The Book of Romans
The famous series of Friday night sermons on the Letter to the Romans, split into 14 volumes to parallel the books, plus a small collection of 13 individual sermons preached at Westminster Chapel.
In this sermon on Romans 11:1–36 titled “Introduction,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones urges the listener to lay aside prejudices and traditions and to come to God’s word in an attitude of reverence. All Scripture is the very word of God. The major themes of this chapter are salvation, faith, and the people of Israel. While there are many differing interpretations of this passage, we still must never approach Scripture in an overly intellectual manner that causes only debates and divisions. God’s word is given to build up the church and strengthen the believer’s faith. Paul is concerned that the church in Rome and, by inclusion, all Christians should come to a proper understanding of God and His salvation that He has given in Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses questions such as what is the relation between Jew and Gentile, what is the future of the Jewish people, and what does it mean to be justified by faith? All these questions have immense significance for the Christian life and the life of the church. Christianity and theology is not simply about abstract intellectual ideas but it is about knowing God.
Did God Reject His People?
Has God cast away the Jewish people? After several passages concerning the fate of the Jewish nation, in this sermon on Romans 11:1–4 titled “Did God Reject His People?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones unfolds how Paul asks this question and then follows his answers with several pieces of evidence. Paul says that there is no way the Lord has cast out His chosen people because Paul himself is an Israelite. Paul is saying this not just as a nationalist or proselyte, but he shows his historical lineage which proves he is of Jewish descent. It is possible that some Jews will be saved because Paul was saved. There are a large majority of Jews that do not believe the true gospel. God did not cast them all away because He foreknew them. This means that God foreordained them and knew that they would be believing Christians. The Jews were a group of people that God took special interest in and had a special affection for. Israel was set apart by God for a purpose. If God cast them out, this would mean that God changed His mind and Christians know that the Lord does not change His mind as it is not part of His character.
According to Grace
In this sermon on Romans 11:1-6 titled “According to Grace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones focuses on how this is relevant to the present time. He speaks of an authority that is always based on the word of God, not the authority of a person or prophet. The example of Elijah is given that the Christian might learn from him. He teaches about the doctrine of the remnant and how the rejection of Israel was not complete or total in its scope. There are many arguments that display this including Paul’s own conversion. God preserves His remnant out of the whole group to show that election is entirely from God’s grace. All have sinned and are saved only by this grace and not any human works. Christians are saved in spite of themselves. There is a new identity given to God’s people through the instruction of His word. Christians are encouraged to not judge circumstances by patterns of people but to judge them by the word of God. God’s great comfort rests in His promises and He will keep His church going and maintain the remnant. Thank God for the doctrine of the remnant according to the election of grace.
Blessings Become a Curse
How can something that the Lord created as a blessing become a curse? In this sermon on Romans 11:7–10 titled “Blessings Become a Curse,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers this question by preaching from the words of Paul when he refers to the law and the people of Israel. Paul acknowledges that the Jews were earnest and genuine in their search for salvation but they went about it in the wrong way. The passage says that those who were elect did in fact obtain it but that the Lord hardened the others. Israel was blinded and God gave them the spirit of slumber regarding the true message of the gospel. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains the passage by saying that the very blessing of the word of God, the law, was once a blessing but became a curse to the Jews. They had the wrong thinking about so many things and despite their best efforts, they still did not truly know Christ and did not receive salvation. The only way to receive this blessing is by faith. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also explains in great detail several other Old Testament passages which show the ignorance of the Jewish people and how they did not understand the gospel.
The passages in Scripture that refer to God hardening someone’s heart or blinding them to the truth can be confusing. This can be a troubling passage and topic for many people because it often leads to more questions than answers. In this sermon on Romans 11:7–11 titled “Judicial Blindness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides helpful answers and a good starting point for people wrestling through this issue. Dr. Lloyd-Jones refers to this blinding as a “judicial blindness” where God ceases striving. There are many instances recorded in Scripture where God removed His control and allowed negative things to happen so that people would learn. Yet there is a step beyond this when sometimes God is even said to harden someone’s heart. Those who are hardened and blinded are unable to do or believe anything outside of their current state. Is this a punishment or is it at random? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides his opinion for how this progresses — in short, that disobedience against God leads naturally to the hardening of the person’s heart. Ultimately, he says, the doctrine of election makes sense of this topic that can be so difficult to navigate. Listen as he guides the listener through this challenging passage.
