#THE WAY OF SALVATION
"Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
- Acts 4:12
IT is a very happy circumstance when the servants of God are able to turn everything to account in their ministry. Now the apostle Peter was summoned before the priests and Sadducees—the chiefs of his nation—to answer for having restored a man who was lame from his mother’s womb. While accounting for this case of healing, or, if I may use the expression, for this case of temporal salvation, the apostle Peter had this thought suggested to him, "While I am accounting for the salvation of this man from lameness, I now have a fine opportunity of showing these people who otherwise will not listen to us, the way of the salvation of the soul." So he proceeds from the less to the greater, from the healing of a man’s limb to the healing of a man’s soul. And having informed them once that it was through the name of Jesus Christ that the impotent man had been made whole, he now announces that salvation—the great salvation, must be worked by the same means—"Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
What a great word that word, "salvation," is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt and the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us. It takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did! Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate. And yet it is something more than that, for God’s salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell—it finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first parent— defiled, stained, accursed. It first heals our wounds, it removes our diseases; it takes away our curse; it puts our feet upon the rock, Christ Jesus and, having thus done, at last it lifts our heads far above all principalities and powers to be crowned forever with Jesus Christ, the King of heaven! Some people, when they use the word, "salvation," understand nothing more by it than deliverance from hell and admittance into heaven. Now that is not salvation—those two things are the effects of salvation! We are redeemed from hell because we are saved and we enter heaven because we have been saved beforehand. Our everlasting state is the effect of salvation in this life. Salvation, it is true, includes all that because salvation is the mother of it and carries it within its heart, but still it were wrong for us to imagine that that is all the meaning of the word. Salvation begins with us as wandering sheep. It follows us through all our mazy wanderings. It puts us on the shoulders of the shepherd. It carries us into the fold. It calls together the friends and the neighbors. It rejoices over us. It preserves us in that fold through life! And then, at last, it brings us to the green pastures of heaven—beside the still waters of bliss—where we lie down forever in the presence of the Chief Shepherd, never more to be disturbed.
Now our text tells us there is only one way of salvation. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved." I shall take first of all, a negative truth of God taught here, namely, that there is no salvation out of Christ. And then, secondly, a positive truth of God inferred, namely, that there is salvation in Jesus Christ by which we must be saved.
I. First, then, A NEGATIVE FACT. "Neither is there salvation in any other." Did you ever notice the intolerance of God’s religion? In olden times the heathen, who had different gods, respected the gods of their neighbors. For instance, the king of Egypt would confess that the gods of Nineveh were true and real gods. But Jehovah, the God of Israel, put this as one of His first commandments, "You shall have no other gods besides Me." And He would not allow them to pay the slightest possible respect to the gods of any other nation—"You shall hew them in pieces; you shall break down their temples and cut down their groves." All other nations were tolerant—the one to the other—but the Jew could not be so. One part of his religion was, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one God." And as the consequence of his belief that there was but one God and that one God was Jehovah, he felt it his duty to call all pretended gods by nicknames, to spit upon them, to treat them with insult and contempt! Now the Christian religion, you observe, is just as intolerant as this. If you apply to a Brahmin to know the way of salvation, he will very likely tell you at once that all persons who follow out their sincere religious convictions will undoubtedly be saved. "There," he says, "are the Muslims—if they obey Mohammed, and sincerely believe what he has taught without doubt—Allah will glorify them at last." And the Brahmin turns round upon the Christian missionary and says, "What is the use of your bringing your Christianity here to disturb us? I tell you our religion is quite capable of carrying us to heaven if we are faithful to it." Now just hear the text—how intolerant is the Christian religion—"Neither is there salvation in any other." The Brahmin may admit that there is salvation in 50 religions besides his own, but we admit no such thing! There is no true salvation out of Jesus Christ! The gods of the heathens may approach us with their mock charity and tell us that every man may follow out his own conscientious conviction and be saved. We reply—"No such thing! There is no salvation in any other—for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
Now, what do you suppose is the reason for this intolerance—if I may use the word again? I believe it is just because there is the truth of God both with the Jew and with the Christian. A thousand errors may live in peace with one another, but the truth of God is the hammer that breaks them all in pieces! A hundred lying religions may sleep peaceably in one bed—but wherever the Christian religion goes as the truth of God—it is like a firebrand and it tolerates nothing that is not more substantial than the wood, the hay and the stubble of carnal error! All the gods of the heathen and all other religions are born of hell and, therefore, being children of the same father, it would seem amiss that they should fall out and chide and fight! But the religion of Christ is a thing of God’s—its pedigree is from on high and, therefore, when once it is thrust into the midst of an ungodly and gainsaying generation, it has neither peace, nor parley, nor treaty with them—for it is the truth of God and cannot afford to be yoked with error! It stands upon its own rights and gives to error its due—declaring that it has no salvation—but that in the truth of God and in the truth of God, alone, is salvation to be found!
