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Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace Hardcover – May 31, 2008
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Much of the contents of this book do not appear anywhere else, and this work reveals something more about ML-J than the biography.
You sense the immense respect Murray (who was an assitant to ML-J for three or so years) has for this man, although this is not a sugar coated account of his work, Murray does not agree with ML-J on some issues.
This book tackles ML-J's approach and views on three issues - the importance of preaching; the importance of assurance of salvation in christianity and ML-J's view of the Holy Spirit.
The book is a mixture of analysis by Murray, especially on the controversial issues, such as his distancing himself from JI Packer, the call to evangelicals to leave their denominations and the effect it had on ML-J's reputation (see the chapter entitled `The Lost leader or the Prophetic Voice'); notes taken from an address ML-J gave to pastors on preaching; quotes on various aspects of doctrine from ML-J and finally a book review written by Murray on Mark Noll's book Is The Reformation Over. Why the book review? ML-J was strongly against Roman Catholicism and his decision to stop working with JI Packer on the Puritan Conferences was because of Packer's commitment to an ecumenicalism which included Catholics.
This book looks at ML-J from a different angle and it is fascinating. One of the bonuses of the book is that comes with a CD of an evangelistic sermon ML-J preached in the early 60's. It is an amazing sermon and worth the price of the book.
I have read a number of his books - he is a good writer and his books are pretty easy to digest - this one is no different in that respect.
Having been Lloyd-Jones's assistant for some years at Westminster Chapel prior to his death in 1981, Murray is pretty well qualified to write about one of the foremost evangelicals of the last 100 years. Great Christian men seem to be particularly shy when it comes to volunteering biographical details - praise God for guys like Murray who allows us all to share his privileged insight into the life of this great man and be encouraged in our own faith as we do so.
This book is not an exhaustive read on the ministry of Lloyd-Jones (if you are after that you should read the biographies) - rather this book is a reflection by Murray on the main lessons of the ministry of Lloyd-Jones. I believe it is a timely book for a number of reasons;
Given that a number of high profile church leaders (eg: Tim Keller) have "re-discovered" Lloyd-Jones for the rest of us who were too young to remember there is, I think, a lot more interest in his ministry and the main lessons that the church today can learn today from it. Lloyd-Jones was a man whose preaching style was strongly focused on really "squeezing the juice" out of Gods word - in an era where there appears to be a strong emphasis on endearing oneself to the congregation through anecdotes and humour often at the expense of Gods word - this is a timely message indeed.
It's been almost thirty years since Lloyd-Jones died. Murray worked closely with Lloyd-Jones and his family prior to his death in collating much of the information for the biographies. The second volume of the biography was published in 1990. I got the distinct impression as I read through parts of this new book that the intervening period has given Murray some time to collate his own independent thoughts on many of the ministerial issues which Lloyd-Jones encountered. This format allowed him the freedom to express these rather than in an out and out biography which does not typically allow such editorial commentary.
There was criticism in some circles that the biographies had too little to say regarding the very public "falling out" of Lloyd-Jones and Stott in 1966 - this book appears to bed down that criticism down by going some way to filling in the gaps of what actually happened. For those of you who don't know some of the leading churches, who functionally believed the Bible was the word of God (that is they didn't just say it they believed it), had what we would call "a bit of biff" over whether they should all ditch their respective denominations and join up together.
This also presented an opportunity to comment on one of Lloyd-Jones's most controversial posthumous publications: Joy Unspeakable published in 1984. Based on a series preached in 1964-65 - the book appeared to provide fuel for many charismatic and pentecostal churches at its time of publication because of it's take on baptism in the Holy Spirit. Murray endeavours to she some light on the context the sermon series was written in - and helps us see that in some respects the context that the sermon series was preached to in 1964-65 was different to that in 1984. Perhaps there is a lesson to be had in the publication of Joy Unspeakable - to generalise greatly the temptation to the churches in the 1960's and that to which Lloyd-Jones endeavoured to address was to underemphasize the role of the Holy Spirit - one could hypothesize that twenty odd years later - in typical human ping-pong fashion the reaction had been to go to the other extreme and over emphasize spiritual experience whilst neglecting sound doctrine.
