I’ve really been enjoying Iain Murray’s biography, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939. Even though I’m reading about things that took place a century ago, it’s striking how little things have changed.
Take this sermon by Lloyd-Jones, preached in March 1924. You may or may not agree with Lloyd-Jones, but it sounds an awful lot like a critique you could hear today. You’ll notice that Lloyd-Jones was often confrontational in his approach. More on that some other time.
We get endless sermons on psychology, but amazingly few on Christianity. Our preachers are afraid to preach on the doctrine of the Atonement and on predestination. The great cardinal principles of our belief are scarcely ever mentioned, indeed there is a movement on foot to amend them so as to bring them up to date. How on earth can you talk of bringing these eternal truths up to date? They are not only up-to-date, they are and will be ahead of the times to all eternity.
As I say, you can disagree, but there’s no doubt that the issues he mentions are still ones we’re talking about today. This could have been preached at the T4G Conference a couple of months back.
Or check out this sermon, from 1927 I think:
We seem to have a real horror of being different. Hence all our attempts and endeavors to popularize the church and make it appeal to people…The man who only comes to church or chapel because he likes the minister as a man is of no value at all, and the minister who attempts to get men there by means of that subterfuge is for the time being guilty of lowering the standard of truth which he claims to believe. For the gospel is the gospel of salvation propounded by the Son of God himself. We must not hawk it about in the world, or offer special inducements or attractions, as if we were shopkeepers announcing an exceptional bargain sale…
Spectacular stuff. I can almost hear Eugene Peterson or even Michael Horton in these comments.
I was reading today about his first pastorate. The church was in decline and people wanted to see how Lloyd-Jones would tackle the problem. They guessed it might be by starting a new program. Lloyd-Jones didn’t seem to rely too much on programs though. Murray writes:
Dr. Lloyd-Jones had nothing to say about any new programme. To the surprise of the church secretary he seemed to be exclusively interested in the purely ‘traditional’ part of church life…The church was to advance, not by approximating to the world, but rather by representing in the world the true life and privilege of the children of God. The fundamental need was for the church to recover an understanding of what she truly is.
That last sentence is great.
By the way, I got reading about the Doctor (as Lloyd-Jones is often called) because Tim Keller mentions him so much. I’m really enjoying the book. A good biography is always refreshing.