The Book of John
MLJ's main series of 185 sermons on John's Gospel; plus his early series of 64 sermons, and a small collection of 13 other sermons preached at Westminster Chapel that were not part of either series.
You Must Be Born Again
What is so dangerous about the religious life? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up this question in this sermon titled “You Must Be Born Again” from John 3:1-8. He says that often times people who claim to be religious are trying to live as Christians without actually being saved. They try to be sanctified without being justified. This is a hopeless way to live because it treats Christianity as a graceless religion that is attained by works alone. This is similar to the error of intellectualism, which says that Christianity is about simply knowing and assenting to certain truths. Both of those views lose sight of what it means to be justified freely in the grace of God as the foundation of the Christian life. Both views replace the grace of God with works of humanity. Instead, you must be born again. The Christian must ask themselves if they believe the Christian life is merely intellectual and works based or if they trust the justifying grace of God that alone has the power to save and make fallen sinners new. This message of justification is the only hope that this world has and is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Characteristics of the New Life
In this sermon on John 3:8 identifying “Characteristics of the New Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of the signs of those who have been born again: Christians who have been saved exhibit more than a conscience that condemns their wickedness but also exhibit new desires to please God and wage war against fleshly desires and evil. He describes the differences between a normal conscience that all humans possess and the new life that is given to every believer. Moreover, he shows that anyone who has new life is consumed not with earthly things but spiritual ones. The new Christian is noticeably different to their old friends, and there is a tension put on these relationships. The new Christian’s friends might notice that the Christian acts differently, speaks differently, and spends time in different ways, all of which often drive a wedge between the two individuals who used to have worldly desires and actions in common. If the listener finds these things to be true of themselves, they are encouraged to ask: “have I been born again?”
The Conversion Experience
In this sermon on John 3:8 titled “The Conversion Experience,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones evaluates the life of a true believer. How does one know that their conversion is genuine? What are the marks of a true believer? He shares that conversion is like the first creation. The Christian is “nothing” being made into “something.” When they are regenerated, they recognize the Spirit dealing with them and cry out for life. After a person is regenerate, they will be seen in a family likeness. True believers become like the family they are a part of; that is, God’s family. This is because there is now a seed of divine life in them. The true believer has a fundamental seriousness about them. This is not to say they are not joyful or humorous, but they now know the fear of the Lord and respond to life in that way. The listener should ask themselves: do I see a fundamental seriousness in my life? Do I respond to God’s saving of me from his wrath with a warm sense of joy and behave as a person under control?” If so, the Christian should be encouraged that they have not laid hold of God, but God has laid hold of them.
Marks of the Spiritual Life
The most obvious thing about a regenerate person is that their whole life is marked by an eager desire to learn more of their salvation. In this sermon on John 3:8 titled “Marks of a Spiritual Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows what this will look like in the life of the believer. To begin, a great test of salvation is that the believer will be very aware of their ignorance. They continue to make a greater and greater effort to satisfy a desire to learn more about their faith. Of course, Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener that this desire will ebb and flow throughout life. The result of learning is then being moved by knowledge to a deep care and compassion for those who are not Christians. The true believer will observe darkness in the lives of others and be so moved that they must share the gospel with them. The Christian is encouraged in their desire to grow in gospel-knowledge and share it with others and be reminded that this is an evidence of God’s grace and salvation.
The Christian and the World
The religious man recognizes certain things as wrong, is troubled by them, tries to avoid them, but never gets beyond that. His is not at all aware of what the New Testament calls “the world”. Worldliness is to think of the whole of life in the world without God. The worldly man is dominated by his morality, or religiosity, but is never awakened to the reality of God. The Christian can see through the world and no longer judges it by outward appearance. The world can still tempt, but fundamentally the taste for it is gone. Once he was part of it, but now it is outside trying to get in. We are children of God not by what we do but by the Spirit and the life that are in us. When the saint sins, he knows he is not merely sinning against Law but against Love. When moral men sin, they feel they've broken the code. It’s a legal transgression not a relational one. But the child who sins against his father knows he has violated the relationship. The moral man feels remorse, but he knows nothing of repentance. The great question is: have we been born again?
