I will never forget the time when I was a teenager working at a Christian camp one summer, and I heard a fellow counselor state with great enthusiasm that she had “saved” someone. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she had saved a camper from drowning in the lake. As I continued to hear her story, however, it dawned on me that she was referring to the fact that she had led a camper to receive salvation in Jesus Christ. In the context of this post, it is important to define the term “salvation”. Salvation in this case is a gift from God that results in peace with God (Romans 5:1-2), reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:18-19), divine forgiveness of personal sin (Acts 26:18), eternal life (John 3:16), and so much more in Christ Jesus. This immeasurable, immediate gift of salvation is received by personal faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Acts 4:12 (NLT) declares, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Looking at the context of Acts chapter 4, we see that “the name” referred to here in verse 12 is the name of Jesus. There is salvation in no one other than Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God. This should not come as a surprise to the average American since most of us are church-going citizens, familiar with the name of Jesus. So to those of us in this category of knowing that salvation is granted through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, we should take a closer look at this verse. It is one that I have had memorized for the majority of my life. I learned it young, committed it to memory and have been reminded of it on multiple occasions. But when I read it yesterday for my time at Jesus’ feet, the phrase at the end of this familiar verse stood out to me like never before: “by which we must be saved.”
You see, salvation is an absolute necessity for every human being alive on this earth at any given moment in history. The eternal salvation of one’s soul is just as much a necessity as physical sustenance. The human tendency is to jump on board with those providing humanitarian aid to people with visible, tangible needs for their survival; there is nothing wrong with that. It is commendable, in fact, and very practical help for physically needy people. However, all people have deeper, greater needs that cannot be met through humanitarian efforts. If people do not recognize their own need for their sin problem to be remedied, they will not take God’s offer of eternal life through Jesus seriously. This is tragic, resulting in eternal condemnation due to the curse of sin. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). Also consider Romans 6:23, which says that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eternal salvation is summed up well in Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
Another tragedy occurs when a specific group of people doesn’t recognize salvation as a necessity for the human race in general. When God’s people who have been saved by God’s grace fail to recognize the eternal salvation of the souls of every living human being on this earth as a necessity (“must be saved”), we take lightly the need to get the word out about Jesus’ finished work on the cross, His resurrection, and the reason why He came to the earth in the first place. Jesus alone saves, and we must be saved. Our eternal destination is a choice we all must make for ourselves. In order for our neighbors, friends, enemies, strangers, and those in every tribe and every nation to make this choice for themselves, they must hear the message of salvation being offered to them in Jesus. “For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’ But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’ But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, ‘LORD, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (Romans 10:13-17, NLT).