Book of Ephesians
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How should a Christian act towards that which is not pleasing to the Lord, the darkness? How are we to interact with those who do not follow Christ? In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides some helpful insight from Ephesians 5:7-14 that aids believers in working through these complex issues. Throughout the centuries, some Christians have argued for a sort of lifestyle that withdraws them completely from having to interact with the world. Yet, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, this robs the Gospel of one of its main victories— that we are able to live a different life in the same world as a witness to those who don’t yet know Christ. How can we do this? First, we are to break completely with sin— we once were partakers of these activities, but now we are to walk as children of the light. This exhortation reminds us that sanctification is a process, not a one-time “product” that we receive. Second, we must not even be interested in the unfruitful works of darkness. Yet, this point often raises an interesting question: how should Christians balance having company with unbelievers without becoming like them? Since we are called to live among them and to be a witness, how can we maintain these values without compromising our faith? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides helpful commentary on this that aids us in thinking through how to best live out our faith.
In this passage from Ephesians 5:14, Paul is calling for us to awaken from our sleep and to let Christ give us his light. What does this mean? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches this sermon as a beautiful reminder of what the Gospel does and the power it possesses. This passage is a summary of the Gospel and of what the Gospel does in the lives of those it changes. It illuminates and brings light. Additionally, it also summarizes what Christians are to do— they are to shine as the light of the Gospel. According to Scripture, unbelievers are asleep and dead to the truth about them— their souls, where they will spend eternity if they do not repent of their sins and believe in Jesus, and more. They are in grave danger! The Gospel convicts people of their need for a Savior, and it also converts people, waking them up and saving them. Finally, it also enlightens them so that they follow the Lord. We who have been saved are called to be a light in the dark world so that the power of the Gospel can shine through us. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds us of the responsibility we have in following the Lord and representing Him to the world.
If you have been to church recently, you have probably witnessed the congregation singing praises together to God. What is the role that singing is supposed to play in the church? What are the Lord’s instructions for how we are to praise him through song? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers these questions and more in this sermon using Ephesians 5:19. In this passage, Paul is concerned with how the Holy Spirit is manifested when believers gather together for worship. But what is his intent in this section? Is it meant to prescribe the exact style of worship that every church should have? Dr. Lloyd-Jones uses Scripture to provide helpful commentary on why this is not the case. Paul here is calling for a unified expression of joy through singing, specifically through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Though they might sound as if they are the same, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is careful to show the differences. A psalm is a sacred song intended to be sung with the accompaniment of a musical instrument. A hymn, he says, is a song of praise to God. Finally, a song is an ode or lyric, which is why Paul describes it additionally as needing to be “spiritual.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones ends with a note on the permanence and importance of singing in the lives of believers, drawing on thousands of years of church history to show why this should have such a vital place in the spiritual walks of Christians.
In this sermon Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds what he calls the characteristics of Christian music based on Ephesians 5:19. He says that, for Christians, worship music is not about sensuous experiences, but Spirit filled worship and praise of God the Savior. It is not done for human entertainment or for the sake of showmanship, but it is about exalting God and his great Name. For this reason, it is not to be done flippantly and in a crass manner, but who we worship should inform how we worship. True Christian worship in a church is to be done as a congregation and community of believers who have come together. It is not a time for individuals to demonstrate their musical prowess and ability, but it is time for all Christians to come together and sing as a unified body. Because Christian worship takes place in a church, it is to always be subject to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. To do otherwise would be to commit the great error of the Roman Catholic Church and replace the proclamation of God’s Word with something else, whether it be music or sacraments. For true worship is always done in light of God’s revelation of himself and of his will to his people.
All worship that is truly Christian must have its final focus in the person and work of Christ Jesus the Son of God. For as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states in this exposition of Ephesians 5:19, all who are truly Christians have been united to Christ and are beneficiaries of his death and resurrection by the regenerating and transforming power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in all who believe the Gospel. It is only by the Spirit that any can come to have a true and saving knowledge of Jesus and partake in the new life that he has provided in his death. Not only this, but Jesus Christ intercedes for all who believe as the Great High Priest who intercedes between men and God. Furthermore, Jesus Christ is the Great Prophet who reveals to us God and his will for the world. He serves as the final revelation of who God is and what he has done in his Son and through his Holy Spirit. This great person and work of Christ is the center of all Christianity, but this is the very heart of all true Christian worship. For the majesty and glory of Christ should compel and inspire all the children of God to sing and proclaim the praises of God now and forever.
