From Your Pastor, July 29

From Your Pastor, July 29

On Tolerance and Salvation

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

As I was studying for a sermon on Acts 4, I ran across an exemplary sermon on Acts 4:12 from the preacher we love so much, Charles Spurgeon. Below are some rich nuggets from that to encourage
you this week.
His sermon begins by noting that there’s only one way to heaven. There’s a negative truth taught here (there is no other salvation besides by Christ) and a positive one (there is salvation in Jesus Christ).
The negative truth points to a divine intolerance. In antiquity, differing religions called for respect of all religions or gods. For instance, Spurgeon reports, “the king of Egypt would confess that the gods of Nineveh were true and real gods, and the prince of Babylon would acknowledge that the gods of the Philistines were true and real gods: but Jehovah, the God of Israel, put this as one of his first commandments, ‘Thou shalt have none other gods besides me;’ and he would not allow them to pay the slightest possible respect to the gods of any other nation: ‘Thou shalt hew them in pieces, thou shalt break down their temples, and cut down their groves.’”
All other nations were tolerant, the sermon notes, but in contrast Jahweh called for exclusive loyalty and worship. Early on in Deuteronomy, God revealed, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God.” Christianity, following in this train was every bit as exclusivistic. Similarly, note how intolerant our faith is: “Neither is there salvation in any other.” Spurgeon preaches, “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 none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’”

We then are led to ask why there is such intolerance. It is because of the nature of God’s perfection and revelation. If any human were to invent a creed that disqualified all other faiths as invalid, we might mock that. However, “since this religion of Christ is revealed from heaven itself, God, who is the author of all truth, hath a right to append to this truth the dreadful condition, that who so rejecteth it shall perish without mercy; and in proclaiming that, apart from Christ, no man can be saved. We are not really intolerant, for we are but echoing the words of him that speaketh 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.” Spurgeon continues:

“I believe it is just because there is the truth both with the Jew and with the Christian. A thousand errors may live in peace with one another, but truth 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, it is like a fire-brand, and it abideth 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 hath neither peace, nor parley, nor treaty with them, for it is truth, and cannot afford to be yoked with error: it stands upon its own rights, and gives to error its due, declaring that it hath no salvation, but that in the truth, and in the truth alone, is salvation to be found.”

Clearly, no one can be saved apart from Christ.
The positive truth follows from that—and this is wonderful news. God does provide salvation. He provides all aspects of that salvation, from first to last. Salvation, as Jesus taught Zaccheus, can come to your house this day.
None of the elect are so far that God cannot save them. His arm is never shortened that he cannot save. He saves to the uttermost. And he deserves all our praise as our Savior.
Do you know him as your Savior? The Savior from your sins and misery? If so, then like the apostles in Acts, we go and tell others.
The point is this: if we understand the intolerance of God, then if we love our neighbor, we do not hide the way of salvation from them. We go in love and point to our Savior.

—–Pastor Hall