Why are there imprecatory Psalms in the Bible? This is the question that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up in this sermon on Romans 11:7–10 titled “Psalms.” He says that Scripture never teaches that God creates evil or sin but He does create the consequences of the sinful actions of humans. When Scripture speaks of God visiting judgement upon evil, one should not think that this is God doing something evil but He is punishing the wicked for their evil deeds. The same thing is true in the case of David when he prays for God to judge the wicked. This is not David being vindictive, but rather it is him asking that God act in accordance with His character to protect the righteous and punish the wicked. For God is holy and just; He cannot even look upon evil doers. This is seen in the highest form when Jesus died upon the cross at Calvary. There, God’s justice was fully manifested in His judgement upon sin in Christ but His mercy also was displayed in saving sinners. This is the great truth that God is both the just and the justifier. There is truly no unrighteousness with God.
Stumbling of the Jews
Paul has been teaching about the Jews and how as a nation they have blatantly rejected the gospel. In this portion of Romans, Paul is now stating what the real position of the Jews is and how that relates to the Gentiles. In this sermon on Romans 11:11–12 titled “Stumbling of the Jews,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the Jews stumbled so that the Gentiles could come to salvation. Not only was their stumbling permitted by God, he also inflicted them with blindness so that the Gentiles could have the opportunity to believe. This rejection of the Jews gave the blessings to the Gentiles. So have the Jews been cast away forever? Paul says that they have not. They have in turn seen the blessings of the gentiles and have been provoked to jealousy. This causes them to think twice and consider the gospel that the Lord has given.
Riches of the Gentiles
According to the apostle Paul, why are the Jewish people permitted to stumble? In this sermon on Romans 11:11–12 titled “Riches of the Gentiles,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes up this difficult question. He says that ultimately God allowed the Jewish people to stumble and reject the gospel of Jesus Christ in order that the gospel might go to all the nations. Because they rejected the gospel, the early church spread the gospel from the land of Israel and it went to the whole world. At the same time, Paul himself was Jewish by birth and a believer of Christ. This shows that not all Jews rejected Jesus. What of the future of the Jewish people? Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that in the future there will be a great revival among the nation of Israel and many will come to a true knowledge of Jesus and His gospel. They will put their faith in their long-awaited Messiah. The apostle Paul argues that just as it was a blessing to the Gentiles that Israel stumbled over the gospel, it will be an even greater blessing when the people of Israel believe and come into the church of Jesus Christ.
Lessons from The Jews
What can we learn from the apostle Paul’s teachings on the Jewish people? In this sermon on Romans 11:11–12 titled “Lessons from the Jews,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that Christians have much to learn from Paul about the church, themselves, and the gospel. He says that this prophesy will take place in the future. Paul believed that there would be a great revival amongst the people of Israel when they come to know Jesus Christ. The reason why the Jews rejected the gospel was in order that the truth of Christ might go to the Gentiles. The church must understand that oftentimes God uses rejection to actually further the proclamation of the gospel. The church must trust in God and in His goodness, believing that He will accomplish all He intends. The future restoration of Israel ought to cause Christians to lay aside prejudice and evil feelings toward the Jewish people, and they ought to love them and bring the gospel to them. Christ Jesus is the only means of salvation for both Jew and Gentile. The church is to proclaim this message of forgiveness and mercy to all people until Christ returns in glory.
Apostle to the Gentiles
In this sermon on Romans 11:13–15 titled “Apostle to the Gentiles,” Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones works through the teaching of Paul to the Gentiles. Different interpretations of these controversial words by Paul are examined and the various out-workings of each are addressed. He explains the difference between translation and interpretation. Paul preaches as an apostle to the Gentiles and he emphasizes this office, perhaps with an ultimate and ulterior motive for the salvation of the Jews. Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses these questions along with the false notions that surround both the Jew and the Gentile. Evangelism, teaching, and warning are all essential to Paul’s word to these people and for today’s believers. Is the gospel different for Jew and Gentile? Listeners are encouraged to be diligent in study and see the full blessing that God has offered through Christ, embracing the word of God and the hope of the gospel that is now available for every human, no matter the race, gender, or ethnicity. Salvation has been purchased through the blood of Christ for the purification of more than just the Jews.
