All posts by Paul Heusel

Acts 4:1-22 | Salvation Is Found In No One Else



Salvation Is Found In No One Else

By Pastor Teddy

Acts 4:1-22

Key Verse 4:12


“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”


The Book of Acts reflects the lives of the apostles and their acts and deeds as they were led by the Holy Spirit who led these apostles’ lives and enabled them to accomplish all these deeds. It’s the incredible history of our remarkable ancestors who laid down their lives in order to pass the Gospel Truth on to us, and to pave for us the way to become Christians. Every event, every story in this book teaches us something about our origins, where and how the faith we place in Christ and the gospel comes from. They took the ministry over from Jesus and laid the gospel foundations for us. And this is how they did it— By imitating the life of Christ, and through their daily lives, and especially through preaching the gospel message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And when you listen to their messages, you discover several unique factors that made their preaching so powerful and effective. Powerful and effective preaching doesn’t mean dynamic and heart moving preaching. Any gifted secular or religious speaker can do that! Powerful and effective preaching means one centered on the word of God, a preaching done through the Holy Spirit.


The apostles preached a simple and concise gospel message. They also relied on the Word of God— which for them was the Old Testament as well as the words of Christ. Their preaching was centered on the word of God as they were led by the Holy Spirit. And so, it often resulted in people repenting of their sins and personally receiving the gospel message. At Pentecost, Peter preached such a message and 3000 people repented and received Christ as Lord. In the crippled beggar’s event (chapter 3), Peter preaches a gospel message and 2000 people repent and turn to Christ. (4:4) The real Christian church began like that, and grew to become the only bearer and herald of truth in this world. (1 Timothy 3:15) You and I owe our very lives to these courageous first Christians who lived by the gospel truth and who boldly preached it even at the cost of their lives. They were genuine Christians! The Christian character, the Christian faith and the Christian message has drastically changed since then. To say the least, they’re deformed, perverted and warped— because when you take the truth out of Christianity or out of the Christian faith and message, what’s left is only half truths that do not glorify Christ. And if they don’t glorify Christ, they’re not Christian at all; they’re actually worthless! No wonder non Christians despise and distrust Christians. But we can learn much from our ancestors to help us experience real Christianity and to exercise it effectively— especially if we are serious Christians who aspire to witness to Christ in this lost world.


These ancestors of ours didn’t have it easy at all. To them witnessing to Christ didn’t come without a price. And they also understood why it wasn’t meant to be easy, and they didn’t mind paying whatever price for it. Their story is filled with persecution, and false charges made against them, and imprisonment, or the losing of property and of loved ones, misunderstandings, rejections and the maligning of their noble characters. But let me say it again. They understood why these things happened to them, and they didn’t mind paying the price for it. They remembered Jesus’ words: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit…. All men will hate you because of me…. ” (Mark 13:11-13) They remembered that he said: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven….. ” (Matthew 5:11-12) They accepted his words, and so they also understood the world’s hostility. They understood the price they would have to pay if they were to live as Jesus’ witnesses. They suffered for him, but it did not matter. They were at peace with it if only they could fulfill the Lord’s desire to witness his name and to preach his gospel truth. And so they did. They served his glory whatever the price.


In the last passage, both apostles, Peter and John heal a crippled beggar sitting at the gate to the temple. And when the people witness this amazing miracle, they crowd around Peter and John and the healed cripple and look at them with awe and flood them with admiration. Peter then sees this as an opportunity to give all the glory to the Lord Jesus who made this miracle happen, since the miracle wasn’t only to heal the cripple’s legs, but to heal his very soul too. The man was jumping and shouting, thanking God and praising him, a very rare scene in Jewish religious circles. He must have looked like fool, but he didn’t mind. The last time in history that someone jumped and danced with the joy of praising God may have been king David, who did so out of his love for God and gratitude for his grace. But now this man was a sight to behold. Something amazing happened to him which no one could deny. There was a time he couldn’t even look people in the eye when he sat begging all these years. He couldn’t say anything but: “Help me” and “Have pity on me” and “Give this miserable man something.” But when he was healed in his soul, he now could say: “Praise God. Thank you Lord Jesus. I’m a new person” There’s a big difference when a soul only knows how to complain and wallow in misery and self pity, and a soul that knows how to lift up a thankful heart to God even in suffering! One soul is sick and the other is hale.


