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Notable Christians: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Nov 25, 2013

Where does one begin with someone as important as Martyn Lloyd-Jones? The superlatives keep rolling off the tongue. He was such an important, needed and influential Christian leader, statesman, preacher, theologian, evangelist and expositor of Scripture. “The Doctor,” as he is often referred to, was one of Britain’s greatest evangelicals, not only of the last century, but of all time.

Born in Cardiff in 1899, his 80-plus years were full and rich. He could have excelled in so many fields, and his early training in medicine, in which he proved to be such a brilliant student, seemed to confirm an illustrative career as a medical doctor. Indeed, by age 25 he had a number of medical qualifications.

lloyd-jones 4But a proper conversion experience in the early 1920s, and an embrace of Puritanism and what he called “Calvinistic Methodism” later that decade meant a change of course. He declined formal theological training, but soon embarked upon a lifetime of pastoral work. He first pastored in South Wales from 1927 to 1938.

From then he worked with another famous preacher, G. Campbell Morgan at Westminster Chapel in London, taking over his position in 1943. He stayed there until 1968, when bad health forced him into retirement. But he continued an itinerant ministry, and helped get his sermons into publishable form. He died in London in 1981.

During these years he also taught and preached at numerous colleges, and he had a long-standing involvement with the Inter-Varsity Fellowship. He also was involved in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and the Christian Medical Fellowship.

He helped to establish the Cambridge-based biblical research centre Tyndale House, and he was also partly involved in the founding of the Banner of Truth Trust in 1957. In 1950 the first annual Puritan Conference was held in his church, and he helped in the establishment of the London Theological Seminary in 1977.

Despite all these and other important activities, he is perhaps best known as one of our greatest expository preachers. So popular were these expository sermons that by the time of his retirement around 1500 people were packing in to hear him on Sunday mornings, and around 2000 on Sunday evenings.

Many of his lengthy series expounding on biblical books are now published in book form. For example, his exposition of the book of Romans, preached on Friday nights from 1955 to 1968, was eventually turned into a superb 14-volume set of around 5000 pages. Likewise his Sunday series of 260 sermons on Ephesians, preached from 1954 to 1962, is now available in eight volumes, totalling some 3000 pages.

Many volumes flowed from his hands, although he always gave priority to preaching. He discussed the nature and importance of preaching in his 1971 volume, Preaching and Preachers. His book The Puritans is a very valuable contribution to the subject, based on addresses delivered to the Puritan (later Westminster) Conferences from 1959 to 1978.

And his volume on revival reveals his deep interest in and love of Christian revivals. The book is based on a series of messages he gave on the topic to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Revival of 1859. Plenty of other volumes could be highlighted here, most of which are based on sermons or messages he gave.

For example, readers will want to get his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (based on 60 sermons); Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures; Great Doctrines of the Bible (3 vols.); and Authentic Christianity (6 volumes covering the first eight chapters of the book of Acts). All these volumes appear in various editions with various publishers – many from Banner of Truth.

Lloyd-Jones was a conservative evangelical and a Calvinist, although he greatly appreciated the experiential aspects of Methodism, and expressed his great gratitude to John Wesley. He had a great love of theology in general and the Puritans in particular. He championed the use of the mind and good theology, and was active in preaching, teaching and the promotion of evangelism and missions.

But he was not just someone to champion doctrine and biblical orthodoxy. He equally championed the Spirit-filled life, and the overwhelming importance of personal experience of the risen Christ. Thus he amply fulfilled the imperative of Paul: “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16).

His life was not free of controversy, and several episodes demonstrate that even great saints can become entangled in theological and ecclesiastical squabbles. His emphasis on Spirit-baptism as an event following on from conversion was of course not warmly received by many of his colleagues, and became a real point of controversy. For more on this see his 1984 volume Joy Unspeakable, which features sermons he gave on this in 1964-1965.

Also, his insistence that true believers must pull out of doctrinally compromised churches, and form fellowship with other biblical believers caused not a small stir. As harmful ecumenicism was on the increase, Lloyd-Jones did want to see genuine Christian unity, but not on the basis of watered-down doctrine and theology. A strong appeal to this end on an October night in 1966 especially heightened tensions in this regard.

But controversy is to be expected of any great man of God. All have known it, from Paul to Spurgeon, from Augustine to Stott. But his legacy lives on, with new editions and new versions of his works still appearing. No Christian should deprive himself of this great man and his great work. If you see anything by MLJ, grab it at once.

For further reading:

Obviously we cannot go beyond the masterful two-volume biography by Iain Murray (Banner of Truth, 1982, 1990), totalling well over 1200 pages. But for those who cannot stomach such a large biography, Murray has kindly offered us a shorter thematic biography, Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace (Banner of Truth, 2008).

A number of other good biographies also exist. One which is brief but worth recommending is Eryl Davies, Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones (EP, 2011). Another recent book well worth consulting is Engaging With Martyn Lloyd-Jones, edited by Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones (Apollos, 2011).

Also of help is an anthology of quotations from the Doctor in Tony Sargent, Gems from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. (Paternoster, 2007). And for more on Lloyd-Jones’ views on Spirit-baptism, see the 1989 volume by Michael Eaton, Baptism With the Spirit (IVP).

Finally, to get access to over 1,600 of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ sermons, see here: www.mljtrust.org/

So please, if you have not yet discovered the Doctor, you need to do so now. Happy reading and listening.

[1087 words]

13 Responses to Notable Christians: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

  • Many thanks for this, Bill.
    I’ve been a fan of Dr Lloyd-Jones from my earliest exposure to Spirit-filled theology.
    His ‘Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures’ rested on my hospital bedside table once.
    A group of doctors gathering around one day, noted the title and the book’s distinctive cover, leaving me with the feeling that I was reading something of substance.
    I look forward to more quotations of his in your work.

