by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)

Non-denominational Reformed

Scripture: Acts 4:8-13

Introduction: Baptism is something we do to publicly demonstrate we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, the one and only Way to salvation. It's an outward pronouncement of a change that has taken place within us . It's something we get excited about and can't help but share. For most it's a time when we react boldly to God having chosen us as one of His own. An interesting side note here is that when we examine Peter in Scripture often times he was kind of “shaky” in his faith. At times he would act as bold as a lion and other times he seemed to be as timid as a mouse. He was often times unreliable and he could also be as impulsive as an over eager child. However, after Christ's resurrection Peter was empowered and encouraged by the Holy Spirit and became an “evangelistic powerhouse.” He began preaching sermon after sermon to upset crowds in the tension filled city of Jerusalem.

In today's passage the sermon we find Peter preaching is something that has become extremely controversial today: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Today's culture insists that there are many paths that lead to God. Just like there can be many trails or pathways that weave through the forest leading up to the top of the same mountain, society today believes all religions, all spiritual pursuits, lead to the same God. However, Peter emphatically contradicts this idea in Acts 4:12. When we are baptized and publicly confess to the world that we are Christ-followers, we journey down a unique and narrow road. Often times we find ourselves being accused of having a closed mind, or being judgmental and exclusive because of our faith. When this happens there are five things we need to remember, five things we can share that let them know OUR FAITH IS:

1. Factual: We do believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Our message as Christians IS dogmatic and exclusive in this regard; and although we are often accused of being narrow minded, the “narrow road” we are on can be backed by several historic and biblical facts.

2. Logical: Dave Hunt, a Christian professor and apologist, says, "The very nature of reality demands that there be unchangeable absolutes. Without definite and predictable physical laws, this universe could not function. Is it not reasonable that spiritual reality should be just as definitely defined?" Hunt continues, "Everyone knows that to fly an airplane or practice medicine or even bake a cake, one must follow specific procedures. One can't even play a game without rules. Then why attempt to avoid the rules which God has set in the realm of the spirit? Sincerity won't get astronauts to the moon, nor will it prevent arsenic from killing the person who ingested it by mistake... What folly it would be to refuse to follow a map because maps are so restrictive, and to insist that any road in any direction will do! How much greater is the folly of insisting that any road sincerely followed will take one to heaven!"

3. Defensible: We are taught in God's Word to always have an explanation for our faith, to have a defense for what it is we believe. Fortunately, history, Scripture, philosophy, reasoning, and archaeology repeatedly add credence, evidence, and proof to the credibility of Christianity. You are hard pressed to find any legitimate, respected historical scholar that will state Jesus Christ of Nazareth did not exist. Anyone with a shred of credibility will admit the existence of Jesus regardless of what they think about who he was. Christ's resurrection is also apologetically defensible in that many witnessed a post death Jesus over a forty day period, the tomb was indeed empty, Jesus was declared dead yet later seen alive, etc.

4. Profitable: A illustration is often shared where a woman faced a judge in court for speeding. She was asked whether she was guilty or not guilty. The woman stated she was guilty. At this the judge banged his gavel and sentenced her to a fine of hundreds of dollars. Then, the judge stepped around and stood next to the woman, took out his wallet, and paid the fine for her. It so happens the judge was her father. He was a just judge as he doled out the penalty, yet he loved his daughter as is seen by his paying off that same penalty. This is a picture of what God did for us, although he on a much larger scale. We have broken His laws, many of them, and the wages for this is death. God's gavel pounds down and He declares, "Guilty! Death is the cost!" But He left his place of authority in heaven and laid aside His divine glory. And by dying on the cross, HE paid the penalty WE owe for our sin. Like the judge, HE paid the fine for us.

5. Scriptural: Let's go on a tour of the New Testament and see just how Scriptural the narrowness of the Gospel truly is. Our tour will show us how consistently and insistently the Bible teaches the truth of Acts 4:12. We live in such an overly "tolerant" culture that even Christians can get caught up in it, but the Bible speaks very clearly and plainly on the issue:

John 8:24, "I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins."

John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

Romans 3:10-12, 21-26, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one...But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Conclusion: So we follow Him, living our lives for the One who chose us and died for us and who ALONE brings salvation. And it is at baptism that we make the public proclamation of the dedication of our lives to Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other name given, among men under heaven, whereby one must be saved. We live for Him alone.

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