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 …
What are the Christian’s duties and responsibilities to government and the state? In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Relationships,” this is the perplexing question that Dr. Lloyd-Jones seeks to address. While Christians are citizens of heaven and the kingdom of God, they still live on Earth and are subject to the earthly authorities. When believers disobey the government or refuse to honor earthly powers on the basis of their new citizenship in the kingdom of God, they bring dishonor to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians must seek to be faithful to God by obeying his commandments rather than humanity’s, but they also are to live at peace with all. Many Christians have misunderstood this teaching and brought contempt to the name of Christ. Paul says that the government is a minister of God to bring about righteousness. When the government commands what is not contrary to Scripture, Christians should obey and live as good citizens. Natural relations are not destroyed by a believer’s new relationship with God, but it encourages believers to live in a peaceful way as far as they can. This is ultimately so that God is glorified and honored by the lives of Christians in all aspects of life.
Subject to Government
How are Christians supposed to read the Bible? If there are many different views on what the Bible says, how are they to know the right interpretation? The answer is that they must read the Bible as one work of God. In the sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Subject to Government,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shares that this is because the only way to understand Scripture properly is by taking a holistic approach to everything that God has revealed. Christians should not use philosophy to create doctrine but doctrine is to come from the text. With all these things in mind, Dr. Lloyd-Jones seeks to expound the biblical view of government. He says that the submission to authorities and powers that the apostle Paul speaks of is not slavish servitude, but godly submission to the authorities that God has ordained for their good and the good of all people. In this attitude, Christians are to seek to live in peace with all those around them in a way that brings honor to Christ and his gospel. God in his providence has put magistrates in place as a means of restraining sin and evil in the world, though they are often corrupt and sinful. Nevertheless, Christians ought to strive to obey God first and foremost and to obey the government when doing so does not contradict the commands of God.
Christian and The State (1)
In today’s media-driven culture, the public can witness firsthand the mess of politicians and politics on social media, cable television, and in print media. Cynically, many Christians might find it necessary to simply retreat out of political concerns and government altogether. Perhaps the Christian could justify a retreat from politics by positing the need to focus exclusively on spiritual matters. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Christian and the State (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones seeks to answer such objections. He engages these ideas and other radical ones that call for Christians to abandon concern for the state, government, or politics altogether. In answering critics, Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides a positive Christian view of the state by looking at Romans 13:1–7 and the implications of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christians understand that the origin of government is not in human evolution but arose from God Himself. Moreover, the Christian knows human nature and how easily sin and evil can deteriorate society. God has instituted government for the restraint of evil and the well-being of society. Dr. Lloyd-Jones insists that the Christian needs motivation to be not only the best citizen, but also to be compelled to participate in government for the promotion of peace and the common good of all.
Christian and The State (2)
How the people of God relate to kings, emperors, magistrates, and the state in general has long been a topic in the Christian church. Persecution by the state, unjust laws, along with the emergence of new political ideologies, often lead to a re-evaluation on the topic. Can the Christian say with confidence that there is a biblical view on the relationship between the Christian and the state? If so, what principles should guide them? What are the implications for a hot-button issue like capital punishment? In this sermon from Romans 13:1–7 titled “Christian and the State (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues to examine Paul’s message as he tackles this confusing topic by providing biblical and theological principles as guidance. Within what Dr. Lloyd-Jones calls the two “extremes” – always maintaining the status quo or anarchy – and paves a way forward that holds together the Christian call to be subject to the state, the limits of being subject to the state, a nuanced understanding of liberty of conscience, and a tempered overall expectation of what the state can accomplish in a sinful world. Dr. Lloyd-Jones is able to soberly look at the complexity of the topic and leave both sides challenged and also encouraged. While ultimately citizens of heaven, Christians are still pilgrims in this world. Listen and learn how to faithfully relate to the state as sojourners and strangers.
Christian and The State (3) - The Christian & War
During times of international conflict, the national conversation inevitably moves to the legitimacy of war or the pursuit of peace. Christian conversations are no different. As those who acknowledge this is God’s world and are sincerely concerned about the well-being of their neighbors, Christians are called to engage the issue by bringing God’s word to bear. Historically Christians have supported (as a last result) wars that can legitimately be called “just,” while in the past century there has risen a competing position called Christian pacifism. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Christian and the State (3): The Christian and War,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues to draw out the implications of this passage by asking the question: what is the Christian position on fighting in war? While Dr. Lloyd-Jones is concerned about answering this question with regard to the individual Christian, he also engages the overall pacifist position in depth. He leaves no stone unturned as he examines the best arguments of pacifists and offers extensive critique of the position. While the Christian should always reject nationalism or jingoism, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says as a matter of Christian freedom that one is allowed to partake in a war if they are satisfied their country is pursing war as a last resort and for a righteous or just cause. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones navigates this hot-button issue and seeks to bring biblical clarity.
