By the Name of Jesus Christ…. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved. (Acts 4:10–12—NKJV)

We have several cultural phrases that incorporate the word “save.” You probably have used one or two of these: “saved by the bell,” or “save for a rainy day,” or “a penny saved is a penny earned,” or perhaps “he needs someone to save him from himself!” Every one of these phrases looks at a different aspect of the concept of saving. The aspects include rescue from loss, provision, preservation, and protection from waste. Each of our phrases can serve as a direct illustration of the work of Christ in saving your soul.

Charles Spurgeon observed that man has been brought to a complicated ruin. The truth of his statement is borne out theologically by the realities of spiritual death and separation from God of every man on earth as a consequence of Adam’s original sin. It is a truth that is undeniable because it becomes painfully evident as we age and our bodies fall apart, being subjected to a fallen world. Loss, fear of the future, never having enough, and wasting our finite hours of existence from our birth to our death just begins to illustrate the need every man, woman, and child has to be rescued from his lost estate. No wonder we have catch phrases elevating the virtues of saving and economy.

The English word save is related to the word salvage, from the old French word salver. A definition would be to rescue, preserve from harm or danger, keep safe from damage or injury, to aid, to avoid loss, to treat carefully, to lessen wear and tear, to preserve from destruction. No wonder the English word is used to translate the Greek word sodzo. A simple theological definition is to rescue from sin and death, to save a soul through the atonement provided through Jesus’ redemptive work. William Hendriksen, an author of several Bible commentaries, memorably said something to the effect that salvation could be defined as God saving a man from the severest imaginable loss and destruction while saving that man unto the greatest possible state of blessing and benefit.

Such a noble and monumental undertaking as saving just one man’s soul requires a delicate and precise operation. Imagine the infinite, unstoppable will of the Father being bent to the task of saving every last soul of His chosen ones. To salvage anything from the wreckage of mankind is only conceivable under the complete supervision and control of God Almighty, or all will be lost—and that irrevocably. There are many voices today who would have you believe there are many ways to God or that God has some special, unspoken provision to save those who are in cultures that reject that Jesus Christ is the only, unique, perfect Son of God. These dreams have no Scriptural basis; our passage tells us so. You are safe only in Christ.

For this reason salvation is an exclusive work of God alone. Salvation must be accomplished only in His way. Matthew 7:13–14 identifies the situation: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” I believe this message of our Lord was the genesis of the first name by which Christians were known: People of the Way. They knew the only way to the Father was through Jesus Christ and they told others of the only Way. John 14:6 states, “Jesus said to him, ‘I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” In John 10:9 our Lord declares, “I AM the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” There can be no doubt but that the only way to avoid complete ruin of your soul, or the soul of any man on this earth, is the one narrow way, the way of the cross of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ tells us that He came to “save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). Paul declares that Jesus Christ came to “save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Ephesians 2:5, 8–10 reads, “Even when we were dead in trespasses, [He] made us alive together with Christ…. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Good works of men cannot precede the grace of God. Real good works of men, the kind that God desires, form as a fruit of the salvation already at work within a believer.

As our four phrases above illustrate, they are good works because the grace of God has already salvaged the soul from loss (John 3:16–18), eternally provided for them (2 Peter 1:3), preserved them in the mighty hand of God (John 10:27–30), and protected them from wasting the precious life that God has given by forming them into the image of His dear Son (Romans 8:28–30). Any other pretension of “salvation” is an unattainable mirage, as all man-made, man-centered “theologies” are. Be sure you are washed in the blood of the Lamb of God and rejoice in the God of your salvation (Psalm 25:4–8). Trust and obey.