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.
Imitators of God
With so much input on how Christians are supposed to live their lives, how can they discern which way is correct? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:1–2 titled “Imitators of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains from Scripture how Christians are supposed to live and why they are to follow these guidelines. Paul says “we are to be imitators of God.” Christianity, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, is more than just a moral code. Believers are never to obey simply because it is the normal “Christian” thing to do. Rather, they are to obey because they know what God has done for them and why God tells them to avoid certain things. In His graciousness, the Lord did not leave His people without reasons for obedience— instead, He tells often in Scripture the reasons why people are better off obeying His instructions. Just as children are representatives of their families, God’s children act as representatives of Him to the world. People should be able to look at them and see the Father because Christians should strive to become like their heavenly Father in the same way that they often attempt to imitate their earthly parents.
The Atoning Work of Christ
Christians often talk about the atoning death of Christ when in conversation about spiritual things. It is often mentioned regarding its relation to salvation. However, is it possible that it could mean even more? What is the impact it is supposed to have on the rest of one’s life? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:2 titled “The Atoning Work of Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones instructs on how this verse and Christ’s atonement apply to the lives of believers even after they are saved. The Scriptures are never satisfied with a mere general statement about the love of God— as this verse demonstrates, God’s love is specifically written about in the Bible because the specific acts of God demonstrate His love. A person’s conduct is determined by their doctrine. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that “as a man thinks, so is he.” Thus, one’s view of the doctrine of Christ’s atonement will have consequences for the Christian walk. In Christ’s atonement, one gains a clear example of the love of God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that the measure to which one understands God’s love will be the measure to which they show it to others. Paul specifically exhorts loving others as Christ loved them, and Christ loved them completely and unconditionally. Thus, His death on the sinner’s behalf has massive implications for how Christians live after they are saved because if they truly understand what He has done for them, they will share His love in word and deed with others.
Distinct Roles of Church and State
The great message of Christianity is that Christians are not only saved from their sin and made right before a holy God, but they are made new creatures as the first fruits of the new creation in Christ. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:3–5 titled “Distinct Roles of Church and State,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones demonstrates how Scripture undercuts all doctrines of antinomianism, because by the power of the Holy Spirit all who are true believers are renewed and transformed daily through God’s grace. For it is the gospel that truly transforms fallen men and women; it alone can overcome the depravity of fallen human nature and make them new in Christ. This is why all attempts to make people moral without the gospel fail to address the deepest need of humanity. When the church becomes more concerned with moralism than the gospel, it loses the focus of its mission. This has often happened throughout the history of the church, and today many are repeating this error. The remedy to this is to see the distinction between the church and the state. It is the church that has been given the gospel and it is the state that is to rule and bring justice. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones powerfully proclaims, the church must never stray away from its main goal in proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace.
Evils not ... Among Saints
What are the behaviors that are to characterize the lives of Christians? What actions, thoughts, and type of speech should be avoided? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:3–5 titled “Evils Not…Among Saints,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches on Paul’s exhortation to live according to God’s word. In this passage, Paul provides a list of things that are generally characteristic of those who do not follow Christ— sexual immorality, uncleanness, covetousness, and other vices. His point is that Christians are to make every effort to avoid them. But in a world that actively engages in and encourages such sins, how can believers avoid them? First, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, Christians must kill temptation at the first hint of it— they must not allow it even a small foothold in their lives. They are to run at the sight of it. Paul states that such things are to “not even be named among you.” Many read these verses and conclude that Christians are to be dull people. Yet that is not at all what these instructions mean. Rather, Jesus’s followers are to be characterized by giving thanks and radiating God’s joy in every activity of life. A Christian’s speech, states Dr. Lloyd-Jones, should always be profitable and thoughtful. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches how one can honor God through how they live.
The Kingdom of Christ and God
“All believers are called to be saints,” states Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This principle is well-supported from Scripture, yet there are some who teach that only a select few Christians should be recognized as saints. This is a key point because it recognizes the work of God in the lives of all who believe in Him, not just a select few. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:5 titled “The Kingdom of Christ and God,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones demonstrates that the goal of salvation is to make one holy, not happy. Though happiness is a byproduct, it is not the main goal. This, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, differentiates Christianity from cults. Many people today profess to be believers but are selling a Christianity that makes people wealthy and happy, the complete opposite of Jesus’s promise that His followers are called to obedience and would sometimes even suffer for His sake. The kingdom of Christ and of God are the same, which means that true believers will follow the commands of Christ. Yet, some take this to mean that salvation is brought about by good works. Dr. Lloyd-Jones presents the biblical case for why this view is unbiblical and helps explain that salvation produces good works but does not derive from them.
