Book of Ephesians
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When you’re at the point of giving up and giving in, would it make a difference if you knew that the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead was working for you? This is the mystery Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones addresses as he begins a new sermon series on the book of Ephesians. While the world wrestles with "war at our doorstep", the mystery of salvation leads Christians to worship and give thanks even in the darkest hour. As The Doctor explains, the Apostle Paul is pleading with believers to seek a new, fresh and deeper understanding of God’s grace and predestined purpose for us. Since the riches of God’s attributes are displayed in our salvation, live always ready and eager to confess the gospel of Jesus Christ! Knowing that or sovereign God reigns supreme over all, and that the death of Christ paid for our sin and He has risen from the grave, we move forward in confidence. Regardless of our circumstance, the greatest need of everyone is to know the truths of the gospel.
What is the minimum of what it means to be a Christian? This is the pressing question Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks as this sermon begins. Three striking descriptions are proclaimed from this text: saints, faithful and union with Christ. Lloyd-Jones centers his sermon around these descriptors and shows what the Apostle Paul meant by these terms. While many Christians have a tendency to emphasize one of these descriptions over against the other, Lloyd-Jones calls us to hold these together. The failure to do so is damaging to the church as Christianity is reduced to either some form of “easy believism” or an academic exercise. Correct doctrine, holiness and participation in Christ must be at the center of our definition of Christian. If we have a burden for the lost, says Lloyd-Jones, then Christians must know who we are and what we are called to be. Having a robust understanding of what it means to be a Christian has a direct effect on our witness to the world.
Why is every word of Scripture vital? In a creative and compelling exposition of Ephesians 1:2, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds the significance of two words: grace and peace. Lloyd-Jones argues that these two words contain the most profound truths of the Christian faith. Our Christian lives begin with God’s condescended love; his beneficent kindness; His unmerited favor. In other words, it begins with grace. This unmerited favor begins our faith, whereas peace is the result of our faith. Fallen man has a minimal and warped sense of peace. Lloyd-Jones says “reconciliation” captures the biblical picture of what God promises in peace. The peace that God gives includes peace with God, peace with self and peace with others. Since God gives us what we do not deserve, we can give that same grace to others. His peace makes us peacemakers, even with our enemies, because we sympathize and understand mankind’s core problem is sin. Grace and peace only come through the Lord Jesus Christ. To deny the exclusivity of Christ is a denial of Christianity and the only place where, not only grace and peace, but glory can be found.
The words of Scripture allow us a glimpse into the eternal plan of the Trinity. Theologians have called this the Covenant of Redemption, that man can be redeemed from his sin and reconciled to God. This central theme of Ephesians comes alive as Dr. Marytn Lloyd-Jones warns, laments and challenges Christians to understand the great theme of redemption. Our greatest need as believers is to understand doctrine. What is at stake is not intellectual curiosity, but worship! The truth about redemption, argues Lloyd-Jones, leads to adoration, worship and praise. When we dwell upon the redemptive work of each person, we grow in our worship of God. When we understand more, the more worship we experience. Worship, for the Christian is always Trinitarian. We must not only praise the Father, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit. We must not stop at worshiping only the Son, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit. We cannot focus exclusively on the Holy Sprit to the neglect of the Father and Son. But we must adore the blessed Trinity.
How do we come to enjoy spiritual blessings? What is the nature or character of the blessings we enjoy? These are the two themes of this sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones insists that the Christian only enjoys blessings through Christ. While acknowledging God gives common grace to everyone, the Holy Spirit gives unique grace that only Christians enjoy. Lloyd-Jones connects Paul’s words in Ephesians to his other letter to the Colossians (1:19; 2:3) showing the absolute necessity of going to God through Christ, our mediator. A second blessing Christians enjoy through Christ is that His grace flows through the Holy Spirit. The sovereign work of the Spirit quickens, convicts, enables, and keeps the Christian! Lloyd-Jones recaptures the “other-worldly” nature of the Christian’s blessings by criticizing the Social Gospel movements insistence that blessings are this worldly. The Christian, says Lloyd-Jones, does not deny or despise the world, but this is different from setting our affections upon it. If we do not keep an appropriate distance we forget that this is a fallen world and that our citizenship is in heaven.
