Christ or Pluralism: Man's Search For Salvation 'In no other name' — Acts 4:12ff
"Life intolerable, death unbearable" - Man searched with unquenchable thirst for salvation from his plight. Thus it was in the first century; so it is now.
Introduction; First century world was religiously pluralistic, so also our world of 1980's. Our contemporary world is not so much Atheistic as Idolatrous, and the new false gods leave people with empty hearts. Hearts which live between Crushing Emptiness and Anxious Searching. Man's longing for Salvation is not even deterred by our Humanistic-Secularistic world. "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" Christianity is a religion of salvation.
Nothing affects world evangelism more than what the Bible teaches concerning the possibility of salvation of men through their adherence to various ideologies and religions. Today it has become popular in some sections of the Church to affirm that men can be saved through sincere adherence to the best they know. God is savingly at work, we are told, in the whole range of human experience. All Christians have to do is to dialogue with men of other religions and move amiably forward in joint search for God. All such argument, biblical evangelism holds, is erroneous. The only salvation of which the apostles speak is that which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. To our own children, and to those of our Jewish, Buddhist, Marxist, Hindu, Moslem and Secularist friends alike, we declare that there is 'no other Name'. Christ alone is the Door. He alone is the Truth. He alone has Life. As ambassadors appointed by Christ, we beseech them all (our children and theirs) to be reconciled to God and become active members of the Body of Christ.
(Donald A. McGavran, The Dimensions of World Evangelization, a strategy paper given at the International Congress on World Evangelization July 16-25, 1974)
First Century; (a) Mystery Religions; (b) Gnosticism
20th Century: (a) Marxism; (b) Freudianism. Both systems presupposed that environment determines man (man is passive - is acted upon). Marxism sees all human social disorder as caused by the prevailing economic order. Salvation entails the overthrow of those who control it, the bourgeois capitalists. Freudians see personal/social disorder as lying in the social structure in which entrenched behavioral patterns thwart the individual's expression of his inward desires. Thus Freudian understanding of salvation is derived from the transformation of parental and social relations.
In radical contrast to these views, the Word of God affirms in Acts 4:12 that the environment is the result, not the cause, of man's corruption and that moral responsibility is individual before it is social/corporate.
I. The Word of God describes our Salvation as: (Christ as Soteria)
A. Apolutrosis - Redemption.
Deliverance from captives - at a price - affirms that man can neither free himself from that which holds him prey, nor pay the price of release from guilt.
B. Katallasso - Reconciliation
Presupposes aprior estrangement between parties - an estrangement that has been overcome and healed. Man is alienated from God by Sin and from man by wrath. In the Cross Sin is overcome and wrath is averted.
C. Dikaioo - Justification
Freed from Guilt and Condemnation through Christ
II. The Word of God affirms that our Salvation in Christ is the ground of Evangelism and that our message must be:
A. Intellectually Justifiable
B. Morally Responsible
C. Socially Significant
III. Our Salvation in Christ affirms that:
A. The Initiative is God's rather than Humanistic Secularism
B. The Ground of it is Grace rather than achievement or success
C. The Means of it is the Death and Resurrection of Jesus
D. The Results of it is saved from—
1. Old age (sin, law, wrath, death - Romans 5-8)
2. Old condition (conformity to Godless world - Rom 12.1-2; Eph 2)
3. Old fears (despair, dread, loneliness)
4. Old habits (acting to please self rather than God; never tempted to tell the truth, to give more, study more, pray more)
Being saved means being—
B. Spared from Judgment
C. Constantly Renewed (Romans 12.1-2; transformed)
And also - Live Out Life-
A. Aesthetically Satisfying
B. Ethically Significant
C. Socially responsible, i.e., living in God's world on God's terms.
"We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves,
Spread the tidings all around, Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves.
Bear the news to every land. Climb the steeps and cross the waves,
Onward, 'tis our Lord's command,
Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves! "
Dr. James Strauss
World View Studies
Theology and Philosophy
Lincoln Christian Seminary