9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
1 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. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?’
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 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. 11 He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’
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.”
You’ll remember from last Sunday that we used John 3:16 as a key verse as we tried to grasp some of the mysteries of the endless and measureless love of God. One of the most important aspects of God’s love is that it is both universal and unconditional.
In other words, God loves all people, and He loves them unconditionally. Regardless of how good, bad or ugly people are, He loves us all with the same intensity. There is no difference.
Another point I made last week, and this leads us onto our theme for this Sunday is that contrary to popular belief, God’s love does not save us.
Yes, He loves you, but His love will not save you. The only thing that saves you is the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. It is His blood, and nothing else that makes it possible for you to have eternal life.
Our theme verse today is Acts 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.”
Salvation is the theme of this verse, but what is meant by the word ‘salvation?’
When someone is saved does it simply mean that person is saved from Hell and is ready to go to Heaven when they die? The short answer is yes, absolutely, but it also means so much more.
God's salvation is wonderfully comprehensive. We are lost, broken and beaten down by sin and we are under condemnation but He seeks and finds us and then restores us into fellowship with Himself, and by the power of His Spirit He empowers us to live a holy life.
The transformation we see in the disciples after Pentecost is dramatic. Look at verse 8 of Acts 4 again. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” and he then continues to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel of Jesus.
Salvation is not only about going to Heaven when we die (although that is quite something to look forward to!)
Salvation transforms us in the here and now.
When we are saved we are given back all that was lost through the entrance of sin into the world. God's salvation covers our needs past, present and future. It is an immediate and an eternal salvation. It is certainly salvation of the soul, but also of the whole human personality as it is brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
So let’s look at Acts 4:12 and consider some of the wonderful truths in this verse.
1. The first point is that salvation is something that is absolutely necessary.
The last four words of this verse tell us that ‘we must be saved.’
Peter didn’t say, “we may be saved”, or “we can be saved”.
What he said was, “we must be saved.” His words speak of an absolute necessity – it is something that is imperative. We must be saved.
The words of John 3:16 were spoken by Jesus to a Pharisee, a religious teacher, by the name of Nicodemus. The whole conversation was about salvation, and in verse 7 Jesus says to him, “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘you must be born again.” It’s the same imperative, the same necessity which Peter spoke of in Acts 4.
Why must Jesus die? Because mankind must be saved. But why must we be saved? There are three reasons for this.
Firstly, (and I know I’m starting the obvious here, but it’s important) we must be saved because we are not saved already.
By nature we are lost, and we are not only lost, but we are perishing, as John 3:16 tells us. We must be saved, therefore, because we are not saved already.
Secondly, we must be saved because we cannot save ourselves.
What can we do to blot out our past sins? What can we do to save ourselves from this constant onslaught of sin and satan? What can we do to guarantee our salvation for eternity? We can do absolutely nothing. If we are to be saved, this salvation must come from someone outside of ourselves.
And thirdly, we must be saved because God has provided salvation for us.
The question here is, why would God make provision for our salvation if it weren’t necessary in the first place? We might think that it would be a wonderful idea if we all just went to Heaven after we die for the simple reason that God just loves us all so much. It might be a nice idea, and this heresy is taught and believed by many, but it doesn’t work that way.
If salvation wasn’t an absolute necessity, why then the amazing miracle of Bethlehem and the ignominious death at Calvary?
If we could save ourselves, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to die. But we can’t, and so it was necessary.
The mere fact that God has, at such infinite cost, promised and provided salvation for us all is conclusive proof that we all need to be saved.
Salvation is absolutely necessary. It is imperative. We must be saved.
2. The second point is that salvation is absolutely necessary here and now.
Peter uses an interesting turn of phrase in verse 12 when he says that salvation is given ‘under Heaven’, instead saying ‘in Heaven.’ Of course, this speaks of the absolute and complete authority of Jesus, but his choice of words here also clearly implies that salvation is offered on this side of Heaven. This means that we must receive this salvation in this life. There is no such thing as missing salvation in this life and then receiving it in the next life. Salvation must be experienced here and now, and that is why there is such a strong emphasis all the way through the Scriptures on the importance of being saved today.
In 2 Corinthians 6:2 the apostle Paul echoes the words of Isaiah 49:8 when he says, “I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation.”
The Bible does not promise a second chance of salvation beyond the grave, although many false prophets teach this heresy.
The ‘gospel of the second chance’ does three things. Firstly, it makes God a liar. Secondly, it blasphemes and slanders the Cross. Blasphemy is not simply using God’s name as a swear word. Any doctrine or teaching that contradicts Biblical truth is blasphemy, and thirdly, the gospel of the second chance provides a back door out of Hell – something that does not exist.
