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Martyn Lloyd-Jones

(7 posts)

Features of a Faithful Christian Witness: Content

In his book Jesus the Evangelist, Richard D. Phillips lists “Three key features of a faithful Christian witness” found in the apostle John’s descriptions of John the Baptist. The first is . . . the content of our witness. John 1:7 says that John “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light.” A Christian witness is first and foremost about Christ. We tell people what the early church enshrined in the Apostles’ Creed: that Jesus is God’s only Son and our Lord; That He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary; that He suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified, died, and was buried; that He experienced death for three days and then rose from the grave; that he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; and that from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. These claims make up a Christian witness. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones put it this way: We are meant to talk to people about the Lord Jesus Christ and to tell them he is the Son of God and that he has come into this world to save men and women. . . . We are meant to tell men exactly why the world is as it is; we are meant to tell them about sin in the human heart and that nobody and nothing can deal with it save the Son of God. . . . We are very ready to talk about are doctors, and to praise the man who cured us when so many failed; we talk about some business which is better than others, or about films and plays and actors and actresses, and a thousand and one other things. We are always glorifying people, the world is full of it, and the Christian is meant to be praising and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. John the Baptist set an ideal example of this. His message was not about his experiences or what he felt about God, but about Jesus. When he saw Jesus he declared, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). We, too, need to declare that Jesus saves people from their sins. On the next day, “John bore witness” to Christ again, saying “I saw the spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him” (John 1:32). We, too, must testify that Jesus is the one who came to do God’s will by Gods power. John the Baptist said, “I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34), and we must too. —Richard D. Phillips, Jesus the Evangelist (Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007), 12–13.

Remorse vs. Repentance

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. —Psalm 51:11 Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the nature of genuine repentance, as seen in Psalm 51: I do not hesitate to assert that this is perhaps the most subtle and delicate test as to whether we have repented, or where we are: our attitude towards God. Have you noticed it in the psalm? The one against whom David has sinned is God, and yet the one he desires above all is God. That is the difference between remorse and repentance. The man who has not repented, but who is only experiencing remorse, when he realizes he has done something against God, avoids God. . . . The man who has not been dealt with by the Spirit of God and has not been convinced and convicted, tries to get away from God, to avoid him at all costs. He does not think, he does not read the Bible, he does not pray; he does everything he can not to think about these things. But the extraordinary thing about the man who is convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit is that though he knows he has sinned against God, it is God he wants—“Be merciful to me, O God.” He wants to be with God—that is the peculiar paradox of repentance, wanting the one I have offended! —Martyn Lloyd-Jones, cited in A Tale of Two Sons (Thomas Nelson, 2008), 97–98.

God Our Opposite

Before a sinner can be saved, he must see himself as he is: hopelessly sinful. In order to see that, he must be held up to a standard whereby his sin will be evident. Therefore, the God every unbelieving sinner needs to meet is not a loving grandfather who has a wonderful plan for your life, but the holy Lord of creation whose absolute perfection sets the standard by which every life is measured. Iain Murray writes: Only in the light of the moral perfections of God his infinite excellence and goodness can man learn his true condition. For Gods character is the opposite of our own. He created us in his moral image, to be like him, to live for him as the centre of our being, and to love him with heart and soul and mind and strength. But sin has reversed the purpose of creation and man has become the contradiction of what he ought to be. Withholding from God what belongs to him, men serve themselves and love themselves: They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Rom. 1:25). The charge brought against Belshazzar applies to the whole human race: You have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven . . . And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honoured (Dan. 5:23). This is not a discovery that man is willing to recognize, hence Gods word to Jeremiah: And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, Why has the Lord renounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God? then you shall say to them: Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law (Jer. 16:10-11). At the same time God spoke to Jeremiah of another day, when a nations come from the ends of the earth and say: Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit (Jer. 16:19-20). Such is the darkness of the human heart that the lie has been deliberately chosen. They did not see fit to acknowledge God (Rom. 1:28). There is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom 3:18). God is disowned and worthless things put in his place. Lloyd-Jones was not going beyond the scriptural evidence when he said, The sinner is an abomination, he is a monstrosity in Gods universe, he is altogether hateful and vile. The revelation of God in Scripture is intended to lead us to the discovery about ourselves. It is focused particularly in the standard God requires in his law, given in the ten commandments, for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20). It is there that we learn that we are to love God with the totality of our being, and our neighbor as ourselves. The law enlightens us to a universe in which God in his majesty is at the centre. The Son of God, instead of appointing another standard and setting aside the ten commandments, perfectly exemplified them and expounded them in searching detail. No greater mistake can be made than to suppose that preaching the law is just Old Testament preaching: it is no less the law of Christ (Matt. 5:17) and the effect is the same. When, though the person and words of Jesus, Simon Peter was brought to the light, he had to say, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8). The knowledge of God does not therefore first come to sinners with comfort, rather it is intensely disturbing. Mouths are shut, or if they speak at all it is to say such words as: Against you, you only, have I sinned (Psa. 51:4). Woe is me, for I am lost (Isa. 6:5): You have set our iniquities before you, you secret sins in the light of your presence (Psa. 90:8). I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now, mine eye sees you: therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5). Iain Murray, The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth, 2005), 89.