Again—it is because we have here the sanction of God. It would be improper in any man who had invented a creed of his own to state that all others must be damned who do not believe it. That would be an overwhelming censoriousness and bigotry at which we might afford to smile. But since this religion of Christ is revealed from heaven itself—God, who is the author of all truth—has a right to append to this truth the dreadful condition that whoever rejects it shall perish without mercy! And He may proclaim that apart from Christ no man can be saved. We are not really intolerant for we are but echoing the Words of Him who speaks from heaven, and who declares that cursed is the man who rejects this religion of Christ, seeing that there is no salvation out of Him. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
Now, I hear one or two persons saying, "Do you imagine then, sir, that none are saved apart from Christ?" I reply, I don’t imagine it, but I have it here in my text plainly taught! "Well but," says one, "how is it concerning the death of infants? Do not infants die without actual sin? Are they saved? And if so, how?" I answer, they are saved beyond a doubt—all children dying in infancy are caught away to dwell in the third heaven of bliss forever! But mark this—no infant was ever saved apart from the death of Christ. Christ Jesus has bought with His blood all those who die in infancy. They are all regenerated, not in sprinkling, but probably in the instant of their death a marvelous change passes over them by the breathing of the Holy Spirit. The blood of Jesus is applied to them, and they are washed from all original corruption which they had inherited from their parents—and thus washed and cleansed they enter into the kingdom of heaven. Otherwise, beloved, infants would be unable to join in the everlasting song, "Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood." If infants were not washed in the blood of Christ, they could not join in that universal song which perpetually surrounds the throne of God! We believe that they are all saved—every one of them without exception—but not apart from the one great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Another says, "But how about the heathen? They know not Christ—are any of the heathen saved?" Mark, Holy Scripture says but very little concerning the salvation of the heathen. There are many texts in Scripture which would lead us to infer that all the heathen perish. But there are some texts which, on the other hand, lead us to believe that there are some out of the heathen race who, led by God’s secret Spirit, are seeking after Him in the dark. By His Spirit they are endeavoring to find out something they cannot discover in nature. And it may be that the God of infinite mercy who loves His creatures, is pleased to make to them these revelations in their own heart. Dark and mysterious revelations concerning the things of heaven—so that even they may be made partakers of the blood of Jesus Christ—without having such an open vision as we have received—without beholding the cross visibly elevated, and Christ set forth crucified among them.
