Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone
Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 3:58 pm
The Messenger, September 30, 2010
I hear paradise
by the dashboard lights
By JUSTIN WESTMORELAND
Special to The Messenger
Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press gave Martin Luther and other Reformers traction to get the gospel out, igniting one of the greatest revivals in church history. The gospel — well-spoken, applied and given extraordinary access to the masses — is the ordinary means for revival. I wonder if 500 years from now, history will view 2010 as the beginning of an even greater revival and reformation.
Christians today effectively use technological innovations of men like Steve Jobs to make the gospel of Jesus Christ even more accessible. The 20th century’s radio, television, and newspapers are increasingly supplanted by internet, MP3’s and I-pods. It was through one of these that I first heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones preach in 2002. I was never the same.
Lloyd-Jones, hailed as the greatest expository preacher of the 20th century, had been dead for 21 years in 2002. But my friend Alex handed me a copy of a sermon that Jones had preached on the Holy Spirit, and I listened to it in my Jeep Wrangler’s CD player. That Welsh accent forever changed how I thought about preaching. Today I can download and learn from literally thousands of Lloyd-Jones’ sermons. I can download entire books to my kindle for convenient reading, including two of his most famous works – his 14-volume commentary on Romans, and “Preaching and Preachers.”
What was so unique about Martyn Lloyd-Jones? Lloyd-Jones believed the church’s primary task was biblical preaching. He served up filet mignon sermons attended by thousands every Friday evening and Sunday, while many churches shut their doors, their members malnourished by the fast-food and cotton candy served by their ministers.
How could Martyn Lloyd-Jones preach for an hour, without flashiness, and have thousands engage in hearing? He understood the significance of preaching. He said, “What is preaching? Logic on fire! Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit, and should never be allowed to enter one.”
What central truth set Lloyd-Jones on fire?
“Our justification means not only that our sins are forgiven and that we have been declared to be righteous by God Himself, not merely that we were righteous at the moment when we believed, but permanently righteous. For justification means this also, that we are given by God the positive righteousness of His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Lloyd-Jones daily wrestled with the low condition of man in sin, apart from God’s grace, and he found himself redeemed by the immeasurable riches of grace in kindness toward us in Jesus Christ. He applied this right standing with God to bring joy to every area of the Christian life.
According to Lloyd-Jones, contemporary churches disbelieved the Bible’s statement of man’s real need: Man’s trouble is not just being sick, unhappy or victim of circumstances; man’s real trouble is that he is a rebel against God and, consequently, under his wrath.
Lloyd-Jones said, “That is what preaching (the Bible) is meant to do. It addresses us in such a manner as to bring us under judgment; and it deals with us in such a way that we feel our whole life is involved, and we go out saying, ‘I can never go back and live just as I did before. This has done something to me; it has made a difference to me. I am a different person as the result of listening to this.’”
When Christians hear preaching that is “logic on fire,” which brings them under judgment and involves their hearts, mind, and souls, then they will walk away changed. They crave good preaching that will lift them to the heavenly places, that they might better worship God.
The church should be committed first to good preaching and second to using available resources for spreading the gospel. Christians in London transcribed Lloyd-Jones’s sermons and recorded them, multiplying the impact of his preaching. Many gifted preachers faithfully preach the Bible today, and their messages are being downloaded and heard around the world. The gospel is reaching many places that do not have a Christian witness. People are hearing good preaching and they are being changed.
Revival, empowered by the Holy Spirit, comes through preaching God’s word. I hope and pray that today’s technology will fuel a reformation greater than Gutenberg and Luther’s. Go download some Martyn Lloyd-Jones and give it a listen.
Your soul will be encouraged.
Ministers, seek to learn how to do what Lloyd-Jones did. Ultimately, the church will be strengthened and God’s lost sheep will be called homeward.
(Lloyd-Jones’s sermons are available at www.mlj.org.uk or at www.oneplace.com/ministries/living-grace/)
Editor’s note: Justin Westmoreland is campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He, his wife Meredith and their three children, Knox, Owen and Grace, attend Grace Community Church.