The Name That Is Able To Save Us
1. "Salvation cannot be had by any other name. The name by which we should be saved is not given to any other name under heaven, nor to any other person," (Acts 4:12). That is how Peter was boldly preaching. Make no mistake. This was not the conclusion Peter had gotten by going through many religious debates. He didn't compare different religions and then claim for the absoluteness of his own religion. This message simply came from the reality of the name of Jesus. They were living under the overwhelming love of the imminent and eminent Christ and under his overwhelming authority and power.
2. The oldest confession of faith found in the Bible is the expression "Jesus is Lord." But, this is not just a sentence that expresses one ideal. It is really the deepest "experience" of the earliest Christians. Because it does that, the church has continued to state it, "The name by which we should be saved is not given to any other name under heaven, nor to any other person."
3. In our church there are several different subjects we wrestle over. But, there is one topic that has continued to be the most important topic among us from the start and until the very last day. It is that when it comes to the name of Jesus we are able to state it the same way that Peter and John did. And it is that we keep on stating his name in the same way. It is that in a real sense we know Jesus Christ, experience Christ, and continue to live under the reality of Jesus Christ.
4. It is nothing but the Holy Spirit's work that brings to us this reality of Christ. To seek being filled by the Holy Spirit is not to seek some supernatural wondrous experience. It is to seek to know the risen and lifted on high Jesus Christ as a reality on this earth here and now.
5. Today we want to keep our eyes on the figure of these apostles who were "filled with the Holy Spirit" and who knew Christ in that very way as described above and testified with their bodies of Christ in the concrete world we know all too well. And we also want to earnestly seek that we too would live filled by the same spirit of God.
Opportunities Given For Testifying
6. Today we read Acts chapter four, but the story continued over from chapter three. In chapter three a male figure appears on the stage. His feet were disabled from birth. He would beg every day in front of God's temple. While he was at the front of the temple at "The Beautiful Gate" he was undoubtedly there each day a hopeless man, not expecting anything more than to obtain alms. But, then Peter and John met this man. Peter said, "I have neither gold nor silver, but I'll give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk," (3:6). Then, Peter took his right hand and made him get up, and immediately his feet and ankles became firm, and he leaped and began walking. Thus, this person was healed in the name of Jesus. The text says, "And as he walked around and danced, he praised God, and then he entered the temple grounds with them both," (3:8). He was not only healed but he turned to God for himself and started to live with praises for God.
7. Because of what happened there, a great multitude of people assembled around them. Peter preached Christ to the people who had come to assemble. He said, "You may have murdered the one who is your guide to life, but God has raised him from the dead," (3:15), and he preached Christ as the risen Lord. Then he said, "Therefore, repent and turn so that your sins will be wiped out," (3:19). The reason God's servant Jesus was sent was to make each person depart from evil and have them take part in the blessings that God has promised, declared Peter to the people and called repentance out to them.
8. As a result of this, many people believed and turned to the Lord. But, there were some people not happy about this. They were the Jewish authorities. When Peter and John were giving their speech to the public, the priests, temple guard leader, and the Sadducees came by. Peter and John wound up arrested by them and hauled off to the high court for interrogation on the following day. <9>. Any way you look at this, it was not a happy situation. This was the first crisis that the new church faced and only the first of cries of the new born church. But, Peter and John did not get mad over being in unlawful detention, nor were they afraid as they considered the outcome of their fate, nor did they bemoan the bad fortune that had befallen them personally. They took this really unfavorable situation as an opportunity to testify to Christ. The text says, "The council members, the elders, and the scribes had gathered in Jerusalem," (verse five). At first it was impossible for them to go ahead themselves and visit the apostles to hear about Christ. But, weirdly enough, it turned out that they all got together in full force and gave ear to the messages of Peter and the others with him who were preaching Christ. It also turned out that they got to see firsthand a person actually healed by Christ and whose life was changed by him.
10. I'd say that the reason Peter and John were prepared to convert their bad situation into an opportunity to testify of Christ was because Peter and John had certainly been living in the reality of Jesus Christ. This [was] a scene where [Peter and John] were surrounded by hostile authorities for interrogation, but they knew that the greatest of all authority lied in Christ's authority.
