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Sermon #2024

Rejection and Unbelief

A Sermon on Acts 4:11-12


Acts 4:11-12 ESV KJV
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)

Sermon Description

Is the world smarter than God? Is religion only for the feeble? Modern humanity likes to think that it is too enlightened to believe in things like the deity of Christ, bodily resurrection, divine judgment and the sinfulness of humanity. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out from Acts 4:11–12 in the sermon “Rejection and Unbelief,” they claim that no one can possibly believe in these things and claim to be rational, sane, or educated. They believe Christianity is nonsense. But, according to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, those who know and believe in the Scriptures should not be surprised when they hear these objections because the apostles heard the same objections two thousand years ago. The Jews rejected the idea of a crucified messiah, and the Greeks found the cross to be utter and complete foolishness. The objections to the gospel today are really no different from those of the ancients. The modern human is not nearly as progressive and innovative in their rejection of Christian truth as they would like to be. Both the ancient and modern person rejects the gospel for the same fundamental reason: unbelief. They are hardened and calloused in their sinful rebellion against God their creator. They scoff at the idea that they must be saved from the wrath of God that is coming on account of their sins, because they do not believe in sin. This is the heart of unbelief.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon begins by introducing Acts 4:1-12 as the passage that will be examined. Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that he wants to focus specifically on verses 1-2 and 5-7.

  2. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides context by reminding the audience about the events of Pentecost and the healing of the lame man by Peter and John. He notes that Acts 4:1-12 describes the first persecution of the early church.

  3. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that Acts 4 shows the world's rejection of the gospel and the reasons for unbelief. He will examine why people rejected the gospel then and why they still reject it now.

  4. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says there is nothing new about unbelief or the rejection of the gospel. People rejected the gospel immediately, just as some still reject it today. Unbelief is as old as the gospel itself.

  5. Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that unbelief unites otherwise diverse and antagonistic groups of people. He gives the example of the Sadducees and Pharisees uniting against the apostles despite their differences. Unbelief transcends other differences.

  6. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that people today reject the gospel for the same reasons as in the 1st century. They reject Jesus as the Son of God, his death and resurrection, miracles, judgment, and the supernatural elements of the faith. The objections are the same.

  7. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that unbelief is not about intellect or knowledge. Paul had the same intellect before and after his conversion, but he changed from unbelief to belief. Many intelligent people are also Christians. Unbelief comes from the state of one's heart, not one's mind.

  8. Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that the passage describes the Jewish leaders as "grieved" by the apostles' teaching. This shows unbelief is rooted in emotion and passion, not reason. Unbelief and belief are both passionate stances.

  9. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says the real cause of unbelief is pride. The Jewish leaders were jealous of the apostles' authority and popularity. Unbelief comes from a desire to maintain one's own status and reject those who threaten it.

  10. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that unbelief reveals a smallness of thinking. The Jewish leaders missed the miracle of the healing and focused only on the external issue of authority. Unbelief focuses on petty concerns and misses what really matters.

  11. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says the unreasonable actions of the Jewish leaders show the blindness that comes from prejudice and evil in human nature. Only a perverted nature can hate the truth and rejoice in evil. Unbelief comes from man's fallen state.

  12. Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes by lamenting that people still reject the Son of God and the salvation he offers. He exhorts the audience to believe and enter into eternal life.

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.