The Book of Acts
The Book of Acts
Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s sermon series on the Book of Acts is comprised of 119 sermons, plus 24 other sermons preached at Westminster Chapel on the book of Acts. This series of sermons were preached on Sunday …
The Tragedy of Unbelief
People reject the gospel of Christ because of their unbelief and hardened heart. In this sermon on Acts 4:8–10 titled “The Tragedy of Unbelief,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that this is the universal problem. Sinful people have always rejected the message of the gospel and those that bring the message, as was 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 people 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 and modern humanity are no different for their foolish and blind unbelief. Apart from the light of God’s grace in Christ, both are lost and live in darkness. The root of this is sin, but in their darkest sorrows, people reject the only hope that the world has ever known. This rejection of the message of salvation is the great tragedy of unbelief and the very remedy to the world’s greatest problems is what the world despises the most.
Rejection and Unbelief
Is the world smarter than God? Is religion only for the feeble? Modern humanity likes to think that it is too enlightened to believe in things like the deity of Christ, bodily resurrection, divine judgment and the sinfulness of humanity. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out from Acts 4:11–12 in the sermon “Rejection and Unbelief,” 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 Dr. 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. The objections to the gospel today are really no different from those of the ancients. The modern human is not nearly as progressive and innovative in their rejection of Christian truth as they would like to be. Both the ancient and modern person rejects 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 from the wrath of God that is coming on account of their sins, because they do not believe in sin. This is the heart of unbelief.
Jesus; the Cornerstone
God’s way of salvation is wholly opposed to humanistic and human-centered philosophy. The ancient Jews and Greeks rejected the gospel as it was taught by the apostles, and modern humanity rejects the gospel as it is proclaimed by the church. In this sermon titled “Jesus, the Cornerstone,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches how this is the devastating condition of the world. 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 who trust and believe in the work of Christ on the cross. This is in opposition to the city of humanity built upon the foundations of sinful and fallen human reason that is wholly corrupted by sinful nature. Christians have nothing to fear from the enemies of God and can rest in the truth of who Christ is and what he has done. The Christian 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. Christ is victorious over all those who oppose His gospel.
Son of God; Son of Man
All are in dire need of salvation because all are under the judgment of God. Because of the fall, all are born in sin and in guilt. They must get rid of their polluted nature and their guilt before a holy God. How can a sinful person be reconciled with God? In this sermon titled “Son of God, Son of Man,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones joyfully and powerfully states that 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 in their pride and arrogance, people 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 anyone be saved. But the message of Christ and Christ alone is the means of salvation is the gospel. This is the message of salvation from Genesis to Revelation. It is the God-man who came to save His people and bring about the kingdom of God.
The Authentic Marks of Christianity
Christianity is not based on human power or wisdom. It is not the result of clever and prudent people, but it is the result of the gospel of God. In this sermon on Acts 4:13, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. All are in need of Jesus Christ. There are no prerequisites to being saved but to believe in the name of Christ. In the gospel, God subverts the ways of the world as the world is about power and pomp, vain glory and empty praise. But the gospel is about Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, hung on a tree so that all those who believe would become a part of the new creation. This message humbles everyone because it leaves no place for boasting, human pride, or hubris. It tells that all are sinful and under the judgment of God. It says that all 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.
The Apostles as Witnesses
Christianity is built upon the authority of Jesus Christ and his word. In this sermon on Acts 4:19–20, 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 stood before the Jewish leaders in Acts 4, they taught and performed miracles all in the name of Christ Jesus. They did not rely on the teaching and authority of great rabbis and wise philosophers, but they proclaimed the Christ and Him crucified as was 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 than what Christ has given them. It is by His revelation that He is known. It is by the words of the Bible that we know who Christ is and what he has done for us. There is no need to come up with a new message, for it had already been given 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.
Saved to Serve
When the apostles met the risen Christ, they were transformed and empowered with boldness to proclaim the gospel to all that they could. Before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, they were fearful and timid but after they were fearless in their mission. In this sermon titled “Saved to Serve,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains this change 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. As the gospel transforms Christians, they are given the Holy Spirit and 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. 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.
The Message Calls for a Decision
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 nevertheless sought to stop their ministry and silence their preaching. In this sermon on Acts 4:13–22, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that the reason for this opposition to the truth of God’s gospel is found in fallen and sin-bound minds. Because of the fall, all 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, no one should be surprised when the gospel is rejected, for the Bible tells that without the work of God in their hearts, no one 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.
The Living God
What is one of the primary marks of a Christian? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in this sermon on Acts 423-24, 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 it 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. This great gospel should not be rejected, but all must believe in God’s only begotten Son who has died on the cross so that sinners would have life eternal.
Why Do the Nations rage?
Pain, suffering, and ultimately death are inescapable parts of life. But why? How do we account for the troubles that are common throughout history? Why do the nations rage? The story of humanity shows a restless world always searching for answers that never provide relief. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches through the text of Psalm 2 and Acts 4 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.
