Is There Only One Way To Be Saved?
November 28th, 1982 @ 7:30 PM
Gospel, Inclusivism, Names, Salvation, Truth, Great Questions of Life and Eternity, 1982, Acts
IS THERE ONLY ONE WAY TO BE SAVED?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-28-82 7:30 p.m.
Now with us in the First Baptist Church here in Dallas, all of you who are listening on radio, turn to the Book of Acts, to the Book of Acts. And with us we are going to read out loud together from the fourth chapter, verses 8 through 12. All of us reading out loud together verses 8 through 12, and the text is verse 12. Is there any other way to be saved? Is there only one way to heaven? All of us together now reading the Book of Acts chapter 4, verses 8 through 12. Now together:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
And the text and the background of the message, Is There Only One Way To Be Saved? Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
In the remainder of the chapter, we have the story of the threatening and the punishment of these apostles for preaching Jesus. And as the story continues, James – the brother of John, is beheaded, the son of Zebedee – James is beheaded. And Simon Peter is cast into prison awaiting execution the next morning, delivered as you know by an angel sent from the Lord. Now in verse 29 of this chapter 4, the apostles are praying and they say, "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word" [Acts 4:29].
Do you see anything miraculous – as they were singing about – marvelous, amazing in that? "And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word." They never asked for deliverance from persecution, nor did they ask God to intervene in their execution in martyrdom. All they prayed for was, as they preached the gospel of Christ, that God would give them boldness, intrepidity, fearlessness in proclaiming the matchless message of heaven; Jesus our Lord.
We cannot help but be overwhelmed by these first Christians, these first century Christians, who flung themselves fearlessly against the sharp spear points of Roman-Greek government and culture. They attack with abandon, at cost of life itself, idolatry, and national oppression, and slavery, and all of the curses attendant in the Greco-Roman empire; they did it without thinking of personal cost. They did it fearlessly and boldly, and prayed God to help them in that fearless preaching of the gospel of Christ.
They had a great commission. Our Lord said, "Go into all the world" [Matthew 28:19], and "Ye are My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" [Acts 1:8]. They had a great commission. They had a great commitment to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel; in Judea, winning that Ethiopian treasurer and beginning the Coptic church; in Samaria, and the great revival under Philip, the evangelist; in Caesarea and the opening of the gospel to the Gentile world; in Antioch, the foundation and center of the first missionary movement. And they had a tremendous conviction, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12].
As the apostle Paul preached in the Athenian forum, the times of our not knowing, in these years past, God has overlooked, "but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" [Acts 17:30]. Saved not by Athenian philosophy, not by Roman idolatry, not by Talmudic legalism, but by the saving grace of Jesus Christ, "unto Jews a stumbling block, unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto us who are saved, either Jew or Greek, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" [1 Corinthians 1:23-24]. Thus the first century Christians faced the idolatrous world.
We come now to our modern world. What kind of a culture do we face in preaching the gospel today? It is one of broad-minded liberalism. Under no conditions is a man to believe finally and ultimately anything! Dogma is decried; conviction is discarded; belief is discredited. And a man is to be open-minded, and broad-minded, and liberal, and he is not to come to a conclusion about anything, much less believe in a salvation in one Lord alone. All of this has lead to a universalism that has destroyed the foundations of the Christian faith and of the great missionary movement. I read from an editorial in the United States News and World Report magazine:
This is a time of mounting pressure against missionaries; long, the vanguard of Western enlightenment in Asia and Africa. Countries they helped bring to nationhood now are expelling them, or nationalizing Christian beliefs with an infusion of pagan customs. At home too, the missionaries are under fire from churchmen who say, "his day is finished."