It has been observed in many heathen lands that before the missionaries have gone there, there has been a strong desire after the religion of Christ. In the Sandwich Islands, before our missionaries went there, there was a strange commotion in the minds of those poor barbarians. They did not know what it was, but they were all of a sudden discontented with their idolatries, and had a longing desire after something higher, better and purer than anything they had up to then discovered! And no sooner was Jesus Christ preached than they willingly renounced all their idolatries, and laid hold upon Him to be their strength and their salvation! Now we believe this was the work of God’s Spirit secretly inclining these poor creatures to seek after Him. And we cannot tell but that in some sequestered spots where we had thought the gospel never has been preached, there may be some lone tract, some chapter of the Bible, some solitary verse of Holy Writ remembered which may be sufficient to open blind eyes and to guide poor darkened hearts to the foot of the cross of Christ! But this much is certain—no heathen, however moral—whether in the days of their old philosophy or in the present time of their barbarism—ever did or ever could enter the kingdom of heaven apart from the name of Jesus Christ! "Neither is their salvation in any other." A man may seek after it and labor after it in his own way, but there he cannot possibly find it, "For there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
But after all, my dear friends, it is a great deal better—when we are dealing with these subjects—not to talk upon speculative matters, but to come home personally to ourselves. And let me now ask you this question—have you ever proved by experience the truth of this great negative fact, that there is no salvation in any other? I can speak what I do know and testify what I have seen when I solemnly declare in the presence of this congregation that it is even so! Once I thought there was salvation in good works and I labored hard and strove diligently to preserve a character of integrity and uprightness. But when the Spirit of God came into my heart, "sin revived and I died." That which I thought had been good, proved to be evil—wherein I thought I had been holy—I found myself to be unholy. I discovered that my very best actions were sinful; that my tears needed to be wept over and that my very prayers needed God’s forgiveness! I discovered that I was seeking after salvation by the works of the Law—that I was doing all my good works from a selfish motive—namely to save myself, and, therefore, they could not be acceptable to God. I found out that I could not be saved by good works for two very good reasons— first, I had not any, and secondly, if I had any, they could not save me! After that, I thought salvation might be obtained partly by reformation and partly by trusting in Christ. So I labored hard again and thought if I added a few prayers here and there, a few tears of penitence and a few vows of improvement, all would be well. But after forging on for many a weary day like a poor blind horse toiling round the mill, I found I had got no farther, for there was still the curse of God hanging over me—"Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." And there was still an aching void in my heart the world could never fill—a void of distress and care—for I was sorely troubled because I could not attain unto the rest which my soul desired! Have you tried those two ways of getting to heaven? If you have, I trust the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has made you heartily sick of them, for you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven by the right door until you have first of all been led to confess that all the other doors are barred in your teeth! No man will ever come to God through the straight and narrow way until he has tried all the other ways—and when we find ourselves beaten and foiled and defeated—then it is that pressed by sore necessity, we betake ourselves to the one open fountain, and there wash ourselves, and are made clean!
Perhaps I have in my presence this morning some who are trying to gain salvation by ceremonies. You have been baptized in your infancy. You regularly take the Lord’s Supper. You attend your church or chapel, and if you knew of any other ceremonies, you would attend to them. Ah, my dear friends, all these things are as the chaff before the wind in the matter of salvation! They cannot help you one step towards acceptance in the person of Christ. As well might you labor to build your house with water as to build salvation with such poor things as these! These are good enough for you when you are saved, but if you seek salvation in them, they shall be to your soul as wells without water, clouds without rain and withered trees, twice dead, plucked up by the roots! Whatever is your way of salvation—for there are a thousand different inventions of men whereby they seek to save themselves! Whatever it may be, hear its death knell tolled from this verse—"Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved."
II. Now, this brings me to the POSITIVE FACT which is inferred in the text, namely, that there is salvation in Jesus Christ. Surely, when I make that simple statement, I might burst forth with the song of the angels and say—"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men." Here are a thousand mercies all bound up in one bundle in this sweet, sweet fact—that there is salvation in Jesus Christ! I shall now endeavor to merely deal with any soul here present who entertains a doubt as to his own salvation in Jesus Christ. I shall single him out and address him affectionately and earnestly and endeavor to show him that he may yet be saved and that in Christ there is salvation for him!
