DR. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
“Holiness is not something we are called upon to do in order that we may become something; it is something we are to do because of what we already are.” MLJ
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 – 1981)
Wales is a most unique place in all of the world. Though a part of Great Britain, the people are fiercely quick to remind you that they are Welshmen, not Englishman and they may do so in their own language rather than English. Wales has also been a land of stark spiritual contrasts. In the late 1700′s, Christmas Evans burst on the scene. The “one-eyed Bunyan of Wales” as many called him helped usher revival into first his own Baptist churches and then into the land. Over the next century or so, Wales ebbed and flowed from warm evangelical revival to sterile theological coldness. Names such as Daniel Rowland, William Williams, Howell Harris, and Evan Roberts are legends of Welsh revival fire. By the early 1900′s revival fervor had once again cooled and a kind of left-over pseudo evangelicalism overtook the churches of that land. They had a name that they were alive but were dead.
It was in this land of spiritual mood swings that David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born into on December 20th, 1899. God had a plan for this child of Henry and Magdalene Lloyd-Jones to bring the revival fires that Evans, Roberts and others had experienced earlier back to Wales and to the world. Some have said that Charles Spurgeon was the last Puritan but time would prove they should have waited to hear “The Doctor” before they made that assertion.
Young Martin’s life was fairly uneventful until January of 1910. Up to that point the elder Lloyd-Jones had been a reasonably successful businessman in their hometown of Llangeitho. That night would change many things, however. In the dark of the night a fire broke out, nearly costing the lives of Martyn and his brothers who slept upstairs. While the family was saved, most of the families goods were lost. Henry never seemed to fully recover financially from the family’s setback. Almost by accident, Martyn found out how truly desperate their situation had become. Through his early school years he carried this burden in his heart. As a result Martyn was serious for his age and very focused on succeeding in his education and life. As Iain H. Murray notes in his marvelous biography of Lloyd-Jones. “It was as though he bypassed much of what is common to youth, which is what he meant when he said, ‘I never had an adolescence.”1 Though warm in heart, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, would always carry with him a reputation for austerity and sternness.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones was brought up in Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, first as a boy in Wales and then as a teenager and student in London, when the Charing Cross Chapel, which his family attended, was living on the left-over emotion of the Welsh revival. If you have never heard of the Calvinistic Methodists the very term may seem contradictory. Because of his spiritual foundations in that movement it would be wise to take some time to hear an explanation of that denomination from Martyn Lloyd-Jones himself. Consider the following excerpt taken from an address by Lloyd-Jones given in 1968 to the Puritan and Westminster Conference.2
Though he did not truly found it, Welsh Calvinistic Methodism finds its roots in George Whitefield. During the mid 1700′s the churches of Great Britain could be divided into two main camps. The Methodist branch (under John Wesley) was Arminian meaning they emphasized man’s free will. The Presbyterian and Congregationalist were Calvinistic meaning they emphasized the sovereignty of God in salvation. Both of these camps had their problems. The Methodist ignored the nature of the doctrines of Grace and the need for depraved man to be regenerated by the effectual call of God. On the other hand the Calvinists (including many Baptists) had become hyper-Calvinistic meaning they began to deny the free offer of the gospel to all men and the need for evangelism and missions.
In many ways Calvinistic Methodism sought the best of both sides. These Welsh Christians were thorough believers in the doctrines of Grace. Unlike their English counterparts, however, they did not believe that being Calvinistic means ignoring one’s heart and emotions. They were aware of what George Whitefield called a “felt Christ.” Lloyd-Jones rightly notes that right doctrine apart from this “felt” Christ had inherent problems. The Welsh church saw a need to return to Bible preaching rather preaching of doctrinal statements, Catechism and Confessions. One other great concern of the Calvinistic Methodist Church was revival. For that reason Lloyd-Jones observed that he believed that Jonathan Edwards was in his heart a Calvinistic Methodist.
While the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church had itself grown cold by the time of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, it history played an important part in formulating his life and ministry. “The Doctor” reintroduced in his preaching ministry the need for careful, expository preaching. He restored to Great Britain what it had known under Spurgeon and that was a hungering for the unfettered Word of God itself over liturgy and religious form.
