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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Some find it hard to know how to regard the differences in spiritual maturity that exists among Christians. Are these differences always good? Bad? In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones dives into Romans 14:1 and provides some biblical answers to these questions. He starts by asking a foundational question: what does it mean to be weak in faith? The believers Paul was talking about and writing to were true Christians that were falling into legalism. He reminds us that all believers are the same as it relates to justification and regeneration and our basic need for being saved from sins. However, some are stronger than others. What causes this? Dr. Lloyd-Jones posits that natural personality often lends itself to different strengths and weaknesses in different people. Additionally, the diligence and application of people as Christians also play a large part in the strength or weakness of someone’s faith. He also suggests that the length of time one has been a Christian will affect this. Thankfully, many of these are things that we have the power to grow in by the grace of God, so if your faith is weak, do not be anxious— continue to seek the Lord, and it will grow!
Within the family of God are those who are strong in their understanding of the Christian faith and those who are weak in their understanding of the faith. The Church is made up of some who are more mature and some who are less mature. This diversity within the body of Christ can lead to problems as matters of opinions arise. While the world might say getting your way or winning the argument is the most important goal during a disagreement, the Apostle Paul offers a different vision for the church – particularly the strong in faith. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Romans 14:1-4, he instructs us how to engage the weak in faith over indifferent – albeit important – matters to the Christian life. The weak in faith are part of the family of God, reminds Dr. Lloyd-Jones. The weak in faith need to be instructed in their thinking. But the way the strong instructs them makes a considerable difference. The strong must distinguish between a Christian discussion and an uncontrolled argument. A Christian discussion must demonstrate self-controlled dialogue which shows love and patience towards a brother in Christ. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the contemporary church in our family disputes.
Have you ever gotten into a disagreement with someone else about what you think the Bible teaches to be wrong or right on an issue that is not particularly clear? This is the topic at hand for this sermon on Romans 14:1-4, and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones guides the listener through how to interact with this issue that is becoming more prominent in the church today. There are things in Scripture about which there is not a clear command. In this passage, it had to do with food sacrificed to idols. Because idols are not real, the food sacrificed to them means nothing. However, Paul encourages believers to watch out for their brothers and sisters in Christ and to avoid doing things that would make it easier to stumble because of the way they were raised. The immature Christian, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is characterized by making secondary issues primary ones. Yet, as he points out, we should not sit back and judge other Christians— it is the weak Christian who is most likely to do this. Why do they have this tendency? He says that it is due to the spirit of fear, and he explains his reasoning behind this. He encourages us to avoid falling into legalism and determining if or not people are Christians based off of our judgments— ultimately, that is up to the Lord, not us, and it allows us to live in a way that pleases the Lord and leave the consequences up to Him.
What really is legalism? In this sermon on Romans 14:1-4, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles this important subject asking what it is, how it can be fought, and the consequences that it carries within the church. Legalism is what happens when people take principles in Scripture, interpret them wrongly, and make them absolute rules that everyone is required to follow. Legalists tend to make indifferent things central. What does this mean? Mainly, that issues not core to Christianity are elevated to being make-or-break issues that are used as standards for measuring the depth of someone’s relationship with Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds us, what matters is that people have been received by God— it is not up to us to determine this. People frequently set up their own standards for determining if people are Christians, but where do they derive their authority from? Dr. Lloyd-Jones also addresses the question of if Paul was contradicting his stance against legalism when he said that he acts certain ways around certain people. Ultimately, this was to keep them from stumbling, and as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds us, Paul did not see these issues as central doctrines of Christianity. He closes with a charge— we are not to reject someone whom God has received, and ultimately, only God can make the call on whether or not this is the case. We are to trust Him with this and simply be obedient.
The Lord alone has the authority to make final judgments on people. In this sermon from Romans 14:1-4, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us of this important truth and how we can follow this while still exercising discernment regarding the people we surround ourselves with and the activities we participate in. When we make ultimate judgments about people, we are usurping the authority of the Lord and putting ourselves in His place. This is a very dangerous place to be. What are we to do about the activities of the world that in and of themselves are not wrong? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides helpful guidelines to consider as we work through these. He proposes that it all comes back to the theme of Christian liberty, and that on issues not clearly portrayed in Scripture as sinful, it is a matter of conscience between each person and God. Paul says that we are not to judge or be jealous of those who are using their Christian liberty because ultimately, the Lord is powerful and strong enough to help them stand up. Dr. Lloyd-Jones ties this in to the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, providing supporting examples from Scripture. Listen as he aids us in being discerning about things we should avoid and the effects that freedom in Christ has on such choices.