Life From the Dead
What is the future of the Jewish nation? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in this sermon on Romans 11:13–15 titled “Life From the Dead,” one does not have to wonder since God prophesied through the apostle Paul that there will be a great day when Israel is saved. While they may have stumbled, this was only temporary in order that the gospel might go to all the nations of the Gentiles. God has promised that there will come a day when the dead come to life; that is, when the spiritually dead Israelites receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and believe in Him. All Christians ought to pray and seek the day when God moves and causes a great revival amongst the people of Israel. Furthermore, Paul warns Gentile Christians from becoming prideful and boastful towards the Jewish people, for both Jew and Gentile are justified by faith in Christ as a gift from God. How should this message change the way Christians live now? Christians ought to seek to evangelize the people of Israel because they know that there will be a day when God causes a great revival amongst them. The church ought to pray and eagerly await the day when God fulfills His promise and brings many national Israelites into the church of Jesus Christ.
The Terms Defined
In Romans 11:16–17, Paul provides more evidence of why the rejection of Israel was not final. Israel's stumbling was only temporary and because of their fall, the gentiles have received salvation. Paul explains that Israel's belief will be like coming to life from death. In this passage, he uses two illustrations to explain the Jews’ and the Gentiles’ relationship to the truth. In this sermon on Romans 11:16–17 titled “The Terms Defined,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones breaks down both illustrations and defines the words and context of the words. In essence, if one is part of the whole, and the whole is holy, then they, too, are also holy. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that the term “holy” does not always mean sinless, but it means set apart by God. Some parts of the "dough" or "branches" (as used in the illustrations) have been cut off, but can once again be grafted in and take the blessings of the whole. God has the power to remove something once and for all, but He can also graft a part back into the whole. This is what will be done with the Jews. It will be a glorious day when all of Christ’s followers and those who believe the true gospel will be raised up and reunited with the whole.
The Olive Tree
In this sermon on Romans 11:16–17 titled “The Olive Tree,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses what or who is the olive tree and the relationship of the Jews to the Gentiles within God’s economy of salvation. Learn of the importance to understand what Paul means in Romans 11 and the tendency to lean towards the two extremes—to make too much or too little of this relationship. What is meant by this “olive tree”? Who are the children of the promise? Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones dives into explaining who are the true spiritual people of God. There is a spiritual nation that surpasses the natural. Understand from where the roots of this olive tree are derived. There is a continuity that binds the Old and New Testaments: “There is only one way of salvation and it has always been the same one.” See that salvation is not a matter of nationality but of being grafted into God’s people. What does it mean that the Jews have a “special” yet not “separate” position? Rejoice that both Jews and Gentiles will be joint heirs and partake in the promised blessings of God.
None Should Boast
Now that Christ has come, what is the relationship between Jews and Gentiles? This is the question Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones seeks to answer in this sermon on Romans 11:18–22 titled “None Should Boast.” Christ Jesus has come and instituted the new covenant – the fulfilment of all of God’s Old Testament covenants. In the new covenant, there is no longer a distinction between Jew and Gentile, for all are made one by believing in Christ and in His death, burial, and resurrection. Paul makes it clear that the Jews have not been rejected in total, but only those Jews who do not believe in Jesus Christ. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that it is a mistake to think that the Gentiles are part of the new covenant because of anything they have done. Paul goes on to make it perfectly clear that salvation is always by grace and grace alone. Nothing either Jews or Gentiles can do can ever make them part of the people of God. It is by the grace of God given in His Son Jesus Christ that anyone can know God and love Him. Gentiles have no ground for boasting because it is all the grace of God and not human works or merit.
Why is pride so dangerous? What about pride undermines the gospel and leads people into self-deception and deceit? In this sermon on Romans 11:18–22 titled “Pride,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the need to learn God’s word so as to fight against pride. Pride undermines the gospel because it makes people focus on themselves and their own works, justifying themselves. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, the great sin of many of the Jewish people who wanted to return to the law was the sin of pride. They sought to find salvation in their own identity and works but this is wholly opposed to the message of Jesus. Jesus Christ tells that one must forsake any chance of saving themselves. He tells that no works can makes one right before God. Pride makes the person look at what they do for their worth; Jesus makes them look to Him to find worth. Paul warns the church of his day about the danger of falling away from the gospel and looking to works to justify oneself. This is still a temptation for many Christians and for this reason, believers must always flee from self-righteousness and look to Jesus Christ and what He has done as Jesus alone saves.
