Jesus Christ is the only way
Acts 4:1-12 (Pastor Heo)
4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 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. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ **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.”**
Today we see Peter’s 3rd sermon.
Peter’s 1st sermon: chpt 2: filled with the HS, focused on the resurrection of Christ and 3,000 people were added to the church.
Peter’s 2nd sermon: they met a crippled beggar at the temple gate – during the time of prayer, and they healed him, through the power of Christ. So many people gathered around them: his message was filled with the HS, and focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The total believers totaled up to 5,000 at that time – not counting women and children. But, persecution began.
At that time, 25,000 to 85,000 people lived in Jerusalem. There were 6,000 Pharisees in Palestine at that time. There were 5,000 Christian men at that time – this was a high percentage of the population at that time. So, the current religious leaders (Pharisees, etc) were greatly disturbed. They came to Peter and John and arrested them and questioned them.
But, now it was already evening – late to assemble the necessary leaders to hold the inquiry. So, they put them in jail until the following morning.
“4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. *4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of **men** grew to about five thousand.* 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.”
In this situation, persecution began. Jesus had already won his followers.
Spiritually, what is persecution? This is proof that the gates of hell are being stormed and that spiritual captives are being set free.
This same group who had tried and crucified Christ now sought to intimidate, threaten, and silence Jesus’ witnesses again. Peter and John shared the gospel but ended up in jail.
Even today, there can be risks in trying to win others to Christ:
- being rejected,
- whispered about,
- misunderstood, etc.
Yes, we might be willing to face jail for one night if it would bring 5,000 to Christ. But at the same time, we must be willing to suffer for only one lost soul.
- How about all of us today?
- What do you risk in witnessing?
This is a practical question.
Whatever the risks, we must realize that nothing done for Christ is ever wasted. No matter how great the risk, the reward is surely greater. Jesus, “Blessed are you when people insult, persecute you, and say all kinds of false evil about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad – for your reward in heaven will be great. They did the same to the prophets.”
- Romans: “Our present suffering cannot compare to eternal glory…”
- Jesus, “On my account you will be brought to kings and leaders – at that time you will be given what to say. It will not be you speaking, but the HS speaking through you.”
Still persecution is alive around us if we are really witnesses of Christ.
v. 5-12 is Peter’s 3rd sermon. It’s very short but powerful and effective.
“6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?””
At that time, the priests, teachers of the Law, etc, made up a Sanhedrin (Council) – like a Supreme Court. They gathered together and it was the HIGHEST ruling government of Israel. They handled local problems. It consisted of 70 members + the current high priest = 71 total members.
v. 6 – Annas and Caiaphas = high priests together (but actually, there was only one high priest at a time).
Annas was the original high priest, but the Roman government deposed him, and appointed Caiaphas in his place (his son-in-law). But the Jews thought of the high priest as a lifetime position – so they continued to call him “high priest” and give him respect in this council.
They both had played a significant role in Jesus’ trial. They were at the front place of condemning Christ.
v. 7-11 (Peter’s answer and sermon)
“7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 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. 11 He is ” ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. ‘”
Imagine this situation, this picture. This is the Supreme Court – the highest class, wealthiest, most powerful, most intellectual in Israel. They crucified Christ. They did not like his teaching, nor any new movement, nor any campaign. They only wanted to maintain the status quo to keep their wealth, privilege, status, etc. Also, the majority of the members were Saduccees – they were the richest, and very worldly, materialistic. They did not believe in angels, nor the resurrection of the dead.
So, Peter and John were arrested because they preached the resurrection of Christ. They were fishermen, ordinary people. Yet they stood here to be questioned.
And to the question, Peter answered: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom YOU crucified!” (pointing) “whom God raised – whom you rejected. He has become the cornerstone.” By THAT name the man was healed.
How is this boldness, fearlessness possible?
The HS made this attitude possible.
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…”
I said already,
- The baptism of the HS is a one-time event in our lives – this is at our conversion.
- But the FILLING of the HS is a continual event if we are to be powerful witnesses of Christ.
