Jason Meyer highlights the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, regarded as one of the most powerful preachers of the twentieth century, teaching us the importance of the union between doctrine and life.
About the Author
Jason C. Meyer(PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church and associate professor of New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary. Prior to coming to Bethlehem, he served as dean of chapel and assistant professor of Christian Studies at Louisiana College.He is the author of Preaching: A Biblical Theology and a commentary on Philippians in the ESV Expository Commentary.
Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series and also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.
Justin Taylor (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books, including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worldshosted by the Gospel Coalition.
Sinclair B. Ferguson(PhD, University of Aberdeen)is Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic TheologyatReformed Theological Seminary and the former senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia,South Carolina.He is the author of several books, the most recent being By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me. Sinclair and his wife, Dorothy, have four grown children.
Read an Excerpt
The Life and Times of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Lloyd-Jones asked a friend to preach at his funeral on the themes of the loveliness of Christ and obtaining an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom. As the minister was getting ready to leave, Lloyd-Jones called him back and said, "Come here, my boy. I want you to remember one thing. I am only a forgiven sinner — there is nothing more to me than that. Don't forget it."
If Sherlock Holmes had been a pastor instead of a private investigator, he would have looked a lot like Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Dr. Lloyd-Jones was trained in medicine at St Bartholomew ("Barts") Hospital in London. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle patterned the fictional Sherlock Holmes after a medical doctor who was Doyle's teacher in the Edinburgh Infirmary (Dr. Joseph Bell). Holmes's assistant, Dr. Watson, was a student at Bart's, and the two first met in the lab there.
Both Sherlock Holmes and Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhibit fine-tuned diagnostic acumen. In fact, the preaching ministry of the one affectionately known as the Doctor reflected all the marks of a medical cast of mind. His preaching would start with symptoms in society and then diagnose the root disease (i.e., the sin) and prescribe a gospel cure. The third section of this book will use the Doctor's diagnostic method as a format for diagnosing and overcoming the difficulties of the Christian life (define the doctrine, diagnose the difficulty, and prescribe the cure).
The story of Martyn Lloyd-Jones sounds like something from a Hollywood script. He gave up fame and a lucrative medical profession in London in exchange for a pulpit in a poor area of Wales. Why? Lloyd-Jones's life served as a canvas upon which God painted a bright and bold portrayal of the surpassing power of the gospel. God put this power on display in the Doctor's conversion, and then many times over in the Doctor's ministry.
Think of Lloyd-Jones's conversion and his call to ministry. Why did God save him and call him to ministry in the most unlikely place? God loves to choose the most unlikely people from the most unlikely places so that "no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor. 1:29). No one would expect that Bart's would be a fertile field for growing ministers of the gospel. Iain Murray calls it the "last place imaginable" as a training ground for gospel ministry because it was like a temple to scientific rationalism. Murray sees the same historical pattern of poetic providence at work with Lloyd-Jones as with other gospel ministers: "When the true idea of the minister is lost, God has often restored it by calling individuals to the office in unlikely ways. Amos was called from being a farmer; John Knox from his post as a church lawyer; and Lloyd-Jones from the hospital and the consulting room."
The rest of his life and ministry put God's glorious grace on display in amazing ways. In what follows, I offer a thumbnail sketch that structures the Doctor's life around five distinct movements. The first three movements follow a journey from Wales to London (from birth to Barts), London to Wales (conversion, call, and ministry in Wales), then Wales back to London (ministry at Westminster Chapel). The fourth journey is a broader move, from London to the wider world (retirement). The last trip is a higher move, from London to heaven (final days and "the glory").
Trip 1: Wales to London — from Birth to Barts (1899–1925)
The story of Martyn Lloyd-Jones begins in South Wales, where he was born on December 20, 1899. His parents, Henry and Margaret, had three boys: Harold, David Martyn, and Vincent. Harold was two years older than Martyn, and Vincent was two years younger. Harold died an untimely death at the age of twenty with the outbreak of Spanish influenza in 1918 (twenty million people died worldwide). Vincent grew up to be a highly respected high court judge and lived to be eighty-six (five years longer than Martyn).
