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.
Discipline and the Modern Mind
Every new parent knows the stress of navigating advice on raising children. Christian parents especially understand the weight of this calling with the culture’s experts bombarding people with parenting philosophies. No issue is (and has been) more contentious than discipline. How are Christians to understand the modern resistance to discipline in many spheres of life, not just parenting, but civil authority and criminal reform as well? In this sermon on Ephesians 6:1–4 titled “Discipline and the Modern Mind,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows how the Bible presents a sophisticated picture on the topic of discipline and exposes the false idea that the human nature is essentially good. While also rejecting the traditional Victorian model of fatherhood and motherhood with its excessiveness and sometimes brutal treatment of children, the Bible does not deny the need for discipline, righteousness, justice, and punishment. Instead it calls Christians to consider right and true discipline. Christian parents must not misunderstand the themes of law and grace as they care for their children. Neither should they limit their understanding of how God has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones presents how the Old Testament and New Testament provides a full picture for biblical parenting.
How should parents discipline their children? It can be a difficult topic since past abuses often provoke a parent to not discipline at all. In reaction to this, many Christians can react wrongly too. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:1–4 titled “Balanced Discipline,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds Christians the need for balance, especially when it comes to disciplining children. They cannot be reactionaries and revert to the old tyrannical methods, nor can they deny where Scripture says discipline is necessary for children. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides parents and those in authority over children with several principles to guide them in not provoking a child to anger. Importantly, there is a call towards self-examination by parents. Dr. Lloyd-Jones sets Ephesians 5:18 as the paradigm to commence this self-examination. Being filled by the Holy Spirit will give parents power that is not uncontrolled, capricious, unreasonable, selfish, severe, or thoughtless. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in parents’ lives. When this is the case, loving discipline is never domineering or possessive and guards against exasperating a child by changing rules and methods. Listen closely as Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides practical advice for parents that is biblically based.
What is distinctive about Christian parenting? While non-Christians bring their children up with some form of nurture and admonition, Christian mothers and fathers engage in these duties with an entirely different perspective. From a Christian perspective, parenthood makes nurture and admonition of their children with a knowledge of the Lord their highest priority. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:1–4 titled “Godly Upbringing,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives Christian parents practical advice in showing how this is the parents’ responsibility. The discipleship of children begins in the home. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges parents to consider what their home life is like from the parents’ general attitude about Christ and the church to the direct teaching and worship within the daily rhythms of their Christian life with children. This challenging message to parents will show important nuances in raising children to follow Christ as Lord and Savior, never forcing them to a decision but leading them with love. The church needs to take its calling to be Christian parents seriously and think soberly about what is the best way to accomplish this tremendous task.
Things that are God's
Many Christians see Christianity simply as a way to change the world through politics and social work. They insist that the role of the church is to pronounce a judgment on every current world event. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:5–9 titled “Things That are God’s,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones showing that while the church should have much to say on current events, its primary responsibility is the proclamation of God’s word. It is only there that the deepest and most central problems in the world can be addressed. According to the Bible, everything else is just symptomatic of humanity’s fallen and sinful nature. This is why the gospel is so important; it alone addresses humanity’s relationship to sin and to God and gives the answer in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the church moves away from the gospel as the central message and heart of Christianity, it soon becomes like every other human institution and society. But when the church proclaims Scripture as God’s revelation to sinners and the hope of salvation that is contained within, it brings a new message that is wholly different from any other that the world has to offer. It proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ as the hope for all sinners who will repent and believe.
The Christians Priorities
The goal of the church is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:5–9 titled “The Christian’s Priorities,” this is the central message of the church as proclaimed by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The church is never to use its voice as just another platform of social and political change. But sadly many Christians are willing to minimize the proclamation of the gospel for the sake of political commentary and cultural influence. When Christians do this, they often alienate those that they seek to evangelize by criticizing their political and social position. As a result, the lost and unbelievers think that the church is just another activist organization trying to convince them of another perspective on government or economic policies. The times when Christians had the greatest influence in society were not when they were concerned with politics and social change first and foremost, but when they proclaimed the gospel of the forgiveness of sins and the coming kingdom of God. This call to singular focus by Dr. Lloyd-Jones could not be more fitting since believers must think scripturally about all matters if they are to truly impact their world and work for Christ. The church must never shrink from proclaiming the whole gospel of God and the glorious news of salvation in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Our Master in Heaven
Regardless of whether one is the boss or employee, Christians work for God. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:5–9 titled “Our Master in Heaven,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shares that both the master and the slave are under the authority of God. This has great significance for how both are to conduct themselves in their respective roles. Slaves are to serve their masters honestly and to do so as hard workers. Masters are to treat their slaves kindly, remembering that they are slaves of Christ Jesus. It is the heavenly perspective that the gospel brings that informs how both live. As new creatures in Christ both should remember that this life is passing and transitory, for all believers are pilgrims in this world looking forward to their true home in heaven with Christ their Savior. Both slaves and masters are to see life in this new perspective in which both are subject to Christ as their Lord in heaven and under his authority. This provides a radical new understanding of relationships that is different from anything worldly philosophies have to offer. In Christ Christians are no longer defined by social position and status, but by His blood they are a new people who are to love and serve one another because of who and what Christ has done.