What is Paul addressing in Romans 14:1-6? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers that it is not about the importance of observation of the Sabbath, since that has been established in Scripture for all time. He provides Scriptural support for this, and offers up a question that has been discussed in Christian circles often since the early church: what day of the week is supposed to be set aside for the Sabbath, Saturday or Sunday? He references Biblical evidence for the day of the week that Christians used to meet on, as well as historical evidences from writings that are outside of Scripture. How do Christians today make the right choice about the day to meet on? To answer this, Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds us that the early church would not have changed the day of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday arbitrarily— he argues that they must have received a revelation that it was good to change it. However, he also states that it is not an issue over which Christians should divide. He addresses extreme Sabbatarianism, a view that is very literal about how the Sabbath day should be observed, and provides helpful points to consider when thinking through it. His conclusion, echoing Paul, is that we are to be fully persuaded in our own mind from Scripture about which decision is correct.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his sermon series on Romans 14:5-9, addressing the need for unity among believers on issues that are not central to the Christian faith. Drawing from Paul, however, he reminds us that we have a biblical responsibility to be convinced in our own minds about the convictions we hold that are not clearly defined in Scripture as black-and-white. Above all, he says, we are to do everything for the glory of the Lord. In this passage, Paul is saying that the how and why we are doing something is more important in some cases than the specific thing we are doing. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also addresses issues that are not essential to core faith and doctrine and how we can draw right convictions on these topics that Scripture is sometimes not clear on. He reminds us that God’s glory is to govern our living and our dying. If you have been in church for any period of time, you have heard believers discuss the beauty of dying since they are going to be with the Lord. While this is true, Dr. Lloyd-Jones exhorts the listener to focus on this life now and what the Lord has for us to do while we are alive. He reminds us that we are to be ready to go at any time, but that focusing too much on dying and our life after this one will distract us from the reasons that God still has us on earth.
The fear of death grips humanity. Humanity is Death’s servant. People in the West live each day suppressing the reality that death is imminent. How does the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ speak to this terror? In this sermon on Romans 14:6-12, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds Paul’s teaching that Christ is the Lord over Death. Salvation, in other words, is not merely forgiveness of sins, but also deliverance from the last Enemy – Death! While the Christian experiences freedom from the condemnation of the Law through the cross and resurrection of Christ, they also experience victory over the Devil, who holds unregenerate humanity under the fear of death. Remarkably, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, we are no longer servants of Death, but Death is actually the servant of the Christian! Death is an entrance to glory – to eternal life with God. Through the victory of the resurrection, all fear of death vanishes. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages us with the wonderful truth of Christ’s Lordship over Death and the victory we share because of Him.
As the Lordship of Christ is universal, so also is the judgment of Christ. Evangelical Protestants rightly champion Scripture’s teaching on the assurance believers have as they face the Final Judgment Seat of God. We rejoice in the assurance that there is no condemnation from God the Father for those in Christ Jesus! However, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us in Romans 14:10-12, we often neglect the truth that believers will face another judgment. This is not a Final Judgment but a judgment of rewards. By bringing out the distinction between Christ’s Final Judgment and rewards judgment, Dr. Lloyd-Jones protects the church against antinomianism, loose living, and quarreling in the church. As the church at Rome had become factious, judging each other over indifferent matters, the Apostle Paul appeals to Christ’s judgment. In doing so, he reminds them who is the true and final Judge in all matters. Christians should temper these types of judgments as they are brothers in Christ. The family of God – those born again by the Holy Spirit and adopted as sons – are not ultimately concerned about proving their brother wrong on matters of indifference. Certainly family members are not to denounce and be angry towards a brother. Instead they are called to love, express concern, and help.
How do you approach difficult problems and issues in the church? Do you see how each part relates to the whole? Or do you simply attack the problem directly? In his sermon on Romans 14:13-15, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls us to pay attention to the great Apostle Paul’s method in dealing with one of the premier problems in the early church. But after we pay attention to the Apostle’s method, we also need to follow his teaching. Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings out our Lord’s teaching on loving one another and combines it with Paul’s words found in Romans. As the church disagrees on matters indifferent – like whether a Christian should eat meat – the love commandment becomes all the more appropriate. Our opinions, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, may be right but if you have forgotten love for your fellow-Christian then the right opinion may be a cause of serious trouble. But what is the Apostle Paul’s teaching on clean and unclean food? Are we prohibited from eating certain foods? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones navigates the intricacies of the Mosaic Law and the tension of the early church between Jew and Gentile.
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.