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 Book of Facts
Is Christianity really a fact? Was it founded like other religions or are its roots anchored to something eternal? The world asks many questions about Christianity and thankfully God's inerrant word teaches the Christian. Listen to “The Book of Facts” as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 8:1–5 and teaches of God’s actions in history. Christianity exists because of what happened in time and space with the primary events being the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Scripture does not end the account there but promises the Spirit to indwell His own. This coming of the Holy Spirit was a true event that enabled the church to faithfully and boldly proclaim the gospel to the whole world. Those who seek to disconnect the Christian message from the actual historical facts are actually distorting and rejecting the true message of Christianity as it was taught by Jesus and the apostles. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches in this sermon, the rejection of the facts of Christianity is also the rejection of the truth revealed in Scripture. The world’s greatest problem is its sin and coming judgement of God but through the gospel, all who believe will be saved.
Principalities and Powers
Rebellion against God takes many forms. While some reject all notions of religion, more often rebellion shows up in substituting a belief system in place of the gospel of Christ. In the sermon “Principalities and Powers,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exposes false faith as he shows how modern day humanity turns to the failed faiths such as new age mysticism, eastern religions like Buddhism, in rejection of the only true God. Humanity’s instinct for faith refuses to be satisfied with the God of the Bible. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares from Acts 8:5–12 how the gospel goes to Samaria as the apostles encounter Simon the magician. He used his so-called magic to make a great name for himself and to win the adoration of the people but he is shown to be an evil man who uses false religion to deceive people and lead them astray. This deceptive and demonic kind of false spirituality that Simon the magician used is no different from the many spiritualistic religions of the modern humanity. Both reject true Christianity and use spiritualistic practices, whether it be magic or drugs, and both are ultimately false religions. This is why the church of today must be clear and bold in its witness to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation from sin and death.
Facing the Facts
Christianity is not about a life of truth seeking nor is it about a religious experience, but it is a proclamation of who God is and what He has done in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the sermon “Facing the Facts” from Acts 8:4–5, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones confronts those who erroneously claim that Christianity is not about facts, but rather that it is a matter of personal taste. The Christianity of the Bible is one of truth and proclamation. It is a religion that has something to say to the world amidst its pain and suffering. It brings the message of Jesus Christ as King and Savior who died upon the cross at Calvary and rose from the grave so that all who believe will not perish, but have eternal life. This not a message of personal improvement or social transformation first and foremost, but it is about redemption from sins and salvation from God’s wrath that rightly befalls all sinners. If the church wants to be relevant and meaningful, it must proclaim the only message with which it has been entrusted. It must proclaim the gospel to a world that is broken and filled with sin and suffering. It must imitate the early church of the apostles in their boldness and clarity in the way they proclaimed the message of the risen Savior.
The Wrath of God
Why does the church seem to be so ineffective? In the sermon “The Wrath of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the church is ineffective because it has departed from the apostolic example seen in Acts 8:5–12. He says that the apostles boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ to all. They spoke of Christ’s death and resurrection and of His spirit-empowered ministry. They never shied away from the hard truth of God’s wrath and humanity’s sin but preached the gospel as the only way to escape the wrath of God and be redeemed. It is this message on which the early church was founded. They did not shrink from declaring the gospel to all, both Jew and Gentile. If the church is to be a light in a dark world, it must look to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis for the transformation and redemption of the whole world. The church has been given no other message; it has no other power than the Spirit of God working through the proclamation of the gospel in the hearts of fallen men and women. The modern church must look like the apostles and the early church in order to imitate them. The church does not need anything new to engage the world; all that it needs has been given in God’s word.
A New Life
Will this world ever get better? In the sermon “A New Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings the hard reality from God’s word in Acts 8:5–12 that the entire world lies in darkness and under the control of the evil one. This is because the original man, Adam, was deceived and fell into sin. This fall has poured throughout every aspect of creation. This is why the world of today is as it is, filled with sin and suffering. As a result of this sin, humanity is blinded and spiritually dead. It is unable to hear and believe the good news of the gospel. This is why the only way one can be saved is through the regenerating grace of God in the Holy Spirit. This is a miraculous work by which God gives new life to dead sinners who hate and reject Him. This is the greatness of the gospel; it is something God does for those who are not even able to hear the good news without grace. By their very nature, all people know of the need for salvation. They know that they will continue to live once this life has ended. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns that while eternal life is offered to all who believe, all who reject Jesus Christ have no hope in eternity.
