Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Word from Martyn Lloyd-Jones

One of my favorite preachers is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. If you are interested in learning about the life and ministry of one of the great men of God, of the 20th Century, I highly recommend Iain Murray's two volume biography. (The cover of Volume 2 is pictured here.)

From time to time, I am going to share quotes from the good doctor. The following passage is quoted in the before-mentioned volume and originally appeared in Lloyd-Jones' work, Preaching. Here the doctor recounts an opportunity he had to preach at Oxford University, in 1941.

It fell to my lot to preach on the Sunday night, the first service of the mission, in the famous pulpit of John Henry Newman--afterwards Cardinal Newman -- in St. Mary's Church, where he preached while he was still in the Church of England. It was, of course, chiefly a congregation of students. I preached to them as I would have preached anywhere else. It had been arranged, and announced, that if people had any questions to put to me, an opportunity would be given to them if they retired to another building at the back of the church after the service had ended. So the vicar and I went along expecting just a few people. But we found the place packed out. The vicar took the chair and asked if there were any questions. Immediately a bright young man sitting in the front row got up and said that he had a question to put; and he proceeded to put it with all the grace and polish characteristic of a union debater. He paid the preacher some compliments and said that he had much enjoyed the sermon; but there was one great difficulty and perplexity left in his mind as the result of the sermon. He really could not see but that the sermon might not equally well have been delivered to a congregation of farm labourers or anyone else. He then immediately sat down. The entire company roared with laughter. The chairman turned to me for my reply. I rose and gave what must always be the reply to such an attitude. I said that I was most interested in the question, but really could not see the questioner's difficulty; because, I confessed freely, that though I might be a heretic, I had to admit that until that moment I had regarded undergraduates and indeed graduates of Oxford University as being just ordinary common human clay and miserable sinners like everybody else, and held the view that their needs were precisely the same as those of the agricultural labourer or anyone else. I had preached as I had done quite deliberately! This again provoked a good deal of laughter and even cheering; but the point was that they appreciated what I was saying, and gave me a most attentive hearing from there on. There is no greater fallacy than to think that you need a gospel for special types of people.

Amen, doctor! The note I wrote in the margin of the book, next to the above passage was this. "One gospel for every man. Amen!" What was true sixty-five years ago is still true today. There is only one gospel, and that gospel should be preached just as Jesus and the apostles preached it--straight. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), and it doesn't need our help. Everyone who hears the gospel is, as the doctor said, "ordinary common human clay and [a] miserable sinner like everybody else."

Therefore, the gospel does not need to be presented in a more scholarly manner for the intellectual. It does not need to be presented with theatrics for those who need to be entertained. It does not need to be watered down for the angry man or the skeptic. It does not need to be presented with an apology for the person once taken advantage of by false religions or false converts. And it should not be presented with the promise of life-enhancement, with the hope of gathering decisions.

It should be preached as Jesus preached it. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). To the intellectual, preach the Law and grace--repentance and faith. To the bored and lethargic, preach the Law and grace--repentance and faith. To the angry man and the skeptic, preach the Law and grace--repentance and faith. To the religious and irreligious, preach the Law and grace--repentance and faith. To the happy and the sad, to the rich and the poor, preach the Law and grace--repentance and faith. "There is no greater fallacy than to think that you need a gospel for special types of people."


Dewsee said...

Mr. Miano, Thanks for taking the trouble to post the details of your fishing. What a thrill to read, especially the precious question at the end.
Joyce DeWeese
Cedar Springs, Michigan

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