So as the crowds began to mill around them, Peter preached a pure gospel message to them. He pointed out their sin, and told them how God had intervened to deliver them from sin’s enslaving power offering them forgiveness and new life. He told them that the same Christ whom they crucified, God raised from the dead, and exalted to the highest heaven just as the Scripture foretold though the prophets. Peter told them that this healing couldn’t have been done by any human name and power, but that it had been done through the name of Jesus and through faith in him. It was the name and power of the Risen and Exalted Christ that had brought this complete healing to this man. (3:16) Then Peter didn’t waste time in inviting them to repent and to turn their hearts to Jesus Christ who loved them and wanted to save them from the condemnation of sin. What a beautiful message of life it was for these people who went regularly to the temple to pray and to worship, but who also had no relationship whatsoever with God, and who didn’t know that they were sinners, nor did they know the Christ who died to set them free. But Peter’s gospel centered message moved their hearts and they were inducted into God’s holy family. And 2000 of them crossed over from death to life that day.


But what happened next was hard to believe. Look at verses 1-4. What the apostles did for the cripple was praiseworthy. The message they openly delivered to the crowds was bitter to the ears, but sweet to the soul. Often the truth is like this, very hard on the ears, but it’s sweet to the soul of those who accept it. It was a message of God’s unwavering love for a sinful people who had abandoned God and rejected their Christ. It offered a hopeless people hope and promised them deliverance. But their salvation rested on the two pillars of faith which everyone who heard needed to stand on. These pillars are Jesus’ death and Jesus’ resurrection. Even if the message Peter delivered was the most beautiful and heart moving message of all time, if it lacked these two gospel pillars, it would have been a message sweet to the ears but bitter to the soul, since it couldn’t bring life to the dead. But Peter’s message was graceful and truthful and it stood on these two fundamental and vital pillars of Jesus’ death and Jesus’ resurrection. The people were exhilarated.


But look at the religious leaders— they were disturbed. They should have been glad that lives were changed— that proud hearts were broken in humility— that darkness was driven from troubled souls— that faith was ignited in faithless hearts— that genuine praise and worship were growing in once empty souls. But instead, they were greatly disturbed! Why? Because the apostles preached the truth they learned from Christ; because they proclaimed the Risen Christ as the Lord of the resurrection; because they taught miserable people how to escape the world of the dead and to cross over to life through the Risen Christ. But in essence they were really disturbed mostly because the apostles undermined their priestly authority and taught the truth these religious leaders didn’t endorse. I think there are many so called Christian authorities today who would be disturbed at the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection; the truth about repentance unto faith; the truth about judgment and hell; the truth about creation, fall and marriage and the family; along with the most fundamental beliefs of our faith. Our generation has already seen many such religious authorities maligning the truth and stifle the gospel. It appears that just like our Lord’s enemies were not the prostitutes and tax collectors, but the organized religion of the day, so also are the enemies of the gospel in all generations.


The apostles were now in deep trouble. They had no certificate of learning from any religious institute; no degree for teaching; no medals for any religious achievement. The religious authorities saw them as trouble makers, uneducated people with no credentials. How dare they proclaim the resurrection of the dead in the name of Christ Jesus! Why such hostility towards the resurrection of Christ and his followers? The resurrection is the greatest news this world had ever had. Ever since God disciplined man for his rebellion against God consigning him to death, man’s life in this world had been a sea of death and dying. Satan had kept man’s life empty and meaningless with the lie that he’s born only to die. Whatever he achieves in life, whether in accomplishment or in wealth is fundamentally useless if you will not live to enjoy it, and someone else will get what you worked for so hard. Whether he believes in an after life or not, it doesn’t matter, as long as imminent death is his destiny. But worse yet, that man dies and doesn’t know he has to face God’s judgment and be condemned for his sins. It doesn’t matter if he believes this or not. His destiny is death, and so that’s been his agony. But God, fulfilled his promise to save you and me from death’s curse. He fulfilled it through his Son’s death and resurrection. His death brings us forgiveness and liberation from slavery to sin. But his resurrection gives us a new life eternal in his kingdom. Jesus’ resurrection was the greatest event in human history. It was real and witnessed. It was celebrated. It was also life changing for many who believed. To the apostles, it was unthinkable to keep this good news hidden from those who were still in their prisons of sin. So while the apostles determined to preach it, the religious authorities determined to stifle it. So the temple guards took Peter and John to prison. Their crime was that they were telling the greatest news to the world.


After a night in prison, the apostles were brought before the religious court for trial.  Look at verses 5-7. The court was composed of the most powerful men in the nation, the same court that condemned the Lord Jesus to death for coming to save the world. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by these fearsome men! And they asked them this question: “By what power or what name did you do this?” (7) Did they not know? Of course they knew. They knew everything. They knew what the apostles had done. They knew what they were teaching and preaching. They knew what the people were believing and to whom they were turning. But they needed the apostles to answer the question in order to incriminate them and send them to their death. Now Peter and John seemed to have been in deep trouble. How should they answer the question: “By what power or what name did you do this?”


