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    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Christian Life

From the pen of Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

I have always found it depressing to listen to the kind of people who, whenever you meet them, will always for sure tell you the story of their conversion many years ago. They tell you that story every time. I have known people do exactly the same thing with revival. There is always something about an initial experience that is remarkable and outstanding. And a time of revival is so amazing and wonderful that it is not surprising that people go on talking about it. But, if they give the impression that they have had nothing since that wonderful experience, that ever after they have been walking through a wilderness, and traveling through a desert, then it is absolutely wrong. Their idea of the Christian life is of a dramatic experience, perhaps at the outset, after which they just trudge along, living on the strength of that and partly keeping their eye turned backwards as they go forward.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Christian And The Covenant

Born in South Wales, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones trained at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and thereafter practiced as a physician. After leaving medicine in 1927, he became the minister of the Welsh Presbyterian Church in Aberavon, South Wales. In 1938 he moved to London to share the ministry of Westminster Chapel with Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, who retired in 1943. Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ ministry lasted for 30 years until he retired in 1968. While in retirement, he engaged in a wider preaching ministry and writing until his death in 1981. The following excerpt is from one of his many writings:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

A covenant was made with Noah, with Abraham, [and] with Moses. These are not the original covenant, the covenant made with the Son. They were temporary, but all these subsidiary covenants point to this great covenant. The types and ceremonial offerings and sacrifices were all pointing to Christ. ‘The law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ’ and His great offering. The law given to Moses does not annul the covenant made with Abraham, but that, in turn, points back to the great covenant made with the Son Himself in eternity.

Thus we begin to see why Paul says, ‘The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. God before time, and before the world, saw our predicament and entered into this agreement with His own Son. He has taken an oath, He has signed, He has pledged Himself in a covenant. He has committed Himself. Everything is in Christ. He is our Representative. He is our Mediator. He is our Guarantor — all blessing comes in and through Him. Who can realize what all this meant to the Father, what all this meant to the Son, what all this meant to the Holy Spirit? But that is the gospel and it is only as we understand something of these things that we shall begin to praise God.

Look at the matter in this way. Here are you and I, miserable worms in this world, miserable worms with our arrogance and our pride and our appalling ignorance. We deserve nothing but to be blotted off the face of the earth. But what has happened is that before the foundation of the world this blessed God, these three blessed Persons, considered us, considered our condition, considered what would happen to us, and the consequence was that these Three Persons, God, whom man hath never seen, stooped to consider us and planned a way whereby we might be forgiven and redeemed. The Son said, I will leave this glory for a while, I will dwell in the womb of a woman, I will be born as a babe, I will become a pauper, I will suffer insult in the world, I will even allow them to nail Me to a Cross and spit in My face. He volunteered to do all that for us, and at this very moment this blessed Second Person in the Trinity is seated at the right hand of God to represent you and me. He came down to earth and did all that, and rose again, and ascended to heaven; and it was all planned ‘before the world’ for you and for me.

Do you still say that you are not interested in theology? Do you still say that you have not time to be interested in doctrine? You will never begin to praise God or worship or adore Him until you begin to realize something of what He has done for you. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ We are in the covenant! (From God’s Ultimate Purpose: an Exposition of Ephesians One published by Baker Book House, 1978)

Planned From The Foundation Of The World

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ before time and the world saw our faithlessness and entered into an agreement with His own Son. God pledged Himself in a covenant. Only Christ is our Representative and Mediator. Christ is our Guarantor — all blessing comes in and through Him. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides further insight into this below:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

[I]n [God’s] eternal Council [He] drew up a great covenant called the covenant of grace or the covenant of redemption. Why did He do so? Let me ask a question by way of reply. Why does the Apostle say, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’? There are those who say that the answer is that He wants us to know the kind of Father God is. I agree with that. I remember an old preacher saying once that if you told certain people that God is a Father they would be terrified and alarmed. There are some people, he said, to whom the term ‘Father’ means a drunkard who spends all the family’s money and comes home drunk. That is their idea of a father; it is the only father they have ever known. So God in His kindness, and in order that we may know the kind of Father He is, says: I am the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son is like the Father; but even that does not go far enough, there is much more than that here.

