The Book of Ephesians
MLJ's major series of 232 sermons covering all 6 chapters of Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, plus a small collection of 5 other sermons preached at Westminster Chapel. The major series is a systematic exposition of the epistle that was preached on Sunday mornings between 1954 and 1962.
Dead in Trespasses and Sins
What is the state of a person before Christ? Is the problem with humanity that it needs more morality or is it much deeper? The apostle Paul explains that humanity’s greatest problem is that it is dead in trespasses and sins. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:1 titled “Dead in Trespasses and Sins,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on Paul’s words and preaches how when the Christian has a strong understanding of the depth of their depravity, it makes the work of Christ all the more glorious. When the Christian sees the severity of their sin and their plight outside of union with Christ, they realize the great power and sovereignty of God in salvation and it inevitably leads to true worship and praise to God for all the grace and mercy that He shows in saving sinners. Because sin is so deadly, only the power of God can save. No one can be unified with Christ by any other means. A true understanding of sin will spur the Christian on to evangelize the lost. They should want others to know of the great salvation that resides in Jesus Christ. The greatest problem with the sinner is not just that they do not come to church on Sunday or that they are not a part of the Christian social club. The greatest problem is that the sinner is alienated from God and under God’s wrath. With this is mind, telling others about Jesus becomes all the more important a task.
Man in Sin
What’s the fundamental problem with humanity? Is it a lack of education? Poor policies in the public sphere? Why are humans the way they are? In this sermon on Ephesians 2:1–3 titled “Man in Sin,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the problem is much deeper. The problem is this: humanity is dead. Not physically dead––physically, people are very much alive––but in regards to spiritual things, humanity is born dead. Humanity sees no need for God and disregards His word. Spiritual realities are boring to them and they do not find the Bible relevant. As a result, humanity is shaped by the present age under the spiritual realm of darkness and organize their life apart from God. They do not know it because they are dead. The result is eternal death. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that one must know the depths of this problem. As the problem is much deeper than one thought, the solution must be greater than imagined. The delight in the gospel of Jesus Christ comes from understanding this. They were hopeless and dead. Without Christ, there was nothing one could do. Yet God loved them and He has made them alive.
How can one make sense out of the awful state of the world? In this sermon on Ephesians 2:1–3 titled “Original Sin,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings much needed clarity to today’s chaos, showing how humanity’s sinful nature is behind the wickedness seen all around. Since human nature is wholly given over to sin, one is unable to do good and obey all that the law of God requires. Those, like the humanist, that claim sin is simply an outdated religious superstition that can be replaced by modern psychology fundamentally misunderstand the extent of humanity’s sin and corruption. The sinful nature is not something that people lack within, but it is active rebellion against God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that sin dominates the very will and the orthodox doctrine of original sin accounts for this sinful nature. It says that when the first man, Adam, sinned, all fell into sin and inherited the corrupt nature. This is why moral reform as a way of salvation is hopeless. If people could keep the law then there would be no need for the gospel and death of Christ. It is only by the saving grace found in the death of Christ that anyone can be delivered from sin and made righteous before God.
Life Without God
Without God, there is no hope, no peace, and no relief from the guilt and stain of sin. In this sermon on life without God from Ephesians 2:1–3 titled “Life Without God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones thoroughly explains the pervasiveness of the state of sinfulness derived from the absence of God’s presence. The only remedy, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, is the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward His believers. Christians will only understand how significant God’s grace is when they realize the depths from which God saved them and the heights to which He has raised them. Only then can Christians truly be thankful for Christ’s intervention on their behalf. This sermon is unique in that Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares a personal example of his unbelieving state and his life without Christ. He shares that he used to be consumed with the lust of the flesh in that he desired to debate and sound clever in front of his peers. While preparing this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares that he felt an immense hatred for himself and his previous state of existence. This personal story exemplifies the principle Dr. Lloyd-Jones began the sermon with: understanding the depravity of believers’ previous state and contrasting it with God’s immensely merciful treatment of souls is the only way Christians can understand true grace. Without Jesus, people are doomed to perish while pursuing the flesh. With Him, people will be raised to life with God forever.
