Hope for the World
Is there hope for the world? Is there a purpose and plan for the Christian? In this sermon on Ephesians 3:9–11 titled “Hope for the World,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses the question of hope amidst the seeming chaos and pointlessness of life on earth. The only hope is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the darkness of the world and in the minds of men and women, Christ is the light of the world. The world is God’s creation and He has had a plan and purpose for His creation since before the foundations of the earth were formed. This plan is revealed in God’s word, the Bible. The ultimate hope that is found in Christ does not, however, mean that the end of war, evil, and darkness will end in this age. The end of these things will come with the return of Christ. Rather, the Christian’s hope is the hope of salvation in Christ that points to the eternal home and reward, not a temporary peace in the circumstances of humanity.
Praying to the Father
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:14–15 titled “Praying to the Father,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stresses the importance of prayer and its practice from Paul’s example. Dr. Lloyd-Jones discusses prayer in three important principles from this passage. First, it is important that the apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesians. Even in the midst of his imprisonment he is praying. Prayer is a vital necessity for every believer in every circumstance. Second, Dr. Lloyd-Jones looks at the manner in which Paul is praying. He is praying with reverence. Though he has just mentioned earlier in the chapter that one can come to God in prayer with boldness, he shows here a heart of humility in how he approaches God in prayer. The Christian should be careful to evaluate how they come to God in prayer. It is not necessarily about the outward posture, but does the inward posture show humility in spirit before the Holy God when He is approached in prayer? Lastly, Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out the importance for Paul’s description of God here in the passage. He speaks of Him as being the Father of all. Jews and Gentiles alike are now fellow heirs, children of God, bearing the name of God and addressing Him as their Father.
The Inner Man
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:16 titled “The Inner Man”, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on the profound importance of the transformed inner man. He begins by pointing out Paul’s manner of prayer for the Ephesians. Paul begins by praying for the spiritual needs of the Ephesians and then goes on to pray for specific things that the Ephesians need. He does not pray that his own circumstances would be changed, nor that the circumstances of the Ephesians would be changed. Instead he focuses on spiritual need and specific needs. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then expresses the importance of the inner man and the heart, the center of the believer. For if the center (the thinking) and the heart of a person is set right, then everything else will fall into place. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that it is not that when one becomes a Christian that suddenly everything in the world is set right. The world is fallen and sinful, consequently full of disease and tribulation of many kinds, so that cannot be. Rather, when one becomes a Christian, they are being renewed daily in the inner man though the outer man is wasting away (2 Corinthians 4:16). The joy of the Lord is now their strength no matter the circumstance or the state of his outer self.
The Importance of Spiritual Growth
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:16 titled “The Importance of Spiritual Growth,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones seeks to answer the question of why it is so important that the Christian grow spiritually. He says that the inner self must be continually strengthened because of the continual battle against sin that all Christians experience as they live in a fallen world. There are many forces that Christians must always fight against and some of these come from within, such as sinful desires and the flesh. Others come from without, such as the world and the temptations of the devil. It is evident when Christians fail to grow spiritually and into maturity. They are beset by sins that they are unable to overcome, and they show a lack of interest in God’s word. They are often unable to understand God’s word because, as Paul says, they are babes and are not able to eat meat. This is why, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, it is so vital that Christians continually seek and pursue Christ and His word. Christians must fight sin not only by fleeing what is evil, but by growing in Christ as mature believers who desire the holy and good things of Christ more than they desire the evil and sinful things of this world.
The Indwelling Christ
All Christians should seek to know and love God more. In this sermon on Ephesians 3:17 titled “The Indwelling Christ,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that part of this pursuit is what he refers to as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This indwelling should be thought of differently from the sealing of the Holy Spirit that all believers experience when they are saved and regenerated. This experience of the indwelling of Christ is one that comes when Christians seek to cultivate deep and abiding love for Christ and his word. It is not a one-time experience or action, but it should continue throughout the life of all believers. This relationship can be thought of as a mystical union whereby Christ and the believer are united in a special and mysterious way. This is an objective experience that is not simply emotional, but it is born out of a real knowledge of who Christ is and what He has done in His death. Dr. Lloyd-Jones cautions that this great truth should not promote feelings of spiritual superiority in believers, but it should strengthen all believers in their pursuit of Christ in this life. This is not a special experience reserved for the spiritual elite, but it is something that all Christians can experience by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rooted in Love
How can one have an abundant life in Christ? What is the secret to living life to its fullest? In this sermon from Ephesians 3:17 titled “Rooted in Love,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones takes the listener through a section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians to answer these questions. In this section, Paul is praying that Christians will know and seek Christ Himself, not solely the blessings that He offers. The Christian’s primary ambition in life, Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, should not be to aim merely at a good life since all religions have a version of this. Rather, the Christian should have a holiness that flows out of their relationship with Him, and this happens when He dwells in the heart. What occurs when the Christian allows this to take place? As Paul prayed for his readers, they become rooted and grounded in love. The language he uses reminds the readers of a tree and just like the roots of a tree, their love is to grow deeper and stronger every day. “Knowledge,” Paul says, “puffs up, but love builds up.” One’s knowledge of God must drive them to an increased love of God since God is love (1 John 4:8). Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones encourages Christians to grow in love and reminds the listener of why this is so important for the Christian life.