This new description of God is one of the most important statements in the New Testament. Go back to the Old Testament and you will find God described as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. God also speaks of Himself as ‘the God of Israel’, but now we have ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This is in order to teach us that all the blessings that come to us come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a part of that covenant that was made between the three blessed Persons before the foundation of the world. Even the blessings that came to the Old Testament saints all came to them through the Lord Jesus Christ. Before the foundation of the world God saw what would happen to man. He saw the Fall, and man’s sin which would have to be dealt with, and there the Plan was made and an agreement was made between the Father and the Son. The Father gave a people to the Son, and the Son voluntarily made Himself responsible to God for them. He contracted to do certain things for them, and God the Father on His side contracted to do other things. God the Father said He would grant forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration and new life and a new nature to all who belonged to His Son. The condition was that the Son should come into the world and take human nature and the sin of mankind upon Himself and bear its punishment, stand for them, and suffer for them and represent them. That was the covenant, that was the agreement that was made, and it was made ‘before the foundation of the world’. God was able to tell Adam about that in the Garden of Eden when He told him that ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head’. This had been planned before creation, and God began to announce it even there. (“The Everlasting Covenant”)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: God Has Planned This Great Salvation

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Do you realize that your salvation was planned before the world was created? Let us get rid of this idea that salvation was an afterthought in the mind of God. It was not planned after man had fallen into sin. The Apostle Paul teaches us that the work was divided up between the three Persons of the Trinity; the Father planned your salvation, the Son put it into operation, and the Holy Spirit applied it. Martyn Lloyd-Jones tells us more about the plan:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

[T]he greatness emphasized in this verse is the planning of our salvation; and not only the planning but the way in which it has been planned, the way in which God has brought it about. Once more must we not plead guilty to a tendency to neglect and ignore this? How often have we sat down and tried to contemplate, as the result of reading the Scriptures, the planning of salvation, the way in which God worked out His plan, and how He put it into operation? Our salvation is entirely from God but because of our morbid preoccupation with ourselves and our states and moods and conditions, we tend to talk of salvation only in terms of ourselves and of what is happening to us. Of course that is of vital importance, for true Christianity is experimental. There is no such thing as a Christianity which is not experimental; but it is not only experience. Indeed it is the extent of our understanding that ultimately determines our experience. We spend so much of our time in feeling our spiritual pulses and talking about ourselves and our moods and conditions that we have but little understanding of the planning of what God has done. But the Apostle generally starts with this, as also does the Bible.

I call attention to this matter, not because I am animated by some academic or theoretical interest, but because we rob ourselves of so much of the glories and the riches of grace when we fail to take the trouble to understand these things and to face the teaching of Scripture. We tend to take a chapter at a time; we pass on; and we do not stop to analyze and to realize what it is saying to us. Some even try to excuse themselves by saying that they are not interested in theology and doctrine. Instead, they want to be ‘practical’ Christians and to enjoy Christianity. But how terribly wrong that is! The Scriptures give us this teaching; the Apostle Paul wrote these letters that people like ourselves might understand these things. Some of the people to whom Paul wrote were slaves who had not had a secondary or even a primary education. We often say that we have not the time to read — shame on us Christian people! — The truth being that we have not taken the trouble to read and to understand Christian doctrine. But it is essential that we should do so if we really desire to worship God. If there is no praise in a Christian’s life it is because he is ignorant of these things. If we desire to praise God, we must look at the truth, and expand our souls as we come face to face with it. If we want to say ‘Blessed be God’ from the heart we must know something about how He has planned this great salvation. (The Everlasting Covenant)

The Preacher’s Loss Of Authority In Preaching

 

James Montgomery Boice

James Montgomery Boice (1938–2000) was one of the articulate spokesmen for the Reformed faith in America and around the world. He was the senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1968 to 2000. Under his leadership, Tenth Presbyterian Church became a model of urban ministry. In this article, Boice discusses the necessity of believing the Scriptures:

It is hard to miss the connection between belief in the inerrancy of Scripture issuing in a commitment to expound it faithfully, on the one hand, and a loss of this belief coupled to an inability to give forth a certain sound, on the other. Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one who makes the connection. He writes on the decline of great preaching:

“I would not hesitate to put in the first position [for the decline]: the loss of belief in the authority of the Scriptures, and a diminution in the belief of the Truth. I put this first because I am sure it is the main factor. If you have not got authority, you cannot speak well, you cannot preach. Great preaching always depends upon great themes. Great themes always produce great speaking in any realm, and this is particularly true, of course, in the realm of the Church. While men believed in the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God and spoke on the basis of that authority you had great preaching. But once that went, and men began to speculate, and to theorize, and to put up hypotheses and so on, the eloquence and the greatness of the spoken word inevitably declined and began to wane. You cannot really deal with speculations and conjectures in the same way as preaching had formerly dealt with the great themes of the Scriptures. But as belief in the great doctrines of the Bible began to go out, and sermons were replaced by ethical addresses and homilies, and moral uplift and sociopolitical talk, it is not surprising that preaching declined. I suggest that this is the first and the greatest cause of this decline.”

Lloyd-Jones is right in the main in this analysis. So our first thesis is that the contemporary decline in great (expository) preaching is due in large measure to a loss of belief in biblical authority and that this loss is itself traceable to a departure from that high view of inspiration that includes inerrancy. . . .

Having recognized the primacy of the word in God’s own dealings with the human race, it is not at all difficult to note the primacy of the word in that early Christian preaching recorded in the New Testament.

Peter’s great sermon given on the day of Pentecost is an example. Peter and the other disciples had experienced a visible out pouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested by the sound of a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire that had rested on each of the disciples (Acts 2:1-3). They had begun to speak so that others heard them in a variety of languages (v. 4). In addition to this, they had all just been through the traumatic and then exhilarating experiences of the crucifixion, resurrection, visible appearance, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. These were heady experiences. Yet when Peter stood up to preach on Pentecost, he did not dwell on his or anyone else’s experiences, as many in our day might have done, but rather preached a profoundly biblical sermon centered on specific biblical passages. The format was as follows: First, there are three verses of introduction intended to link the present manifestations of the outpouring of the Spirit to God’s prophecy of that even in Joel. These were a lead-in to the major text. Second, Peter cites the prophecy in Joel at length, giving a total of five verses to it. Third, there is a declaration of the guilt of the men of Jerusalem in Christ’s death, which, however, was in full accordance with the plan and foreknowledge of God, as Peter indicates. This takes three verses. Fourth, there is an ex tended quotation from Psalm 16:8-11, occupying four verses. These stress the victory of Christ over death through his resurrection and exaltation to heaven. Fifth, there is an exposition of the sixteenth psalm, occupying five verses. Sixth, there is a further two-verse quotation from Psalm 11:1, again stressing the supremacy of Christ. Seventh, there is a one-verse summary.

Peter’s procedure is to quote the Old Testament and then explain it and after that to quote more of the Old Testament and explain it, and so on. Moreover, the Scripture predominates. For although there are eleven verses of Scripture versus twelve for other matters, much of the material in the twelve verses is introductory to the Scripture and the rest is explanation.

Peter’s procedure does not demand that every subsequent Christian sermon follow precisely the same pattern. . . . But the sermon does suggest the importance that Peter gave to the actual words of God recorded in the Old Testament and the concern he had to interpret the events of his time in light of them. . . .

Peter was concerned to affirm that God had said certain things about the coming of Christ and the Holy Spirit, that he had said these in certain specific passages and words of the Old Testament, and that God was now fulfilling these promises precisely. In other words, in his preaching and thinking Peter gave full authority to the very words of Scripture as the words of God. (The Foundation of Biblical Authority. London & Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis, 1979. pp.123-143)

Praise In The Life Of The Christian

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

After leaving medicine in 1927, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones became the minister of a Welsh Presbyterian Church in Aberavon, South Wales. He was there until 1938 when he moved to London to share the ministry of Westminster Chapel in Buckingham Gate with the late Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, who retired in 1943. This ministry lasted for 30 years until Dr. Lloyd-Jones retired in August 1968. In this article he writes about the Christian and praise:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

A lack of knowledge has ever been the chief trouble with God’s people. That was the message of the prophet Hosea in the Old Testament. He says that God’s people at that time were dying from ‘a lack of knowledge’ (4:6). It was always their trouble. They would not realize who they were, and what they were, and why they were what they were. If they had but known these things they would never have wandered away from God, they would never have turned to idols, they would never have sought to be like the other nations. There was always this fatal lack of knowledge. The New Testament is full of the same teaching.

