The Book of Romans
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermon series on the book of Romans were preached to the congregation at Westminster Chapel in the heart of central London on Friday evenings between October 1955 to March 1968. These sermons …
The apostle Paul is a master at connecting doctrine and practical matters. He seamlessly weaves both together in his apostolic writings. While there is a change in emphasis in Romans 12 – from doctrine to practice – Paul never leaves doctrine behind. As a pastor he is concerned with helping this congregation in Rome and this always includes doctrinal appeals and arguments. In this transitional sermon on Romans 12:1–21 titled “Introduction,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones challenges those in the church who view practical matters as anticlimactic. There is something wrong in the church’s thinking if it only focuses purely on doctrine. Dr. Lloyd-Jones counters this error by expounding five biblical and theological reasons why the church should focus on more than just doctrine. Moreover, he gives a general analysis of the rest of Romans and prepares his listeners with a particular outline of Romans 12. Listen to this unique and compelling message by Dr. Lloyd-Jones as he calls the church to holistic ministry and a Christian faith that is lived out.
The Christian Life
What do doctrine and practice have to do with each other? Some Christians doubt the relevance of doctrine to the Christian life at all. For them it’s simply a matter of being ethical and moral and there is no need to understand biblical doctrine for good works. Antinomians, on the other hand, hold to doctrine but live however they please. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “The Christian Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says “no” to both. One may claim doctrine however they wish but if it does not change their life, they have not understood the doctrine. Likewise, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, doctrine is key to Christian morals because it provides the right motivation and power to live the sanctified life in Christ Jesus. He contends in this sermon that Paul shows that motives are important and the Christian lives in view of God’s mercy. The strength to perform good works is not simply in one’s own effort but the power that comes from the Holy Spirit. If the doctrine proclaimed in evangelism does not match Christian practice, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, the doctrine has been understood. If good works are not informed by doctrine, a person is not truly living the Christian life. Listen as he unpacks the key distinctive of a Christian life.
A Living Sacrifice
In matters of Christian conduct, does one appeal to the mind or to the heart? These are often pitted against one another, but Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones does not believe the Christian should approach the Christian life by making an appeal to merely the intellect or simply the emotions. Instead, he says, one begins with doctrine –– who they are in Christ –– and then the proper conduct is deduced from the doctrinal truth. True doctrine always appeals to the emotions. In this sermon on presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice from Romans 12:1–2 titled “A Living Sacrifice,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that there is no such thing as dry-as-dust theology. Humanism and legalism stand in opposition to the true teaching of Scripture. Humanism can only appeal to the intellect, whereas legalism appeals directly to the will of the person. The great motive of the gospel, which is God’s great mercy in Christ Jesus, lifts the whole problem of conduct to a spiritual level. He then works out the implications of the apostle Paul’s appeal to the mind and the heart in Christian conduct. He labors to demonstrate that Paul is presenting the entire physical body as a sacrifice to God who by His great mercy makes Christians participants in this glorious and wonderful salvation.
Present Your Bodies
The Bible offers many commentaries about the spiritual, but how can we glorify God with our physical bodies? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides 3 key points to why and how we must Glorify God with our bodies in his sermon on Romans 12:1-2. First, that the whole person is to be saved, not just a man’s mind and spirit. Dr. Lloyd-Jones states that we must never leave out the body in our ideas of redemption because it is the “temple of the Holy Ghost” and should be treated as such. Although we will someday leave the body, it is not simply flesh that houses our soul. It is instead, a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Secondly, we must glorify God with our bodies because the soul must have a body to express itself. We are not just souls floating around inside of bodies. No, we are intelligent beings that can think, see, and do physical acts. The body, soul, and mind are all intertwined and when combined, they make us who we are. Thirdly, we must not disregard the eternal importance of our physical body because it is one of the chief sources of temptation and sin. Dr. Lloyd-Jones states, “The greatest fight for every Christian is the fight against the temptation of the body.” Sin is lurking around every corner. We must always be on the lookout to protect ourselves from bodily temptation. To counteract our sinful tendencies, we must present our bodies as a “living sacrifice.” Like Paul states, we must sacrifice our own sinful desires for eternity. We want to preserve our bodies to be “holy and acceptable to God”. If we strive for this, then we will be ready when we must inevitably present them to God.
What is “reasonable” service? How are service and worship connected in the Scriptures? What might it practically look like for Christians to present their bodies as living sacrifices? In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “Spiritual Worship,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles these questions and others. In this practical sermon, he teaches on things like sex, sleep, exercise, the tongue, and eyes. He relates these physical activities to Paul’s teaching on Christians offering their physical bodies to the glory of God. Moreover, he capitalizes on the apostle’s teaching that worship should be “reasonable”; that is, thoughtful and internal. Many groups such as Roman Catholics elevate the importance of external rituals, but Dr. Lloyd-Jones says this is a mistake. The Christian must be careful not to externalize worship.. This is not reasonable worship and not New Testament teaching. Presenting your body should be done in a thoughtful manner and always with the ability to justify it according to the Scriptures. What matters most, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is regarding the physical body as a gift for God, not using it for oneself, but offering it to Him to use for His glory and His praise. Listen as he provides guidance for Christian discipleship and maturity.