To Be Like Him
What does it mean to be like God? To answer this question, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at what it does not mean. In this sermon from John 3:8 titled “To Be Like Him,” he says that religion is the greatest enemy of Christianity because it tells them that they can be like God by simply changing their external actions and that there is no need to have a new heart, mind, and spirit. But this false religious notion is wholly opposed to everything that Scripture teaches. To be like God is to live a new life that comes out of a true love for God and Jesus Christ. Those who are saved and born again have a true love for righteousness, and it is not burdensome. Christians must all ask these questions: “Are you living for yourself or for Christ? Are you living in light of the true righteousness of Jesus Christ, or is your life dominated by external changes in behavior?” This sermon calls all to forsake false religiosity and look to Christ for holiness. It calls the Christian to live as a creature that has totally been transformed in the gospel. This sermon is a vital message that every man, woman, and child needs to hear. It is the message of God’s grace and the gift of new life in Christ.
In this sermon on John 3:8 titled “Born Again,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses those who wrongly assume they are believers and illustrates signs of a truly born-again Christian. The condition and position of the Christian is foundational: they must be born again. Listen and learn about the love that ought to characterize all believers – love for the brethren. This is not merely to have a natural liking for fellow believers, but it is a choice. Find out how love and church unity are inseparably bound together, and how these serve as the foundation for what influence the church can have. Dr. Lloyd-Jones speaks about the clear and visible marking of the true Christian in that the child of God ought to be more interested in the state of one’s soul than in their nationality, class, or ability. Christ-like love is the one common language that binds the church together. The Christian must be grieved by godlessness and weaknesses of the present church, but anxious about the future of the Christian church. Love for one another must be ever increasing, growing in the hope of the glory to come, and bearing patiently with one another. The Christian is a “man who prefers the society of the brethren to the best society that the world can afford.”
O God. Thou Art My God (1)
In this sermon on John 3:8 titled “O God. Thou Art My God (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about the difference between Christianity and religion. He communicates that though religion might look good outwardly, the true Christian will have an inward transformation as well. This inward transformation takes place through the power of the Spirit who goes where He wishes. There is no point, preaches Dr. Lloyd-Jones, in hyper-analyzing where the Spirit comes and goes. Rather, Christians must simply have faith that God will do what He wishes, and what He wishes is best. Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches about the importance of the inward transformation of a person who is truly a believer in Christ. A believer recognizes that faith is not religion, but founded rather in the truth and character of God. In this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that the greatest enemies of the church are religion and philosophy. These infrastructures contain many people and convince them that their participation and activity is what merits them eternal life. Rather, it is repentance and faith in Christ that brings life. He preaches also that when a person truly longs for God, books do not satisfy them. Books may show them how to further revel in God’s glory, but the true person of God must live a life of submission to Him.
O God. Thou Art My God (2)
Do you know the difference between religion and a relationship with God? In this sermon from John 3:8 titled “O God. Thou Art My God (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells listeners that to be truly of God is to be born again through the death of Christ Jesus. Christianity is not about mere religion; it is about God’s gift of sonship imparted to the Christian when they are saved. He shares a quote from a Puritan on his deathbed: “God dealeth familiarly with man.” By this, he means that God created His people, God knows His people, and God loves His people. True believers in Christ will delight to know Him and to meditate on Him. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains a crucial difference between philosophy and true Christianity: a philosopher has a dead god, but the Christian’s God is alive. The true person of God loves to meditate on God Himself. The more they grow, the greater the desire to spend their days meditating upon the Lord Jesus Christ, who He truly is, and how He has been revealed in the Scriptures. Toward the end of the sermon, hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones tap his hymnal when speaking of the delight Christians should have in singing the wonderful deeds and attributes of our Savior described within the hymnal’s pages.
The Spiritual Life
What role does the Spirit play in the life of believers? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up this question as he preaches from John 3:8 in a sermon titled “The Spiritual Life.” He shows that the Holy Spirit is present all throughout the Christian’s life. This starts with the Holy Spirit bringing about conversion and how He works in the Christian to bring about sanctification and ultimately glorification. The Holy Spirit is also necessary in worship of God. This is what Jesus tells the woman of Samaria when He says that God is looking for those who worship in Spirit and truth. Worship that is devoid of the Holy Spirit is not true worship. The Spirit is also part of reading God’s Word. The only way to truly understand Scripture is to read it with eyes of faith. What does this mean for Christians? One of the most important things is that they must not rely on their own strength but look wholly to Christ and His Spirit. This is one of the most comforting truths in all of God’s word.
