Book of Acts
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Is Christianity really a fact? Was it founded like other religions or are its roots anchored to something eternal? The world asks many questions about Christianity, and thankfully we have God's inerrant Word to teach us. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 8:1-5 and teaches the history of God's actions in history. Christianity exists because of events that happened in time and space, the primary event being the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Scripture does not end the account there, but promises the Spirit to indwell his own. This coming of the Holy Spirit was a true event that enabled the Church to faithfully and boldly proclaim the Gospel to the whole world. Those who seek to disconnect the Christian message from the actual historical facts are actually distorting and rejecting the true message of Christianity as it was taught by Jesus and the Apostles. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches, you cannot reject the facts of Christianity without also rejecting the truth revealed in Scripture. For the world’s greatest problem is its sin and coming judgement of God, but through the Gospel all who believe will be saved.
Rebellion against God takes many forms. While some reject all notions of religion, more often rebellion shows up in substituting almost any belief system in place of the Gospel of Christ. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exposes false faith as he shows how modern day man turns to the failed faiths of new age mysticism, eastern religions like Buddhism, and many more in rejection of the only true God. Man's instinct for faith refuses to be satisfied with the God of the Bible. We learn from Dr. Lloyd-Jones in Acts 8:5-12 how the Gospel goes to Samaria as the apostles encounter Simon the magician. He used his so called magic to make a great name for himself and to win the adoration of the people. But he is shown to be an evil man who uses false religion to deceive people and to lead astray. This deceptive and demonic kind of false spirituality that Simon the magician used is no different from the many spiritualistic religions of the modern man. Both reject true Christianity, both use spiritualistic practices, whether it be magic or drugs, and both are ultimately false religions. This is why the church of today must be clear and bold in its witness to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation from sin and death.
Christianity is not about a life of truth seeking, nor is it about a religious experience, but it is a proclamation of who God is and what he has done in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With Acts 8:4-5, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones confronts those who erroneously claim that Christianity is not about facts, but rather that it is a matter of personal taste. But the Christianity of the Bible is one of truth and proclamation. It is a religion that has something to say to the world amidst its pain and suffering. It brings the message of Jesus Christ as King and Savior who died upon the cross at Calvary and rose from the grave so that all who believe will not perish, but have live eternal. This not a message of personal improvement or social transformation first and foremost, but it is about redemption from sins and salvation from God’s wrath that rightly befalls all sinners. If the church wants to be relevant and meaningful, it must proclaim the only message that it has been entrusted with. It must proclaim the Gospel to a world that is broken and filled with sin and suffering. It must imitate the early church of the apostles in their boldness and clarity in the way the proclaimed the message of the risen Savior.
Why does the church seem to be so ineffective? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the church is ineffective because it has departed from the apostolic example seen in Acts 8:5-12. He says that the Apostles boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ to all. They spoke of Christ's death and resurrection, and of his spirit empowered ministry. They never shied away from the hard truth of God’s wrath and man’s sin but preached the Gospel as the only way to escape the wrath of God and to be redeemed. It is this message that the early church was founded upon. They did not shrink form declaring the Gospel to all men, both Jew and Gentile. If the church is to be a light in a dark world it must look to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis for the transformation and redemption of the whole world. The church has been given no other message, it has no other power then the Spirit of God working through the proclamation of the Gospel in the hearts of fallen men and women. The modern church must look like the apostles and the early church in order to imitate them. The church does not need anything new to engage the world, but all that it needs has been given in God’s word.
Do you wonder if this world will ever get better? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings the hard reality from God’s Word in Acts 5-12 that the entire world lies in darkness and under the control of the evil one. This is because the original man, Adam, was deceived and fell into sin. This fall has poured throughout every aspect of creation. This is why the world of today is as it is, filled with sin and suffering. Man, as a result of this sin, is blinded and spiritually dead. He is unable to hear and believe the Good News of the Gospel. This is why the only way he can be saved is through the regenerating grace of God in the Holy Spirit. This is a miraculous work by which God gives new life to dead sinners who hate and reject him. But this is the greatness of the Gospel: it is something God does for those who are not even able to hear the Good News without grace. And in a way, all men by nature of having a soul know of the need for salvation. They know that they will continue to live once this life has ended. Eternal life is offered to all who believe, but as Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, all who reject Jesus Christ have no hope in eternity.
