Monday, March 01, 2021

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) - A Personal Appreciation

40 years ago today, on March 1st 1981 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones passed into eternity. It is somehow fitting that the great Welsh preached entered into glory on "St David's Day", the National Day of Wales. I never knew "the Doctor". Not once did I hear him preach. He died some years before I was converted. But Lloyd-Jones, through his books and example has had a formative influence on my life.

The Church in which I was converted during the mid 1980's had a growing Pentecostal and Charismatic element. Our young people were encouraged to meet with a neighbouring Pentecostal Young People's Fellowship. I was in my late teens at the time and had a growing interest in the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. My home Church hosted a book evening. I spotted a book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the baptism and gifts of the Spirit entitled Prove All Things. I had not heard of the author, but the subject matter grabbed me. Before I became a Christian, I was not at all interested in books, leaving school at 16 with few qualifications. But as a new believer I found I had an insatiable desire to know more about the Christian faith. 

Little did I know that this book was to transform my outlook. Most of the Christian literature I had read up to that point was testimony type books, light on doctrine but full of wonderful experiences. But in Prove All Things, I encountered another world. Here was a man who took the text of Scripture seriously and thought deeply about the things of God. The writer was steeped in the works of the great Reformers and Puritans. Lloyd-Jones urged his readers to test all spiritual experiences by the Scriptures. I became disenchanted with the Charismatic Movement and longed for something with more Biblical depth. The writings of "the Doctor" were able to point me in the right direction.

In my early 20's I began to read through Lloyd-Jones' magnificent sermons on the Epistle to the Romans. This was the beginning of my theological education. "The Doctor's" preaching was intellectually demanding, doctrinally profound, thoroughly practical and wonderfully experimental.

When I felt called to the Ministry of the Word, my lay-pastor lent me his copy of Lloyd-Jones' Preaching and Preachers. This book has shaped my view of the pastoral ministry and preaching more than any other. I do not even try to emulate "the Doctor's" preaching style. But I practice the systematic exposition of whole books of the Bible and long that my preaching may be Holy Spirit anointed "logic on fire". When it came to choosing a theological seminary to prepare for the Ministry, I applied to the London Seminary . The seminary was founded by Lloyd-Jones in 1977 and seeks to train men for the Ministry with a strong emphasis on the preaching of the Word of God.

.Let me try to sum up some of the ways that "the Doctor" has influenced my Christian life and ministry:

Reformed Doctrine Lloyd-Jones preached the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He proclaimed this deeply Biblical theology of grace that was rediscovered at the Reformation and exemplified by the Puritans and Calvinistic Methodists.

Revival "the Doctor" had a great burden for an outpouring of the Spirit upon the Church. He agreed with Jonathan Edwards, that the Church has grown and developed throughout history as a result of mighty God-given revivals. The need of the hour is not to find "new ways of doing church", important as that may be, but a heaven-sent, Christ glorifying revival.

Unity and Separation I believe that Lloyd-Jones was spot-on in 1966 when he called upon Evangelicals to withdraw from their ecumenically compromised denominations and come together as Bible-believing Christians.

Preaching Mrs Lloyd-Jones said that her husband was "first of all a man of prayer and then an evangelist". Lloyd-Jones is well known for his lengthy sermon series on Romans and Ephesians. What is less well known is that he preached evangelistically every Sunday evening at Westminster Chapel. I believe that sinners and saints alike need to hear the "old old story of Jesus and his love" in all its magnificent depth and richness.

The Value of History "the Doctor" loved Church history. That is one of the things that struck me when I read Prove All Things. The study of Church History and Christian biography is inspirational. We are reminded of what the Lord did in the past with ordinary men and women. Our understanding of the Bible is enriched in communion with the Theological reflection of the past. Familiarity with historical Theology also helps to keep the Church from doctrinal eccentricities and oddities.

The Life of the Mind Lloyd-Jones emphasised the importance of reading, study and scholarship. He helped deliver British Evangelicalism from the shallows of anti-intellectualism. "The Doctor" read widely and deeply. He was abreast of the latest trends in secular and Theological thinking. He was profoundly shaped by the Reformers, Puritans and Jonathan Edwards, but Lloyd-Jones was not their prisoner. He knew that no generation of Christians ever has a monopoly on the Truth. Everything must be tested by Scripture. The life and ministry of this great preacher gave UK Evangelicalism a new Theological depth. How can preaching be "theology on fire", if preachers fail to engage in theological reflection and study?

I commend to you the life and ministry of Martyn-Lloyd Jones. Read Iain Murray's Two Volume Biography, The First Forty Years & The Fight of Faith (Banner of Truth Trust). The second volume will give you a bibliography of Lloyd-Jones' publications. Murray has also published a single volume Life of D. M. Lloyd-Jones

* An earlier version of this article was posted on the blog in 2006. 

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