The Unchangeable Gospel: No Other Name

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 subject of this verse is Jesus. He is stated by name in verse 11. He is the name in “no other name.” You could put his name in there, for there is no one but Jesus by which we must be saved.

Saved. That is an interesting and often misunderstood word. The word is in here twice. There is salvation in no one else and by which we must be saved. Why do we need to be saved and what exactly are we being saved from?

This is a biblical word describing man’s basic spiritual need. We need to be saved from God, specifically from his justice and wrath against us for our sin. The reason we are under this divine wrath is that we are guilty of rebellion and sin in violation of his holy character. All of us are. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) We die because we are sinners. The physical death of a sinner is only the beginning of God’s judgment for sin. What follows is even more damning.

Every person faces a personal judgment by God. To face God as a sinner is a terrifying prospect: to hear his righteous judgment against us, looking around desperately for help or for an appeal process. There’s no governor or president to offer a pardon. There is no higher court than the judgment seat of God.

So what does this have to do with “saving”? Eternal saving from God’s judgment and punishment is our most basic need. It’s like one of those men on the crab boats in the Bering Sea that shipwrecks and is bobbing around in a fierce ocean. What if the Coast Guard helicopter came and the officer shouted, “Are you cold? Do you need a blanket or hot coffee?” What would the guy in the ocean say? “Save me! Save me from my certain death!”

This is the spiritual sense of this word salvation. And there is salvation in no one else. (Acts 4:12) It is to be plucked from the certain death and punishment in an eternal hell.

This salvation is what every human so desperately needs and every religion tries to offer. They may put different words on it, but all religions are seeking a similar goal. This is what makes what Peter says so shocking. Who is he talking to?

He is addressing some of the most notoriously religious people in history. Note what he doesn’t say to these religious leaders, “I would like to propose an alternative way of salvation from your works-based righteousness.” He doesn’t say, “Your way will get you there, but I think my way is better.” He makes this incredibly exclusive claim: “There is no other name…by which we must be saved.” NO other name.

Peter clearly isn’t on board with the tolerance of our age which wants to view all ideas and all religions as essentially the same. NO other name. No other salvation than Jesus. This is an ultra-exclusive statement.

By the way, “name” doesn’t mean that Jesus’ name itself saves or you could believe in any number of people who have the personal name Jesus. His name represents the totality of who he is: Jesus. The angel Gabriel told Mary to name him Jesus for “he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) Jesus means simply, Savior.

It is his personhood as God himself and his incarnation as fully man AND his righteous life and conquering death and his resurrection that are summarized by his name, Jesus. Savior. So to say that there is no other name is the negative way of saying that Jesus alone saves. He is the only Savior.

This was one of the rallying cries of the Reformation. They were known as the Five Solae: Sola scriptura, Scripture alone. Sola fide, Faith alone. Sola gratia, Grace alone. Soli deo gloria, Glory to God alone. Solus Christus, Christ alone. Christ alone is Savior and Lord.

In the midst of all the tremendous changes of the early church, this was the consistent and unchanging message – no other name but Jesus. If the Roman gods could save, why did Paul suffer as he did to take the gospel there? If ancient Judaism could save, why would Peter and Stephen suffer to tell them about Jesus? Their conviction was that no other name saved, and unless they heard, understood, and trusted in the name of Jesus, they would NOT be saved and would face the wrath of God. That truth will never change. Solus Christus. Christ alone. No other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. That will not ever change. It cannot.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

©2012 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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