The World (1)
When the church becomes like the world, the gospel message is eclipsed. Today it seems the church is often bending to the desires and the thoughts of the world. Who determines morality? What is right? Some church leaders argue that the message must change or else become irrelevant. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “The World (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that this very thinking is conforming to the world. The world, according to the Bible, thinks of, organizes itself, and lives life apart from God. Fallen humanity is corrupt in their very thinking. They do not know God. They do not understand the depth of the human problem and their proposed solutions lack the answer. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that Christians are not to conform to the world. The understanding of morality comes from the word of God and nothing else. Christians are a distinct people who have a new mind and have become enlightened to the will of God. The great tragedy today is not that the devil is controlling the world but that Christians are looking to the world for answers. That theology is conforming to the ideas and expectations of sinful humanity. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains in this sermon that this admonition is as much needed today as it ever was: be not conformed to the world.
The World (2)
Avoiding the world is not an option for Christians. Some still try it anyway by setting up rules and regulations because fear of conforming to the world drives their choices. A great distance is then placed between the Christian and the world. History has shown the various extremes which men and women will go and all of it is contrary to the gospel. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “The World (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is concerned that Christians who seek to live a life of holiness may fall into this sort of trap of legalism or Pharisaism. All of it is governed by fear and this is not what the apostle Paul had in mind. Listen in as Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses this grave misstep. The Christian is not to be so focused on the world that their pursuit of holiness becomes driven by it. What God has given the Christian is His word and they must not be concerned about the additional regulations that some say the Christian should follow. On the contrary, what one must be concerned about is simply the expression of their new character in Christ. This is what drives the believer: the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Renewal of the Mind (1)
Tackling individual sin in the Christian life is typically how evangelicals think of growth or sanctification. They often believe that by approaching sin in piecemeal manner that they will have overall victory in their lives. The trouble, of course, is once they gain victory over an individual sin there is always another temptation lurking. As a result, the Christian falls right back into besetting sin. Rather than dealing with individual sin in this manner, the apostle Paul calls to something more profound. The doctrine of sanctification is much more comprehensive than this. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “Renewal of the Mind (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds in this message that sanctification concerns the whole outlook on life. The Christian will view their entire lives differently. They will also think differently about themselves and the world and thus act differently in this world. Instead of adding a list of dos and don’ts, Paul commands believers to be wholly transformed by the renewal of the mind. Dr. Lloyd-Jones belabors this important point because this is essential to Christian teaching; it is the difference between legalism and Christianity. Legalism begins with lists of behavior and calls people to perform the list. Christianity begins with who the person is in Christ and then moves to right behavior. The difference is subtle but important for being conformed to the image of the Son and avoiding hypocrisy.
Renewal of the Mind (2)
The purpose of the incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection is not to merely have individuals escape hell. The Christian will miss the glory of the person and work of Christ if they reduce salvation to fire insurance. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “Renewal of the Mind (2),” regeneration, or new birth, is being transferred out of the kingdom of darkness, and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. This is what it means to be a Christian – God creates a new humanity. The Christian has new thoughts, new attitudes, and a new outlook on life. In short, their mind is changed. As the apostle Paul says succinctly, the Christian has a renewal of the mind. One misses the message of the entire New Testament if they miss the apostle Paul’s teaching in this passage. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds how important Paul’s teaching is to the Christian life. As pilgrims on the journey, Christians say to themselves day by day, “I no longer belong to the darkness; I am of the people of God. I am of His kingdom.” By reminding themselves of these things, they view God, themselves, the world, and time itself in a completely different way. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones applies one of the most profound teachings on the doctrine of sanctification.
Renewal of the Mind (3)
The Christian will certainly fail to understand Christianity if they reduce it to morality, escape from hell, or even simply the forgiveness of sins. In this sermon on Romans 12:1–2 titled “Renewal of the Mind (3),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that Christianity is concerned with those things, but the Scriptures teach that the Christian life is so much more. The doctrine of regeneration, he says, tells that God enables the mind to know and appreciate the will of God. It is surely unnatural for fallen humanity to delight in the law of the Lord. It is contrary to the sinful nature to confess, no matter the dire circumstances of life, that God’s ways are always good. Indeed, the pleasure and delight the believer experiences concerning the will of God is both the result and goal of the renewal of the mind. Dr. Lloyd-Jones contends that the new outlook on life where the Christian believes God’s will is always good, always acceptable, and always perfect moves Christianity beyond other ethical systems of the world. Listen as he shows how the renewal of minds leads to the most glorious aspect of the Christian faith –– finding the will of God beautiful and most wonderful no matter what.
