MLJ Trust Logo Image
Sermon #2009

The Church and Doctrine

A Sermon on Acts 2:41-42


Acts 2:41-42 ESV KJV
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (ESV)

Sermon Description

Many people go to church but have no idea what church actually is. In this sermon from Acts 2:41–42, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings forward “the great, most important question we must face at this time — What is the church?” To answer this, he explores what it means to be a Christian, fellowship with believers, and delves into refuting theological liberalism which seeks to redefine the Christian faith and the Christian church. His chief concern is that the church itself is undermining Christian doctrine, yet rails against increasing societal immorality. In his estimation, within the church there are those who decry moral decay but do not recognize that their rejection of apostolic doctrine is the key contributing factor to the mounting immorality of society. He shares that the Christian church has been the institution which has most contributed to declining moral standards in recent generations through theological and academic exploits in so-called “higher criticism.” He draws examples from the Old Testament and secular history to underscore his point that Biblical, apostolic doctrine is necessary for practical morality. He affirms that the church must reject the modern suggestion that it doesn’t need the apostles’ doctrine, but instead only needs ethical teaching. Such a premise, in his understanding, is built on a false and unrealistic concept of human nature.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon begins by establishing the importance of understanding the message of the early church by examining the book of Acts.
  2. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter preached the first Christian sermon.
  3. Peter's sermon convicted the listeners of their sin in rejecting Jesus, leading them to ask what they must do. Peter told them to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit.
  4. About 3,000 people were added to the church that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer.
  5. The apostles' teaching is the most important element, contrary to modern objections to doctrine and creeds. We must go back to the Bible to understand true Christianity.
  6. Many today say the church should teach ethics and morality but not doctrine. But doctrine gives us the standard of right and wrong, the motive to do right, and the power to live rightly.
  7. Without doctrine, we have no standard of right, no reason to do right, and no power to do right. Ethics alone cannot overcome the power of sin and the devil.
  8. The doctrine of man's sinfulness shows the depth of the problem. Man cannot save himself by his own will or effort.
  9. The doctrine of Christ shows He bore our punishment so we could be forgiven and given new hearts and natures that love God. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live rightly.
  10. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The law shows us our sin but cannot save us. Only faith in Christ can save us.
  11. We must be born again, given new hearts and natures, to love God and righteousness. Mere ethical teaching cannot accomplish this.
  12. The sermon concludes with an appeal to believe in Christ as the Son of God and Savior. Only He can break the power of sin and set us free.

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.