God's Goodness and Severity
In previous passages, Paul has explained that because of the Jews’ unbelief, the Gentiles were granted belief through Christ. In Romans 11:18–22, Paul now warns the Gentiles against any boasting because of their new standing and salvation. There is no place for pride in a Christian’s life and Paul warns that any such feelings would cause one to suffer. In this sermon on Romans 11:18–22 titled “God’s Goodness and Severity,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the best corrective against pride is to know God, and the truth and character of God. The greatest lack would be a lack of the knowledge of God. This lack would show in one’s doctrine and view of sin, and would lead to a lack of fear of the Lord. In his closing, Dr. Lloyd-Jones also pauses to reflect on the goodness and severity of God in Romans 11:22. God is true in all of His characteristics and He is fully known in each of those character traits. One cannot say that God is good without acknowledging His severity. One cannot dwell only on the wrath of God without showing the love of God. The truest example of this is Christ on the cross. May the Christian never boast in themselves, but instead boast in Christ and all that He has done for them.
Can Christians lose their salvation? There are few more contested and more important theological questions in Christianity. Many believers are plagued by doubts because they fear that they may fail to work out their own salvation and be eternally lost in hell. In this sermon on Romans 11:16–22 titled “Final Perseverance,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers solace to any fearful Christians. He says that the Bible never teaches that true believers can lose salvation. This is for the simple reason that it is God through His Son Jesus Christ who saves. Christians are not even saved by faith, first and foremost, but ultimately by Christ who grants them their faith. Jesus loves His people and He is both able and willing to guard them from ever falling away. What about those passages that speak of the need to persevere? The Holy Spirit uses many means to build up Christians in faith and joy and these passages that warn Christians not to fall away are one of these means that God uses to preserve those He loves. What about people who say they are Christians and stop believing? There are many who are self-deceived and think that they are saved, but their life shows that this is not a true work of God. The glorious truth of the gospel is that Jesus saves all those that He loves and He will lose no one.
In this sermon on Romans 11:18–22 titled “Vital Principles,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones urges listeners to always seek the truth and facts. Throughout history, people have gone astray because they did not seek the truth and history teaches lessons that are applicable for today. Scripture is the same way and can be looked to for truth. Dr. Lloyd-Jones outlines three points regarding truth. First, God’s people always have a tendency to fall away from the truth and this is seen throughout history and in Scripture. Second, the cause of this is because they forget the first and original principles. Every problem in this world is because people forget. Lastly, those who fall away are the ones who most persecute those who hold true to the principles. The Jews, specifically, are a people group who fell away and began to persecute those who believed the true gospel. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns against those who do not actively pursue truth.
Regrafting of the Jews
In Romans 11:23–24, Paul continues his arguments to prove that the Lord is not done with the nation of Israel. In this sermon on Romans 11:23–24 titled “Regrafting of the Jews,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out the three previous arguments in the beginning of the chapter for review and explains two more arguments in these verses. The first is based on the power of God; He is able to do anything. This means that the Lord is able to regraft the Jews back into His fold. Paul is continuing his illustration of the branches and roots of a tree. The Lord may have chosen to cut off the nation of Israel, but that does not mean that He cannot once again restore them. The second argument is in light of what God has done to the Gentiles. Because the Lord chose to bring salvation to the Gentiles, this is proof that He can also restore the Jews once again. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that it was even harder to graft in the Gentiles, so how much more would the Lord be willing and able to once again regraft His chosen people. As a final reminder, the Christian should always be aware that they are part of the branches that are growing and fruitful, lest they also are cut off.
The Mystery Revealed
God’s sovereignty and humanity’s responsibility can be difficult to reconcile, especially when reading different passages in the Bible that seem to be contradictory. In this sermon on Romans 11:23–24 titled “The Mystery Revealed,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones leads through a phrase-by-phrase analysis of one such passage. The word blindness here, he says, is actually better translated as “hardened.” What does Paul mean by saying that Israel has been hardened? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides reasons and evidence as to why this most likely refers to the majority of the Israelite nation as a whole, not every individual Israelite, since some of the Jews were indeed saved and thus were shown not to be hardened. As the rest of this passage states, this blindness was only temporary— God established it and God took it off at the fullness of the Gentiles. To better understand this oft-confused phrase, Dr. Lloyd-Jones presents the various views and why it makes sense that Paul is making another broad reference, this time indicating a majority of Gentiles. The passage ends by saying that “all Israel will be saved.” This meaning, too, has been hotly debated throughout church history. Dr. Lloyd-Jones demonstrates his reasoning as to why he believes it is not referencing all the elect Jews as a whole, nor the elect Jews and Gentiles combined, but a different group altogether. Listen as he methodically steps through this difficult passage to help the listener better understand its meaning and application for their lives.