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.
Practical Application of Doctrine
There are often two types of people within Christianity. There are those who focus primarily on intellect and right doctrine and they forget about right living. And there are those who focus primarily on mystical experiences concerning God and they forget about right doctrine. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:1 titled “Practical Application of Doctrine,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones introduces the second half of Ephesians by giving a clear connection between both right doctrine and right living. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the listener to read the Bible rightly within its context because it is the doctrine and the truths of Scripture that should inform their living. These two truths should not be separated; rather they are connected in a way that motivates sanctification. Learning doctrine and experiencing the blessings of God is not sanctification, but instead they stimulate sanctification just as the sun and the rain stimulates the growth of a plant. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the listener by asking if they truly believe the glorious truths covered in the previous three chapters of Ephesians. If they do, then the logical conclusion is that they must act upon those truths with the practical application that Paul gives in the last three chapters. Be encouraged by this exhortation to work out salvation by both learning right doctrine and living obediently to the word of God.
Worthy of Our Calling
The Christian life is not to be lived in a purely intellectual way, nor is it to be lived in a way that forgets about doctrine. The Christian life is to be lived worthy of the calling to which the Christian has been called. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:1–3 titled “Worthy of Our Calling,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives clarity to how to walk worthily and the calling to which the Christian has been called. Dr. Lloyd-Jones begins by giving two definitions for the word worthy. First is simply to have equal weight. The way Christians walk in a worthy manner is by placing equal emphasis on both doctrine and practice. The second definition is becoming or proper. It is proper to wear matching clothes. In the same way, it is proper for lives to match doctrine. Doctrine must come first as the foundational garment, and the life comes second as the adorning garment. The second word Dr. Lloyd-Jones focuses on is calling. God has called His people with an effectual call, and through this call He has saved them to Himself. He has called them to be holy, a royal priesthood, His sons and daughters, co-heirs of Christ’s inheritance, and so much more. Because of this calling Christians are to walk in a manner that is worthy and pleasing to God.
Keeping the Unity of the Spirit
Conflict is an ongoing part of life today, just as it was for the church at Ephesus. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:2–3, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones opens Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and addresses how believers can live in unity and peace. Rather than ignore sin or avoid confrontation, Christians must quickly exhort and forgive one another, guarding the unity of the Spirit, and guarding the fellowship of believers. This is supernatural unity that can only belong to those indwelt with the Spirit. Therefore, to not guard this unity is actually a grievance to the Holy Spirit. So how can one guard Holy Spirit’s unity? Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims that being humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another are critical characteristics of believing relationships. Christian brothers and sisters must do this because they love one another and desire to guard their unity. Just as parents humbly serve and instruct their children with patience and gentleness, Christians must do the same thing with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Body of Christ
In this sermon on the body of Christ from Ephesians 4:4–6, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows four principles that prove the importance of every believer in the church. He begins by explaining the organic nature of the church; every member is a completely new creation in Christ. Just as a baby is formed by a single cell, so also the church is created new in a single man, Christ Jesus. Secondly, the church by its nature is diverse and unified. Just as a body is made up of many parts, so also is the church made up of many members with different roles. If it were not for the different parts of the body, then the body would be useless. Third, the body is interdependent. Each part of the body depends on the other. If one member suffers, the other members suffer. If one member is honored, the other members rejoice as well. Lastly, the body works toward the same end, and that is that the wisdom of God might be made known to the rulers and authorities of the heavenly places. This sermon will be an encouragement to all members of the body of Christ, for the simple fact that each Christian is in the body of Christ and they are a significant member.
The Work of the Spirit in the Church
What exactly is a church? Perhaps some are tempted to reference the building where people gather together to worship God. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:4–6 titled “The Work of the Spirit in the Church,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows from Scripture that the church is actually the body of believers in Jesus Christ. But if the church is a body, where did it come from and who or what gives it life? The answer is the Holy Spirit and Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps explain the role that the Holy Spirit plays in the life of the church. First, He brings unity through the conviction of sin— this unites believers because when people realize how sinful they are before God, they realize that they have nothing of their own accord to cling to, thus driving them to their knees before the cross of Christ. Second, the Holy Spirit is the one who gives people a new life in Christ. Third, He gives people faith and enables them to understand the ways of God. Fourth, He unites people to Christ and incorporates them into the church. Finally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that the Holy Spirit animates the life of the church. Like the blood in the body, He is the unifying presence that makes all believers one. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains the importance of the Holy Spirit to the vitality of the church.
