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.
The Affliction of My People
What gives comfort and security? In this sermon titled “The Affliction of My People” where Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Acts 7:30–33, he presents one of the most comforting truths one can know: that God has acted in history for His people. God knows of human suffering and pain, the sorrows and hardships of life, and the oppressive nature of the world and the enemy, the devil. The great hope of the gospel is that God in Christ Jesus came down from Heaven and delivered His people. This is seen in the Old Testament when the people of Israel are suffering under the cruel bondage of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God raises up a deliverer, Moses, and through him led Israel to freedom. This is continuous throughout the entire Bible. God’s faithfulness is manifested again and again as He provides a way to deliver His people. It is in Christ Jesus that true freedom over the bondage of sin and the destruction of the enemy’s forces and work is found. When Jesus came to redeem His people from their sins, He came to establish a new kingdom where there is no oppression and evil, and where there is no eternal suffering. All who believe in Jesus Christ as the only Son of God are freed from their sin and may partake with him in the new creation and in the kingdom of God.
No Longer Slaves
The message of the gospel is as hard for people to believe today as it was in the days of the apostles. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on Acts 7:35–36 in this sermon titled “No Longer Slaves,” he shows that the gospel contradicts humanity’s notion of self-sufficiency and grandeur. The Jewish leaders rejected Christ as the only atonement for sin. Stephen boldly proclaimed this message and the reaction from society was so violent that it cost him his life. They saw his message as an offense to Moses, the law, the temple, and God himself. Stephen explained how their own history revealed Christ as the one who fulfilled the law that Moses received from God on Mount Sinai. It is Christ who fulfills all of redemptive history. He is above the temple, the law, and Moses. By opposing Christ, the Sanhedrin were the ones rejecting Moses and the law. Their rejection of the gospel is a turning from the only way to be delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin and the devil. This is the great tragedy of unbelief: when men and women reject Jesus Christ, they reject the only way of salvation that God has given to the world.
The Living Word
Preaching the sermon “The Living Word” from Acts 7:37–38, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that Christianity is a religion based in the living God’s revelation of Himself. It is only in the written word, the Old Testament and the New Testament, that one learns how they may be saved. Only in Scripture does the sinner come to know of Jesus Christ and the great need of forgiveness from sin and rebellion. It tells of His holiness and just condemnation against all sin and ungodliness. God tells of what He has done in His Son so that wicked sinners may be saved. This gospel is not known through psychology, the natural world in science, or philosophy. It is only in God’s divinely inspired Scripture that one finds what He has done for the sinner in Christ. This word comes in the power of his Spirit. It is able to convict evildoers and sinners of their great need for the gospel and deliverance of sins. This is the foundation of Christianity and the church. This is what all who call themselves servants of God and his gospel are standing upon. It is a sure and steady foundation.
How does God speak today? The only way to hear the voice of God is by reading his word. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims from Acts 7:37–38 in the sermon “God Speaks,” the Scriptures were recorded by mere humans, inspired by God, and grouped into what is known today as the Bible. Yet in Old Testament times, God spoke to His people. This is seen all throughout Israel’s history, beginning with God’s call to Abraham to come out of the pagan land of his fathers and to travel to the land that God promised would belong to his descendants. In the life of Moses, God spoke through him to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt. These men received oracles from God to deliver to His people. This is how God is known. It is through His revelation that He tells His plan of salvation and of the coming of Christ. This word is powerful and is the means by which one comes to know the gospel. It is not like the words of people that fail and falter, but it is the word of the living God. This is the foundation on which the church stands, and it is this word that the church is to proclaim. It is not to come up with clever ideas and stories, but it is to tell the world what God has said in his holy word.
The Living God
What is the meaning and value of life? Is there a greater purpose than just what can be seen? In the sermon “The Living God,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 7:37–38 and explains the various ways people rationalize life. Some say humanity should be understood in terms of economics and materialism. Others accept a philosophical and rationalistic view that exalts intellect and scholarship. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, whatever specific teaching one holds to, they all have one thing in common: they reject what God’s word says about humanity and how they are to live. These theories reject the idea that God has spoken, and His word commands all to be holy and to love their neighbors as themselves. For only by starting with God’s revelation can one understand what God designed people to be. This is why modern humanity is wasting time seeking to solve the world’s problems apart from God. Forgiveness can never be found, guilt can never be erased, and hope can never be secured apart from Christ. But when one looks to God’s word, they see their sin and great need for forgiveness. In God’s word, the truth is seen that Jesus died for sinners and that in believing on His name all can be washed from sin and freed from unbelief.