God is infinitely merciful and He wants all people to be saved – the Bible tells us that – but salvation is offered on His terms, not ours.
Salvation is absolutely necessary, but it must be received here and now, in this life.
3. The third point is that there is only one way of salvation.
This was central to Peter’s message to the Sanhedrin that day, and it remains the central message of the Church of Jesus Christ today: Salvation is offered through Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ alone. Remember, it is not God’s love that saves. His love is the foundation, or the motive if you like, of the offer. Jesus is the only way to salvation.
We looked at His words in John 14:6 last Sunday, but it is worth hearing them again: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul writes, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
This basic, foundational truth has created all kinds of antagonism and anger in the world for centuries. Sadly, it has even brought division into the Church, but in this Church at least we will not water down or ignore the absolute and fundamental message of the Word of God: No-one will ever be saved except by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the only Saviour.
There is no other Saviour.
In Isaiah 43:10-11 God says “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour.”
Jesus is the only Saviour of the world, and the world's only Saviour.
Notice also that here we have the truth emphasised that salvation is in a Person. It is not in religion, in Church membership or in rites, rituals and ceremonies in the Church. Salvation is to be found only in the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
4. Fourthly, salvation is offered to all.
The words of Peter in Acts 4:12 are important to understanding this truth. He speaks of the offer of salvation which is “given to men.” It’s a universal offer. Remember, God loves all people, so his offer of salvation is open to all.
We can therefore thank God that there is no racial, social or class barrier.
Romans 10:13 tells us, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Rich, poor, elite and everyday people. There are no class or age distinctions. God is love, and His mercy and His grace reaches and extends to all. Everyone, regardless of their religion or faith, has the opportunity to turn to faith in Jesus Christ.
John’s vision in Revelation 7 says, “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
So all people everywhere can and must be saved. It’s available to all.
There is a vital point which needs to be made here. Non-Christians, and even many Christians say that for us to proclaim that non-Christians must believe in Jesus Christ alone in order to be saved is a statement of supreme arrogance and intolerance. We’ve all heard that before, and maybe even some of you here today might believe that.
If so, you might not particularly like what I have to say next!
Christians who believe that it is intolerant and arrogant to proclaim the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ have missed the entire point of the Gospel.
Remember, we are sinners – all of us. Every single one of us who ever has or ever will live is by our very nature an enemy of God. That’s what sin has done to us.
But because God loves us so much, He has made it possible for us to be saved. And the means of that salvation is Jesus Christ.
So rather than us calling each other arrogant and ignorant, I’d suggest that it would be better for us to fall on our knees and thank God that He has offered us salvation in the first place!
Some people would like to suggest that there should be more than one option open to us. Some teach that there are other options, as if salvation is our idea.
Revelation 7:10 though, says, “Salvation belongs to our God.” Salvation is His. It is His idea. It is His offer of love to us, and I think it would be fair then to say that He can set the rules and conditions, don’t you think?
All are given the option of being saved, but God has given us only one option – Jesus Christ.
As the Church it is not our task to defend the exclusivity of the Gospel.
I think we waste far too much time and energy in pointless arguments and debates with people who hold different views to Bible-believing Christians.
Rather, as the Church our task is to proclaim that there actually is a Gospel. There is Good News, and that Good News has a name: Jesus Christ.
Someone once brilliantly described the mission of the Church as one hungry beggar showing another hungry beggar where to find bread.
5. Our final point from Acts 4:12 today is that salvation is absolutely free.
Peter says that it is “given to men.” John 3:16 tells us that God “gave His one and only Son.” And in John 10:28 Jesus says, “I give them eternal life.”
It’s a gift. You cannot pay for a gift. All you can do is to receive it or reject it. You cannot buy salvation by religious ritual.
In Titus 3:4-7 Paul writes, “When the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
You can’t buy salvation with money, and you can’t buy it by trying to live a good life. Salvation comes by grace, not by works and deeds.
You cannot buy salvation with anything, because it has already been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus’ dying words on the Cross of Calvary as He hung and died there for you and for me echo across all of human history: “It is finished.”
Our salvation has been bought and paid for, for once and for all, and for all time, and this incredible gift of salvation is available for all who will receive it by faith.
All we have to do is to come with empty hands and receive, and we will be saved for all eternity.
Salvation belongs to our God. The point is that it is all about Jesus. It’s all about what He has done and has made possible for us. All we have to do is to make a decision. Are we going to accept the free offer of grace, or are we going to reject it?
That’s the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus.
I want to remind you of what Max Lucado said of John 3:16 (we had his words up on the screen last week): “God loves, God gave, we believe, we live.” It really is that simple!