The Book of Acts
The main series of 119 sermons, plus 24 other sermons preached at Westminster Chapel on the book of Acts. The main series was preached on Sunday evenings between 1965 and 1968.
Ananias and Sapphira
In Acts 5:1-11, Annanias and his wife Sapphira were udged by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. This episode reveals that God is active and rules in this world. As Creator, He has the right and the power to do as He wills with His creation. In this sermon on Ananias and Sapphira, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on Acts 5 and shows that while many modern men hate the idea of a supernatural spiritual realm, the Bible reveals the existence of angels, demons, and the devil. This is a part of the world we live in and the Bible clearly teaches this from beginning to end. But God is sovereign over all of it, both the spiritual and the material aspects of reality. We must not shy away for what Scripture teaches regarding the existence of the spiritual realm. The church must be active in its opposition to evil in all its forms and ways. There is a war between God and Satan, between good and evil, and between light and darkness. This is a cosmic war that takes place amongst us but we have hope in the power of God and his gospel. In the gospel, Jesus triumphs over all sin and evil, and through his Spirit we have the power to fight against all evil and darkness in this world.
Why Has Satan Filled Your Heart?
Why is there so much evil in the world? Why is it that none of humanity’s efforts to end war, death, and poverty succeed? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the problem is found in the fact that the world is overrun by the devil, and he has blinded people so that they cannot see the light of God’s grace and love. It is seen in Acts 5 when Peter asks, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart…?” This evil is not simply the absence of good character and good deeds, but it is militant opposition to God and His rule. This is why all attempts to make the world a better place by education, human works, and moralism are ultimately futile and ineffective. Until sin and the devil are recognized as the root and source of suffering and evil, all will continue in godless ways, seeking to bring peace to the world by their own wisdom and power. In order for true transformation to take place in the world and in the hearts and minds of sinners, there must be the acknowledgement of God and his Son, Jesus Christ. For without Christ there is no hope in this life or in the next. For all stand condemned before God, and it is only by believing in the death and resurrection of Christ that sinners can be saved and brought into the kingdom of God.
Christ; the Answer to Our Needs
Modern people reject the truth of the Christian faith often on the basis of the supposed superiority of science over faith. The claim is that no rational person can believe the gospel and the Christian faith in light of what is known about the world. In this sermon from Acts 5:1–11 titled “Christ: The Answer to Our Needs,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that while people may affirm the need for moral improvement, and therefore like the moral teachings of Jesus, they reject the two natures in Christ and the need for salvation from sin and the wrath to come. They reject the supernatural religion of Christianity for the moralistic teachings of godless humanism but moralistic religion cannot save people from their inevitable death. Humanity needs a new nature that will grant a true desire for righteousness. They must be delivered from the wrath of God and the power of Satan. Only through the supernatural work of Christianity can His children be transferred from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones powerfully says, those who reject the gospel of Christ have no hope. Moralistic teachings cannot save anyone from death, Satan, and the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. Salvation is only through the supernatural work of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Signs and Wonders
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about the miraculous nature and origin of the church. He argues that the existence of the church is proof of the existence of God as the church was established by God through unlearned and ignorant men. These men were instruments chosen by God for the establishment of the church. Many have tried to deny the supernatural events of the Bible. They do so, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, because they start with the presupposition that miracles can’t happen, therefore the Bible must not be true. One who starts with the idea that miracles cannot happen is sure to deny the Bible, but one who believes in the Lord Jesus understands that He is Lord of all, and that He can perform miracles with His wondrous power. The listener is also warned against the popular tendency to suppose it would have been easier to believe in Jesus if they had been there to see the miracles. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that this is not true, and the miraculous nature of one’s salvation should be proof of His existence.
The Irrationality of Unbelief
Unbelief and rejection of the gospel flows from a heart that is fallen and corrupt. In this sermon on Acts 5:17–32, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains this central problem that plagues all humanity. For when people say that the gospel is foolish or for the primitive, they are not doing so as free thinkers, but as sinners who reject God and His way of life. This is seen when the apostles John and Peter are put in prison by the Jewish leaders. These unbelieving Jews reject the message of the crucified and resurrected Messiah and they persecute those that believe. This is unbelief manifest in irrationality. They do not put forth arguments, but they simply reject the message and the messengers. So, when those who hear the gospel of Christ reject it with anger and hatred, it should not be surprising for the Bible predicts and explains this rejection. God’s word says that all are sinners by nature and are wholly opposed to God. As it was in the days of the Apostles, so it is also true in modern times. All around us people scoff and ridicule the message of a crucified Savior due to unbelief. And this unbelief can only be remedied by the grace of God.
The Gospel of God
What is the message of the church and what gives the church any meaning in the modern world? This question arises because many say that Christianity and its message are irrelevant to modern humanity in this new age of science and enlightenment. In this sermon on Acts 5:20–29 titled “The Gospel of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the church is just as important as it has always been, for the church has one message: the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a timeless message that is for all people, in all places, and in all times. It is the one message that brings salvation from sins and true peace with God. The church is called to faithfully proclaim this message as it has received it from God Himself. It is not to change it by adding or taking away. God’s gospel calls all to flee from sin and find refuge in His Son, Jesus Christ. This sermon challenges each and every one to look at the gospel as God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, for Jesus alone saves.
