on a quote just for Chris Anderson

I am working away on Romans in preparation for a new expository series starting next Sunday and ending ??? when? who knows? I have been serious about studying Romans the last few weeks, after a summer of sort of ‘casual’ study [i.e., not much]. I am getting fired up. I plan to preach on the first word of the book next Sunday: “Paul”. You’ll have to wait for me to post a summary to see where I am going with this.

Well, one of the things I am doing in preparation is reading Lloyd-Jones. I have always liked his books but it wasn’t until recently that I really understood that they are sermons. I mean, I guess I knew that, but I just realized that I was reading his books as books when I should have been reading them as sermons. They are much more alive when you read them that way.

A few months ago, Dr. Minnick wrote a column in Frontline on recommended books for Romans. For me, this was timely [and expensive!] One of his recommendations is the collection of Lloyd-Jones sermons on Romans. This set is fourteen volumes of sermons, one per chapter up to chapter 14. L-J’s pastoral career at Westminster Chapel ended in the middle of Rm 14.17. [For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.] He preached on ‘the kingdom is … peace’, but didn’t preach on ‘joy in the Holy Ghost’. The next Monday, I think it was, he was diagnosed with cancer which led to lengthy treatment and his retirement from the pastoral ministry. He said later that the reason the Lord hadn’t let him finish the verse was that he wasn’t spiritually ready to preach it yet. The whole series begain Oct 7, 1955 with the last message in the spring of 1968.

I haven’t purchased the whole set of fourteen. It’s a little much to buy them all at one whack. But given that I prefer the glacial method of exposition, I think I can afford to purchase the set piecemeal. So far I have chapter 1 and chapter 2.

All of that leads me to this, and this one is for you, Chris Anderson! I am in L-J’s sermon #3 (still in verse 1), where the Doctor is expounding on the phrase “a servant of Jesus Christ”. Among other things, he has this to say:

It does not matter what Paul is writing about; sometimes he has to write a letter because people have sent him questions, or because there have been difficulties. It does not matter at all what the occasion is; he cannot begin writing without at once introducing us to Jesus Christ. To Paul, He was the beginning and the end, the all-in-all. He had nothing apart from Him. I would maintain, therefore, that a very good way in which we can test our own profession of the Christian faith is just to apply this test to ourselves. Is Jesus Christ in the forefront? Is He in the centre? You will find that in this introduction the Apostle mentions Him at least five times. I had occasion to note recently that in the first fourteen verses of the Epistle to the Ephesians he mentions Him fifteen times. He cannot get away from Him, as it were; he must keep on mentioning the Name. He uses the terms ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘Christ Jesus our Lord’, and so on. Watch him in his epistles, he is always using the Name, and it evidently gives him great pleasure to do so. And the question, I repeat, is, ‘Is this true of us? Is Jesus Christ in the forefront of our minds, and our hearts, and our conversation?’ I mean — and here I am talking to Christian people, to believers — when we talk to one another, are we always talking about some experience or some blessing we have had, or are we talking about the Lord Jesus Christ? I have no hesitation in asserting that as we grow in grace, we talk much less about ourselves and our experiences, and much more about Him.

Now that is good. I expect it is a little convicting as well. I realize that we must talk ‘small talk’ in our conversations, it’s just a part of life. But I wonder how much we talk of Christ? And I wonder what that says about our level of spiritual maturity?

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Comments

  1. Chris Anderson says:

    Nice, Don. I’m glad you enjoy DMLJ, despite his theology. :-)

    Thanks for this.

  2. Andy Efting says:

    Don,

    I’ve been slowly trying to purchase ML-J’s series on Romans as well — only three volumes now to go. I find him very helpful to read. I’ve read through most of his series on Ephesians and I would like to eventually read everything he has to say on Romans, although that will be a time consuming task.

    James Montgomery Boice’s four volumes on Romans is also very good.

    BTW, have you ever read Iain Murray’s biography of ML-J? It is well worth it if you ever get the chance.

  3. Jerry Bouey says:

    I read the first couple of volumes in his series on Romans about 11 or 12 years ago (I was living in Saskatchewan at the time, and was able to borrow books from a Bible college in the town where I lived). I was only saved by a few years then, so I cannot critique the theology from here (those first few years were a time of major growth and building that foundation of theology – lots of it was changed and adapted as I got a grip on what the Bible said, and rejected what my liberal church was teaching).

    I would be very interested in finding those books again. One of the local big bookstore chains only offers about 5 volumes through their online store (and not the first 5) – so I might have a hard time tracking them down.

  4. Don Johnson says:

    Hi Andy, Yes, a group of us read both volumes of the biography last summer. I was quite impressed with L-J’s life. From that reading, I discovered the website of the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust, where I downloaded a few of his sermons (for $5 a pop, ouch!!) including his marvelous message on Eph 2.4, “But God”. Listening to those messages gave me a whole new appreciation for his books, I began to read them with a memory of his voice and speaking style in my head.

    Jerry, you can find the books at the link I post above. You can also search at http://www.abebooks.com for used copies.

    The parts of his theology I disagree with are 1. Calvinism in particular and Reformed theology in general, 2. Eschatology and 3. Separation. While Lloyd-Jones did take some courageous and separatistic stands in his ministry, he didn’t fully understand the concept. He would come to Canada, for example, on his summer vacation and take the pulpit of a liberal church for the summer. He met T. T. Shields that summer, but found Shields to be … insane?? … not sure what word to use to describe his reaction to Shields.

    In any case, I like Lloyd-Jones a lot, in spite of theological disagreements. He was a man of God, a marvelous expositor, and had a fruitful ministry that continues on through his books and recordings.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. Jerry Bouey says:

    Thanks, Bro. Don,

    I realize there are some places I could find great books online, but I do not have a credit card, so I am limited to ordering them through local bookstores/chains (and normally, you can only order what you can access through their site online – ie. if you can’t find it on their site, typically they won’t be able to order it for you either).

  6. Don Johnson says:

    Hi Jerry

    Ah, I see. Not having a credit card is not a bad thing! But in any case, perhaps the links might help your bookstore find them if you are looking for them.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

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