January 19th Devotion

No Other Name – Alistair Begg

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 4:12

Near the campus of Northwestern University in suburban Chicago, there is a vast temple erected by the Bahá’í faith. It’s a magnificent structure, with nine porticos—one for each of nine major world religions—all leading to one central auditorium. The architecture is meant to signify the many paths to “truth,” which Bahá’ís believe cannot be found in any one dogma, person, or entity.

This mindset is not much different from the cultural environment in which the apostle Paul lived. The Roman Empire was very open, very willing to think expansively, and very prepared to absorb all kinds of religions. Indeed, Rome housed a vast collection of idols and gods in its pantheon, paying homage to its belief in multiple avenues to truth.

How, then, could such a pluralistic, open, polytheistic culture also feed Christians to lions in the Colosseum? Why did Emperor Nero target believers, even going so far as to use their bodies as human torches to light his parties?

The answer lies in a simple fact: Roman culture could not and would not tolerate Christianity because Christians were not prepared to simply add Christ to the imagined pantheon. Rather, they held fast to the truth that, as Peter and John courageously told the same Jewish court that had sentenced the Lord Jesus to death, there is salvation in no name other than that of Jesus. In first-century Roman culture, as soon as people professed this belief, they were scorned, and mocked, and sometimes even sentenced to death.

Pluralism cannot abide—indeed, it is often mercilessly intolerant towards—those who reject its view that all paths are equally valid. Some 2,000 years later, we must acknowledge that we are living in an environment not incomparable to the Roman Empire, albeit thankfully less brutal in its persecutions. Biblical Christianity, with a Christ who will come again in glory, an inerrant Bible, and a triune Godhead, is an offense to a pluralistic world.

Despite what the world around us may believe, though, Jesus does not belong on a pedestal next to other false gods or religious figures. He is far more than just another portico that leads to truth. As the Philistine god Dagon fell and was broken before the ark of the Lord (1 Samuel 5:1-4), so all others will be revealed to be nothing compared to Him. That message is not popular, but it remains true—and it is wonderful, for if there were no crucified Savior, there would be no way at all to eternal life, for all other ways lead only to death. One day Buddha, Muhammad, and every other false prophet will bow at Jesus’ feet and declare that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Until that day comes, hold fast to the truth and seek to point people to the one who is the way, the truth, and the life that we all need (John 14:6). It was Christians following the example of John and Peter’s refusal to give up or stay silent that changed the Roman Empire; by God’s grace, we could likewise transform the world today as we follow in their footsteps.
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