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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:Salvation in Jesus' Name
Text:Acts Acts 4:12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation
 
Preached:2010-08-08
Added:2011-03-02
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 100:1,2,3,4

Hymn 10:7,10

Psalm 118:1,5,6

Hymn 30:5

Psalm 118:7,8

Read:  Psalm 118; Acts 4:1-22

Text:  Acts 4:12

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There was a time when we all looked the same.  There was a time when [Australian] society was homogenous:  White Anglo Saxon, for the most part.  There was a time when we all shared not just a common language but also a common form of dress, of hairstyles, of manners.  A common code of conduct and a common God.

Today, that is no longer the case.  Today our society is multicultural and diverse.  There are many different forms of dress, many different hairstyles, and different codes of conduct.  And we can no longer appeal to a common God. 

Today is the age of the individual.  It is the age of diversity.  Today is the age of tolerance.  It is the age in which to be politically correct.  Today is an age of many gods and many faiths and, increasingly, an age of no god and no faith at all.

The country of Australia today is proud to be tolerant, pluralistic and relativistic. 

And the expectation is that every citizen of [Australia] be the same.  You may believe in the god-who-is-true-for-you, but keep him to yourself.  You may follow your own religious standards, but don’t you dare suggest that others should do the same.  You may promote your point of view, but you may not insist on it, and you may not cause offense.

And this new age in which we now live has caused many Christians to back off.  Many Christians have lost their sense of mission, are not sure what message to spread.  Many Christians are not sure of themselves.  They are afraid to offend.  They are afraid to be seen as rejecting others, and they are afraid to be rejected themselves.

This morning, however, I intend to challenge that.  I intend to challenge the validity of our tolerant, pluralistic and relativistic age.  And I intend to challenge all of this with one simple question:  Who is Jesus?

When Peter and John began to heal and to speak in the name of Jesus, the Jewish leaders were shocked.  They believed that Jesus was a fake. They believed that Jesus was no more than an illegitimate child from the no-good town of Nazareth.  They believed that Jesus was dead.  But now, standing before them was a lame man, healed in the name of Jesus.  And if Jesus had performed this miracle, then He is who He claims to be. If Jesus had performed this miracle, then He is not dead but alive.  If Jesus had performed this miracle, then he is the Promised Messiah, the Son of God. And if Jesus had performed this miracle, then He alone has all authority in heaven and on earth.  And it is through Jesus Christ alone that we receive salvation.

And that is the message that I wish to preach to you this morning.  I preach to you Jesus Christ under the following theme:

God grants His salvation only in the name of Jesus.

1.    The power of Jesus’ name.

2.    The exclusive nature of Jesus’ name.

3.    The promise in Jesus’ name.

1. The power of Jesus’ name.

If there is one thing that Satan hates above all else, it is the name of Jesus.  Satan hates the name of Jesus so much, that when His name is proclaimed in the kingdom of darkness, Satan will use everything at his disposal to stop it.  We can expect that to happen; we can expect opposition when we proclaim who Jesus really is.  And we can expect persecution.  Jesus Himself had warned about this in Luke 21:12,

“But before all these things [take place], they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons.  You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.

It did not take long for the early Christian church to experience just how angry Satan is when the gospel is preached and people are called to repent and believe.  In Acts 3, Peter and John had healed a lame man in the name of Jesus.  When all the people who were in the temple courts saw this man who had been lame walking and leaping and praising God, they were amazed.  Then Peter addressed the crowds, calling them to repent and believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, that He is risen, and that the forgiveness of sins can be received in His name. 

But with such a tremendous display of God’s power in both the miracle and the Word preached, one could hardly imagine that Satan would sit still and do nothing.  In a rage at what was happening Satan wanted to throw all of the resources at his disposal at Peter and John  and the early church to stop the name of Jesus from being preached any more.  And Acts 4 gives us a picture of just how severe and intimidating the opposition was.