Now we have to return to our story. There was little doctrine to counter the rising trend of liberalism or to bring out the distinction between church-goers and true Christians. The three Lloyd-Jones boys enjoyed intellectual debate, but each was more committed to his career than to his professed faith. This was pretty common for their day. Most people saw religion as an impassioned hobby rather than a life-changing event.
In 1916 Martyn Lloyd-Jones headed off to the big city of London to being his education as a practitioner of medicine. His education was at Saint Batholomew’s Hospital, better known simply as Bart’s. Bart’s carried the same prestige in the medical community that Oxford did in the intellectual community. Martyn’s career was medicine. He succeeded in his exams so young that he had to wait to take his MD, by which time he was already chief clinical assistant to Sir Thomas Horder, one of the best and most famous doctors of the day. By the age of 26 he also had his MRCP (Member of the Royal College of Physicians) and was well up the rungs of the Harley Street ladder, with a brilliant and lucrative career in front of him. However, God had plans for Martyn Lloyd-Jones to be a physician of souls rather than of bodies.
For most of us, the road to God is not straight and quick but rather winding with many roadblocks along the way. This was true for Martyn. Thinking himself to be a fairly good Christian, he quickly became involved in the Calvinistic Methodist Church called Charing Cross Chapel. Among other things, this is where Martyn met Bethan Philips, also a medical student, who nine years later would become his wife and life-long companion. It was also at Charing Cross Chapel that Martyn honed his debating skills as he and his Sunday School often would spend hours of their Sunday Afternoon arguing fine points of Scripture with each other.
There was another debate occurring during that time but it was private and known only within Martyn Lloyd-Jones himself. Martyn and his brothers had all joined their church back in Llangeitho in 1914 at the encouragement of their minister but Martyn was now beginning to take a hard look at the reality of his spiritual condition. He later wrote, “For many years I thought I was a Christian when in fact I was not. It was only later that I came to see that I had never been a Christian and became one. “3 As he struggled with his salvation a grace truth came into focus. Martyn had not really heard sound preaching of the gospel in his early life. As he said, “What I needed was preaching that would convict me of sin and … bring me to repentance and tell me something about regeneration. But I never heard that. The preaching we had was always based on the assumption that we were all Christians …”4 As the young doctor read for himself he slowly but surely saw the logic and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the waves of the incoming tide, the reality of God’s grace swept over Martyn’s heart until trusting Christ was all he could do. As surely as that reality overwhelmed him personally it overwhelmed him professionally. Soon it became apparent that God was calling Martyn Lloyd-Jones to preach and for that the world would never be the same!
At the same time he faced another crisis. He wanted to marry Bethan Phillips, who attended Charing Cross with her parents and two brothers. Her father was a well-known eye specialist and Bethan was about to qualify as a doctor at University College Hospital. After what had been a long courtship he told her that he wanted to give up Harley Street and become, a Minister. After a year in which God clearly guided her too, they married in 1927.
Immediately after the wedding the young couple headed back to Wales to pastor their first church in Sandfields, Aberavon. Martyn had returned to his beloved Wales. Because his work with the poor of London as a physician had so impressed Lloyd-Jones, this village was a logical choice. One writer described it thus: “Sandfields contains at least 5000 men, women and children living for the most part in sordid and overcrowded conditions.” Or as it was put by another it was a place for “the bookie, prostitute, and publican.”
Many welcomed the Lloyd-Jones’ with open arms but others were suspicious. The local doctors were not too happy with the new arrival. They felt certain that he had come to show them up and steal their patients. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones was not another young minister fresh out of a liberal theological college, trimming his message to contemporary opinion and the prejudices of his congregation. He was determined to preach the message with the crystal clarity in which it had come to him. The words of his first sermon taken from 2 Timothy 1:7 illustrate where his convictions lay:
“Our … churches are crowded with people nearly all of whom take the Lord’s Supper without a moment’s hesitation, and yet .. do you imagine for a moment that all those people believe that Christ died for them? Well then, you ask, why are they church members, why do they pretend to believe? The answer is, they are afraid to be honest with themselves … I shall feel much more ashamed to all eternity for the occasions on which I said that I believed in Christ when in fact I did not …”5
That was too much for some of the congregation and they left. But in their place – slowly at first- there came increasing numbers who were gripped by the truth, the working class of South Wales. The message brought them and the power of the Holy Spirit converted them. There were no dramatic appeals, just a young man with the clear message of God’s justice and his love, which brought one hard case after another to repentance and conversion.
