Gifts; March 7, 2019

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

This is one of the fundamental truths of the universe, at least from the human perspective. For that very reason, the devil does all he can to hide, deny, or distort it. He tries to keep people from hearing it in the first place, if they do hear it he insists it isn’t true, and if they try to lay hold of it he adds things on – Jesus and – to dilute it and make it ineffective. The very level of opposition is confirmation that it is real! The whole purpose of evangelism and missions is to inform people of this truth. As even the Old Testament points out repeatedly, each succeeding generation must be informed of this or it will die out, as the devil fervently desires. Then we have the whole matter of the “exclusivity” of Christ. “How dare you say that other religions are lies! How intolerant is that?” We hear that sort of objection all the time. The devil doesn’t care what religion you are, just so long as you aren’t a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ! (I could give many real-world illustrations of that.) The mantra (that’s a Hindu term, by the way) from my college days was “Different strokes for different folks.” In other words, “Whatever works for you.” The problem is, if everything is true, then nothing is true. Today a sadly high percentage of people actively believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth. They will find out what is true when they have to stand before their Creator and give an account! (Romans 14:12, He-brews 4:13) As came out recently, even Pilate got into the discussion of truth. (John 18:38) Then, we have all sorts of “add-ons for salvation.” The Catholics are famous for saying that salvation comes through the Church, but many other groups add this, that, or the other as well. All those things might be, and generally are, fine and important, but they aren’t part of the definition of salvation. Jesus Himself called people to “Repent and believe the good news,” (Mark 1:15) and He very famously proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) That’s where Peter got this truth, and we had better hang onto it too.

This is of course the reason I am in Japan, believing that God loves the Japanese people and wants to give them the opportunity to be saved. Akira Takimoto, the founder of Revival Mission, took a condensation of this verse as the motto of his organization: “There is no salvation under heaven apart from Jesus Christ.” (I have a sticker with that on it on the front of my sermon notebook.) I have been berated – by Americans – for “teaching Japanese a foreign religion,” when they already have Shinto and Buddhism. I come back by saying that when I have found such a marvelous salvation myself, I would be incredibly stingy to fail to share it with others. The very idea of exclusive monotheism is very hard for many if not most Japanese to grasp, and even Christians are strongly tempted/pressured to participate in Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies. I am not to condemn those who slip, but I must never fail to proclaim the truth in love. Sometimes such proclamation makes people dislike me and consider me a bigot, but I have to release that into God’s hands. Like Paul I must preach Christ crucified, (1 Corinthians 1:23) because there is no other salvation, just as Peter said.

Father, thank You for this reminder. There is so much going on, both good stuff and junk, that I can get distracted. Help me walk in Your salvation as an open channel of that salvation, so that others may see Christ through me and come to Him – not me – and be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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