MLJ Trust Logo Image
Sermon #5213

The Essence of True Religion

A Sermon on 1 Samuel 4:22


1 Samuel 4:22 ESV KJV
And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” (ESV)

Sermon Description

Why is the church in such a dire situation? In this sermon on 1 Samuel 4:22 titled “The Essence of True Religion,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells that it is because the church in modern times has lost a sense of God’s presence. Just as in ancient Israel, the glory of the Lord departed when they turned away from God and sinned against Him, so in modern times something similar has taken place in the church. The people of God are no longer aware or sensitive to His presence. What is the answer to this great dilemma? Only by returning to God and by seeking His face can the church become faithful and able to fulfill its mission of preaching the gospel. Christians must reject all forms of materialistic religion that is devoid of true love for God and His word. The church should not try to attract unbelievers by appealing to their fleshly desires and unregenerate minds, but they must pursue true spiritual religion that is focused on God’s word and His glory. What does this sermon mean for the lives of ordinary believers? It is a call for all Christians to seek God according to true religion. It is a call for Christians to seek the presence of God anew in every generation.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The passage being discussed is 1 Samuel 4:21-22 which describes the glory of God departing from Israel.
  2. The sermon topic is the essence of true religion which is the presence and realization of the glory of God.
  3. The state of the world and church is terrible and serious. Despite efforts, the church is ineffective.
  4. The condition of the church today is one of deadness, discouragement and failure like in 1 Samuel 4.
  5. The trouble is neglecting the vital and most important thing - the glory of God. Everything else is useless without it.
  6. The glory of God means His presence, power and manifestation of interest in His people.
  7. You can have religion without the glory of God but it is useless. The glory is what makes true religion.
  8. The tabernacle was set up according to God's instructions but nothing happened until God's glory filled it. Our efforts are useless without God's glory.
  9. An illustration of a tram car - it needs power to move. The church needs God's power and glory.
  10. The vital importance of being sensitive to God's glory. Phineas' wife was sensitive to it. Many like Eli and his sons are not.
  11. Examples of longing for God's glory - Psalm 42, Psalm 80. God's people knew the glory and longed for its return.
  12. When the glory departs, God's people do not realize it and continue with religion. This is tragic.
  13. The glory of God is known through a sense of awe, wonder, holiness, purity, and God's majesty. It leads to a sense of unworthiness.
  14. An example of experiencing the glory of God - the revival at Princeton University.
  15. The glory of God departs gradually through failing to be sensitive, being content with mechanical religion, sin, and disobedience.

Old Testament

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.