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.
Lessons From Church History
Do the practices of the early church have anything to say to the contemporary church? How can one explain the obvious difference between what is read in the pages of Scripture regarding the church and the present manifestation of so many contemporary church models? As those invested in the authority and sufficiency of God’s word, evangelicals must be willing to set aside prejudices and look at Scripture with fresh eyes and seek to conform to the picture and pattern found in the New Testament. This is the conviction of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In this sermon on Romans 12:6–8 titled “Lessons from Church History,” he elaborates on the glimpses of early church life and asks pressing questions about the development of church governance over the past two centuries. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides an overview and explanation on the accumulation of power by the bishops throughout church history. He also tackles the reactions to centralized power by radical free church groups after the Reformation. The key in all these matters, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is to get back to the Scriptures in all matters of preaching, governance, gifts, pastors, and church life. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds evangelicals that they cannot afford to ignore the doctrine and nature of the church.
Worship. Ancient and Modern
Liturgical forms of worship in free churches were on the rise during the ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This tendency hasn’t slowed and continues to this day as evangelicals have a renewed interest in read prayers, prayer books, responsive readings, and vestments. In this sermon on Romans 12:6–8 titled “Worship, Ancient and Modern,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks pressing questions of this movement. When one reads the descriptions of early church life, do they see themselves? Do they find these liturgical elements in Scripture and in what sense is the New Testament teaching binding on worship forms? While the liturgical practice of a prayer book and prescribed prayers each week is often argued on the basis of the Lord’s Prayer, Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges this interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s critique of the liturgical movement also takes the listener through church history in order to give a historical context for its development. While Dr. Lloyd-Jones acknowledges that both Martin Luther and John Calvin affirmed the authority of Scripture, it was Calvin who carried that belief beyond the realm of salvation and into church governance and worship. The goal in worship, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, should be to correspond as closely to the picture given in Scripture. Listen to this intriguing and informative message on the history and development of church worship practices.
Worship; the Old and the New
Human traditions are often blinded to the clear teaching of Scripture. Traditionalism is a danger Christians must avoid because it is a prejudice they are all subject to. Perhaps no area of the Christian life is more prone to traditionalism than worship. Whether as an individual or entire denomination, one can easily read their prejudices back into Scripture. In this sermon on Romans 12:6–8 titled “Worship, the Old and the New,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls Bible-believing Christians to examine their traditions. He asks them to consider the general impression of the New Testament as they read about the early church engaging in worship. Seeking to counter the resurgence among evangelicals towards a liturgical form, Dr. Lloyd-Jones answers the liturgical arguments by drawing attention to passages such as Romans 12:6–8. While there is continuity between Old Testament worship – with its emphasis on prescribed forms – there is discontinuity as well. Of course, this difference is not one in kind but in degree. Moreover, as figures in church history have justified set prayers and liturgical services in order to prevent error from creeping into the church, this should only be a temporary expedience, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Nevertheless, Christ is able to gift all to pray, preach, and teach in a biblical manner avoiding doctrinal errors. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges from Scripture prevailing worship traditions and prejudices.
In this sermon on Romans 12:9–21 titled “Love,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches that the believer must always proceed from doctrine to application and the two great principles must characterize and govern the Christian life. The apostle Paul is concerned with the practicalities of the Christian life, both in how the Christian acts and reacts. The listener will see their absolute need for the salvation of Christ and respond in presenting themselves as a sacrifice. Love is the fulfilling of the law and it sums up the whole of the law — these two must never be contrasted. “We should be animated in our living with the same kind of love by which God loves us,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says. Love is totalitarian, not sentimental and weak. God should not be loved merely in word, but also in deed. Learn of the love of the atonement that commands one’s love of God and neighbor. The Christian must keep the law with the Spirit; otherwise they will fall into dissimulation. “The law is an expression of God’s being,” says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. The Christian is to hate and abhor evil, adhering themselves to that which is good in the eyes of God.
Becoming a Christian means becoming part of a family. The Christian family is not a natural family but a supernatural one. When one is born again, they see that the same is true for other Christians. The apostle Paul teaches Christians that they are to love brothers and sisters in the faith as though they were brothers and sisters in blood. In this sermon on Romans 12:9–11 titled “Love (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns that this love is not phony love. It is not based upon positive circumstances and not the same as merely “liking” each member of the body of Christ. It is an innate or instinctive love as one has for blood family. There is a strong chance, warns Dr. Lloyd-Jones, a Christian will not have instinctive affections for other Christians. What are they to do? They cannot base their love on feelings since feelings are fickle. He exhorts the Christian to begin with doctrine. The Christian works out their doctrine of regeneration and the teaching of Scripture regarding the household of God. Christians have a bond of faith which surpasses even the natural bonds of blood. Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks the pressing question of believers: what do they feel about their fellow Christians? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones stirs the listener to consider brotherly love and showing honor to the body of Christ.
