Book of Romans
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermons on the book of Romans were preached to the congregation at Westminster Chapel in the heart of central London on Friday evenings between October 1955 to March 1968. These sermons were preached from the beginning of October until the end of May each year, with breaks being taken for Christmas and Easter. Dr Lloyd-Jones began his ministry at Westminster Chapel in 1938, and his ministry there lasted for thirty years until his retirement in 1968. As such, his Romans series came at the end of his preaching career. Spanning 366 sermons over twelve years, his series on the book of Romans is the longest expositional series Dr Lloyd-Jones ever did.
Dr Lloyd-Jones regarded the book of Romans as the ‘first in importance’ among the New Testament epistles. Indeed, it is likely that Dr Lloyd-Jones saw his exposition of the book of Romans as his most important work, as evidenced by the fact that he chose his Romans sermons as the first of his many sermons to be published following his retirement. His official biographer Iain Murray writes;
Many hundreds of unrevised manuscript copies of sermons thus existed by 1968, of which, for reasons already noted, comparatively few had appeared in print. He did not hesitate in choosing to put his Romans sermons first for publication in book form, to be followed by those on Ephesians.
Dr Lloyd-Jones’s hope for these sermons on the book of Romans was that they will ‘not only help Christian people to understand more clearly the great doctrines of our Faith, but that they will also fill them with a joy “unspeakable and full of glory” and bring them into a condition in which they will be “Lost in wonder, love, and praise”’.
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In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones introduces us to Romans 11:1-36. He urges all his hearers to lay aside prejudices and traditions, and to come to God’s Word in an attitude of reverence. For all Scripture is the very Word of God. The major theme of this chapter is salvation, faith, and the people of Israel. While there are many differing interpretations of this passage, we still must never approach Scripture in an overly intellectual manner that causes only debates and divisions. For God’s Word is given to build up the Church and strengthen our faith! Paul is concerned that the Church in Rome, and by inclusion, all Christians, come to a proper understanding of God and His salvation that He has given in Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses questions such as, what is the relation between Jew and Gentile? What is the future of the Jewish people? And what does it mean to be justified by faith? All these questions have immense significance for your life and the life of the Church. For Christianity and theology is not simply about abstract intellectual ideas, but it is about knowing God. This sermon, and the sermons that follow, seek to help us all know God more.
Has God cast away the Jewish people? After several passages concerning the fate of the Jewish nation, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unfolds how Paul asks this question in Romans 11:1-4, and then follows his answers with several pieces of evidence. Paul says that there is no way the Lord has cast out his chosen people, because Paul himself is an Israelite. Paul is saying this not just as a nationalist or proselyte, but he shows his historical lineage which proves he is of Jewish descent. It is possible that some Jews will be saved, because Paul was saved! There are a large majority of Jews that do not believe the true Gospel. God did not cast them all away because he foreknew them. This means that God foreordained them and knew that they would be believing Christians. The Jews were a group of people that God took special interest in and had a special affection for. Israel was set apart by God for a purpose. So if God cast them out, this would mean that God changed his mind and we know that the Lord does not change his mind; it is not part of his character.
The second argument; the existence of a remnant; the example of Elijah and lessons; the election of grace; the battle not ours but God's numbers not decisive; God's purposes sure.
How can something that the Lord created as a blessing become a curse? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers this question by preaching from the words of Paul in Romans 11:7-10 when he refers to the Law and the people of Israel. Paul acknowledges that the Jews were earnest and genuine in their search for salvation, but they went about it in all the wrong ways. The passage says that those who were elect did in fact obtain it, but that the Lord hardened the others. Israel was blinded and God gave them the spirit of slumber regarding the true message of the Gospel. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains the passage by saying that the very blessing of the word of God, the Law, was once a blessing but became a curse to the Jews. They had the wrong thinking about so many things and, despite their best efforts, they still did not truly know Christ and did not receive salvation. The only way to receive this blessing is by faith. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also explains in great detail several other Old Testament passages which show the ignorance of the Jewish people and how they did not understand the Gospel.
