37This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your countrymen.’ 38This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness together with the angel who spoke to him at length …
37¶ This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which …
Based in pride and sin, humanity believes that they can obey all that the law of God commands and obtain their own righteousness. But as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues with Acts 7:37–38 in the sermon “The Law of God,” this is a complete misunderstanding of what the law is and why God gave it to His people. God never intended for His people to obtain righteousness by the works of the law and the blood of animals that could never atone for sin. But as the apostles taught, God gave the law in order to convict all of their need for salvation and redemption. The whole of the law points not to humanity and their ability to do what God commands, but it points to the need of a Savior. It points to one who can obey the law for those who cannot. This man is Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill all that the law required. The sacrificial system looked forward to His death on the cross as a sacrifice for all who would believe. This is the gospel: Jesus Christ saves those who cannot save themselves. He stands in their place before God so that they may have life and fellowship with Him. By believing in Jesus, the Christian has new life through His sacrifice.
- The context of Stephen's speech before the Sanhedrin is important to understand the meaning of Acts 7:37-38. Stephen was on trial for blasphemy against Moses, the temple and the law.
- The charges against Stephen were brought because he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God and savior. The Sanhedrin rejected Jesus and saw Stephen's message as blasphemy.
- Stephen's defense takes the Sanhedrin through their own history to show they misunderstood Moses, the law and the temple.
- Stephen shows the Sanhedrin are rejecting the very things they boast in by rejecting Jesus. This was the tragedy of the Jews - rejecting their own Messiah.
- The law was given to reveal sin in people's lives, show them their helplessness and point them to Christ. The law cannot save anyone.
- The law uses the word "coveting" to show sin is not just outward actions but inward desires. The law exposes the depth of sin in people's hearts and minds.
- The law shows the power of sin in people's lives. People know what is right but cannot do it. Sin dwells in people and wars against them.
- The law reveals how sin can twist even good things for evil. The law, though good, stirs up sinful desires in people.
- The law demands perfection but people cannot satisfy God's demands through their own efforts. God requires a perfect sacrifice.
- The sacrifices and offerings were a temporary covering of sin and pointed forward to Jesus, the perfect sacrifice.
- The law was meant to lead people to Christ, not save them. It shows people their sin and need for salvation outside themselves.
- Stephen calls the Sanhedrin to repent, believe in Jesus and recognize Him as the Lamb of God who takes away sin.
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.