The Wrath of God
Why is the world the way that it is? In this sermon on the wrath of God given on Armistice Sunday from Ephesians 5:6, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reflects on the world wars and proclaims the great reality that all are either in the kingdom of Christ, promised an inheritance of glory, or outside the kingdom and under the wrath of God. Since the time of the fall of mankind, humanity has been deceived by vain words about this reality. Modern humanity has gradually gotten rid of the concept of sin and wrong and replaced it with psychological explanations and treatments. Because of this, God reveals His wrath, His settled hatred of sin, in various ways from condemnation of conscience, to sufferings that come from sin, to giving people over to their sin (Romans 1). Yet His wrath is not only a present reality, but also a sure future reality. Though the world ridicules all who hold to and proclaim this truth, Jesus Christ will come back to judge the whole world, universally and individually, in righteousness, casting all who have rejected His gospel into eternal misery and reigning with all who believed in Him in eternal glory.
Children of Light
What does it mean to walk as children of the light and what are the implications for the Christian life? What is sanctification and what is the Christian’s role in it? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:6–7 titled “Children of Light,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles these questions. Sanctification in the New Testament, as seen in these verses, follows this principle: it is not something received or taken but rather results from a correct understanding of the truth that leads to application. In this passage, Paul says that believers have become children of the light, and that this understanding should cause them to walk as such— a perfect case of sanctification resulting from a correct understanding of God’s word. It is active, not passive. The difference between a Christian and a nonbeliever, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, is the difference between being in the light and being in darkness. Several other passages in Scripture use this same analogy. The change that takes place when one follows Christ is massive— from darkness to light, from death to life. It is not a mere topical change, but is rather a radical change from the inside out.
Unfruitful Works of Darkness
How does one know if they are a born-again Christian? What are some ways they can test their lives to see if they have been saved? What are the manifestations of darkness and why should one know them? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:8–13 titled “Unfruitful Works of Darkness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones walks through a standard against which Christians can measure their lives, teaching that it is important to know these so that they can see whether or not they are producing the fruit that stems from being a follower of Christ and being changed by the Holy Spirit. The first manifestation is the mind—those who are in darkness are ignorant of God and the truth about themselves and the state of their souls. They deny that their sin is grievous enough to separate them from God, and they don’t see the need to submit their lives to the authority of Jesus Christ. Another manifestation is the will. Many people today are trying to make the world a better place— they see all the crime in the world and think that it will be fixed with more money or success. However, dealing with unrighteousness without addressing the underlying ungodliness will avail nothing; the foundational issue must be fixed in order to see change. This is what needs to be repaired in order for the world to be a better place.
The Fruit of Light
Christians are called to walk in the light of the Lord, but what is this light? How is it manifested? What is the difference between a good, moral person and someone who is a Christian? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:9–10 titled “The Fruit of Light,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shares that the Christian has a knowledge of the Lord that they lacked before— they now have a knowledge and understanding of spiritual truth. A Christian is one who knows God intimately, beyond mere intellectual assent to the truth of His existence. They also now have a heart that desires to know God more and follow His commands. They desire holiness. Next, this light is manifested in the will—rather than works of darkness, their life exhibits the fruits of righteousness. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out a key fact about the difference between “works” and “fruit.” Fruit signifies growth, and it signifies that it is occurring naturally. Thus, Paul is writing that a believer will have a desire to please the Lord flowing out of themselves naturally because Christ is life. Fruit is the expression of that in which Christians are rooted, as a believer is rooted in Christ. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones illustrates the importance this can have for the Christian walk, and why it is such a tragedy that the church is often filled with more works than it is with fruit.
Acceptable Unto the Lord
How can one know if they are in the faith? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:8–10 titled “Acceptable Unto the Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides one such test that a Christian can measure their lives up against to see if they have been made new by Christ. The test that one must apply to their lives is this: are they bearing fruit? What is this fruit? Paul writes that it is all forms of goodness, righteousness, and truth. But how are these different from each other? Goodness, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is one of the characteristics of God. It means “benevolence,” and it points to an understanding of balance and desire for the happiness of others. The next is righteousness which might seem to mean the same as goodness. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that it carries a legal concept with it— it means that someone is right and just. Paul is saying that a believer’s life should be characterized by these principles. A Christian knows what they are doing and why they are doing it. Finally, what is truth? It is the light that illustrates and makes manifest. Those who have been saved by Christ are called to be His witness to the world. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that in seeking these traits, the goal should never be to reach this in and of themselves, but rather in order to please the Lord. This is what sets Christians apart from good people.