    Russell Guy

  • What a fool Iv’e been, now, to get my hands on some of these.
    Daniel Kempton

  • Good one Bill, Thanks for the advice to have a listen to this man of God. It’s so good to hear the Gospel preached with conviction and intellect in play.
    Damian Utano

  • Thank you, Bill, for introducing people to the great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

    One of his shorter works which I highly recommend is his book, Let Everybody Praise the Lord: An Exposition of Psalm 107. You’ll never read this psalm in quite the same way after you’ve read this book!

    Lloyd-Jones invites the reader to envisage the psalmist’s picture of a mighty choir, drawn from the four corners of the earth, united in praising God for His great mercy and power in rescuing sinners from the wilderness, freeing them from captivity, healing them from disease, and saving from from a terrible storm at sea.

    Lloyd-Jones shows how this great psalm accurately diagnoses the plight of humanity, and the sin which leads us there, but shows where we can find mercy and help.

    Read this book — and the psalm — and it’ll put great joy and strength in your heart.

    John Ballantyne, Melbourne.

  • Thank you Bill for this article.
    I have been listening to Lloyd-Jones’ sermons, and I totally understand why people were flocking to hear him preach.
    I highly recommend his sermons!

    Jeremy Hopwood
    A.C.T

  • Thanks for the link Bill. I’ve really enjoyed the teaching from Lloyd-Jones in the past – didn’t realise the whole set is now online.
    Andrew Stagg

  • Well done Bill. The book by Andrew Atherstone and Ceri Jones et al seems to me to be grinding some axes on the part of certain minnows around a whale (pardon the mixed metaphor). Iain Murray’s latest on Lloyd-Jones is particularly valuable for giving us more on the Doctor’s ongoing relations with John Stott and Jim Packer. As I note in my own review of the book, ‘they all emerge as bigger men than we might have formerly thought.’ Looking forward to reading further articles in what I hope will become a series.
    Bob Thomas

  • I was privileged to be introduced to the great man after a morning Service in 1957. While in London it was hard to stay away from Westminster Chapel. The late Frank McCracken and I were there together one Sunday evening when he preached on John 3:16. We looked at each other when MLJ finished and said “Whew!!” Believe it or not, it was scary.

    Elwyn Sheppard

  • As new Christians from non-believing parents my wife and I were greatly helped hearing Dr L-J in London in 1958-9. As a non-reader I developed my life-long taste for good Christian books

    Ray Levick

  • I don’t agree with all that M L-J wrote (he tended to sympathise in later life with the notion that Christians could be demon-possessed, something I strongly disagree with (oppressed, yes, but not possessed)) but in general I find his writings to be full of many good spiritual truths. I would also recommend the 2 volume biography of his life written by Iain Murray and published by Banner of Truth. Well worth the read.
    Mick Koster.

  • This was really helpful Mr M. I see why Mr Bracher was talking about Calvinism now since Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Calvinist. I can’t understand why that would be a problem to people since John Calvin was a brilliant man of God, like all the other brilliant men of God who would have taken issue with each other on various points of theology. I would just interest myself with the good in them and leave anything controversial to the academics to argue over, but Mr Bracher maybe an academic, of course.

    I followed your comments in your article and found- the banner of truth book shop online. That 14 set of books on Romans is £220 can you imagine that, no wonder I have never seen them in the charity shops. The banner of truth book shop do sell the books individually and my dad said he will buy me one every month until we have the set, then we will collect the set on Ephesians, however, there is always a however with my dad, he said he will buy a book each month with the expectation I will go a whole month without getting a detention or a letter home. I do not like it that way around since it will make me feel bad getting the reward without achieving the goal, and I haven’t just got to go one month, which is really, really difficult, but month after month and I know what my dad will do, he will hand me the book when I hand him the letter from my teacher!

    I have the Book from Amazon on marriage by, The Doctor. I am going to read that next. It would have been cheaper to buy it from- the banner of truth bookshop than Amazon UK!

    I did find some good books in my local charity shop on Saturday:-

    Gods high calling for women, by John MacArthur.

    Katie has it at the moment since she wanted to borrow my book on marriage to read, but I want to read it first, otherwise, Katie will start telling me about marriage since she is a year older than me.

    I found what looks like a brand new copy of-

    The Expository Genius of John Calvin, by Steven Lawson.

    I also found two really, really old books that I bet you haven’t got, really old Mr M.

    The Study Bible: Genesis. (A little Library of Exposition)

    Edited by John Stirling. Probably Moses right-hand man Mr M.

    by E Griffith-Jones, D.D. and A.C Welch D.D.

    I bet that it’s worth a lot of money. I may give this to Mr Newman since he is very interested in Genesis.

    And the final book is going to make you envious Mr M, it’s really, really, really old. 1946! it’s the ninth impression (not edition oddly).

    What To Teach and How To Reach The Young, by George Goodman.

    I was a little sad to see this book really since I wondered at what point there wasn’t another edition, as parents had become godless so their children would. I may beautify the cover of this book and give it as a gift to one of the retired Sunday school teachers, as he needs a little love since he is hurting and I don’t know why.

    I haven’t made a comment on what happened in NZ, as my dad said not to as it was for adults to comment on. I am an adult, but a young adult is what he means in case you were wondering.
    Sarah xx.

  • OK young Sarah. it looks like it is time for me to ‘fess up. It is true: I do not own every book in the world. I am thinking there still might 100. maybe 120, that I still don’t have. So give me a few more weeks, and all will be good!

    Yikes, some people like to hit you where it hurts! But seriously, it is neat that you got some cheapish books! Bless you again toots.

  • >>Mr M,
    Giggles and lol.

    S&K. xx

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