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Theology Thursday: Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A God-glorifying Ministry

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Posted by John Percival, 29 Oct 2015

"The Doctor" in large swathes of British Evangelicalism refers not to a mysterious Time Lord, but to a world-famous preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Much contemporary discussion of The Doctor's ministry focuses on his ecclesiology, after his call in 1966 for evangelicals to leave doctrinally mixed denominations. Vaughan Roberts argues that the driving passion of his life and ministry was a concern for God’s glory, which contains an inspiring challenge for all Christians today, regardless of churchmanship.

Sadly, many today will be ignorant of the substantial influence Martyn Lloyd-Jones enjoyed in twentieth century evangelicalism. Vaughan Roberts therefore gives a helpful overview of the life-story. He then turns to assess Lloyd-Jones’ emphases. Roberts writes:

At the heart of Lloyd-Jones’ ministry was a deep confidence in the absolute truth of scripture. He said, ‘I believe the word of God and I rest myself and my whole position entirely upon it.’ In his teaching he pointed people, not simply to isolated Bible texts, but to great Bible themes, above all the ‘great central and all-important truth of the sovereignty of God and God’s glory.’

On the power of God, Roberts says:

It was not enough simply to work hard to understand a text of Scripture and preach it faithfully, all of which can be done mechanically. What is needed is not just truth, but also power. True preaching is ‘logic on fire!’ Men can deliver the logic of faithful biblical teaching fused into a coherent message, but only the Holy Spirit can produce the fire.

The knowledge of God was also a central theme, according to Roberts:

The passionate desire to know God through Christ and make him known drove Martyn Lloyd-Jones right up to the end of his life. As his cancer became more advanced he was forced to give up most of his active ministry. This led him to quote Luke 10:20: ‘Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ ‘Bear that in mind,’ he said solemnly. ‘Our greatest danger is to live upon our activity. The ultimate test of a preacher is what he feels like when he cannot preach.’

This article provides a timely and insightful analysis of a twentieth century giant for the sake of twenty-first century ministers. Do get hold of this edition of Churchman to read the full text.

Roberts, Vaughan. “Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A God-glorifying Ministry.” Churchman 129/3 (2015):227–241.

John Percival is Curate of All Souls Eastbourne.

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