In Spirit and in Truth
A Sermon on Acts 7:42-50
But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’
“Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,
“‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’ (ESV)
Man is instinctively inclined to worship. But who or what do we worship? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 7:42-50 and shows how man's heart will either worship the one true God or worship an idol. False worship is marked by an emphasis on the external; this breeds hypocrisy that tells people what to do and not do. It ignores the heart and focuses only on appearance before the world. It emphasizes the places of worship as a means to know God. They say you have to worship at this church, or on this mountain. However, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, there is no substance in any of it. It is shallow and lacks any power to effect real change. True religion, on the other hand, is a product of God’s saving work in the life of sinful men. This is a fundamental reorientation of the heart and mind that creates the desire to seek and love God. It produces true worship that is Spirit filled and driven. So true worship only comes by being a new creation in Christ. This is why worship God receives can only come from those who have been regenerated by believing in the Gospel of grace that God has given us in Christ Jesus.