All By Grace
In this sermon on Roman 12:3 titled “All By Grace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches that grace is God’s undeserved favor. The distinctiveness of Christianity is that it is grace that begins the Christian life and it is grace that carries the Christian through life. This is true of general grace that makes one a Christian, but also grace that gives spiritual gifts. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says it is this view of God’s grace that helps balance the apostle Paul’s statement about his authority while maintaining a counter-cultural view of humility. Paul can easily appeal to himself as an example to follow because he acknowledges his apostolic office is entirely undeserved grace given by the Spirit. Dr. Lloyd-Jones connects Paul’s teaching in this passage to other key passages in the New Testament regarding spiritual gifts and authority in the church. The contrast between the world’s view of ethics, as well as the Roman Catholic view of papal authority, stand in strong contrast to the testimony of Scripture, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Listen as recommends the apostle Paul’s teaching on grace and reaffirms the Christian position that all is by grace.
Gifts in the Church
Spiritual gifts have been a matter of controversy in the church since the beginning of Christianity. How quickly the body of Christ forgets the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in the distribution of the gifts. From this error arises all manner of sin and abuse of gifts given by God. In sermon on Romans 12:3–5 titled “Gifts in the Church,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses two particular follies the church falls into when it forgets the sovereignty of the Spirit and the diversity of the gifts. On the one hand, he says, the Christian thinks more highly of themselves than they ought. Following the apostle Paul, he demonstrates how the Scriptures teach humility and particularly the most profound demonstrations of humility in the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s call for the church to think is key as this connects with his previous teaching on the renewal of the mind. On the other hand, Christians can underestimate the importance of any gift. There are two equal dangers, warns Dr. Lloyd-Jones, to overestimate a gift, becoming puffed up, or to despise another gift and thus denigrate the Spirit’s work. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches on the gifts in the church, a topic in which Christians consistently need clarity and direction.
The Body of Christ
In this sermon on Romans 12:3–5 titled “The Body of Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches the principle that everything is of grace. This principle ought to cause one to think soberly, not more highly. Consider the nature and parts of the human body and see this applied towards one’s position in the Christian church. A body has an organic unity that is vital. No one can put themselves into the body of Christ; only the Lord can add to the church. There is great variety and unity in the body. There is a different function for each member and this must not be forgotten. Christians must not envy one another for the positions each is granted. Some parts are not spoke of, but are essential to the working of the whole of the body. If one thinks of their gifts as independent, they should remember that their gifts are not for themselves but that they are a part of the whole and serve the whole. All are subservient to the head and they don't decide what they want to do but Christ does. The listener is encouraged to be ready to obey His every command and be at His service, standing amazed that they have any place in this body at all.
The modern ecumenical movement has made a profound impact on the contemporary Christian understanding of unity. But what overlap, if any, does this movement have with biblical unity? In this sermon on Romans 12:4–5 titled “One Body,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that an essential point for evangelical Christians to remember is the inevitability of the unity of the church. Because the church is a spiritual society called the body of Christ, there will necessarily be true unity. Striving to maintain visible unity is a necessity because evangelical Christians believe what the Bible says. Still, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, the character of the church’s unity is spiritual – it cannot be manufactured by people as it is the supernatural result of the creative work of the Holy Spirit. Only when a person is born again and baptized into the body of Christ can genuine Christian unity occur. This along with the error of separating unity from the whole person – in a particular a person’s mind through doctrine – is the biggest error of the ecumenical movement. While some Christians rally around the claim “doctrine divides,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones offers a pointed biblical challenge saying there cannot be true unity by suppressing thought and denying a person’s ability to think about truth. Evangelical Christians need to hear afresh this important message on Christian unity, doctrine, and the ecumenical moment.
Character of Unity
What guides and keeps a church unified? How can the church encourage unity among its members? In this sermon on Romans 12:5-6 titled “Character of Unity,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains there are two elements to preserving the unity of a church. There is a spiritual unity that can only be brought about the Spirit of God and there is a necessary fundamental agreement of doctrine. While agreeing in the area of doctrine, it is also important to remember that the church body was created for a specific purpose. It ought to function in a living and active way together as many members of one body. The church must be using her gifts otherwise she is failing as a church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones cautions the listener to beware of their church falling into two extremes when it comes to being active: on one hand, activism or over busyness tires the body and wears out its members. On the other hand, hyper-paralysis, where the individual members are only worried about themselves, causes the church to be perpetually inactive and unhealthy. The activity of the church must be consistent and in conformity with the mind of the head, which is Christ Jesus, as he instructs in Scripture.
