Book of Ephesians
Page 3 of 4
Have you lost the joy of your salvation? What causes Christians to be so lethargic? What steals our enthusiasm for spiritual growth? These are certainly questions evangelical Christians should be concerned about. But many Christians are skeptical of talk about the “experience” of the Holy Spirit. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests our joy in Christ – our experience of that joy – might not be present in our lives because we do not fully grasp the truth about the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Since we do not know what we are missing, we do not seek it, nor ask the Lord for it. The listener is taken through a detailed examination of the meaning of the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the Holy Spirit, beginning with the effect of the Holy Spirit upon the Lord Jesus Christ in his life and ministry. Lloyd-Jones interacts with two competing views regarding the sealing of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Listen closely as the Doctor systematically walks through Scripture, illustrating both the meaning and the timing of the Apostle’s teaching on the sealing of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian.
The timing of the sealing of the Holy Spirit is a contested topic. It is a topic that raises many other questions. One could be tempted to ignore the subject or teach it in such a way as to minimize the difficulties with the doctrine. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, thoughtfully engages this topic and the difficult questions head on. We cannot ignore the teaching of Holy Scripture. Instead we must carefully examine the Bible and conform our lives according to it. By looking at the teaching of the New Testament on the work of the Holy Spirit and invoking great theologians and pastors of the church, Lloyd-Jones says we must emphasize the experimental aspect of the sealing of Holy Spirit that occurs after we believe the gospel. He challenges the people of God to consider whether they have experienced the sealing of the Spirit. Is there an unmistakable experience that has occurred, resulting in a great assurance, joy in Christ, or love for God deep within our hearts? Lloyd-Jones cautions us to distinguish between the sealing of the Spirit and particular gifts of the Holy Spirit that may or may not come as He dispenses gifts as He sees fit.
Effective witnessing makes God’s people radiant with joy. There is no experience like it on this side of heaven! Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a passionate plea for Christians to seek the sealing of the Spirit. The Christian life is not mechanical and emotionless because the love of God, and our love for God in return, is not mechanical or emotionless. The fear of emotions should not discourage Christians to seek this experience of the Holy Spirit. Lloyd-Jones works through objections to this doctrine and answers them by bringing other passages of the Bible to bear on the topic, while also looking at subsequent church history for other Christian men and women who have experienced this work of the Holy Spirit. Finally, Lloyd-Jones cautions his listeners on the best way to seek the sealing of the Spirit. We must be hesitant to seek the experience for its own sake. Instead we seek the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian cannot be fooled into thinking the Spirit is not sovereign in this matter. Instead we must recognize the Lordship of the Spirit. With these cautions, Lloyd-Jones calls the people of God to seek this remarkable assurance that God graciously gives His people.
As Christians anticipate heaven, the most glorious reality will be seeing our Lord face to face. Until that day, what is the connection between the heavenly reality that awaits us and our Christian life now? According to the Apostle Paul, it is the work of the Holy Spirit as the pledge or guarantee of our future inheritance that connects the future with the present. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones labors to explain the Apostle’s words, he argues that the translation “earnest” fits the context of Paul’s teaching better. This much more richer term communicates the guarantee or pledge, but it also speaks of an installment. The Christian, says the Doctor, has a glimpse or foretaste of heaven through the work of the Holy Spirit! While we do not fully see Christ in this life, we should be encouraged that we do indeed see Him – even if only as through a mirror dimly. Lloyd-Jones in this sermon challenges us to share in Christ’s life now by pursuing holiness, purity, peace, and love. Wonderfully, when we do this we taste what righteousness will be like for us in the future.
What should be the starting point of all a Christian’s thought? How ought our thinking about any particular doctrine be finally assessed? The answer is simple: the Glory of God! As Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in this sermon, the Apostle Paul from start to finish in Ephesians is primarily concerned with the praise of His glory. Many religious people miss this crucial point. Their thinking upon any particular religious topic – whether sin or salvation – begins first with themselves. Lloyd-Jones warns this is a grave mistake. Any Christian doctrine that begins with something other than the glory of God will negatively be affected. If man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, how often do we ask God to forgive us for not glorifying Him? How often do we consider salvation as only benefits or happiness to us and not as a right relationship to God? These are all hard questions, which the Doctor provokes within us in this sermon on one of the highest thoughts human beings can ever contemplate.