For some who are used to Biblical preaching it may be hard to understand the stir that this young preacher caused. First he was not theologically trained (at least not in the recognized ways). Rather than preaching from a lectionary or some other pre-packaged form, Lloyd-Jones was above all a Bible preacher. From the beginning he sought to give a verse-by-verse understanding of the Word of God to his people. Perhaps this reflected his own personal devotional life which included reading the Bible through each year for himself. One need only to read the eight or nine volumes of sermons on Romans or the eight volumes of sermons on Ephesians by this man of the Word to understand how deep was his affection for and his allegiance to the Word itself.
There also can be no doubt that his reading of the Puritans also had a deep influence on the doctor turned preacher. As is true in many corners of intellectual and religious thought today, the Puritans were more often than not caricatured as mean-spirited killjoys by the religious leaders of early twentieth century England. Unlike many of their critics, however, Martyn Lloyd-Jones actually read the Puritans. He read all of Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory and the many volumes of John Owen. In his view, the Puritans differed from other organized religions in several important ways. First, the Puritans emphasized the spiritual nature of worship over outward forms and rituals. Second, they emphasized the gathered body of Christ over the individual thus making church discipline necessary and healthy for the cause of Christ. Finally, the Puritans believed in direct application of the Word to each person’s soul. The Spirit of Puritanism, Lloyd-Jones believed could be traced from William Tyndale to John Owen to Charles Spurgeon6 It was this spirit of the centrality of God’s Word that drove the new preacher in Wales.
The church in Aberavon grew with the steady stream of conversions. Notorious drunkards became glorious Christians and working men and women came to the Bible classes which he and his wife conducted to learn the doctrines of their new-found faith. And around South Wales, other churches, often starved of sound teaching and of preaching which dealt with the world as it was in the depth of the great slump, invited him to their pulpits. As his preaching became known, more and more outside demands began to be made on Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ presence. Many other preachers began to find in him a model of what the pulpit ministry should be. He went to preach in Canada and America and was often asked to speak before various assemblies throughout Great Britain..
It was on a cold foggy night on November 28, 1935 that Lloyd-Jones preached to an assembly at Albert Hall. During his message “The Doctor” explained the Biblical problems he saw in many of the much used forms of evangelism and church growth. He said:
“Can many of the evangelistic methods which were introduced some forty or fifty years ago really be justified out of the Word of God? As I read of the work of the great evangelists in the Bible I find they were not first and foremost concerned about results; they were concerned about proclaiming the word of truth. They left the increases unto Him. They were concerned above all else that the people should be brought face to face with the truth itself.”7
One listener that night was the 72 year old Dr. Campbell Morgan, pastor of Westminster Chapel in London. It is reported that the elder pastor told Lloyd-Jones, “No one but you would have brought me out on such a night!” The evangelical with perhaps the greatest national standing in the thirties was G. Campbell Morgan, Minister of Westminster Chapel. When he heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he wanted to have him as his colleague and successor in 1938. But it was not so easy, for there was also a proposal that he be appointed Principal of the Theological College at Bala; and the call of Wales and of training a new generation of ministers for Wales was strong. In the end the call from Westminster Chapel prevailed and the Lloyd-Jones family with their daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, were finally committed to London in April 1939. He had begun his ministry there, on a temporary basis, in September 1938.
Morgan and Lloyd-Jones’ association was a fitting example of how Christians can work together even when they differ on secondary issues. G. Campbell Morgan was an Arminian and his Bible exposition, though famous, did not deal in the great doctrines of the Reformation. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was in the tradition of Spurgeon, Whitefield, the Puritans and the Reformers. Yet the two men respected each other’s positions and talents and their brief partnership, until Campbell Morgan died at the end of the war, was peaceful and much furthered the work of Christ in London.
As the storm clouds of World War II were gathering, Martyn Lloyd-Jones assumed the full pastorate of Westminster Chapel on the public retirement of Morgan. It would be a time of extreme trial for everyone in London as the citizens of that metropolis endured month upon unending month of night raids by Hitler’s bombers. At one point early in the war there were 57 successive nights of bombing. Winston Churchill wrote of that period, “At this time we saw no end but the demolition of the whole Metropolis.” Because Westminster Chapel stood in close proximity to Buckingham Palace and other important government buildings it was in constant peril of being utterly destroyed. The church fellowship was in a constant state of financial and emotional crisis.
