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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Is there any advantage to being a Jew? The Apostle Paul understands this questioning might come up after all he has said about their guilt. However, his point was to prove that the whole world was condemned by sin before God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains Paul's words showing that Jews do have one advantage! They were given the divine oracles of God. They were entrusted with the living revelation of God’s Word and were tasked with keeping it safe and spreading the truth to others. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that there is no higher privilege that can come to any human than to be spoken to directly by God. God spoke to Moses by giving him the Ten Commandments and Moses brought them to God’s chosen people, the Jews. To have this kind of knowledge should lead to repentance and to seek salvation from God. In the same manner, have we understood what kind of advantage it is for us to have an open Bible? We have the living Word of God in front of us and we are entrusted to keep the truth and to share it with others.
If God forgives sin, then why stop? That is the question thrown at the preacher since Paul wrote the book of Romans. From Romans 3:3, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outlines three arguments that explain how critical repentance is to true saving faith and how that faith leads believers away from a life of entrenched sin. Lloyd-jones asks: Did Israel’s unfaithfulness do away with all of the value they had because they had the oracles of God? If the failure of the Jews makes God look more glorious, then why does God punish them? If our sin makes God’s grace and mercy that much greater, then would it not make sense to sin even more? As Dr. Lloyd-Jones answers these critical arguments, he also reminds us that when we are testing a view of the Lord and His word, we should ask if that view glorifies God. If the answer causes you to question or doubt God in all His righteousness and power, then our view is wrong.
Is there anyone without sin? What characterizes human nature apart from God? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outlines Romans 3:9-20 as Paul explains human characteristics when they are apart from God. First, there is no one who is righteous apart from God, as He is the only way to salvation. No man fully understands spiritual truth or divine things because their mind has only a secular nature. They lack much understanding when it comes to sinful natures, the wrath of God, true happiness, and their own eternal understanding. Man is so lost in his own understanding that he naturally strays the opposite way of God! Dr. Lloyd-Jones then illustrates how these natural inclinations are manifested in human behavior, fully outlining how vile and destructive we are. Sin that starts in our hearts and then to our mouths, feet, and purpose on earth. This type of explanation truly shows the absolute necessity of God’s way of salvation. Our natural human nature is to run from God, not realizing how much we terribly need Him!
The Word of God is a terrifying mirror to those who are not saved. No one is innocent as all have sinned, Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul quotes the Psalms to prove his point saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10).” The Jews had access to the Old Testament, yet they were tragically blinded in regards to their own scriptures. So Paul is reminding them of what God has stated multiple times. All men are under the guilt of sin and we have all been born into sin through Adam. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that it is essential to understand this before we can truly understand the gospel. We must understand how truly sinful and deceitful our human nature is. This will lead to evangelism, showing people their need for salvation by convicting them of their sin first. Paul goes on to give a greater description of sin; how it distorts their view of the world, humankind, and God. Even if the Jews attempted to argue that they were not under condemnation, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul has been attempting to thwart all arguments by providing adequate evidence.
Why do we sin? What drives us to chase after everything that dishonors God? The underlying answer is quoted from Psalm 36 in this Romans passage, “There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:18).” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains fear as reverential awe, a desire to worship God, understanding that God is the judge of all the earth, and a fear of punishment. Unsaved man does not fear the eternal punishment of the holy God. In this passage, Paul also points out that the very law in which the Jews boast has also condemned them. We are all guilty under sin. It seems as if Paul has stressed this repeatedly in recent passages and Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that it is because every mouth needs to be stopped. Scripture shows us the standard that we must live up to and that standard shows us how truly vile we are. That alone should silence all arguing and excuses. Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks that we examine our hearts and our mouths; are we still doubting or arguing against the almighty God or has our mouth been stopped by His righteousness and grace? Thanks be to God who by His Son, saves us from our sin!