How do you know you are saved? The world calls anyone a “Christian” even if they are associated with theism or morality in a Western context. The title has lost its distinctiveness due to the evaporation of its first century meaning. This is a problem for the church, as it is difficult to know who is truly a Christian and who is deceived or ignorant of the meaning. What then is the test of salvation? In this sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he suggests the Apostle Paul provides the ultimate test as he is giving thanks and petitioning in prayer on behalf of the Ephesians. There are just two things necessary: 1. faith in the Lord Jesus 2. love for all the saints. Within these two tests, Lloyd-Jones expounds not only the significance of the terms used by Paul, but also the Apostolic order in which they occur. It is faith in the Lord Jesus, then love for all the saints. Paul is uninterested in vague sentimentality in the church. Faith (in the biblical sense) in the person of Jesus Christ is non-negotiable. Only after this, but definitely following it, is love for all the saints. Faith and works are joined here. Listen as Lloyd-Jones speaks about this most important topic for our day.
Prayer is central to every believers life and critical to our discipleship and worship. However, we often feel ashamed to talk about our personal prayer life. We read books and manuals on prayer, hoping to find the perfect solution to our fickle prayer life. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that questions found in books on prayer often miss the point. Christians must not focus on form or saying the most beautiful words they can think of. Nor should Christians simply telegraph their petitions in a sentence or two. Instead we must remember. Recollect, pause, and remember, as the Apostle Paul does, whom we are speaking to. Paul, in just one verse, notes in his prayer that he is praying to the God with whom he has a covenant relationship. The God of the incarnate Son. Not an unknown god, but the God revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ. This God is the source of all glory. He is the glorious One, who gives glory, not only to the Son, but to His people. When we remember who we are praying to before we begin, we will, indeed, find little trouble engaging in the greatest activity any human being can do: speak to God!
Describe your knowledge of God. Where do you begin? Do you begin with propositional or theoretical knowledge? While propositional knowledge of God is good and necessary for the Christian life, there is another knowledge which is just as important. As a matter of fact, it is a knowledge which the Apostle Paul prays for in Ephesians. It is the kind of knowledge which is immediate. It is a personal knowledge of God the Father. It is an intimate knowledge. Such knowledge is at the heart of the evangelical message. We can have personal fellowship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts so that we can have direct knowledge of the love of God and the glory of God. In this message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones follows Paul’s prayer for ordinary Christians to have this exact and experiential knowledge of the true and living God. Listen to this passionate appeal to know Him!
As Christians we can often feel distant from God. What is your response when coldness towards spiritual matter creeps into your heart? Does your assurance waver? How can we have a steady anchor for our Christian life? Rather than wait for another experience, the prayer of the Apostle Paul for Christians is that we look to our hope. This is not a general hopefulness, but hope in God. More specifically, hope in God’s calling of us. This will have a profound effect on our assurance says Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As the Doctor expounds this great prayer of Paul, he carefully navigates between the general call of God in the gospel for all men, and the effectual call of the Holy Spirit for believers. If we want assurance we must look to the Covenant keeping God's Scripture. We must look to the God in whom there is no variation or change. The Father who will keep His children by His grace until the very end. Lloyd-Jones challenges us to consider these wonderful truths of Scripture and pray this for ourselves.
Christianity is only for the weak. It is of no consequence today because it does not care about what is happening in the “real” world. Christianity is a waste of time because it is caught-up in other-worldly matters. This is as much of a common objection today as it was to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Doctor meets the objection head on and points to the reality that the Bible does call us to fix our minds on the world to come. What is important is that this is a good thing for this world! Looking to the list of faithful men and women of Scripture and of history, Lloyd-Jones argues that the ones who did the most for this world had their eyes set on the world to come. The greatest benefactors of this world are those men and women of God who were concerned about the inheritance of the saints. If mankind forgets the next world, everything goes wrong for this world. Not to be interested in the glory to be revealed in heaven is to be unlike the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Our minds must be fixed on the glory to come when we will be with God.