The Individual Writ Large
The gospel is given for individual salvation, but it has implications for the whole world. In the sermon “The Individual Whit Large” on Acts 8:4–12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how nations and societies will never be good and upright until the individuals who make up these societies and nations are transformed. This is why people who say things like “Christianity is about world peace” and “we should not be concerned with individuals, but with societies” misunderstand the message of the church as seen in the Bible and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles did not tell the Roman emperor what to do nor did they start a protest. They proclaimed the kingship of the crucified and risen Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who died so that all would be saved from the wrath of God and made right with God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is no other message that can save. It is not the message of the humanist who sees people as good by nature, and not the message of the philosopher who thinks that by using right reason, people will be able to stop all war and evil. No, it is only the message of Jesus that offers any hope for this sin-filled world.
He That Hath Ears
Who really needs the gospel? Is it just for the weak, the lonely, the worst of society? In the sermon “He That Hath Ears,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones turns to Acts 8:5–12 and shows that the gospel calls all to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation only comes to those who surrender their entire life to Christ. There are no halfway Christians. While many men and women hear the preaching of the gospel and see the lives of other Christians, they often think Christianity is merely an external code of conduct, an ethical system, or another lifestyle. Sadly, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, they never actually come to a true understanding of what it is they are rejecting. However, even though humanity is in sin and rebels against the one true God, no one is beyond salvation. Salvation is ultimately the result of God’s Holy Spirit. He regenerates fallen men and women, giving them new hearts and minds that believe and trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the hope that Christians have when sharing the gospel; it is ultimately God who saves and redeems. Once one is saved by the power of God, they begin to live the new life of a believer. They repent of their sin and live a life of faith and hope in the great Savior, Jesus Christ.
Great Joy in that City
Is it wrong to seek after joy and pleasure? Those pursuits are nothing new to humanity as it chases after lasting happiness in art, music, and drama. This pursuit of pleasure and joy has become even more prominent in modern times. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in the sermon “Great Joy in that City” on Acts 8:8, humanity’s pursuit of pleasure is often driven by sinful desires and passions. This is seen in rampant drug usage where people seek to escape the ills of the world by numbing their minds. This is in complete antithesis to Christian joy that is brought by the Holy Spirit and the redemptive work of God in their lives. This is the only true joy and it comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ that alone can transform this world, not as an escape from the world’s problems. It comes from believing the truth about the world, oneself, and God. It is real joy that comes from being at peace with God and having eternal life in Christ Jesus. This is the joyful message that the church is to bring to the whole world: though all are sinners in rebellion to their God, God has sent his only begotten Son into the world to pay the wages of sin and provide the only way of salvation.
The Supernatural Realm
When a person rejects God, it is because they often reject anything that cannot be personally experienced. This is the materialism of the secular humanist that rules out all the supernatural realm and spiritual realities. This is the mindset of those who have no place for salvation, spirits, and ultimately, for God. In this sermon “The Supernatural Realm” on Acts:8–14, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exposes the false belief system of those who rationalize their sin based on evolution and blind causation. They reject the superstitions of religion in favor of science and rationalism. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones states, science and evolution offer no explanation for the deepest and most important questions in life. God’s Word says that the world does not know God and that it is blinded by sin. The so called “wisdom of the world” is foolishness when compared to the word of God. It is only in God’s word that one can see the truth about themselves and the world. It tells that all are fallen and sinful by nature, and wholly opposed to all the things of God. But most importantly, God tells of what He has done in His Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus died a sinner’s death so that all who believe in His name will be saved. This is the salvation of the world; not evolution, not science, and not humanism, but the Son of God who gave Himself for sinners.
