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Some people are name droppers … “I know so-and-so.” Or maybe: “I know someone who knows so-and-so.” There is only one name that counts = Jesus Christ; not religious pluralism where it is believed that many roads lead to God

But here are some well known personalities who profess to believe in Jesus for salvation, but listen to how they waffle on the controversial question of the exclusivity of the gospel … Are there other ways to God than through faith in Jesus Christ?

Exclusivity of the Gospel — Look at waffling statements regarding that exclusivity –

1) Larry King interview with Joel Osteen:

KING: But don’t you think if people don’t believe as you believe, they’re somehow condemned?

OSTEEN: You know, I think that happens in our society. But I try not to do that. I tell people all the time, preached a couple Sundays about it. I’m for everybody. You may not agree with me, but to me it’s not my job to try to straighten everybody out. The Gospel is called the good news. My message is a message of hope, that’s God’s [message] for you. You can live a good life no matter what’s happened to you. And so I don’t know. I know there is condemnation, but I don’t feel that’s my place. . . . . [Later in the interview]

KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know . . .

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

2) President George W. Bush – interviewed by prominent news anchor:

News Anchor: Do Christians and non-Christians, do Muslims go to heaven in your mind?

Bush: Yes they do. We have different routes of getting there. . . I don’t get to decide who goes to heaven . . .

3) President Obama: President Obama’s brand of Christianity leaves enough leeway to cause confusion and concern among evangelicals.

“My particular set of beliefs may not be perfectly consistent with the beliefs of other Christians,” Obama told Newsweek. “There’s the belief, certainly in some quarters, that if people haven’t embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they’re going to hell.”

In a discussion with Franklin Graham, Mr. Obama explained,

“I do not believe that my mother, who never formally embraced Christianity as far as I know, went to hell.”

4) Television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller. Part 1, an approximately 7-minute-long broadcast in Southern California on Saturday, May 31, 1997. The following is an exact transcript* of an excerpt close to the end of this broadcast.

Schuller: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity?

Graham: Well, Christianity and being a true believer–you know, I think there’s the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the Body of Christ. And I don’t think that we’re going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God’s purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that’s what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.

Schuller: What, what I hear you saying that it’s possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?

Graham: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

Schuller: I’m so thrilled to hear you say this. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy.

Graham: There is. There definitely is.

Is JESUS really the Only Name that Counts??


Must exercise faith in the name of Jesus Christ – Must understand who Jesus really is

Not saying there is one denomination that leads to God – but One Gospel; one Savior


I. (:1-4) DON’T KEEP QUIET —



A. (:1-3) The Proclamation of the Gospel Incites Persecution from the Counterfeit Religious Establishment

1. Aggressive Proclamation

“And as they were speaking to the people,”

Bold and Dangerous mission for Peter to be openly proclaiming Christ in the heart of traditional Judaism – right at the locale of the temple in Jerusalem; why didn’t he leave the Jews alone – if all roads lead to God, let them just be sincere and things will turn out OK for them in the end . . . Different strokes for different folks . . .

Peter knew they were doomed apart from faith in Jesus as their Messiah

2. Angry Persecution from the Counterfeit Religious Establishment

“the priests and the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being greatly disturbed”

nobody likes to be exposed as being in error;

remember the antagonism of the Sadducess to any emphasis on resurrection – largely a rationalistic party that rejected supernatural elements like angels and denied any physical resurrection (Acts 23:8); ruling class of wealthy aristocrats; politically aligned themselves with Romans and feared any uprising over this new teachings – especially with its kingdom emphasis

Kent: temple captain was the head of the Levitical police force which maintained order in the temple. The Romans allowed the Jews to police the temple themselves. The captain ranked next to the high priest in authority within the temple precincts.