The Law of God
Based in pride and sin, humanity believes that they can obey all that the law of God commands and obtain their own righteousness. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues with Acts 7:37–38 in the sermon “The Law of God,” this is a complete misunderstanding of what the law is and why God gave it to His people. God never intended for His people to obtain righteousness by the works of the law and the blood of animals that could never atone for sin. But as the apostles taught, God gave the law in order to convict all of their need for salvation and redemption. The whole of the law points not to humanity and their ability to do what God commands, but it points to the need of a Savior. It points to one who can obey the law for those who cannot. This man is Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill all that the law required. The sacrificial system looked forward to His death on the cross as a sacrifice for all who would believe. This is the gospel: Jesus Christ saves those who cannot save themselves. He stands in their place before God so that they may have life and fellowship with Him. By believing in Jesus, the Christian has new life through His sacrifice.
Jesus; Our High Priest
Must a person be perfect to truly serve God? With the sermon “Jesus, Our High Priest” from Acts 7:37–38, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows the incredible life of Moses who was greatly used by God. As Scripture records, his internal battle with sin was also prevalent. It was this hero of the faith who God used to bring His people out of Egypt and deliver the law to the people of Israel. Nevertheless, Moses was still a man whose sin kept him from entering the promised land. But, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, Moses prefigured the Great Mediator who would never die and who knew no sin. This mediator was Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. Jesus is not only the fulfillment of Moses and his role as mediator and leader, but Jesus also fulfills the whole law. He is the great high priest, king, and prophet. He is the perfect sacrifice that truly and finally removes the sins of His people, but many of the Jewish leaders in the time of the apostles did not understand this. This is seen in the trial and martyrdom of Stephen, who proclaimed the message of Jesus as the greater and better Moses. What the world needs to see is the hope in Christ who redeems life for His purposes.
The Sending of the Spirit
What gives power to the gospel message? Or even better, who gives power to the gospel message? The world looks for those with eloquence and bravado, but God looks for holiness and faithfulness. In the sermon “The Sending of the Spirit” that focuses on Acts 7:37–38, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that the power with which the apostles preached was not of human strength, but it was a direct result of what God had done in them. On the day of Pentecost, God sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and empower the ministry and life of those Christians gathered in the upper room. This accounts for the apostles’ boldness before the very Jewish leaders who had put Jesus Christ to death only a matter of days before. This new Spirit-empowered boldness surprised the Jewish leaders who thought the apostles to be nothing more than uneducated fishermen. But it was the Spirit that filled these rural uneducated men to speak with clarity and power of the risen Messiah, Jesus Christ. This Spirit that indwelled the believers of the early church is the same Holy Spirit that spoke in the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit also inspired the Scriptures and the same Spirit that has been active in the church through the centuries. It is the power of God in the life of individual believers and in the church universal.
Him Shall Ye Hear
What is the reason for life? This important question is addressed in this critical sermon titled “Him Shall Ye Hear” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones from Acts 7:37. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers, scientists, poets, and philosophers have offered answers that end up being elusive and obscure. Regardless of their education or pedigree, they do not seem to ever get any closer to comprehending the truth. Even in modern times, with all the advancements in science, technology, and educational institutions and centers of learning, humanity is simply not any closer to arriving at the truth. The reason for this repeated failure is quite simple: people do not listen to God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to explain that God is a God who speaks to His people in His word, just as He did through the prophets and the apostles. Most importantly of all, He speaks in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ that the world and sinful people reject. They simply do not believe that He has any authority that should be obeyed. But God has declared Jesus to be the ruler and savior of the whole world. All wisdom is contained in Christ, and all things were made for Christ. When humanity rejects Christ, they abandon all hope of ever truly understanding the world and themselves.
The Golden Calf
All Christians must consider their idols and what they worship. Preaching “The Golden Calf” from Acts 7:39–43, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones starts with the ancient Israelites, who after being delivered from their bondage in Egypt, fashioned an idol of gold made in the image of a calf. They then proceed to bow down and worship it, even claiming that it was this was the god that brought them out of Egypt. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that modern humanity is no different. While it is true that most do not make graven images to bow down to, nevertheless they fashion idols out of money, cars, houses, and pleasure. They worship their own humanity and greatness. The consequences for rejecting the true and living God and worshipping idols in His place are most severe. Scripture tells of the great day of wrath that will pour out on all who reject the true God and do not believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no escaping this judgment, for God has commanded that He alone be worshipped and praised. But God has provided a means of salvation and freedom from sin and idolatry. He has sent his only Son into the world to save all who believe and repent. Jesus Christ died upon the cross and rose from the grave so that all may know and worship God as He is.
