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.
Rejecting Christ is nothing new but why are so many people quick to turn against God today? In this sermon on Acts 7:1–2 titled “Institutional Religion,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that many people who reject the gospel are just like the Jewish leaders who did so in the time of the apostles. They believe that just because they perform good deeds, they do not need a savior or salvation. Or they think that because of their heritage and association with institutionalized religion that they are in good standing with God. There are many people who go to church every Lord’s Day and who give their money and time to the church, and yet are not saved. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones exposes the dangers of institutionalized religion. These are people who perform religious actions not out of a heart of love, but out of tradition and human means. This is the great threat to the church in all times because these people do not believe that they are in need of salvation and redemption. They are deceived by their own vain actions and traditions. The answer to this is the true and powerful gospel of Christ that alone can save people from their blind slavery to false religion.
The God of Glory Visits Abraham
What is God’s plan for the Christian’s life? To what extent will the Christian follow God’s leading? These are hard questions that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers as he studies God’s call on Abraham and the covenant He made. In this sermon from Acts 7:1–2 titled “The God of Glory Visits Abraham,” the listener hears how God demonstrates His ability to act in the world to accomplish His purposes and bring about His will for the world. God brought Abraham out of a pagan land that does not worship or serve Him and through this He makes a new people, the descendants of Abraham and all who would believe in God. Christianity is a religion concerning what God has done in time and history and what He continues doing. He actively works to bring about redemption of the whole world through the work of Christ on the cross. He is not like an idle deity of the pagan gods, but He is both able and willing to call and lead His people. He does all this in the world so that sinners may be saved from the judgement they deserve. The world does not know this peace or plan of salvation. The world seeks to enact nothing more than moral reform but God is working to bring about redemption of every aspect of reality by his Son, Christ Jesus. The listener is encouraged to look to God as the great Savior who works all things together, according to His sovereign plan.
The God Who Reveals Himself
How is God at work today? In this sermon on Acts 7:2 titled “The God Who Reveals Himself,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones begins by showing how throughout the Bible God revealed Himself through His actions and words. This begins in the Old Testament with the law and the prophets where God revealed His nature and will to the Jews. Now He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. The Messiah was sent into the world to accomplish the Father’s will and all that was foretold in the prophets and the book of the law. Jesus Christ came to pay the ransom for sin and provide the only way to be reconciled to God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, this is the outworking of God’s great plan of redemption proclaimed in the Old Testament. Not only does Jesus come to save the lost, but in His work God is seen more fully. This is how God is known, not through philosophical reflection but through his Son, God incarnate. Without God’s revelation, humanity would never be able to know Him as He is. God has come into His creation and He took a human nature upon Himself. He was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life and died a horrific death, but then rose from the grave and is alive today. This is God in human flesh. He is the one who came into the world to save sinners and to reveal Himself to those who are blind.
The God of Covenants
God will always keep His promises. His great plan of redemption of the whole world through the work of Christ Jesus is enacted through covenants. Listen in this sermon from Acts 7:1–8 titled “The God of Covenants” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows how these great redemptive events form the background of the work of Christ. This redemptive work is for the salvation of individuals and was planned before the foundations of the earth to glorify His name. This great and sovereign plan is important because it exalts God and humbles humanity. It was this sovereign call that brought the pagan Abram to come and worship the true God and declared him righteous. God has planned both the beginning and the end of all things, and He works in history to bring about His plan. Christians should rest in this great truth; God’s plan will be brought to pass. In this outworking of God’s great plan of salvation, He chooses to make covenants with humanity. He made a covenant with Noah after the flood and promised He would not flood the world again. He made a covenant with Abraham and gave Him the sign of circumcision. It is Jesus who came and brought a new covenant, the fulfillment of all God’s promises. It is this great truth that the early church proclaimed. It is salvation in Christ as the fulfillment of God’s great plan.
The God Who Judges
God’s great plan of salvation is found in Jesus Christ. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains through Stephen’s sermon on Acts 7, this plan of salvation was foreseen in the Old Testament and in the sacrificial system. One clear foretelling came when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac upon an altar. While in the end God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son, this looks forward to when God gives His only Son to die upon the cross for the sins of the world. God tells that the blood of bulls and goats will not atone for sins and Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims that it is only the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, that can take away sins and make sinners righteous. This is the whole message of the Old Testament: the need of salvation for all and the need for God to supply the means of this salvation. This is why the Old Testament is so central to Christianity; the Old Testament tells of the need of salvation and of the futility of human means. It is the overarching narrative of Scripture that tells of the fallenness of humanity and the great gospel of Christ that is the only salvation of the world.