Watch out for that evangelist who is always popular; everybody says nice things about him; he never faces angry opposition; probably more of a politician and a man-pleaser than a true evangelist

We should expect opposition; angry opposition

MacArthur: It is a strong word, and it means “thoroughly pained.” The group of men that wanted to stop Peter and John were in terrible mental anguish. Their anguish wasn’t based on sorrow; it was based on indignation and wrath. The same Greek word for grieve appears in Acts 16:18, where Paul had the same anguish when he saw a woman in Philippi under the power of an evil spirit. The priests, Sadducees, and the captain of the Temple were all very disturbed about what Peter and John were doing. They felt that way for three reasons:


a. They Were “Unlearned”

b. They Were “Ignorant”

Not only were Peter and John ignorant regarding Jewish theology, but they were commoners as well. That’s what the word “ignorant” implies. The Temple officials and religious leaders were saying, “Who are these uneducated amateurs?” The fact that Peter and John were from Galilee was repugnant to them. They thought Peter and John had no right to stand up in the Temple and teach doctrines contrary to what was taught by the teachers in the Temple. The religious leaders were angry because Peter and John’s theology disagreed with their own. They wanted to protect themselves, so they knew something had to be done about Peter and John.


The Temple officials and religious leaders were angry because of what Peter and John were teaching. They didn’t want to hear preaching about Jesus. They had determined that Jesus was a blasphemer, but Peter was saying that the Jews had killed their own Messiah (Ac. 3:13-15). If you tried to tell that to a congregation of Jewish people today, you would get a strong reaction. Peter proclaimed Jesus as Messiah, and he indicted the whole nation of Israel for not recognizing Him. As a result, some of the people in the Temple got angry.


John 15:18-19 – Jesus promised there would be persecution; 1 Pet. 2:21; 2 Tim. 3:12

Matthew 10:16, 17; Mark 13:9

3. Apostolic Preaching that was Christ-Focused and Resurrection-Oriented

“because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”

Teaching the people was the domain of the priests; they didn’t like someone else stepping in to perform that role; Where were your credentials? Your ordination? Your official endorsement by the religious establishment? not concerned for the Truth, but maintaining their position of power and prominenc

4. Abusive Policing that Assumed Their Guilt and Treated Them Unfairly

“And they laid hands on them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.”

Apparently they were able to interact and preach for 3 hours (from 3-6 pm) and then were interrupted and taken into custody and thrown into jail for the night

Lenski: The Jewish law forbade trials at night, a law that was most flagrantly violated in the case of Jesus but was here observed.

B. (:4) The Proclamation of the Gospel Stimulates Abundant Faith in Jesus Christ

“But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”

Look at parallel passage in Matt. 21:23-32 “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority? . . . the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”

Math teacher verse – Greek word from which we get “arithmetic”

MacArthur: The number of males that came to believe was five thousand. There are two Greek words for men: One is anthropos, which means “man” in a generic sense. The other word is andros, which means “male”–as opposed to female. It is the latter word that appears in Acts 4:4. So, the total number of men that became believers was five thousand.

Rom. 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

II. (:5-7) DON’T BACK DOWN –



These same principles that relate to maintaining the exclusivity of the gospel are going to apply on a lower level to new Christian doctrines that are introduced into the church against the opposition of the established leadership (e.g. Anabaptist controversy; plurality of elder issue) – we all have a sin nature and can manifest these same tendencies – although not to the degree that we will see here

A. (:5-6) Religious Big Shots Protect Their Turf

“And it came about on the next day, that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent.”

Big Convention – by invitation only; these were the religious elite leaders and rulers; the Sanhedrin – composed of 70 members plus the high priest who served as president

Caiaphas was Annas’ son-in-law – both had figured prominently in trial and condemnation of Jesus; Nepotism – gain a place of prominence and get your family in there with you

Kent: The usual meeting place of the Sanhedrin was in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, probably situated west of the temple area.

B. (:7a) Religious Big Shots Presume to be the Supreme Court

“And when they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire,”

Control freaks – they set the stage to be very intimidating; this was their home turf; sat on a raised stage in a semi-circle; position of dominance; healed man was present there with Peter and John

Deut. 13:1-5 – set the procedures for investigating such a miracle

Peter had backed down and denied Jesus 3 times before His crucifixion – remember incident before the servant of the high priest; found that experience to be bitterly disappointing; now he is offered the opportunity to recant … but his loyalty is firm

C. (:7b) Religious Big Shots Philosophize When They Should Be Submitting to Divine Authority – Asking Key Question – but it had already been answered!

“By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”

Religious power; establishment power – We didn’t authorize this!

