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Sermon #2094

In Spirit and in Truth

A Sermon on Acts 7:42-50


Acts 7:42-50 ESV KJV
But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: “‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices, during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You took up the tent of …

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Sermon Description

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.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Stephen addresses the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council that put Jesus on trial. They charge Stephen with blasphemy for preaching Christ.
  2. Stephen points out their hypocrisy. They offered sacrifices for 40 years in the wilderness but not truly to God. They thought they could buy off God.
  3. Their real worship was to the "host of heaven," idols. They feared God but served idols. They were like their ancestors.
  4. Their trouble was in their hearts, not their heads. They were foolish and blind to judgment awaiting them.
  5. Their idea of worship and God was completely wrong. Man is seen at his highest in worship, so if he's wrong here, it's tragic.
  6. The Pharisees' characteristics: hypocrisy, institutionalism, and self-righteousness. They cared only for appearances and thought they could balance good/evil deeds.
  7. They worshiped the temple, not God. They thought God was confined to places and could only be worshiped in certain buildings.
  8. False religion is always external, focused on buildings, not the heart. It puts form over substance and spirit.
  9. True religion is based on God's revelation, honest and sincere, in spirit not letter, and focused on the truth of Christ's sacrifice.
  10. God wants to be worshiped his way, not ours. His way is through Christ alone, by faith in his shed blood. No other way.
  11. Salvation is God's free gift, not earned. He drove out Israel's enemies and gave them the land. He offers forgiveness and new life freely.
  12. We must repent, become as children, and believe the gospel. Religion can't save us, only the Lamb of God.

The Book of Acts

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.