Henry Martyn owned a grocery shop at 106 Donald Street in Cardiff, a cosmopolitan, English-speaking town in South Wales. Six years later, Henry sold the business and headed back to the heart of southwest Wales to the smaller, Welsh-speaking village of Llangeitho.
Martyn grew up with a fondness for horses. He loved to spend summer holidays with his grandfather Evans, who had horses. "He enjoyed carrying buckets of water and horsemeal and leading some of the quieter horses to the railway station and helping to put them into horseboxes for their journey to some large show in the West of Carmarthen, the West of England or London."
His carefree life would go up in flames at the age of ten. Philip Eveson describes the experience:
Farmers had come to his father's shop to pay their outstanding bills with gold sovereigns [coins] on Wednesday evening, January 19, 1910. They had stood talking and smoking in the clothing section of the store and some tobacco ash had obviously fallen on fabric and lay smouldering; it ignited in the early hours of Thursday morning when everyone was asleep. Martyn was rescued by his father who threw him from an upstairs window into the arms of three men standing below. The whole house and shop went up in flames. One of the few items retrieved from the fire were the sovereigns, which were now reduced to a solid mass of gold.
The fire was a crushing blow. The financial losses would plague the Lloyd-Jones family for a long time, even though they tried to hide it from their children. These financial troubles, however, did have one positive outcome in that they provided the impetus for Martyn to take his studies more seriously. Martyn was playing football (i.e., soccer) in the village square one day, and a student assistant named Edmund Jones (who later joined the school as a teacher) saw him. He decided to pull young Martyn aside and offer him some straightforward guidance for the future. "He warned him that unless he put his mind to his work he would not gain a scholarship to the County Secondary School like his brother." These words hit home, because Martyn knew that the family's financial situation precluded further schooling without a scholarship. He heeded the warning and devoted himself to his studies, earning second place in the scholarship exams of 1911 (scoring even higher than his brother Harold had done two years earlier).
Perhaps even more devastating than the fire of 1910 was the day Henry Lloyd-Jones had to declare bankruptcy in 1914. His real financial position was exposed and put on public display when all that the family owned was auctioned off to the highest bidder over the course of two days at Jubilee Hall. Martyn's father left to look for work in Canada for a few months, but nothing materialized. In July 1914, Henry boarded a ship to look for work in London, and Martyn joined his father when the ship reached London on August 3. It was a stirring and tumultuous time to be in London, because the next day the British declared war on Germany.
Henry bought a dairy business, and the family was reunited in London in October 1914. The dairy business was so successful that all of Henry's debts were eventually repaid. Martyn and Vincent were then able to go to St Marylebone Grammar school (January 1915), where Martyn excelled. In his senior examination in the summer of 1916, he passed all seven subjects and gained distinction in five. He applied to the medical school of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and was accepted at the "unusually young age of sixteen."
Martyn was a standout student at "Barts." In particular, his diagnostic ability attracted the attention of one of the most distinguished teachers there, Sir Thomas Horder (the king's physician). On one occasion, Lloyd-Jones made a diagnosis based on his claim that he could feel an enlarged spleen in the abdomen of the patient. This was something that even Horder's own examination had missed. Horder was so impressed that he chose Martyn to be his junior house physician (even before the results of the qualifying exam were announced). Martyn later became Horder's chief clinical assistant.
One of Martyn's most important tasks was to go through the case notes of Horder's patients in order to catalog and index all the diseases Horder had treated. Lloyd-Jones was shocked to see "the kinds of conditions suffered by some of the dignitaries of the land, including members of the royal family and cabinet ministers." The Doctor began to note that the problems were deeper than medical or intellectual. He diagnosed that the real problem was "moral emptiness and spiritual hollowness." Murray comments perceptively, "Horder's card index was to him almost what the vision of a valley of dry bones was to the prophet Ezekiel."
