1Now the high priest said, “Are these things so?”
2And Stephen said, “Listen to me, brothers and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and He said to him, ‘Go from …
1Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and …
God’s great plan of salvation is found in Jesus Christ. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains through Stephen’s sermon on Acts 7, this plan of salvation was foreseen in the Old Testament and in the sacrificial system. One clear foretelling came when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac upon an altar. While in the end God provides a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son, this looks forward to when God gives His only Son to die upon the cross for the sins of the world. God tells that the blood of bulls and goats will not atone for sins and Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims that it is only the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, that can take away sins and make sinners righteous. This is the whole message of the Old Testament: the need of salvation for all and the need for God to supply the means of this salvation. This is why the Old Testament is so central to Christianity; the Old Testament tells of the need of salvation and of the futility of human means. It is the overarching narrative of Scripture that tells of the fallenness of humanity and the great gospel of Christ that is the only salvation of the world.
- Stephen begins his sermon by calling the people to listen. He says “Men, brethren and fathers, hearken”.
- Stephen traces the history of Israel from Abraham to the time of Moses. He talks about God calling Abraham out of Mesopotamia and making a covenant with him.
- Stephen talks about the promise God made to Abraham that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land as slaves for 400 years but God would judge the nation they were enslaved to.
- Stephen says God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. Abraham then had Isaac and Jacob who had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel.
- Stephen is addressing the Sanhedrin council who have arrested him for blasphemy against the temple and the law. Stephen is defending himself through this sermon.
- There is confusion about what Christianity really is. The only way to know the truth is to go back to its origins in the Bible.
- God appeared to Abraham, a pagan in Mesopotamia, and called him out to start a new nation through which God would save mankind.
- God made a covenant with Abraham to give him the land of Canaan as an inheritance. God gave Abraham a vision of the coming Messiah which made him rejoice.
- The problem is how can a holy God have anything to do with sinful man. Man cannot solve this problem, only God can.
- God revealed the solution to this problem to Abraham. God would send his own Son to take on human nature, live a perfect life and die as an atoning sacrifice for sin.
- The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to the coming sacrifice of Christ. The blood of animals could never take away sin, only Christ’s sacrifice could.
- God must punish sin because of His holiness and justice. The only way He could forgive sin was to provide the sacrifice of His own Son.
- We need to understand the message of the Old Testament to understand our need for Christ. The Old Testament shows the failure of man and the holiness of God.
- Christ’s sacrifice reconciled God and man. We need to believe in Christ to receive forgiveness and salvation.
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.