The Book of 1 Corinthians
What is the mission of the church? Believers and unbelievers ask this question with some saying that the mission of the church is to lobby governments. Others claim that the church is to be a means of social change. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:2 titled “Jesus Christ, Crucified,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones considers what the Bible says is the mission of the church. Paul the apostle is preaching Christ and Him crucified. He is not merely advocating for external social change, nor is he looking to the greatest philosophers of the day for answers. Paul’s answer to the question of the church’s mission is simple: proclaim Christ and Him crucified. This is the only message that saves people, not only from their sins, but from eternal damnation as the just punishment for rebellion. All human wisdom and culture stand under the judgment of God in Jesus Christ. All are responsible for their actions before God almighty. All stand condemned before the holy God. This is why the church must proclaim Jesus Christ crucified. There is no other way of salvation. This sermon confronts all with the simple question: “do I believe in Jesus as my savior?”
The crucifixion of the Son of God, who the apostle Paul called the Lord of glory, is the most profound paradox in human history. Because it is foolishness to those who are perishing and wisdom to those being saved, it automatically divides the world into two groups. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:6–8 titled “The Cross that Divides,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones elaborates on the mystery of the cross and explains why it divides humanity. The great divide the cross creates comes down to the hidden element in the cross and the necessity of divine illumination produced by the Holy Spirit. While the rulers, princes, authorities, and the natural people see only a failed prophet from Nazareth hung on a tree, revelation given by the Holy Spirit gives spiritual eyes to see it is the God-man Jesus Christ dying for sins in order to bring His people to glory. Hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenge the people of God to meditate, spend time on, and “survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died”.
Let no one glory in humanity as the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. The unusual confidence in human intelligence is the leading cause for rejecting the gospel. People deem the gospel useless and foolish. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:6 titled “Dawn that Never Leads to Day,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines two positions of life and the true knowledge of the meaning of life. The achievements of civilization and discoveries of humanity are so small in comparison to the grandeur of this universe. Listen to the message of the Bible and consider the Tower of Babel, King Herod, the flood, and Job. The wisdom of this world can only understand a portion of life, and nothing beyond. God’s knowledge is far beyond humanity’s finite comprehension. Listen as history is explained as the progressive scientific discovery of the Medieval Ages, Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, which ultimately pressed God into the background and exalted humanity. Humanity is always dawning a new era, but never arriving. In God’s divine wisdom, He gives people great ability, but all of humanity’s achievements will ultimately come to nothing.
In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones explains three things about modern humanity that are worth noting. First, amidst all their problems, though baffled, the modern person will listen to any counsel but the Bible. Second, people today are hero worshippers, but have no interest in the greatest hero, Jesus Christ. Third, humanity is interested in great events, yet passes by the cross unconcerned by its magnitude. Through careful exegesis of a portion of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Dr. Lloyd-Jones exposes that before people are converted to God’s fold, humanity’s primary issue is that he approaches the world wrongly. He thinks that by observation, science, and philosophy that he can answer the questions of life. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then reveals the splendor of the truth of God. God gives us the mind of Christ upon conversion and the Spirit that searches for the deep things of God. It is with this mind that we can become spiritually discerning, since it is given to us by the creator and inventor of these truths. The natural man does not understand the things of God and the world's eyes are darkened to these truths but if Christ is embraced, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, Christians must prepare to become “fools for Christ's sake.”
Biblical authority lies at the center of evangelical identity. Without the authority of the Scriptures, the normative claims of the faith are severely undermined. While the authority of the Scriptures should be fought for, defended, and part of convictional orthodoxy, in this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:4–5, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds believers it is possible to hold to the authority of the Scriptures and yet have a dead, lifeless orthodoxy. It is only when the authority of the Holy Spirit is affirmed and applied that we see the Christian faith lived with power. In this message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches in the hard truth that evangelical Christianity, in its concern over “enthusiastic” religion and emotionalism, responded negatively by down-playing the importance of the Holy Spirit’s power. Instead of searching for the God-given means of power for evangelism and cultural impact, the church sought it in education, social reform, advertising, and other dignified or respectable means. Dr. Lloyd-Jones questions if Christians are guilty of quenching the Spirit through such action. In this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones also surveys the Scriptures, noting the authority of the Spirit in the believer’s conversion, assurance, Scriptural illumination, apologetic, and evangelism. Listen as he makes a compelling case to reassert the authority of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church.
How can one know God? In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:1–16 titled “Revealed by God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how this seemingly simple question has immense significance for one’s life. If God could not be known, how could anyone understand the gospel and be saved? Thankfully, God has revealed Himself to humanity. No one has to discover God through science or philosophy, but God made Himself known in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. In this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows the great need for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Science cannot give this knowledge because it only tells about this world. Christians then have nothing to fear from modern humanity and its claims of intellectual superiority, because true knowledge of God is a gift through His Word, not simply another truth to be discovered. The story of Nicodemus illustrates this well. The Lord Jesus says that it is the Spirit that shows God. It is a supernatural act of God that allows fallen sinners to come to a knowledge of a holy God. There is no more important truth than the gospel of salvation from sins.