Westminster also was quickly approaching its own internal crisis. Many of the “old-guard” did not care much for the young Calvinist who had shared the pulpit with their revered Dr. Morgan. It is a testament to the power of God’s Word and the humble spirit of Dr. Lloyd-Jones that the church not only survived but eventually flourished. After the war, the congregation grew quickly. In 1947 the balconies were opened and from 1948 until 1968 when he retired, the congregation averaged perhaps 1500 on Sunday mornings and 2000 on Sunday nights.
Early in the year of 1953 a Friday night Bible study was begun in the main Chapel. It was here that Lloyd-Jones began his monumental discourse on the book of Romans. Just as Martin Luther’s work on Romans and Galatians effected centuries of later Puritans, this great work on Romans has influenced the present generation of believers, including this author. Just as he began he would continue, ministering to his people with the Word of God rather than his own personality.
In spite of the hardships of war, Dr. Lloyd-Jones was involved in the founding of three important institutions. The first of these has the most interesting story. Years before a young Christian by the name of Geoffery Williams had begun to collect hard to find editions of great Christian works. As time went by his collection of Puritan and other writings grew to over 20,000 volumes housed in his home and garage. Geoffery didn’t horde these treasures. He began a lending library and ministered to many who had not read these largely forgotten books. After much discussion, Martyn Lloyd-Jones found his way to the Evangelical Library and gave it his support. Thus a new generation of believers became exposed to the writings of Bunyan, Baxter, Owens and others. The second fellowship Lloyd-Jones helped found was The Westminster Fellowship. The book The Puritans published by Banner of Truth Trust is a compilation of Dr. Lloyd-Jones annual addresses to that fellowship.
Another group that the doctor was involved was the Inter Varsity Fellowship. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made sure that IVF conceded nothing to the liberal wing of the church. The IVF increased in strength, while in course of time the once strong Student Christian Movement, with its liberal views, faded from sight. Before long this powerful leadership produced a group of young ministers and theologians and a regular forum for discussion. This was the Puritan Conference, which met regularly every December under his chairmanship. In its early days some Anglicans were among the leading figures, as was lain Murray. There was a strong feeling for the need to go back to the theological foundations of the Protestant tradition, to the period when a hundred years after the Reformation, its theological implications had been worked out. Papers were read and discussed and Dr. Lloyd-Jones chaired the meetings with skill and authority.
The conference influenced scores of young ministers each year and established a tough theological position in face of the rise of situational ethics and the general repudiation of authority by the clerical establishment in the fifties and sixties. The ‘Banner of Truth’ publishing house and The Evangelical Magazine were both started with help and encouragement from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who also powerfully backed the work of the Evangelical Library. On a pastoral level, he led a monthly ministers’ fraternal since the early forties, when pastors discussed all the problems they faced both within the church and in its outreach. Here his ever widening experience, his profound wisdom and his down-to-earth common sense helped many a young minister with apparently unique and insoluble difficulties.
During the summer of 1947 the doctor made another visit to the United States and was received warmly. At the request of Carl F. H. Henry, he spoke at Wheaton College. The five addresses he gave were published as Truth Unchanged, Unchanging. In them Lloyd-Jones set forth his belief concerning what kind of preaching the world really needs. A strong character and a strong leader cannot avoid controversy. Believing, as he did, in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and convert, he was profoundly opposed to the tradition which had grown up since Moody of large meetings with soft music and emotional appeals for conversion. He also was opposed to arbitrary unions between denominations based on pragmatism rather than doctrine. Nothing would cause more trouble for Martyn Lloyd-Jones than his unswerving belief in the need for an adherence to certain foundational doctrines.
While many were gathering to hear the doctor, by the end of the war others in religious leadership were beginning to ignore him. When a 1946 publication listed names of the “Giants of the Pulpit,” while names such as Weatherhead were included, the name of Martyn Lloyd-Jones was obviously absent.8 When God is at work, Satan is always hanging around as the accuser of the brethren. The idea that Lloyd-Jones was divisive followed him for the rest of his ministry, He said in 1968, “I was told by a man in America with whom I preached … that an evangelist from this country had said to him, with regret that I was the devil’s instrument in Great Britain at the present time because I was dividing evangelical people.9 More will be said about this misconception later.