Spiritual Gifts (1)
In this sermon on Romans 12:6 titled “Spiritual Gifts (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encourages a look at the nature of spiritual gifts. God decides which gift to provide to each Christian but they all work in and through the very same Spirit. He reminds that there is a “diversity of operations, but the same God that worketh all in all.” Why and how are Christians to “covet” and “desire” the best gifts? How ought they seek these gifts? The listener is encouraged to learn to love the spiritual gifts and to be filled with love. Dr. Lloyd-Jones emphasizes and explains the doctrine of the body, love, and contentment. Can one “claim” a gift? Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks more directly at the gift of tongues, pastoring, and missions and shows the importance of understanding that gifts cannot be “claimed” or imparted by others. Some people proclaim that “the need is the call,” but this simply shows an ignorance of the doctrine concerning the call of the Spirit. Dr. Lloyd-Jones touches on baptism with the Holy Spirit, how gifts differ, and His call to the particular service. God decides the gifts, calls the Christian to a certain gift, and equips them to the service to which each of His children have been called.
Spiritual Gifts (2)
Perhaps no topic in evangelical circles stirs more controversy than the nature and function of spiritual gifts. There can sometimes be a great divide between ‘cessationists’ and ‘continuationists’ on the “unusual” gifts. In this sermon on Romans 12:6 titled “Spiritual Gifts (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks with clarity and boldness on the topic. In arguing for the continuation of all the gifts – including the unusual gifts – he answers specific objections posed by ‘cessationists’. One unique feature of this sermon is Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s reminder to all camps of the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit in both the dispensing of gifts and withholding of gifts. The Spirit alone determines the manifestation of all gifts but the Spirit can be quenched. This difficult balance is maintained in this message where he warns that quenching the Spirit results in not just a lack of unusual gifts, but also the hinderance of the “regular” gifts. Moreover, he helpfully answers one of the most practical questions in the Christian life: how does one know their particular gift? With practical application and in-depth teaching on prophesy, tongues and miraculous gifts, Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds on the great doctrine of spiritual gifts.
Spiritual Gifts (3)
The gift of prophesy is one of the most unusual spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. It has been dismissed, over-emphasized, and abused throughout church history. In a sermon on Romans 12:6 titled “Spiritual Gifts (3),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrates both the dismissal and abuse of this teaching in the church. He does not just give a history lesson on the misuse of the gift of prophesy; he expounds the biblical teaching on it. Walking carefully through each interpretation, he explains various understandings of the apostle Paul’s teaching on prophesy and faith. In the end, Dr. Lloyd-Jones sides with the teaching that says Paul is calling the church to prophesy in proportion to the faith – the objective body of doctrine. He makes a strong and compelling case for the importance of systematic theology in the Christian life. Furthermore, by outlining general principles for discerning prophetic utterances, he assists Christians in applying biblical teaching on testing the spirits. The Holy Spirit will always be consistent with what He has given in Scripture. Finally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes the mysterious nature of the Scripture’s teaching on the topic of miraculous gifts. The Spirit is always sovereign of the gift, yet according to Scripture, the Christian can quench the Spirit.
Spiritual Gifts (4)
How does God ensure that the church is equipped for its mission? In this passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul tells that it is by the Holy Spirit giving gifts to those in the church. Some are given the gift of teaching and others the gift of giving. In this sermon on Romans 12:7–8 titled “Spiritual Gifts (4),” the important thing is that every Christian only seek to use the gifts God has actually given them, not what they want. He says that there is great danger in Christians trying to do things for which they have not been gifted. Those who do not have the gift of teaching ought not to seek to be teachers because they are doomed to fail. Christians are to trust in Jesus that He has granted them the gifts that are best for them and for the church as a whole. God in His wisdom gives all Christians what they need to be faithful servants of Jesus Christ.
Lessons From the Early Church
Why does God give different spiritual gifts to each Christian? In this sermon on Romans 12:6–8 titled “Lessons From the Early Church,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells that God equips His church in order to strengthen and build it up to accomplish the task of preaching the gospel and disciplining all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is seen in the early church that many of the early believers had different roles and purposes in bringing about the kingdom of God – some as apostles, some as prophets, and others as evangelists. The prophets and the apostles form the foundation from which the whole church was to be built. They wrote Scripture and spoke the very words of God as God’s emissaries to his people. They were often the ones to lay hands on others so that they would receive the power and the giftings of the Holy Spirit, displaying the apostles’ power and authority. Furthermore, some have the specific gift of leading and teaching. These men are called elders, shepherds, overseers, and presbyters. All these titles convey the same role as the leader amongst God’s people. These are the ones whom God has specially gifted to preach the gospel and shepherd the people of God. This is a charge given by the Holy Spirit of God for the glory of God and the edification of the church.