Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
I didn’t want to stop reading after this verse, even though the next part is on the list for tomorrow. This was an exciting time for the early believers, and I get excited just reading it! They were getting a massive taste of what it is to be filled with God’s Spirit as His instrument. I think they were starting to understand Jesus during His earthly ministry far better than they did at the time, because now they were experiencing what He had. Peter was an ignorant Galilean fisherman, but here he is standing in front of the Sanhedrin – equivalent to congress today – and proclaiming Christ in remarkably crisp, elegant oratory. No wonder those present were astonished! (verse 13) This particular verse is the theme Scripture of the All Japan Revival Mission, founded by Akira Takimoto and currently carried on by his sons. It is an absolute refutation of any sort of universalism, such as that taught by the Unitarians. As such it is something of a stumbling block for Japanese. Most of them practice, at different points in their life or even their day, elements of both Shinto and Buddhism, and see no conflict even though they are widely different religions. That’s why many of them would like to “add Jesus to their god shelf,” and can’t understand why it doesn’t work that way. Peter is really echoing Jesus here, which should be no surprise since they were both speaking by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Peter had heard Him say it, and he was convinced it was true. Sadly, even many Christians aren’t so convinced. Recent surveys in the US indicate that even a majority of people think that “All religions teach a way of salvation.” Libertarians believe strongly in “live and let live,” but when it comes to eternal life, the Bible gives no option besides faith in Jesus Christ. If you don’t want someone to go to hell, you’re going to tell them about Jesus!
Some of the strongest verbal attacks I have encountered have been from Americans incensed at my “cultural imperialism” at being a Christian missionary in Japan. I think probably many of those people had left the US to get away from all the churches! Today we are seeing what a “post-Christian” US looks like, because the nation is dangerously close to the tipping point. Thankfully, many people seem to be waking up, but the battle, and the contrast, is severe. It is easy for me to see from my vantage point in Japan, , but all I can do is sign online petitions, vote absentee, and pray. That last is certainly the most important! And all of that is of course in the middle of ministering in a nation that has never pretended to be Christian, and holds the unenviable record for the lowest rate of return on effort in evangelism. I’ve got to believe and proclaim Peter’s declaration myself, not backing down any more than he did. If I will do that, I will see the kind of victories he did – as well as the opposition he did – and my Lord will be pleased.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for the joy it is stirring in my heart. Thank You for yesterday and all it held, seeing spiritual growth in others and in myself. Thank You especially for the brother who is to be baptized on the 19th, and for the joy and anticipation I see in him. May he be fully effective in drawing more into Your family as well, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!