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Sermon #5501

Unbelief and Division

A Sermon on Acts 23:6-8


Acts 23:6-8 ESV KJV
Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had …

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Sermon Description

Being religious does not guarantee salvation. In this sermon on Acts 23:6–8 titled “Unbelief and Division,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows how there are many in Scripture who pass themselves off as being deeply religious, but are not saved. This is the condition of the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees that opposed the apostles, particularly Paul, and they represented the unbelieving in many respects. They are well-educated intellectuals who are blinded by their sin from believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This unbelief is prejudiced opposition. They oppose the message of Christ because it contradicts their traditions, for they had no place for a crucified Messiah who had no kingdom and who came from an uneducated family. Unlike the Jewish leaders, he was not born into the top of the social pyramid and educated. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains how modern humanity rejects the gospel for many of the same reasons. They think it is backwards and old fashioned. They say it is intellectually ridiculous, but this prejudice is the result of sin. Humanity’s problems with Christianity are never simply intellectual or moral, but at the core of these beliefs lies opposition to God and His law. All are dead in trespasses and sin and unable to evaluate the truth claims of Christianity as merely rational thinkers. They are prompted by their sinful nature to oppose this message. This why the gospel must be a supernatural message, for without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, no one would be able to believe and be saved.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The passage describes the world today. Men and women do not change. While means of transportation and medicine have progressed, human nature remains the same.
  2. The only thing that matters is belief or unbelief in Jesus Christ. This determines our happiness and eternal destiny.
  3. The characteristics of unbelief:
    1. It is futile and a waste of time. The disputes between the Sadducees and Pharisees were irrelevant. Similarly, the world's divisions and arguments cancel each other out.
    2. Unbelief is prejudiced and governed by its own theories. Each group was blinded by its preexisting beliefs. Unbelievers today are also prejudiced and unwilling to change their minds.
    3. Unbelief will go to any length to prove its point, even manipulating facts. The Pharisees and Sadducees were dishonest in their arguments. Evolutionists also manipulate evidence to prove their theories.
    4. Unbelief is ignorant of Scripture. The religious leaders did not understand the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah's death and resurrection. Unbelievers today are also spiritually blind.
    5. Unbelief refuses to face facts that do not fit its theories. The Pharisees and Sadducees rejected the facts about Jesus. Unbelievers today also reject facts that contradict their beliefs.
    6. Ultimately, all unbelievers are the same. Whether Pharisees, Sadducees, philosophers or common people, without Christ they remain under condemnation.
  4. The characteristics of belief:
    1. Belief starts with facts, not feelings or prejudices. Paul believed because of the facts of his encounter with Jesus.
    2. Belief accepts facts because they are facts, even if they contradict one's theories. Paul gave in to the facts.
    3. Belief accepts all the facts about Jesus, not just those that are convenient. One must believe in the virgin birth, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, etc.
    4. Belief looks to Jesus alone for salvation, not man's efforts or teachings. Only Jesus is the light of the world.

Sermons on Unbelief

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.