Imagine that you were on trial for a crime that you committed. The odds are all stacked against you and they have pronounced you guilty. The law rightly condemns us as guilty. However, when the judge is set to announce the punishment, he says that you are free! This is exactly what Paul explains justification is like. It is a legal term, a declaration that Christ no longer condemns us and regards us as righteous. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that it is not that we are righteous; it is a removal of sin and a pronouncement from the Lord that he considers us righteous. Paul understands that the Jews had fallen into a trap, thinking that they were able to be justified by the law that they were given. However, God gave the law to show how truly sinful we are and how we are in need of a Savior. Dr. Lloyd-Jones further illustrates how the word justification is used throughout Scripture and how the Roman Catholics defined the word. He makes interesting points of how the modern day Christian generally does not understand the definition of many key words used throughout scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also cross-examines how justification and sanctification are different.
When God interups human history, everything changes! Up until this point in Romans, Paul has been emphasizing wrath and judgement for all men since we are all guilty of sin and under condemnation. The tone of this letter completely changes in this section with these two small words “but now.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones breaks up Romans 3:21-31 into two main sections, outlining that Paul has finally begun to discuss the way of salvation and the characteristics of the way of salvation. After much talk of wrath and destruction, it seems like a relief to see that the Lord has provided a righteousness for us and has revealed it to us. This righteousness is by nothing that we have done because we receive it, only through faith. Both Jews and Gentiles can rejoice because this gift was planned before the foundation of the world, entirely by God’s grace, and open to all men! Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that everything about salvation points to the glory of God! Any idea that man has concerning salvation should always conform to this one passage of Scripture and nothing we say about salvation should deny any of these statements.
No amount of works can save us. The Jews built an entire system of religion believing the only path to salvation was through the law. Paul says that “now” the righteousness has been revealed, meaning something new has recently happened. The Lord came to provide a new way of salvation, a forgiveness of sins and received righteousness. Paul probably sensed that the Jews would say that the law could now be tossed out forever, but Paul warns that the law is not void! Christ’s sacrifice now means that we do not have to try to earn salvation with the law, but we should still honor what the law says. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outlines what the word faith means, explaining that it is not merely an acceptance of truth but rather a true trust in Christ’s work in salvation. Our faith alone does not save us; it is an instrument to which we receive that salvation! As Paul then explains that all of humanity has fallen short of God’s glory, Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes definitions of sin and glory. While we continually fail to meet the standard, Christ has stood in the gap and given us righteousness!
Just as a prisoner needs to pay a price to obtain freedom, we sinners also need to pay a ransom for our freedom. However, the Lord in His kindness has paid our price and given us freedom! Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Romans 3:24 and breaks the verse into three parts: how we are reminded what salvation really is, how salvation becomes ours, and how it is possible for God to do this for us. In this verse, Paul is explaining that we have been justified freely by the redemption work by Jesus Christ. Because of that work, we have been declared righteous! This does not mean that we are currently righteous, just that the Lord has deemed us so. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that the present tense of the word justifying means that we are currently being justified. We are reminded that this salvation is a free gift to all men, both Jew and Gentile! While the law revealed our sin, God’s grace has given us a free pardon. This is all only possible because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The term used here is the same term as a prisoner being set free; Christ has set us free from the slavery of sin!
Jesus saves sinners! But how are we redeemed in Christ and why did it have to happen in that way? In Romans 3:25, Paul says that God was a “propitiation” for our sins in order to declare His righteousness to us. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that this word means to appease and avert anger or wrath. The cross of Jesus Christ was needed to appease God’s wrath. Propitiation implies four things: an offense to be taken away, an offended person who needs to be pacified, a guilty person, and a sacrifice of making atone for the offense. Also in this message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns about various translations of the Bible. Many who have translated this specific passage have misplaced the word “propitiation” with “expiation,” giving the verse a completely different context. This happens because personal prejudices can sway the translations. In either case, it is to be clear that the Lord cannot have a personal relationship with man when there is sin present. This is the reason that Christ had to be the ultimate sacrifice to pay the atonement for our sins.