SALVATION IS FOUND ONLY IN JESUS
Acts 4: 1-31
Key Verse 4:12
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4 flows out of the events that happened in chapter 3. Peter and John in chapter 3 were about to enter the temple to pray when a crippled beggar saw them and asked for money. Peter looked straight at the man and said to him: “Look at us! “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He followed Peter and John walking and jumping and praising God. Soon all the people began to crowd around the two apostles and the healed beggar. Peter seized the importance of the moment and began to preach to the crowd. He told them in chapter 3:19,20 “Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you even Jesus.”
Part 1. NO OTHER NAME (1-12)
Quite clearly great work of God began to rush forth like waters from a dam that was forced open because of mounting floodwaters. Wherever great work of God is found so is the jealous work of Satan. Look at verse 1, 2; “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” These men were the masterminds of Jesus’ crucifixion. They were no better than violent gang members who killed people who moved in on their turf. These men thought they owned the temple and the teaching of God’s word. When they heard Peter and John were teaching they were greatly disturbed. The teaching that really disturbed them was the part about in Jesus is the resurrection of the dead. Heading up this religious gang were the Sadducees. I am not sure where the actual root meaning of the name Sadducees came from. However it seemed to fit their belief. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Without belief in the resurrection one is sad, disturbed or cynical. The Sadducee message was being extinguished by the teaching in Jesus is the resurrection. Here we see even though the message of the resurrection is available to every person, many people are still sad because the only hope they choose to hold unto is an earth bound hope. Health clubs proclaim the hope joining their clubs will make you look and feel good. Each political candidate message is basically the same: Only under my leadership will you be happy and prosperous. In the long run all these worldly hopes are as temporal as a season. Only the hope of the resurrection brings hope that keeps building until one finally steps into eternal life in the kingdom of God. Often I look at my little children and see how fragile they are. Nevertheless when I hear them happily confess their belief in Jesus’ death for their sins and Jesus resurrection I know their fragile lives are safe and sound for all eternity in the hands of the Almighty God.
Verse 3 reads: “They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. Usually the only people I know who are thrown in jail overnight are those who drink and fight. As for these apostles they probably were put in jail not only as a means to quiet them but also give time to the religious leaders to arrive home in time to watch their equivalence of their favorite TV show. The religious leaders were also hoping the crowds would see the apostles going to jail. They thought such a sight would certainly snuff out any interest they may have developed by the apostles’ teachings. Their plan did not work. Look at verse 4; “But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” Many who saw Peter and John taken away in handcuffs believed the gospel in their hearts. In fact, the number of believing men grew to about five thousand. The church nearly doubled in size. Growing numbers and opposition always go hand and hand. This bible center is the result of this Christian phenomenon. When we began to grow in our last bible center the neighborhood rose up against us. We were forced to move. This opposition gave everyone faith to pray for this present bible center. Later in this message we will learn more how the believers practically combat the opposition placed against them.
Verses 5-7 show Peter and John were brought before rulers, elders and teachers of the law. Together these men were called the Sanhedrin. They were the religious, political and judicial builders of the nation of Israel. They can be compared to the leaders of our churches, political elected officials and all those in our society who are placed as authorities over others. What is disturbing about the builders of our country, it seems the God hater builders are doing most of the building. They already built it so students in public schools cannot pray in school. I don’t know about you but the only way I ever pass any test or graduated H.S. or college was by prayer to God in Jesus’ name. Now they are trying to redesign our pledge of allegiance so our young people do not have to say: One nation under God.” Next they want to redesign our money so our young people can read their money: Trust in money instead of trust in God. Ask Sgt Moses how he survived in Iraq? Was it because he was a natural born Rambo type of soldier? No, it was because this bible ministry non-stop prayed for him five years while he was in the military. Those of us whom God calls to be builders must make sure we keep fighting to make sure this country is built on faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ his Son. Without this our country will become just another extinct nation found in the history books.
In Verses 7 we find the charges brought against these apostles: “They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” This last week CEO’s in Enron, World Com, Martha Stewart and Michael Jackson went to court to face charges for such things as conspiracy, laundering money and embezzlement, cooking the books and child molestation. We can understand why people go to court for these charges. But we cannot understand the charge by what power or what name did you heal a man who was crippled for more than 40 years. Instead of bringing them to court they should have recognized them for making a positive contribution to society. Only to the minds of those who hate Jesus do these charges make sense.