Read verses 8-12. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘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.” Once an uneducated fisherman from the remote suburbs, Peter delivered this magnificent sermon. He answered the question without fear. He gave them a simple gospel message which speaks to the heart of every human being with a conscience towards God. Peter simply told them the truth that God sent Christ Jesus to the world, that people had rejected and killed him, but that God raised him from the dead; and that what men have rejected, God had made into the cornerstone upon which their salvation hangs; that it was through Jesus’ name and power that this crippled man was regenerated in his body and soul into a new man in Christ. Not only that, but that there is no other name in heaven or on earth that salvation is given except by the name of Jesus. What a simple truth for all to hear and to believe and to receive the salvation that every soul on earth longs for.


Peter the once timid disciple who denied knowing Jesus even to a servant girl, now stood before these mighty men as a shepherd and teacher, while they listened to him as his students and sheep. How is it that Peter could have such courage to speak out even at the cost of his life? Verse 8 tells us that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The spirit of Christ was on him. And he spoke by the voice of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to regenerate every believer and to make him or her a powerful witness to Christ. Peter could have spoken while filled with emotion, whether by an emotional anger or frustration, whether by fear or timidity, for he could have let all these emotions control him and his behavior. But he was filled instead with the Holy Spirit. This means that he didn’t speak as a man but as a man of God, as one representing the very God against whom these people were sinning. They sinned by rejecting and opposing his truth. So Peter stood as God’s spokesman to give them what God the Holy Spirit gives everyone— a chance to hear the gospel and to make a decision to accept it or reject it. Peter had every reason to object for his unjust treatment, or to resent these men for lording it over him, let alone for being the agents in Jesus’ death. But if he had held on to these emotions and thoughts, he would not have been able to serve God’s purpose. He would have served his own purpose. But when one stands to speak for God, he or she must stand apart from themselves and honor and serve God’s purpose alone. And the way to do so is by the filling of the Holy Spirit, by surrendering all things to the Holy Spirit and become an instrument of the gospel. I think that many times we fail to serve God’s purpose when our hearts and minds are tainted by our emotions and human thinking and we end up resisting the Holy Spirit. But to effectively serve God and his purpose, we must ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts. Then we can serve God’s purpose without fear or prejudice or personal hurt feelings.


Peter’s message to these haughty religious authorities was powerful, and as usual hard on the ear, but sweet to the heart that receives them. Look at verse 12 again. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” This is also a message for our generation which is in desperate needs of this truth. There are hostile and violent religions and philosophies that would even kill the Christian who mentions Jesus and the salvation that comes through him. Governments and societies oppose this truth, even modern churches opt to tweak this truth to gain more converts. And there are those who scoff at this truth. But behind them all is the devil who works to intimidate Christians into compromise and liberal thinking and to hinder them from standing on this truth. They would rather that Peter wasn’t so radical in proclaiming this truth. But the truth is radical! What else can it be but radical in a world that loves and tolerates lies! We either believe this truth or we don’t— and there’s no middle ground. And if we believe it, there can be no room for fear or anger or anything else that’s unchristian in our hearts. When the Holy Spirit fills our hearts, he leaves no room for fear but gives courage to speak the truth of Christ. It is very important that we reflect on these words to make them the conviction of our hearts.


Look at verses 13-22. It is truly amazingly and miraculous that the religious authorities didn’t condemn Peter and John to death. They noted their courage and the fact that they had been with Jesus. But God protected the apostles from these unbelieving and hostile men. But they did threaten them not to preach in Jesus’ name anymore. It was a command given by the high council of Israel, the highest judicious authority in the land. Failure to obey the court’s decision would bring all kinds of woes on these apostles. It was time for them to compromise and obey the council’s decision. It was even time to obey openly and to disobey secretly. But Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit who counseled him to respond to them in the best way. Listen to Peter’s response in verses 19-20. “But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”  Some Christians abuse this truth when they want to do their own thing or go their own way. But Peter was a man who understood authority and submitted to it. He knew to listen to and to obey his elders. But when it comes to the gospel truth he was entrusted with by the Lord to preach the gospel and to feed God’s sheep, Peter was very clear. He had to do what God would have him do, and not what men would have him do. Peter obeyed the law of the land. But he obeyed a higher law— God’s word and commission to him. To Peter, Jesus’ words:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” were absolute. Jesus’ words: “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” were none negotiable. They were words that Peter would rather die than disobey.


What words of Christ do you hold dearer than life? What words of Christ would you rather die than disobey? Do you have such a word in your heart? Like Peter the word of God must be absolute in our hearts. And like Peter our foremost allegiance must be for Christ and the gospel and to God’s kingdom to which we belong. We must view every lesson we learn from the Bible with an obedient heart.