A Spirit of Bondage
What is it that puts all people in bondage? In this sermon from John 3:8 titled “A Spirit of Bondage,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that all are under the law of God because they are sinners, and no one can ever do anything to save themselves. How then can sinners be saved? The answer is found in the new birth. This is a supernatural and mysterious work wherein God gives fallen sinners a new nature. This is what Jesus told Nicodemus: “you must be born again.” Just as no one brings about a natural birth, so they also do not bring about a supernatural birth. This new life frees the Christian from the spirit of fear and bondage because they are no longer under the law and condemnation of God. Those who trust in God can have full assurance that Jesus loves them and has died to save them. They can go through life knowing that they have been forgiven of all sin and are now at peace with God. This assurance is not something reserved for only the most mature Christians, but every believer can come to a true and full knowledge that they have been adopted into the family of God.
The Spirits Witness with Our Spirit
What is the greatest hope in this life? In this sermon on John 3:8 titled “The Spirit’s Witness with Our Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches that the Bible tells that the great truth is that Jesus has died to forgive sins and bring about redemption. All believers can and should know with full assurance that they have indeed been saved and are now children of God. This is unlike false religious systems that teach that one can never have true and final assurance that they have been saved. This is in contrast to God’s word that teaches that true joy in this life requires that one knows God. Believers do not have to go through life plagued by doubts of God’s love for them, but all can rest in the peace that God has sent His only Son to die for them and cleanse them from all sin. True religion produces a firm and steadfast knowledge of God that worships God in spirit and truth. Part of the gift of salvation is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God works to bring all believers to a deeper and fuller knowledge of God, His love, and His plan for their lives. All believers can know that God loves them because God has revealed Himself in Scripture and in His Holy Spirit.
The Power of the Resurrection
What makes Christians new people? Listen to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in this sermon on “The Power of the Resurrection” from John 3:8. According to Scripture, it is because all believers have been transformed by the power of God that the Bible calls the power of the resurrection. This is what sets Christians apart from all others; they have been made new by God and forgiven of their sins by the blood of Christ Jesus. For all are naturally born in a state of sin and death, unable to love and serve God rightly. But because of the grace of God poured out in their hearts, those who believe are now able to love God because He has loved them. This new life produces hope in the midst of suffering and trials. It is this very same hope that was present in the early church in times of persecution and hardships. False religion is devoid of this power and strength. This is because all true love, faith, and joy comes not from within, but from Christ Jesus. No human-made religion has Christ so it cannot bring any true and lasting peace. The answer in the midst of all trials is to look to Christ and the power of His resurrection and reign.
The Example of Nicodemus
Who is able to see and understand spiritual truths? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermon “The Example by Nicodemus,” it is only those who have the Spirit. This is seen in Jesus’s encounter with Nicodemus in John 3:9. Jesus repeatedly refers to spiritual truths, such as the Holy Spirit’s power of salvation and the necessity of the new birth. But Nicodemus is unable to understand that Jesus is referring to spiritual truths and not simply physical ones. In this, the great error of humanity can be seen in the attempt to understand all things according to human reason and intellect. Yet the Bible shows the folly of this, for only those who are truly saved can perceive the nature of spiritual reality. Even then, it is by faith that they believe, not by their own intellect. This means that believers and unbelievers alike can never rely on their own abilities to understand God, the world, and themselves, but they must rely on the revelation of God and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to overcome the sinful blindness. For, as this sermon on Nicodemus points out, it is only by God’s grace that He can be known as Lord and Savior.
... of Heavenly Things
What is one of the most important things when receiving the message of Christ? In this sermon on John 3:9–13 titled “…Of Heavenly Things,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that it is the ability to learn as one who knows nothing . Naturally, humanity does not know God; they are of the earth and know earthly things. This is one of the reasons it is so hard to believe in the gospel. Sinful humanity cannot understand the gospel of Jesus so they reject Him. But God tells that He cannot be understood by the finite human intellect, nor can Scripture be reduced to what can be understood. This is why believing is a gift of divine grace that God gives to sinful people in order that they may know Jesus Christ. The heart of the gospel is the new life that God gives to all who truly believe in Jesus Christ. No one can come to God in pride and arrogance but must come as children ready to learn. All must come to learn of the gospel as desperate sinners who can only know God by His grace.