Church and The State (1)
In this first part of his series on the church and the state, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones lays a historical foundation for understanding the development of the relationship between the two. In this sermon from Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (1),” he affirms the importance of Christians thinking carefully about their responsibility and attitude towards government and authority. Scripture teaches that the church and government structures are both ordained by God and therefore Christians must maintain a God-honoring posture towards both. Critical to this is having an understanding of how church and state relations developed. In the first three centuries of the early church, believers were living in a pagan world controlled by the Roman Empire. No one was under the illusion that the church and state were one entity. They were at odds towards one another. This changed, Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches, when Constantine came to power and instituted Christianity as the official religion of the state. What followed was a power struggle between church and state. Listen to this compelling sermon by Dr. Lloyd-Jones as he equips his listeners to understand the historical struggle for authority and power that shapes a current understanding of the relationship of Christianity and government.
Church and The State (2)
Does church history hold importance for believers today? Why should Christians look to the past for insight into doctrine instead of looking to Scripture alone? In the second part of his series on the church and the state, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones chastises the arrogance of believers who say church history is not important. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (2),” he argues for the wisdom of modern believers’ consideration of men and women of history handling difficult questions of their faith. This is particularly enlightening as one considers the relations of church and state. Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues his historical look at these particular relations through consideration of the view that the church and the state are essentially different and distinct. He provides four distinctions to consider: their difference in origin, the object from which they were instituted, the power given to them by God, and the way their functions are carried out. The teachings of Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin are given special attention by Dr. Lloyd-Jones as their beliefs are foundational to the development of the influential Belgic Confession and Westminster Confession. These confessions have direct implications for Presbyterian congregations today. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds on the value of learning from church history as he continues discussing the relations of the church and the state.
Church and The State (3)
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his historical review of the relationship between church and state. Building on his previous sermon, he presses the listener to consider church history in this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (3).” It is important, he argues, because there is no neutral ground. It is all relevant to the life of Christ’s followers and how they live out those lives. Claiming disinterest and avoidance is a great sin. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones expounds on the lives of the Puritans and Separatists (both groups had deep-rooted interest in this topic), he reminds that these two were completely different in their approach towards church and state. Though the Puritans went to America to find relief from religious tyranny, they themselves became the religious and ecclesial tyrants who were intolerant. At the same time the Separatists argued for complete freedom between church and state, wanting the religious freedom to worship as they chose. As these groups are considered, Dr. Lloyd-Jones cautions refraining from severe judgment because they were outworking new ideas and beliefs in a difficult political atmosphere. Listen to his compelling review on church history and be encouraged to think anew on one’s own responsibilities regarding religious freedom.
Church and The State (4)
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones taught extensively on church history, specifically on the relationship between church and state. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (4),” Dr. Lloyd-Jones turns his attention to the underlying foundation of the view proposing an alliance between church and state. How do they biblically defend their position? What biblical evidence do they portray to say this alliance is biblically sound and wise? He enters this controversial topic by looking at two specific confessions of faith, the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Confession. The bulk of these confessions’ defense is taken from the Old Testament, with only one direct passage from the New Testament. Pointing to the position of Israel as a nation and Judaism as a religion, proponents of the alliance position maintain no distinction between Israel and the church in this way. Deviating from this position, Dr. Lloyd-Jones advocates for the separation of the church and state, based on the New Testament’s teaching on the kingdom of God. As he handles this delicate discussion, he reminds his listeners of the importance of this new identity of believers: the reality that Christians are now citizens of the kingdom through rebirth and this kingdom consists of citizens from every nation and tongue.
Church and The State (5)
How do the church and ruling government interact? Are they co-equals working together for the greater good? Do they share the same end goal? In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (5),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones first examines the historical context of church and government traditions that attempt to work together. Many church leaders have fallen under the tyranny of traditionalism in various ways. One such way is the acceptance of the Roman Catholic position of the church and state relationship as one of mutual exchange, power, and respect. Dr. Lloyd-Jones urges evaluating this relationship in light of Scripture, not in light of tradition. Scripture, according to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, shows a negative position regarding the power and authority of the state, not a partnership. Biblical evidence clearly points to an understanding of two distinct kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of humanity. These two kingdoms are eternally different and the Christian must be wary of trying to join the two, especially when it involves the power of leaders. Heed Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s warning to take seriously Jesus’s words that His return will establish a reign and rule that is entirely different from worldly rule.