The False Believer
In a sermon on the authority of the believer, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks: can a person perform the actions of a believer, yet not be saved? There are many people in the church who mistakenly believe they are saved because they were born into a certain family, uttered some phrases, or even were baptized. In spite all these things, they have never truly been redeemed. These people are deceived into thinking that they are true Christians merely by their external actions. This is one of the greatest threats to Christianity in all ages and periods of history. This is no less true in the early church as seen in the book of Acts. It is there that we meet Simon the magician. He heard the gospel, confessed faith, and was baptized. Later it is revealed that he was a false convert, exposed by his desire to buy power from the Holy Spirit. This is why Christians must test themselves and examine their fruit in order to see if their faith is true and not false like that of Simon. Faith can be tested by examining not only one’s confession of faith, but the fruit of one’s life. True believers will walk in the light, submit to Scripture, and love their brothers and sisters.
All of God
Why are people so opposed to the idea of the supernatural? Why does humanity so quickly reject any belief that says there is something beyond people, matter, and motion? In the sermon “All of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the answer is because rather than deal with the hard reality of personal sin, humanity chooses to wholly reject the existence of God. Instead of submitting to the one true God, they wrongly believe in a closed universe with no deity that acts outside of time and history to bring about change in the world. The result is that they are left with just humanity, their intellect, and mind. But the word of God tells something quite different from the scientific humanist, for at the very heart of Christianity is the belief that not only does God exist, but He deeply loves this whole world to the point that He sent His only beloved Son to act in history to redeem sinners. Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son, was born into the world in a real place, to real human parents. He died a real death so that sinners could be redeemed from their sin and guilt. There is no other hope for the world. God has provided no other way of salvation other than believing in the name of Jesus.
The Ethiopian Eunuch
What is so significant about the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26–31? This is an interesting story of how God, in His providence, arranges for Philip to meet this man and share the message of Jesus with him. It also shows that even the religious must repent and believe in the gospel as the only means of salvation. This Ethiopian man went to the temple in Jerusalem to worship, yet he had not received the Holy Spirit. He knew of the sacrifices in the temple, but not of the sacrifice of Christ. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that only a religion that is based on and focused on Christ can have any saving power. Only true religion gives any satisfaction in this life. Many people fill their lives with worldly wisdom and vain religion, but the gospel tells that all is for nothing if one does not have Christ. This sermon asks one the question: “what religion do I have? Am I following a dead religion that has no power to save and transform me?” All must turn to Christ Jesus as the only true center of true religion and worship.
... that Christ Died for Us
Christianity is important to the history of the human race as a whole. In the sermon “…that Christ Died for Us,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones dives into the immensity of the gospel and the dire need to know what the Christian message is and what it concerns. The message spoken in Acts 8:32–35 to the eunuch is the same message that is needed today. This is the only basis of the true understanding of life: no religion can satisfy other than this Christian message. This passage of Scripture offers the picture of a man undergoing tremendous suffering and another man who sits down alongside him to consider the Scriptures. What is the meaning of the death of the Son of God? Not only is this the greatest truth of the gospel, but it is also the greatest obstacle and source of offense to the unbeliever. The Bible is unlike any other—it tells of the weaknesses of its characters and need for Christ. How one answers the question of Christ’s death is life-changing. It was not the death of a pacifist; it was the action of God Himself through the hands of the ignorant. This is the most deliberate event that has ever taken place in history.
A Man of Sorrows
What does the death of Jesus Christ have to do with today? Most people can accept Jesus as a teacher or example, but they don’t understand why He would suffer and die. In this sermon “A Man of Sorrows” on Acts 8:28–36, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims how the world is mystified by the man of sorrows prophesied in Isaiah 53. He is a paradox—almighty, yet ordinary; blameless, yet suffering. “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). This same passage confused the Ethiopian eunuch 2,000 years ago, right before the encounter he had with Philip the evangelist that led to his salvation. The answer is revealed in the same passage of Scripture: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus Christ came into the world to bear the full force of the problem of human sin against a holy God. His entire life, from boyhood to the cross, was characterized by the anguish of facing and dealing with sin and death so that His people could be forgiven.
