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.
Thou Art Inexcusable. O Man
Does sin really condemn all people? In this sermon titled “Thou Art Inexcusable, O Man,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones introduces Romans 2 by connecting the theme from Romans 1 which tells of how God has provided a righteousness by faith for humanity. The Jews listened to Paul preach, but thought he was only condemning the Gentiles to which Paul declared that they were missing the whole point. The Jews thought they were already saved based on their works and today’s humanity can fall into that same trap. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that sin can lead to many consequences when interpreting the Scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones outlines the various ways sin skews the view of Scripture and ends with a warning to all. The Christian should never be so wrapped up with knowledge and the studying of theology that they miss the repentance at the heart of the gospel. Learning the Scriptures draws the Christian closer to Christ so that their daily practice matches their position as a child of God
Judged According to Truth
It is easy to identify sin in other people but rationalize one’s own sin. That is the very problem of the Jews that Paul explains in this sermon on Romans 2:1. Titled “Judged According to Truth”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns the listener to be careful passing judgement on others because the same measure will be used on them. Dr. Lloyd-Jones walks through the condemnation of sin and how this gospel applies to everyone. Both the Jews and the Gentiles are without excuse and in danger of God’s wrath. Severe sins may be explained in the law and yet one may feel that condemnation does not apply to them since they are not “that bad.” Instead Paul warns that God’s judgement is always based on truth and His standard never changes. No one can measure up to that standard on their own and it is only by the gospel that Paul is preaching that can save and Christ brought that salvation. Instead of putting the condemnation on others and their sin, each should turn their own eyes to the truth of the Lord and make sure they are always aligning their truth with God’s truth.
The Longsuffering of God
There is no way to escape the judgement of God. Sometimes people laugh and joke about sin, but judgement is coming and so Christians must warn others about the condition of their souls. Paul warns both the Jews and the Gentiles that there is no excuse and all are under the impending judgement of God. In the sermon “The Longsuffering of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained how in Romans 2:2–3 Paul preached directly to the Jews to warn them of how sin was blinding their view. Not only does sin blind, it gives a false sense of security and causes the sinner to take God’s goodness for granted. The Romans gave many arguments for why God’s wrath was not coming but Paul refutes each one. One of the biggest arguments against God’s judgement is that God is good. Dr. Lloyd-Jones tells that God is indeed good in the fact that He does not immediately strike the world dead for sin, but He must condemn sin because He is also just. In this sermon on longsuffering, Dr Lloyd-Jones explains that God is longsuffering and exhibiting great forbearance in terms of human sin. He is slow to anger and is not willing for anyone to perish. This is the exact reason why God sent His Son into the world to save those from this impending wrath. He alone is the atonement for sin and none should ignore His warning.
Repentance and God's Goodness
The goodness of God leads to repentance, but God’s goodness does not erase His wrath. While that may sound severe, in this sermon on Romans 2:2-4 titled “Repentance and God’s Goodness” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brings the proof. By His unchanging character, God is good and just. Though He is longsuffering, He never ignores sin. His justice requires that He have wrath against sin. It would be like a parent threatening a disobedient child but never following through with a punishment. That child loses respect for the parent since the punishment does not occur. In the same manner, all should be in awe of God and His mercy, and sin should cause active repentance. Christians should never use an attribute of God or Scripture for their own selfish purposes. Paul preaches to the Romans that the kindness of the Lord leads both the believer and the unbeliever to repentance. The fact that the Lord is actively leading His people is a great hope and proof of His goodness and mercy.
The Heart and Mind of Man
What is repentance? In the sermon from Romans 2:4-5 titled “The Heart and Mind of Man”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains what it means to think again or changing one’s mind, both of which involve a direct action. Paul is preaching to a people who have completely forgotten the goodness of God that should lead to repentance. The first step to repent involves a completely changed attitude about God in submission of the heart and mind. The heart is the wellspring of sin that must be changed on the inside first and then the outside actions will follow. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that sin completely blinds and hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. This passage also warns that those who have a hardened and impenetrable heart are storing up wrath for themselves. But once they are saved, they can rest that the Lord who started a good work in them will continue to do so until the day He returns. That day will reveal who was repentant and who was pretending and storing up wrath.