We must therefore consider this verse very carefully because here the Apostle introduces us to this knowledge, this doctrine which leads into an understanding of what we are. We can look at it in terms of the following principles, and in the order in which they are presented by the Apostle.

The first proposition is that the realization of the truth concerning our redemption always leads to praise. It bursts forth at once in the word ‘Blessed’. The Apostle seems to be like a man who is conducting a great choir and orchestra. . . . He always does so. Examine all his epistles and you will find that this is so. The first thing, always, is praise and thanksgiving, and this is so because he understood the doctrine; it was the result of his contemplation of the doctrine that he praises God.

Surely praise and thanksgiving are ever to be the great characteristics of the Christian life. Take, for instance, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. It has been said of that Book that it is the most lyrical book in the world. In spite of all the persecution which those early Christians had to endure, and all the hardship and difficulties, they were distinguished by a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. They were people who were thrilled with a sense of peace and happiness and joy they had never known before. . . .

Praise is quite inevitable in view of what we have already seen in this Epistle. If we realize truly what ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ mean we cannot help praising. I suggest therefore, before we go any further, that there is no more true test of our Christian profession than to discover how prominent this note of praise and thanksgiving is in our life. Is it to be found welling up out of our hearts and experience as it invariably did with the Apostle Paul? Is it constantly breaking forth in us and manifest in our lives? I am not referring to the glib use of certain words. Certain Christians, when you meet them, keep on using the phrase ‘Praise the Lord’ in order to give the impression of being joyful Christians. But there is nothing glib about the Apostle’s language. It is nothing formal or superficial; it comes out of the depth of the heart; it is heart felt.

 All must surely agree that it is impossible to read through the New Testament without seeing that this is to be the supreme thing in the Christian life. It must of necessity be so, because if this gospel is true, that God has sent His own Son into the world to do for us the things we have been considering, then you would expect Christians to be entirely different from unbelievers; you would expect them to live in a relationship to God that would be evident to all, and that should above everything else produce this quality of joy. . . . Hence we find this constant exhortation in the New Testament to praise God and offer up thanksgiving. This is what differentiates us from the world. The world is very miserable and unhappy; it is full of cursing and complaints. But praise, thanksgiving and contentment mark out the Christian and show that he is no longer ‘of the world’. (From: God’s Ultimate Purpose: an Exposition of Ephesians One, Baker Book House, 1978)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones On The Altar Call

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Ron Adair

Quoting D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

1. It is wrong to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences.

2. In the end it may produce a condition in which what has determined the response of the man who ‘comes forward’ is not so much the Truth itself as, perhaps, the personality of the evangelist, or some vague general fear, or some other kind of influence.

3. The preaching of the Word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking

4. This method surely carries in it the implication that sinners have an inherent power of decision and of self-conversion.

5. There is an implication here that the evangelist somehow is in a position to manipulate the Holy Spirit and His work. Some organizers today even predict the results.

6. This method tends to produce a superficial conviction of sin, if any at all. People often respond because they have the impression that by doing so they will receive certain benefits.

7. You are encouraging people to think that their act of going forward somehow saves them.

8. It raises the whole question of the doctrine of regeneration. This is the most serious thing of all. This work is the work of the Holy Spirit, and His work alone, no one else can do it. And as it is His work it is always a thorough work; and it is always a work that will show itself.