By the early 1950′s, much had changed in the spiritual landscape of England. In 1952, Arthur W. Pink died in relative obscurity on an island of Scotland. At that time few would have guessed that his writings would one day be published and read by believers around the world. By 1959, Lloyd-Jones noted that there was a revival of interest in the doctrines of Grace and the teachings of the Puritans in the church. Those mainly making this return were not his own generation however. The real interest was among younger ministers and believers. This new generation of pulpit leaders saw the unchangeable truths of God’s Word in a way their previous generation had not. Some accused Lloyd-Jones of theological ignorance at best and spiritual arrogance at worst. The truth is that Martyn often chided his young learners for making the discussion over Calvinism and Arminianism a point of controversy. In fact he publicly expressed his belief that A.W. Pink should have had a more long-term and conciliatory spirit in the effort to bring people back to the truth.
It was in his relations with the Church of England that the most serious controversy came. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a strong believer in evangelical unity. He did not believe that denominational barriers should separate those who had a true faith in common. And, as the ecumenical movement gathered speed and the liberal wing in the churches made greater and greater concessions to the currents of worldly opinion, he came to believe that the right answer was for the evangelicals to leave the compromised denominations and form their own groups. He had no illusions about the possible ultimate fate of new church groups. They might, in their own time, go astray. But he maintained that each of us had to do the best for our own generation, regardless of what might come later, and that the ecumenical movement put those who stood for the long line of truly Christian theology and practice in an impossible position.
The crisis came in a meeting chaired by the Rev. John Stott, leader of the evangelical wing of the Church of England. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an immensely powerful appeal to his large audience to come out of the compromised denominations. The meeting was a watershed. The evangelical Anglicans went one way and evangelicals in the nonconformist churches went the other. When the Congregational Union merged with the English Presbyterian Church, Westminster Chapel left the Congregational Union and joined the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. Many evangelical ministers in the Baptist Union and the Methodist church left those bodies some with and some without their congregations.
The British Evangelical Council linked the FIEC and other small evangelical denominations. These churches have held their own in face of the secularist trend, while the traditional nonconformist churches have gone into steep decline. On the Anglican side, some evangelical theologians took a leading part in attempting to find accommodation between the Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Liberal wings and, most regretfully, the Puritan Conference to which they had initially contributed, was disbanded. In its place, those who took the same view of the ecumenical movement as Dr. Lloyd-Jones, formed the Westminster Conference, which he continued to chair and lead with vigor. This avoided the issue becoming a continual grumbling controversy between the majority opposed to the ecumenical movement and the minority who believed in remaining in the ecumenically-linked denominations.
One should never take from this that Lloyd-Jones was in the ilk of some other separatists who seemed to only be looking for the next heresy they could point out in a church somewhere. Years before he had pleaded with the famous T.T. Shields in the states to abandon his caustic attacks on liberal churches. At the same time, Lloyd-Jones understood his times just as Spurgeon had 75 years earlier. He saw the effect of remaining in close relations with increasingly liberal church leaders. This collision had its inevitable outcome in the doctor’s famed meeting with Billy Graham. Graham came to England a virtual unknown, and left eleven weeks later having recorded 37,600 public conversions.10 While friendly to Graham and even allowing Westminster Chapel to used as a planning site, Dr. Lloyd-Jones would not lend his name to the crusade. in 1963 he and Graham later had a very cordial meeting and parted as Christians brothers. Graham did not get his endorsement and Lloyd-Jones held to his belief that one shouldn’t embrace religious liberals for the sake of numbers or results.
One of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ great passions was a return to the combination in the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists of the doctrine of the Calvinists and the enthusiasm of the Methodists. To this end he began a series in 1959 on revival which would comprise 26 sermons. He had become anxious lest the newly recovered emphasis on sound reformed doctrine should turn into a doctrinaire hardness. To counteract this danger he began in his teaching to emphasize the importance of experience. He spoke much of the necessity for experimental knowledge of the Holy Spirit, of full assurance by the Spirit, and of the truth that God deals immediately and directly with his children – often illustrating these things from church history. Contrary to much of the teaching that would arise during Charismatic Renewal of the 60′s Lloyd-Jones stressed a number of features of true revival. First he proclaimed that God is sovereign and therefore there are no formulas for revival. God moves in different ways at different times. Secondly, He insisted that the church needs revival, not so more people will come into the church but rather than God is returned to His rightful place in people’s lives and thinking.
