"Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the deadby him this man is standing before you well.... 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 4:10, 12).
No salvation in anyone except Jesus Christ of Nazarethhow very exclusive that sounds! What about the sincere and faithful adherents of other religions, many of whom have never been told about Jesus? According to the Bible, their sincerity and their religion will not help them. Without faith in Christ, they are headed for destruction.
There is a wall that keeps people out of heaven and sends them to hell. Did God build this wall? In other words, did God condemn the world by sending Jesus into the world?
The Bible assures us, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (John 3:17-18).
God sent Jesus into the world to save it. Nevertheless, the wall that keeps multitudes from heaven is a reality. But God didn't build that wall. We did! The stones in the wall are humankind's rebellion against God and the myriad of sinful acts that followed.
Jesus is God's doorway through the wall. God appointed his Son to be the substitute for those whom he would save. Jesus loved the Father with every fiber of his being. He obeyed the Father's holy will completely. He died on Calvary's cross as the atoning sacrifice, bearing all the sins of his people. He rose again from the dead and was exalted to the place of glory at the Father's side.
In Acts 4, Peter declares that Jesus is the only Savior. Where is he standing when he makes this bold declaration? He is not among fellow believers, but before the very ones who had decreed that Jesus was not the Savior, the very ones who had crucified him. The church continues to bear testimony to Jesus before one and all.
To your neighbor you say that Jesus is the only name by which she must be saved. She's kind and friendly, so ready to do anything for you, even watch your kids in a pinch. The two of you enjoy being neighbors. She's not an atheist, nor is she particularly antagonistic to your religion, but she's perishing apart from Jesus. So you tell her about the only doorway in the wall between her and God, praying that God will enable deaf ears to hear.
So many are in denial of the wall's existence. People need to be told of the wall that separates people from God, so they will understand the joyful, hope-filled message about the doorway, Jesus Christ. How urgent it is that we tell them that through Jesus, only through Jesus, there is escape from the wrath and curse of God! Only in Jesus is there forgiveness of sins and peace with God. Only in Jesus are there transformed hearts and minds and godly living. Only in Jesus is there the hope of heaven. Only in Jesus is there salvation.
In Jesus there is salvation! To a woman without hope, trapped in the drugs and sex of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Pastor Russell Hamilton proclaimed Jesus. Through his name, she was saved. To the patients at a behavioral health center, Pastor David Bass of Idaho Falls proclaimed Jesus. Through his name, several were saved.
The Lord Jesus Christ has raised up Orthodox Presbyterian congregations throughout North America which he calls to reach into the communities around them with gospel witness. Pray that your congregation and all Orthodox Presbyterian congregations will be faithful in proclaiming salvation in the name of Jesus.
One important way in which we in the OPC participate together in proclaiming Jesus' name is through our support of Worldwide Outreachour combined program for foreign missions, home missions, and Christian education. Our offerings enable the church to send missionaries to preach and teach Christ in other lands, to publish educational materials to assist the church to grow up into Christ, and to assist in providing organizing pastors to new congregations in North America. Through our participation, the name of Jesus is being proclaimed.
The Thank Offering is an occasion of special giving to Worldwide Outreach. A generous Thank Offering will greatly assist in proclaiming Jesus' name in its fullness, both here and around the world. "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).
The author is the associate general secretary for the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension. Reprinted from New Horizons, November 2003.