9. No sinner ever really decides for Christ.

(Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 269-279)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Possibilities Of Our High Calling

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Born in South Wales, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones trained at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and thereafter practiced as a physician and was assistant to the famous Lord Horder. After leaving medicine in 1927, he became the minister of a Welsh Presbyterian Church in Aberavon, South Wales. He was there until 1938 when he moved to London to share the ministry of Westminster Chapel in Buckingham Gate with the late Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, who retired in 1943. This ministry lasted for 30 years until Dr. Lloyd-Jones retired in August 1968. In this excerpt, Dr. Lloyd-Jones writes:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

We must approach [the verse above] . . . carefully and prayerfully. The danger when considering such a statement is to be so charmed and enraptured by the very sound of the words, and the very arrangement of the words, that we are content with some passing general effect, and never take the trouble to analyze it and thereby to discover exactly what it says. . . .

The first thing we have to do is to observe the context. First of all, in the first verse the Apostle has reminded the Ephesians of who they are, and what they are. Then in the second verse he has offered a prayer for them, and has reminded them of the things they can enjoy, and should enjoy, and should seek to enjoy —‘Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ’. Having done that he is now concerned to remind them of how it is that they have become what they are, and of how it is possible for them to enjoy these priceless blessings of grace and peace. That is the connection; and again we must emphasize the fact that this preliminary salutation is not a mere formality; it is full of the logic that always characterizes Paul the Apostle.

Having reminded them that they are ‘saints’, are ‘faithful’, and ‘in Christ’, and as the result of that should be enjoying grace and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ, he now proceeds to show how all that is possible in this third verse. There is a sense in which we can say truthfully that this third verse is the centre of the entire Epistle. The Apostle is concerned to do this above all else. He desires these Christian people to come to an understanding and realization of who they are and what they are, and of the great blessings to which they are open. In other words the theme is the plan of salvation, and the way of salvation, this tremendous process that puts us where we are, and points us to God and the things that God has prepared for us. He does this because he desires these Ephesian Christians and others to enter into their heritage, that they may enjoy the Christian life as they should, and that they may live their lives to the praise and glory of God. And, of course, the same applies to us. Whether we know it or not our main trouble as Christians today is still a lack of understanding and of knowledge. Not a lack of superficial knowledge of the Scriptures, but a lack of knowledge of the doctrines of the Scriptures. It is our fatal lack at that point that accounts for so many failures in our Christian life. Our chief need, according to this Apostle, is that ‘the eyes of our understanding’ may be wide open, not simply that we may enjoy the Christian life and its experience, but in order that we may understand the privilege and possibilities of our high ‘calling’. The more we understand the more we shall experience these riches. (This article is taken from God’s Ultimate Purpose: an Exposition of Ephesians One published by Baker Book House, 1978)

Christ Is The Fountain Of All Spiritual Life

Bishop J. C. Ryle

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote about Bishop J. C. Ryle: “In his day he was famous, outstanding and beloved as a champion and exponent of the evangelical and reformed faith. For some reason or other, however, his name and his works are not familiar to modern evangelicals. . . . The characteristics of Bishop Ryle’s method and style are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural and expository. He never starts with a theory into which he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invariably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine.” In the sermon excerpt below Ryle helps us to understand how the spiritually dead are brought to life:

“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

By God’s help, I will set before you the full provision there is made for dead souls. Listen to me a little longer, and I will once more show you what is written in the Scripture of truth.

One thing is very clear—we cannot work this mighty change ourselves. It is not in us. We have no strength or power to do it. We may change our sins—but we cannot change our hearts. We may take up a new way—but not a new nature. We may make considerable reforms and alterations. We may lay aside many outward bad habits, and begin to do many outward duties. But we cannot create a new principle within us. We cannot bring something out of nothing. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots. No more can we put life into our own souls. (Jeremiah 13:23.)

“There is not one good duty which the natural man can do. If it should be said to him, Think but one good thought, and for it you shall go to heaven, he could not think it. Until God raises him from the stink of sin, as He did Lazarus from the grave, he cannot do anything that is well pleasing to God. He may do the works of a moral man—but to do the works of a man quickened and enlightened is beyond his power.”—Usher’s Sermons.

“Nature can no more cast out nature, than Satan can cast out Satan.”—Thomas Watson, 1653.

“Nature cannot raise itself to this, any more than a man can give natural being to himself.”—Leighton.

