The Nature of Unbelief
A Sermon on Acts 5:33-42
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (ESV)
Opposition to Christianity is nothing new. The apostles faced much resistance in their day when they proclaimed the Gospel of the risen Christ. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unpacts Acts 4:33-42, showing how this came primarily from the same Jewish leaders who had opposed the ministry of Christ and put him to death. The Jewish leaders did this not because they were rational individuals who sought to preserve the truth, but because they had been blinded by sin and the devil. This is unbelief manifested. It is a reaction against the truth of the Gospel that is produced by a sinful, fallen nature. As it was then in the early church, so it is also now. Modern man opposes the truth claims of Christianity because he thinks he is scientific and enlightened. But his rejection of Christianity is really nothing more than the outworking of his fallen and sin corrupted heart and mind. Because man’s fundamental problem with the Gospel is never a matter of intellectual objections alone, but it is his heart. And the heart of man can only be renewed by the sovereign working of God’s Holy Spirit when it opens the eyes of the spiritually dead. The church should take great comfort in knowing that it is the Spirit of God that has the power to make even the most hardened sinners repent and believe.