Sarcasm, contempt, bitterness – not dealing in an objective and reasonable sense but responding very emotionally; pre-determining the issue; making presumptive judgments rather than investigating the truth

III. (:8-12) DON’T WAFFLE –



A. (:8) Recognize Divine Authority – God’s Authority Takes Precedence Over Man’s Authority – Authoritative Proclamation Declares God’s Wisdom to Man’s Impotence

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people,”

Contrast between unlearned Peter and these high powered rulers and elders

Respectful address – despite their error

B. (:9) Leverage Good Works — Mercy Always Triumphs Over a Critical Spirit

“if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,”

council should have been spending their time investigating problems – not good deeds of mercy and restoration

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: All the greatest benefits that humanity has ever known have come through this Gospel. Good deeds! Where did hospitals come from? The Christian church. Where did education come from? The Christian church. Where did relief for the poor and suffering come from? The Christian church. Look at the great missionary enterprise. Look at the light that has been taken to the dark places of the earth. . .

Look at the unreasonableness of it all. If the apostles had hit the lame man on the head, I could understand why the authorities threw them into prison. But fancy throwing them into prison because they had healed a man! What is it that makes people do such things? There is only one answer: It is the blindness and the deadness that is ever produced by prejudice. Something in human nature is malignant.

C. (:10) Preach Jesus Christ – Crucified and Raised from the Dead and Exercising Healing Power Today

“let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead– by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”

Nobody could dispute the reality of the healing miracle

Made his case to the leaders; made his case to the general public – same need for the one and only Savior – only one name counts

“the Nazarene” – reference of rejection; you could not have treated Him any worse

How can you not believe in the physical resurrection? This complete and miraculous restoration to health is a proof of the resurrection of Christ (who alone can accomplish such a feat) and a foretaste of the coming resurrection for all

How’s your spiritual health?? Come to the Savior, the Great Physician

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The world is refusing the only thing that can put it right. This statement applies as much to individuals as to international politics. If there is trouble in your life; if you feel you have gone to pieces, and all your prospects have been shattered; if you think that you have made a mess of life and that you are a failure – then I urge you, consider the Gospel with all your being. Ask God the Holy Spirit to give you the ability to listen with a far greater intensity than ever before. Here is something that can put you right.

D. (:11) Expose Errors of Discernment – Religious Elite Have a Bad Track Record

“He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone.

Had already done this in vs. 10 above – they had chosen to crucify the one that God wanted to exalt

(Remember how the sons of Jesse had been scrutinized as to which should become king; Samuel overlooked David – but that was God’s choice)

Reference to Messianic prophecy of Ps. 118:22 – Jesus had applied this passage to himself before His death – Mark 12:10

Rom. 9:33

E. (:12) Drive Home the Message of Exclusivity

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

– You need to understand the problem of man’s lost condition to understand the qualifications of the one and only Savior

o Not just providing good moral teaching – that won’t deal with my sins

o Not just providing a good example of how to live – that won’t deal with my sins

– You need to understand the purpose of God’s revelation in unfolding for us His unique and exclusive plan of salvation

– You need to understand the necessity of coming to God through Jesus Christ for salvation

Obama at some point has characterized Islam as a “revealed religion” – like Christianity – nothing could be further from the truth

Bruce: If the rulers persisted in their repudiation of Jesus, no such deliverance could be hoped for from any other quarter or by the power of any other name . . . The course of duty and wisdom for the rulers was therefore clear; if they refused it and persisted in their present attitude, they would involve their nation as well as themselves in destruction.

Ps. 121:1-2 “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Ps. 20:7 “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God”


We live in a pluralistic age – one that claims tolerance for all religions – but actually is particularly intolerant towards any claim of exclusive truth.

People will react against this message of exclusivity with a number of common objections:

Josh McClellan: Are there really many roads to God – the question of religious pluralism —

Commonly asked questions:

1) What if someone is sincere in their belief? Would God really send them to hell?

2) Isn’t it arrogant for one group to claim that they have the right answer?

3) Is there anything right in other religions?

4) If only one religion is right, why are there so many religions?

5) What about all of the people who never did or never will hear about Jesus?

Are There Really Many Roads to God? The Question of Religious Pluralism

Look at the serious problems faced by Christianity if we waffle on this issue of Exclusivity:

– Crucifixion not really essential

– Evangelism and Foreign Missions could be viewed as detrimental – increases the light which people have; therefore increases their accountability

– Makes Christ and the Apostles liars since they clearly taught this principle:

o “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt. 7:14

o “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6

o “If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Gal. 1:6-9

  • Don’t Be Quiet

  • Don’t Back Down

  • Don’t Waffle