At age twenty-three (1923), Martyn received a London University MD (doctor of medicine degree). He then was awarded research scholarships in 1923–1924 to study a form of Hodgkin's disease called Pell Epstein disease, as well as a heart disease known as infective endocarditis. At the young age of twenty-five (1925), he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP). Lloyd-Jones had a private practice at 141 Harley Street, the same place where Horder had his offices. Only the "cream of society" could afford the services of a Harley Street doctor. Sir Thomas Horder introduced Martyn to a whole new social stratosphere. And it was an eye-opening experience for the young doctor to witness the wickedness, excess, and jealousy that characterized the elites of London.
Trip 2: London to Wales — Conversion, Call, and Ministry in Wales (1925–1938)
During this climb to the top of his profession, something else began to stir within Martyn's soul. In 1923 he began to listen to the preaching of Dr. John Hutton, the minister at Westminster Chapel. A spiritual power in this man's preaching arrested Martyn's soul and made him aware of the amazing power of God to save and change lives. He had never experienced this power at any other church he attended (despite having attended church his whole life).
Lloyd-Jones later described his conversion this way:
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. ... What I needed was preaching that would convict me of sin. ... But I never heard this. The preaching we had was always based on the assumption that we were all Christians.
During the same period, Lloyd-Jones was shocked to see the moral conditions of both ends of London's social scale. He saw the ravaging effects of drunkenness and sexual immorality among the poor, and he saw the equally destructive impact of drunkenness and illicit sex among the social elites who seemingly had everything. "The case histories of seventy percent of those who came to Thomas Horder's private practice revealed they had nothing more physically wrong with them than that they ate or drank too much."
Martyn became troubled by the thought that he was helping people get well so that they could simply go back to sinning with more abandon. Medicine could not address the real disease. Only the gospel had the power to change people at the core. From the spring of 1925 to the summer of 1926, Lloyd-Jones was in tremendous turmoil of spirit as he considered moving from medicine to a preaching ministry. He lost twenty pounds in this period of serious wrestling. By June of 1926 he was convinced that God had called him to be a preacher of the gospel.
June 1926 was also important because Martyn made another momentous decision. He proposed to the girl of his dreams, Bethan Phillips (also a physician). In the first two months of 1927, Martyn experienced three of the most stressful yet joyful things in life: (1) he got married, (2) moved to a new place, and (3) changed jobs. He and Bethan moved to South Wales and accepted a call to the Bethlehem Forward Movement Hall at Sandfields, Aberavon. The Forward Movement was a mission work among the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.
The Lord moved mightily through Lloyd-Jones's ministry at Aberavon. People from every walk of life experienced the life-changing power of the gospel. The most foul-mouthed, quick-tempered men, like Mark McCann, and the most outwardly religious women (like Martyn's own wife) both became converted during his ministry. Bethan confessed that she sat under her husband's ministry for two years before she came to the point where the light of the gospel dawned upon her soul:
I tried to do all a "Christian" should do in such duties as church attendance and I accepted the Bible as the Word of God. But I had no inner peace or joy and I knew nothing of the glorious release of the gospel.
I rejoiced to see men and women converted ... and I envied them and sometimes wished, when I saw their radiant faces and changed lives, that I had been a drunkard or worse, so that I could be converted! I never imagined that I needed to be converted, having always been a "Christian" or that I could get any more than I had already! ... God graciously used Martyn's morning sermons to open my eyes and show me myself and my need.
The gospel had the power to save drunkards, prostitutes, and good religious Welsh chapel girls. A spiritist medium attended the chapel after she saw many people passing by her house on their way to the hall. She came under the power of God's Word and was converted. She testified that the power she experienced at the hall was much different than she had known as a spiritualist. Unlike the power she was accustomed to, this was a "clean power."
One should not lose sight of how vital these results were to the validation of Lloyd-Jones's ministry. The prevailing view of the time was that modern men and women would no longer listen to preaching (that was the "old time" religion). Churches needed more of what modern men and women wanted (drama, music, etc.). And people wanted less preaching.
