Salvation in Jesus
Listen to the audio:
“Rulers and elders of the people! 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.’ 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 4:8-12 NIV).
by Ernie Kuenzli
The background for Peter’s words is found in Acts chapter 3. Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John went to the temple and found a man begging alms who had been lame from birth. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Peter healed the man, and he followed Peter and John into the temple walking, leaping, and praising God. All of the people were amazed to see the man walking, and they gathered at Solomon’s porch where Peter preached unto them the resurrection of Jesus and the restitution of all things through Jesus — the greater prophet promised by Moses. It was Peter and John’s faith in the name of Jesus that had healed the man.
The Jewish authorities were so disturbed by Peter and John’s preaching, that they threw Peter and John into prison. The next day Peter and John were called before the Jewish rulers to explain by what power, and in what name, they had healed the man. Peter responded with the words quoted above. In his response, Peter taught the Jewish authorities four important lessons:
● Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead by God.
● The healing of the lame man was concrete evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.
● Although the Jews had rejected Jesus as Messiah, Jesus had become the chief cornerstone of the spiritual temple God was building.
● There were no other means by which we can be saved — except through Jesus.
Resurrection of Jesus
Peter’s first lesson confirmed the resurrection of Jesus. The very kernel of Peter’s answer, his preaching, and his work, was that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead. By these means, Peter was directly challenging the Jewish authorities by:
● Charging them with the responsibility for Jesus’ death — “whom ye crucified.”
● Telling them that God had triumphed over their opposition by raising Jesus from the dead.
● Fearlessly calling the Jewish authorities murderers of the Messiah and enemies of God.
This was the third time since Pentecost that Peter had boldly proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus. This doctrine is the very foundation of God’s plan of salvation. It proves the acceptableness of Jesus’ sacrifice, and it provides hope for the promise that all that are in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth (John 5:28-29). Romans 4:25 says, “Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” We cannot be justified or made right in God’s sight unless Jesus was raised so that he could apply the value of his sacrifice on our behalf. Only a living Jesus could apply the value of his own life.
Man’s Healing — Evidence of Jesus’ Resurrection
Peter’s second lesson was that the lame man’s healing was concrete evidence of Jesus’ resurrection. Before he died, Jesus stated, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).
Peter’s power to heal was a sign that he had received this Comforter — the Holy Spirit. “With great power, the apostles delivered the testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33 Diaglott). The great power was the Holy Spirit. It gave the apostles the strength and opportunity to preach the Gospel and demonstrate the future benefits of Jesus’ resurrection and kingdom by healing the sick.
The lame man is a beautiful picture of the human family, crippled by sin. They are waiting, unknowingly, for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). The Christ, represented in Peter and John, appeared not with gold and silver but with the power of God, secured by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. That power lifted up the lame man to be able to walk into the temple, to walk on the way of holiness which leads back to God (Isaiah 35:8).
Head of the Corner
Peter’s third lesson was that Jesus had become the chief corner-stone. This reference should have been familiar to the Jewish leaders, for Peter was quoting from Psalms 118:22-23:
“The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner. (23) This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Jesus had quoted this same prophecy to the Jewish leaders before he died in Matthew 21:42-44 (NIV):
“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (43) ‘Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (44) He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’”
Jesus had described himself as the capstone. The Jewish leaders tried to build salvation without him, relying instead on keeping the Law, but their rejection of him only helped to fulfill his sacrificial mission. By his faithfulness unto death, Jesus became the chief cornerstone of God’s spiritual temple.
Peter added that our Lord became the chief cornerstone to all who accept him as the Messiah (1 Peter 2:6-8). Jesus is the chief cornerstone of Zion — the spiritual phase of the kingdom, the spiritual temple desired by God (Psalm 132:13). To us, Jesus is chosen and precious; and we will not be put to shame if we believe on him. But he is a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” to everyone else — both houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14).
Theme Verse — Acts 4:12
The fourth lesson Peter made to the Jewish leaders was the most important and encompasses our title (Acts 4:12). Jesus was the only way to salvation. Peter was challenging the Jewish leaders once again. The Messiah — the man Christ Jesus whom they had just killed — was the only “way” to salvation: “And there is no salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven, which has been given among men, by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12 Diaglott).
In this verse, Peter lists four principles to the salvation provided by our Heavenly Father:
(1)There is only one way of salvation — a ransom. (2) There is only one name under heaven provided — Jesus. (3) This name was a gift. (4) It is the only means by which we can be saved.
(1) One Way of Salvation — A Ransom
The word “salvation” in Acts 4:12 is from the Greek 4991, soteria, which means deliverance, safety, salvation. Ever since our first parents were condemned to death, man has been looking for deliverance — a way to escape the death penalty. He has looked in every conceivable direction for this way of escape — false gods, different religions, science, philosophy, and works. All of these ways have failed.