For Satan and his followers, there was no time to lose.  The combination of this miracle and the persuasive preaching of Peter and John was too great a threat to be ignored.  And so, while they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon Peter, John and the lame man.  They swiftly came up to them and pounced on them.  They grabbed them, dragged them away and put them in jail.  The Sadducees and the temple guard came at Peter and John with power and intimidation.  But they were not alone:  Acts 4:1-6 lists no less than 11 groups and individuals who banded together in an attempt to stop the name of Jesus from gaining any more traction.  Collectively, these people were the religious leaders of Jerusalem, and they formed the Jewish council, also known as the Sanhedrin.  These were the ones who had also opposed the Lord Jesus so strongly when He was on earth, and who had caused Him to be crucified.

The captain of the temple guard and the priests were among the first to grab Peter and John.  The priests were the Levites who served in the Temple, and the captain of the temple was the priest who was in charge of the Temple police.  He was a member of the high priest’s family, and was the second most important person after the high priest.  It was this man, along with others of the Temple guard and the chief priests who had agreed to pay Judas Iscariot 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal of Jesus, and these were the ones who had arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Connected to the priests and the temple guard were the Sadducees.  This was a relatively small but a rich and powerful group of priests.  They retained their power by cooperating with the Romans.  The Sadducees were formed in the days of the Maccabees, about 150 years before the birth of Christ.  They were not looking for a Messiah and they strongly denied the resurrection of the dead.

And so these were the people who pounced on Peter and John and threw them, along with the lame man, into jail.  But then verse 5 and 6 mention even more people who were against them: the rulers, the elders and the scribes, as well as the family of the High Priest.  Annas was the true High Priest, but the Romans had put Caiaphas, Annas’ son-in-law in his place.  The man called John in Acts 4:6 may well be Jonathan, the one who became high priest after Caiaphas, and Alexander was the name of the person who became high priest after him. 

 

The day in which Peter and John had healed the lame man was drawing to a close, and the Sanhedrin normally only met between the morning and evening sacrifice, so Peter and John were put in jail overnight.  The next day, however, the Sanhedrin had gathered together to make their judgment on what Peter and John had done. 

In total, the Sanhedrin was made up of  70 members, plus the High Priest who was the chairman.  This Council sat down and then they ordered Peter, John and the man who was lame to come from the prison and stand in their midst.  Seventy one angry, powerful men fixing their gaze on a small group of three.  Considering the situation with our human reasoning, we would conclude that there was a great imbalance of power here, with the two disciples outnumbered and outgunned. 

But not so.  It is true that a few months earlier this same council had sat in judgment of Jesus of Nazareth, and at that time Peter had been so scared that he even denied the name of Jesus when confronted by a common servant girl.  But now things were different.  For Peter was not alone: he was filled with the Holy Spirit.  And being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were not afraid to speak further in the name of Jesus.  They knew that they were not alone, and they knew that they did not have to worry about what to say.  For they had been warned by Jesus Himself that this would happen, and Jesus had encouraged them in Luke 21:13-15,

But it [that is, being dragged before kings and rulers] will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.  Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist

It was, therefore, not Peter the Fearful who faced the Sanhedrin, but Peter the Bold, who spoke not his words but that which the Holy Spirit gave him to speak.  And so when he was asked by what power or by what name he had healed the lame man, Peter was prepared not to defend himself and try to save his skin, but to preach Christ, who is the power of God for salvation.  And so Peter begins by acknowledging that the “good deed” of healing a lame man was indeed performed by “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.  But then he said more.  He said that this Jesus of Nazareth was the same One whom they had crucified but God has raised from the dead.  He charged the priests, the captain of the temple guard, the Sadducees, the rulers, the elders, the scribes and the family of the high priest with being enemies of God, and of attempting to destroy God’s promised plan of salvation.  The very people who had been given the promises of the Covenant and were called to teach those promises to the people were now working at cross purposes with God.  And then Peter said in Acts 4:11,

 “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.”