Church and The State (6)
No matter how the topic is framed – church and state, or Christ and culture – it deserves a lot of careful thought. This is one topic in the history of Christianity that intersects with doctrine, theology, church history, and culture. In this sermon on Romans 13:1–7 titled “Church and the State (6),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones completes his six-part series on church and the state by looking at Christ’s lordship, common grace, the mission of the church, and the Christian individual in society. While some advocate transforming all the culture — including the arts, science, and government — in order to “Christianize” it, Dr. Lloyd-Jones cautions listeners to never talk this way. The Christian is unable to “Christianize” anything that is not Christian. Christ’s kingdom does not come gradually, except in the sense that it is in the church. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds there will always be a tension between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of humanity. This doesn’t mean, however, that God does not give His common grace to human society. Christians are engaged in their society and the individual Christian must work out the application of doctrine in business, government, science, and art. Nevertheless, the church must maintain its distinct calling to preach the gospel. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones works from Romans 13:1–7 and engages in what is still today a most relevant topic for evangelical Christians.
Love Fulfills the Law
Debt is burdensome and being obligated to another is a constant weight on one’s shoulders. But there is one great exception, according to the apostle Paul. That exception is the debt of love. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes in this sermon on Romans 13:8–10 titled “Love Fulfills the Law,” Paul calls the church to be perpetually obligated in their love for one another. Paul himself was likewise indebted to all: to the Greeks and Barbarians and both to the wise and the unwise. He had the medicine in the gospel that they needed and this meant he was under obligation to share it. Paul expects nothing less from the church. The church in Rome, as well as the church today, are in a constant state of debt to one another. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns that if one thinks love and law are at odds with one another, then they have misunderstood the Bible. It is an abuse of the law – by the Pharisees, moralists, and in legalism — that is at odds with Paul’s thoughts on law and love. The law begins with the negative, but God’s commandments ultimately have a positive effect. In other words, “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides insight into this beautiful synthesis of law and love.
Love Your Neighbour
If there is one word in the Bible that is easily misunderstood, it is the word “love.” Contemporary society replaces the biblical view of love with mere sentiment or lust. Not only this, but love of neighbor is pitted against love of God. In this sermon on Romans 13:8–10 titled “Love Your Neighbour,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones contends that love of neighbor has been twisted. One must look to Scripture in order to see that theology and love are not contrasted nor is it right to pit love and law against each other. Instead, when one truly loves their neighbor, they are, by necessity, fulfilling the law. Should Christians then only talk about love and never theology? Should they expect non-Christians, who have never experienced the new birth, to carry out this command? In this careful message on love and neighbor, Dr. Lloyd-Jones diagnoses the problem modern people have with biblical understanding of love of neighbor by pointing out how love of neighbor must be wedded to sound doctrine. Listen as he helps understand the difference between agape and other kinds of love. Furthermore, he clues the listener in on how a self-centered and sinful person can actually love thy neighbor as thyself.
Vestiges of the Christian call to “love one’s neighbor” can be found throughout Western culture. What has been lost, however, is the Scriptural understanding of love and a strong theological foundation to support the command. Without Scripture and theology, love of neighbor is either reduced to sentimentality or the gospel is denied. The seriousness of the latter is highlighted in this sermon on Romans 13:8–10 titled “Scriptural Love.” Modern teaching claims sinful people are able to fulfill this important command despite the fact that they have not experienced regeneration. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines both Scripture and culture, arguing that a biblical view of self and neighbor is necessary to understand Paul’s words correctly. This also answers one of the fundamental questions Christians ask: what is the Christian relationship to the law? Be warned against the trap of mysticism with its emphasis on mere contemplation of love and also watch out for rigorism with its emphasis on the merely knowing the letter of the law. Rather than falling into mysticism or rigorism, Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues for both the letter and the spirit of the law. Listen closely as he argues for a balanced approach to the law and seeks to challenge contemporary views of love of the neighbor.
Justification by faith alone has been called the great doctrine on which the church stands or falls. With the emphasis on justification, many Protestants are guilty of neglecting the important doctrine of sanctification. As Christians strive to rightly understand what the Bible teaches about sanctification, there are many unique challenges this doctrine presents. What is the relationship between faith and works? Does the law have any role to play in the Christian life? How does right motivation affect one’s works before God? In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “Sanctification,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers these questions and more. He also alerts to the dangers of antinomianism and legalism. These two defective beliefs work in tandem as people either think the law does not concern them or they reduce the Christian life to outward practice of the law. In this sermon on sanctification, Dr. Lloyd-Jones not only warns about the dangers of an imprecise understanding of sanctification, but also positively makes a biblical case for grounding good works in faith in Christ Jesus. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones uncovers the symptoms of false beliefs about sanctification while providing the biblical treatment that will lead Christians to truly grow in their relationship with God.