Get Thee Out of Thy Country
The Christian must ask themselves: “Are you ready to truly follow God? What if it costs you everything? Will we then continue to follow Him?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes the call of God on Abraham that caused him to flee his home country and land. This was a call to abandon all he knew including his nation, religion, and kindred. This was a call to serve God above all and this same type of call is upon everyone who follows Christ today. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones walks through Christ’s call to flee this world and pursue Christ and His kingdom. It requires service to God alone as the only true Sovereign. This is a hard message to heed when it is easy to think about the world and its concerns alone. It is easy to see the church as nothing more than a source of moral transformation in a society like any other social institution. But this is all wrong. The church has been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ and this gospel calls all to come out of the world. It calls them to reject the thinking philosophy of the world. It calls to serve God as Lord over the whole world. The Christian should not hesitate to flee from this world and its vain ways, for they have a new citizenship in heaven.
Abraham Believed God
The Christian life is one of faith and action. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims in the sermon “Abraham Believed God,” this is clearly seen in the life of Abraham. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the life of Abraham, the father of all the faithful. The apostle Paul uses him as an example of what it looks like to believe and trust in the promises of God. James, the brother of Jesus, also uses Abraham as the example of what a life of good works looks like. In Abraham is seen what it looks like to believe in the promises of God and to have faith in them. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds, Abraham is also an example of putting faith into action. What some may try to use as a contradiction is actually a great complement as a heart of genuine faith will always demonstrate itself in a life of biblical action. Works flow from a transformed heart as daily practice moves ever closer to a heavenly position.
The Christian life is one of constant movement away from sin and toward holiness. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in his sermon from Acts 7:1–8 titled “Follow Me,” the Christian life is fundamentally God-centered. It requires the abandonment all other things for the sake of the gospel and Christ. Abraham exemplified this God-centered life when he left kindred and country to go to a foreign land to serve and worship God. In this way Abraham is the great example that is given in the New Testament, and he is appealed to by the writers of the New Testament to show that service to God is not something that comes with the advent of Christ. Abraham and all those that believed in the Old Testament were trusting in the promises of Christ. It is by trusting in Christ that they were counted righteous before God. Furthermore, many of them were persecuted and suffered for their faith as martyrs, as did many suffer in the New Testament and even in modern times. This should serve as an encouragement to Christians in all times because they stand in a long line of faithful and Godly believers who were willing to forsake this world and to suffer as Christians for Christ. Christians should see and rejoice in the God who calls and loves His people, and who has sent His Son to die in their place so that they may live.
A Blind World
The New Testament repeatedly points back to individuals from the Old Testament to demonstrate a life of saving faith. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues the study of Acts 7 with the sermon “A Blind World,” it is in Joseph that a kind of Christ is seen. Joseph was hated and betrayed by his brothers for no other reason than their jealousy and anger. But in a few years’ time, it was his brothers that came to him seeking help and relief from the famine. In a similar way, Jesus was persecuted, betrayed, and ultimately murdered because the Jewish leaders were jealous. The great irony is that the Jewish leaders murdered their own long-awaited Messiah, the very one who came to save them from their sins. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that this rejection of God and His will demonstrates the spiritual blindness and rebellion that propels opposition to the gospel. It is not clear and rational thought but blind prejudice that has its source in sinful hearts that will not submit to God’s ways. This must always be in mind when unbelief and opposition to the gospel is seen. It is not a matter of intelligent and reasonable methods that prompt people to harden their hearts when they hear of Christ and his death and resurrection but it is sin and unbelief. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that anyone can come to true knowledge of God.
But God was With Him
Is God in charge of every detail? He is sovereign over the universe, but what about on a moment-by-moment level? In the sermon “But God was With Him,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains from Genesis to Revelation how God is at work on every level. This is true in the case of Abraham and the patriarchs as described all throughout the Old Testament. God is not abstract and above history, but He is very present in the world. He is actively working to bring about His great plan for the world. What is His plan? It is nothing less than the salvation of all who believe though the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. God loves the world and He has acted through his Son to redeem it. Apart from His atoning work, there is no hope of salvation. Human effort cannot erase the guilt of sin or impress the holy God. The only hope for the world is not in human efforts or schemes, but in God who has acted in the world through his Son and the gospel. It is this gospel alone that is the power of God to save and redeem. It is by God’s actions that the world will be redeemed, not by human ingenuity and creativity. The church of today must proclaim this glorious truth of God and His plan and power to save through Christ Jesus.
