One down, thirteen to go! This is the main part of my reading goal for this year— to read through all 14 volumes of MLJ’s exposition of Romans. Pro tip: subscribe to the Martyn Lloyd-Jones podcast. The MLJ trust (www.mjjtrust.org) has converted all the audio recordings of his sermons to digital format. This basically allows you to make an audiobook out of this commentary. So every morning when I walk my dog I listen to a chapter. That is, I listen to one of his sermons.
How extraordinary they are! Preaching through Romans like MLJ did is one of those feats of strength and endurance that most people only read about. Like swimming the English Channel, or completing the Seven Summits. On October 7, 1955, MLJ began (on Friday nights, no less!) to teach through Romans. Thirteen years later, he concluded Chapter 14. The last word of the last sermon was “peace.”
After that, MLJ retired from his weekly pulpit duties because of illness. He did not complete the 16 chapters of Romans (slacker!) He spent the remaining years of his life editing the teaching notes and manuscripts that became this magnum opus.
Can you imagine a modern preacher doing that? He spent 29 weeks on the 32 verses of Romans 1, each sermon lasting almost 50 minutes. With no PowerPoint or video clips or LED lighting to set the mood or a worship leader to create the atmosphere.
Yet, to hear the sound of 1500 people rising to their feet for the closing prayer, on a Friday night, after this man spent fifty minutes on the phrase “called to be an apostle”— it is both a testimony to the power of God’s words spoken through a servant yielded to Him, as well as an indictment of how short our attention spans have grown in just half a century.
The sermons themselves are magnificent. As timely today in their critique of prosperity gospel and leader worship as they were in the decade immediately following WW2. If you read these, I can’t emphasize strongly enough how much it would benefit you to hear MLJ preach them. His style has been called “logic on fire,” and that is so apt. These are carefully constructed, systematic treatments of nearly every word of Romans, and the teaching leaps off the page. But then, you listen to the sermon! You hear Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his musical Welsh accent—with that epic rolling of the r’s—thunder about the r-r-r-rIGHTEOUSNESS of GOd! And the “grrrrrace of awr Lard Jesus Christ throughout our short uncertain pilgrimage.” Oh, if I could go back in time, it would be to London, on a Friday night in the early sixties. I would meet friends at a pub. We would have a pint of Guinness together. We’d walk to Westminster Chapel and settle in to our favorite wooden bench pew. Perhaps up in a corner of the horseshoe shaped balcony. And for the next hour, we would see and hear logic on fire, and come face to face with the righteousness of a holy God.
This year I’m trying to read through Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ 14 volume exposition of Romans. Lloyd-Jones began teaching through Romans on Friday nights at Westminster Chapel in London on October 7, 1955. Thirteen years later, at the end of chapter 14, he was forced to retire from the pulpit ministry because of illness. He spent the rest of his life editing the manuscripts of his sermons. All his sermons were recorded on tape, and are available at https://www.mljtrust.org/free-sermons/book-of-romans/