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 nothing to say in reply. 15But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, 16saying, “What are we to do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any longer to any person in this name.” 18And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment; 20for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; 22for the man on whom this miracle of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.
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 against it. 15But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
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.
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.