Exposed by the Light
How should a Christian act toward the darkness that is not pleasing to the Lord? How are Christians to interact with those who do not follow Christ? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:7–14 titled “Exposed by the Light,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides some helpful insights to aid believers in working through these complex issues. Throughout the centuries, some Christians have argued for a sort of lifestyle that withdraws them completely from interaction with the world. Yet, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, this robs the gospel of one of its main victories— that Christians are able to live a different life in the same world as a witness to those who don’t yet know Christ. How can one do this? First, they are to break completely with sin— they once were partakers of these activities, but now are to walk as children of the light. This exhortation reminds that sanctification is a process, not a one-time “product.” Second, Christians must not even be interested in the unfruitful works of darkness. Yet, this point often raises an interesting question: how should Christians balance having company with unbelievers without becoming like them? Since Christians are called to live among them and to be a witness, how can they maintain these values without compromising their faith? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides helpful commentary on this that aids in thinking through how to best live out the faith.
From Darkness to Light
In this passage from Ephesians 5:14, Paul is calling Christians to awaken from their sleep and to let Christ give His light. What does this mean? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:14 titled “ From Darkness to Light,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches this beautiful reminder of what the gospel does and the power it possesses. This passage is a summary of the gospel and of what the gospel does in the lives of those it changes. It illuminates and brings light. Additionally, it also summarizes what Christians are to do— they are to shine as the light of the gospel. According to Scripture, unbelievers are asleep and dead to the truth about them; they will spend eternity in Hell if they do not repent of their sins and believe in Jesus. The gospel convicts people of their need for a Savior, and it also converts people, waking them up and saving them. Finally, it also enlightens them so that they follow the Lord. Those who have been saved are called to be a light in the dark world so that the power of the gospel can shine through them. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener of the responsibility they have in following the Lord and representing Him to the world.
Worship in the Spirit
What is the role that singing is supposed to play in the church? What are the Lord’s instructions for how He is to be praised through song? In this sermon on Ephesians 5:19 titled “Worship in the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers these questions and more. In this passage, Paul is concerned with how the Holy Spirit is manifested when believers gather together for worship. But what is his intent in this section? Is it meant to prescribe the exact style of worship that every church should have? Dr. Lloyd-Jones uses Scripture to provide helpful commentary on why this is not the case. Paul here is calling for a unified expression of joy through singing, specifically through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Though they might sound as if they are the same, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is careful to show the differences. A psalm is a sacred song intended to be sung with the accompaniment of a musical instrument. A hymn is a song of praise to God. Finally, a song is an ode or lyric, which is why Paul describes it additionally as needing to be “spiritual.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones ends with a note on the permanence and importance of singing in the lives of believers, drawing on thousands of years of church history to show why this should have such a vital place in the spiritual walk of Christians.
In this sermon on Ephesians 5:19 titled “True Melody,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds what he calls the characteristics of Christian music based on this Scripture passage. He says that for Christians, worship music is not about sensory experiences, but Spirit-filled worship and praise of God the Savior. It is not done for human entertainment or for the sake of showmanship, but it is about exalting God and His great Name. For this reason, it is not to be done flippantly or in a crass manner, but the who is worshipped should inform how the church worships. True Christian worship in a church is to be done as a congregation and community of believers who have come together. It is not a time for individuals to demonstrate their musical prowess and ability, but it is time for all Christians to sing as a unified body. Because Christian worship takes place in a church, it is to always be subject to the preaching and teaching of God’s word. To do otherwise would be to commit the great error of the Roman Catholic Church and others and replace the proclamation of God’s word with something else, whether it be music or sacraments. True worship is always done in light of God’s revelation of Himself and of His will to His people.
Singing to the Lord
All worship that is truly Christian must have its final focus in the person and work of Christ Jesus the Son of God. In this sermon on singing from Ephesians 5:19 titled “Singing to the Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that all who are truly Christians have been united to Christ and are beneficiaries of His death and resurrection by the regenerating and transforming power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in all who believe the gospel. It is only by the Spirit that any can come to a true and saving knowledge of Jesus and partake in the new life that He has provided in His death. Not only this, but Jesus Christ intercedes for all who believe interceding between people and God. Furthermore, Jesus Christ is the great prophet who reveals God and His will for the world. He serves as the final revelation of who God is and what He has done in His Son and through His Holy Spirit. This great person and work of Christ is the center of all Christianity, but this is the very heart of all true Christian worship. For the majesty and glory of Christ should compel and inspire all the children of God to sing and proclaim the praises of God now and forever.
