4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Saved: rescued, delivered, healed
“Are you saved brother?” This is language you may hear in Christians circles but what does it mean? For some it means reciting a certain prayer and then continuing on with life as usual. For others it means choosing heaven over some torturous fire we call hell. For still others the language and the whole idea is repugnant. They hear the message of Christianity as threats. “You better believe or you’ll burn…!” This was the message that got spread across Europe during the dark ages and was used to fund the massive building projects of the church.
But is it the truth?
Jesus said “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free and you will be free indeed.”
Yesterday I read a tirade against the notion that only Jesus saves. What about the billions who have never heard of Him? What kind of navel gazing self-obsessed religion teaches that their way is the only way?
So many questions. So much confusion and misinformation.
Jesus boldly said He was the only Way so either He is the only Way or He was insane. But the only way to where? Saved from what? Saved for what?
These are worthy questions. Peter was standing in front of the religious leaders of the nation. Like it or not a nation that has had a huge impact on world history. He is telling them they killed their own Messiah. He is telling them Jesus, the son of the artisan from Nazareth, was The One and they had Him crucified. Why would they do that? Why would anyone do that? Again more great questions. They did it because they believed He was an imposter. He was a threat to national security and their influence over the people. They knew what the Messiah was coming for and what He would do and Jesus did not fit. They knew this with 100% certainty because… tradition told them so. They were so convinced that they believed murder was necessary even though their religion taught “Thou shalt not kill”.
See it’s possible to be 100% convinced and be 100% wrong which brings us back to the point at hand. What does “saved” mean?
I have friends who are atheists. They believe that this life is a one shot deal. You live, you die, end of story. And they are essentially right. Death is death.
Just this morning I read an article analyzing the results of a survey of 1000 Protestants pastors. The topic of the survey was their beliefs about the return of Jesus to this earth and how the world will end. The answers were all over the map yet they all claim to be getting those answers from the same Book. How can that be? Simple really. Tradition trumps truth. We believe what we have been taught the Book says rather than actually reading the Book for what it says.
Jesus called death a sleep yet most of Christianity says we never really die we just change forms or places or both at death. None of these confusing and contradictory beliefs come from the Bible though. The Bible simply says we’re dead. We know nothing. We have no part in anything more that is done under the sun. We don’t go anywhere. We don’t separate from our bodies. We just sleep. It’s over. Done. Finished. Just like my atheist friends believe. We get this one life free of charge. We didn’t earn it but we get full say over what we do with it and when it’s over, it’s over.
Now think about an ambulance or some other emergency service vehicle. It comes when called. It comes to rescue, deliver, heal. Jesus explained to a religious teacher in John 3 that He did not come to this world to judge or condemn. He went on to explain that we are condemned already. If the rescuers don’t rescue and the healers don’t heal the outcome is assured. Jesus did not come to threaten us with death or never ending torture if we don’t follow Him. Had He never shown up death would have continued to be the only option. Jesus came to save. He came to offer an alternative free for the asking but forced on no one. It’s far from a threat just as an ambulance does not show up to threaten or judge.
So what about the exclusive part? What about Jesus being the only way? What about the billions who have never heard His name? Well that’s a lot simpler than it seems. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the WHOLE WORLD. This is an unpopular teaching with some Christians. Like the Jews they like the pride of exclusivity. However Jesus excluded no one, including those who never even knew His name. God judges the heart remember.
Sometimes an ambulance comes because we are well enough to call for one. Sometimes someone else calls on our behalf. Sometimes the disaster is such that they just come because they know they are needed even if no one called. There will be people in heaven who have never heard His name. They will be there because He looked into their hearts and saw His kingdom was the kind of kingdom they longed for. A kingdom without walls or borders. A kingdom where love is the law and is as natural as the rising sun. They are there because He made it possible for them to be there. He rescued them from the inevitable cycle of death. He healed them from the damage caused by living in this world and He brought them Home. They will meet Him for the first time and yet His voice will be familiar to them. They just didn’t have a Name or Face to match to His voice.
Yes He is the only Way but His Way is open for all, even those who have never heard His Name.