Readers of Paul will soon recognize that he is a skilled and deliberate letter writer. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10 titled “Introduction,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comes to the final section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and reminds the listener that his final point is no mere afterthought. This passage is crucial for understanding the Christian life. Dr. Lloyd-Jones masterfully surveys the message of Ephesians and makes thematic connections between what Paul has said previously and what he writes in this passage. While the apostle Paul has been reminding Christians who they are and how they have come to this point, it is vital for them to know the nature of their opposition. Since the devil is a real and powerful enemy, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares that any doctrine of sanctification that does not take a stand against him into account will fall short of biblical teaching. Moreover, any teaching about the Christian life that depicts it as sentimental and not as a battle not only misrepresents the Christian message, but often is a sign of a cult. There is a struggle that wages against the Christian and they must be ready and willing to fight this glorious battle. Listen to Dr. Lloyd-Jones as he encourages all to fight the war of the Christian life.
The Only Way
Secularists sometimes acknowledge the value of Christianity upon society. They can appreciate the morals and values it can instill in a society’s citizens. Often, however, it is not true Christianity they want, but a version of Christianity that is palatable to their pluralism. They want a Christianity that speaks to moral problems, but it cannot speak to those problems as the only solution, just as an optional solution. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–11 titled “The Only Way,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones confronts the popular idea that the Christian message is too narrow. In his defense of biblical Christianity, Dr. Lloyd-Jones demonstrates why Christianity’s exclusive claim to fix the moral problem is correct. The church must stand in defense that it has the only message that can solve moral problems of society. In saying Christianity is capable of solving moral problems of society, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is careful to distinguish true Christianity from misunderstandings of what Christianity is. Christianity is not moralism with its reduction of the Christian message to imitation of ethical teaching. Nor is it monasticism with its escapist mentality. Rather, Christianity is the call to be strong in the Lord with the power of His might where God has placed the believer.
There is a sharp difference between the symptom and the disease. History teaches that humanity is stuck focusing on the symptoms instead of the disease. In their quest to understand evil and various forms of paganism, fatalism occupied the minds of people in ancient times. Modern people are too sophisticated to believe their problems can be located in the spiritual realm, so they locate the problem in lack of education and ignorance. The belief is that the spread of culture and rationalism is the cure to all problems. Some Christians are likewise guilty of such optimism in the human spirit. To believe in a real devil and spiritual foes is ridiculed. Blinded by hubris, modern humanity marches forward with education with all the hope of “progress” as comfort. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:11–12 titled “The Enemy,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones contests such ideas by reminding the listener of the apostle Paul’s words, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…” Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives a scathing critique of the solutions many put forward today while grounding believers in the sure truth of God’s word. The listener will find courage, comfort, and confidence as they listen to this helpful sermon on the Christian and the true nature of the disease.
The Enemy Described
Is it not madness to spend an entire message devoted to describing the devil? After all, is not Satan merely folklore and myth? Many sophisticated people today would conclude that focus on the spiritual realm at all is a sheer waste of time but Christians cannot shy away from what Scripture teaches. They acknowledge that their authority on spiritual matters is not themselves but the word of God. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds, to talk about these things is the most practical thing a Christian can do because they are looking at the real cause of the present state of the world. The Christian has been given the ability to see the true nature of the conflict. In this message on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “The Enemy Described,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones dwells on Paul’s description of the devil and makes inner biblical connections to his person and work. By examining the Scriptures on the topic, Dr. Lloyd-Jones equips Christians to understand the devil’s purpose and his kingdom of darkness. He encourages fearful saints to take fresh courage and understand the ancient foe well, knowing they have been given the power and resources by God to stand against the enemy and principalities and powers.