Now, I read from a great contemporary theologian, "The era of the foreign missionary movement is definitely over because the goals and objectives of that movement are no longer valid. There has been a widespread assumption that the church was destined to convert the entire human race to Christianity. This must be rejected as a valid goal because it has no biblical foundation." That is an outright lie, but this great theologian has just said it, "I suggest that the church voluntarily dismantle our present missionary organization and structure." Then a modern, skeptical professor writes, "Much theology is projected fantasy. Religion, all religion is nothing more than a heritage by which a community of believers shares the crises of life and celebrates nature’s timetable of the seasons. Man is part of the world of nature, that is all. Written theology is a linear, typographical thing, and all of that has exploded. We live in the time of the death of God. "
Just recently, Harvard University officially announced that religion has no relevancy to the life and culture and civilization of today. It is a relic, an antique of the past. These are just some of the things out of the thousands I could read that have been brought to bear upon modern religious conversion, the appeal of the human family and the human race to find hope, and life, and light, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
What governments now do officially is to try to preserve and to cultivate the ethnic cultures and the religious heritage of all of the heathen tribes of the earth. And as such, they are interdicting the preaching of the gospel and the conversion of these peoples to the Christian faith. All of which would be fine, excellent, marvelous – were it not for the great revelation of God that there is salvation in none other name under heaven but in Jesus Christ. He is not a way; He is the way. He is not a truth; He is the truth. He is not a life; He is the life [John 14:6]. Men are lost without Christ; we cannot be saved in any other way, or by any other name [Acts 4:12].
As we face the truth of life of God of all reality, there are three aspects in which a man facing truth can be broad or narrow. In two of those aspects he ought to be broad. In one of them he ought to be narrow. A man ought to be broad in his sympathies, wherever people are, in whatever strata or culture, a man ought to be sympathetic, seeking to be kind and generous and understanding. He ought to be broad in his sympathies. Second: he ought to be broad in his horizons. A man ought not to be biased and prejudiced and provincial. He ought to find truth in the hand of God from one side of this encircling globe to the other.
But in one respect, a man ought to be narrow in his thinking and in his response. And that is, in his acceptance of and defense of the truth, especially and particularly the revealed truth of Almighty God. Truth is always narrow, always. It is always narrow, straight and narrow. And it bridges no exception. Truth is always narrow, all of it; not just some of it, all of it. In every category of culture and science, truth is narrow.
Mathematical truth is narrow; two plus two equals four. Now there are thousand, thousand, thousand numbers that it does not equal; two plus two equals four. Now, some fellow comes along and says, "I am no mathematical narrow-minded bigot. I am broad in my liberal approach to truth. I believe two plus two can equal ten or fifteen or twenty. I am broad-minded in my mathematics." Well, you just go down there to the bank and see how far you get along with your broad-minded liberalism. You go up there to that teller and you say, "I have a check here, I want to draw out five hundred dollars," and she looks at your account and says, "You do not have but two hundred dollars." "why," he says, "Why, that is bigotry. I deposited one hundred dollars, and I deposited another hundred dollars and, in my mathematics, that is five hundred dollars." And she looks out through that window and says, "You are a first class nut!" Mathematical truth is narrow.
Scientific truth is narrow. It bridges no other alternative. I can imagine an athletic hero, a self-improvement buff, a fellow who believes in all these things to make you strong and muscled. And on a cold, cold day, when the world up north is covered in snow, why, he is going to stand on a bridge, and he is going to dive two hundred feet into the river below. And when he starts to make that dive, somebody comes up to him and he says, "Man, don’t you know that water freezes at thirty-two degrees and that river into which you are going to dive is solid ice?" He says, "You narrow-minded bigot, I don’t believe that water freezes at thirty-two degrees. I am broad-minded in my acceptance of these scientific facts. To me, water freezes at fifteen degrees." And the fellow says, "Fifteen degrees? Man, water freezes at thirty-two degrees, and you dive off of that bridge, and you’re going to splatter your brains."
"I am broad-minded," he says. And he dives off that bridge, and he does not splatter water down there; he splatters his bird-brains all over that ice. Scientific truth is narrow, always it bridges nothing else.
Historical truth is narrow. You can’t say, "I’m a broad-minded historian. You see, I don’t necessarily confine myself to this great character, living in this particular age. I say, being broad-minded, they can live in any age that I choose. For example," he says, "I don’t believe Caesar lived in 44 BC. Caesar lives in 1982, and he is over there in Arlington now. Let’s go over there and visit Julius Caesar. I’m broad-minded in my history." You know what? If you did that, they would be after you with a net, and they would take you to the funny farm, and they would examine you as to whether you are harmless or not. You’re a screwball; you’re a nut; you’re crazy. All truth is narrow.