When God Turns Away
Just when one thinks the world couldn’t get worse, something terrible happens. There will always be those who blindly think trouble will evaporate and the world will become a better place. Through human thought and ethical reflection, they believe the world is slowly but surely becoming more and more civil and peaceful. This progressive view is founded upon faith in human nature and human goodness. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims from Acts 7:42–43, this is fatally flawed because it does not have an accurate and biblical view of human nature. While humanists see human nature as good or indifferent to evil, the Bible says all are sinners by nature and under the wrath of God. In fact, the whole world is under the righteous judgment of God. For God has warned that there is coming a great day of wrath when He will judge all for their sin and rebellion. God will finally and ultimately reject sinful people who do not submit to His law. He will turn away from those who do not believe. But He has also provided a means of salvation from this great judgment. He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die upon the cross so that sinners would not have to suffer the eternal damnation of God. All who repent and believe will be saved and made children of God.
In Spirit and in Truth
People are instinctively inclined to worship. But who or what do they worship? In the sermon “In Spirit or in Truth,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 7:42–50 and shows how the human heart will either worship the one true God or worship an idol. False worship is marked by an emphasis on the external and it breeds a hypocrisy that tells people what to do and what not to 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 one has 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 the sinful. 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. True worship only comes from being a new creation in Christ. This is why the worship that God receives can only come from those who have been regenerated by believing in the gospel of grace that God has given in Christ Jesus.
Uncircumcised in Heart
Sin contaminates everything. Although God created the first two humans to be sinless, pure, and upright, they quickly fell into sin. What started with their act of sin continues in everyone today. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches the sermon “Uncircumcised in Heart” from Acts 7:54–60 and proclaims that sin blinds and makes humanity unable to hear the things of God. Even when the gospel first enters the ears, it sounds foolish and incomprehensible. This is the case of many who saw Jesus perform great miracles yet because of their unbelief did not understand what they saw. Just as a blind person cannot heal themselves, neither can a sinner save themselves. This why God in his grace provided a way of salvation. This is the gospel of grace. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts people and enables them to believe. While sinful people can and do resist the Holy Spirit as the Pharisees did, the Holy Spirit can ultimately overcome the most deep-seated unbelief. God is able to overcome the most irrational aspects of unbelief. When God’s Holy Spirit works to make sinners born again and give circumcised hearts, they receive the new life in Christ and the Spirit indwells them, making them new creatures.
The Waiting Lord
Ever wonder what makes a Christian different from everyone else in the world? Preaching on Acts 7:54–60, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that it is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It is He who empowers the lives and ministries of all believers. This is what made the early church in the time of the apostles so transformative and powerful. The apostles were bold in the face of persecution and even death. They did not fear what anyone could do to them because the Spirit-wrought faith in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the clearest examples of this is Stephen, the first martyr of the church. He was brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the message of Jesus Christ. As Stephen preached in Acts, he boldly told who Jesus is and how Jesus fulfills the whole of the Old Testament. Because of this boldness, he was stoned to death but as he was dying, he asked God to forgive the very people who were killing him. This is the life lived in the Spirit, unlike the Jewish leaders who represented the unregenerate who reject the Holy Spirit and fight its influence. This is the greatest tragedy: those who are dead in sin fight against the only power that can save them and give them eternal life.
Three-score and Fifteen Souls
All throughout the Bible, God’s beautiful story of redemption and salvation unfolds. The Bible shows that God is the author of history. Listen to the sermon “Three-score and Fifteen Souls” on Acts 7:14 as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones talks about God’s plans and work in the lives of people thousands of years ago, and in the lives of people today. First, he points out the importance of recognizing the details in God’s plans in the Bible. It’s often easy to skip over the small details, but even these are important because they are also inspired by God. He shows how it is often in the details that the prophecies of old are fulfilled. God works as much in the small details as He does in the big ones. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to show how God works in ways that go beyond worldly understanding. While people would look at outward appearances and large numbers, God can work through people least expected and in small numbers. The Christian’s job is not to be in control, but to surrender themselves to His work and realize that they are His people. Lastly, He points out that God works in this way to humble and help the Christian see His power and glory through His work.
God and History
Acts 7:7–20 is the account of Stephen who made it his goal to preach Jesus as the Messiah. He wanted the Pharisees to see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. The points that Stephen makes are important to hear today as many react to these teachings the same way the Sanhedrin did. Listen to “God and History” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out these similarities. First, people are unaware of God’s purposes in history. Too often, they ignore the past and lose sight of God’s plans. History is viewed as the activity of humanity rather than the activity of God. Not only has humanity failed to detect God’s plans, but they have also tried to reject them. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out how nothing can stop the plans of God. This is seen in the Bible as God’s plans unfold according to His words. Dr. Lloyd-Jones closes by reminding the listener to trust God, knowing that He has established His plans for the future. Christians can live in hope knowing that they will one day spend eternity in heaven with God. He encourages to simply give the time on earth to God and trust in His plans.