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 …
Stewards of the Mysteries
Is there any advantage to being a Jew? The apostle Paul understands this questioning might come up after all he has said about their guilt. However, his point was to prove that the whole world was condemned by sin before God. In this sermon from Romans 3:1–2 titled “Stewards of the Mysteries,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains Paul’s words that showed that Jews do have one advantage: they were given the divine oracles of God. They were entrusted with the living revelation of God’s word and were tasked with keeping it safe and spreading the truth to others. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that there is no higher privilege for any human than to be spoken to directly by God. God spoke to Moses by giving him the Ten Commandments and Moses brought them to God’s chosen people, the Jews. To have this kind of knowledge should lead to repentance and to seek salvation from God. In the same manner, does the Christian understand what kind of advantage it is for them to have an open Bible? They have the living Word of God in front of them and are entrusted to keep the truth and share it with others.
The Faith of God Without Effect?
If God forgives sin, then why stop? That is the question asked of the preacher since Paul wrote the book of Romans. In the sermon from Romans 3:3 titled “The Faith of God Without Effect?”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outlines three arguments that explain how critical repentance is to true saving faith and how that faith leads believers away from a life of entrenched sin. Dr. Lloyd-Jones, preaching about the faithfulness of God, asks: “Did Israel’s unfaithfulness do away with all of the value they had because they had the oracles of God? If the failure of the Jews makes God look more glorious, then why does God punish them? If our sin makes God’s grace and mercy that much greater, then would it not make sense to sin even more?” As Dr. Lloyd-Jones answers these critical arguments, he also reminds the listener that when they test a view of the Lord and His word, they should ask if that view glorifies God. If the answer causes one to question or doubt God in all His faithfulness, righteousness and power, then the view is wrong.
There is None Righteous
Is there anyone without sin? What characterizes human nature apart from God? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones outlines Romans 3:9¬-20 as Paul explains human characteristics when they are apart from God. First, there is none righteous apart from God, as He is the only way to salvation. No one fully understands spiritual truth or divine things because their mind has only a secular nature. They lack much understanding when it comes to sin, the wrath of God, true happiness, and their own eternal understanding. Humanity is so lost in its understanding that it naturally strays from God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones illustrates how these natural inclinations are manifested in human behavior, where sin starts in the heart and then to progresses to mouths and feet. While human instinct is to run from God, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows the absolute necessity of God’s way of salvation.
Man Under Sin
The word of God is a terrifying mirror to those who are not saved. No one is innocent as all have sinned, Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul quotes the Psalms to prove his point: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). The Jews had access to the Old Testament, yet they were tragically blind in regards to their own Scriptures and Paul reminds them of what God has stated multiple times. All are under the guilt of sin and all have been born into sin through Adam. In the sermon from Romans 3:10–12 titled “Man Under Sin,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that it is essential to understand this before one can truly understand the gospel. A person must understand how truly sinful and deceitful human nature is. This will lead to evangelism, showing people their need for salvation by convicting them first of their sin. Paul continues in giving a greater description of sin and how it distorts their view of the world, humankind, and God. Even if the Jews attempted to argue that they were not under condemnation, Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul was attempting to thwart all arguments by providing adequate evidence.
The Fear of the Lord
Why does one sin? What drives them to chase after everything that dishonors God? The underlying answer is quoted from Psalm 36 in this Romans passage: “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). In this sermon from Romans 3:18–20 titled “The Fear of the Lord,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains fear as reverential awe, a desire to worship God, an understanding that God is the judge of all the earth, and a fear of punishment. The unsaved do not fear the eternal punishment of the holy God. In this passage, Paul also points out that the very law in which the Jews boast has also condemned them. All guilty under sin. Paul has stressed this repeatedly in recent passages and Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that it is because every mouth needs to be stopped. Scripture shows the standard that all must live up to and that standard shows how humans are truly vile. That alone should silence all arguing and excuses. Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks the listener to examine the heart and mouth and ask if they are still doubting or arguing against the almighty God or has their mouth been stopped by His righteousness and grace? Thanks be to God who by His Son saves from sin.