As Peter stood before his accusers to answer the charges brought against him where did he find his strength and wisdom? Look at verse 8 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!” Normally when famous people are called to court for their actions they bring crowds of fanatical fans, lawyers, bodyguards and family members as a way to influence the court proceedings. According to this text the only person allowed to be with Peter and John was the once crippled man they healed. Nevertheless, they were not alone. The Holy Spirit was with them. Jesus had prepared them beforehand for such times as this when he taught them in Mark 13:11: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Those of us who preach the gospel here and around the world could also be brought to trial for doing such an act. We should remember Jesus’ words not to worry beforehand about what to say. We should just say whatever is given us at the time, for it would not be us speaking but the Holy Spirit.”
As Jesus taught no longer is Peter standing in his defense but the Holy Spirit is. What did the Holy Spirit have to say in response to the charge: “By what power or what name did you do this?” First look at verses 9-11: ‘If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” These leaders hope their many numbers would intimidate the apostles to apologize for speaking in the name of Jesus Christ. Instead the Holy Spirit using Peter boldly testified to all generation the direct complicity of these religious leaders had in crucifying Jesus. He also testified to the power of God in raising Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit turned the table and brought a charge on these leaders none of them could bear to accept. By crucifying Jesus they had become the builders who rejected the stone God used to become the capstone. A capstone unites the two sides of an arch, which then enables the structure to be held together. Jesus Christ unites the whole word of God, the prophets, law, New and Old Testament. He unites the church. God is the architect. He has designed his history and his church to all be connected to Jesus. Those builders who try to build by rejecting Jesus are themselves rejecting God. We should not try to connect people to a man made church or fellowship but help them become firmly attached to Jesus Christ. When we struggle to be attached firmly to Jesus Christ we will become members of the indestructible church of Jesus Christ. Additionally when we help people attach themselves to Jesus Christ we work for God instead of against him.
The Holy Spirit brought a severe charge against these leaders by telling them they were the builders who rejected the stone God chose to make the capstone. Nevertheless, they still had hope if they would repent and call on Jesus to save them. Look at verse 12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” The Holy Spirit gave to these men the most easily understood Bible verse to help men know which name they must call on to save their souls. Let us for a moment think about the absoluteness of the words: “for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
First, this verse teaches all men under heaven need to be saved. Some people think they are OK and don’t need to be saved. They think only people in jails and hospitals need to be saved. This verse does not make distinction, which men under heaven need to be saved. Peter said: “We must be saved.” He not only included the haters of Jesus but also himself. The KJV does not use the word cripple to describe the man the apostles heal by faith in Jesus Christ. The word it uses is impotent. Literally speaking all people are impotent to save themselves. Just because we are coasting along in life and everything is going fine means nothing. One day like all good things it will come to an end and we will die. If we have come to that day without first calling on Jesus to save us it will be too late.
Secondly, Jesus Christ is the one and only name the God of heaven has given to men under heaven to be saved by. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Jesus isn’t just one of many names that can save us. He is the only name God of creation has given sinful, fallen man to call upon to be saved. I know there are many other sincere religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. People ask: “What about all these nice, sincere people are you saying they will not be saved? If they don’t call upon Jesus Christ to save them, that’s correct, they will not be saved. Think about it. Wouldn’t you agree salvation of the soul is the most important matter in anyone’s life? Jesus taught in Matt. 16:26: What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” A person’s soul is more important than gaining this whole world. Since salvation of the soul is the most important matter for any person, do you think God would make the matter complicated or do you think he would make it simple? Say as simple as calling 911. He made it even simpler than calling 911. “Jesus Christ, save me!” is what it comes down to. Then holding firmly to faith in Jesus to save us is what it comes down to. If anyone here has a problem with this don’t argue with. Argue with what the Holy Spirit here in Acts 4:12teaches. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Many Americans say they are Christians and yet become squeamish when asked if Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. We would like to say: Jesus is good for me and whatever is good for you, that’s ok too. What we really need to do is repent before the God of heaven of our wishy-washy view of his Gospel. Then we must pray he will give us the Holy Spirit so we can boldly say as Peter did before Jesus Christ haters: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Part 2. WE MUST OBEY THE LIVING GOD. (13-31)
The courage of Peter and John not their message is what astonished the Sanhedrin. They must have thought the apostles would have spoken with many Ah’s and that their knees would have woppled in fear. They knew their courage did not come from being educated because they never went to a day of school in their life. Our Bible tells us in verse 13:”and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” What they did not know is that Jesus also told them in Acts1: 4,5: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Some new Christians like to read about the works of great Christians. Then they become depressed and constantly troubled because they cannot be like them. We cannot be like them because it is not them but the Holy Spirit that made them powerful and courageous. If we truly want to be powerful and courageous servants of God more than reading many Christian books we should pray for the Holy Spirit and keep reading the Bible. This is how all true servants of God found their power and courage. .