Simon the Sorcerer
Can people do anything to save themselves? Are all good deeds really worthless? In this sermon on “Simon the Sorcerer,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims the powerful gospel from Acts 8:18–24, showing that it does not matter how many good works one does or how religious they are: human effort is powerless to save. The severity of sin cannot be undone by good deeds and righteous works. Those who believe it can do not understand the reality that sin absolutely corrupts. Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes sin’s impact on humanity as every aspect of a person, their heart, will, and soul is corrupted. The message of the Bible is not good religiosity but it is one of supernatural regeneration and new birth. Salvation is obtained by Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. It is applied to everyone who believes by the Holy Spirit, giving them new life. Those like Simon the magician who see salvation as something that is simply a choice fundamentally distort the biblical notion of salvation. They detract from the supernatural aspect of salvation and from the work of God. The church must preach both the necessity of the new birth, as well as the supernatural aspect of salvation. They must make clear that desires alone do not save, but it is the Spirit working to give faith that saves.
A Gospel for Sinners
Preaching this Christmas sermon titled “A Gospel for Sinners” from Acts 8:25, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that the greatest message the world can hear is the gospel. The gospel tells of what Christ has done for humanity. It tells that God loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die in the place of sinners who deserved judgment and condemnation. This is not a message of sentimentalism and shallow love, but it is one that proclaims the great power of God in salvation. Only by a direct act of God can sinful people be made righteous and holy before God their creator and king but humanity scorns and mocks this message. They think that the belief in a messiah who dies on a cross is utter foolishness and stupidity. They see it as backwards and barbaric; that it is not rational for anyone to believe. But the gospel is not according to the world’s wisdom, as God’s ways are not human ways. All human pride and arrogance are destroyed by the message that they are fallen sinners, dead and unable to save themselves from the wrath they so justly deserve. In Christ all the wisdom of God is made manifest.
Do You Understand?
Why can't the world figure out its own need for salvation? In the sermon “Do You Understand?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows from Acts 8:29–30 how the natural human is blinded to the truth of God. That is, they are unable to understand the spiritual things because they are fleshly and carnal. This is why those in the church who want to change the Christian message to be more accommodating to modern people are so mistaken. Modern humanity’s problem with the Christian message is really nothing unique. It is the product of an unbelieving and sinful nature. They do not need a more up-to-date message; their problem is much deeper. It is one of spiritual blindness and deadness. This is why only those who the Holy Spirit of God enlightens can see and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only God can give sinful people a new heart and mind that seeks after what is good and holy, and only He can work the miracle of regeneration so that those who were once dead can come to life in Christ. This is the Christian message that is so necessary in this time and in all times. This is the only message that the church has been given to proclaim to this broken and sin-filled world.
The Content of the Gospel
What makes the gospel so unique? In the sermon “The Content of the Gospel,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Acts 8:35 and shows how the good news of Jesus Christ is not a message of human invention. The gospel of Christ is by design opposed to the ways of sinful people who do not know God. For this reason, it is a great stumbling block to Jew and Gentile alike. This is because the Christian message is one of salvation from sins by the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who died upon a cross so that all who are sinful could be counted righteous before God. So, it is not a matter of personal experience nor is it about mystical revelations. The truth of Christianity is revealed truth and it is found in God’s holy and inspired word. This is the sure and steady foundation for Christianity, for in it is all that is needed to achieve godliness and holiness. It is in this word that the truth of what Jesus Christ did on Calvary’s cross is found. When the Christian stands to proclaim the truth of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, they do not come on the basis of experience, but with the very words of the living God.
The Sheep and the Shepherd
The gospel is not just another philosophical school of thought for the wise and intellectual, but it comes to the weak and the outcast. It comes not through conquest and war, but through the death of a man upon a cross. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones boldly proclaims in “The Sheep and the Shepherd” from Acts 8:30, Jesus Christ came into this world to die a criminal’s death upon the cross of Calvary so that many would believe and be saved. This is contrary to the thinking of many modern people. They expect the world’s problems to be solved through clever plans and lofty ideals not known to previous generations. But the gospel of Jesus Christ contradicts this notion, for it says that the only means of salvation is a crucified Messiah who was not trained in the great philosophical schools of the day. He came to fulfill all that had been said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. His disciples were not of the Pharisees and philosophers, but were fisherman. It is this message that confounds worldly wisdom; it is this message alone that can save people from their sins and the judgment awaiting them.