Imagine that a person was on trial for a crime that they had committed. The odds are all stacked against them and they were pronounced guilty. The law rightly condemns them as guilty. However, when the judge is set to announce the punishment, the judge says that they are free. This is how Paul explains justification. It is a legal term and a declaration that Christ no longer condemns the sinner and now regards them as righteous. In this sermon from Romans 3:20 titled “Justification Explained,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that it is not that Christians are righteous; it is a removal of sin and a pronouncement from the Lord that He considers them righteous. Paul understands that the Jews had fallen into a trap, thinking that they were able to be justified by the law that they were given. However, God gave the law to show how truly sinful everyone is and how they are in need of a Savior. Dr. Lloyd-Jones further illustrates how the word justification is used throughout Scripture and how the Roman Catholics defined the word. He makes interesting points of how the modern day Christian generally does not understand the definition of many key words used throughout Scripture. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also examines the difference between justification and sanctification.
The Turning Point: But Now
When God interrupts human history, everything changes. Up until this point in Romans, Paul has emphasized wrath and judgement for all since all are guilty of sin and under condemnation. The tone of this letter completely changes in this section with these two small words: “but now.” In this sermon on Romans 3:21-31 titled, “The Turning Point: But Now,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones breaks up the text into two main sections, outlining that Paul has finally begun to discuss the way of salvation and the characteristics of the way of salvation. After much talk of wrath and destruction, it seems like a relief to see that the Lord has provided a righteousness and revealed it. This righteousness is by nothing that anyone has done because it is received only through faith. Both Jews and Gentiles can rejoice because this gift was planned before the foundation of the world, entirely by God’s grace, and open to all. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that everything about salvation points to the glory of God. Any idea that humanity has concerning salvation should always conform to this one passage of Scripture and nothing about salvation should deny any of these statements.
More than Forgiveness
How can the righteousness of God become ours? Is it given to believers through works or by faith? In this sermon on Romans 3:21-31 titled “More than Forgiveness,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the righteousness of God is not obtained by works of the law or merely an acceptance in the mind of truth. Righteousness is given when there is a true trust in Christ’s work in salvation. This trust results not only in forgiveness of sins but by the believer being clothed in the very righteousness of God. It is important to understand that forgiveness of sins by itself is not enough for salvation. This belief misconstrues the holy and just nature of God that requires satisfaction of the law’s demands. Therefore, the believer must have a righteousness that satisfies God and so the clothing of the believer in righteousness not his own is essential. May this truth move our hearts to rejoice in this great act of God done on our behalf through Christ’s work.
By Free Grace Alone
Just as a prisoner needs to pay a price to obtain freedom, sinners also need to pay a ransom for freedom. However, the Lord in His kindness has paid the price and given freedom to the Christian. In this sermon titled “By Free Grace Alone,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches from Romans 3:24 and breaks the verse into three parts: the reminder of what salvation really is, how salvation becomes the Christian’s, and how it is possible for God to do this for His people. In this verse, Paul explains free justification by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Because of that work, the Christian has been declared righteous. This does not mean that they are currently righteous, but that the Lord has deemed them so. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that the present tense of the word “justifying” means that Christians are currently being justified. The listener is reminded that this salvation is a free gift to all, both Jew and Gentile. While the law reveals sin, God’s grace gives a free pardon. This is only possible because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The term used here is the same term as a prisoner being set free and Christ has set His people free from the slavery of sin.
Jesus saves sinners, but how are they redeemed in Christ and why did it have to happen in that way? In Romans 3:25, Paul says that God was a “propitiation” for our sins in order to declare His righteousness to the sinner. In the sermon titled “Propitiation,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that this word means to appease and avert anger or wrath. The cross of Jesus Christ was needed to appease God’s wrath. Propitiation implies four things: an offense to be taken away, an offended person who needs to be pacified, a guilty person, and a sacrifice of atonement for the offense. Also in this message, Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns about various translations of the Bible. Many who have translated this specific passage have misplaced the word “propitiation” with “expiation,” giving the verse a completely different context. This happens because personal prejudices can sway the translations. In either case, it is to be clear that without propitiation, the Lord cannot have a personal relationship with a person when there is sin present. This is the reason that Christ had to be the ultimate sacrifice to pay the atonement for sins.