Giving Thanks Always Unto God
According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the most important parts of prayer is thanksgiving. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:20 titled “Giving Thanks Always Unto God,” he says that one of the clearest gauges of spiritual maturity is how much of prayer is spent in thanksgiving. All who know God as Lord and Savior should live lives marked by continual Spirit-filled praise for all that God has done in and through Jesus Christ. It is by God’s loving grace that His people know Him and are partakers of all the blessings of Christ Jesus the Savior. Christians have new life and hope only in Jesus, and only come to know Christ through the grace of God in sending His Holy Spirit. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones elaborates, Christians can give thanks even for the hardships in life. This can be seen in Acts when Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown in prison but continue to sing praises to God. This is because it is God who sovereignly works in and through all things to bring about His purposes for His people. No matter what trials and tribulations Christians are experiencing, and no matter how bad the circumstances are, they can always give thanks to the God who has delivered them from sin, who loves them, and guards them through all of life.
Submission in the Spirit
The life of the Christian is Spirit-filled and Spirit-guided. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:21 titled “Submission in the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhorts the believer not to live like the world because the inward transformation gives new desires and new dispositions. This means that all Christians are to relate to one another as a new people who have been transformed and brought together in the gospel to make a new community of like-minded individuals. No Christian is to seek their own good first as one who is self-centered and worldly, but all are to seek the good of their brothers and sisters in Christ above their own. When Christians see themselves in this new kind of community, they begin to see relationships differently. For Christians, this is the new way of understanding how they are to interact with one another and how relationships are to be viewed. Christians relate to believers in a spiritual way as fellow heirs of the gospel and salvation. They are to love one another as God loved them in Christ, and they are to submit to one another in love and respect.
The Spirit of Christ
In this sermon on Ephesians 5:21 titled “The Spirit of Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of the profound and simple truth that Christians love others because they are loved by God. The whole of the Christian life is to be motivated by the love of God for all that He is and has done. Christians have received all the blessings and mercies of God in Christ, and they have been forgiven of all sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness by the blood of Christ. It is this great truth that is at the center of all that Christians do and it should be done out of love. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then gives a special caution to those who have been given authority by God such as husbands and elders; they must exercise authority as ones who have been saved by the grace of God. It is this emphasis on love that separates Christianity from all other religions, philosophies, and political ideologies. Christianity alone grounds all that Christians do as a response to the gracious love of God. It does not see authority and power as something to serve the self, but ultimately all things are for God and His kingdom. And this power is not to be lorded over others, but all are to be submissive to one another in the church. It is this great life of love that sets Christians apart from all others.
The most important principle for understanding the apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5:22–23 is his command that all “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In this sermon on Ephesians 5:22–23 titled “Basic Principles,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes that all relationships and all that the Christian does must be done out of love of God and love of neighbor. There is no place for self-centered and self-serving attitudes in the Christian life. When people do not have this principle as the guide to relationships, things go wrong. Much of modern society is a testament to this fact in the commonness of divorce. This is because people have rejected God’s way and set up their own. As all Christians know, belief and practice cannot be separated from one another. But this is precisely what happens in modern society when people do not have the proper understanding of marriage. They say it is simply a human contract that can be broken any time by anyone. This rejection of the Christian view of marriage is a testament to what happens when people reject God’s word as the only sure and true foundation for human life and practice.
The Order of Creation
What does God’s word say about marriage? Sadly, what it does say is often misunderstood and attacked because it confronts the thinking of today. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:22–24 titled “The Order of Creation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that Scripture alone presents a balanced view of the roles and responsibilities within marriage. Only in Scripture is it taught that wives are to submit to their husbands in love and respect just as Jesus Christ submits to God. There is no authoritarianism because the husband’s role as leader is one of love and service, not domination and cruelty. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows how this view of marriage is taught from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis before the fall. Even in the perfect Garden of Eden, woman was created as a helper for man. Even before the fall, man was the head, provider, and protector of the woman in the relationship between husband and wife. Paul expounds on the teaching in Ephesians 5:22–24 and is not saying anything different from the rest of the Bible. So those who reject this teaching of male headship are not only rejecting the teachings of the historic Christian church, but also of God’s infallible word. The rejection of the biblical understanding of marriage is at the heart of many of society’s problems. When people try to live in direct contradiction to God’s plan, there is always suffering and unrest.