The Individual Writ Large
A Sermon on Acts 8:4-12
Philip in Samaria
4Therefore, those who had been scattered went through places preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them. 6The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what was being said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed or limped on crutches were healed. 8So there was much rejoicing in that city.
9Now a man named Simon had previously been practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10and all the people, from small to great, were paying attention to him, saying, “This man is the Power of God that is called Great.” 11And they were paying attention to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic arts. 12But when they believed Philip as he was preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were being baptized.
4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was great joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
The gospel is given for individual salvation, but it has implications for the whole world. In the sermon “The Individual Whit Large” on Acts 8:4–12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how nations and societies will never be good and upright until the individuals who make up these societies and nations are transformed. This is why people who say things like “Christianity is about world peace” and “we should not be concerned with individuals, but with societies” misunderstand the message of the church as seen in the Bible and particularly in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles did not tell the Roman emperor what to do nor did they start a protest. They proclaimed the kingship of the crucified and risen Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who died so that all would be saved from the wrath of God and made right with God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims, there is no other message that can save. It is not the message of the humanist who sees people as good by nature, and not the message of the philosopher who thinks that by using right reason, people will be able to stop all war and evil. No, it is only the message of Jesus that offers any hope for this sin-filled world.
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.