The Message Calls for a Decision
A Sermon on Acts 4:13-22
Threat and Release
13Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. 14And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had …
13¶ Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing …
Those who reject Christianity do not do so on the basis of rational thought. This is seen in the actions of the Jewish leaders, who do not deny the miracles done by the Apostles in the name of Jesus Christ, but nevertheless sought to stop their ministry and silence their preaching. In this sermon on Acts 4:13–22, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that the reason for this opposition to the truth of God’s gospel is found in fallen and sin-bound minds. Because of the fall, all have been enslaved to sin and the devil. Their every faculty is thoroughly and wholly dominated by sin, and it is this sin that produces unbelief. For this reason, no one should be surprised when the gospel is rejected, for the Bible tells that without the work of God in their hearts, no one will believe. This is because belief is not a matter of reason, facts, or compelling argumentation, but it is about the state of one’s heart. The church should not fear the many so-called intellectual assaults against Christianity, for all these arguments are really a matter of one’s relationship to God and His gospel. Only the heart that has been regenerated can truly think rightly about God.
- The sermon examines Acts 4:13-22 which details the first persecution of the early church.
- The passage shows what Christianity is, what the church is, and what the church's role is. There is confusion today about the role of the church, so we must look to Scripture.
- The sermon looks at the passage from different angles: the general nature of the early church, the essential message, the effect on believers, and how it calls for a decision.
- The early church cut across the world's ideas. The leaders were uneducated, showing God uses whomever He wills.
- The essential message is about Christ's acts and words, not philosophy. It produces joy and a desire to share the gospel.
- The message calls for a decision and produces a division between those for and against it. We see this in the Sanhedrin, the crowd, and today.
- The Sanhedrin's spirit was prejudiced, biased, and determined to stop the gospel despite the evidence. Unbelief is often like this.
- The message is about facts, not opinions. The Sanhedrin couldn't deny the healed man but still opposed the gospel. Unbelief rejects facts.
- There are no reasonable objections to Christ, His teaching, His followers, or the church. Unbelief is unreasonable.
- Unbelief is negative, unable to provide answers but still opposing the truth. The Sanhedrin had no solution but resisted the gospel.
- Unbelief defies God, not just men. Peter said they were opposing God, not just himself and John.
- The only explanation for unbelief is that sin has blinded minds and enslaved wills. The god of this world blinds unbelievers.
- There is hope in the gospel that unbelievers have rejected. Christ can still save despite unbelief and arrogance.
- Peter calls the Sanhedrin to judge for themselves and face the consequences. The preacher calls listeners to do the same.
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.