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 …
Weak in the Faith (1)
Some find it hard to know how to regard the differences in spiritual maturity that exists among Christians. Are these differences always good? Are they bad? In this sermon on Romans 14:1 titled “Weak in the Faith (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides some biblical answers to these questions. He starts by asking a foundational question: what does it mean to be weak in faith? The believers Paul was talking about and writing to were true Christians that were falling into legalism. He reminds that all believers are the same as it relates to justification and regeneration and the basic need for being saved from sins. However, some are stronger than others. What causes this? Dr. Lloyd-Jones posits that natural personality often lends itself to different strengths and weaknesses in different people. Additionally, the diligence and application of people as Christians also play a large part in the strength or weakness of someone’s faith. He also suggests that the length of time one has been a Christian will affect this. Thankfully the Christian is given the power to grow by the grace of God so if one’s faith is weak, they should not be anxious but continue to seek the Lord and it will grow.
Weak in the Faith (2)
Within the family of God are those who are strong in their understanding of the Christian faith and those who are weak in their understanding of the faith. The church is made up of some who are more mature and some who are less mature. This diversity within the body of Christ can lead to problems as matters of opinion arise. While the world might say getting one’s way or winning the argument is the most important goal during a disagreement, the apostle Paul offers a different vision for the church, particularly for the strong in faith. In this sermon on Romans 14:1–4 titled “Weak in Faith (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones instructs how to engage the weak in faith over indifferent, albeit important, matters to the Christian life. The weak in faith are part of the family of God, reminds Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and need to be instructed in their thinking. The way the strong instruct them makes a considerable difference and they must distinguish between a Christian discussion and an uncontrolled argument. A Christian discussion must demonstrate self-controlled dialogue which shows love and patience towards a brother or sister in Christ. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the contemporary church in family disputes.
Food and Drink
It is common for the Christian to have a disagreement with someone else about what they think the Bible teaches to be wrong or right on an issue that is not particularly clear. This is the topic at hand for this sermon on Romans 14:1–4 titled “Food and Drink” and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones guides the listener through how to interact with this issue that is becoming more prominent in the church today. There are things in Scripture about which there is not a clear command. In this passage, it had to do with food sacrificed to idols. Because idols are not real, the food sacrificed to them means nothing. However, Paul encourages believers to watch out for their brothers and sisters in Christ and to avoid doing things that would make it easier to stumble because of the way they were raised. The immature Christian, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is characterized by making secondary issues primary ones. Yet, as he points out, one should not sit back and judge other Christians— it is the weak Christian who is most likely to do this. Why do they have this tendency? He says that it is due to the spirit of fear and he explains his reasoning behind this. He encourages avoiding falling into legalism and determining if or not people are Christians based off of their judgments— ultimately, that is up to the Lord and it allows living in a way that pleases the Lord and leaving the consequences up to Him.
God Has Received Him
What really is legalism? In this sermon on Romans 14:1–4 titled “God Has Received Him,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tackles this important subject by asking what it is, how it can be fought, and the consequences that it carries within the church. Legalism is what happens when people take principles in Scripture, interpret them wrongly, and make them absolute rules that everyone is required to follow. Legalists tend to make indifferent things central. Mainly it means that issues not core to Christianity are elevated to make-or-break issues that are used as standards for measuring the depth of someone’s relationship with Christ. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds, what matters is that people have been received by God— it is not up to others to determine this. People frequently set up their own standards for determining if people are Christians, but from where do they derive their authority? Dr. Lloyd-Jones also addresses if Paul was contradicting his stance against legalism when he said that he acts certain ways around certain people. Ultimately, this was to keep them from stumbling and as Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds, Paul did not see these issues as central doctrines of Christianity. He closes with a charge— Christians are not to reject someone whom God has received, and ultimately, only God can make the call on whether or not this is the case. They are to trust Him with this and simply be obedient.
Saved for Eternity
The Lord alone has the authority to make final judgments on people. In this sermon from Romans 14:1–4 titled “Saved for Eternity,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds the listener of this important truth and how they can follow this while still exercising discernment regarding the people they are around and the activities in which they participate. When the Christian makes ultimate judgments about people, they are usurping the authority of the Lord and putting themselves in His place. This is a very dangerous place. What are they to do about the activities of the world that in and of themselves are not wrong? Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides helpful guidelines to consider as one works through this. He proposes that it all comes back to the theme of Christian liberty and that on issues not clearly portrayed in Scripture as sinful, it is a matter of conscience between each person and God. Paul says that one is not to judge or be jealous of those who are using their Christian liberty because ultimately, the Lord is powerful and strong enough to help them stand up. Dr. Lloyd-Jones ties this into the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, providing supporting examples from Scripture. Listen as he instructs on being discerning about things one should avoid and the effects that freedom in Christ has on such choices.
