Thursday, September 20, 2012

D Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the state of the Christian Church (Ephesians 5:2)

Quote from D Martyn Lloyd-Jones from her sermon on Ephesians 5:2 (preached sometime between 1954 and 1962):
I can tell you why the Christian Church is as she is. She has been evacuating the biblical doctrine of the cross from the death of the cross, and has been describing it as some vague manifestation of love. Then she has been weeping in sorrow and in sympathy for Him. But he said to the women of Jerusalem, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves"; do not be sorry for Me, he said, I have come to do this. "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." All the Scriptures, from beginning to end, emphasise the same thing, that it is in Christ's sacrificial work that we see the love of God; that God sent, and gave Him up even to the death of the cross, and laid upon Him, His only begotten Son, the sins of men. "God so loved the world that he gave" - to the shame, the agony, the suffering, the separation between His Son and Himself when He was made sin - "He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". That is the measure of the love!
["Darkness and Light: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:17-5:17", The Banner of Truth Trust (1982), pp309-310]

Paul's formula, of Christ's love and giving of himself

There is a phrase Paul uses three times in the New Testament, almost like a formula, and I can't help but think it is a favourite phrase or expression of his, something he loved to dwell-on, and a "game-changer" for his life. It is simple but profound, and occurs these three times:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me [Galatians 2:20]

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [Ephesians 5:2]

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her [Ephesians 5:25]

Often the Scriptures speak of God giving his one and only Son, and also of the those evil men who gave Jesus over to be crucified. But in Paul's expression he makes clear that Jesus gave himself, and that was a measure of his great love for sinful, undeserving people. The LXX uses some similar wording in Isaiah 53:12, and perhaps Paul's phrase arose out of a meditation upon that verse, as well as a consideration of Jesus' own words in John 10:18 etc. Whatever the origin may have been in Paul's thinking, it is a truth that God has recorded in the Scriptures to change our lives. How much are we willing to give to him who loved us so?