Have you read the passages in Scripture that refer to God hardening someone’s heart or blinding them to the truth, only to be confused as to what this means? This can be a troubling passage and topic for many people because it often leads to more questions than answers. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles Romans 11:7-10 and provides helpful answers, and a good starting point for people wrestling through this issue. Dr. Lloyd-Jones refers to this blinding as a “judicial blindness.” What is it? First, it is God ceasing to strive. There are many instances recorded in Scripture where God removed His control and allowed negative things to happen so that people would learn. Yet, there is a step beyond this when sometimes God is even said to harden someone’s heart. Those who are hardened and blinded are unable to do or believe anything outside of their current state. Is this a punishment, or is it at random? Dr. Lloy-Jones provides his opinion for how this progresses— in short, that disobedience against God by people leads naturally to the hardening of their hearts. Ultimately, he says, the doctrine of election makes sense of this topic that can be so difficult to navigate. Listen as he guides the listener through this challenging passage!
Why are there imprecatory Psalms in the Bible? This is the question that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up in this sermon on Romans 11:7-10. He says that Scripture never teaches that God creates evil or sin, but He does create the consequences of the sinful actions of humans. Therefore, when Scripture speaks of God visiting judgement upon the evil, we should not think that this is God doing something evil, but it is Him punishing the wicked for their evil deeds. The same thing is true in the case of David when he prays for God to judge the wicked. This is not David being vindictive, but rather it is him asking that God act in accordance with His character to protect the righteous and punish the wicked. For God is holy and just; He cannot even look upon evil doers. This is seen in the highest form when Jesus died upon the cross at Calvary. There, God’s justice is fully manifested in His judgement upon sin in Christ. Also, His mercy is displayed in saving sinners. This is the great truth that God is both the just and the justifier! There is truly no unrighteousness with God.
The second major division of the chapter; analysis of verses 11-32; the Jews' stumbling not a final fall; salvation has come to the Gentiles; to provoke the Jews to emulation.
Why were the Jewish people permitted to stumble according to the Apostle Paul? In this sermon on Romans 11:11-12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up this difficult question. He says that, ultimately, God allowed the Jewish people to stumble and reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order that the Gospel might go to all the nations. Because they rejected the Gospel, the early Church spread the Gospel from the land of Israel and went to the whole world. At the same time, Paul himself was a Jew by birth and a believer of Christ. This shows us that not all Jews rejected Jesus. What of the future of the Jewish people? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that in the future there will be a great revival among the nations of Israel and many will come to a true knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel. They will put their faith in their long-awaited Messiah. For the Apostle Paul argues that just as it was a blessing to the gentiles that Israel stumbled over the Gospel, it will be an even greater blessing when the people of Israel believe and come into the Church of Jesus Christ!
What can we learn from the Apostle Paul’s teachings on the Jewish people? In this sermon on Romans 11:11-12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that Christians have much to learn about the Church, ourselves, and the Gospel from the Apostle Paul. He says that this prophesy will take place in the future. Paul believed that there would be a great revival amongst the people of Israel when they come to know Jesus Christ. For the whole reason why the Jews rejected the Gospel was in order that the truth of Christ might go to the gentiles! The Church must understand that oftentime God uses rejection to actually further the proclamation of the Gospel. The Church must trust in God and in His goodness, believing that He will accomplish all He intends. The future restoration of Israel ought to cause all Christians to lay aside all prejudice and evil feelings toward the Jewish people, and they ought to love them and bring the Gospel to them. For Christ Jesus is the only means of salvation for both Jew and Gentile! The Church is to proclaim this message of forgiveness and mercy to all people until Christ returns in glory.
Reasons for focusing on the Jews; ways in which Paul magnified his ministry; his concern for both Jews and Gentiles; lessons for preachers.
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.