What New Testament Evangelism Is Not

There is no true evangelism without the doctrine of sin, and without an understanding of what sin is. I do not want to be unfair, but I say that a gospel which merely says ���Come to Jesus���, and offers Him as a Friend, and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism. The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the law; and it is because the law has not been preached that we have so much superficial evangelism . . . evangelism must start with the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man and the eternal consequences of evil and wrong-doing. It is only the man who has been brought to see his guilt in this way who flies to Christ for deliverance and redemption. ���D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, quoted in The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth, 2005), 69. [Original source: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (London: IVF, 1959), 1:235.]

A Very Broad Way

According to a certain author of whom you may have heard, salvation is as simple as saying this prayer: Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you, and if you sincerely meant that prayer, Presto! Youre in!* Lloyd-Jones contrasts this with the oldand biblicalway of evangelism. [False teaching] does not emphasize repentance in any real sense. It has a very wide gate leading to salvation and a very broad way leading to heaven. You need not feel much of your sinfulness; you need not be aware of the blackness of your own heart. You just decide for Christ and you rush in with the crowd, and your name is put down, and is one of the large number of decisions reported by the press. It is entirely unlike the evangelism of the Puritans and of John Wesley, George Whitefield and others, which led men to be terrified of the judgment of God, and to have an agony of soul sometimes for days and weeks and months. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, quoted in The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth, 2005), 69. [Original source: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (London: IVF, 1959), 2:247.] * Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life (Zondervan, 2002), 58.

By His Preserving Grace

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. —Philippians 1:6 It’s interesting, and rather befuddling, that most people recognize the virtue of finishing what they start, and yet doubt that God can be counted on to do that much—even though he has explicitely promesed that he will. Paul says that God, having begun His work in our lives, “will bring it” to completion. This indicates that God not only guarantees the completion of our salvation, but is actively involved in the believer’s life to bring this to pass. God works in our lives in the way a craftsman works to finish a product he has created. He smooths out the lines, sands the rough places, and puts its pieces together in proper proportion. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes: God does not merely initiate the work and then leave it, he continues with it; he leads us on, directing and manipulating our circumstances, restraining us at one time and urging us on at another. Paul’s whole conception of the Church is that it is a place where God is working in the hearts of men and women. God’s work is manifested in His will playing out in our lives. This is what Paul says a bit later in Philippians: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13). Being a Christian is not easy. Persevering in faith requires warfare with sin, labor in prayer, plowing in God’s Word, and performing His will in the world. We are God’s workmanship, Paul says, and this means we are called to “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). God will see to it that His work for each of us is carried to completion. By His preserving grace, He will carry us to our destination in heaven. We are called to work this out, but, Paul insists, God is all the while working it in us (Phil. 2:13). —Richard D. Phillips, What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Reformation Trust, 2008), 92–93.

Encouragement for “Faithful Nobodies”

It would be easy to be a little disheartened as we marvel at what God did in and through this great man, in view of our own seeming insignificance and the difficulties of our own day. Most of us will never be great ourselves and the next generation will not reprint our sermons or pore over our journals (or blogs!) with keen interest. We may never see the reformation and revival of our churches for which we all long. With his characteristic overstatement, Dr. Lloyd-Jones outlines the things people did for the gospel and wrote to defend it prior to the Great Awakening and then concludes rather dismissively, ‘but they were of no avail whatsoever,’ until the Revival came. I may be pedantic, but this cannot quite be true, can it? Whitefield himself urges us (Sermon 57) not to despise the day of small things. There are several clergymen in Whitefield’s paternal pedigree chart going back four generations, with combined ministries in the Church of England amounting to around three hundred years. Perhaps we, like these several generations of unsung, un-noticed Revds. Whitefield, are part of God’s plan to nurture godly families, sustain gospel ministry in obscure places, and prepare the ground for greater things to come. But if not, the faithful nobodies who seem to make little impact may indeed still be just as pleasing to God as the barnstormers who capture the headlines and make the most waves. As long as the gospel remains the power of God for salvation, such people are not wasting their time in the harvest field and may avail much for God and his kingdom. May we never forget this, even as we praise God for what he accomplished in the days of George Whitefield (1714–1770). —Lee Gatiss, The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 42–43.


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