The Wrath of God
The apostle Paul tells that all are in sin and ruled by sin. Apart from the gospel all are dead in their sins and trespasses. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:1–3 titled “The Wrath of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches that the judgement of God is the only answer for the children of wrath. It is vital to understand the wrath of God in order to understand both the grace and love of God. One can only understand Christ, His life, and His death if they see the great problem of their sin and God’s wrath. This wrath is the manifestation of God’s just indignation and this just judgment of sin can be seen from Genesis to Revelation as the plan and story of redemption unfolds. In God’s love He provided hope for sinful and fallen people. By sending His Son to die for sinners who deserved nothing but condemnation and judgement, He provides a way of salvation and justification for His enemies. This is the glory of the gospel: it is adoption and justification for those who deserve nothing but judgment. It is the adoption of God’s enemies as children and inheritors through the work of Christ.
'But God ...'
Christians are citizens of heaven yet remain in the world. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:4 titled “But God…,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones shares that the two powerful words that make this a reality are “but God.” Without God’s action in this world, there would be no hope for the future. Life, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds, cannot be understood unless one views it in light of God. How can this done? He suggests that expository preaching teaches what God says in His word. To be lights in this world, Christians are not simply to strive to solve social issues and wars, but to remind people of the true and only hope: salvation in Christ Jesus. That hope is not to be placed in governments, people, programs or systems, but in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross. In addition, Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches the importance of not simply preaching morality and its benefits. Christians are not to preach at people to be civil. They are to share the gospel and beg people to repent as only then will they change. Christians can look forward to going to their true home in heaven.
'But God': The Christian Message to the World
It is not merely the outwardly wicked who are saved by grace who should be amazed at their salvation. Every Christian, even those who lived a supposed moral life before salvation, should be amazed at God’s grace. Salvation is entirely God’s work. In the sermon on Ephesians 2:4 titled “‘But God:’ The Christian Message to the World,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines Paul’s introduction of the chief characteristics of the gospel. What makes the gospel good news? It is that in one’s salvation, they become a new creature. Conversion is not merely something added to life, but rather a new realm of thinking. The dead have become alive. Dr. Lloyd-Jones remarks that Christ’s redemptive work for such sinners seems impossible and yet it’s true. He died for the dead so the dead may be made alive. God has done this to show His unmerited favor. His kindness and love are displayed through the salvation of wretched sinners. Come to Christ and discover the exceeding greatness of His power to all who believe. Through the gospel, God has found a way of liberating sinners from all their sin. The Christian, therefore, should be amazed that God would save a sinner such as themselves and not be ashamed because it is the power of God.
In Christ Jesus
What has God done for the Christian? In this sermon on Ephesians 2:4–7 titled “In Christ Jesus,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones focuses on Paul’s answer to this question. Paul is concerned that believers are clear about what God has done for them. True Christianity is what God has done to and for the believer. People can decide to be religious, to start or stop doing things, and believe that God forgives them, but that is not essentially Christianity. Some schools of thought have taught that the doctrine of union with Christ is something the Christian strives to attain. But apart from this union, a person is not a Christian. One must examine themselves and ask: is my way of thinking of myself as a Christian in terms of what I am striving to do or make of myself? The difference between the unbeliever and believer is that the believer has a new disposition bending or redirecting their faculties accordingly, affecting the whole person — mind, heart, and will. Birth is sudden and so it is with the new birth. One cannot understand or explain it fully; all one knows is that it has happened. It is a creative act of God that the apostles, and others, referred to as the “new creation.” Apart from union with Christ, this new regeneration cannot make a Christian.
Risen in Christ
On one hand, people fail to realize the depth of sin. On the other hand, they fail to see the height and glory of the gospel. The problem with the church today is that it fails at both of these points. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:4–7 titled “Risen with Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones declares what makes one a Christian: their union with Christ. In this union, the Christian has been raised together with the Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoicing in the heights of one’s own resurrection makes sense only when the believer understands their original state of death. By nature they were children of wrath. Jesus died for them and their old nature died with Him. In dying with Him they are also raised with Him. Starting at this point of human depravity, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explores the goodness of union with Christ. Christians, he declares, are dead to the law and no longer under the curse of sin. Christians are alive unto God. The new person thinks in terms of eternity. They care not only for their body but also for their soul. They seek to share Christ with the lost and want to please God. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks, “Have you been raised together with Christ? Do you know God?” Rejoice as one risen with Christ.
In the Heavenly Places
There is true hope in Christ. One of the most comforting and practical teachings of Scripture is that all who are united to Christ in faith have been seated with Him in the heavens. But what does it mean to be seated in the heavenly places? In this sermon on Ephesians 2:4–7 titled “In the Heavenly Places,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings this great news of hope with the reminder that the Christian has been delivered from this present evil world and its coming judgement because of the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. For this reason, Christians should seek to set their minds not on earthly and carnal things, but in that which is heavenly and good. Christians should put their hope with Christ who has died in their place and ascended to heaven where He rules. This does not mean that the Christian has no obligation to do good while on this earth, but it simply means that they should be as pilgrims who are always looking toward the inheritance with Christ Jesus in heaven. This affects how Christians are to conduct themselves, for they should seek what is good, pure, and holy, fleeing from all worldliness and immorality. They should not be like the unbeliever who in their worldliness cares for nothing but what is present in the here and now. The Christian should always seek the heavenly inheritance that they have in Christ by believing in His gospel.