Geographical truth is narrow. Things are in a certain place, in a certain area. And all the broad-mindedness and all of our liberalism of our attitude toward geography doesn’t change the one spot and the one place where a thing might be and is. Geography is narrow.
I don’t think I ever came across a sadder incident in American history than this. In these years gone by, a man from the East came out West, and into western Kansas to find a fortune, to build a home, to begin a life. And he left behind a wife and a little baby. So God blessed him, and in western Kansas, in a little town on a railroad called Prairie View, he built a large farm and began to prosper. And he sent back for his wife and little baby. And the day arrived when she came to her husband in western Kansas, in the little place of Prairie View. In one of those providences in the cold wintertime, as the train was going down the tracks through the prairies of western Kansas, there blew in a terrible blizzard and a blinding snowstorm. And that mother, with a baby in her arms, looking out the train window, was greatly concerned about finding her husband in Prairie View. And a fellow passenger on the train, noticing the deep concern of the young mother, said to her, "Young mother, don’t be anxious and don’t be concerned and don’t be worried. I ride up and down this track many, many times, and I know exactly where Prairie View is, and when we get there I will tell you, and then you can get off this train and meet your husband." So as the train sped through the vast tracts of the endlessness of that flat prairie, in the midst of that blinding snowstorm it slowed down and stopped,, and the young man said to the young wife and the little baby, "This is Prairie View." And he helped her off the train. And when she got off the train, immediately the train pulled out and headed west. After about ten minutes or so the conductor came back and he looked up and down and all around and finally said aloud, "Where is this little mother with the baby in her arms?" And this gentleman said, "Well, Mr. Conductor, she got off at the last stop, at Prairie View." And the conductor cried, "Oh my God, my God, we just stopped on a siding back there, Prairie View is the next stop ahead! And that poor woman with the baby has stepped off the train to her frozen death!" Truth is narrow! It is narrow!
And theological truth is no less the same. No broad-mindedness or liberalism will change the everlasting truth of the everlasting God. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12]. Isaiah 45:22, "Look unto Me, look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none other."
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" [John 14:6]. Lord, if I am ever to be saved, I am to be saved in Thee. If I ever have hope for heaven, my hope for heaven lies in Thee. If there ever is to be a blessing awaiting my days and my death and that eternity that is to come, it lies in Thee. There is one way to be saved, just one, and that is in Christ, our dear Lord. May we stand together?
Our Savior, bless our hearts that they might be open to Thee, bless our minds that we might be able to understand this simple, great, revealed truth, and bless our hearts that we might respond in faith. I can’t save myself. My good works won’t deliver me. I can’t be saved by culture, or education, or training. I can’t be saved by any other man’s approach to God in any other religion. I can only be saved in Jesus who came into this world to die for my sins, to be raised for my justification, and to be my great attorney, and mediator, and friend, and representative, and pleader in the judgment day of Almighty God. O Lord, make this hour an hour of salvation.
And while our people pray, and in a moment when our people sing a hymn of appeal and invitation, that somebody you who has battled in your heart, "Shall I accept the Lord or not? Shall I give my life to Christ or not?" Make it now. "This is God’s time for me, and I’m on the way." A family you to put your life in the center circumference of this precious church, "Pastor, all of us are coming tonight, we are on the way." A couple you, a man and his wife or you and your friend, down that stairway, down this aisle, "Pastor, we have decided for God, and here we stand." As the Holy Spirit shall make appeal, answer with your life. "Pastor, this is God’s time for me, and here I come."
And our Lord, give strength to those who might be timid, and give Thy blessing to those who might hesitate and give a great victory to those who war in their hearts about this decision; and Lord, may tonight be the night of triumph, and commitment, and confession, and salvation. And may angels attend those who come, in Thy saving name, amen.
While we sing our song, a thousand times welcome, while you come, amen.