Father; Son and Holy Spirit
Christianity is a historical faith. While the world is full of other religions and “spiritual experiences,” Christianity is set apart by the objectivity of events brought about by the Triune God. These events—the history of Israel; the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus; the day of Pentecost; the global spread of the gospel—are objective events that point creation back to God. In this sermon titled “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes the listener back to the early church in this sermon on Acts 4:31 and shows that Christianity is not taken up on one’s own accord or power; rather, it takes the Christian up. The apostles were not well-educated or eloquent men and yet God used these ordinary men to spread the good news and Christianity flourished. Acts emphasizes that this is the work of the Trinitarian God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is the basis of the apostles’ hope and confession and the foundation of great hope. Subjective experiences don’t rule one’s faith, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. The objective reality of the Christian’s history, as well as the ongoing work of revival, reminds them that their living God actively cares for this world.
The Work of The Holy Spirit
How does the message of the gospel come to men and women? How do they move from hearing the words to believing them? In this sermon on Acts 4:29-33 titled “The Work of the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about the wonderful work of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the preaching of the gospel. In his sermon, he focuses specifically on the work of the Holy Spirit as the one enabling and empowering the preachers who proclaim and the listeners who respond. This is a special work of the Spirit to accomplish this and it helps the believer understand why there are those who hear the gospel but are merely convicted as opposed to those who are convicted and convinced of the gospel. It is a peculiar function of the Holy Spirit to utilize the Word of truth to convince the listener of righteousness and judgment. Dr. Lloyd-Jones urges the believer to proclaim the gospel with great boldness to convict while also praying for the Spirit to convince the listener.
The World that Wants Peace
All the turmoil and strife in the world has its root in humanity’s sinful rebellion against God the creator. When humanity rejects God as ruler and rebel, they lose any hope of true peace and happiness. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in this sermon on Acts 4:31–35, all hope is lost because the world rejects the Creator who is the source of all blessings. When people reject God as ruler, they set themselves up as their own rulers. This leads to anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, and hatred. Because sin is the root of all the troubles, all plans to bring peace and harmony to the world that reject God and His view of the world are doomed to fail. This is the current state of the world. There is suffering and pain on a massive scale across the globe that people seek to fix. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that it is the fallen nature that produces these ills. And it is only the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings renewal and true change. It is only by the transformation of hearts and minds that the world will come to know peace and experience joy. This is the great promise of the gospel: the renewal and transformation of the whole world under the reign of Christ.
The God of Grace and Power
The world can only be saved by the grace and power of God almighty. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims in this sermon on Acts 4:31-33 titled “The God of Grace and Power,” there is no other way. The whole world lies under the condemnation of God’s wrath that justly befalls all the unrighteous and ungodly who reject God’s rule over the world and their lives. The only way to escape this judgment has been provided by God in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the gospel: God showing grace to those who hate Him and reject Him by sending His only begotten Son to die in their place. In this grace, God’s wrath can be escaped and fallen sinners can receive new life and become the children of the God they once hated and despised. They can have complete assurance that they will be saved on the last day because of the grace of God made manifest in Christ. This is the hope of the gospel: salvation to all who trust in Christ. All who rest in His grace will conquer with Christ when He returns to bring the new heavens and the new earth. God’s grace in Christ is the only hope for the world. All must not fail to repent and believe in the only savior that the world has ever known.
The Great Conflict
There are two powers that exist in the world: God and the devil. In this sermon on Acts 4:31 titled “The Great Conflict,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the devil is the great deceiver who seeks to destroy God and His people. This enemy of righteousness is described as the god of this world who blinds the nations and is responsible for the persecutions against God’s church. He is wholly opposed to all that is of God. God is the Creator and Judge of the whole world. He is the source of all good and righteousness. He has sent His only Son into the world to break the hold of Satan and save all sinners who repent and believe in His name. One either serves God or Satan. One either submits to the lordship of God the Creator and Sustainer, or they are slaves of Satan, the father of lies. It is in the midst of this cosmic struggle that the Christian lives and serves God. Those who oppose God do so because they serve Satan and are blinded by his lies, while those who love and serve God trust and believe in Christ and his gospel. The church must understand the great antithesis of these two powers, and they must see that Christ has conquered Satan, sin, and the world by His great work on the cross.
Christ's Death - The Purpose of God?
What is the understanding of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ? In this sermon “Christ’s Death—The Purpose of God?” from Acts 4:23–28, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how this is the ultimate test of the validity of the Christian faith. Was it simply the result of the actions of the cruel and ignorant? If God is so powerful and Christ so wonderful, why did He die and in this way? In this highly theological prayer made by the early church during their first evil hour of persecution, they focus on the central message of Christianity: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was no mere accident, nor example, nor response of God to the actions of sinners. The cross was the purpose of God, foretold from Abel to Moses to Isaiah, all the way to John the Baptist when he cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” There was no other way for God to remain just and the justifier of His people other than sending His own Son into the world to take upon Himself the sins of His people. Humanity killed Him, but only according to the definite purpose of God and it is the center of everything.
Power ... and the Resurrection
There is so much confusion within and without the church today as to the message of Christianity. In the sermon “Power … and the Resurrection,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the account of the early church’s first experience of persecution in Acts 4:29–33. In the passage, a group of people were gripped by not a mere experience but historical fact – the fact of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This series of events that the early church witnessed completely changed their lives and everything about them. In their hour of trial, they simply asked for more power to continue telling others of these events. In this modern time, when personal experience is valued above all else and facts are disregarded, Christians must follow the early church’s example and hold to historical facts. The fact is the Son of God has come into the world. He died, was buried, and was raised from the dead to save His people from their enemies, provide complete redemption, and ultimately prove He is who He said He is. He is coming again to judge all humanity.