Tim Keller | October 26, 2003
In Acts 4:12, we find a statement that might be hard to swallow, especially in a world where many different religious views coexist, just like in the Roman Empire. It says that salvation is only in one name. Even though it was a hard pill to swallow, it led to amazing transformation in people’s lives. There are four things we need to get our heads around to understand this.
1. It was a conclusion, not an act of pride
Jesus wasn’t just another religious leader. He claimed to be the God who made everything, with no beginning or end. After he rose from the dead, even those who believed in only one God began to worship him. So, if we’re going to accept Jesus, we have to accept that he’s not just one of many options – he’s above all.
2. It’s not any more restricting than saying all religions are true
The argument in Acts isn’t just about whether Jesus is the only way to be saved. It’s about who gets to decide what’s true and what’s not. The Roman Empire didn’t want Christians to have the freedom to practice their faith because it threatened their own power. So, saying all religions are true isn’t neutral – it’s also a power play. Any statement about spiritual things, whether it’s saying Jesus is the only way or not, is a way of claiming authority. What matters is how these claims shape our lives.
3. This unique claim changes how we see ourselves
Peter and John, two average guys with no special talents, became incredibly brave and saw themselves differently after they understood who Jesus really was. They believed Jesus lived and died for them, which made them feel loved and accepted. The message of the gospel is that everyone, whether good or bad, can come to God through Jesus. This leads to a new sense of identity and a life filled with courage.
4. This unique claim led to the most welcoming community the world had ever seen
The early Christians faced many challenges. But they responded with prayer, bold proclamation of the gospel, and incredible generosity. Their understanding of Jesus’ selfless love made them more accepting and loving. This might seem strange, but the belief that Jesus is the only way to God created the most welcoming community the world had ever seen.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
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