As Christians compare Christianity with other moral and ethical belief systems, philosophies, and religions in the world, many of them have an equal emphasis on love of neighbor. What then distinguishes the Christians’ call to fulfill the royal law of love from others? In Romans 13:11–14 the apostle Paul provides a beautiful insight into the Christian motivation to love neighbor as he writes to Christians in Rome about the doctrine of eschatology. It is in this doctrine that the believer finds the grounding to live a radical life of love of neighbor. In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “Redemption History,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that no other moral system knows anything about the doctrine of last things. In this sermon, he brings out the practical implications of the doctrine of eschatology. Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ stress on the intimate relationship between the life to come and its impact on the Christian life today moves eschatology beyond the often sensationalized prophesy paperbacks to the nitty-gritty of Christian love. While not neglecting the importance of general history, he calls Christians to understand redemptive history because that is what the Bible is interested in. Listen to Dr. Lloyd-Jones as he calls Christians to follow Paul’s call for radical love of neighbor by looking at redemption history, especially regarding Christ’s second coming.
A World in Darkness
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes a striking statement about the Christian view of the world in saying that at its best, the world is still in darkness. In a modern day and age when such statements may seem polarizing and perhaps even offensive, why does Dr. Lloyd-Jones make such a provocative claim? Does this mean that the Christian simply dismisses everything in the world? Does the Christian despise the culture as a result of acknowledging the darkness that pervades every aspect of this world? In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “A World in Darkness,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the post-enlightenment, progressive view that the world is generally good and getting better. He does so by looking closely at how the apostle Paul characterizes the world as ignorant of the most vital knowledge. The world is morally dark and in utter despair because of sin. This, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, makes the Christian a pilgrim in this world. They are restless strangers in a world of darkness. As children of the light, they cannot find their ultimate trust or excitement in what politicians and others offer as a fix to this dark world. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges this understanding of the world and encourages Christians to look forward to the day when their salvation will be complete.
The Christians Future
What is the future of the Christian? In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “The Christian’s Future,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches about what is awaiting the Christian. All over Scripture, the answer is clear— Christians are waiting for the coming day of the Lord. Contrary to what some people say, Scripture tells that this coming is a visible and physical coming of the Lord. At this time Jesus will be coming to complete His work. After passing judgment, He will set up His eternal kingdom. What are the consequences of this? First, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that time will be no more. One of the main effects this will have is on the condition of the world. It will undo the results of the fall. All things will be restored to their original, perfect condition that existed before humanity sinned. Additionally, there will be a judgment and for believers, a judgment about rewards— the righteous are promised in Scripture that they will receive rewards corresponding to their acts on earth. Judgment for the wicked involves both the body and the spirit. However, the righteous are promised eternal life in the presence of the Lord. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps the reader grasp the vision for what the future holds if one has repented and believed in Jesus for forgiveness from their sins and is a child of God.
Strangers and Pilgrims (1)
It can be easy to lose faith in oneself when feelings change quickly. In this sermon on Romans 13:11–14 titled “Strangers and Pilgrims (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that regardless of feelings, one’s position is sure if they are a follower of Jesus. Feelings come and go but thankfully they do not influence one’s position or relationship with Jesus since it is centered in Him and His work, not theirs. Christians are charged throughout Scripture that they are to be different from the world because of the change they have undergone in Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, Paul calls believers to walk as children of the day, yet he mentions that the day is still to come— how can it be both? As he explains, Christians are already in the day because they are believers. Even though it is in the future, Christians are there in spirit because they are followers of Christ. Paul’s point is that their citizenship is in heaven and must act like it. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains how the knowledge of one’s conversion ought to drive their actions and how this concept of the “now and not-yet” applies to today.
Strangers and Pilgrims (2)
What is the relationship between thoughts and actions? In this sermon on Christians and how they are to live in the world, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones presents a reminder that doctrine and practice are always tied — doctrine especially plays a large influence over the other. What can one deduce from the doctrines that Paul has been presenting in this passage? First, Christians are children of the day. This is how they are to live in the world today— they are to remember where they were, but only by calling to remembrance where Christ has currently brought them. A major purpose of redemption was to deliver the Christian from slavery to sin. Thus, they are doing a great dishonor to the cross of Christ if they are still living in the sinful ways that characterized them before they were saved by Christ. Preaching from Romans 13:11–14 in a sermon titled “Strangers and Pilgrims (2),” Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener that if they start to compromise on their actions, they will also compromise their beliefs so that they line up with what they want to do. He warns that instead of getting as close to the line as possible, flee sin at all costs. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps one think through what it means to be a Christian in today’s world and how they can navigate it well.