Friday, June 30, 2006

The Welsh Factor

Dr David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (yes, how many names does one man need?) was one of the most significant western evangelical figures of the 20th century. And he was was Welsh (not sure if there's a connection between those two sentences).

Much of what we take for granted as basic to the teaching of 'good' churches nowadays was revived at least partly due to Lloyd-Jones' ministry and influence (under God). Much of what is wrong with ‘Christianity’ today Lloyd-Jones’ fought against in his day, and things would’ve been very different today if perhaps more attention had been paid to his prophetic voice back then. So, no wonder I enjoyed reading the first volume of Iain Murray’s excellent biography of ‘the Doctor’ during my hols.

I’ve been trying to think of an appropriate way to draw together all of the things I learned and noted from just the first forty years of the life of this great man of God, but that would take too long, (for example – the necessity of strong confidence in God’s power and sovereignty, the importance of prayer, the need to preach a God-centred gospel not a human-centred one, the importance and place of preaching and teaching, the need for preaching and teaching to be in the power of the Spirit, the vital (truth-driven) experiential side of the Christian life, the importance of the local church with real relationships and genuinely spiritual fellowship, and so on).

Instead I’ve settled for two major themes that emerged as I read, partly because they’re a helpful corrective to what is often true of evangelicalism today.

1) We must preach sin and judgment

Lloyd-Jones was serving at a time when many in all the major denominations (especially his own) were abandoning the preaching of sin and judgment because it was seen to be too negative or not intellectual enough for modern sophisticated 20th century people. By contrast, Lloyd-Jones recognised that understanding sin and judgment was necessary both for converting the unbeliever and for firing up the believer to evangelise;

‘The sinner must feel his own sin and the Christian must feel for the sin of others’[1]

He followed up this statement with a plea for Christians to pray for God to save people rather than spend time looking down on unbelievers. It seems Lloyd-Jones preached such a ‘negative’ message out of genuine love for people and a passionate desire to see revival in the church. As a Doctor (he gave up a lucrative career as a Harley Street Doctor to become a minister) he fully understood the necessity of telling people the bad news so that they could receive the remedy; in his view it was cruel to say that ‘all is well’ when ‘In the name of God, all is wrong’.[2] He only told people about sin so that he could tell them about grace.

2) The Gospel is for all people.

Two quotes will put this clearly enough;

‘He (Lloyd-Jones) was preoccupied with the need for evangelistic work amongst the poorer, working-class people. This conviction arose not simply out of interest in them as people, but equally out of a persuasion that modern Christianity, unlike the apostolic faith (which was as relevant to the “Barbarians” and to the “unwise” as to the “Greeks” and the “wise”) seemed to appeal largely to only one social and cultural group. That was evidence to him that the transforming power of real Christianity was largely absent. He wanted to see the message which he believed had been given to him of God tested in a place where social habits did not support church-going.’[3]

Secondly, writing about a particular phase of growth at Sandfields - the first church Lloyd-Jones was minister of, Murray says

‘…probably the clearest lesson he gained from this period was the lifelong assurance that, in days when the church’s influence is limited and restrained to certain types of people, the power of the Holy Spirit is able to reach and convince all classes. No single section of the community was left unrepresented in Sandfields…’[4]

He believed in a universal problem for all people (Sin and God’s Judgment) and a universal remedy (Christ and God’s grace) and then he preached and lived it. The result was a church with prayer meetings over two hours long, a church where congregation members constantly brought friends to services, and a church with a steady stream of new Christians from across the social spectrum.

What could things be like if there were only more of that sort of gospel work today?

[1] Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: the first forty years 1899-1939 (Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1982) p.208
[2] Ibid., p.216
[3] Ibid., pp.105-6
[4] Ibid., p.226

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Pictures, oooh...

You can find selected snaps of our holidays HERE.

Any involving me in swimwear have been left out due to the demands of good taste and common decency.

Monday, June 26, 2006


We have now returned from our holidays, which were a combination of

And watching the England World Cup games

Over the next few days I'll probably post some photos (sorry) but also some thoughts coming out of the books I read whilst on holiday, which include the latest Nick Hornby novel and Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones' biography by Iain H. Murray. No doubt this makes you giddy with anticipation.

Friday, June 09, 2006

God speaks to create and re-create

I have finally finished the quiet time notes for our camp. They're all on the theme of 'God Speaks' and loosely trace this idea from creation to new creation. I was aiming to

a. Present the Gospel clearly and biblically over the course of the week.
b. Introduce the children to a broad sweep of the bible and give them some vague sense of the shape of salvation history.
c. Plug some of the doctrinal gaps in much of the preaching they might hear more regularly (e.g. not much on creation, or heaven as new creation for that matter)
d. Therefore, (hopefully) present something of the story-flow of the gospel as well as it's internal logic and consistency.

The sessions are as follows (feel free to steal as all my ideas are stolen too);

1. God has spoken and made the world (Creation)
2. God has spoken but people don't listen (Fall)
3. God has spoken and promised to save (Prophecy)
4. God has spoken his final word - Jesus
5. God has spoken and promised a perfect future (New Creation)
6. God has spoken - what should we do about it? (about being good listeners from the parable of the sower in Mark 4)

The Camp isn't until the first week in August, but please pray for it if you get the time.

As for Claire and I, we're off on holiday from Saturday. Things may go a little quiet here for a couple of weeks but I'm sure to return with a vengeance (and maybe some photos).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

More from Whitefield

As I've said elsewhere I'm currently using 'loo-time' to enjoy some George Whitefield. Just the other day I came across this nugget (bits put in bold by me for emphasis). George Whitefield is talking about the promise of a bodily resurrection for Christians;

"Fear not, therefore, O believers, to look into the grave: for to you it is no other than a consecrated dormitory, where your bodies shall sleep quietly until the morning of the resurrection; when the voice of the archangel shall sound, and the trump of God given the general alarm, 'Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment'; earth, air, fire, water shall give up your scattered atoms, and both in body and soul shall you be ever with the Lord."

How exciting is that? In Christ death becomes little more than sleep. And what a great picture of God re-forming and re-generating our bodies even though they might be decomposed and scattered across the globe.

He goes on to describe what great news it is for us as we live our lives now in creaky, fallen bodies prone to illness and decay, that one day we'll have renewed bodies like Christ's.

And while we're on the subject, given that we're going to be getting resurrection bodies, is it ok to put in a request now to be re-made with a six-pack rather than a beer belly?

Friday, June 02, 2006

One down, two to go...

The exams are over. All that awaits me now are three months of sunbathing, playing cricket, reading, listening to the Flaming Lips, afternoon pints in the local beer garden...well, all that and

- Writing the Quiet Time notes and preparing the leader's training for our Camp
- Summer in the City mission in Sheffield
- Preaching twice at Christ Church Central
- Keeping up the Greek and Hebrew (tests in opening week of next year!)
- Fund-raising for next year
- Decorating and moving into a new flat

Not a bad summer really.

Hard to believe I've done one whole year at college (using 'year' in a very loose way that really means nine months). The thought of only two more to go is both exciting (because who want sto spend his whole life learning about ministry and not really ministering?) and frightening (because who dares to be ministering after so little training when there's so much to learn and the bible is a big book and the LORD is a very big God and people's lives are affected which really matters?).