No other name
I’ve got two questions for you:
- Is there salvation apart from Jesus Christ?
- Do people need to know the name of Jesus in order to be saved?
My answers, which I believe come directly from Scripture, are:
I believe God makes these answers very clear. But first, let me give some background.
Why am I bringing up these questions?
A friend recently told me of a conversation with fellow Christian missionaries. One of them gave a long explanation for why he believes some people today may be saved by Christ, but without actually knowing Christ. The idea is that while Christ’s perfect life, atoning death and his bodily resurrection are the basis for salvation, perhaps people can be counted righteous like Abraham, even though they may never have heard anything about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. So, the idea is that Jesus is the basis or grounds of our salvation, but maybe does not need to be the object of our faith.
My friend sees this way of thinking as an attack on the Gospel. I agree. He also believes this undermines any real motivation for evangelism or missions. I agree.
Let’s look at a few passages of Scripture which address these ideas.
Jesus is the salvation we need
In this verse from Isaiah, the LORD is speaking to his Son:
It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
Through Christ, God’s salvation reaches to the end of the earth. That means that apart from Christ, God’s salvation does not reach to the end of the earth.
Furthermore, we see that in the previous verse, God is talking to one who will be formed “from the womb.” So, there is a matter of timing and history here. Isaiah’s prophecy is about the arrival of Christ in the flesh. Jesus was not yet the Light for the nations until he was incarnated and born. Only through Jesus Christ incarnate does God’s salvation reach to the ends of earth.
But how does Jesus’ salvation reach the ends of the earth?
Through the preached Gospel.
Paul says that this Isaiah verse is a command from God for him and Barnabas to preach the gospel of Christ. Look at this verse where Paul quotes from Isaiah 49:6:
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:47)
Did you notice the slight change in wording in the last line of the quote? In Isaiah 49:6, God had said “that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”. But when Paul quotes it, he says, “that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Paul’s understanding is that the preaching of the message about Jesus is the way that Jesus’ salvation will reach the ends of the earth.
Notice the logic Paul uses here. Jesus is the light for the Gentiles. He is the salvation that everyone needs. However, in order for people to receive the Light of Christ and enter into that salvation, they must hear the Gospel of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The preaching of Paul and Barnabas (and of Christians today) is the way that God has chosen for his salvation through Christ to reach the ends of the earth.
And Peter and John said, “Amen!”
When Peter and John were confronted about their healing in the name of Jesus, they took the opportunity to preach the much more important message: Jesus is God’s chosen cornerstone and the only source of salvation.
11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12)
Verse 12 is very clear. There is salvation in no one else, only in Jesus. Not only that, but it is explicitly in the name of Jesus that salvation is to be found. And not only that, but this is the case for everyone who lives “under heaven”. That is universal language. So, whoever lives under heaven must put faith in the name of Jesus as their Savior. Outside of calling on the name of Jesus of Nazareth, there is no salvation.
Let’s tell people about the salvation that only Jesus can provide.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.