"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
This passage of Scripture speaks of salvation. It insists that "we must be saved." Do you really believe that? Does the human need for salvation evoke any sense of urgency in you?
In the book Saved from What? (Crossway, 2002), R. C. Sproul explains that because we're guilty of sin, what we ultimately need salvation from is God himself! The Bible declares that almighty God hates those who fall short of his righteousness; he hates them with a justly deserved hatred (Pss. 5:5; 11:5; Prov. 16:5). God will punish unsaved sinners with "the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name [is] not found written in the book of life, he [will be] thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14-15). "And the smoke of their torment [will go] up forever and ever, and they [will] have no rest, day or night" (Rev. 14:11).
Do you believe that? Every unsaved human being will experience eternal, conscious torment under God's wrath and curse. We are destined for this fateeach one of usunless somehow we are saved from it.
How hard, though, can it be to get saved? Well, considering that God is so far above all others in power and authority, we cannot expect to be saved from God by anyone except God himself. For us to be saved, God would have to want to save us. Yet, in fact, he owes salvation to no one. Each of us has forfeited his favor, so that, in perfect justice, he can inflict the full penalty that we deserve, both in this life and in the life to come. And why should a just God want to do anything except execute just judgment on those who deserve it?
But Godin sheer grace, mercy, and lovechose to save sinners. Nevertheless, he could save us only in a way that positively enacts the demands of his perfect justice. For that to happen, sinners need a substitute that is acceptable to Godone who is willing and able to live a perfectly righteous life for them and to die an atoning death for them. Amazingly, God the Son took on himself a true human nature, fulfilled all our duty, and paid all our debt (2 Cor. 5:21). The only way to be saved by God is through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Even though there is no salvation apart from Jesus, we can thank God that in him "there is salvation" (Acts 4:12). Jesus accomplished everything needed to secure salvation for sinners. Therefore, "God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it" (Acts 2:24). And now Jesus is alive and exalted to the right hand of the Father in heaven. There he is exercising his saving rule in order to deliver sinners from God's everlasting curse and bring them into God's everlasting blessing. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). There is salvation! It is full and free in Christ!
How do people receive this salvation? God says that "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." R. C. H. Lenski comments that "name" here means "the revelation by which the saving person becomes the possession of the person to be saved. It is the objective means of saving and implies faith in that name or revelation as the subjective means. Jesus comes to us by means of his name; that name awakens faith; and by faith in his name he saves us." In order to be saved, people need to hear about Jesus Christ and trust in him alone for salvation.
God makes this explicit in Romans 10: "For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?... So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (vss. 13-17).
Do we in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church really believe what God declares in Acts 4:12that people need salvation, that Christ is the only Savior, that in him there is full and free salvation, and that people need to hear about Christ and trust him alone or else they will be eternally lost? These are the ABCs of scriptural faith and life! If we don't grasp these rudiments, we don't even grasp basic Christianity itself, let alone the Reformed explication of it.
Do you grasp these basics? More pointedly, do they grasp you? Do they drive your concerns, your prayers, your priorities? When God says, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved," does it stir your heart? Does it spur you to do something? The name of Jesusno other nameis given among men so they may be saved. What will you do about it?
The author is the general secretary for the Committee on Christian Education and the editor of New Horizons. Reprinted from New Horizons, November 2003.