Total Depravity 18

The Acts of the Apostles also depicts the radical depravity of man in the church’s formative years. The early church’s birth and infancy recognizes the core need of salvation from man’s core problem: his sinful nature. Luke’s portrayal of this condition is found in two of Peter’s sermons.

Peter’s first sermon occurred on the Day of Pentecost and is found in Acts 2:22-23. He said, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22-23, ESV).

Peter also preached this truth in the immediate aftermath of the healing of the lame man inside the temple courts in Acts 3. He said:

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. (Acts 3:13-15, ESV)

Stephen indicated the fallen sinner was resistant to the gospel because of his/her radically depraved condition.

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it. (Acts 7:51-53, ESV)

Luke, paralleling I Corinthians 2:14 recorded the Apostle Paul’s explanation that the unredeemed are spiritually unable to understand the gospel because of their depraved condition.

And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen. (Acts 28:25-28, ESV)