Many Christians today are praying for revival. What is it and what is the role of the Holy Spirit in it? Is revival something that is predictable? In this sermon from Ephesians 4:4–6 titled “Revival,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles these questions and more. “The one supreme need of the church,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, “is revival.” It is its only hope. He defines revival as the repetition (to some degree) of what happened at Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit fell on a number of people at the same time. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, revival serves two purposes: it raises the church to a new level of experience and it brings those outside the church to repentance. Many Christians are wary of deep emotions in their Christian walk, and thus are somewhat afraid of revival. But is this biblical? In addition to walking through biblical support for revival, Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that “the history of the church is a history of revivals.” What does the history of revivals teach? Ultimately, it shows that they are a work of God, not of humanity, and that it is the responsibility of Christians to pray earnestly for them. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones answers common questions related to revival and its place in the life of the church.
Divisions in the Church
There is no question that the church tends to be divided over many different issues— some are important, but many are centered more around preferences than essential doctrines. In this sermon on divisions in the church from Ephesians 4:4, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about divisions in the church and how a right perspective on human nature and on the Holy Spirit brings unity to believers and the church. The Holy Spirit not only prepares people to become Christians, but He makes them Christians as well and puts the seal of God on those who believe in Him. Realizing this hope of the Christian calling provides something for believers to unite around. Another type of division that is common within the church regards the natures of people’s conversions and the depth of sin from which they were saved. Many believers feel that the depth of their relationship with the Lord is related to the intensity of their salvation experience. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains why this is not only unbiblical, but also a hindrance to community within the church. He says, “We must not dwell on what we’ve been called from, but we must dwell on what we’ve been called to.” By focusing on the equally sinful condition before the Lord, the complete dependency on Him, and on the hope of the calling as Christians, Christians can avoid these dissensions that so easily tear the Christian body apart.
What brings unity to churches? How can congregants come together in the midst of so many varying opinions and countless opportunities to disagree with one another? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:5 titled “One Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues from Ephesians that when believers focus on Jesus Christ as the head of the church, unity is preserved. How is this done? It is by focusing on the uniqueness of Jesus—there is only one Lord. There is no one like Him. He makes Christianity what it is, for without Christ, the core of Christian belief would be gone. In this sense, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, there is an intolerant aspect to Christianity. He suggests that those who have not seen this have not seen the true faith. Christ is central to the church because disagreements about Him are disagreements about core doctrines, which not only cause division, but in some cases also serve as evidence that certain people are outside of Christ. Jesus is all one needs regarding salvation and how to be a part of the church. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains how Christ alone is the object around which the church can be united.
In this sermon on Ephesians 4:5 titled “One Faith,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that the unifying faith of Christianity is not unity of doctrine, first and foremost, but it is a unity of faith in Christ. This is the faith that justifies all who are truly Christians. It is seen in the saving work of Christ and the application of that work to the hearts and minds of believers by the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the great doctrine of justification by faith alone is at the very heart of the gospel and Christianity. It is this doctrine that the Reformers fought for, and it is this doctrine that is essential to any true understanding of the gospel. This is why it is so vital that the church today guard against all heresies that would add anything to the gospel. For anyone who tries to add anything to faith detracts from God’s glory as the only Savior and hope for fallen humanity. It detracts from the work of Christ on the cross to say that fallen people must do something in addition to the gospel. To reject justification by faith is to reject the saving gospel and to reject true Christianity as found in God’s Word.
How important is baptism and what connection does it have to the unity within the church? At a first glance, it might seem odd that Paul would include it as a point of unity. Why is this? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:5 titled “One Baptism,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that a shared view of baptism is a result of unity around Christ. He presents various views of baptism and demonstrates from Scripture why Christians must view baptism as a representation of something, not as an act that accomplishes salvation in and of itself. The danger that many people throughout the centuries have run into is that they take acts like baptism and teach that they are necessary for salvation. However, Scripture clearly teaches that this is not the case. It is a representation and Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that it brings unity, because biblically-correct baptism is into the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to be “baptized into Christ,” as Paul writes elsewhere? Importantly, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, it signifies and proclaims that Christians no longer identify with the world— instead, they are one with Christ. This is what brings unity to the church, and it does so because all who have been baptized according to Scripture are the Lord’s people.