Peter acknowledged that the Jewish Council before whom he was standing were the builders, the religious leaders of Israel, but he charged them with rejecting the very stone that God had appointed to be the chief cornerstone.  And when Peter used these words to address the Sanhedrin, they knew where these words came from and what they implied.

The words that Peter quoted came from Psalm 118.  Psalm 118 was sung by the Jews as they went through Jerusalem towards the temple.  It was part of a collection of psalms that were used especially at the time of the Passover.  This psalm looked back to God’s past work of redemption, but also looked forward to something greater.  It was a psalm that contained the promise of one who would come in the name of the Lord.  And this was the psalm that was quoted a number of times towards the end of Christ’s ministry on earth.  This was the psalm that was on the lips of the people as Jesus went up to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey.  At that time the people sang, “Hosanna!” meaning, “The LORD saves!”  And then, quoting Psalm 118:26 they exclaimed, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” (Mark 1:9) Jesus was proclaimed to be the One of whom Psalm 118 was speaking about. 

But that was not the only verse of Psalm 118 that spoke of Christ; indeed the whole psalm points to Him.  Jesus was the Righteous One that verse 20 speaks of, the Righteous One who was to go through the gates.  He would be oppressed but not defeated.  He would live (verse 17) and fulfil verse 10-12 by claiming authority over the nations.  But the verse of this psalm that Jesus especially applied to Himself was verse 22, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  Jesus had quoted this verse to those same Jewish leaders just before His death, prophesying that although he would be rejected, God would exalt Him.  And now Peter quoted those same words from Psalm 118 to prove that Jesus was the One He claimed to be.

When Peter faced the Sanhedrin, he stood up to boldly declare to them who it was that healed the lame man.   He stood up to declare not just the name of Jesus, but to declare who Jesus is.  The Jewish leaders believed that Jesus was a fake. They believed that Jesus was no more than an illegitimate child from the no-good town of Nazareth.  They believed that Jesus was dead.

But He is not a fake: He is the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation.  He is not an illegitimate child from Nazareth: He is the eternal Son of God.  He is not dead:  He is risen and exalted at the right hand of God.  And the gates of hell will not prevail against Him.

From the world’s perspective, a high powered, influential group of 71 people against two fishermen and what was a lame beggar is hardly a contest.  But through the eyes of faith also it is hardly a contest.  The enemies of Christ think that they can stop the Gospel by threats, force, imprisonment and death.  But they can not.  For, as the apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:9, “the Word of God is not chained.”  The Word of God will go forth and accomplish what God wills.  Peter and John were thrown into prison, brought before the Sanhedrin and forbidden to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.  But meanwhile the Church grew to about 5,000 men – plus, one would assume, women and children.  And in that we see the power of the name of Jesus.

When the gospel is preached, Satan uses many ways to oppose it.  We can expect that to happen; we can expect opposition when we proclaim who Jesus really is.  But we can also be confident that if something is of God, nothing can stop it!

And in the end, everybody who is confronted with the message of the Gospel is forced to give an answer to this question:  Since this Jesus, who was crucified, is now alive, what will you do about Him?

2. The exclusive nature of Jesus’ name.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, Psalm 118 was on the lips of the people as they sang their hosannas.  “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  And then, when Jesus entered Jerusalem the people there asked, “Who is this?” to which the crowds responded, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  The crowds were right, of course.  And now after His death, resurrection, and ascension, this lame man who could now walk is standing proof that Jesus is the One He claimed to be.