I know you, sinner! You have long been trying to find the road to heaven and you have missed it. You have had a thousand dazzling gimmicks to deceive you and never yet one solid ground of comfort for your poor weary feet! And now, encompassed about by your sins, you are not able to look up. Guilt, like a heavy burden, is on your back and your finger is on your lips, for you dare not cry for pardon. You are afraid to speak, lest out of your own mouth you should be condemned! Satan whispers in your ear, "It is all over with you. There is no mercy for such as you are—you are condemned and condemned you must be! Christ is able to save many, but not to save you." Poor soul! What shall I say to you but this— Come with me to the cross of Christ, and you shall there see something which shall remove your unbelief! Do you see that man nailed to yonder tree? Do you know His character? He is without spot or blemish, or any such thing. He was no thief, that He should die a felon’s death; He was no murderer and no assassin, that He should be crucified between two malefactors. No—His original was pure, without a sin. And His life was holy, without a flaw! Out of His mouth there proceeded only blessing. His hands were full of good deeds and His feet were swift for acts of mercy. His heart was white with holiness! There was nothing in Him that man could blame; even His enemies, when they sought to accuse Him, found false witnesses, but even they "agreed not together." Do you see Him dying? Sinner, there must be merit in the death of such a man as that! Without sin Himself, when He is put to grief—it must be for other men’s sins! God would not afflict and grieve Him when He deserved it not—God is no tyrant that He should crush the innocent! He is not unholy that He should punish the righteous. He suffered, then, for the sins of others—
"For sins, not His own, He died to atone."
Think of the purity of Christ and then see whether there is not salvation in Him. Come now with your blackness about you, and look at His whiteness! Come with your defilement and look at His purity. And as you look at that purity like the lily and you see the crimson of His blood overflowing it, let this whisper be heard in your ears—He is able to save you, sinner, inasmuch as He was "tempted in all points like as we are," yet He was "without sin." Therefore, the merit of His blood must be great. Oh, may God help you to believe on Him!
But this is not the grand thing which should recommend Him to you. Remember, He who died upon the cross was no less than the everlasting Son of God! Do you see Him there? Come, turn your eyes once more to Him. Do you see His hands and feet trickling with streams of gore? That man is Almighty God! Those hands that are nailed to the tree are hands that could shake the world! Those feet that are there pierced have in them, if He willed to put it forth, a potency of strength that might make the mountains melt beneath their tread! That head, now bowed in anguish and in weakness, has in it the wisdom of the Godhead and with its nod it could make the universe tremble! He who hangs upon the cross is He without whom was not anything made that was made—by Him all things consist—Maker, Creator, Preserver, God of providence, and God of grace—He who died for you is God over all, blessed forever! And now, sinner, is there any power to save in such a Savior as this? If He were a mere man, a Socinian’s Christ, or an Arian’s Christ, I would not bid you trust Him. But since He is none other than God, Himself, incarnate in human flesh, I beseech you, cast yourself upon Him—
"He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more!"
"He is able to save unto the uttermost, them who come unto God by Him."
Will you remember again, as a further consolation for your faith, that you may believe that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice of Christ? It is the Father’s anger that you have the most cause to dread—the Father is angry with you, for you have sinned and He has sworn with an oath that He will punish you for your offenses! Now Jesus Christ was punished in the place of every sinner who has repented, or ever shall repent. Jesus Christ stood as his substitute and scapegoat. God the Father has accepted Christ in the place of sinners! Oh, ought not this lead you to accept Him? If the Judge has accepted the sacrifice, surely you may accept it, too! And if He is satisfied—surely you may also be content. If the creditor has written a full and free discharge—you, the poor debtor, may rejoice and believe that that discharge is satisfactory to you because it is satisfactory to God! But do you ask me how I know that God has accepted Christ’s atonement? I remind you that Christ rose again from the dead. Christ was put into the prison of the tomb after He died, and there He waited until God accepted the atonement—
"If Jesus never had paid the debt,
He never had been at freedom set."
Christ would have been in the tomb this very day if God had not accepted His atonement for our justification! But the Lord looked down from heaven and He surveyed the work of Christ, and said within Himself, "It is very good. It is enough." And turning to an angel, He said, "Angel, My Son is confined in prison, a hostage for My elect. He has paid the price. I know He will not break the prison down Himself—go, angel, go and roll away the stone from the door of the sepulcher and set Him free." Down flew the angel and rolled away the massive stone. And rising from the shades of death the Savior lived! "He died and rose again for our justification." Now, poor soul, you see God has accepted Christ—surely then, you may accept Him and believe on Him!