While Martyn Lloyd-Jones was involved in many circles through these years, Westminster Chapel remained his first great love. As in the issue of church unity, his views on what is now known as Christian psychology proved insightful and prophetic. The doctor was wholly unimpressed with the marriage of Biblical preaching and secular psychology. In 1977 he spoke about the difference in Paul’s method of helping Christians and that which was becoming increasingly popular in the name of counseling. His conviction was that much of what passed as psychological was really spiritual.11 Lloyd-Jones saw the pulpit as the focus of true Christian counseling. That does not mean he was disinterested in his people and their problems. Nothing could be further from the case. Many hours were spent in personal counsel and Biblical direction. A collection of sermons on the subject can be found in Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures , first published in 1965. Spiritual Depression points to the sufficiency of Christ in the life of a believer and concludes with these words:
“I do my utmost, but He controls the supply and power, He infuses it. He is the heavenly physician and He knows every variation in my condition. He sees my complexion. He feels my pulse. He knows … everything. ‘That is it,’ says Paul, ‘and therefore I am able for all things through the One who is constantly infusing strength in me.’ … He knows us better than we know ourselves, and according to our need so will be our supply.”12
As the 60′s began the Dr. began a series of messages on the Gospel of John. His intention in these messages was not a verse-by-verse exposition as was his normal habit but rather a search for the essential meaning of assurance and the filling of the Holy Spirit. The sermons which cover John 17 can be found in four volumes published by Crossway Books; Saved in Eternity, Safe in the World, Sanctified Through the Truth, and Growing in the Spirit. Interestingly, it was at that very time that the so-called Charismatic Revival was taking place in the States. At first, Lloyd-Jones showed interest in the movement but quickly saw its emphasis on tongues and physical manifestations was not Biblically founded. David de Plessis of South Africa had come to be the recognized leader of the charismatic movement. In a letter written in 1968, Dr. Lloyd-Jones wrote, “I felt that a psychological element seemed to have come in that connection in several people … I mean by that that several who had the baptism with the Spirit and had rejoiced in it for several months only began to speak in tongues when the Pentecostal pastor, David de Plessis came to this country. Then suddenly they all began to speak in tongues. I cannot quite reconcile that with the Lordship of the Spirit in this matter.”13
Early in 1968, in his 68th year, Dr. Lloyd-Jones had a major operation and, though he recovered fully, he decided that the time had come after 30 years at Westminster to retire as minister. His ministry had, on any reckoning, been greatly blessed by God. There had been a steady stream of conversions, many remarkable and, above all, a wide variety of people from all walks of life had been taught the breadth and depth of Christian doctrine.
At the Chapel were soldiers from the nearby Wellington Barracks, workers from west-end hotels and restaurants, nurses from the big hospitals, the ‘Antioch club’ of actors and actresses from west-end theatres, civil servants junior and senior from Whitehall, and chronically unemployed coming in from the Salvation Army hostel. His last sermon, on June 8 1980 was preached in the church of a minister who had come to the Chapel as a newly-converted building labourer, as tough and sharp a young Cockney as you could find. Dr. Oliver Barclay, Douglas Johnson’s successor and General Secretary of IVF (now UCCF), used to attend the Chapel and also his successor Dr. Robin Wells.
The church was always full of students, especially overseas students, among which was the now President Moi of Kenya. The Chinese Church used to attend in the morning and many Plymouth Brethren in the evening. When the Exclusive Brethren split up, many who lived in London came to Westminster Chapel. And, of course, there were many professional workers, teachers, lawyers, accountants and perhaps more than a fair share of those who had some mental deficiency. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women, bright and dull, all seemed to come in equal measure to hear the Christian message put with a power and authority not often matched.
