(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
No Other Name
10th November 2007
Following on from last week, when Peter explained that the healing of the beggar was achieved in the Name of Jesus, let's look in more detail at the last thing we quoted him saying:
Just because many people reject Jesus, that doesn't mean he isn't God. It doesn't mean He isn't Lord of all. It doesn't mean He isn't the Savour of the World. He is who He is (Exodus 3v14). He existed before time began. Who He is, is not something that can be decided by popular opinion. When He rose from the dead, He proved that He's not subject to our will. He will not be what we want Him to be. He is in control.
Believing what the Bible about Jesus Christ has consequences. Not believing what the Bible says about Jesus Christ also has consequences. Here are some "either/or" questions that will affect you for the rest of eternity:
Each of these questions is life-changing.
And today's passage contains another life-changing idea:
If your answers to the questions I just asked is "no", and if Peter (and the Bible) are correct, then you're in a lot of trouble (to be frank). Salvation is found in no-one else. Without Jesus, there is no salvation: no forgiveness of sins, no healing from God, no eternal life. Jesus Himself said:
But if your answer to the questions above is "Yes", if you are a totally orthodox Christian, you still have a number of problems as a result.
This week, I just want to talk about one of them.
In Britain, we live in what is called a multi-cultural society. This means that we are all required to respect other people, and to respect their beliefs. This society doesn't work perfectly, but we have achieved a level of tolerance that at least means that the number of violent, explicitly racist or religionist attacks on our fellow-citizens is low by historical standards. And those of us, like the Christians, who have strong religious beliefs (and those who have strong anti-religious beliefs) have reason to be glad of this tolerance.
And, as Christians, we understand that we are called by God to love and respect EVERYBODY - of any faith or none, caught in any sin, having any attitude. For Christians, to tolerate others is part of our religion. So far so good. But what does it mean to respect the beliefs of others? I can acknowledge that a Hindu, or Muslim, or Atheist, or Buddhist is sincere in his beliefs. I can accept that I do not have the right to force anyone to agree with my own belief system.
But I cannot deny my own belief system. And my belief system includes the idea that the Bible is the revealed written word of God, and completely trustworthy. And the Bible teaches me that Jesus Christ is the ONLY name by which we must be saved. It teaches me that no-one comes to the Father except through Him. It teaches me that any other person who sets himself up as a saviour is a fake. It teaches me Christian morality.
I can accept that a follower of a different belief system has different beliefs, including different beliefs about morality on Earth, about whether there is life after death, about whether heaven and hell exist, and about how to achieve heaven. I can accept that others do not believe that Jesus is the only answer to our spiritual needs. I accept that I have no right to attempt to silence them. And I'm glad that they don't make too much effort to silence us (although that is beginning to change in Britain).
But I cannot accept that the gods that others worship are true gods, or that their moral teaching is superior to the Bible's.
And, in truth, others do not accept that Jesus is the true God, or that Biblical morality is superior to others. But in our society, the Christians seem to be becoming the only people who are actively and increasingly discouraged from saying such things.
If we truly believe the Bible, if we trust our futures - on Earth and in Heaven - to Jesus, then we must not be afraid to speak what we are convinced is the truth. But we will run the risk of some measure of persecution if we do so. And that persecution is likely to increase in Britain for some time to come.
God will have the final victory. And God will have many victories before the final one. In the meantime, He's looking for a faithful, courageous, honest people.