The Book of 1 Corinthians
“Why is it that modern man, who has been so astounding in so many respects, is such a miserable and tragic failure in the whole question of life and of living?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks this question to highlight that though people have achieved enormous accomplishments, they are still suffering with the basic questions of life, questions that are solved only in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why are people generally interested in seeking answers from anyone except God? Why, instead of coming to Jesus, do they fall at the feet of celebrities who are also struggling? Ultimately, why do they reject the gospel? In this sermon from 1 Corinthians 3:16 titled “Revelation and Reason,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches that humanity’s ultimate sin is intellectual pride. God’s salvation brings it to dust, yet, people reject this because of their confidence in themselves. God’s way of solving the problems of life are far different from the world’s approach. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides three ways in which the two pathways are different: the world relies on human wisdom; the world says that people are good in and of themselves; and the world holds that the issue needing to be fixed is a matter of intellect, not sin. However, Scripture shows the opposite—humanity’s problem is sin, and the only solution is a Savior.
On what is the Christian life built? Is the hope resting in financial security or job status? If all of that came crashing down, would Christians have something to fall back on? In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:10–11, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the importance of foundations for the Christian life. Houses require proper foundations in order to secure their safety and structural integrity for the many years to come. Though it takes time and effort to lay a good foundation, it is absolutely necessary to ensure a building remains safe. By themselves, humanity is incapable of providing the foundation needed because all the typical “foundations” are changing and temporary— sex, money, and power are here one moment and gone the next. There is no other foundation that will stand the test of time than that which is built on a relationship with Jesus Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks this most important question: Is the Christian’s life built on the foundation of Jesus Christ? Without this foundation, joy will rise and fall with the changing seasons of prosperity and difficulty. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches on why lives must be built on the eternal, unchanging truth of the gospel.
What is the foundation in this life? Is it personal possessions or sense of security? People put their hope and base life on many things. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:11 titled “Christ the Foundation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that any foundation in life that is not Jesus Christ is doomed to fail. All other foundations are passing and transient; they satisfy, but only temporarily. Jesus Christ is an eternal foundation that can never be shaken. He is a foundation that never leaves His people wanting for more. Christ alone can satisfy one’s deepest needs and desires. It is only Christ who can take away sin and make one a child of God. The greatest tragedy is that many reject Christ as their hope, and turn to everything else that is vain and passing away. Christ calls His people to turn away from the world and trust solely in His work on the cross for salvation. All other foundations are like sinking sand, but Jesus Christ is God’s appointed means of salvation as the only sure and steady foundation for all who believe.
Why is the heart divided by following the words, thinking, and philosophy of others? In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:11 titled “Christ: The Only Foundation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches that all must have a foundation for everything they do, say, and think. Issues in this life are the result of a lack of a solid foundation. Desire has replaced principle, truth, and morality. Many call themselves Christians while denying the very being of God. Everything is in a state of flux and uncertainty. Are Christians supposed to “hope for the best and expect the worst”? The Bible’s message is emphatically concerned about this. Unaided, no one can build the necessary solid foundation. No one knows how to live or how to die. What is a person? Who is God? What is life? Learn the definitions for each of these and how to handle the stresses and strains of this world. Death is not the end; everyone will have to give an account before God. Look to the one who is truly man and truly God. No one at their greatest is enough. The ultimate sin is godlessness. The chief end of man is to know God and glorify Him forever.
Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses the greatest tragedy of all – the rejection of the Gospel. Apart from this, the world would not know tragedy. The trouble with man is that he is by nature a fool. We must not glory in man; we must not rely upon him with all our trust. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, learn about the cult of personality and the fundamental lack of fitness man has to hold the allegiance of other men. Man’s powers are altogether given to him; he is a created being. Men are selfish and always changing. To glory in man is to be enslaved, furthermore to glory in self is to be enslaved. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Do not be deceived, life is a master to you, you are not a captain of your soul. Discover the wisdom of glorying in Christ! The Gospel is a call to glory in Christ alone. Christ voluntarily takes a place of subordination and humiliation to work out God’s great plan of redemption. Christ wasn't mastered by life, He conquered death. See the world in a different way — see it as a work of God’s hands.
Modern man people declare themselves free from the tyranny of religion, but what has been the effect? They are now enslaved to and governed by the popular opinion of humanity. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:21–23 titled “Full Salvation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones focuses on Paul’s concern over division in the Corinthian church, a division that was the result of their glorying in their apostolic leaders instead of Christ. There is only One who can set people free from enslavement to the things of this world. He is the Son of God, for whom and through whom all things exist. He came to set people free from the guilt of their sin, the reign of the devil, and the condemnation of the law of God. He is coming again to destroy every enemy and to set up His eternal reign of righteousness and peace. All who believe in Him become a part of Him. They are Christ’s and in Him all things are theirs. What does this mean? There is now no point in glorying in people. In Christ, Christians are no longer enslaved to human power, influence, or opinion. They are no longer enslaved even to their circumstances. They are truly free to experience His full salvation.
What is the hope for humanity? It was once believed civilization would bring a utopian society. The world developed around the idea that philosophy, education, knowledge, culture, and housing would create harmony among humans. On the contrary, civilizations have produced greater and more violent wars. Civilization has ended not in utopia, but failure. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:11 tilted “The Right Foundation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores divisions in the Corinthian church. Unity is threatened as a popularity contest ensues. The apostle Paul is compelled to deal with the problem as it affects the cross. The Corinthian problem is found in their cracked foundation. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that if the foundation is not right, nothing is right. The right foundation deals with two fundamental questions. First, who is man? And second, who is God? The right foundation is laid, not by humans, but by God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without this foundation, life becomes completely meaningless, descending into chaos and division. What is the problem with humanity? The answer is not the lack of education, politics, or culture. The human problem is that humanity has built its own foundation on sand. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims Jesus Christ alone as the adequate foundation.
After Paul’s departure from the Corinthian church, it had started to divide itself into factions. He perceived that the trouble lay at the very foundation itself. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:11 titled “The Only Foundation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that it is the same today when the world tries to deal with the symptoms of evil while avoiding the problem at its foundation: it has no foundation. Neither can humanity provide its own foundation. People have astounding knowledge and accomplishments, yet they are unable to find a solution to all their troubles. The human approach is wrong. They are in too much of a hurry and they do not understand themselves. They sense that there’s something or someone greater than themselves, yet they have no desire for the church or Christ. The Bible, on the other hand, deals with the great question of the foundation of life itself. It tells of one who is a flawless inspector, who will judge the foundation of all lives based on His own perfect standards. Yet, this inspector is also the one who came to seek and save the lost. He offered Himself up as God in flesh to become the church’s one exclusive and firm foundation.
One must ask themselves if they are wise by worldly standards and if they understand life’s fundamental issues. In this sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:18–20 titled “The Wisdom of the World,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses worldly wisdom in light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians. The world has rejected the gospel for centuries, and its rejection of the gospel is nothing new. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a complete contrast to what humans think of themselves by nature. Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches that humanity always seeks to advance itself and improve itself. The gospel, in contrast, knows that humankind needs rebirth, and this must be done by the Spirit. The gospel cannot be changed or modified, since it is perfect and complete in every way. The fundamental problem with humankind’s solutions, Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches, is that humankind’s solutions originate in the human mind. God’s solution transcends human reason and offers the only hope for humanity’s salvation. Dr. Lloyd-Jones mentions that H.G. Wells, a popular author and philosopher, had his own philosophical solutions, but still was devastated by the reality of World War II, and extremely destitute at the end of his life. A person can only be made wise after admitting they are a fool.