All kinds and conditions of people came to see him in the vestry afterwards, where he would spend hours patiently listening and wisely advising. One of them has written: ‘I have a lovely memory of going to him in deep personal need, yet very afraid of his formidable public manner. His gentleness and winsome kindliness, coupled with such straight simple advice, won my heart. His brain and brilliance as a preacher earned respect and admiration; that other gentler side, shown to me in private, made one love him.’
In the 12 years after his retirement he continued both the Fraternal and the Westminster Conference and gave a great deal of his time to counseling other ministers, answering letters and talking endlessly on the telephone. Freed from the rigid routine of Sundays at Westminster he was then able to add to the outside engagements he had taken as a minister, especially by taking weekends at small and remote causes, which he loved to encourage.
He believed that, even in a secular age, people respond to the uncompromising truth, – a view which was confirmed as he saw the liberal churches emptying and the evangelicals maintaining their cause. He travelled to Europe and the United States again, but refused new and return invitations to other countries.
Although sermons are notoriously unpublishable today, all the volumes in these series sell well throughout the English-speaking world, showing that there is a real demand for reasoned, analytical and applied Bible exposition. He had many letters from all corners of the earth. One day, for example, he was visited by the Rev. Chuck Smith of Calvary Church, Costa Mesa, California, who told him that the books had transformed his preaching. He had once driven himself into mental breakdown trying to use his personality to put over the message. Since then he had let the Bible speak for itself and said that both his ministry and his own health had benefited enormously. What he did not say was that his Sunday morning congregation was then up to 24,000!
In 1979 illness returned and he had to cancel all his engagements. He was even-minded about the prospect of preaching again. He had seen too many men going on well after they should have stopped. In the spring of 1980 he was able to start again, but a visit to the Charing Cross Hospital in May revealed that his illness demanded more stringent treatment which kept him from preaching. Between wearing sessions in hospital, which he faced with courage and dignity, he carried on working on his manuscripts and giving advice to ministers, but by Christmas he was too weak for this. To the end, however, he was able to spend time with his biographer (his former assistant, lain Murray).
Towards the end of February 1981, with great peace and assured hope, he believed that his earthly work was done. To his immediate family he said: ‘Don’t pray for healing, don’t try to hold me back from the glory.’ On March 1st, St. David’s Day and the Lord’s Day – he passed on to the glory on which he had so often preached to meet the Saviour he had so faithfully proclaimed.
Time will tell who was right in the divisions that came between men such as Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J.I. Packer. Packer believed that his place was to stay in the Church of England and change it as did John R. W. Stott. Lloyd-Jones believed the inevitable results would be a weakening of the church and its doctrine. I agree with Iain Murray that maybe the words of Michael Saward best describe the legacy of union with liberalism:
“A generation brought up on guitars , choruses, and home group discussions. Educated … not to use words with percision because the image is dominant, not the Word. Equipped not to handle doctrine but rather to ‘share.’ A compassionate caring generation suspicious of definition and labels, uneasy, and sometimes incapable of being asked to wrestle with … exposition of theology. Excellent when it comes to providing religious music, drama, and art. Not so good when asked to preach and teach the Faith … If this situation did not come about as a result of the very things against which Martyn Lloyd-Jones warned a different explanation has yet to be recorded.”14
What was the genius of Martyn Lloyd-Jones? It seems that God had gifted him with the same spirit one sees in George Whitefield or better yet Jonathan Edwards. In fact Lloyd-Jones once said that he believed Edwards to have been a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist at heart. As Tony Sargent so ably points out in The Sacred Anointing, the doctor’s preaching combined that unusual mixture of sound reformation doctrine and genuine heart felt passion. That the church of our day could reclaim that heritage that we could proclaim the majestic doctrines of regeneration and justification as did Paul and yet at the same time be willing to give our own lives that our countrymen might know Christ!
1. Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982, p.40.
2. D.M. Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987, pp. 191-214.
3. D.M. Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, Baker Book House, 1971, p. 146.
4. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, p. 58.
5. ibid, p. 136.
6. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, pp.237-259.
7. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years , p.303.
8. Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990, p. 189.
9. Hywel R. Jones, ed., Unity in Truth, Evangelical Press, 1991, p. 66.
10. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, p.302.
11. ibid, p. 403.
12. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cure, Eerdmans, 1965, p.300.
13. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, pp.479-480.
14. ibid, p. 795.
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