God ... Has raised Up Christ
What was the message of the early church? Why were believers willing to be beaten, imprisoned, and even killed? The answer is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In this sermon on Acts 5:29–32 titled “God …Has Raised Up Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the message of Christianity as proclaimed by the apostles in the early chapters of the book of Acts. This is not a message of general cultural transformation, but it is a message of divine salvation. It is not simply an answer to all of humanity’s social ills and physical troubles, but it is the message of a God who is working through His Son to make all things new. The world has always rejected this message because it is in contrast to everything that they believe. The gospel says that no one can save themselves but must trust wholly on God’s free mercy. Jesus Christ is God’s only appointed Savior. This sermon asks the questions: “what do I believe? Where is my hope in this world?” The gospel of Jesus Christ tells that salvation is only through the grace of God. This is a timeless message that the whole world needs to hear.
Mans Great Problem
What is wrong with humanity and the world? Many answers are given to this question. Some say it is the low self-esteem or ignorance of humanity but in this sermon on Acts 5:29–32 titled “Man’s Great Problem,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a very different answer. He says that Scripture states that humanity’s greatest need is to be forgiven and reconciled to God. Because all have sinned and rebelled against God, they are now an enemy and alienated from God. Humanity was once perfect and upright, but now is evil and wicked. The only answer to this dire situation is not in anything that people can do, but in what God has done. God has sent His only Son into the world to die for sinners. Jesus Christ is both God and man. For this reason He is the perfect mediator between God and humanity. Forgiveness comes only through Jesus Christ; there is no other Savior. God is wholly just in forgiving sinners because Jesus has died and paid the ultimate price for the sins of all who believe. What is the implication of this message? The gospel must be believed by all for salvation. The gospel message of salvation from sin and adoption into the family of God is the most important message one can hear.
Repentance - Door to Forgiveness
What does it mean to follow Jesus? There are some Christians who say that following Jesus is merely an act of profession or bare intellectual assent. The New Testament tells something different about the Christian life. In this sermon on Acts 5:29–32 titled “Repentance – Door to Forgiveness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches the biblical message that following Jesus means believing Him and repenting of sins. To believe in Jesus is to believe in His message and obey it. According to the Bible, those who live in unrepentant sin and immorality but claim to be Christian are living a lie as there is no forgiveness without repentance. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is clear that repentance is not a work; it is simply what it means to be a follower of Jesus and a Christian. It also does not mean that Christians never sin, but only that they continually turn away from their sins and look to Christ. This is the most important message any can hear because it alone contains salvation. There is no salvation apart from repentance of sin and trusting in Jesus. This sermon asks all the crucial question: “do you believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins?”
What is humanity’s greatest need? The answer is simple: reconciliation with God. In this sermon on Acts 5:29–32 titled “Justification,” the apostles asserted that they “must obey God rather than men.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the glorious truth that Jesus Christ came into the world and died for sinners to make them children of God. People are naturally born sinful and opposed to God and, therefore, alienated from God and righteousness. But the gospel that the apostles were willing to suffer and die for is the message that Jesus died in humanity’s place if they turn from their sin and trust in Him. Though they have sinned against God, God has sent His own Son to bear their sins. There is no greater truth. What does this mean for every person? The gospel means that people do not have to be judged on the basis of their sinful deeds but by believing in Jesus, they can have His righteousness. Sins are traded for His perfection. This gospel is a call for all to believe. It is a command from God Himself to repent and trust in Jesus for justification.
Two Lines of History
According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in this sermon on Acts 5:29-32 titled “Two Lines of History,” history can be divided into two categories: the history of humanity and history of God. In the history of humanity, world peace and cooperation are the ultimate goal. This is to be brought about through human means such as education, government, and moral teaching, and these means seek to bring the world to perfection. The other history is that of God and at the center of His story is the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. He establishes the kingdom of God by His blood and kingship. He will reign over all history as God’s only begotten Son, the prince of peace. In Christ the futility of all the so-called kingdoms of the world is seen, for they are established on nothing but the vain wisdom of the world. This is in contrast to the kingdom of God that is established by the blood of Christ. All must repent of their sins and believe upon the only Son of God who died upon the cross so that sinners could have life.
Raised - God's Declaration
First, the resurrection is what fueled the disciples with courage and boldness to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel. It was what made them realize the importance of Jesus’s message and gave them a desire for everyone to be transformed by the gospel as they were. Second, the resurrection establishes the fact that God sent His Son to save. Jesus’s act of rising from the dead was proof that God was satisfied in His Son, and that salvation can be found in the work of Jesus Christ. It also shows that Jesus has delivered His people from the law. Before Jesus’ work on the cross, all were under the law. However, the resurrection is proof that Christians are no longer held in bondage to the law. Lastly, the resurrection gives assurance of salvation and the knowledge that power and strength come through Christ. It is the resurrection that shows that Jesus defeated death and the devil and hope is found knowing that His resurrection points forward to a day when He will come again, and those who believe in Him will live forever in His presence.