The Exceeding Riches of His Grace
God uses the salvation of guilty and rebellious sinners as a means to bring glory and honor to His name. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:7 titled “The Exceeding Riches of His Grace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings this convicting truth as he speaks of God’s Son Jesus Christ who died a cruel and torturous death as a criminal upon a cross. He did not do this so that the world would be a more comfortable place to live or so that people would become more moral. He did this to redeem a people to the praise of God the Father. The sin He died to overcome was far more than a simple social phenomenon; it was rebellion against God the Creator. And this world He came to set free from sin was not simply a world that had problems, but it was ruled by the devil, the god of this world. All of creation looked forward to this great act of redemption. From the creation of the world to God allowing the fall, it all finds its meaning in Jesus Christ and His vicarious death on the cross. Because this salvation is of God and wholly by grace, those who receive it can never fall away. For all who God saves, He will bring to perfection on the last day when He returns.
Through Christ Jesus
In this sermon on Ephesians 2:7 titled “Through Jesus Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unpacks the words of Luke in Acts 2:7. In the incarnation, the second person of the Godhead descends and takes up a true human nature for the redemption of all those whom God elected. He did not count equality a thing to be grasped, but He came to earth as a baby born in a manger. Not only this, but He suffered and died upon a cross in the place of sinners. Even in the midst of this suffering, Jesus Christ never ceased to be fully divine but suffered as the God man. It is through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead that believers receive the blessings of salvation and redemption. This is the new life in Christ where all who are granted faith by the Holy Spirit receive in full all the blessings that God has given in Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, all the good that God gives Christians only comes by and in the work of Christ, for in Him are all the blessings of God. This should bring all believers to worship God for all He has done in Christ. Christians should be encouraged to take the gospel to all, knowing that it is only in this gospel that peace with God and redemption come.
By Grace Through Faith
Salvation is the result of God’s grace alone. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:8–10 titled “ By Grace Through Faith,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches that no one is saved by anything they do or any merits they earn, but it is wholly the result of grace. For in their sin, no one is able to do anything pleasing to God nor able to even believe the good news of the gospel without the work of the Holy Spirit giving them a new heart. This is contrary to what many have believed and taught throughout the centuries. Some say that grace is good but not sufficient to save, whereas some have gone as far as saying that by the works of the law alone people can be saved and made right with God. But the apostle Paul clearly denies any such teaching in his insistence on the power of God’s grace alone. For through grace God gives people the gift of faith. It is faith that is the instrumental cause of justification and by it believers are united to Christ and receive the benefits of His life, death, and resurrection. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains this great doctrine of justification by faith alone that is the very heart of Christianity and without it there is no true gospel.
It is through salvation that Christians instantly join the eternal family of Christ. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:10 titled “His Workmanship,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows how redeemed men and women now live new lives that are marked by the work of Christ in their hearts. This continual work in the life of believers is what is commonly called sanctification. Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims that part of salvation is that all who are truly regenerated are continually formed and fashioned in holiness so that they imitate Christ. God uses many means to conform Christians to the image of Christ, but one of the main ones is the chastisements of God. When believers fall into sin, God brings rebuke and correction into their life as a good father would. This is both a great comfort and reassurance of salvation, for all whom are truly saved are sons and daughters of God and treated as such. Those who claim that one can be saved yet not be sanctified grossly misunderstand the Scriptures’ teaching. From start to finish, all of salvation is under the control of God. For this reason, God works so that those whom He saved will be brought to fulfillment through sanctification and glorification.
Jew and Gentile
Political debates, class warfare, as well as ethnic and religious conflict, seem to dominate the media’s attention. What could an ancient text like Paul’s letter to the Ephesians say to such matters, especially for the people of God? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones walks through an ancient conflict of Jew and Gentile which mirrors all conflicts, both past and present. While unregenerate people will certainly reject Paul’s diagnosis of divisions and strife between nations, classes, and the sexes, the Christian church cannot. In adhering to the apostolic message, the church will not only be in a position to accurately diagnosis the problem, but by the grace of God, it will see the gospel transform prideful and selfish hearts. This is the key to true reconciliation and unity between all people, Jew or Gentile. Listen as Lloyd-Jones diagnoses the cause of divisions that continue to haunt the human race, and consider the vanity with which the world seeks to remove strife and conflict without considering the condition of the human heart. He speaks to how the gospel alone is the cure to the chaos surrounding our world.