The Origin of Evil
The presence of evil in the world is undeniable. While many philosophies and religions try to make sense of the world by denying its existence, the human experience quickly refutes their ideas. The Christian may not be challenged by the specious claim that evil does not exist. However, the Christian worldview is challenged with the question of the origin of evil. Does the Bible give an account for the origin of evil? In this sermon on evil from Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “The Origin of Evil,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones declares that this is an important question for Christians to consider. He says that an understanding of the origins of evil will reflect an understanding of God. Since the apostle Paul has been teaching on these evil spiritual forces, Christians need to consider where these evil principalities and powers originate. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides extended teaching on the topic by looking at various Old Testament passages, including Genesis. Dr. Lloyd-Jones combines this teaching with clues given in the New Testament about the personality of the chief strongman, Satan, and argues for a pre-cosmic fall. Dr. Lloyd-Jones maintains that in order to make sense of the world today, the Christian must look back to eternity past. Listen in as he instructs on this perplexing but all important topic on the origin of evil.
The Wiles of the Devil
In times of battle and great war, military leaders will do all that is necessary in order to obtain information about their enemy’s strategy. Likewise, in the spiritual warfare of the Christian, they have to know how the enemy will attack. Thankfully, they have been told in God’s word who the enemy is and how he operates. Therefore, there is great encouragement in considering the works of the devil. In this sermon on spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “The Wiles of the Devil,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones uses this Scripture to aid the Christian in their understanding of the fiery darts that come from his hand and his evil army. While Satan is not omnipresent and is always subservient to God, he nevertheless has much power. His attacks on the world and Christian people specifically are strategic. Based upon the authority of God’s word, Dr. Lloyd-Jones systematically exposes the devil’s strategy. He demonstrates how the evil one manifests his power over humanity. This practical message is encouraging as Dr. Lloyd-Jones lists some of the ways evil spirits affect the minds of humanity.
The Devil and the Nations
Secular politicians, newspapers, and the media look at conflict and wars around the world and cite economic and political factors as the cause. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “The Devil and the Nations,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones states that this sort of reductionism demonstrates that natural humanity is preoccupied with the symptoms but not concerned with the true cause. Great conflict and war, according to the Scriptures, is the arena of a much deeper reality than economics or politics. The answers provided by politicians to a restless world will never be sufficient. Only the Bible gives an adequate answer to these things. The apostle Paul says that Christians wrestle not with flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. At the levels of the individual and national, this world is the arena of spiritual conflict. The devil and demonic powers are at work together with the pride, greed, and lusts of people to usurp God’s authority. God has responded to this demonic influence by instituting human government to restrain and punish evil. Ultimately, however, God has answered this demonic threat by sending Christ to crush the seed of the serpent. Listen to Dr. Lloyd-Jones as he expounds this text and answers important questions for what these truths mean for today.
Christianity is often rejected by people in western society who posit themselves as too sophisticated for the backwards beliefs of the Christian faith. Yet, there is undoubtedly a rise in contemporary culture in occult activity like astrology, black magic, divination, and spiritism. In the West there is a reversion back to a pre-Reformation, and even pre-Christian, bondage to demonic powers. How is one to think about these phenomena? Why should Christians even attempt to deal with this unusual topic at all? In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “Spiritism,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks across Scripture to help the listener understand the general activity, as well as the particular operations of evil and malevolent spiritual forces in the world. This sermon on demonology helpfully classifies the outworking of occult activity in its ancient and modern forms. Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s interest in the topic, however, is not merely an attempt to satisfy an intellectual curiosity. Christians must know about these things in order to understand their Bibles, reach the nations that are influenced by demonic powers, and equip the church with the ability to test the spirits rather than continue in ignorance.
Spiritism and the Christian
Do not tinker with demons! In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “Spiritism and the Christian,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the topic of spiritualism and the use of mediums. He says that while the Bible never denies the existence of spirits and other powers, it nevertheless condemns the use of these spirits to commune with the dead and divine the future. He uses the example of Saul and the witch of Endor as an example of the pagan spiritism that God’s word unequivocally condemns. It is only out of a spirit of unbelief that people are tempted to turn away from God and try to consult the dead. This reliance on unholy demonic powers is a fundamental denial of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and His loving providence over the entire world. It is only when people reject God that they turn to pagan idolatry. Furthermore, some have argued that the Bible, particularly the ministry of Jesus, is compatible with spiritualism. Dr. Lloyd-Jones states that to do so is to reject the clear teachings of the gospel that it is the Holy Spirit and the power of God that empowers the ministry of Jesus, not so-called spirits and medians. Only the true power of God can preserve and lead to all truth and righteousness.
