As you may have read in my introductory post about creating this Favorite Pastors Series, one of the criteria for being considered to be listed among the hallowed was that the preacher had to have been alive during my lifetime. Since the late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who went to be with the Lord in 1981, barely squeaks by, I was elated to be able to include him!
Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was truly one of the Lord’s greats at relaying His written Word to lay people with “God-dominated preaching.” He was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher, and theologian who had a monumental impact on evangelical Christianity in the 20th century. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, and educated at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College in London. Lloyd-Jones initially pursued a career in medicine and actually became a successful physician, but he eventually decided to leave medicine to become a minister.
In 1927, Lloyd-Jones began his ministry at a small Welsh church in Aberavon. He quickly gained a reputation as a gifted preacher and was soon invited to speak at other churches throughout Wales and England. In 1939, the day after World War II broke out in Europe, he became an associate at Westminster Chapel in London, under the guidance of lead pastor G. Campbell Morgan. In 1943, Morgan retired, leaving Lloyd-Jones the top spot at Westminster, a position he held for the next 30 years. During his time there, Lloyd-Jones became one of the most well-known preachers in the English-speaking world, and certainly one of the most influential Christian voices of the 20th Century.
Lloyd-Jones was a strong advocate of biblical literalism and opposed the liberal theological trends that were popular in many churches during his time. He believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God and that it should be taken literally. Lloyd-Jones was also a staunch Calvinist and believed in the doctrines of predestination and election. His preaching style was passionate and often confrontational, and he was known for his ability to captivate audiences with his powerful delivery.
In addition to his preaching, Lloyd-Jones was also a prolific writer. He wrote numerous books and articles on theology, including his famous series of sermons on the book of Romans, which is still widely read and studied today (and is a personal favorite of mine). Lloyd-Jones was also a vocal opponent of the ecumenical movement, which he saw as a compromise of biblical truth.
Lloyd-Jones retired from his position at Westminster Chapel in 1968, but he continued to be active in preaching and writing until his death in 1981. He was widely regarded as one of the most significant and efficacious evangelical preachers of the past 100 years, and his legacy continues to influence Christian thought and practice to this day.
Why Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones?
All it takes is a couple of listens to Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons or digging into one of his books, and you’ll immediately know that God had gifted him mightily at explaining heady theological concepts and presenting Scripture well. (Yes, even though Lloyd Jones’ preaching output is from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, thankfully over 1,600 of his sermons have been recorded for posterity, and you can listen to them online.)
I have to admit that it took me a few listens to get used to Lloyd-Jones’ unique British timbre as he speaks. Casual American or Canadian churchgoers who are more comfortable digesting feel-good speeches by megachurch leaders and skinny jean-wearing “Christian” influencers may initially be turned off by Lloyd-Jones and even tune out, possibly thinking that he sounds snooty, nerdy, and out of touch with current vernacular, and may even snicker when Dr. Lloyd-Jones rolls his “r’s” and liken him to some 19th-Century English actor who is trying to come across as overly prim and proper.
If they think that of the good doctor, then they’ve made a poor and sad assessment. Instead, they should give Lloyd-Jones a chance, as he is a bombastic treasure trove of biblical knowledge from which they can grow intensely in their journey of loving and living for Christ. Personally, I’ve come to esteem Lloyd-Jones’ voice as warm and comforting, where I imagine I’m being transported back to wartime and post-war England and enjoying some hot earl grey while I sit in his Westminster office and listen to the vast repository of spiritual riches and wisdom of an old friend from long ago.
When I read his written words, I hear Lloyd-Jones’ accent and inflections, and they are comforting as well as convicting, helpfully explaining God’s truth in Scripture.
Here are several reasons why I love Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones :
- Biblical Literalism: Lloyd-Jones was a strong advocate of biblical literalism, which meant that he believed the Bible should be taken at face value and interpreted literally. He believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God and that it contained everything that people needed to know about God and His plan for humanity.
- Expository Preaching: As you may know, I love great, exegetical/expositional preaching. This is a superior way of unearthing what God’s doctrine is on a wide array of subjects by reading the larger passages, chapters, and books of the Bible as a whole, and Lloyd-Jones was a master of this method.
- Passionate Delivery: I’ve already talked much about his accent, but I also have to add that he had a passionate and emotive delivery when preaching. John Piper would call this process “expository exultation.” Lloyd-Jones would often speak with great conviction and urgency, and his sermons would often be punctuated with shouts, gestures, and other expressions of emotion. This helped to captivate his audience and convey the gravity of the message he was delivering.
- Doctrinal Clarity: Lloyd-Jones was an astute theologian, as well as a public speaker, and he had a gift for explaining complex theological concepts in a way that was clear and easy to understand. He was known for his ability to explain the doctrines of the Christian faith in a way that was both intellectually rigorous and spiritually edifying. His books (check out Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, for instance) reflect this facet as well.
- Focus on the Gospel: Lloyd-Jones was passionate about the Gospel message and believed that it was the central message of the Bible. He would often focus his preaching on the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the need for people to respond to Him in faith and repentance in order to receive salvation.
- Opposition to Liberal Theology: Lloyd-Jones was a vocal opponent of the liberal theological trends that were popular in many churches during the mid-Twentieth Century. He believed that the church needed to return to a more orthodox and biblical understanding of the Christian faith, and he was unafraid to speak out against those who he felt were compromising biblical truth. While Lloyd-Jones wanted biblical unity within the worldwide church (as do I), he realized that fractures could occur if others broke away from true biblical teaching for a more liberal, self-focused interpretation of doctrine, and he wasn’t afraid of that happening.
I would advise you to get into his preaching and books right away.
Find Out More
MLJ Trust – Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon library – https://www.mljtrust.org/