As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes in this sermon “The Witnesses,” the Christianity proclaimed in the book of Acts 5:29–32 by the apostles is a Christianity that is grounded in real events. There was a man from Galilee who taught that He was the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah. He said that He would be crucified for the sins of the world, but that on the third day He would rise from the dead, the result of doing the Father's will. This is the Christianity that the apostles boldly proclaimed to the Jewish leaders following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Those who seek to defend the truth of the Christian religion by minimizing or even denying the historicity of its claim do so in complete opposition to the example that the apostles give in the book of Acts. They believed in a true historical Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection and to deny these historical truths is to reject the Christianity of the apostles, and therefore the true Christianity. The church of today should find hope in a real savior who really lived and died so that sinners could be saved and become children of God. The real life and death of Jesus stand at the heart of the gospel.
The Witness of the Spirit
What empowered the early church in their proclamation of the gospel? In this sermon on Acts 5:29-32 titled “The Witness of the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones credits it to the power of God’s Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost upon all who believed in the gospel of Christ. This Holy Spirit made cowardly men bold in the face of death and persecution. It emboldened them and gave them the words to speak before the same Jewish leaders who had put Christ to death only a matter of days before. It is God’s Spirit that has worked in the church throughout the centuries to bring reformations and revivals. It is this Spirit that enables blind and fallen sinners to see and believe in the gospel of Christ, and this Spirit empowers Christians to live a life of holiness and love. While many today want to reject all supernatural aspects of Christianity and the Bible, the church has always believed in the God who works in the world to bring about His purposes. He does this through his Spirit and to reject the supernatural aspects of Christianity is to reject the very heart of the truth.
Moulded by the Gospel
Are Christians living in obedience to God and listening to the command to obey that is found throughout Scripture? Listen to this sermon on Acts 5:29–32 titled “Moulded by the Gospel” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks on the topic of obedience and its importance. Obedience is an extremely important factor for a Christian’s relationship with God. In fact, Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey the commands of God. One such command to obey is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – this is the command of the gospel. Scripture repeatedly states that the gospel is not something to merely listen to but it is something to be obeyed. Dr. Lloyd-Jones states that a Christian is someone who obeys the gospel from their heart. One cannot become a follower of Christ by accepting the gospel intellectually instead of taking action and responding in obedience. It is in this obedience of repenting of old ways and turning to God that the Christian is moulded and changed by the gospel. Dr. Lloyd-Jones ends the sermon by encouraging the Christian to continue living in obedience to the gospel and allowing themselves to be moulded and changed by it.
The Nature of Unbelief
Opposition to Christianity is nothing new. The apostles faced much resistance in their day when they proclaimed the gospel of the risen Christ. Listen to “The Nature of Unbelief” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unpacks Acts 5:33–42, 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 humanity opposes the truth claims of Christianity because they think they are scientific and enlightened. This rejection of Christianity is really nothing more than the outworking of a fallen and sin-corrupted heart and mind. Humanity’s fundamental problem with the gospel is never a matter of intellectual objections alone, but with the heart. The heart of a person 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.
Can one reject the gospel and still be a good person? Many, even in the church, would say that one can reject the message of Jesus Christ as Savior and still be good and virtuous. However, in this sermon from Acts 5:33–42 titled “Spiritual Blindness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows just how wrong this notion really is. The book of Acts shows that all those who rejected the apostles rejected God Himself. Even Gamaliel ultimately rejects the message that the apostles proclaimed. Because the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way anyone can be saved, all who reject it make themselves enemies of God. What does this mean today? It means that all must believe in the gospel to be saved. It means that each and every one that has been confronted with the person and work of Jesus can reject this message and die in their sins, or they can believe and become children of God. One must ask: “Do I trust in Jesus or am I like so many that rest only in what I have done and in my goodness?” Only by believing in Jesus can anyone be saved. This is the message of the apostles and it must also be the message today.
True Marks of the Spirits Work
The most urgent and important thing in the world is to know exactly what the Christian message is. Listen to this sermon on Acts 5:38–39 titled “True Marks of the Spirit’s Work” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones considers the question: “How can you tell whether a work is of God or of humanity?” What are the authentic marks of the work of the Spirit of God? First, this is not always easy. False saviors, prophets, and world religions use great deception in “helping” people. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares what tests are inadequate in considering the distinctions between the work of God and that of humanity: what guarantees the work of God? Terminology? Zeal and enthusiasm? Offering people help? Lasting effects? There may be some truth in each of these, but Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones trains his listeners lest they be deceived, too. Ultimately, if one can understand and explain the works, it is the work of humanity. A miracle is supernatural. One starts with the human and their needs and desires, and then offers what they need; the other starts and ends with the glory, majesty, and honor of God.