Sabbath and Special Days
In this sermon on Romans 14:1–6 titled “Sabbath and Special Days,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones offers that Paul is not addressing the importance of observation of the Sabbath since that has been established in Scripture for all time. He provides Scriptural support for this and offers up a question that has been discussed in Christian circles often since the early church: what day of the week is supposed to be set aside for the Sabbath – Saturday or Sunday? He references Biblical evidence for the day of the week that Christians used to meet on, as well as historical evidences from writings that are outside of Scripture. How do Christians today make the right choice about the day to meet? To answer this, Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that the early church would not have changed the day of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday arbitrarily— he argues that they must have received a revelation that it was good to change it. However, he also states that it is not an issue over which Christians should divide. He addresses extreme Sabbatarianism, a view that is very literal about how the Sabbath day should be observed, and provides helpful points to consider when thinking through it. In echoing Paul, he concluded that Christians are to be fully persuaded in their own mind from Scripture about which decision is correct.
Live and Die to the Lord
In this sermon on Romans 14:5–9 titled “Live and Die to the Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones continues his sermon series by addressing the need for unity among believers on issues that are not central to the Christian faith. Drawing from Paul, however, he reminds that Christians have a biblical responsibility to be convinced in their minds about the convictions they hold that are not clearly defined in Scripture. Above all, he says, they are to do everything for the glory of the Lord. In this passage, Paul is saying that the how and why one does something is more important in some cases than the specific thing they are doing. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also addresses issues that are not essential to core faith and doctrine and how one can draw right convictions on these topics on which Scripture is sometimes not clear. He reminds that God’s glory is to govern one’s living and dying. If one has been in church for any period of time, they have heard believers discuss the beauty of dying since they are going to be with the Lord. While this is true, Dr. Lloyd-Jones exhorts the listener to focus on this life now and what the Lord has for them to do while they are alive. He reminds that Christians are to be ready to go at any time, but that focusing too much on dying and the life after this one will distract from the reasons that God still has them on earth.
The Lord of Death
The fear of death grips humanity. Humanity is death’s servant but people in the West live each day suppressing the reality that death is imminent. How does the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ speak to this terror? In this sermon on Romans 14:6–12 titled “The Lord of Death,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on Paul’s teaching that Christ is the Lord over death. Salvation, in other words, is not merely forgiveness of sins, but also deliverance from the last enemy – death. While the Christian experiences freedom from the condemnation of the law through the cross and resurrection of Christ, they also experience victory over the devil, who holds unregenerate humanity under the fear of death. Remarkably, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, Christians are no longer servants of death, but death is actually the servant of the Christian. Death is an entrance to glory and eternal life with God. Through the victory of the resurrection, all fear of death vanishes. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages with the wonderful truth of Christ’s lordship over death and the victory Christians share because of Him.
Jesus Christ; the Judge
As the lordship of Christ is universal, so also is the judgment of Christ. Evangelical Protestants rightly champion Scripture’s teaching on the assurance believers have as they face the final judgment seat of God. The Christian rejoices in the assurance that there is no condemnation from God the Father for those in Christ Jesus. However, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds in this sermon on Romans 14:10–12 titled “Jesus Christ, the Judge,” Christians often neglect the truth that believers will face another judgment. This is not a final judgment but a judgment of rewards. By bringing out the distinction between Christ’s final judgment and rewards judgment, Dr. Lloyd-Jones protects the church against antinomianism, loose living, and quarreling in the church. As the church at Rome had become factious by judging each other over indifferent matters, the apostle Paul appeals to Christ’s judgment. In doing so, he reminds them who is the true and final judge in all matters. Christians should temper these types of judgments as they are brothers and sisters in Christ. The family of God – those born again by the Holy Spirit and adopted as His children – are not ultimately concerned about proving each other wrong on matters of indifference. Certainly family members are not to denounce and be angry toward a sibling but instead they are called to love, express concern, and help.
Clean or Unclean?
How does one approach difficult problems and issues in the church? Do they see how each part relates to the whole or simply attack the problem directly? In his sermon on Romans 14:13–15 titled “Clean or Unclean?” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls for paying attention to the apostle Paul’s method in dealing with one of the premier problems in the early church. After one pays attention to the apostle’s method, they also need to follow his teaching. Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings out the Lord’s teaching on loving one another and combines it with Paul’s words found in Romans. As the church disagrees on matters indifferent – like whether a Christian should eat meat – the love commandment becomes all the more appropriate. One’s opinions, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, may be right but if they have forgotten love for their fellow Christian then the right opinion may be a cause of serious trouble. But what is the apostle Paul’s teaching on clean and unclean food? Are Christians prohibited from eating certain foods? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones navigates the intricacies of the Mosaic Law and the tension of the early church between Jew and Gentile.