One of the most important parts of prayer is thanksgiving, according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Working from Ephesians 5:20, he says that how much of prayer that is spent in thanksgiving is one of the clearest gauges of spiritual maturity. For all who know God as Lord and Savior should live lives marked by continual Spirit filled praise for all that God has done in and through Jesus Christ. It is by God’s loving grace that we know him and are partakers of all the blessings of Christ Jesus our Savior. We have new life and hope only in Jesus, and we only come to know Christ through the grace of God in sending his Holy Spirit to us. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones elaborates, Christians can give thanks even for the hardships in life. This can be seen in Acts when Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown in prison but continue to sing praises to God. This is because it is God who sovereignly works in and through all things to bring about his purposes for us. So, no matter what trials and tribulations Christians are experiencing, and no matter how bad the circumstances are, they can always give thanks to the God who has delivered them from sin and who loves them and guards them through all of life.
The life of the Christian is Spirit-filled and Spirit guided. This encouraging reality is celebrated as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhorts us from Ephesians 5:21 not to live like the world because of this inward transformation that gives us new desires and new dispositions. This means that all Christians are to relate to one another as a new people who have been transformed and brought together in the Gospel to make a new community of like-minded individuals. No Christian is to seek their own good first as one who is self-centered and worldly, but all are to seek the good of the brothers and sisters in Christ above their own. When Christians see themselves in this new kind of community, they begin to see relationships differently. For Christians, this is the new way of understanding how they are to interact with one another and how relationships are to be viewed. Christians relate to believers in a spiritual way as fellow heirs of the Gospel and salvation. They are to love one another as God loved them in Christ, and they are to submit to one another in love and respect. This is not a support of the so-called ecumenical movement, but it speaks to everyday Christians who are seeking to faithfully live out the Gospel in their day to day life.
We love others because we are loved by God! This profound and simple truth is unpacked by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he exposits Ephesians 5:21. The whole of the Christian life is to be motivated by the love of God for all that he is and has done. Christians have received all the blessings and mercies of God in Christ, and they have been forgiven of all sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness by the blood of Christ. It is this great truth that is at the center of all that Christians do, for all that Christians do should be done out of love. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then gives a special caution to those who have been given authority by God such as husbands and elders; they must exercise authority as ones who have been saved by the grace of God. It is this emphasis on love that separates Christianity from all other religions, philosophies, political ideologies. For Christianity alone grounds all that we do as a response to the gracious love of God. It does not see authority and power as something to serve the self, but ultimately all things are for God and his Kingdom. And this power is not to be lorded over others, but all are to be submissive to one another in the church. It is this great life of love that sets Christians apart from all others.
The most important principle for understanding the apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5:22-23 is his command that all “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This is the message being exposited by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, that all relationships and all that we do must be done out of love of God and love of neighbor. There is no place for self-centered and self-serving attitudes in the Christian life. When people do not have this principle as the guide to relationships, things go wrong. Much of modern society is a testament to this fact in the commonness of divorce. This is because people have rejected God’s way and set up their own. As all Christians know, belief and practice cannot be separated from one another. But this is precisely what happens in modern society when people do not have the proper understanding of what marriage is. They say it is simply a human contract that can be broken any time by anyone. This rejection of the Christian view of marriage, particularly by the so-called feminist movement, is a testament of what happens when people reject God’s Word as the only sure and true foundation for human life and practice.
What does God's Word say about marriage? Sadly, what it does say is often misunderstood and attacked because it confronts the vague thinking of today. But, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues, Scripture alone presents a balanced view of the roles and responsibilities within marriage. For only in Scripture do we learn that wives are to submit to their husbands in love and respect just as Jesus Christ submits to God. There is no authoritarianism because the husband’s role as leader is one of love and service, not domination and cruelty. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows how this view of marriage is taught from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis before the fall. Even in the perfect Garden of Eden, we see women created as a helper for man. Even before the fall, man is the head, provider, and protector of the woman in the relationship between husband and wife. Paul expounds on the teaching in Ephesians 5:22-24, and is not saying anything different from the rest of the Bible. So those who reject this teaching of male headship are not only rejecting the teachings of the historic Christian church, but of God’s infallible word. The rejection of the biblical understanding of marriage is at the heart of many of society’s problems. For when men try to live in direct contradiction to God’s plan, there is always suffering and unrest.