Sermon on the Mount (Martyn Lloyd-Jones): General Introduction

Why study the Sermon on the Mount? The church is superficial. An outstanding characteristic of the Church is superficiality. Evangelistic efforts tends toward boisterousness, which is shocking. Her conception of holiness and approach to sanctification is shallow.

Why is the church shallow? Poor/wrong way of studying the Bible. A main cause is our attitude toward the Bible. We fail to take it seriously as our sole authority. We fail to study the Bible in the right manner.

  • We read/study the Bible mechanically without meaningful thought and meditation. If we read the Bible without understanding it, we read it to our own destruction! (2 Pet 3:16)
  • We read/study the Bible with our favored theory and fit that theory everywhere. We over-emphasize one aspect and under-emphasize another.
  • We confuse the relationship between law and grace. We emphasize the law and turn the glorious gospel of grace into pure legalism and a collection of moral maxims. Or we over-emphasize grace at the expense of the law.
God's Grace NEVER excuses a Christian from keeping the law. Even Paul was accused of antinomianism when he preached the Gospel (Acts 21:21). When Paul taught the gospel of God's grace and that we Christians are under grace and not under law (Rom 6:14), his detractors criticized him for teaching that people can keep on sinning so that grace may increase (Rom 6:1,15). Twice, Paul's abrupt emphatic response is, "By no means!" (Rom 6:2,15) That we are not under law but under grace does not mean that we need not keep the law. Christ kept the law. A Christian's righteousness must surpass that of the legalistic Pharisees (Mt 5:20). Personally facing the Sermon on the Mount helps us to seriously keep the plain teaching of Jesus (Mt 7:20-23; Lk 6:45-46), and not abuse the grace of God.

3 Faulty Views of the Sermon on the Mount:
  1. The social gospel. The social gospel views the Sermon as a way to live, while ignoring who we are as described in the Beautitudes, which show that "no man can live the Sermon on the Mount in and of himself, and unaided."
  2. As an exposition/elaboration of the Law. By elaborating on the Law (which the Sermon does) also fails to take account of the Beautitudes, which immediately takes us into a realm that is beyond the law of Moses completely.
  3. The dispensational view. The dispensational view regards that the Sermon was for the disciples and for the church age to come, but that it has nothing to do with us  in the present.
God reigns today in every true Christian. "The Sermon on the Mount is nothing but a great and grand and perfect elaboration of what our Lord called His 'new commandment.'" Love one another as He has loved us (Jn 13:34). According to the dispensational view, the kingdom is yet to come. But it is also a kingdom which has come. "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near" (Mk 1:15). Jesus is with those who are gathered in his name (Mt 18:20). The kingdom of God has come in our midst (Lk 17:21). The kingdom of God is in every true Christian, and in the Church. It means 'the reign of God,' 'the reign of Christ,' and Christ is reigning today in every true Christian. The kingdom has come, the kingdom is coming, the kingdom is yet to come.
Because you are a Christian--live this way; forgive because you are already forgiven. The Jews had a false materialistic conception of the kingdom, expecting a Messiah to give them political emancipation to deliver them from the bondage and yoke of Rome. But the kingdom of God is something 'within you.' It is that which governs and controls the heart and mind and outlook. It is not necessarily spectacular, but 'poor in spirit.' Its teaching is not "Live like this and you will become a Christian." Rather, it is, "Because you are a Christian, live like this." Similarly, you forgive because you are already forgiven. You do not forgive in order to be forgiven. If you cannot forgive, it is because you do not know that you are forgiven.
4 Reason to Study the Sermon on the Mount:
  1. Christ Died to Enable us to Live the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus died to make this possible for me.
  2. It shows me the Absolute Need of the New Birth, and the Work of the Holy Spirit Within. The Beautitudes crush me to the ground. They show me my utter helplessness. Were it not for the new birth, I am undone.
  3. We Experience Blessing when we Live and Practice the Sermon on the Mount. To be filled, face the Sermon on the Mount and its implications and demands, see your utter need, and then you will get it. It is the direct road to blessing.
  4. It is the Best Means of Evangelism. Lloyd-Jones is tired of saying that what the Church needs to do is not to organize evangelistic campaigns to attract outside people, but to begin herself to live the Christian life.Christians claim to believe that the Son of God has come into the world and has sent His own Holy Spirit into us. His own absolute power that will reside in men and make them live a quality of life like His own. He came, and lived and died and rose again and sent the Holy Spirit in order that you and I might live the Sermon on the Mount.
If only all of us Christians were living the Sermon on the Mount, men would know that there is a dynamic in the Christian gospel; they would know that it is real; they would not go looking for anything else.
  1. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Chap 1: General Introduction.
  2. List of Books by ML-Jones.
  3. Top 5 Lessons from the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
  4. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: 20 Lessons from His Life.