In this sermon from Ephesians 3:18–19 titled “Experimental Christianity,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains why it is so important that Christians not only know the right things about God but also apply it to their lives. Many believers are like people who have been left a great fortune but do not realize it. God tells His children to apply their knowledge of Him to their lives, and part of this is not quenching the Spirit. Especially in today’s rationalistic culture, Christians are so wary of excess of emotion and the pitfalls it can bring in their relationship with the Lord that they cut themselves off to the depth of the knowledge of God about which Paul writes. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds that this fear of an excess is no reason to go to the extreme and leave no room for knowing God intimately in this way. Paul was adamant in proclaiming how much joy Christians can have by knowing the Spirit intimately, and Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives several examples to demonstrate that those who have been most fruitful for the Lord are those who knew Him intimately as a friend.
The Fullness Experienced
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:19 titled “The Fullness Experienced,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the fullness of Christ that Paul speaks of is not a theoretical idea, but it is at the very heart of the Christian life. For all Christians should live a life that is marked by the transforming presence of Christ and His gospel. Christians live this life by pursuing Christ and seeking to come to a deeper understanding of who He is. It requires self-examination of one’s heart and actions. It is primarily by reading God’s word and seeking Him in prayer that believers come to a greater knowledge of who they are and their relationship to Christ. This requires Christians to subject themselves wholly and completely to God’s word and Holy Spirit. This includes their emotions and desires, as well as their mind and intellect. As this happens throughout the lives of Christians, they grow in both their knowledge and love of God and Jesus Christ. For this reason, Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the listener to grow in sanctification daily by taking up one’s cross and forsaking sin and unrighteousness. This is one of the most important marks of a true Christian. They continually seek God throughout their lives and strive to know him more every day.
Practical Application of Doctrine
There are often two types of people within Christianity. There are those who focus primarily on intellect and right doctrine and they forget about right living. And there are those who focus primarily on mystical experiences concerning God and they forget about right doctrine. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:1 titled “Practical Application of Doctrine,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones introduces the second half of Ephesians by giving a clear connection between both right doctrine and right living. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the listener to read the Bible rightly within its context because it is the doctrine and the truths of Scripture that should inform their living. These two truths should not be separated; rather they are connected in a way that motivates sanctification. Learning doctrine and experiencing the blessings of God is not sanctification, but instead they stimulate sanctification just as the sun and the rain stimulates the growth of a plant. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the listener by asking if they truly believe the glorious truths covered in the previous three chapters of Ephesians. If they do, then the logical conclusion is that they must act upon those truths with the practical application that Paul gives in the last three chapters. Be encouraged by this exhortation to work out salvation by both learning right doctrine and living obediently to the word of God.
Do different people inside the church receive different gifts? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:7–11 titled “Differing Gifts,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helps the listener understand gifts in the church. It is vital to understand that Christ alone is the head of the church, not any one person. This is important because God has given what Dr. Lloyd-Jones calls “special graces” to each member of the church through Jesus Christ. Sometimes referred to today as “gifts,” these help believers to function as part of the church body. One of the duties of individual believers is to discover these graces in their lives and utilize them for the glory of God. How do these relate to the needs of the church or an individual’s calling in his or her life? Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes to great lengths to demonstrate from Scripture and personal experience that individual needs do not call people; rather, God calls some people to help with one need and others to serve in a different capacity. God uses people’s different calls and gifts individually for the harmonious working of the whole body of Christ. Finally, how are believers to view their gifts in light of those belonging to others? Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows that Christians must not focus on what others have, but rather to be wise stewards of the gifts that God has given them as that is what they are held accountable.
Christians are designed by God to live in unity together. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:14–16 titled “Growing Up,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes this strong point as he shows the balance and community needed to live the Christian life. As believers become stronger and more firm in their faith, they also grow in the body of Christ. Paul says that all Christians have different and varying roles, but all are essential for the life of the church and one’s personal spiritual growth. It is simply impossible for a Christian to grow as they should when they are not part of a community of believers. This message is of increasing importance in the loneliness and isolation of today’s world. As Christ is the head of the church, so all Christians are connected to Him and to each other as a part of this living organism. All parts are connected to one another and serve a specific role in the life of the church. All believers ought to strive to live in such a way so that they are living in fellowship and harmony with all believers and Christ Jesus who is the head. This is the only way to grow fully in maturity for which all believers should be continually striving.
Be Up and Doing!
Just how does a Christian shed the sins that characterize their past? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:24 titled “Be Up and Doing!” listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how this is done by applying the truth of God’s word throughout every area of one’s life. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for Christians to take time to study Scripture and commune with God in prayer. This is to be done in a community of believers, the church, and individually. However, there are many who claim to be Christians and putting off the old self. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, for them it is nothing more than an external action and a façade. Often, they do it every Sunday so that they will look holy and pious, but it is spiritual hypocrisy and self-deception. For true sanctification and holiness is something that comes from the heart that has been transformed in the gospel, truly knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. True Christians do not perform good works simply so that they would appear righteous, but they desire to seek God from a new heart that has been filled with love. This spiritual seeking is genuine and true.