What does slothfulness and self-importance share in common? The antidote to both is a heart that understands that Christians are not their own but belong to God. The antidote to both pride and laziness is the great hope the Christian have in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this sermon on Romans 12:11 titled “Stir Yourselves,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores the question of slothfulness and he confronts the fundamental question on what it means to serve the Lord. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the Christian of their fundamental identity. Christians are slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ and have been bought with a price. As slaves to the Lord, their service is not their personal cause but it is the Lord’s ministry. It is fundamentally not their honor involved as they serve, but the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. This slavery to the Lord is a privilege and Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the Christian that they are co-workers with God. As those involved in God’s work, they cultivate a particular outlook of hope on this life. This is not a hopeful optimism in the present world, nor a general hopefulness. It is the doctrine of hope and the hope that Christ will return. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages keeping one’s eyes on Jesus Christ and mortify slothfulness and self-importance in service to Him.
Serving the Lord
In this sermon on Romans 12:11–12 titled “Serving the Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about the importance of serving the Lord with zeal. The Christian may be tempted to do things half-heartedly as they go from task to task. Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches that this approach is second to demon possession in that the Christian has allowed the devil to influence their actions. Slothfulness, he expresses, can manifest itself in doing something half-heartedly. This lazy form of action is one way in which the devil corrupts God’s good creation. Similar to the body and mind, exercise of the Spirit is what promotes its health within the believer. The Christian must continually fan the flames of the Spirit within them. Before long, the sluggish Christian can become the diseased Christian who falls into sin easily and becomes entangled by it. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also preaches that when the Christian feels lethargic or sluggish, they must meditate on, read, and study the actions of God in His people. God will bring to fruition the seeds sown by the Christian. God’s people must be sure to keep fervent in spirit, which literally means that they must be “at the boiling point” in their hearts and in their passion for the Lord.
Patient in Tribulation
The Christian should ask themselves if they are “fervent in spirit” and learn to look at their total view of life in this world as Christian people. There is nothing so fatal for the Christian than to misunderstand his or her life in this present world. “The only way a Christian can rejoice is in the life of this hope [Christ].” How are they then to live in this present world? “We must never allow tribulation to do us any harm at all.” In this sermon on Romans 12:12 titled “Patient in Tribulation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks, “Is your reaction one of grumbling or of patient endurance in the midst of tribulation?” The Christian ought to expect trouble to come their way. Nothing teaches the believer better than tribulations: weakness, pride, and selfishness is brought out in trials. Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches that these trials yield the fruit of righteousness. Prayer results from tribulation and one ought to quickly seek this refuge. Christians are in the fight of faith; not against the things of this world, but against the spiritual matters. Do not continue in ignorance and self-confidence that pervades common humanity. Rejoice in knowing that truly nothing can separate the believer from the love of Christ, not even the hardest of trials or tribulation.
Fellowship of Saints
In this sermon on Romans 12:13 titled “Fellowship of the Saints,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones challenges the listeners to show hospitality. Preaching from Romans 12:13, one of the first things he clarifies is the true Pauline meaning of hospitality. In the book of Romans (and in other places in Scripture), the biblical meaning for hospitality is “loving strangers.” This means that when the biblical authors command believers to show hospitality, their command is one of evangelism rather than only fellowship with the saints. An important element of the Christian existence paired with hospitality is indeed contributing to the needs of the saints. Separate from hospitality but similar, Dr. Lloyd-Jones preaches that contributing to the needs of the saints shows the love of God within the hearts of Christians. A privilege that God has given His believers is that they may share in their suffering instead of enduring alone. Other Christians should be a welcome and wonderful sight for believers because of the burden and the privilege the saints carry. Dr. Lloyd-Jones exhorts his listeners by saying that Christians submit too much to the needs and expectations of the world. Rather, Christians must be the light of the world and share the good news of Jesus Christ with all those they come in contact with, especially through hospitality.
Practical Christianity (1)
In this sermon on Romans 12:14–15 titled “Practical Christianity (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at the application for the doctrine Paul has been laying down and how theory moves into practical daily living: “The glory of God in His great salvation is involved in this [daily living].” Learn that the best form of evangelism is Christian people manifesting the Christian life, not only the proclamation by word of mouth. Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares that “a mere theoretical Christianity is useless” and a contradiction. The Scriptures are intensely practical and Christians are called to have patience with unbelievers. Moreover, Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches that one’s attitude towards persecution must be positive as the endurance of persecution in its various forms tests the reality of their Christianity in a thorough manner. Only a Christian can bless (and not curse) those who persecute them. Christians are called to remember what they were and how God reacted to them, showing them total grace. The sinner must be separated from the sin, asking the question, “Why does a person behave the way they does?” Christians are encouraged to have compassion on the sinner’s helpless state and pray for the salvation of unbelievers to “be like our blessed Lord.”
