Dear radio friends,
If you listened to our program last week, you will recall that we asked the important question: What is the way to heaven? We asked whether there is more than one way to heaven. And we heard the answer of the Word of God, through the inspired apostle Peter, as 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.”
We learned from the Scriptures that the way of salvation is only in the work of Jesus Christ. We saw that salvation is to be delivered from the greatest of all evils, which is our sin, and to be brought to the highest of all possible good, which is God. And we saw that it was only Jesus Christ, only in His name, says Peter, that is, only by His power and in His authority, that there is salvation.
Today we want to look again at this verse of Scripture and look at two things that it teaches us. First of all, we want to see that this is indeed the exclusive way of salvation – there is none other. Secondly, we want to see that it is the sure way of salvation.
The apostle Peter said, “There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Now, very plainly, the Scriptures are teaching that the way of salvation is exclusively in Christ. There is no other name under heaven among men. That is, Peter is saying, you may look under all that lies beneath the heaven, you may look upon it all, you may search and examine, look where you want – you will not find salvation except in the name (that is, in the power and authority) of Christ. You may go to universities, where you will find the very best of man’s wisdom. You may climb the highest mountains, enter into different temples of various religions, observe sacrifices, come before a Buddha or Mohammad, engage yourself with a cult – but there is no salvation for the soul in them. They cannot and they do not save! They are delusions.
Jesus Christ, then, does not take His place in line with other saviors. There are no saviors other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God revealed upon the pages of Holy Scripture. That means that, apart from Jesus Christ revealed in the Bible as the One given of God to die on the cross for sinners, there is no salvation. And if there is no salvation, then there is only damnation. Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Follow me, now, very carefully. Falsehood can tolerate falsehood. But truth never can. Two lies can live in the same house and never quarrel. But truth cannot live with the lie. The popular understanding is that the Hindu, the Mohammedan, the modern church all can say, “We call God by different names, but we hope one day all to meet together. There are many ways to heaven.” Jesus Christ, revealed in the Scriptures, cannot and does not take His place with that! He proclaims that all other ways are a lie, a delusion, and cannot save. It is Christ alone.
There are many who say, “Oh, yes. Christ saves. But let’s not be uncharitable to say that that means that all other beliefs, all other ways, are to be condemned.” Always the gospel of Jesus Christ will be received by the majority with favor if it is presented as a way, which takes its place alongside of other ways. But when it is proclaimed in the authority of God that it is the only way, the exclusive way, then it becomes offensive.
But I ask the question: How is that charity? How is it charitable to say that there is salvation in others besides Jesus Christ? How is that love? Is it charity to say nothing when a blind man nears the cliff edge? Is it charity to say nothing when an emigrant is boarding a leaking boat? Is it charity not to cry out and warn men of danger? Peter is saying, “Apart from Jesus Christ, unless you rest by grace through faith in Him, you will perish!” He is not saying to the Jews, “Your system of work-righteousness is noble, and it has many redeemable points. It’s very useful, you know.” Oh, no! He is saying to them, “There is no salvation in it. There is salvation only in the Jesus of God.”
Let us hear the Word of God. There is no salvation in superstitions of men, in philosophies of men. And there are a host of them. New Age philosophy, Hinduism, and on and on we can go. They come and say, “This is the way by which you can come to God. In fact, this is the way in which you can become God.” You take your child and you cast him into a river. Or you worship an animal. Or you lacerate your flesh. Or you wear rough clothing. Or you put pins through your ears. Or you drink herbal tea. We denounce all of this, in God’s name, as demons sent among men to delude their souls.
But when we bring this closer, then we see that the gospels, many different gospels, many different messages heard in the Christian church, are also denying the truth about Jesus. There are many who say, “I believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. But don’t let that interfere with what I want. Jesus is my Savior. But He’s not my lord – not yet, at least. He must accommodate Himself to me. He has to take me in my life-style. Jesus who saves me must condone my sinful life-style. He is Savior, but not Lord. He lets me be who I want to be. Don’t let Jesus, then, interfere with my dating, with my companionship, with my working on Sunday. Don’t let His day curtail my fun.” Christ is merged into cultural norms. Christ accommodates Himself to man.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we denounce that! It is utter delusion. It is founded upon man’s fancy. It is an idol. It is not the God of Scripture. A God who has no holiness and justice? That may sound very good on the surface. God will tolerate anything. That may serve as a toy to play with. But it is far too untrue to die with. It utterly fails to meet the want of conscience, the want of the sinner. There is no rest for our souls in such a word. It cannot save. Jesus is not the Jesus of positive thinking. He is not the Jesus proclaimed by the popular preacher who strips Him of His deity and almighty power. He is not the Jesus of free-willism, a Jesus who is impotent to save unless the sinner first decides that he will let Jesus save him. He is not the Jesus left after men have nullified the greater part of Scripture, denying creation, denying the virgin birth – that is not Jesus! No, the name of Jesus is above all names. It is the name which alone can save. It is the name of Jesus that is revealed in all of Holy Scripture, confessed in all of its truth and in all of its power and glory. Only in Him is there salvation.
But we have to bring this even closer. There is no salvation in us, in our good works, in our faith or repentance. Now listen carefully. I did not say that faith and repentance are not necessary. They are the fruits of salvation, and without them no one is saved. But faith in Jesus and repentance of sin are not the cause of salvation. Jesus’ work upon the cross is the cause of salvation. That work on the cross not only paid for sin, but is also the mighty power of God to work in us faith and repentance. But the faith and the repentance are not the ground or the cause of salvation. That has to be made plain because self-righteousness holds a very firm place in our nature. After all these years, Adam’s fig-leaves are still the preferred religion of man. It lurks in every sinner to think that he will get to heaven by what he does. It lurks in the heart of every sinner to say before God, “Certainly, I am not as other men are. There is something redeemable about me. Don’t my contributions to the church add up to something? My obedience, my prayers – don’t they count for something?” I answer that question: “As far as earning your place in heaven, no! They count for nothing.” I did not say they are not important. I did not say that they will not be found in your life. They must be found in your life if you belong to Christ. But I say to you, upon the basis of God’s Word, that they are not the ground of your salvation. The ground of salvation is only the work of Christ.