Another argument which may perhaps come nearer to your own soul is this—many have been saved who were as vile as you are and, therefore, there is salvation! "No," you say, "none are so vile as I am." It is a mercy that you think so, but nevertheless it is quite certain that others have been saved who have been as filthy as yourself. Have you been a persecutor? "Yes," you say. Yes, but you have not been more blood-thirsty than Saul! And yet that chief of sinners became the chief of saints! Have you been a swearer? Have you cursed the Almighty to His face? Yes. And such were some of us who now lift up our voices in prayer and approach His throne with acceptance! Have you been a drunkard? Yes and so have many of God’s people been for many a day and many a year—but they have forsaken their filthiness, and they have turned unto the Lord with full purpose of heart! However great your sin, I tell you, man, woman, there have been some saved as deep in sin as you are! And if none have been saved who are such great sinners as you are, so much the more reason why God should save you—that He may go beyond all that He ever has done! The Lord always delights to be doing wonders. And if you stand the chief of sinners, a little ahead of all the rest, I believe He will delight to save you—that the wonders of His love and His grace may be the more manifestly known! Do you still say that you are the chief of sinners? I tell you I do not think it! The chief of sinners was saved years ago—that was the Apostle Paul—but even if you should exceed him—still that word, "uttermost," goes a little beyond you! "He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him." Remember, sinner, if you do not find salvation in Christ, it will be because you do not look for it, for it certainly is there. If you shall perish without being saved through the blood of Christ, it will not be through a lack of power in that blood to save you, but entirely through a lack of will on your part—that you will not believe on Him but wantonly and willfully reject His blood to your own destruction! Take heed to yourself, for as surely as there is salvation in none other, so surely there is salvation in Him!
I could turn to you myself, and tell you that surely there must be salvation in Christ for you, since I have found salvation in Christ for myself. Often have I said I will never doubt the salvation of anyone, as long as I can but know that Christ has accepted me. Oh, how dark was my despair when I first sought His mercy seat! I thought then that if He had mercy on the entire world, yet He would never have mercy on me! The sins of my childhood and my youth haunted me. I sought to get rid of them one by one, but I was caught as in an iron net of evil habits. and I could not overthrow them; even when I could renounce my sin, yet the guilt still clinged to my garments. I could not wash myself clean! I prayed for three long years—I bent my knees in vain and sought, but found no mercy. But, at last, blessed be His name, when I had given up all hope and thought that His swift anger would destroy me and that the pit of hell would open its mouth and swallow me up—then in the hour of my extremity did He manifest Himself to me and teach me to cast myself simply and wholly upon Him! So shall it be with you—only trust Him, for there is salvation in Him—rest assured of that. To quicken your diligence, however, I will conclude by noting that if you do not find salvation in Christ, remember you will never find it elsewhere! What a dreadful thing it will be for you if you should lose the salvation provided by Christ! For "How shall you escape if you neglect so great a salvation?" Today, very probably, I am not speaking to very many of the grossest of sinners, yet I know I am speaking to some even of that class. But whether we are gross sinners or not—how fearful a thing it will be for us to die without first having found an interest in the Savior!
Oh sinner! This should quicken you in going to the mercy seat. Remember that if you find no mercy at the feet of Jesus, you can never find it anywhere else. If the gates of heaven shall never open to you, remember there is no other gate that ever can be opened for your salvation! If Christ refuses you, you are refused! If His blood is not sprinkled on you, you are lost, indeed! Oh, if He keeps you waiting a little while, continue in prayer. It is worth waiting for—especially when you have this thought to keep you waiting, namely that there is none other, no other way, no other hope, no other ground of trust, no other refuge! There I see the gate of heaven and if I must enter it, I must creep on my hands and knees, for it is a low gate. There I see it, it is a straight and narrow one—I must leave my sins behind me and my proud righteousness and I must creep in through that wicket. Come sinner, what do you say? Will you go beyond this straight and narrow gate, or will you despise eternal life and risk eternal bliss? Or will you go through it humbly hoping that He who gave Himself for you will accept you in Himself, and save you now, and save you everlastingly? May these few words have power to draw some to Christ and I am content. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." "For there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved." Amen. Amen!