Saturday, 18 July 2015

Well Known Charismatic Christian Leaders: Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones on Joy in the Holy Spirit

Older Evangelicals Christians in Britain will need no introduction to Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones.  Originating from South Wales, following Campbell Morgan at Westminster Chapel in London, he was arguably the most influential Christian leader in the 20th Century.

Not only did he write numerous books, for example:
  • A 12 Volume commentry on Romans
  • A 5 Volume commentry on 1John
  • A 2 Volume commentry on the Sermon on the Mount
  • 'Preaching and Preachers', possibly his most influential book
More than this, however, he founded the Publishers 'Banner of Truth'.

A far more adequate introduction can be read in his Wikipedia entry or the introduction in the MLJ Trust website which includes some videos.

His credentials as a preacher from the Reformed tradition who had an uncompromisingly high view of scripture and a great legacythrough his teaching and writing are there for all to see.

I want to mention a few things now in relation to his views on issues of interest to Charismatics.

1. Between the years 1955 and 1968, Lloyd Jones taught through the Book of Romans.  Spanning Chapters 1 to 14, there are 366 sermons on the Epistle.  Due to an illness from which he retired from pastoral ministry, he only reached as far as Chapter 14:17.  I will follow with the Doctor's own words on this:

There is another thing to be said, and I am more concerned about this at present.  The interruption of my ministry had a message for me.  I was at Romans 14:17.  I had dealt with ‘righteousness’, with ‘peace’ on March 1st, and there I was stopped.  I was not allowed to deal with ‘joy in the Holy Ghost’.  I have the feeling that this was not accidental.  God intervened and I could suggest a reason why.  I was able to deal with righteousness and peace (I had fleeting experiences of it), but the third thing is the profoundest of all.  Why was I not allowed to deal with it?  Because I knew something, but not enough about it.  ‘I want you to speak with greater authority on this,’ God said.

"Here is what I would put before you.  For six months, until September, I did not preach at all.  For four months I have had the most valuable experience of being a listener.  My general impression is that most of our services are terribly depressing!  I am amazed people still go to church; most who go are female and over the age of forty.  The note missing is ‘joy in the Holy Ghost’.  There is nothing in these services to make a stranger feel that he is missing something by not being there.  It is as though there is a weight upon us and the minister, feeling this, thinks he must be short.  So the people come together in order to depart!  Speaking generally, I think it is true to say this and there is little difference in this respect in evangelical churches.
It is a great thing to be a listener.  You want something for your soul.  You want help.  I don’t want a ‘great sermon’.  I want to feel the presence of the God I am worshipping and to know that I am considering some great and glorious subject.  If I do get this, I do not care how poor the sermon is.
I suggest to you that our greatest danger is professionalism.  We do not stop sufficiently frequently to ask, ‘What are we really doing?’  There is the danger of just facing a text and treating it as an end in itself with a strange detachment.  It is all intellectual.  Nor should our preaching be just emotional, or only to the conscience.  Far too often it is one or other of these things.  There is no life, no power!  We of all people ought to have it.  Joy and power are intimately related.  One without the other is spurious."

So there we have it.  Britain's foremost Reformed Evangelical leader of the last century admits that there is a lackof joy in the Holy Spirit in his own life and in the churches.  To me, this is an incredible admission.

He later dealt with the subject of joy in the Holy Spirit in his book 'Joy Unspeakable', published posthumously in 1984.

I need to say here that he did not share the Pentecostal understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  He put his views into a more objective and Calvinistic framework.  However, he did say that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from conversion and is something that the church needs in order to experience revival.

I am going to finish here with some fascinating thoughts by John Piper on Lloyd Jones.  If you enjoyed reading this blog post, the following is solid gold, a treat to read, but better still if you listen to the audio version at the top of the page.

I have more to say on Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones, but I will leave this until next time.

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