesus Christ where they shall behold His glory. They shall serve Him night and day. And they shall be refreshed with living streams of water. Read the last part of Revelation 7.
That is salvation. But what is the way to salvation? What did Peter say? Listen: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No one can be saved from sin, its guilt, its power, its punishment, except by Jesus Christ. No one can have peace with God, no one can obtain pardon, no one can escape the wrath which is to come, except through the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. In Christ alone are all the rich provisions of salvation. Through His work and through His mercy alone it comes. Only Christ’s blood can cleanse from sin. It must cleanse those for whom it was shed. Only Christ’s work earns righteousness, so that I might stand before God forgiven of my sins. All of salvation is in Him alone. Salvation was accomplished by Him. Salvation is accomplished through Him, so that the way of salvation is in Christ only and through His cross.
That salvation must be powerfully given to you as a dead sinner. The conquering grace of God must bring that salvation even to your heart. So Peter adds: “There is none other name given among men whereby we must be saved.” What does he mean: “none other name given among men”? He means that there is no other power and there is no other authority than the power and authority of Jesus Christ to save us. The name is Jesus. That was the name that the Jews did not want to hear and that they had commanded Peter not to say. That name refers to who He is. He is Jesus. He was called that by the angel’s command, because “he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). When we are saved by the name of Christ, we are saved by His power and by His authority. There is no other power, there is no other authority to save. No one and nothing else is commissioned, qualified, empowered to save. Christ is the One ( Rev. 1) who holds the keys of life and death. Salvation is to be found alone in Him.
There was one place of safety when the flood came in the days of Noah. That place of safety was not upon the mountains. It was not on the top of a tower. It was not nestled up in a tree. And it was not to build your own raft. That salvation was in the ark. So also there is one way and place of salvation today. Jesus Christ, alone! There was one place that Israel had to look when they had transgressed against God and were being bitten by fiery serpents. Moses raised up the brazen serpent for them to look upon. So alone in Christ is salvation – one way to heaven.
The merits of Jesus Christ graciously applied to my heart; the power of the Spirit of Christ opening my dead heart, renewing me into Christ – there is no other way of salvation. There is full salvation in Him. This salvation shall save to the uttermost. It shall save the chief of sinners. That is God’s word. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” We read in I Corinthians 3:11, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And in I John 5:11, 12, “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Do you understand this? Perhaps you are apt to think, Yes, this is old news. Who doesn’t know that? Of course, you say!
We are going to return to this truth next time. But before we do, make very sure that you understand this. All salvation rests in Christ alone. We are to cast away completely and entirely all other hopes and all other trust. Salvation is not partly Christ and partly what we can do. Salvation is not partly Christ and partly our obedience to the law. Salvation is not Christ and because of ourselves. All of those things of obedience and repentance – all of them are important. But Christ alone is the ground of salvation.
Peter declares: Christ is the door to heaven. He alone is able to save from hell beneath. Christ is our refuge. Christ is the answer for our sin. Christ alone is the power to open the way to glory. All who are saved and go to heaven go one way. That way is Jesus Christ, His blood and righteousness. That way is the grace of God to give Christ to you.
Join us next time as we will return to this passage and will talk more about the only way of salvation.
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, watch over us now in this coming week. Cause us to set aside and to renounce all other trust and to trust only, by Thy grace, in Thy Son Jesus Christ as the only ground of our salvation. In His name, Amen.