It was the Sanhedrin themselves who became fearful and confused. They had killed Jesus. Now they could see the death of Jesus was really like a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground and produced many people who were like Jesus. Of course what these religious leaders really wanted to do was kill the apostles. For now this was impossible. First the man they healed was standing there with them. He was living, breathing proof of the power of speaking the name of Jesus Christ. Moreover they said in verse 16: “What are we going to do with these men? Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name,” We see facts, evidence and living, speaking proof meant nothing to these people. Even though the salvation of the world depended on men like Peter and John to keep spreading the name of Jesus Christ, all this meant nothing to them. Verse 18 reads: “Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”
What was the apostles’ reaction to such a wicked judgment? Look at verses 19-20: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The apostles immediately could see this command not to speak in Jesus name did not come form God but from Satan himself. Think for a moment what must be done for a person to spend their whole life living under the power of sin Satan and finally go to hell?
All that needs to be done is keep that person from hearing the name of Jesus Christ. This is why anyone who comes to my house and sits at my dinner table I boldly share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some times I’ll do it indirectly if the person is a friend of one of my children. I’ll ask my son or daughter in front of their friend. What is the essence of Gospel? Then I’ll ask why is the gospel important? If there is one place on earth I better make sure the Gospel is honored and preached it certainly begins in my house. Moreover as Christians any time we do anything praiseworthy, we must make sure we use it as an opportunity to testify about Jesus Christ. The unbeliever will say: other people and I work very hard for this achievement. The Christian should say: All glory goes to Jesus Christ.
The apostles’ boldness and genuine sincerity completely baffled and flustered these religious leaders. Look at verses21-22. After Peter and John were released to go they went back to their own people to share with them all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. Hearing this news, how did the people react? Look at verse 24. First, we see they prayed to the Sovereign Lord who made the heaven, earth and sea. They didn’t talk and strategize like the unbelieving Jewish religious leaders. They prayed directly to the Sovereign Lord. This means they acknowledge that the Lord not man was completely in charge and control of all events in heaven, earth and the sea. Sometimes we may think those leaders and media personalities who find their words and pictures in the media control the events. This is not true. Our Sovereign Lord controls everything, to the smallest detail. Therefore before strategizing and complaining or living in a state of failure we should pray and acknowledge the Sovereignty of the Lord. “Lord, you are Sovereign, why did I fail this class?” Or ”Lord, you are Sovereign over why these people I can’t get along with are in my life. Open my eyes to see what you want me to learn from them.”
Secondly, they prayed about their persecution they were experiencing in accordance with God’s word. Look at verse 25-26. By praying according to the word of God they could begin to see their situation from the birds eye view of God. Look at 27-28. “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, who you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.” By praying and believing in God’s complete sovereignty over all men and matters they could see even those who directly had their hands involved in killing Jesus did what they did by God’s power and will.
Once they acknowledged God’s sovereignty in these matters, did they then presume they should stop teaching and speaking in Jesus Christ name? No! Just the opposite. Instead they asked God to help them speak God’s word with even greater boldness. They also ask God to stretch out his hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Jesus.
This is should be our campus ministry and fishing prayer topic this semester. The hardest part about fishing is a lack of boldness on our part. But if anyone has the right to be bold Christians should. Homosexuals and lesbians boldly march around and try to force their alternative life style down everyone’s throat. How much more should we boldly share the truth of God’s word? Still this is easier to talk about than do. This is why we should do more than talk about being bold. We must pray and ask the sovereign Lord who gave the first believers great boldness to speak his word to also enable us to speak his word with the same great boldness he gave them.
In this passage we learn God has given only one name under heaven to save men and this name is Jesus Christ. Let us confidently call on Jesus’ name anywhere and anytime to save us. Moreover let us pray this semester as the first church did and ask the Sovereign Lord to speak his word with great boldness.