All Power is Given to Me
God's power is on display in the lives of His children. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines the illustration of Joseph highlighted in Acts 7 and this sermon titled “All Power is Given to Me,” that is true today just as it was in the Old Testament. This powerful passage shows God’s work through Joseph as he was given authority by Pharaoh over all of Egypt, and was used by God to spare Egypt and the surrounding nations by preparing for the great famine in the land. In a parallel way, Jesus is given authority over all things by His Father. He is made king of every inch of creation by nature of His death and resurrection. Jesus Christ alone has died, been buried, and rose from the dead in order that all who believe would be saved from the eternal penalty of their sin. Christ alone saves sinners and reconciles the world to God the Father. This is the good news that brings lasting hope that the world has ever known. The message to the early church is the message to the contemporary church: be faithful to proclaim this great and glorious message to all. Without the Gospel of Christ, no one can be saved.
The Futility of Humanism
If the world’s problems could be fixed by legislation, moral reform, and education, there is no doubt humanity would have done it. However, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Acts 7:17–20 in the sermon “The Futility of Humanism,” while humans claim to be progressing, there is no end to worldwide conflict, war, poverty, and strife. Instead of turning to God in repentance, the world wants only to find relief from the symptoms of sin and the common struggles of humankind. The world wants to believe that there is nothing beyond matter and motion. This is the failed humanistic thinking of the enlightenment idea of religion that holds God and sin as nothing more than intellectually dubious at best, and destructive to humanity at worst. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is nothing new about the humanist unbelief, or this so-called scientific worldview. For all unbelief is really nothing more than the outworking of a sinful heart. All rejection of the historical facts of Christianity are not the result of intellectual reflection, but of blind and prejudiced unbelief. As history has shown, human endeavors to bring about moral transformation and world peace always end in abysmal failure. This is no less true in modern times, for without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of fallen sinners, no lasting and true transformation can take place.
The Supernatural Power of God
The Christian message is God’s intervention in human history. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that through it, God can be seen working in and amongst humanity to bring about the salvation of the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. One cannot reject the supernatural and miraculous aspect of Christianity without rejecting the heart of the Christian faith because at the heart of the Christian religion stands Jesus Christ. He was true man and true God, born of a virgin. He lived a life that was filled with many miracles, supernatural interventions and acts of divine providence. He died a death of atonement upon the cross. He was buried and rose from the dead. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes in this sermon titled “The Supernatural Power of God,” modern humanity rejects the supernatural nature and work of Christ, saying it is unscientific and primitive to claim that God acts in a way that breaks the laws of nature. Yet, it is God who invented the laws of nature and nature itself. He lives outside the boundaries He made for humanity. This message is not one of further explanation of the natural law, but of a confrontation with a supernatural call to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
Like Unto Me
Many people have heard one story or another from the life of Moses. However, it is in this hero of the faith that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones finds a vivid illustration of the power and work of Christ. In this sermon titled “Like Unto Me,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares that in Moses can be seen in several of the functions that Christ would ultimately perfect. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land and freedom. He interceded for the people before God and gave the law of God to the Israelites. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows how in a far greater way, it is Christ who leads those who believe out of this world and brings them into the kingdom of God. He sets Christians free from spiritual slavery and bondage to freedom from their sins and the condemnation they justly deserved. For by His death and resurrection He makes a new people that are sanctified in the power of the gospel and God’s grace. In this way Moses is only a shadow of what is revealed in Christ. Whereas Moses could lead the Israelites out of bondage and oppression, he could not deliver them from their sins and make them holy before God but Jesus Christ can and does. It is only by believing in Jesus and His atoning death on the cross and His resurrection that anyone can be saved.
The Wisdom of Men
How can one know God’s plan for their life? Are they willing to trust and follow Him even when the outcome is unclear? God’s plans are often different than humanity’s for His ways are above human ways. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unfolds Acts 7:17–20 in this sermon titled “The Wisdom of Men,” this fact is seen as God calls Israel out of the land of Egypt and bondage. He does so by blessing them to grow and multiply even as they are oppressed by Pharaoh. In their suffering they turn to God and ask Him to deliver them out of suffering and bondage. God does so through His servant Moses. In a similar way, God uses the presence of sin and the law to cause humanity to flee from their sins and to turn to Christ. This is the reason for many of the hard circumstances in life. It is to make one turn from their efforts and turn to the God who alone can save. This salvation is not of the world’s wisdom, but it is only found in Christ and in His redeeming work on the cross of Calvary and victory from the grave.