In a culture that does not readily address the spiritual, especially topics such as demon possession, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the fact that demon possession is a topic that demands to be talked about. God’s holy word addresses the topic on numerous occasions, it is explicitly mentioned in the Gospels themselves, and it is both a historical and missional issue. Focusing primarily on involuntary demon possession, Dr. Lloyd-Jones defines this occurrence as anything from the individual receiving power above their own capacity to potentially causing a sudden change of mood. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “Demon Possession,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to speak about how devil possession cannot be localized to certain areas of the world, but recognized as occurring anywhere in the world, specifically where the kingdom of darkness is explicitly at work and sometimes under the guise of hypnotism and mesmerism. Yet despite the presence of darkness, Dr. Lloyd-Jones recognizes that Christ has always been able to overwhelm the kingdom of darkness and will continue to do so. Though the world denies the gospel and entertains evil, Christ has come to undo the powers of evil and the possession that the devil has had over His creation.
Common and Special Grace
Humanity is in a helpless state of sin and depravity as a result of the fall. People are fallen and wholly unable to save themselves. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “Common and Special Grace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims the grace of God is the answer to this great problem. For in God’s love He has not left the world alone in its wickedness and depravity. He has provided a means of salvation in Jesus Christ as the only escape from sin. He has also provided common grace to restrain the sinful actions of people and nations. One of the most prominent forms of common grace is the institution of government. While government does not save souls, it nevertheless restrains mankind’s sinful desires and actions. It is only by the saving power of the special grace of God that hearts and minds are renewed and turned to the light. Outward confirmation of the law of God can never bring salvation and true life. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones exposes the lie of false religions and teachers who replace the grace of God with human works. There is true life in Christ Jesus in the gospel. This is the only hope that God has given the world, and it is the only hope that the church can proclaim to sinners and fallen people.
The Strong Man Disarmed
Because of Adam’s sin, the whole world became subject to sin and the rule of Satan. The devil, also called the prince of the world, blinds people from seeing and believing in the truth of the gospel. In this sermon on Ephesians 6:10–13 titled “The Strong Man Disarmed,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes the way Christ has broken the grip that the evil one has on the world. For Jesus has bound the strong man and by the proclamation of the gospel, the works of Satan and all who follow him are destroyed. This means that Christians can take the gospel to the ends of the earth knowing that Jesus has overcome the evil forces that once dominated this world. Even while Satan and his demons still have some control and influence in the world, the day will come when Christ will return and vanquish the devil and all who worship him once and for all. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, Christ Jesus will bring to completion what which He started on the cross when He comes again to bring the new heaven and earth. This gives all who love Christ confidence and boldness knowing that He has overcome the devil and will finally defeat him on the last day.
The Christian and the Devil
Does Satan really have free reign on earth? The Bible teaches that the whole world is in the kingdom of Satan and under his power. Those who live in the world are blinded by his lies and continually live under his power. In this sermon on Satan and the Christian from Ephesians 6:10–13, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that Christ Jesus has come into the world and by His death and resurrection has overthrown the devil. Those who are in the kingdom of God have been rescued from the power of Satan and transferred to the kingdom of God. Those who are of God can never fall again and become subject to the devil's power. This does not mean that the devil will not try to destroy the faith of Christians. He is a lion seeking to devour , but if Christians resist him, he will flee, for the power of Christ is greater than the devil. Christians live continually battling against the schemes of the Satan as he is opposed wholly to the kingdom of God and the church. However, Christians can now know that Christ will return and vanquish Satan once and for all. Christ will bring the kingdom of God to completion and destroy the kingdom of Satan. This hope should strengthen the church and Christians in their faith, love, and trust in Christ and in his gospel.
Schism in the Church (1)
The unity of the church is undoubtedly one of the most important things for all Christians to seek. But what is unity? In this sermon on division in the church from Ephesians 6:10–13, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones seeks to answer this without falling into extremes. On the one hand, the ecumenist says that unity is about all Christians belonging to one worldwide church and that doctrine must be minimized so that division is not caused. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that this is an imbalanced and unbiblical position as it does not have a high enough view of doctrine and truth in the life of the Christian and church. The other imbalance that must be avoided is that of the schismatic who divides the church not over the essential truths of the faith, but over things such as carnal desires and inclinations. This is seen when Paul rebukes the Corinthians for dividing over who to follow, Paul or Apollos. This is division for the wrong reason. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to condemn those that cause division because of what he calls an attitude of “bigotry.” This is the person who holds so tightly to their preferences that division and disharmony occur in the church.