The Day of Judgement
What will be revealed on the day of judgement? After a thorough study of the wrath and judgment of God, in this sermon on Romans 2:6-10, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines the impending day of condemnation. Paul is preaching to both Jews and Gentiles and explains that the judgment will be both universal and individual. In the same way, no one will be judged according to their nation or their family; it is solely based on the heart and personal righteousness. The entire human race will be characterized into two people groups: the righteous and the unrighteous. In the sermon titled “The Day of Judgement,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones further discusses how Paul differentiates these two groups. If one is seeking the glory of God, the honor that He gives, immortality in His presence, and righteousness by faith, then they will be granted eternal life. However, if a person is malicious toward God, self-centered, and defiant of truth, they will be subject to tribulation and anguish. May all closely examine their hearts and always seek the righteousness of the Lord. This message also brings a great reminder to share the gospel with unbelievers, for they also will see the day of judgement.
... To ... Man that Worketh Good
Can good works save? Will one receive salvation just for being a ‘good’ person? In the sermon titled “…To…Man that Worketh Good,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones walks through these questions in Romans 2:6–10, a passage often taken out of context. While works are the proof of salvation, they are not the source of it. Paul proves that people cannot be justified by works alone and no matter the efforts of all of humanity, no one is righteous or exempt from judgement. In this message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones states that the day of condemnation will bring judgement upon those who relied on their efforts to impress God; those that say they know the Lord but do not keep His commands are liars. If one is truly a believer, they have the Holy Spirit who will act in them and change them, and that change will be manifested with outward expression. Christians should always aim to bring glory to God, seek His honor, and yearn for eternal life with Him. This should cause Christians to be mindful that what comes out of their mouths also is represented in the works that they do.
The Judgement Throne of Christ
When the day of judgement comes, will the Jews have preferred treatment since they are God’s chosen people? In this sermon titled “The Judgment Throne of Christ” from Romans 2:11–16, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that no one will have any possible argument or excuse concerning the day of wrath. God is always just and His judgement is always according to truth. Dr. Lloyd-Jones unfolds this passage, pointing out that Paul has divided humankind into two groups: those who are under the law and those who are without the law. These two groups are the Jews and the Gentiles, respectively. Paul points out that Jews, who were given the law, will be judged by the law. This will be a higher and more severe standard of judgement since having the law means they had more opportunity. This shows how God is impartial and His judgement is fair. In the same manner, those who have heard the gospel and have been able to grow in grace and maturity in the Lord have greater responsibility today.
Written in their Hearts
Do unsaved people know God's law? Is it fair to judge Gentiles based on a law the Jews received but they did not? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how Paul anticipates that question and shows the universal guilt of all men for disobeying God's commandments. He explains that God has “written the law in their hearts” ¬– the conscience – and even so, all people can be judged according to their moral consciousness. The conscience is an individual’s sense of right and wrong, mostly telling us when something is wrong and condemning us for doing wrong things. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that even though Paul is answering potential questions on salvation, he is not explicitly talking about salvation in this passage. He is, however, talking about those who are under wrath and condemnation. Paul is also very explicit that no one can be justified by living up to the law or by living up to the conscience of their heart because no one can live up to either standard.
There are a few people in the Old Testament that were considered righteous but had never heard the gospel. How can this be? In the sermon titled “None Righteous,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains Romans 2:13–15 where Paul is careful to point out that they were not considered justified by the law, since no one can keep the law, but that they were a kind of people who knew the commandments of God and followed ordinances given by God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that these individuals understood that the ordinances given by God were the only way to approach the Lord and have their sins forgiven. They were not “good” pagans or “noble” philosophers, nor were they like so many who were not only hearers of the word. These Old Testament saints were doers of the word, whose faith was not in the law but in the Giver of the law. Philosophies, knowledge, and good works do nothing in the eyes of Christ if He is not truly known. Paul elaborates this in the second section of the passage by openly expressing how many Jews were guilty of hypocrisy. All are condemned and subject to God’s wrath, even the Jews who were given the law of the Lord. The Jews who relied on their possession of the law for salvation were severely misguided.
There is no difference between the Jews and Gentiles. No one is saved based on heritage or works. But with this sermon on Romans 2:17-24 about wrath and condemnation, the Jews were hypocritically stirring up excuses of why they were not subject to the judgement Paul was preaching. Paul carefully eliminated any excuse and showed how no one is righteous and all will be subject to wrath. Preaching on hypocrisy, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones exposes the conduct of a hypocrite: complacent, never examining themselves, preaching to others but not themselves, and criticizing others but not themselves. It is not enough to hear God’s word; one must also apply the truth and be humbled by it. This will produce an inward change. In the second half of the message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones discusses the Jews’ last resort excuse of circumcision. Paul carefully outlined that those who rely on this outward sign are missing the point that God only cares about the inward sign of true change and repentance. Circumcision is pointless unless it also comes with a changed heart. Let the Christian not rely on nationality, outward signs, or misguided truths but always be in humble adoration of a Lord that provided a way for salvation from wrath.