When a person is saved, a profound change occurs. They are taken from one realm to another. The non-christian only knows the earthly realm. But the Christian knows two realms: earthly and heavenly. Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds the mystery of Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3 showing that in Christ, we have Heavenly Citizenship! The consequence of this teaching is far-reaching. This makes the Christian an enigma to others and to himself. He wrestles with sin like other men do, but he does not enjoy it. There are social consequences as well. While the world places its confidence in the perfectibility of mankind and hope for a better future through education, government and culture, the Christian is engaged in such matters, but his hope is firmly set on the heavenly places; in our afterlife with Christ. His faith is on the sure ground of the return of Christ and our eternal home where our Savior is, seated in the heavenlies. No one can change their nature, it is only done through faith in God's only Son.
The doctrine of election requires a reverent approach. We are on holy ground concerning this topic. Christians have often done great injustice in an argumentative style. From this sermon Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores this crucial doctrine, and like the Apostle Paul, simply states this doctrine without arguing for it. The Bible is uninterested in giving a philosophical explanation and according to Romans 9 reproves us when we begin to argue against God’s sovereign choice in election. Listen as the Doctor explores this doctrine throughout Scripture, including John 6, 15, 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2. It is wise, says Lloyd-Jones, to look to authorities in church history, great Christian theologians, evangelists and preachers who have held fast to God's sovereign choice. Even with his strong defense of the Reformed position, is one saved by their position on this important question? Happily Lloyd-Jones answers, “no.” But, he argues, there is great comfort, security, and joy bound up with knowing God has set His love upon you before the foundation of the world.
Why are Christains elected to salvation? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores this doctrine showing that we are chosen by God to be holy. Echoing the Apostle John, Paul says the purpose of God in Christ for his people is to undo, remove and rectify completely the effects of sin and the fall. By making us holy and without blame before Him, Christ destroys the work of the devil. The ability to be in the presence of God and communion with Him is our goal as Christians. In Christ, the believer has a new love and affection for God! Salvation is nothing less than a new relationship with God whereby we can stand before Him in His presence. If this is the end for which God has chosen us, evangelism then, must be concerned with preaching holiness. Holiness is not an addition to be added after someone is “saved.” Because we have been chosen, God will make us holy.
We are adopted by God! He choose us! With careful attention to the details of Paul’s letters, Dr. Marytn Lloyd-Jones explores the purpose of salvation and the implications of being adopted into God's family. To grasp the significance of this doctrine, we learn that the term adoption emphasizes the standing and rank of the chosen child. Adoption and regeneration are not the same though. The Doctor explains that regeneration address the Christian's nature, whereas adoption is about the legal standing of the child. Adoption is the highest expression of God’s love towards us! It is the love of a father for his child, the love of God for His creation. As children of God, we must live holy in keeping with our identity. The privileges of God’s household are found throughout Paul’s letters. We are His sons and daughters and as the Scriptures say, we are heirs with Christ.
God is the Creator of everyone, but not everyone is in His family. Nineteenth and twentieth century liberalism emphasized the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. This false teaching disregards the gospel's call to repentance and dismisses the wickedness of sin. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones confronts this wrong theology and continues to expose others that have harmed the Church. Another cancerous thought diagnosed is those who distinguish between “sons of God” and “children of God” and the benefits given to them. The former, according to this teaching, enjoy a much greater fellowship with God than the latter. Lloyd-Jones reminds us how important sound doctrine is for the Christian church. While providing a robust response to these errors, Lloyd-Jones encourages us to see the absolute privilege we have in Christ. He does so by contrasting Adam and the Christian. He notes that in Christ we have been given more than what was lost in Adam. The privilege of redemption includes forgiveness of sin, but also exaltation to sonship.
About 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.