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Biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones vols. 1 & 2 by Iain Murray

Monday November 18, 2013 19:52

Murray, Iain. H.. (1982) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. 394p  and

 

Murray, Iain. H.. (1990) D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth 831 

 

Reviewed by Stephen Smith

 

These two volumes constitute the authorised biography of one of the greatest leaders of the church.

 

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1899. He trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital – one of the greatest medical institutions in Britain. He studied under Sir Thomas Horder – one of the most brilliant medical men at St Bartholomew’s.

 

As a young man, Dr Lloyd-Jones came under the conviction of sin and saw his need of a Saviour. Although a brilliant medical man, he saw that mans real problem was spiritual not medical. Man needs to be reconciled to God. The conviction of Dr Lloyd-Jones that mans major problem is spiritual led to a major decision – he would leave medicine with all its privileges and honour and become a preacher of the gospel.

 

His first pastorate was in the poverty-stricken town of Port Talbot, Wales in 1927. The same year he married Bethan Phillips – herself a medically qualified professional. God greatly blessed this ministry in Port Talbot and many were brought to faith in Christ. The biography details many amazing conversions from drunkenness, profanity and the like.

 

In 1938 Dr Lloyd-Jones became minister of Westminster Chapel in London alongside Campbell Morgan.

 

Volume 2 “The fight of faith” continues the story. World War 2 created trying circumstances for the ministry at Westminster Chapel. Reduced church numbers and reduced church funds meant it was difficult to sustain two ministers. Eventually Campbell Morgan retired and Dr Lloyd-Jones became the sole minister until 1968.

 

After World War 2, Dr Lloyd-Jones main priority was to build up the congregation at Westminster Chapel. He did this through doctrinal and expository preaching. He upheld the authority of the Bible believing it is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12).

 

Dr Lloyd-Jones also ran a Friday evening fellowship where he encouraged people to carefully think through doctrine and also practical aspects of Christianity. However in 1952 he changed the format and gave a series of lectures on Bible doctrines which were a blessing to many. These lectures have been formatted into a book “Great Doctrines of the Bible” (Crossway Books) which are highly recommended. He followed this with his powerful lectures on the book of Romans.

 

Chapter 13, Sunday mornings in the 1950’s gives an insight into how   Dr Lloyd-Jones led the worship services. Dr Lloyd-Jones used a traditional Reformed liturgy which gave coherence to the whole service. Scripture readings, prayers and hymns were just as important as the preaching of the scriptures.

 

In 1959 Dr Lloyd-Jones preached his classic services on Revival. He held to the classic view of Revival, namely that Revival is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, not something created or “worked up” by man.

 

Dr Lloyd-Jones retired as minister at Westminster Chapel and carried on an itinerant pastoral and preaching ministry until 1980. He died in London in 1980 and was buried in his beloved Wales.

 

The final chapter, “the best of men” summarises the significance of Dr Lloyd-Jones as a man and also why his ministry was so effective. He was a very gifted man with a mind of enormous capacity and energy. Often men see issues in fragmented parts but Dr Lloyd-Jones was often able to see the whole and put details in their proper perspective. Divine providence also guided him so that he continued to promote the sovereignty of God in his ministry and steer people away from error. Finally and very importantly, Dr Lloyd-Jones was a spiritually mature and godly man – indeed a spiritual giant.

 

The book contains 6 appendices containing various theological issues plus guidance on reading Dr Lloyd-Jones sermons.

 

This is an outstanding biography and will have a tremendous blessing on the readers theological and spiritual understanding. To get maximum benefit from it, one should read it multiple times. It is worth it!! Dr Lloyd-Jones sermons are highly recommended and can be found at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust – the official website for the Doctor’s sermons http://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/

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