The Doctor felt the strong winds of prevailing public opinion but did not yield to them. He stepped right into them and kept to the ancient path of the apostle Paul, who resolved "to know nothing among [them] except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). That was the text for his first sermon, and he never drifted from it as his guiding principle. He suspended the church's drama society, and musical evenings were canceled. He simply preached Christ as the church's only attraction. He replaced the so-called modern attractions with the timeless attraction of Christ. His sermon on Psalm 34:8 (June 28, 1931) testifies to this conviction: "The business of preaching is not to entertain, but to lead people to salvation, to teach them how to find God."
Eveson estimates are that over five hundred people were converted and joined the church in the eleven years that Lloyd-Jones ministered at Sandfields. The Doctor had a cupboard full of liquor bottles that his converts gave him after being set free from a life of addiction, a tangible testimony to the changed lives in this poor area of Wales often decimated by drunkenness.
Trip 3: Wales to London — Ministry at Westminster Chapel (1938–1968)
After eleven years of ministry, Martyn began to feel the effects of fatigue. He even experienced vocal failure on occasion and was unable to finish his sermon. Eveson notes that this was later attributed to an error in vocal production. In 1938, he resigned from his church. The very weekend he announced his resignation, he providentially received a letter from Dr. Campbell Morgan, the minister at Westminster Chapel in London, to share the preaching there for six months. At the end of 1938, the Lloyd-Jones family moved to London.
Lloyd-Jones regarded his time at Westminster as a temporary arrangement. He fully expected to return to Wales. In 1938–1939, he awaited word on the possibility of becoming the principal of Bala Theological College in Wales. A controversy broke out over his nomination, and Lloyd-Jones regarded this as God's providential work to keep him at Westminster. On April 23, 1939, he accepted the call to become associate pastor at Westminster.
Lloyd-Jones's previous move from Wales to London was on the eve of the First World War. A few months after accepting the pastorate at Westminster, the Second World War broke out in September 1939. During the war, the numbers at the chapel dwindled from two thousand to a hundred and fifty. Sunday offerings no longer could meet church expenses, and the salaries of both Campbell Morgan and Lloyd-Jones were drastically reduced. Morgan retired in 1943.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life"
Copyright © 2018 Jason C. Meyer.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Series Preface 11
Foreword Sinclair B. Ferguson 13
Introduction: The Thesis 21
Part 1 "The Doctor"
1 The Life and Times of Martyn Lloyd-Jones 31
Part 2 The Doctor's Doctrine
2 God the Father Almighty: The Person and Work of the Father 45
3 Christ and Him Crucified: The Person and Work of Christ 61
4 Power from on High: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit 75
5 Redemption Applied: Justification and Sanctification 91
6 The Church: The Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ 103
7 The Last Things: Death and "the Glory" 115
Part 3 The Christian Life
8 The Word 125
9 Prayer 139
10 Faith Working through Love 151
11 Life in the Spirit at Home and Work 165
12 Why Are You So Downcast? Spiritual Depression 181
13 The Acid Test: The Hope of Glory 201
Part 4 The Doctor's Legacy
14 The Legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones 213
Appendix 1 The Charismatic Controversy 225
Appendix 2 The Secession Controversy 235
General Index 253
Scripture Index 261
What People are Saying About This
“Lloyd-Jones would surely have approved of the approach of this book: a whole Christian life requires an understanding and application of the whole Bible, the whole gospel, and the whole body of Christian doctrine. Meyer is to be congratulated on his remarkable achievement of giving us in a clear and concise portrait of Lloyd-Jones and his ministry, wisely grounded in a splendid summary of his exposition of the gospel.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries
“My few personal meetings with ‘the Doctor’ before he entered what he called ‘the Glory’ in March 1981 were marked by personal encouragement. That spring, at a conference of several hundred pastors who were asked to bear witness to the life and ministry of the late Dr. Lloyd-Jones, a strong majority of those who spoke fastened on the countless kindnesses the Doctor had displayed to them. Jason Meyer rightly and capably emphasizes the extraordinary unity of doctrine and experience in Lloyd-Jones’s life. This Christian vitality in his life was other-focused: the outworking of the gospel of the triune God in the life of the believer was not pursued in an individualist fashion, but sought the good of other believers, the benefit of the church, and the glory of God.”