Another thing is equally clear; no other man can do it for us. Ministers may preach to us, and pray with us—receive us at the font in baptism, admit us at the Lord’s Table, and give us the bread and wine—but they cannot bestow spiritual life. They may bring in regularity in the place of disorder, and outward decency in the place of open sin. But they cannot go below the surface. They cannot reach our hearts. Paul may plant and Apollos water—but God alone can give the increase. (1 Cor. 3:6.) Who then can make a dead soul alive? No one can do it but God. He only, who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, can ever make a dead sinner—a living Christian. He only, who formed the world out of nothing in the day of creation, can make man a new creature. He only who said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” can cause spiritual light to shine into man’s heart. He only who formed man out of the dust and gave life to his body can ever give life to his soul. His is the special office to do it by His Spirit, and His also is the power. (Gen. 1:2, 3.)

“To create or bring something out of nothing is beyond the power of the strongest creature. It is above the strength of all people and angels to create the least blade of grass; God challenges this as His prerogative royal. (Isaiah 40:26.) Augustine said truly, To convert the little world ‘man’ is more than to create the great world.”—George Swinnock, 1660.

The glorious Gospel contains provision for our spiritual, as well as our eternal life. The Lord Jesus is a complete Savior. That mighty living Head has no dead members. His people are not only justified and pardoned—but quickened together with Him, and made partakers of His resurrection. To Him the Spirit joins the sinner, and raises him by that union from death to life. In Him the sinner lives after he has believed. The spring of all his vitality is the union between Christ and his soul, which the Spirit begins and keeps up. Christ is the appointed fountain of all spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit the appointed agent who conveys that life to our souls. (“Alive or Dead”)

A Prayer By Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Quoting Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“O Lord our God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us especially; we pray thee again, for our folly – for our foolish talking about our century and the ‘modern man’, as if anything had changed.

Awaken us, we pray thee, and bring us to see that thy method is still the same, that the truth remains unchanged and unchanging, and that the power of the blessed Holy Spirit is in no sense diminished.

Lord, hear us. Revive thy work O Lord, thy mighty arm make bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead and make the people hear. And unto thee and unto thee alone, shall we give all the praise and the honor and the glory, both now and forever, amen.”

Overcoming Spiritual Depression

Of the many books authored by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, his book on Spiritual Depression is one of my favorites. Recently, Granted Ministries has created a video to promote the publication of a new edition of this book. It is also a great introduction to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I hope you will watch the following video:

The 2011 edition of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic book is now in stock at mlj-usa.com. It also comes complete with a disc that contains 24 of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on Spiritual Depression in MP3 format.

See mlj-usa.com. . . .

Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Illustrations And Story-Telling In The Pulpit

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Stories and illustrations are only meant to illustrate truth, not to call attention to themselves. This whole business of illustrations and story-telling has been a particular curse during the last hundred years. I believe it is one of the factors that accounts for the decline in preaching because it helped to give the impression that preaching was an art, an end in itself. There have undoubtedly been many who really prepared a sermon simply in order to be able to use a great illustration. . . . The illustration had become the first thing; you then find a text which is likely to cover this. In other words the heart of the matter had become the illustration. But that is the wrong order. The illustration is meant to illustrate truth, not to show itself, not to call attention to itself; it is a means of leading and helping people to see the truth that you are enunciating and proclaiming still more clearly. The rule therefore should always be that the truth must be pre-eminent and have great prominence, and illustrations must be used sparsely and carefully to that end alone. Our business is not to entertain people. . . .

