The Teaching of the New Testament

The Teaching of the New Testament

There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
–Acts 4:12

Today, it’s popular for inclusivists to say that people can be saved by Jesus without knowing the name of Jesus. Inclusivists say, “People are worshipping the same God; they just call Him a different name.” Let me show you how ridiculous that is. Imagine your name is Cindy Jones, and you need a car loan, so you go to the bank. The problem is, your credit is terrible. So instead of using your name, you apply for a loan using the name of your friend Janet Smith, who has spectacular credit. After all, names don’t matter, do they? You will end up in jail if you try to apply for a loan under a fraudulent name. The fact is, names mean something. Names represent the essence of who we are, and so it is with the name of Jesus. When we talk about the name of Jesus, we are talking about the person of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what language you translate that name into, it refers to the person who came, died, and rose again that we might have eternal life.

Peter taught the exclusivity of salvation through faith in Christ alone. We see that not only in Peter’s teaching, but also in his ministry. Look at Acts 10:1-2: “There was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius . . . a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.” If somebody were to ask, “Do you think a person who believes in God, who prays to Him continually, who keeps His laws, and gives money to the poor is going to hell?” most people would say, “Of course not.” But that’s not what God said. God said that wasn’t enough. So God sent Peter to Cornelius’s house to share with him the only way he could be saved.

Let’s imagine Cornelius invited Peter in, they chatted, and Peter discovered that Cornelius believed in God, was devout, prayed, and gave his money to the poor. Peter could have said, “Cornelius, everything is just right with you. Let’s just sing ‘Kumbaya,’ and I’ll go on my way.” That’s what most of us would have done. We don’t want to offend people by saying their religion is not enough. Not Peter. He told Cornelius about the death and resurrection of Jesus, then he closed with these words: “He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (vv. 42-43). Luke wrote that Cornelius believed what he heard. He prayed and trusted in Christ.

This story drives a stake through the inclusivists’ argument that as long as people are sincere, they can be saved without knowing the name of Jesus. If Cornelius was already going to heaven because of his sincere belief in God, then Peter wasted a trip to Caesarea. Peter knew Cornelius needed something else, and that something else was the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jews Who Were For Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.