The Book of 1 Corinthians
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes that meditating upon past failures is a waste of time. “If you can't do anything about a thing,” he argues, “stop thinking about it.” The Apostle Paul was a man whose past was filled with sin and his energies were devoted to harm and destroy the Christian message. Yet, with all of his past sin, Paul does not find misery in the present. His past does not affect his new identity in Jesus Christ. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:8–10, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wants Christians to know that they certainly were what they once were, but now they are what they are now. The Christian must study Scripture, know who they are, and be prepared for these spiritual attacks, knowing that bemoaning the past can cripple in the present. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages Christians to ruthlessly fight against this condition so that they do not behave like a fool. The fool focuses on self and seeks to change what he cannot control. The Godly man, on the other hand, is more interested in Christ, and less interested in the self.
If ever there was a time to go back to the first principles of Christianity, it is now. While there are still parts of the Christian faith that pervade Western culture to this day, it can hardly be doubted that the majority of people are not familiar with the basic message of the faith. Paul likewise did not take it for granted that the church at Corinth needed to be reminded of the foundational principles. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones challenges the contemporary church’s preoccupation with the world instead of these first principles. In his sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Dr. Lloyd-Jones lays out the basic content of the gospel. He asks fundamental questions which need to be asked regularly, especially in a biblically illiterate culture: what is Christianity all about and what is the content of the church’s message? Lloyd-Jones follows the biblical text closely, bringing out the central aspects of the gospel: God’s holiness and wrath, sin, Christ’s substitutionary death, resurrection, salvation, and forgiveness.
What does it mean that Jesus is the second Adam? Adam was the first man and head of all of humanity. But when he sinned, he brought sin upon all his descendants, and this sin meant that all were destined to die. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:47 titled “The Second Adam,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains why Jesus is the only hope for the world because He is the new Adam. Just as Adam brought sin and death, Jesus will bring life and forgiveness of sins. As Adam was the head of the old humanity, Christ is the head of the new humanity and all of the new creation. The only way to be freed from sin and its consequence—death—is to believe in Jesus. All those that trust in Jesus will be perfected in the last day, freed from all sin and judgement. Jesus is the true light of the world and He alone can save sinners and make them right with God. This sermon calls all to forsake sin and come to Jesus. He alone makes all things new by His death and resurrection. He alone can reverse all the effects of the fall and Adam’s first sin. Jesus alone saves.
Why is it so dangerous to deny the physical and bodily resurrection of believers? There were those in the early church who denied this doctrine. This is one of the reasons that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians, to dissuade them of this great error. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:12 titled “A Complete Redemption,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that without the resurrection, there is no hope. It is only in the resurrection that Christ completes the redemption that He began on the cross, and it is only by the bodily resurrection that death will finally be conquered and vanquished. Jesus died to not only save souls, but also to redeem the whole world from the bondage and corruption of sin. By resurrecting the bodies of those that believe, this corruption that began with the sin of Adam is removed. It is a lie of the devil that says Christ will not complete the salvation that He began. This resurrection is no mere spiritual event as some have claimed. The bodily resurrection means that Jesus perfectly saves all those that repent and believe in His gospel. It means that Jesus alone is Savior and Reconciler between God and sinful man.
Why does the resurrection matter? Christians can be confused about how significant the bodily resurrection of Christ is for their lives. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 5:17 titled “The Meaning of the Resurrection,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the resurrection and how it is at the heart of the Christian faith. Because Christ rose from the dead, all who believe can be assured that they too will rise from the grave. Jesus Christ is the first of the new creation who rose from the dead as the final and ultimate proof that He has overcome death, sin, and Satan. The resurrection matters because it is the hope of every believer. This resurrection is not a spiritual resurrection or a figurative resurrection, but every believer will rise from the dead with their own body just as Jesus Christ did. Just as Jesus’s body after the resurrection was a better body, so also believers will be given a new body by God. This is because the new creation is not only a restoration of what sin has corrupted, but it is also a perfection of the original creation. For in Jesus Christ, God has overcome all sin and evil for those that trust in Jesus and what He has done.
How has God overcome death and sin? According to holy Scripture, it is by dying upon the cross in the place of sinners and rising from the dead. For sin can only be removed by a sacrifice, and Jesus dying upon the cross was the sacrifice for the sins of all who believe. He rose from the dead as a proclamation that He has overcome death Himself, and that all who believe in Him will also rise from the dead. In this sermon on death from 1 Corinthians 15:54–57 titled “The Conquest of Death,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on this great theological truth that also has profound implications for everyday lives. It gives hope and purpose knowing that there is life after this, because Jesus has died for sinners and saved them from sin. How is one to respond to the message of the gospel and Christ’s victory over death by the resurrection? Believers must forsake their sins and come to God. They must repent and believe in Jesus because He has truly overcome all evil and sin. Jesus alone can save sinners. For the resurrection is not merely something sentimental, but it is the power of God over all evil. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation for all hope in this life.
Why does the resurrection matter? According to Paul, the resurrection matters because it is the only hope for humanity. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then all who believe in Him will not either. Christians only have hope if there is a resurrection and an afterlife. But if there is no resurrection, then there is no soul and morality. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:12 titled “…if Christ be not Risen,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that all of Christianity depends on the fact of Jesus’s empty tomb and of the future hope of the resurrection to life of all believers. Jesus did not simply live a perfect life and die upon the cross to atone for sins; He also rose from the dead to overcome death. Likewise, all those that believe in Jesus not only receive His righteousness, but they will rise from the dead on the last day just as Jesus has. In a world that sees people as nothing more than mere animals who are destined to die and decompose, the message that believers will live forever with Jesus Christ if they believe in Him is a message of great hope. All who flee sin and come to Jesus are promised to live with Him forever in the new heaven and new earth.
Saul of Tarsus had a dramatic encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, and he was never the same afterward. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:8–11 titled “The Conversion of Saul of Tarsus,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes the case that Christians go through a remarkably similar process in their own conversions. There is much to be learned of the Christian faith from the life and writings of the apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul highlights his own conversion to show that the gospel he preaches is the same gospel he received. Dr. Lloyd-Jones maintains that this is the same gospel that has transformed individuals throughout the history of the church, and continues to transform lives even today. The process is that God seeks out people, makes Himself known to them, and shows them the way of salvation. Christian conversion is completely dependent upon the power of the grace of God. By the grace of God, a Christian can say, “I was…but I am.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges his audience to consider the conviction of sin, repentance, and rebirth.