Martyn Lloyd-Jones: There is Hope for All Who Cry Out to Him

But above everything else, Christianity is entirely beyond understanding. “What meaneth this?” they asked. Of course they did. If you can understand your religion, that is proof it is not Christianity. If you are in control of your religion, it is not Christianity. If you can take it up in a bag on Sunday morning when you go to church and then put it down again, that is not Christianity. Christianity is a miracle. It is a marvel. It astonishes people.

When Blaise Pascal, the French thinker, had a great experience of God, he said, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Then, negatively, “not the god of the philosophers and seers and thinkers.” That is the contrast. The God of the Bible is the God who reveals Himself in all the glory and wonder of His miraculous, eternal power. Thank God for such a message, such a Gospel. It made the church. This is what she preached, and on the day of Pentecost 3,000 men and women were added to the church.

But finally, because all  this is true, Christianity is a message for all people. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). You will need to be very clever to understand the modern books about God, but thank God, you do not need to be clever to be a Christian. “The common people heard him gladly,” wrote Mark (12:37). “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” says the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:26). Rather, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty …and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (vv. 27-28). There is a hope for all who realize their need and cry out to Him.

Is that your idea of Christianity? Do you know this living God, this true God, this active God, this God who intervenes and comes? Have you ever met Him in any shape or form, as Moses met Him in the burning bush, as Jacob met Him at Peniel, as Elijah met Him on Mount Carmel? Have you ever felt the touch of God upon your soul? Are you aware that you have been dealt with, that God has entered into your life and has done something that you could not do? Do you know that you are what you are by the grace of God? Do you say, “I can’t explain it—all I know is that God has done something to me in Christ”? If you can say that, you are a Christian. But  if all you have is what you do and what you think, I am afraid you are not a Christian. God’s coming to you need not be the rushing, mighty wind, but it is always the power of God. It is always the hand of God. It always brings the knowledge that God has had pity upon you and has come down in the person of His Son to enter into your life, to save you and set you free. Oh, that men and women might know the living God and His power unto salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord!

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity, 31-32

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Our Greatest Hope

And what then? In Acts 1:10-11 we read: “Two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” If you think that Jesus finished when He died and was buried, listen to the message of Luke, listen to this treatise written to Theophilus—it is written to you. He will come again, even as He went. He will return, in bodily, visible fashion, riding the clouds of heaven, surrounded by the holy angels. And He will judge the world in righteousness and set up His glorious kingdom, to which there shall be no end.

That is the message of Christianity. That is what has made the church what it is. Do men and women need to be told about some kind of program that will give them better conditions? That is not our greatest need. Our greatest need is to know God. If we were all given a fortune, would that solve our problems? Would that solve our moral problems? would that solve the problem of death? Would that solve the problem of eternity? Of course not. The message of Christianity is not about improving the world, but about changing people in spite of the world, preparing them for the glory that is yet to come. This Jesus is active and acting to that end, and He will go on until all the redeemed are gathered in, and then He will return, and the final judgement will take place, and His kingdom will stretch from shore to shore.

That is the message that turned the ancient world upside-down. It is the only message, and I want to ask you a simple question: What does this message mean to you? What is your idea of Christianity? What do you think the business of the church is? Do you say, “I don’t want your sermons, I don’t want your argumentation—I just want to feel that I’ve said my prayers and paid my respects, as it were, to God, before I go out and do what I like”? Is it that? Do you think Christianity is something you can take up and use as a minimum, in the hope that it will somehow put you right? Or is it the most amazing and astounding thing that ever happened or will ever happen? Is it the thing by which you live, the thing that you long to know and to experience more and more? Do you realize that this Jesus came into the world to save you from hell, from the punishment that your sins and mine so richly deserve? Do you realize now that the essence of Christianity is not that it calls you to do something, but rather that it tells you what Jesus came into the world to do for you?

