Book of Acts
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Men reject the Gospel of Christ because of their unbelief and hardened heart. This is the universal problem Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains. Sinful men have always rejected the message of the Gospel and those that bring the message, this is no less the case with the apostles. They were persecuted, some to death, and they suffered because they refused to be silent. This persecution and rejection of the Gospel has been present throughout church history. Lloyd-Jones says that the tragedy of this rejection of the Gospel is that when men reject the Gospel, they lose any hope of salvation. Apart from the Gospel that is persecuted and hated, no one can be saved. There is no peace, hope, or joy without the redeeming power of the Gospel of God. Ancient man and modern man are no different on their foolish and blind unbelief. Both are lost and live in darkness apart from the light of God’s grace in Christ. The root of this is sin, but in their darkest sorrow’s men reject the only hope that the world has ever known. This rejection of the message of salvation is the great tragedy of unbelief. The very remedy to the world’s greatest problems is what the world despises the most.
Is the world smarter than God? Is religion only for the feeble? Modern man likes to think that he is too enlightened to believe in things like the deity of Christ, bodily resurrection, divine judgment and the sinfulness of man. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out from Acts 4:11-12, they claim that no one can possibly believe in these things and claim to be rational, sane, or educated. They believe Christianity is nonsense. But, according to Lloyd-Jones, those who know and believe in the Scriptures should not be surprised when they hear these objections because the apostles heard the same objections two thousand years ago. The Jews rejected the idea of a crucified messiah, and the Greeks found the cross to be utter and complete foolishness. So, the objections to the Gospel today are really no different from those of the ancients. The modern man is not nearly as progressive and innovative in his rejection of Christian truth as he would like to be. And both the ancient and modern man reject the Gospel for the same fundamental reason, unbelief. They are hardened and calloused in their sinful rebellion against God their creator. They scoff at the idea that they must be saved form the wrath of God that is coming in account of their sins, because they do not believe in sin. This is the heart of unbelief.
God’s way of salvation is wholly opposed to humanistic and man centered philosophy. The ancient Jews and Greeks rejected the Gospel as it was taught by the apostles, and modern man rejects the Gospel as it is proclaimed by the church. This is the devastating condition of the world as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches. All unbelievers laugh and scoff at the ideas of the new birth, the resurrection, and the cross as a way of salvation. But as Acts 4:11 shows, the wisdom of God triumphs in the midst of the so-called wisdom of the world. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the new city that is being made. This new city is one that is made up of all that trust and believe in the work of Christ on the cross. The is in opposition to the city of man built upon the foundations of sinful and fallen human reason that his wholly corrupted by his sinful nature. We as Christians have nothing to fear from the enemies of God and his Gospel. We can rest in the truth of who Christ is and what he has done for us. We can be assured that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, and he will establish a new heaven and a new earth. For Christ is victorious over all those who oppose his Gospel.
All men are in dire need of salvation because all men are under the judgment of God. Because of the fall, all men are born in sin and in guilt. They must both get rid of their polluted nature and their guilt before a holy God. How can a sinful man be reconciled with God? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones joyfully and powerfully states, the great truth of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins and a new nature in Christ. By the Gospel the whole world is made new. But men in their pride and arrogance reject the Gospel and its God. They believe that they can make the world a better place by their own endeavors. They do not believe that they are fallen sinners in need of a savior and a new life. They reject the idea that only through Christ can we be saved. But the message of Christ, and Christ alone as the means of salvation is the Gospel. This is the message of salvation from Genesis to Revelation. It is the God man who come to save his people and bring about the kingdom of God.
Christianity is not based on human power or wisdom. It is not the result of clever and prudent men, but it is the result of the Gospel of God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows us the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, strong and weak, wise and foolish, all are in need of Jesus Christ. There are no prerequisites to being saved, but to believe in the name of Christ. In this Gospel, God subverts the ways of the world, this is because the world is about power and pomp. It is about vain glory and empty praise. But the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man hung on a bloody tree so that all those who believe would become a part of the new creation. This message humbles men because it leaves no place for boasting, and it leaves no place for human pride and hubris. It tells all men that they are sinful and under the judgment of God. It says that all men are slaves to sin and their twisted desires. But through the Gospel there is true renewal and life by the blood of Christ. The church should take great comfort knowing that it proclaims the truth and power of God In his Gospel.