God is Lord of all, but how does this bring His church to unity? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:6 titled “One God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches how these two things interact with each other. As Paul reminds in Ephesians 4:6, there is one God— not everyone recognizes that, and this alone brings disunity of doctrine. Additionally, God is one. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also reminds that the end of one’s salvation is to bring them to God but it does not stop at Jesus. Through Jesus, His people have access to God. What does it mean when Paul writes that God is the “father of all”? Many understand this to support a universal kinship of all people and a universal fatherhood of God, but Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul means God is the Father of all who believe in Him. Finally, as Paul says, God is through all — He is sovereign over everything, including all the life of the church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues, “We can’t contemplate all this as a church without being one.” Possessing a correct understanding of God and how He relates to His followers will breed unity because the end of all doctrine is to lead to the worship and knowledge of God.
Do different people inside the church receive different gifts? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:7–11 titled “Differing Gifts,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helps the listener understand gifts in the church. It is vital to understand that Christ alone is the head of the church, not any one person. This is important because God has given what Dr. Lloyd-Jones calls “special graces” to each member of the church through Jesus Christ. Sometimes referred to today as “gifts,” these help believers to function as part of the church body. One of the duties of individual believers is to discover these graces in their lives and utilize them for the glory of God. How do these relate to the needs of the church or an individual’s calling in his or her life? Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes to great lengths to demonstrate from Scripture and personal experience that individual needs do not call people; rather, God calls some people to help with one need and others to serve in a different capacity. God uses people’s different calls and gifts individually for the harmonious working of the whole body of Christ. Finally, how are believers to view their gifts in light of those belonging to others? Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows that Christians must not focus on what others have, but rather to be wise stewards of the gifts that God has given them as that is what they are held accountable.
The Drama of Redemption
In this sermon on Ephesians 4:9–10 titled “The Drama of Redemption,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses this difficult passage with the reference to Christ descending below. After mentioning various interpretations of this passage (Christ descending to hell after His death or going to Sheol), Dr. Lloyd-Jones comes to the conclusion that this speaks of Christ’s descent as His coming down to Earth as a man. He did this in order to die on the cross so that all who believed might be saved and come to a true and saving knowledge of God. But to die as a man He had to come down from heaven, be born as a baby, and live as a true human being. Christ did not simply appear to be a man, but the Son of God hid His glory by taking on a true human nature and dying a cruel death upon a cross. It is this sacrificial death that stands at the very heart of true Christianity. If Christ did not die as a man, then there is no salvation for anyone, and all are still in sin. But God’s word tells that Christ truly died so that all may have everlasting life with Him.
The Church and the World
What is the church’s role in the world? In an environment that is becoming increasingly secularized, how should the body of believers see itself when thinking about how to share Christ with the world? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:13 titled “The Church and the World,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches on this vitally important subject. Scripture communicates eternal truth; it is relevant for every point of one’s life—right down to the small details. A big failure of the church today, he says, is that it does not speak with authority on issues Scripture addresses. Instead of taking commands from the Bible, many believers derive them from their own philosophizing— in this way, they fail to proclaim the message of Scripture and instead preach the standards of the world. But what is God’s plan for the world? This plan is the only message for the world in the New Testament— that everyone is in need of a savior and must turn to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins. God is coming back again, and the task for believers is to grow in Christlikeness until He comes. Christians are to show the world what it means to grow in the Lord as they await His coming for His bride, the church.
Faith and Knowledge
What is the end goal of the church? How are believers and members of this church supposed to reach this goal? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:13 titled “Faith and Knowledge,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides helpful commentary. The overall plan is that the church becomes perfect as this is the final state of the church. The church, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, will only reach this point after each individual member has reached the potential of spiritual growth that God has mapped out for them. Yet, he also teaches that there will be inequalities in this individual growth: “There is not the same amount in each, but each is full.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps understand that it is like completely filling two water bottles of different sizes— though they differ in the quantity of water that is held in them, they are both full. This, he says, is the end goal— but how is the church supposed to get there? First, it must achieve unity of faith through building up the body of Christ, the work of the ministry, and by growing in Christlikeness through sanctification. Second, it must attain the knowledge of God. This knowledge, explains Paul, goes far beyond mere intellectual assent of biblical doctrine because it involves really knowing God. When coupled together in a believer’s life, these two pathways serve to greatly grow believers in their relationships with the Lord.
