The Church and Her Future
A Sermon on Acts 12:5
5So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made to God intensely by the church.
5Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
In this sermon on Acts 12:5 titled “The Church and Her Future,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones lays out a strategy for how the church can prevail during persecution. One of the most critical parts in this battle, he says, is to identify the character and power of the forces against the church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages Christians that nervousness is behind the appearance of confidence of those opposed to the gospel. This nervousness is driven by their rebellion against God and awareness that God opposes sin. This is seen today, and it is also seen in how Christians were treated in the New Testament. The second strategy Dr. Lloyd-Jones alerts the listener to is the utilization of prayer. The early church employed this tactic early and often, and God rewarded their diligence. However, it is not enough to just petition God for things. Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks a serious question—“do we really believe in God’s power to accomplish that of which He is capable?” If so, Christians truly have nothing to fear. Wherever they are currently in their walk with Christ, this sermon will give hope and encouragement to stand one’s ground and trust the Lord while living in the midst of a hostile culture.
- The early church faced persecution and opposition from the start. Christianity has always faced opposition.
- King Herod persecuted the early church and killed James. He then imprisoned Peter intending to kill him after Passover.
- The church prayed earnestly for Peter while he was imprisoned.
- Before the angel rescued Peter, God answered their prayers by giving Peter peace to sleep soundly the night before his execution. God gives us peace that transcends understanding.
- When God answers prayer, even the apostles are shocked and amazed. Peter thought he was seeing a vision when the angel rescued him.
- Herod took elaborate precautions to guard Peter because he feared him and the power of Christianity. The opposition fears the church.
- We must not fear the forces against us. They fear us because we have access to God's power.
- Prayer is the church's ultimate weapon and hope for revival. We must pray without ceasing.
- God answers prayer in unexpected ways. We pray for one outcome but God's answer transcends our expectations. His answer is always best.
- God answers prayer at the last moment to show his power and humiliate the enemy. He allowed Herod to boast then struck him down.
- We must have faith in God and believe in the impossible. Our faith will be tested through trials to strengthen it. Faith grows through difficulties, not ease.
- God acts unexpectedly in revival. When things seem hopeless, he raises up leaders and moves in power. We must pray for revival and trust in God.
- We must not rely on human strategies and ingenuity. Only God's power and Spirit can revive the church.
- God will vindicate his cause and gather his people. We must pray for faith and trust in God's timing and purposes.
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.