The greater one understands the depths of their sin, the more they understand the greatness of God’s mercy. For the Christian there is a reciprocal relationship between looking to their life before Christ and the amount of praise they offer to God. If the believer never examines their state of being without Christ, thanksgiving to God for salvation will unlikely mark their life. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:12 titled “Without Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones follows Paul in challenging what it means to be without Christ in order to see just how astounding salvation really is. The worst condition of a person is that they are without Christ. But what does this really mean? Dr. Lloyd-Jones walks through the biblical text in order to show what it means to be a stranger towards God’s covenant people, to be an alien to the commonwealth of Israel. This alienation from God and His covenant people will undoubtedly lead to a life without hope. Soberly listen and contemplate a state without Christ and then rejoice that one can flee to him and find new hope.
Everyone has a past. It is often painful to look back on one’s life and see the suffering their sin caused others and how it offends a holy and righteous God. But if one recognizes God’s power in salvation, “looking back” is an important ingredient. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:13 titled “Made Nigh.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that the other ingredient to consider is the Christian’s current position because of God’s power. The apostle Paul remarkably does this with just one word: “but.” This word brings relief to the believer in Christ and points to the utter contrast between the old life and the new life in Christ. It also points to the separation between the believer and the unbeliever. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explores this contrast by looking at the details of the new covenant. One must not think that the absolute nature of the contrast is only true for those who were “really” bad before Christ. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is an absolute difference, whether one grew up in a respectable environment or the gutters of life. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones takes a close look at the remarkable promises of the new covenant.
The Blood of Christ
A new pathway to God cannot be invented. Whether through morality and good deeds or by the ritual of religion and mysticism, there is no human invention that will save humanity. On their own, none of these are sufficient to bring people near to God. In this sermon on the blood of Christ from Ephesians 2:13, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shares that the theology of blood is offensive to modern people. The blood of Christ, in His sacrificial death, is a scandal to people today. While people, even some who claim to be Christian, go to great lengths to deny this teaching, one cannot escape the truth that is found throughout Scripture about the necessity of the blood of Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones traces this theme in the Bible in order to demonstrate why the death of Christ was necessary. Far from being a doctrine to be despised, it is a doctrine to be cherished by those with eyes to see it. It is a doctrine where full assurance and forgiveness can be found. Listen attentively as Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds on wonderful truths of expiation, atonement, and sacrifice.
He is Our Peace
In this sermon on Ephesians 2:14–16 titled “He is Our Peace,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that the main purpose of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is to encourage the church in the peace of Christ. Christians have been saved and are in the body of Christ and as such, they have been redeemed and the war with God is over. They now have the peace of Christ that governs them. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that the realization that Christ is the peace of believers is one of the most significant and meaningful encouragements to the soul. Only when people understand the true nature of sin do they understand the true nature of salvation. Additionally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses some who would discount the first few chapters of Genesis. Dr. Lloyd-Jones stresses that without the beginning of the Bible, people will not understand why the world is as corrupt as it is, nor will they witness the roots of the gospel. Without understanding the sin that originates in Genesis, people will be confused about the lack of peace in the world. Unbelievers will never have peace with each other unless they have peace with God in salvation. Thankfully Jesus made a way to have peace with God through His death on the cross. Through Christ, all can have lasting peace.
Christ's Way of Making Peace
In Jesus Christ a new harmony formed, not along the lines of race, family, or country, but in the basis of membership in the family of God. In this sermon on Ephesians 2:15 titled “Christ’s Way of Making Peace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims the words of Paul, saying all who believe are adopted into God’s family and become inheritors with Christ of the whole world. In this new people there is neither Jew nor Gentile, for the people of God are those who are the children of Abraham by nature of their faith in Christ and their adoption into God’s family. This is why division in the church on the basis of age, race, and nationality are such a travesty. The peace of God transcends all divisions and walls. This peace, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes, is one that makes fallen men and women righteous before God and it also puts them in a right relationship with one another as brothers and sisters in the family of God. This new relationship is the first fruits of what is to come in the new creation that Christ will bring to completion when He returns in glory and judgment on the last day. The church should look to the peace that Christ has granted in the gospel as the greatest hope in the Christian life.