His message is again focused on the death and resurrection of Christ.
Peter and John were arrested and there to be judged as the accused. Yet Peter is proclaiming judgment over them.
The heart of the message of the gospel is always the death and resurrection of Christ. Do you have a heart? Without a heart, we cannot live nor breath. The death and resurrection of Christ is the heart of the gospel message.
If in your preaching, unless you tell the story of the death and resurrection of Christ, there is no heart in your message.
Other religions base their claims on recognition to the teaching of their founders. But Christianity is distinguished from all other religions based on the significance it places on the death and resurrection of Christ – because this is THE most significant teaching.
The death of Christ
- Without the death and resurrection of Christ, our faith, our repentance is groundless, useless.
- Our God is a righteous and just and right God.
- He cannot forgive sin nor sinners merely on the grounds of a sinner’s repentance.
- God can pardon sin only when the penalty is first paid.
- So, in order to pardon a sinner and also to remain as a righteous God at all times, Jesus Christ paid the penalty FOR us on the cross.
- “He is the propitiation for our sins.” (atoning sacrifice)
The resurrection of Christ
- The resurrection proves he is the Son of God –
- that his sacrifice for our sins was acceptable to God –
- so our salvation is perfectly finished and we can be forgiven.
- And because of these proofs, we can believe in all the things he said as truth.
- We also belong to Christ – are called “Christians” – and we know he still lives on.
- We also understand that because of HIS resurrection, we also will experience a resurrection in Christ one day.
All this evidence is based on the death and resurrection of Christ.
So, when you share your faith with others, do not forget the HEART of the gospel message.
If Christ is REAL to you, IN you, NEAR you, important to you, Number One in your heart and life and mind, then you will speak about Christ at any and every opportunity. Why? Because we are to speak what is filled in our hearts.
Luke “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Something comes out through your mouth that is overflowing in your heart.
memorize this verse and keep it in your hearts.
“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 verse is both a big encouragement and a big challenge.
Today, we must make our reactions very clear to this verse.
Is this verse a blessing or a burden to you?
“no one else”
no other religion, philosophy, doctrine, principle, person, man – except for Jesus Christ – for salvation
What is your reaction, answer, response?
It can be “good news” or “heavy news” to you.
- There is salvation! Salvation can be found!
- No one else?…
Some react very negatively. Why not anything else? Other religions are not wrong. There are many great men and heroes in history. Why only Jesus? Why so exclusive? Why so narrow minded?
Some react praising God. Thank God! There’s a way! We can be forgiven! This is called the narrow way – the narrow door – the narrow path. It is narrow, yes, but it is a way. The only way.
What is your reaction to this?
Imagine you are in a cruise ship, and it is broken and sinking. Sewol or Titanic.
Then somebody says, “There’s a life boat! It’s very near!”
In this situation, what will you do? You can choose your action.
Will you throw yourself into that life boat and be secured with thankfulness? Or will you remain on that sinking ship complaining, “Why only one lifeboat? Where are all the others?” You can choose.
We are in this building. This building is burning on fire. We are locked completely inside. We have no choice but to die.
But someone outside the building makes a single, small hole to the outside. “Hey! Is there anyone inside? Come out and be rescued!”
What shall you do?
Will you rush out through the way out and thank God? Or will you remain inside the burning building and complain: “Why only one way out? What about the doors? Why not another way out?”
These are just stories. But they are illustrations of our lives. All humans are spiritually dead (Eph “As for you, you were dead in your sins and transgressions”). “All humans are destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.”
God has provided only ONE way to salvation: Christ.
This is a REAL situation. It’s not a story. In this situation, what shall you do?
Will you be saved through that only way – Jesus Christ – by believing in him and accepting him as your personal Savior and Lord?
Or will you remain unsaved complaining and criticizing, “Why only one way? There are many religions. Why only this way?”
So, you must make your action before this sentence very clear. Your reaction to this one short sentence will decide your eternal destiny.
v. 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.”
Let us shout this sentence together.
Today, repeat this sentence 100 times.