While all Christians are Christian in the same way – through regeneration –not all are identical in every respect. There is, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains, ethnic diversity as well as differences in personality and temperament. But the apostle Paul classifies Christians in another manner in Romans 14. He classifies them based upon maturity: the strong and the weak. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in this message on Romans 14:13–16 titled “Consider Others,” draws attention to the great principle that governs the Christian life: never put a stumbling block in front of a weaker brother or sister in Christ. Based upon the common membership in the family of God, the stronger Christian must remember their Christian brother or sister is more important than different opinions. Following Paul, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns of the danger of grieving a brother or sister by causing confusion and leading them to violate their conscience. When one grieves their brother or sister, they are no longer walking in love but seriously endangering their spiritual condition. The supreme argument of the apostle is that while Christ was willing to give up His life for the sinner, the strong hesitate whether they can give up meat for weaker members. Ponder Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s unique answer to the challenge of life together in the family of God.
Teaching on the conscience is relatively sparse in Scripture. The topic occurs in only a few passages in Paul’s letters so many Christians are either uninformed about the conscience or perhaps confused. How vital is it to the Christian life and what is Scripture’s teaching on it? In a sermon dedicated entirely to key questions regarding the conscience, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones posits that the apostle Paul’s teaching on the conscience is one of the most important subjects for the family of God. In his sermon on Romans 14:14–16 titled “Conscience,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings related passages on the conscience together in order to evaluate key terms and answer basic questions on the conscience. Drawing from Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10, Dr. Lloyd-Jones analyzes the context of strong and weak Christians on matters of opinion. With regards to these indifferent matters, the conscience is ultimate. Christians are not to exercise their liberty in such a way that it comes under the condemnation of another believer’s conscience. Disregarding another’s conscience or one’s own can have devastating results. As such, Dr. Lloyd-Jones looks in-depth at Scriptural teaching on a defiled and seared conscience. Finally, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides listeners with the two main functions of the conscience in the Christian life.
Once Saved; Always Saved?
A chief doctrinal debate within church history is the nature and character of eternal security. Does Scripture indeed teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints? Or to ask the question another way: is it possible for one for whom Christ died to be lost? Despite the clarity of Scripture on this topic (in places like Romans 8 and John 10), there are a few ambiguous texts which seem to suggest the possibility of a regenerate person falling away from grace. One such difficult text is Romans 14:14–16 where Paul seems to suggests one can destroy – eternally perish – the soul of another brother if they neglect considering their conscience. In this sermon on “Once Saved, Always Saved” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines this passage and others like it, using it as an opportunity to teach Christians how to responsibly handle apparent contradictions in Scripture. With theological acumen, Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps the listener to consider why it is impossible for anyone to be responsible for the everlasting destruction of another person. Not only listen and be encouraged by the assurance believers have, but hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones handle difficult texts with care.
A Sense of Balance (1)
Lopsided Christianity is an unappealing religion. Divisions and fracturing over minutia have severely harmed evangelism and the church’s witness to the world. The apostle Paul’s battle cry in Romans 14:17 is that the kingdom of God is not about minutia such as meat and drink. Following Paul’s teaching in this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “A Sense of Balance (1),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones applies this point to the contemporary church. Today’s Christians are just as guilty of making the kingdom of God about minutia – subsidiary doctrines, church government, particular church leaders. It is vitally important, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, to preserve a sense of balance in all areas of the Christian life. While not advocating unity at all cost, Dr. Lloyd-Jones does challenge the contemporary church over unnecessary denominational divisions. He is not merely concerned in this message of affirming church unity, but seeks a diagnosis of church division instead. Beyond denominations, Dr. Lloyd-Jones scrutinizes the usefulness of “movements” within evangelical Christianity which isolate a particular part of the faith (i.e. evangelism) from the whole. This can equally lead Christians to lose their sense of balance. Finally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones remarks about the nature and character of theological education and the propensity of institutions to isolate the study of Scripture away from its intended context of worship. In all this, trouble arises when Christians forget what the kingdom of God is about.
A Sense of Balance (2)
Christians are part of the kingdom of God and it is big. However, sometimes Christians can give the opposite impression. They can be guilty of emphasizing an aspect of the kingdom at the expense of the whole, making the kingdom seem small and negative. The church at Rome had given the impression that the kingdom was about eating and drinking. They had made the kingdom tiny and petty. In this message on Romans 14:17 titled “A Sense of Balance (2),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks the contemporary church what impression they give the world about the kingdom. What do they say is essential to Christianity? Is Christianity merely about being moral? Is it about abstaining from certain things? Dr. Lloyd-Jones suggests that Christians become trapped into making the kingdom of God about small matters because they do not know how to think in terms of the kingdom. Since the kingdom of God is completely different than anything humans have experienced, they must learn a new way of thinking. Christians are tempted to think in earthly terms rather than the kingdom controlling our thoughts. People are looking for something big, not small. Learn from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones about faithfully witnessing to the kingdom of God in one’s daily life.