At the Cross
Why is the cross of Jesus Christ so important for Christians? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives a very practical reason: it is the basis of sanctification. He says that often times Christians separate their walk with Christ from what He has accomplished on the cross. They think that the Christian life is only a matter of striving and seeking in one’s own power, but this is wrong. For Christians can only live the Christian life in the power of Jesus’s atoning work and sacrifice. The power of the cross is to see the glory of Christ as the redeemer and Lord who has saved, who preserves, and who will glorify on the last day. This sermon on John 3:14–15 titled “At the Cross” offers hope for all, believers and nonbelievers. It exhorts everyone to put their trust in Jesus Christ as the only hope for this world, and as the only one that can redeem each and every fallen sinner that believes upon His name.
The Love of God
What does it mean that “God so loved the world”? In this sermon on John 3:16 titled “The Love of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks beyond a superficial interpretation. This verse tells that great truth about just how much God loves the world. It is the love that sends one’s own son to die a torturous death upon the cross for vile sinners. This verse also tells just who He dies for: the world. This is not just any world, but it is a world that is sinful and rebellious. It is a world that hates God and His ways. It is the world of humanity who would rather live and die in their sin instead of repent and submit to God. The sermon calls the listener to ask: “Do you know God’s love as redeemer and savior or are you a part of the sinful world that hates God and who spurns His holy love given in Jesus Christ?”
When the Truth Comes
In this sermon from John 3:30 titled “When the Truth Comes,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses this main obstacle of receiving the fullness of Christ: pride. He shows that if one is self-satisfied then they most definitely have not received of the fullness of Christ. A person that thinks they are healthy will not go to a doctor for healing; similarly, if they think they are spiritually healthy then they will not come to Christ for forgiveness and help. Everyone’s eyes must be opened to their inadequacies, faults, and even sins before help can be sought. Brothers and sisters are called to consider if they possess spiritual sight to see that they are in need of more of the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They should also consider that when someone points out their faults, are they immediately defensive or do they welcome criticism? These may be signs that will help to put pride to death and seek out a more full relationship with Christ. Listen to this sermon and hear how Christ alone can offer freedom from these sins and give humility.
He Must Increase
What does it mean to be baptized in the Spirit? In this sermon on John 3:30, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from the part of this gospel where John the Baptist says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He speaks of what it means to be baptized by the Holy Ghost, which is mentioned throughout the book of John. Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is one that awakens a believer into joy and evangelism and out of despair and loneliness. Many have prayed to be baptized by the Spirit, but God has only chosen to give it to some. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that John the Baptist was not baptized by the Spirit since he was the least in the kingdom. He also explains that John the Baptist sometimes spoke the words of God, while Jesus Christ always spoke the words of God. This contrast is important when recognizing that prophets and people are not infallible, yet Jesus Christ was and is truly without error. The difference between water baptism and baptism by the Spirit, Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches, is that water baptism is obedience and confirmation of conversion, and baptism by the Holy Ghost is in order to bring more lost souls home to Christ.
I Must Decrease
What does it mean for one to decrease and Christ to increase? In this sermon titled “I Must Decrease,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from John 3:30 to encourage his listeners to pursue decreasing self-focus. He gives a few determiners of whether a person is pursuing this “decreasing”. First, he asks if the person must sense their need before the Lord will give them what they need. Second, a Christian's habits will continue to be less self-consumed the more they pursue Christ. Third, a Christian pursues loving God and others before loving self. Dr. Lloyd-Jones compares the gifts to a fluttering stream and love to a strong, deep river coursing through the plain. One is more exciting indeed, but the other more powerful. He also encourages meditation and Bible reading each morning. Christians ought not only to read the Scriptures, but to meditate on what they mean. This entails seeking to know God’s character and holiness. He also prescribes increasing Christ and decreasing self by reading the biographies of saints of old. Not only will the reader be astounded by how much the saints accomplished, they will also be edified by the awareness of their sin and their dependence on Christ.