Christianity is built upon the authority of Jesus Christ and his Word. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows us how this is seen in the teaching and preaching of the apostles in the early church. When Peter and John stand before the Jewish leaders in Acts 4, they taught and performed miracles all in the name of Christ Jesus. They do not rely on the teaching and authority of great Rabbis and wise philosophers, but they proclaim the Christ and him crucified as is revealed to them in God’s word. The church in the days of the apostles, and the church in all days has no other message then what Christ has given them. It is by his revelation that we know him. It is by the words of the Bible that we know who Christ is and what he has done for us. We do not need to come up with a new message, for it had already been given to us in Christ and his Word. The church of today should stand upon the inspired Word of God, and this Word is inerrant and true. It is not the product of human ingenuity and knowledge, but it is the Word of God breathed out through his Spirit. This is the sure and steady foundation of the God’s church.
When the apostles met the risen Christ, they were transformed and empowered with boldness to proclaim the Gospel to all that they could. Whereas before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost they were fearful and timid, after they were fearless in their mission. This change, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains, enabled them to stand against the Jewish leaders when they refused to cease preaching the Gospel of the risen Christ. This is no ordinary boldness, but it is a result of the new nature that is brought about by salvation and regeneration. For the Gospel transforms Christians, they are given the Holy Spirit and they are filled with its wisdom and guidance. The apostles in Acts could not stop preaching the glory of Christ. They were no longer the weak and fearful men who were hiding in the upper room. No, they had received the new life that the Gospel brings, and they fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel message. Christians have a new source of life and wisdom when they are made anew in Christ. They are motivated to bring the Gospel to this broken and sinful world. It is this hope in the new life in Christ that compels Christians to share the Gospel with all to the praise and glory of Jesus Christ.
Those who reject Christianity do not do so on the basis of rational thought. This is seen in the actions of the Jewish leaders, who do not deny the miracles done by the apostles in the name of Jesus Christ, but they nevertheless sought to stop their ministry and silence their preaching. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that the reason for this opposition to the truth of God’s Gospel is found in the fallen and sin bound minds of men. Because of the fall, all men have been enslaved to sin and the devil. Their every faculty is thoroughly and wholly dominated by sin, and it is this sin that produces unbelief. For this reason, we should not be surprised when men reject the Gospel, for the Bible tells us that without the work of God in their hearts, no man will believe. This is because belief is not a matter of reason, facts, or compelling argumentation, but it is about the state of one’s heart. The church should not fear the many so-called intellectual assaults against Christianity, for all these arguments are really a matter of one’s relationship to God and his Gospel. Only the heart that has been regenerated can truly think rightly about God.
What is one of the primary marks of a Christian? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the surest signs of a true Christian is that true Christians pray to God. These are not prayers to some distant deity, or to some abstract philosophical ground of truth. But it is prayer to the one true God who rules the whole universe in power and might. This is the true God as revealed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, his Son. This is the God of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, and he is the God of the church and the apostles. He is active in history to save and redeem his people. He is the God who sent his only begotten Son to die on a cross in order to make a great kingdom that cannot be shaken. And is this God who offers redemption and salvation to all who will repent and believe in his Son, and all those that do will be made anew in the new heavens and the new earth. We should not reject this great Gospel, but we must believe in God’s only begotten Son who has died on the cross so that sinners would have life eternal.
Pain, suffering and ultimately death are an unescapable part of life. But why? How do we account for the trouble common to mankind throughout history? The story of humanity shows a restless world always searching for answers but never providing relief. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches through the text of Psalm 2 to explain the vain and empty pursuits of those who purposefully rebel against God. While they dream and plan for a world of their own happiness, their attempts are futile because of their ignorance of God. God will judge their rebellion against Him and his wrath will be fierce. But there is hope. The psalmist speaks of deliverance that is echoed throughout the entire Bible. It culminates in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the answer the world cannot provide - that God’s gracious purpose to extend mercy through his son Jesus, the Anointed one, to a restless and rebellious world brings the joy and deliverance the world desperately wants. Dr. Lloyd-Jones urges us to listen and be wise! Respond to the Anointed one in submission and trust.