MLJ Trust Logo Image
Sermon #2074

The Futility of Humanism

A Sermon on Acts 7:17-20


Acts 7:17-20 ESV KJV
“But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that …

Read more

Sermon Description

If the world’s problems could be fixed by legislation, moral reform, and education, there is no doubt humanity would have done it. However, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Acts 7:17–20 in the sermon “The Futility of Humanism,” while humans claim to be progressing, there is no end to worldwide conflict, war, poverty, and strife. Instead of turning to God in repentance, the world wants only to find relief from the symptoms of sin and the common struggles of humankind. The world wants to believe that there is nothing beyond matter and motion. This is the failed humanistic thinking of the enlightenment idea of religion that holds God and sin as nothing more than intellectually dubious at best, and destructive to humanity at worst. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is nothing new about the humanist unbelief, or this so-called scientific worldview. For all unbelief is really nothing more than the outworking of a sinful heart. All rejection of the historical facts of Christianity are not the result of intellectual reflection, but of blind and prejudiced unbelief. As history has shown, human endeavors to bring about moral transformation and world peace always end in abysmal failure. This is no less true in modern times, for without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of fallen sinners, no lasting and true transformation can take place.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Stephen is addressing the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council. He is defending himself against charges of blasphemy for preaching Jesus.
  2. Stephen uses examples from Jewish history to show how the Sanhedrin has misunderstood God's purpose. He starts with Abraham, then Joseph, and now Moses.
  3. Stephen says the Sanhedrin, like the Israelites in Egypt, do not understand God's purpose in history. They reject the Messiah, like the Egyptians rejected Joseph.
  4. Stephen recounts the Israelites' slavery in Egypt. A new Pharaoh oppressed them and ordered all male babies killed.
  5. The story of the Exodus illustrates God's salvation. The Israelites were helpless slaves, but God delivered them by His power.
  6. Likewise, mankind is enslaved to sin and helpless. But God sent Jesus to save us by His power, not our own.
  7. The humanists believe man can save himself through knowledge and willpower. But man cannot overcome sin on his own.
  8. The humanists do not understand the depth of the problem - sin, Satan, and man's helplessness. They have no solution for the average person struggling with sin.
  9. God delivered Israel in His timing and by His power. Likewise, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) by God's grace.
  10. The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). It is not based on man's power or wisdom but on God's.
  11. Throughout history, God has saved notorious sinners by His power. No one is beyond His ability to save.
  12. We must recognize our helplessness in sin and cry out to God, who can deliver us as He delivered Israel.

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.