Peter and the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the only
way of salvation is through the sacrifice of Jesus provided by God. After man’s sin, God condemned mankind, and God’s justice would have to be satisfied to lift the condemnation. It would take a ransom to do that.
Man dies because of Adam’s sin. To lift the condemnation, someone would have to take Adam’s place under the penalty — a ransom or corresponding price. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (Wilson Diaglott) explains this: “For since through a man, there is death, through a man, also, there is a resurrection of the dead; For as by Adam all die, so by the anointed also, will all be restored to life.” However, none of the descendants of Adam were perfect and hence, none could give to God a ransom for him (Psalm 49:7). Salvation would have to be provided by someone from outside the race with life rights. He would also have to be the son of Mary. This is exactly what God did. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hosea 13:14).
(2) One Name — Jesus
In Acts 4:12 Peter states there is only one name — one specific individual — who meets the criterion of a ransom, and thus, makes salvation possible — Jesus. His name describes both his role and his honor as savior. “Thou shalt call his name JESUS (Savior): for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Being Proven a Savior — a Perfect Son
When we think of Jesus as the savior, do we fully appreciate what a high standard God’s justice required? Adam was created perfect but he failed his first test of obedience. God allowed Satan to test Adam’s perfection, and Adam failed. For Jesus to be proved a savior for Adam, he would have to demonstrate perfection in the midst of Satan’s opposition. He had to be proved to be the “perfect son” before he could be man’s savior.
Being proven a perfect son was a severe test of our Lord’s faith in God, proving his heart condition to be like the Father’s, proving his humility before God, and his submission and obedience to God. Our Lord had to do more than just be made flesh and die. He had to prove his perfection in the face of trial, opposition, and persecution. Thus he qualified to be our savior. Because of his faithfulness unto death: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV).
Our Lord’s Great Sacrifice
Our Lord became our savior — through the great sacrifice he provided. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).
Why is the blood of Jesus so precious? Because Jesus was God’s perfect son. Because Jesus was in complete harmony with his Father, his Father’s will, and willing to sacrifice his life for the love of his Father and for the love of mankind. No son could have been more loyal or more obedient to God than Jesus. That is why our Lord’s sacrifice is so precious in God’s eyes.
Under Heaven — Provided By God
Jesus is the only name under heaven — reminding us that he was provided as a gift by God. Isaiah describes how God provided our Lord to bear man’s iniquities:
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6 NIV).
Jesus was smitten of God for our iniquities. God laid upon him the iniquity of us all — especially Adam — and that enables God to forgive and heal the human family.
(3) Given Among Men — An Earthly Gift
Peter said that Jesus was the only name given among men. While the salvation was planned in heaven, it was a gift that had to take place on earth. It required our Lord to become the Son of Man, to be made flesh — in order to be effectual. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus came in the flesh, as the Son of Man, to give his life as a ransom for the many. Being made flesh to provide this gift reveals our Lord’s great humility. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV). “He divested himself, taking a bondman’s form, having been made in the likeness of men; and being in condition as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). His humility is the disposition or mind that should be in all of us.
(4) By Which We Can Be Saved
Peter closes Acts 4:12 by stating the goal of Jesus sacrifice’ and resurrection — “by which we can be saved.” Both the church’s and the world’s salvation is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The original Greek means there is a necessity of being saved or being rescued. Right now, the entire human family is an enemy of, and a stranger to, God. We must be rescued from this position else we perish. Jesus died to provide that opportunity of rescue as the Apostle Paul mentions in Romans 5:8 (NIV): “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). The blood of Christ justifies or cleanses both the church and the world — so that we might come back into harmony with God. The blood of Christ makes it possible for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Even the Jewish people, who rebelled against God and would not keep the Law covenant will be saved as Paul writes in Romans 11:26: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
What does the sacrifice of Jesus mean to us?
● He is the only name under heaven who could provide salvation! Does this motivate us to recognize him as our head and more faithfully follow his commandments and instructions to us?
● He was proven the perfect son! Does that encourage us to be more obedient, a better son of God — like him?
● He humbled himself unto the death of the cross! Does this make us want to humble ourselves — that the world our savior might see?
● Because of his great love, he risked all, gave all to give us life!
Are we willing to lay down our lives for him and the brethren as an expression of our love for him? May we continue to treasure his great sacrifice, his shed blood and the love that prompted it — recognizing that Jesus is the only name under heaven that makes salvation possible. May we continue to recognize that we owe everything to him, as our Redeemer, our Lord, and our Master.