This idea of work-righteousness can be put very piously sometimes. We can say then, “Yes, I trust in Christ and the mercy of God to do the rest. I have gone a long way. I have lived a pretty good life. Oh, I know there have been some failures. But Christ will make up what is left behind and remains. Jesus then comes and puts Himself in a yoke with my works. The two of us, pulling together, pull the cart of salvation. Jesus and myself!” On the basis of Jesus’ words and the cross of Jesus Christ, I denounce that! That is not true. In Isaiah 63: 3, Jesus says, “I have trodden the winepress alone.” Salvation is not partially what Christ did and then partially what you do as His helper. Salvation is earned on the cross of Jesus Christ alone.
We must put away from us all such that would add to Jesus Christ as being a basis of salvation. Away with priests. Away with indulgences. Away with ceremonies that, supposedly, have the power within themselves to save. Away with all of those things. There is no salvation in them.
But, still more. There is no salvation in sincerity. Now listen carefully again. I did not say that the child of God need not be sincere. He must. I said that salvation is not earned by sincerity. What do I mean? This. There are those who will say, “Well, many people may be mistaken. They may have a false religion. But, oh, are they sincere and are they earnest about it! They have such strong feelings! Certainly that sincerity and those feelings must count for something. If one believes a lie, that’s not so good. But, if they are sincere about it, well, isn’t that OK? The Buddhist is so sincere. The Mormon is so earnest!”
Upon the basis of God’s Word, we declare once again that the child of God is not simply a sincere man. He is sincere. But a Christian is not simply someone who feels strongly about something. A Christian is someone who feels strongly about the truth. Mere sincerity, of itself, is no savior. If you read the Bible and you remember the time of Elijah, when he stood before the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, the priests of Baal were sincere. They were earnest. They meant it. They cut themselves with knives as they called upon Baal to hear them. Manasseh, one of the kings in the Old Testament, was sincere when he offered up his son to Moloch. He meant it. And the apostle Paul, before he was converted, was sincere too. He was a zealot when he persecuted the church of God. The basis of salvation is not that someone sincerely believes something. It is not, “I feel good about this and therefore it must be right.” No. The basis of salvation is the work of Christ. Sincerity counts when it is sincerity in the truth, the truth of Holy Scripture.
Now, I know that I will be called uncharitable, bigoted, and narrow-minded. The truth of the gospel, the Word of God, which must be proclaimed in all love and charity, is this: Salvation is in Jesus Christ to the uttermost. Outside of Him, there is not so much as one iota of salvation! The greatest danger to the Christian faith today is that many proclaim that everything is true. There are many saviors, there are many ways to peace with God. Whatever suits you ought to be good enough. Everybody ought to be able to have his own religion. Why not?
The question is not: What do you think? but: What does God say? What pleases Him? Has God spoken in the Bible or has He not? Has God said in the Bible, There is no other way but the way of Christ on the cross alone? or has He not? Has He said that all outside of this cross shall be damned? or has He not?
I will not mention any more of the so-called ways which men think will bring them to heaven. Each man seems more and more to have his own way. Your human nature and mine can build our own. Perhaps we say, If we give a thousand dollars to charity or build homes for the poor, that will save me. Let me speak plainly. If you have any refuge other than this text (Acts 4:12), Christ, the name and the authority of Christ as the basis of salvation, if you have any other refuge, it is a lie. May God sweep it away and leave you bare and without shelter. Better to know your fallen state than to live your life under a delusion and a lie. Heaven has one entrance. If a way is not through Jesus Christ, then there remains only a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation.
But Jesus Christ is the way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus is the Savior. Hear the Word of God. There is a name which is given among men. It is given. God the Father in mercy gave His Son. There is a way of salvation. That way is the cross of Jesus Christ. That cross of Jesus Christ was not a tragic mistake. It was real deliverance. It was powerful deliverance. It was eternally planned of God that His Son would take the place of all those whom the Father gave to Him and actually die for their sins; that He would deliver them by a payment of the debt; that He would stand in the place of those given to Him of the Father so that they may say,
Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe.
He hath washed me white as snow.
Jesus Christ does not simply show the way. He is the way right now. Powerfully, by His Word and by His Spirit, He works in your heart so that you become pricked in your heart over your sin. You become burdened and weary of your sin. You identify your problem as your own sin. That is the work of God’s grace in you. And Jesus, by His love and power, draws you to Himself. He draws you to the fountain of His blood and there washes you and makes you whole. He works in you both to will and to do of His Father’s good pleasure.
You have heard the Word of God. There is salvation in no other name but in the name of Jesus Christ. We praise the living God. We praise Him for His matchless grace and unfathomable love – that He has given the way of salvation in His Son. Now you have heard that truth. When the earth begins to shake and the stars fall when Jesus returns, you and I must witness that we have heard the answer to our question: How do I get to heaven? Only the cross of Jesus Christ, given completely of the grace of God. That takes me to heaven. Oh, that is good news! Good news for convicted, weary, heavy-laden sinners. That is perfect rest. And that is peace. Today we confess, and one day, perfectly before His face, we will give the answer to the question, How am I saved? How do I go to heaven? By nothing but the blood of Jesus. His blood avails for me.
Let us pray.
Father in heaven, we thank Thee for Thy Word. And we ask that Thou wilt write it upon our hearts. Amen.