A preacher should go into the pulpit to . . . proclaim the Truth itself. . . . Everything else is but to minister to this end. Illustrations are just servants. . . . I am prepared to go so far as to say that if you use too many illustrations in your sermon your preaching will be ineffective. To do so always means loss of tension. There is the type of preacher who after saying a few words says, ‘I remember’ – then out comes the story. Then after a few more remarks again, ‘I remember’. This means that the theme, the thrust of the Truth, is constantly being interrupted; it becomes staccato, and in the end you feel that you have been listening to a kind of after-dinner speaker or entertainer and not to a man proclaiming a grand and a glorious Truth. If such preachers become popular, and they frequently do, they are popular only in a bad sense, because they are really nothing but popular entertainers. (Preaching and Preachers (Zondervan: 1971), p. 232-234)

The Christian And The Mind

There are Christians who make little of man’s intellectual powers, but Biblical Christianity actually does not view the intellect as negative. It actually teaches the value of the intellect. Who can deny the great value in having a brain; even more – the ability to use it rightly? According to Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Bible tells us that the highest gift that God has given to men and women in the realm of gifts – I am not talking about the soul and spirit but actual gifts – the highest of all the gifts is mind, reason, and understanding.”

There is this one wonderful fact about being human: We can think about and analyze ourselves. This is why the Christian teacher or preacher must do more than move someone’s emotions. A good teacher or preacher must be able to reason with people. God has given us minds to use. If people are to stay out of trouble in this world, they must be taught how to correctly use their minds.

What is wrong with many “so-called” intellectuals today is that they often put their final confidence in the mind. They become proud. They actually begin to worship the mind. They believe nothing else is needed beyond the mind by human beings. It is good to be wise, but when you are wise in your own eyes, you are headed for trouble.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23)

We see in the above verses that when a man does not acknowledge the Giver of his intellectual ability, that his thinking can actually become futile. There is always the danger of allowing your thinking to make you a fool. The problem is man’s desire to become god. Pride of intellect is a sin. We begin to glory in ourselves. However, a Christian should seek to improve his intellect and even become an “intellectual” to the “Glory of God”. It would be a shame to waste this wonderful blessing of the mind which God has given to us. We must not forget, however, the Source of this blessing.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Evangelism And Theology

Cover of "Preaching and Preachers (Hodder...

Preaching & Preachers

Quoting Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Preaching must always be theological, always based on a theological foundation. . . . A type of preaching that is sometimes . . . regarded as non-theological is evangelistic preaching. . . . You ‘bring people to Christ’ as they put it; and then you teach them the truth. It is only subsequently that theology comes in.

That, to me, is quite wrong, and indeed nonsense. I would be prepared to argue that in many ways evangelistic preaching should be more, rather than less theological, than any other, and for this good reason. Why is it that you call people to repent? Why do you call them to believe the gospel? You cannot deal properly with repentance without dealing with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of the Fall, the doctrine of sin and the wrath of God against sin. Then when you call me to come to Christ and to give themselves to Him, how can you do so without knowing who He is, and on what grounds you invite them to come to Him, and so on. In other words it is all highly theological. Evangelism which is not theological is not evangelism at all in any true sense. It may be a calling for decisions, it may be calling on people to come to religion, or to live a better kind of life, or the offering of some psychological benefits; but it cannot by any definition be regarded as Christian evangelism, because there is no true reason for what you are doing, apart from these great theological principles. I assert therefore that every type of preaching must be theological, including evangelistic preaching. (Preaching and Preachers (Zondervan: 1971), p. 64-65)

 

A Folly Too Often Found In Preaching

Carl Olof Rosenius preaching in Betlehemskyrka...

Preaching God's Word

It has been said that a preacher should be like the farmer who irrigates his crops. His goal is to make pure healthy water flow through his land that is without pollution. Like the farmer, the preacher must allow the Word of God to flow forth without polluting it with false doctrine or personal opinions that the Scriptures do not bear witness to.

Today, there is a tendency be liberal with the meaning of Scripture. Modern blasphemy and heresy are often found in our seminaries and churches. The popular preacher will create a large following by manipulating the Word of God to say what people want to hear. Be careful what you hear.

We must not be too timid to challenge the pastor who is neglecting teaching the truth of God’s Word. The Pastor’s desire to please his hearers, has caused many preachers to evade the full force of meaning in certain passages of Scripture. He twists his presentation of their significance so that their true meaning is lost upon the hearer. At all cost, we must avoid making God’s Word mean what we wish it to mean. Rather than mold God’s Word by our preferences, we must allow it to mold us. Anything other than this will lead to disaster for our souls. It is God’s Mind that is to be preached and taught, not our own.

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