This fine biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was written by one of his former associate pastors, Iain Murray, the editor of The Banner of Truth Press. If I had to recommend only ten books to a preacher or a preacher want-to-be, this book might be among them. I say this not because I agree 100% with everything that Lloyd-Jones believed or practiced, but because this 458 page work, a recast of two previous longer works that Murray wrote, will cause you to think through what you really believe, as well as how you should live and minister.
Short life story
First, a short life summary for those who are not familiar with this great 20th century Christian: “David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. Lloyd-Jones was strongly opposed to Liberal Christianity, which had become a part of many Christian denominations; he regarded it as aberrant. He disagreed with the broad church approach and encouraged evangelical Christians (particularly Anglicans) to leave their existing denominations. He believed that true Christian fellowship was possible only amongst those who shared common convictions regarding the nature of the faith.
“Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was well known for his style of expository preaching, and the Sunday morning and evening meetings at which he officiated drew crowds of several thousand, as did the Friday evening Bible studies, which were, in effect, sermons in the same style. He would take many months, even years, to expound a chapter of the Bible verse by verse.”
For those who revel in the doctrines of grace, Lloyd-Jones was, and still is, one of the most influential preachers who ever lived. J.I. Packer called him “the greatest man I have ever known.” John MacArthur declared, “No preacher had greater influence on me in my formative years than David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.” John Piper wrote, “I am deeply thankful that God led me Lloyd-Jones in 1968. He has had been a constant reminder: you don’t have to be cool, hip, or clever to be powerful. In fact, the sacred anointing is simply in another world from these communication techniques. His is the world I want to live in when I step into the pulpit.”
This work like any good biography has numerous fascinating stories of this courageous physician-preacher – from his birth to his death. However, it is different from most biographies in that it focuses more on the content of his preaching, teaching, and counsel than anything else. For lack of a better term I would call it “a theological biography.” For anyone who loves the Word of God and is interested in its interpretation and application this book is a gold mine.
Quotes by Lloyd-Jones on miscellaneous subjects:
KNOWING GOD: “Fellowship with God is the only worthwhile thing in life and it makes us new.”
SALVATION: “We are sinners saved by grace. We are debtors to mercy alone.”
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY: “No doctrine so glorifies God and so humbles man as this. Boasting is excluded. We were lost and would still be lost but for this. Only divine sovereignty makes salvation certain.”
SAVIOR AND LORD: “You cannot receive him as Savior only, and later decide to accept or refuse him as your Lord; for the Savior is the Lord who by his death has bought us and therefore owns us.”
SATAN: “There is nothing quite so disastrous as not to accept in its fullness the biblical teaching concerning the devil. I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking.”
PREACHING: “The chief need … is great theological and doctrinal preaching which will emphasize the sovereignty of God, the ugliness of sin, the uncertainty of life, the judgment and eternity, the glory of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the all-sufficiency of his saving work on the cross, the resurrection and the blessed hope.”
EVANGELISM: “A presentation of the gospel chiefly in terms of its ability to satisfy man’s need of happiness and other blessings and which fails to show that man’s wrong relationship to God … may well receive considerable temporary success, but … .There is no greater danger to our highest interests than this kind of ‘easy believism” which is not the work of the Spirit at all.”
DEFINITION OF A CHRISTIAN: “If you were to ask me to give a definition of a Christian I should say that he is one who, since believing in Christ, feels himself to be the happiest man in the world and longs for everyone else to be equally happy.”
REVIVAL: “I long for revival comparable to that of the 18th century. More and more I am convinced that there, and there alone lies our hope.”
CORPORATE PRAYER: “The two greatest meetings in my life were both prayer meetings.”
ROLE OF THE PASTOR: “The ruling idea ought to be that the pastor is a shepherd, not a pet lamb. He must be alert to the danger of trying to be nice and popular and chatty. The minister is to be always and everywhere ‘the man of God’ and not merely when he is in chapel or taking a service. It is our duty to remember our calling. The minister should always move amongst the people as one who has been with God. His chief object should be to please God rather than to please men. … He can only win his place and have respect by a holy life.”
APOSTASY: “Those who question and query, let alone deny the great cardinal truths that have been accepted through the centuries, do not belong to the church, and to regard them as brethren is to betray the truth.”
THE GREAT DIVIDE: “Here is the great divide. The ecumenical people put fellowship before doctrine. We as evangelicals put doctrine before fellowship.”
ADVICE TO A BELIEVER IN A CHURCH WITH UNSAVED LEADERSHIP: “What I think you might do is to have a chat with such people ‘in private’. And when you talk to them, do so in the spirit of meekness and prayer, and pray much before doing so. I would just tell them simply your experience of God in Christ and the difference he has made to you. Talk of the New Life, the New Nature, and the New Power that you have received. And having done all this, pray for them when you get home again, and go on doing so. Remember that such people are in darkness, and have not seen the Light and that 1 Corinthians 2:14 applies to them. Nothing but the Power of the Holy Spirit can bring them to a different state. Arguments will not.”
KNOW YOURSELF: “I am an opponent of universal sets of rules for all. Nothing is more important than a man should get to know himself. I include in that that he should get to know himself physically as well as temperamentally and in other respects. I say this because there are those who would prescribe a program for a preacher and minister; they will tell him when to get up in the morning, what to do before breakfast, etc.”
LOVE: “Love is the greatest thing in religion, and if that is forgotten nothing can take place.”