The Freedom And The Boldness That Comes From The Holy Spirit
11. The text says that these men listening to Peter's message as they did "saw Peter and John's attitude of boldness and were surprised seeing that the two men were both unlearned average men, and they also understood that they had been with Jesus," (verse thirteen).
12. They had an awesome boldness about them. We mustn't forget that this book called The Acts Of The Apostles was written as the second book that comes after The Gospel According To Luke. Luke depicts the figure of Peter and the figure of the other disciples so completely different in the gospel account that he had written.
13. In verse six it says the names of "the high priest Annas and Caiaphas." Their names bring to mind the events of the night before Christ was crucified. When Jesus was arrested and brought before the house of the high priest, Peter was following from behind from a distance. As some people were burning a fire in the midst of the mansion courtyard and sitting all together, Peter also mixed among them and had a seat with them. Then a young lady, staring hard at Peter, spoke. As this lady noticed him when he came into the courtyard that he had also been with [Jesus, she said], "This man too was with [him]!" To that Peter immediately denied her words and said, "I don't know this man." In all he repeats the same thing three times. On the third time that he denied a relationship with Jesus, all of sudden a rooster crowed. Luke gives the details of the timing as follows: "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Peter recalled the Lord's words when he said that Today, before the rooster crows, you will say that you don't know me three times. Then he went out and wept bitterly," (Luke 22:61-62). This is the natural figure of Peter.
14. But, the Peter we see in today's passage of scripture is a different [Peter]. The Jewish authorities had threatened and ordered Peter and John from now on never to speak and teach in the name of Jesus. Whereupon, Peter answered, "Please consider whether it is righteous before God to not obey God but to obey you. We are not permitted not to speak but what we have seen and we have heard," (verses nineteen and twenty).
15. If some men are strong spirited by nature, then others are weak spirited. As being strong spirited may be being thick skinned and only lacking in feelings for others, that would not necessarily be a virtue just by itself. If what we are seeing here is not just a matter of Peter becoming strong in spirit, then it is not a matter of his becoming courageous either. The issue is about under whose authority Peter and John are living. Peter is certainly living under the authority of the Christ who has sat down on the right side of God. He is living under the reality of Christ. And as the freedom to confess the faith and the freedom to preach is not based on the permission of the world's authority, but is based on the authority of Christ, they knew that no one except Christ could take it away. Humans may unlawfully take away life, however, they cannot take away this freedom.
16. Between the Peter in the Gospels and the Peter at this point in the text what was there? There was Jesus Christ's cross, resurrection, ascension, and the Holy Spirit's descent. Peter did not make this boldness a reality by looking inside himself when he was spiritless and cowardly and by whipping himself for personal revolutionary change and cheering himself up to it. This was evidently a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit made him into a person who lives under the authority of Christ.
17. Then, included into the freedom and the boldness that the Spirit had given was an unlimited love and forgiveness. Peter and those with him had been unjustly detained. They were even unjustly hauled off into the council. The hatred of the Jewish leaders which had been directed to Jesus had also been directed unto the apostles. Surrounded by the hostile people, Peter and John stood in their midst. But, they didn't look out on their hatred with more hatred. They didn't look out on their hostility with more hostility. Peter and John pointed out their sin. They thrust before them the truth of the fact that they had crucified Jesus Christ. But, they did it to tell them of Christ and that's the only reason. They did it to preach the savior. They did it to witness of the savior to people who hated them and intended to inflict harm upon them.
18. Peter said, "Salvation cannot be had by any other name. The name by which we should be saved is not given to any other name under heaven, nor to any other person." These were neither argumentative words born from animosity nor defensive words to save their hide. Peter was speaking in regard to "our" savior. Included into the "our" was obviously even the Jewish authorities who were currently casting their hating eyes at them. Even the high priest Annas and Caiaphas were included!
19. This is the figure of the witness of Christ that the Bible is telling us about. It is the figure of the church filled with the Holy Spirit and being with the reality of the living Christ. I would like for us to become witness like that. I would like for us to earnestly seek to live filled with the same Spirit of God.