The Blood of Jesus Christ
The Old Testament proclaims the need for a savior. Even the Jews knew to look for a messiah. By saying “in his blood,” Paul is alluding to the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Prior to Christ’s sacrifice, believers would have to sacrifice a clean animal in order for their sins to be blotted out. The blood of the animal is what deemed their sins forgiven, meaning that the death of the animal was necessary. The term “blood” is used to bring this teaching in line with the whole teaching of the Old Testament. In this sermon about “The Blood of Jesus Christ” from Romans 3:25, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that any interpretation of the New Testament should never contradict the teaching of the Old Testament. In contrast, Paul is now saying that blood means life rather than death. Since the Jews only thought of life in regards to a body, Christ’s sacrifice now shows that the blood He poured out means life. The Jews had to find an animal to be their substitute, but now God Himself has made Christ the substitute once and for all. In this sermon, Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages rejoicing in the blood of Christ because He has paid the ransom.
The Vindication of God
Perhaps no other theme is preached more often in evangelical churches than the cross of Christ. Evangelical Christians regularly sing songs and hymns of God’s love and specifically of the forgiveness found only at Calvary. What could be wrong with this? In this sermon from Romans 3:25–26 titled “The Vindication of God,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on the cross of Christ in great detail. Dr. Lloyd-Jones addresses that it is not so much what is said about the cross of Christ, but what is often neglected. Evangelical Christians must never neglect the full doctrine of the atonement. They must not forget that the cross of Christ not only displays the love of God but also the justice of God. The atonement of Christ is where God indicates His holy name. At Calvary, the wrath of God is poured out against sin and the righteousness of God is vindicated. Listen to this sermon on vindication by Dr. Lloyd-Jones on an often neglected attribute of God and see how God’s character is much more than love; He is also just and righteous.
Merely knowing the truth will not save anyone. The Jews are a vivid example of this desperate condition as they often they prided themselves as God’s chosen people and thus did not need Paul’s teachings. However, Paul shows that boasting in works or heritage will do nothing in terms of one’s salvation. Salvation is open to all people, yet there is nothing that one actually does that merits salvation; it is truly only by the work of the Lord. It may seem that Paul has been repeating the same statements several times in the previous chapters of this epistle, and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones adds that this is because the message is crucial and because of sin, the truth does not always appear right away to those who are listening. In this sermon on Romans 3:27–31 titled “Boasting Excluded,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones also shows that all are guilty of boasting. Sometimes a Christian may say that their faith or works are the reason they receive salvation, but that is wrong. One’s faith is merely the instrument by which they receive salvation, and their works are merely the outward expression of the work of the Lord. The Christian should be very mindful that their faith is not only intellectual or a belief; it must be a true element of trust and commitment in their lives.
There are groups of people from different religions who join to worship together, claiming that they all worship the same God. But Paul states emphatically that there is indeed only one God and that there is only one way to receive salvation. Those who have different religions and different means to God are completely wrong. When the Jews claim that they are God’s chosen people, Paul refutes this by saying that the Lord Jesus is a God for all. The people who will receive salvation are those that believe in Christ, no matter if they are Jew and Gentile. There is now equal opportunity because Christ has broken down all partitions between the Jews and Gentiles. In the sermon “Distinctions Abolished” from Romans 3:29–31, Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns against those who think that they are saved because their parents are saved, or that the gospel is only for a select few, or that all religions worship the same God. All will be held accountable to the one true and living God.
The Law Established
The law of God condemns but the grace of God saves. So what room is there to boast? There are three deductions that Paul is drawing with his description of salvation: there can no longer be any boasting, the gospel is for all people without distinction, and the gospel establishes the law. Some Jews may feel that with this new message about receiving salvation through faith means that their law is void, but Paul says that is unthinkable. This salvation is a justification whereby God has declared His people as righteous in His sight. In this sermon titled “The Law Established” from Romans 3:31, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that Paul is repeating what the Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord honored the law in His active obedience and nothing that He would do would prove the law void. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides seven points of how the cross and salvation honors the law and discusses reasons why people would reject this teaching.