D. A. Carson,Emeritus Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
“Both for those already familiar with the published works of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and for those taking them up for the first time, Meyer’s work will be prized. From a thorough knowledge of the sources, he highlights and clarifies the truths which Lloyd-Jones preached, and, most importantly, he does it with the same heartbeat. It has done me good to read this book.”
Iain H. Murray, author, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography and Evangelical Holiness; Founding Trustee, Banner of Truth Trust
“When I was a young boy, my father took me to hear Martyn Lloyd-Jones speak. I remember little of the occasion, except my father’s deep desire that I hear ‘the Doctor’ preach while he was still alive. My mother was a regular at his Friday night lectures on Ephesians. Lloyd-Jones was a major influence on my parents and, through them, on me. So it is a joy to welcome this book on his understanding of the Christian life. Read it to discover what drove this titan of the twentieth-century church. But better still, let the Doctor examine your Christian life, diagnose its ailments, and prescribe a God-centered remedy.”
Tim Chester, Pastor, Grace Church Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire; Faculty Member, Crosslands Training
“Martyn Lloyd-Jones stood out in two compelling ways: theological depth and spiritual power. ‘The Doctor’ therefore represents what we most need afresh in our generation, especially as we pastors long to preach the biblical gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This wonderful new book by Jason Meyer meets our need, not by idealizing a man but by drawing us into deeper personal reality with the living God.”
Ray Ortlund,Pastor to Pastors, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“In our day, popularity is easy to come by, but enduring significance is not. Many people who are liked and retweeted today will be forgotten tomorrow. However, there are some people who have been significant but are not well known. In this volume, Meyer introduces us to a man whose name may not be trending but whose effect on countless Christians and pastors is far more noteworthy than many realize. It is my hope that Meyer’s book will expand the influence of Martyn Lloyd-Jones to a new generation of Christians who are in desperate need of his voice.”
C.J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
“I wrote in the Director’s Statement for the documentary Logic on Fire that it is as important for our generation to understand why Martyn Lloyd-Jones made the choices he did in life and ministry as it is to understand him on Romans, Ephesians, the Sermon on the Mount, or spiritual depressionand that is saying quite a lot. Jason Meyer’s excellent book navigates the reader ad fontes, to the Doctor’s own understanding of the Scriptures, and proves that his unshakable confidence in them was the fuel to his fire. Lloyd-Jones’s life is still giving light and heat to the church today, and I pray this book will be a conduit that brings much illumination to our day and generation. I commend this book to you heartily and enthusiastically.”
Matthew Robinson, Director, Media Gratiae; Director, Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of if not the greatest preacher of the 20th century. In this volume from the On The Christian Life series Jason Meyer provides not only an overview of Lloyd-Jones teaching on the basics of the Christian life but also a wonderful introduction to the works and thought of Lloyd-Jones. This volume addresses an area in which the physician turned pastor was at his strongest. The first section of the book provides and introduction into the life and work of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The second section draws heavily from the teaching series Great Doctrines of the Bible which can be found in print form or in the original recordings. In this section Meyer demonstrates the foundational role these doctrines played in the Christian life. The third section provides an overview on Lloyd-Jones’s teaching on areas such as the Bible, prayer life, home and family, as well spiritual depression among others. The final section provides an overview of his ongoing legacy. This is one of the best contributions to the series I have read thus far. It provides a rich synthesis and exploration of Lloyd-Jones’s teachings on some of the key aspects of the Christian life, allowing his ministry to continue as readers are impacted by his deep understanding of the Christian life. I would highly recommend this book. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.