The chapters of the book are as follows:
(I have also inserted some sub headings to give you a feel for the book)
1. The Lloyd-Jones legacies
a. Legacy 1: An example of what a Christian minister ought to be
b. Legacy 2: The truth that Christianity is God centred religion
i. Understanding what this truth means will change a person's whole viewpoint.
ii. Lloyd-Jones also regarded what is called "Calvinism" as essential to his
c. Legacy 3: The Local Church is always the primary means of evangelism
d. Legacy 4: True preaching of the word has life-changing power.
e. Legacy 5: The key to the times is the state of the Church
f. Legacy 6: The growth of the church depends on the presence and power of the
2. Preaching and the Holy Spirit
a. Unction and the pew (unction is a fancy word for the Holy Spirit's influence on
the preacher and the hearer)
i. Preaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit is preaching which brings
with it a consciousness of God.
ii. When there is power in preaching there is little wandering of attention in
iii. When there is unction in preaching children also may listen and benefit.
iv. Powerful preaching is preaching which results in a change for those who
b. Unction and the preacher
i. As anointed preaching is the work of the Holy Spirit, the preacher knows
that is a gift that is not under human control.
ii. The more a preacher knows of unction, the less will he think of himself
and his own work.
c. Preparation for preaching
i. Sermons will be formed from truth which the Holy Spirit can honour.
ii. The life of the preacher will be part of the sermon.
iii. There will be dependence on the Holy Spirit for his present aid.
iv. There should be an awareness that Christianity is both a body of truth and doctrine, and a life to be experienced.
v. Chief attention will be given to Christ himself.
3. The Evangelistic use of the Old Testament
a. Why Evangelistic Preaching?
i. Because he saw the neglect and near disappearance of the Old Testament as exercising a detrimental influence on contemporary Christianity.
ii. Dr Lloyd-Jones viewed the disuse of the Old Testament as serious because, being an essential part of divine revelation, such neglect is bound to have far-reaching practical consequences.
b. How Dr Lloyd-Jones came to his use of the Old Testament in preaching.
c. The chief emphases of the Old Testament
i. Scripture reveals sin in its true nature
ii. Scripture reveals the absolute futility of life without God
iii. Above all else, the Old Testament is a book about God.
4. Skeletons in the Cupboard
5. Raising the Standard of Preaching - Notes of a Memorable Address
6. Lloyd-Jones and Spurgeon compared
7. A Controversial Book - Joy Unspeakable: The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
8. "The Lost Leader" or "A Prophetic Voice?"
9. The End of the Puritan Conference Lloyd-Jones to Packer
10. Some convictions of Lloyd-Jones in miniature
11. Inventory of the Lloyd-Jones Sermons
12. An Analysis of the Sermons on Ephesians
13. Is the Reformation Over? A Review
14. Authors and Sources Cited
Overall this was a very interesting book. If you are in any way involved in a church that is keen to preach the Word of God faithfully get a hold of this book and have a read. As you can probably see from the above points in the chapters - the salient points of Lloyd-Jones's ministry are just as relevant today as they were back then.
I have to confess my heart was saddened to read of the conflict between Lloyd-Jones, Packer and Stott documented within this book - although friendships were maintained it was discouraging to read about this particularly between Packer and Lloyd-Jones. I think in the medium term it was a healthy and robust conflict - with regards to the long term - I guess I'll find out for sure one day...
Also for the record there is a CD included at the back of the book with a talk from Lloyd-Jones from John Chapter 8 - which makes me wish Lloyd-Jones's sermons were more accessible on line than they are currently - this would I think be a far more effective ministry than drip feeding them for the sake of funding alternative ministries.
Don't let any of that put you off the book though - give it a read.