The Kingdom of God
The church at Rome was guilty of making the kingdom of God small. Walking into their church, one would have thought the kingdom was about eating and drinking. The apostle Paul forcefully corrects this misunderstanding. But if the kingdom is not of meat and drink, what is it about? In this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “The Kingdom of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones enters into a great debate among commentators on this passage. While some preeminent theologians say righteousness refers to the righteousness written about earlier in Romans 1–3, others suggest Paul has changed the meaning to an ethical righteousness. Dr. Lloyd-Jones seeks to adjudicate the alternative positions and ultimately comes to a mediating position. He follows the immediate context, noting Paul’s deliberate challenge to the Romans preoccupation with minutiae and attitudes towards conduct. Paul’s argument, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, has been that the kingdom of God is much bigger than moral conduct. Righteousness is clearly much more than ethics in Romans. It refers to our standing before God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that Paul is interested in holiness, not morality. Holiness affects the whole person as they are declared righteous by faith. The truly righteous person is no longer preoccupied with minutiae as the Romans were, but is far more concerned with a life pleasing to God. Follow Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones as he wrestles through this passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
The Realm of Righteousness
Why do Christians find themselves consumed with less important matters? They often make partial truth encompass truth and the things of less importance are taken out of balance. The church at Rome did this with eating and drinking. The contemporary church does this in doctrine as well as with its various movements – the ecumenical movement, holiness movement, or evangelistic movements. What is the corrective? In this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “The Realm of Righteousness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s answer is to point back to the center. As the center is established, every part must align with it. What is the great center of Scripture? The apostle Paul in Romans 14:17 provides the answer: the kingdom of God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones traces the kingdom of God throughout the biblical narrative, noting the emphasis Christ gives to the kingdom. Dr. Lloyd-Jones works from a comprehensive definition of the kingdom, noting the general reign of God in the visible church, in addition to the reign of Christ in the hearts of His people. The day is coming when the saints will reign visibly with the king. In light of this, why are Christians consumed with small things like eating and drinking? Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges this fascination with matters much smaller than the kingdom.
Peace in the Holy Spirit
Evangelicals rightly value truth. Sometimes, however, their reputation for truth is understood as the desire to merely be right. The former leads to freedom, assurance, and grace. The latter leads to a morbid cynicism. Among the problems in the church of Rome was the concern about whether they were right about eating and drinking. In this sermon on the Holy Spirit from Roman 14:17 titled “Peace in the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests they were constantly worried about being right on an issue, which led to fearful, anxious, and censorious conditions. The church was a place that contradicted what the kingdom of God is about: peace. The church today is likewise preoccupied with the matter of being right. The result is constantly looking for some defect in one another – being “spiritual detectives” towards each other instead of the family of God. But where is peace in all this? Have Christians forgotten that the purpose of salvation itself is to have peace with God? This gospel of peace spreads, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, to having peace with ourselves and one another. The kingdom of God is about peace. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones points to the Prince of Peace in order that Christians may have peace.
The Principles of The Faith
What does one consider central to their Christian life? In this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “The Principles of the Faith,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones suggests this could be an indication of what they think Christianity is all about. The church at Rome had much to say about observance of days and whether a Christian can or should eat this food or drink this drink. Paul abhors such pettiness in the church at Rome, and through God’s inspired word, the reader can see He is not pleased with such smallness in the church today. Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings the gospel back to center of a church that is often divided over pettiness. He cautions on the subtle loss of proportion or a sense of balance on secondary matters. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains in this message how zealous and well-intended Christians can over-concentrate on matters like eating and drinking and miss what the kingdom of God is all about. This does not mean those secondary issues are unimportant or should not be discussed with full conviction. Instead they ought to be discussed in accordance to the principle of Christian liberty. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows how righteousness in Christ, peace with God, and joy in the Holy Spirit contribute to genuine Christian unity.
Kingdom of Righteousness
Is the kingdom of God about political or social change? Is it about making men and women more ethical? According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the answer is absolutely not. In this sermon on Romans 14:17 titled “Kingdom of Righteousness,” he says that the kingdom of God is about the true righteousness of Jesus Christ that comes through the gospel. The mistake of many is thinking that the kingdom of God is about the externals of religion, and Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that reduces the Christian life to a matter of external affairs. According to Scripture, being a Christian is not about going to church or being a good person, but it is about the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is a sad thing when Jesus is replaced by the good deeds of people. It is Jesus that saves from sin and darkness and grants true righteousness. This sermon asks the questions: “what is Christianity to you? Is it a lifeless external thing that you do, or is it the power and grace of God made manifest in Jesus Christ?”