Moses Chose God
The life of Moses shows two ways to live. Listen to the sermon on Acts 7:20-29 titled “Moses Chose God” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that one can live according to God’s way or one can attempt to live according to humanity’s ways. Those who live according to the ways of humanity live in rebellion to their Creator and God. They reject God’s law and His demand for righteousness. This way of living leads to ultimate death and destruction in hell, apart from the presence and blessings of God. But for those who follow God and believe in his Son Jesus Christ, there is life eternal. This is the great dividing line in life. It determines one’s eternal destiny. All will ultimately live forever and are under the condemnation of the God who created everything. It is He who is holy and just and He will not let evil doers go unpunished. But He has sent His only Son, the sinless Messiah, to die a terrible death on the cross for the salvation of sinners. It is only by believing upon the name of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved from the wrath of God. This is the most important decision anyone can make in their life.
Professing Themselves Wise
Sin impacts everyone. No one can escape the devastating reality of the fallen world. What began in the garden with Adam and Eve, continues to corrupt everyone today. This corruption and depravity applies to all of human faculties, especially the mind. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes in this sermon titled “Professing Themselves Wise,” this accounts for the fundamentally wrong perceptions of God that fallen humans have. They are unable to understand God and His attributes. They are unable to receive His revelation that is clearly seen in nature and uniquely revealed in Scripture. But there is a unique danger when the church loses sight of the gospel it is to proclaim. Even the church can be drawn aside all too quickly from proclaiming the pure milk of the word and begin delivering only a message of moral conformity or comfort and ease. When the church does not understand the root of all unbelief in the corrupted mind and nature, it will fail to see the great the need for the gospel. The antidote, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, is to diligently study the word and boldly preach the gospel. For this alone is the power that can restore and renew hearts and minds. This is the message that must be proclaimed.
The Power of Sin
There is only one way to be reconciled to God and avoid the eternal punishment of hell. Only those who repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ will be saved. Those who reject the gospel receive condemnation. Who would refuse salvation? In this sermon titled “The Power of Sin,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows in Acts 7:20–29 what compels people to reject the only way of salvation that God has given to this broken world. It is a sinful nature and mind that leads people to reject God in this blind prejudice. Sin has corrupted every aspect of humanity. They are not able to rationally judge the truth of Christianity and the gospel and instead are controlled by blind prejudice and hate. This is why it is only by a divine calling to salvation that anyone believes and is saved. This is what is seen in the story of Moses. Moses was called by God to leave Egypt, but he encountered opposition from his own people. This hostility is not because of any reasonable objection to Moses but it is this blind and prejudiced unbelief being worked out in the life of sinful people who do not know God. This is why it is so vital that the church is always faithful to the message that has been entrusted to them by God.
A Hope for All
The world makes claims such as religion is only for the weak or that belief in God is irrational and sub-scientific. These claims and many more flow from modern science, philosophy, and even false theologies that repudiate the God of traditional Christianity and the Bible. In the words of the modern person: “God is dead.” Listen to the sermon “A Hope for All” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones uses Acts 7:30 to explain how this belief system is born out of sinful rebellion against God and his law. It is not a sign of an enlightened mind, but of a mind enslaved to sin and depravity. This slavery to sin accounts for the opposition to God and the rejection of His gospel. This is seen in how the world addresses evil and depravity. The world tries to solve its problems through legislation, education, and social programs, but these efforts can never solve the real issue of sin. God uses the law to expose sin, but it is His Son who gave his life for sins, so that the world could be redeemed. This is the power of the gospel. It is not social reform, but cosmic renewal in the power of his Son, Jesus Christ.
The God of Miracles
What is the purpose of miracles? Can they happen today? In this sermon on miracles from Acts 7:30–33 titled “The God of Miracles,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the power of God to supernaturally work through miracles and providence. He cannot be comprehended by finite creatures apart from the Holy Spirit’s illumination. Modern humanity rejects God, refusing to submit to the One who stands above and beyond all humanity and who reserves the right to do with them and all of creation as He pleases. Humanity wants a god they can understand and grasp, not one who is the ultimate authority, directing and ordaining all things. Sinful people do not want to believe in angels, demons, or miracles because their hunger for imperial evidence views them as non-scientific or irrational. However, these reasons for denial are only excuses to avoid accountability to God’s holy standard. With the message of the gospel comes the strong warning of condemnation that will fall on all who reject God. On that final day all will bow their knees before the throne of God and there will no longer be any objection to God’s law and reign. They will no longer sneer at the word of God and its miracles. All who reject the gospel of God and His only Son will perish without any hope. Only by believing in the gospel can any rebellious sinner be saved.