Practical Christianity (2)
Is it harder to rejoice with those who rejoice or weep with those who weep? In this sermon on Romans 12:15–16 titled “Practical Christianity (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at how Christians are called to respond to one another. The problem of every human being, without exception, is the problem of pride and self. All struggle with envy and jealousy. The Christian is called to not settle for being able to hide this sin but learn to replace it by rejoicing with another over their success. No one can do this for themselves. The gospel of salvation in Christ is the only thing that can deliver one from the self and unify them with the body of believers. Christians cannot divide doctrine and practice and should look at the story of the Christian church, being called to have a common mind and think like one another. Christians are encouraged to know what it means to be knit together in love. They are to look at the example of Christ washing the feet of men and preach the gospel to the poorest. Nothing is more incongruent to the Christian faith as social disjunctions. Christians should associate with the humble, forsaking pride and ambition, and come humbly before the Lord.
Wisdom and Knowledge
In this sermon on Romans 12:16 titled “Wisdom and Knowledge,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones teaches on the importance of being of the same mind. Christians are to bless those who persecute them, rejoice with those who rejoice, and are to be of the same mind in agreement with one another. Two things threaten to destroy harmony – haughtiness in minding high things and being wise in one’s own eyes. Christians should learn about the folly of intellectual pride and look at the history of the Christian church to see how important it is to guard against this sin. This sin is the abuse of one of God’s greatest gift to humanity — the intellect. There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom: one is merely gathering and acquiring factual information, while the other is the power and capacity to apply it. The greater the scholar, the more humble the person. A little knowledge is most dangerous and while love builds one up, knowledge merely puffs up. Christians should consider the humility and meekness of the Son of God and remember the Scriptures, “walk humbly with thy God” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Christians are encouraged to learn to distinguish between true and false wisdom.
Biblical ethics are supernatural ethics. The call of the Lord Jesus Christ upon His followers is different from humanity’s own fallen instinct. Christ’s call is a fundamentally other worldly way of life – it is what James calls wisdom from above. When Christians encounter evil against them, the natural instinct is retaliation. A person cannot carry out the injunctions given by the apostle Paul in this passage. In this sermon on Romans 12:17–18 titled “Be Different,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the story of humanity is one of hitting back and retaliation. People scoff at turning the other cheek as it is viewed as a weakness. While Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages Christians not to retaliate, the Scriptures raise one’s thoughts beyond just the negative. When the Christian encounters evil against them, their response is to put the evil action against them in the larger context of their entire Christian outlook. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that Christians do not act on instinct but instead should consider the gospel, Christ, and their witness to the Christian faith. Christians should fight for peace but not peace at any cost, warns Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Listen as he explains the important nuance of contending for the truth while at the same time being peacemakers.
God's Wrath. Not Man's
While some popular streams of so-called Christianity claim that becoming a Christian means a care-free life, the New Testament is clear that Christians are likely to have more troubles. In this passage, the apostle Paul assumes Christians faithfully living in this fallen world will inevitably encounter evil against them. In this sermon on Romans 12:19–20 titled “God’s Wrath, Not Man’s,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds Paul’s teaching on the topic. Negatively, Christians are to respond to evil by not avenging. Positively, they are to give place to God’s wrath. But what do these things mean? Why should the Christian never seek personal vengeance and does this teaching support Christian pacifism? What about questions about the wrath of God and how are Christians to understand imprecatory prayers in light of this teaching regarding personal vengeance? In all these complex questions, Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings the Scriptures to bear in a cohesive manner by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Listen to this thought-provoking message as he challenges Christians to a distinct way of life in a world where they will encounter evil.
The Christian must ask themselves if they truly love those who desire to do them wrong and if it is enough to not return evil with evil. According to the apostle Paul in Romans 12:20–21, God requires much more from Christians. The return of evil with good raises the Christian perspective far above secular morality. It lifts it to the supernatural. How do Christians achieve such a supernatural response? In this sermon on Romans 12:20–21 titled “Overcoming Evil,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores this question and others in his exposition of Romans. In addition to discerning the meaning of Paul’s citation of Proverbs 25:21–22, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains why the principle of returning evil with good is essential. Dr. Lloyd-Jones puts Paul’s words in the broader context of the Bible’s teaching on spiritual warfare. Instead of overcoming evil by doing positive good, Christians allow themselves to be overcome by evil by retaliating. The key is to think of themselves less and put the situation in the proper perspective, understanding that life is more about the spiritual than the physical. The Christian commends the gospel and personally grows as they overcome evil with good. Heed the words of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he teaches on the Christian’s response to enemies.