Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why I Love the Doctor

(And no, just for the record, it's not this Doctor, although I do find him entertaining)

The first thing I ever read by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was Spiritual Depression. I saw the title and synopsis at an online Christian bookseller, and I liked how it sounded. I had been going through a spiritually dry time, and it sounded like just the thing I needed.

That was beginning of a beautiful friendship, as they say. Following that book, I wanted to know more about Dr. Lloyd-Jones, so I read the two-volume biography by Iain Murray (which I highly recommend). Since then, I have read others of Lloyd-Jones's books. He is one of my favourite preachers.

Lloyd-Jones, a Welshman, began his career as a medical doctor, but after a couple of years, felt himself called to ministry. After ten years with a church in Wales, in 1939, he went to Westminster Chapel in London, where he served alongside G. Campbell Morgan, and eventually became the sole minister there. He is recognized as one of the 20th century's greatest preachers. That was what he was above all, a preacher.

If you are looking for encouraging reading, I cannot recommend Lloyd-Jones enough. Lloyd-Jones's books are based upon his sermons, which are plentiful. You could spend a lifetime reading his material. His study on Romans contains fourteen volumes alone.

Lloyd-Jones saw the urgency for the gospel to be proclaimed. He saw the necessity for personal holiness. He saw the need for self-examination. He wasn't caught up in popular trends or fashion. He was simply concerned with people hearing the Scriptures expounded so that they might live in light of them. I have certainly not read everything by Lloyd-Jones, and there are probably things I might disagree with, but whenever I have delved into a volume of his, I have come away having learned something, been encouraged, and been inspired to press on in my life of faith. He explained things thoroughly and clearly, and always with the goal of making these truths real and active in our lives.

Here at the Out of the Ordinary, we are all acquainted with the Doctor. In fact, when I polled my fellow bloggers here, asking for their recommended Lloyd-Jones volume, four of them said Spiritual Depression. Persis also recommended Authority, and Becky recommended Faith Tried and Triumphant. That volume is out of print now, but its contents can be read in two volumes, Faith on Trial, and From Fear to Faith. I have read Faith on Trial, and it is indeed very good. In addition to Spritual Depression, I would highly recommend Studies on the Sermon on the Mount. My friend and I read it together, meeting weekly to discuss it.

Currently, I am reading Lloyd-Jones's volume on I John, Life in Christ. I am teaching I John, and in my preparations, I read the relevant sections after studying. His explanations are always so insightful, and I have borrowed some of his thoughts and used them in my Sunday school class.

Here is a quote from that book which I recently found encouraging. He is commenting on I John 3:3, and how we purify ourselves:
I purify myself by considering Him, by looking at Him and His perfect life; that is the pattern I am to follow. We are reminded of that by the Apostle Paul. God has called us that we may be 'conformed to the image of his Son' (Rom 8:29). So if that is God's plan and purpose for me, then the first thing I must do is look at the Lord Jesus Christ, to look at the way He conducted Himself in this life and world. I am to be like Him, so I consider Him. I realise that is what I am destined for, so I begin to put it into practise.
Notice how Lloyd-Jones points us back to looking at Christ? He does that a lot. He also exhorts us to examine ourselves, and "talk" to ourselves, asking ourselves questions about our attitudes. This is the kind of encouragement I need daily. Books abound with practical advice, with "how to" approaches, and approaches that are ultimately only applicable to one season of life or circumstance. Lloyd-Jones's counsel was for an entire life time, because it always focuses us back to Christ, to who we are, and to how we must relate to Christ properly.

In addition to Lloyd-Jones's books, do check out The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust, where you can listen to his sermons and learn more about him. If you sample his writing and preaching, you will be blessed.

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