Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 20, 2020
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
For most of my life, this verse got a lot of traction in the area of apologetics and as a defense of the Christian faith against the other religions of the world. As such, the focus was almost always on the centrality of Jesus and the unique nature of salvation in Christ alone. And while I fully affirm and stand by this truth, in all the efforts made to defend the priority and centrality of Christ, I do wonder if we ever actually stopped to ask “why?” Why is it, in fact, that it is only in Christ that salvation is to be found? What is it about Jesus that is so profoundly unique that he alone is the source of salvation for the whole of humankind?
Increasingly, I am convinced that our ability to answer this question is entirely tied up in our definition of salvation. The contemporary Church around the world runs a great risk of embracing a reductionistic view of salvation, seeing it as no more than “fire insurance” (as I often heard growing up), a ticket out of hell and into heaven. When viewed this way, our focus as Christians is less on the transformation of the whole of life into the life of Christ and is instead often limited to a singular point of conversion. In response to this, I think of the line often attributed to Ravi Zacharias, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive.”
Any definition of salvation that is not centered on the resurrection of Jesus runs the risk of claiming the name of Christ while failing to encounter the transformative power of Christ.
The Christian faith is not a “superior philosophy”, neither is it simply a compelling set of rules or an integrated moral code. None of these in and of themselves would have been sufficient to cause the religious leaders of the day to arrest the disciples and do all they could to silence and suppress their message. No, as verse 1 reminds us, “While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead.”
The scandal of the gospel is that a man who was dead and in his grave for 3 days awoke and took a breath. And this was not only true of Jesus in and of himself, but his victory over death is meant to be shared and experienced by all who call upon his name. It is by the power of his resurrection that the sick are healed and the broken made whole. As St. Peter powerfully reminds us, “Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10).
The issues that plague our world are neither small nor inconsequential. They are truly matters of life and death. Yet for this very reason, may we never lose sight of what is truly and beautifully unique about our Lord Jesus. That he alone conquered death, and in his name we will do the same.
Father, we thank you for Christ’s victory over sin and death, and trust that by your Spirit you are working that same victory in us. Amen.
Fully focus your heart and mind on Christ today and find great encouragement in his victory over death.
“Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive.” Ravi Zacharias, #wisdomhunters #name #truth #Jesus
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