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity, 17-18

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Test of a True Teacher

The most important test is the conformity to scriptural teaching. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” How do I know that this is a scriptural test? All I know about Him, I put up to the test of Scripture. Indeed, you get exactly the same thing in the sixth verse of 1 John 4 where John says, speaking of himself and the other apostles, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” The first thing to ask about a man who claims to be filled with the Spirit and to be an unusual teacher is, does his teaching conform to Scripture? Is it in conformity with the apostolic message? Does he base it all upon this Word? Is he willing to submit to it? That is the great test.

Another test is the readiness to listen to scriptural teaching; to abide by it is always a characteristic of the true prophet. You will find that the other man rather tends to dismiss it. “Ah yes,” he says,” But you are legalistic, you are just a theologian. I have experience, I have felt, and I have produced this and that.” The tendency is not to abide by the teaching of Scripture but to be almost contemptuous of it; that has always been the characteristic of those who have tended to go astray. Read the history of the Quakers, and you will find that such an attitude became a prominent feature—the inner light rather than the objective teaching of Scripture itself.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Love of God, 23-24 (Republished in Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Be Different from the World

The fact is that the world expects us to be different; and this idea that you can win the world by showing that after all you are very similar to it, with scarcely any difference at all, or but a very slight one, is basically wrong not only theologically but even psychologically.

Our Lord attracted sinners because He was different. They drew near to Him because they felt that there was something different about Him… this idea that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder.

In this realm we are dealing with God, and our knowledge of God, and our relationship to God. So everything here must be ‘under God’ and must be done ‘with reverence and godly fear’. We do not decide this; we are not in charge and in control, it is God. It is His service, and He has to be approached ‘with reverence and with godly fear, because our God is a consuming fire’….light entertainment, easy familiarity and jocularity are not compatible with a realisation of the seriousness of the condition of the souls of all men by nature, the fact that they are lost and in danger of eternal perdition, and their consequent need of salvation.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 139-140

HT: Slice of Laodicea

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Primacy of Preaching

dmlj-preaching

“People say that the preachers stand in their pulpits and preach their sermons, but that there before them are individuals with their individual problems and sufferings. So the argument runs, you ought to preach less and spend more time doing personal work and counseling and interviewing.

My reply to this argument is to suggest, once more, that the answer is to put preaching into the primary position. Why? For this reason that true preaching does deal with personal problems, so much so that true preaching saves a great deal of time for the pastor. I am speaking out of forty years of experience. What do I mean? Let me explain.

The Puritans are justly famous for their pastoral preaching. They would take up what they called ‘cases of conscience’ and deal with them in their sermons; and as they dealt with these problems they were solving the personal individual problems of those who were listening to them. That has constantly been my experience. The preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit to the individuals who are listening, has been the means of dealing with personal problems of which I as the preacher knew nothing until people came to me at the end of the service saying, ‘I want to thank you for that sermon because if you had known I was there and the exact nature of my problem, you could not have answered my various questions more perfectly. I have often thought of bringing them to you but you have now answered them without doing so.’

The preaching had already dealt with the personal problems. Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that the preacher should never do any personal work; far from it. But I do contend that preaching must always come first, and that it must not be replaced by anything else.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, p.37

HT: Joel Taylor

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Puritan and the Anglican

dmlj-puritan

The Puritan emphasises the spirituality of worship; the Anglican emphasises the formal aspect of worship, and is more interested in the mechanics of worship. The Puritan is interested in fellowship, the Anglican is more individualistic. The gathered church is at the heart of the Puritan idea – the fellowship; the Anglican is more individualistic. Puritans believed also in the ferreting out of sin and a rigid church discipline; the Anglican tends to be content with an outward conformity.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans:  Their Origins and Successors, p. 257 (as quoted  in H. Rondel Rumburg, William Bridge: The Puritan of the Congregational Way, p. 26)

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it.

Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart, you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics.

The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent ours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make the activity an end in itself.

Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 253