No Longer Children
What does it mean to be an “infant in Christ”? What is Paul referring to when he uses this analogy? It is important to remember that anyone who comes into Christ comes into Him as a babe. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:14 titled “No Longer Children,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that it is a vital point to understand since Paul makes it an objective in many of his epistles that the goal of new believers should be to jump into learning more about God and His word before jumping into positions of spiritual influence within their church. Just as children are required to mature before they are handed responsibilities, babes in Christ are not firm enough to be given influence expected of mature believers. Paul calls new believers to seek the knowledge of God in order to grow out of childish tendencies that tend to stagnate new believers spiritually, such as being unstable in doctrine, easily deceived, reacting excessively, and not being able to control his or her own spirit. New believers must understand these tendencies so that they can move past them in order to avoid the tragedy of staying as children spiritually.
The Wiles of the Devil
The writers of the New Testament often warn the early church of the threat of false teachers and prophets. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:14 titled “The Wiles of the Devil,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how these people use lies and false teachings to benefit themselves and gain control over others in the church. These false teachers have been present throughout the history of the church, and are very much active and prominent in modern days. They are crafty in their deceit and, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, they often target younger believers in the faith to try to convince them of their errors and to join their movement. Because of how deceitful false teachers are, Paul often warns the church to flee from their deceit and to be built up in the true faith of Christ Jesus. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that to truly counter false teaching, the church must emphasize both the truth of God’s word as well as the various false teachings that corrupt and twist the Bible. Preachers and ministers should not be afraid to follow the examples of the apostles to attack false teaching and expose the danger that it is to the church.
Speaking the Truth in Love
In this sermon on Ephesians 4:15 titled “Speaking the Truth in Love,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of one of the most misunderstood and misapplied statements in all of Scripture: to always speak the truth in love. Many use this verse to argue against criticizing the views of others on the basis that it is unloving. They say that to criticize other Christians is to disrupt the unity of the church and God’s people. But this grossly misses the point of both what it means to speak in love and what it means to live in unity with other Christians. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, the apostles and Jesus never hesitated to criticize false teachers and refute their teachings. In fact, many of the New Testament epistles were written just for this reason, to correct false teachings that had infiltrated the church. Not only this, but the whole history of the church has seen many creeds and confessions drafted in order to lay out clear doctrine and by this, protect the unity of the church. Because God has revealed the truth about Him and His Son in the Bible, the church must proclaim the truth and refute all that contradicts God’s word.
Christians are designed by God to live in unity together. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:14–16 titled “Growing Up,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this strong point as he shows the balance and community needed to live the Christian life. As believers become stronger and more firm in their faith, they also grow in the body of Christ. Paul says that all Christians have different and varying roles, but all are essential for the life of the church and one’s personal spiritual growth. It is simply impossible for a Christian to grow as they should when they are not part of a community of believers. This message is of increasing importance in the loneliness and isolation of today’s world. As Christ is the head of the church, so all Christians are connected to Him and to each other as a part of this living organism. All parts are connected to one another and serve a specific role in the life of the church. All believers ought to strive to live in such a way so that they are living in fellowship and harmony with all believers and Christ Jesus who is the head. This is the only way to grow fully in maturity for which all believers should be continually striving.
Activities and Life
It is a grave error to think that Christian unity is primarily concerned with denominations and social gatherings. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:14–16 titled “Activities and Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that this misses the main point of Christian unity found in the Bible. Because the unity of faith is concerned with those who have been saved and adopted into the family of God, each and every believer is a part of the body with Christ Jesus as the head. When the church fails to understand this and thinks of itself as an institution or other social organization, it loses sight of its mission and calling as God’s people. Or, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues, when unity is thought of as everybody belonging to one church or denomination, correct doctrine and biblical faithfulness is inevitably minimized so that the church can have the appearance of being something that God never intended it to be. This is the great danger of many ecumenical movements that do not care about the truth as long as they can get many Christians to say that they are a part of the same church. The biblical answer lies in the correct understanding of the church as unified in the body of Christ, because it has been redeemed by His blood and sanctified by His Spirit.