OK, admittedly this article will only appeal to a rather small group – miniscule perhaps. But it will be a big hit for all those who like the following:
-the book of Romans
Now if you happen to be a fan of all five, then you will be very keen indeed about what follows. If not, please tune out now – I can’t please everyone! I am referring here of course to the majestic 14-volume expository commentary series on the book of Romans by “The Doctor”: Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Delivered as a series of sermons between 1955 and 1968 at Westminster Chapel, London, it is a monumental achievement.
At 5078 pages – to be precise – it is a goldmine of exegetical and expository excellence, timeless theological truths, and spiritual nuggets. While I happen to have two dozen other commentaries on Romans (one cannot have too many commentaries on this book you know), this certainly takes pride of place.
Of course expository commentaries based on sermons are a different beast than regular critical and academic commentaries. But one really needs to have both. Other expository sets exist of course – for example, one thinks of the great four-volume set by James Montgomery Boice.
And as to the other type of commentaries, one can recommend many: Douglas Moo (NIC); Leon Morris (PNTC); Thomas Schreiner (ECNT); and so on. So there are different volumes available serving different purposes. But one must always have at least one expository commentary on any one biblical book – and in this case you get 14 volumes worth.
So I encourage you to get it. True, it is not always easy to find the entire set – new or used. Banner of Truth continues to issue them however. I picked up my set one volume at a time – over a number of years. My very first volume was Atonement and Justification (3:20-4:25), which I procured in Madison, Wisconsin 33 years ago – on August 8, 1980 to be precise.
And I only recently grabbed my final volume. Of course finding these today can be an expensive venture. While I got some second-hand, and some new, I still probably dished out some $300 over the years for all 14 volumes. One would be hard-pressed to get all them for that price anymore today. But making the effort will be well worth it.
Yet if the expense of getting it, or the time spent on reading it, is a deterrent for you, perhaps I can best entice you by finishing with some quotes from the series. If they don’t get your attention and encourage you to start tracking down these volumes, then I don’t know what will.
“My dear friends, it is not enough that you and I should be clear about the evangel; our methods of evangelism must correspond to the Scriptures as much as our message does, and here is the method. He starts with the wrath of God, not with the needs of people as such, not with the things which were worrying them, not with that sin which gets them down, which they cannot overcome; nor with their unhappiness, and so on. Not at all! He does not mention these things. Instead, he speaks of the wrath of God!”
“A very good way of testing any view that you may hold is to ask, ‘Is this view humbling to me and glorifying to God?’ If it is, it is probably right. You will not go far wrong if whatever you are holding is glorifying God and humbling man. But if your view seems to glorify you and to query God, there is no need to argue or to go into details – it is wrong.”
“Do we delight to talk about free grace and free gift? Pharisees never do so because they realize that these terms make them out to be paupers as all others. They like to feel that they have earned salvation or at least that they have made a contribution towards it.”
“If we go back and read the great story of the Christian church in every period of revival and reawakening, we will find that this note of repentance has always been central and it has always been primary.”
“Do we realize that if we truly understand the doctrine of justification by faith we have already grasped the essence and nerve of the New Testament teaching about holiness and sanctification? Have we realized that to be justified by faith guarantees our sanctification, and that therefore we must never think of sanctification as a separate and subsequent experience? The Apostle’s entire argument has been this, that if we truly realize what is meant by justification, we realize that it inevitably means that we are ‘in Christ’ also, and that that guarantees our deliverance from sin and our final glorification.”
“We should thank God for every time that we are disturbed. We should thank God when we are ever forced to examine ourselves, to make sure whether we are in the faith or not. There is no greater danger to our highest interests than this kind of easy believism which is really not the work of the Holy Spirit at all.”
“The most terrible aspect of falling into sin is not so much that I have failed, or that I have fallen, or that I am miserable, or that I need release, but that I have failed God and misrepresented Him, and that men and women in the world will know nothing about His praise, His glory, His virtues, His excellencies. They will say that to be a Christian makes no difference, that Christians are like themselves after all. They will ask, Where is the difference? So they may dismiss Christianity and Christ. It is as we realize that we are His representatives, that we are the channels that He has chosen by means of which He will show forth His own glory, His own excellency, His own power and the wonder of His ways, that we shall proceed to deal with the problem of sin.”
“If you are suffering as a Christian, and because you are a Christian, it is one of the surest proofs you can ever have of the fact that you are a child of God.”
“The greatest danger confronting the Christian is not so much the opposition of the world as the enticements of the world.”
“If you are not amazed at yourself you are not a Christian, my friend! All Christians are miracles and they should be amazed at themselves. They have this new life within them, this life from God, they are ‘partakers of the divine nature’. What am I talking about? The riches of God’s glory!”
“If you are only a moralist and not a Christian, you will not be ‘abhorring’ evil. There is only one thing that can ever make you ‘abhor that which is evil’, and that is a positive love for God. You will never understand the nature of evil until you understand something of the doctrine of the holiness of God, for evil is the opposite of that.”
“True evangelism always suggests the whole of the doctrine. It always has an element of law and of condemnation. It always has a reference to God. There is a superficial evangelism which puts the gospel entirely in terms of human beings. Are you unhappy? Are you worried? Do you want this or that? Come to Christ and you will get it. And so people come. They have never trembled under the holy law of God, and that is because they were never taught it.”