·      He is God’s Servant, the One who suffered for our sins. (Acts 3:13)

·      He is the Holy One and the Just One. (Acts 3:14)

·      He is the Prince of life. (Acts 3:15)

·      He is the Christ.  (Acts 3:18)

·      He is the fulfilment of the prophets.  (Acts 3:18)

·      He is the Great Prophet.  (Acts 3:22)

·      He is the one through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Acts 3:25)

·      It is through Jesus that our sins are taken away. (Acts 3:26)

·      He is the One who was crucified but whom God raised from the dead. (Acts 4:10)

·      And He is the chief Cornerstone.  (Acts 4:11)

Jesus therefore, and Jesus alone, is our Lord and Saviour.  And the only way to be saved is through faith in His Name.  Acts 4:12 says,

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

And that is a hard saying for modern ears. 

We live in a country that is proud to be tolerant, pluralistic and relativistic.  We live in a time that encourages diversity and tolerance.  We live in an environment where Jesus is seen as an option, as a possible way to a life with God. 

But that is not what Jesus is like, and that is not what the gospel is like.  Jesus, the chief cornerstone, is either the Stone on which we are saved, or is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.  When we are faced with the Risen Christ, we are faced with a choice:  Receive Jesus and have life, or reject Him and face death.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)

1 John 5:11,12 says

And this is the testimony:  that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

And 1 Timothy 2:5 says,

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

There is then, no other way to God and there is no other way to be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ, the crucified Saviour and the risen and exalted Lord.

If that sounds like an absolute statement with no room for difference of opinion, that’s because it is.  If that sounds exclusive, that’s because it is exclusive.  If that sounds intolerant, that’s because, in a way, it is.  If that sounds politically incorrect, well it most likely is that too! 

But it is the truth.  And it is the truth that must be preached and believed.

And that makes your response to the command to believe in Jesus an urgent one.

The leaders of the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, asked Peter and John by what authority and in whose name they healed a lame man and were preaching.  The answer to that question, Peter responded, was the name of Jesus.  But it is not just the lame man who needed to be healed by this name.  Jesus is the only name by which anyone can be healed or saved.  What happened to that lame man must now happen to you too.  You too must be saved in the name of Jesus.  Only Jesus can truly heal you.  Only Jesus can give you true and complete salvation.  For there is no other name and there is no other way.

But we do not need another way either!  For when we trust in the only name of our risen Lord we will receive in Him all that we need for our salvation.

3. The promise in Jesus’ name.

In Acts 4:12, Peter says, “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  It is noteworthy that this verse uses the word must.  Acts 4:12 does not say that there is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved, or can  be saved, but that there is no other name by which we must be saved.  We can also read this text to say, “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which it is necessary to be saved.”

I believe that in this word “must” there is the urgent call to believe in the name of Jesus.  But in this word “must” we can also be sure that God’s promise of salvation will not fail. It is necessary that we be saved through the name of Jesus, for God has decreed that this would be the way to Him.  The outcome is sure.  Satan might do all that he can to blot out the name of Jesus, but God will see to it that this name continues to be preached.  And through this name you can be sure of your salvation.

And that is the message of hope, that is the promise of salvation that we as Christians must preach.  It is true that the name of Jesus is a name that causes offence.  It is true that for some Christ is the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence.  But it is also true that He and He alone is the rock of our salvation.  It is true that through faith in His name and His name alone you will be saved.  And therefore do not back off from speaking about this Jesus.  Do not be afraid to tell the world that we can only be saved in His name.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  (John 3:17)  Because Jesus is the One He claims to be, it is necessary that those who believe in His name will be saved.

It would have been astonishing to have seen a man of over 40 years, who was lame since birth, get up and start walking and leaping and praising God.  But the salvation that is offered in Jesus’ name does not stop there.  The salvation that is promised in Jesus’ name is a salvation that is complete.  It is a salvation that promises that your sins will be blotted out forever.  It is a salvation that promises times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord.  It is a salvation that promises the restoration of all things, that promises a new heaven and a new earth where we will live with God forever.

And that is why, when we believe in the name of Jesus, when we receive Him as our one and only saviour, then we too will respond with “Hosanna!  The Lord saves!”  Then we too will exclaim with Psalm 118:28, “You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.”  Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2010, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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