The Gospel is given for individual salvation, but it has implications for the whole world. With Acts 8:4-12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how nations and societies will never be good and upright until the individuals who make up these societies and nations are transformed. This is why people who say things like, ‘Christianity is about world peace’ and ‘we should not be concerned with individuals, but with societies’ misunderstand the message of the church as seen in the Bible and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles. For the apostles did not tell the Roman Emperor what to do, nor did they start a protest. But they proclaimed the Kingship of the crucified and risen Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who died so that men would be saved from the wrath of God and made right with God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is no other message that can save men. Not the message of the humanist who sees men as good by nature, not the message of the philosopher who thinks that by using right reason men will be able to stop all war and evil. No, it is only the message of Jesus that offers any hope for this sin-filled world.
Who really needs the Gospel? Is it just for the weak, the lonely, the worst of society? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones turns to Acts 8:5-12 and shows us that the Gospel calls all men to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation only comes to those who surrender their entire life to Christ. There are no halfway Christians. While many men and women hear the preaching of the Gospel and see the life of other Christians, they often think Christianity is merely an external code of conduct, an ethical system, or another lifestyle. Sadly, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, they never actually come to a true understanding of what it is they are rejecting. However, even though man is in sin and rebels against the one true God, no one is beyond salvation. For salvation is ultimately the result of God’s Holy Spirit. He regenerates fallen men and women, giving them new hearts and minds that believe and trust in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the hope that Christians have when sharing the Gospel, it is ultimately God who saves and redeems. Once one is saved by the power of God, they begin to live the new life of believers. They repent of their sin and live a life of faith and hope in the great Savior, Jesus Christ.
Is it wrong to seek after joy and pleasure? Those pursuits are nothing new to humanity as mankind chases after lasting happiness in art, music, and drama. This pursuit of pleasure and joy has become even more prominent in modern times. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains with Acts 8:8, man’s pursuit of pleasure is often driven by sinful desires and passions. This is seen in rampant drug usage, wherein men seek to escape the ills of the world by numbing their minds. This is in complete antithesis to Christian joy that is brought by the Holy Spirit and the redemptive work of God in their lives. This is the only true joy, and it comes from the Gospel of Jesus Christ that alone can transform this world, not as an escape from the world’s problems. It comes from believing the truth about the world, oneself, and God. It is real joy that comes from being at peace with God and having eternal life in Christ Jesus. This is the joyful message that the church is to bring to the whole world: though men are sinners in rebellion to their God, God has sent his only begotten Son into the world to pay the wages of our sin and provide the only way of salvation!
When man rejects God, he often rejects anything that cannot be personally experienced. This is the materialism of secular humanist that rules out all supernatural and spiritual realities. This is the mindset of those who have no place for salvation, spirits, and ultimately for God. In this sermon on Acts:8-14, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exposes the false belief system of those who rationalize their sin based on evolution and blind causation. They reject the superstitions of religion in favor of science and rationalism. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones states, science and evolution offer no explanation of the deepest and most important questions in life. For God’s Word says that the world does not know God and that it is blind in sin. The so called "wisdom of the world" is foolishness when compared to the Word of God. It is only in God’s Word that we see the truth about ourselves and the world. It tells us that we are fallen and sinful by nature, and that we are wholly opposed to all the things of God. But most importantly, God tells us of what he has done in his Son, Christ Jesus. For Jesus died a sinner’s death so that all who believe in his name will be saved. This is the salvation of the world, not evolution, not science, and not humanism, but the Son of God who gave himself for us.
Can a person perform the actions of a believer, yet not be saved? There are many people in the church who mistakenly believe they are saved because they were born into a certain family, uttered some phrases, or were even baptized. But, despite all these things, they have never truly been redeemed. These people are deceived into thinking that they are true Christians by merely their external actions. This is one of the greatest threats to Christianity in all ages and periods of history. This is no less true in the early church as seen in the book of Acts. It is there that we meet Simon who is a magician. He hears the Gospel, confesses faith, and is baptized. However, later it is revealed that he is a false convert, exposed by his desire to buy power from the Holy Spirit. This is why Christians must test themselves, examine their fruit, in order to see if their faith is true and not a sham like that of Simon. Faith can be tested by examining not only one’s confession of faith, but the fruit of one’s life. For all true believers will walk in the light, submit to Scripture, and love their brothers.
About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.