2000 posts and a big thank you to The Doctor

2000 posts and a big thank you to The Doctor March 13, 2006

This is the 2000th post on this blog, which means that I have been posting on average just short of two posts a day for almost three years. That’s a whole lot of words one relatively recent reader has set out on a quest to go back and read ’em all. I am not sure that too many will want to join him!

As I drew near to this post, I wondered how best to use it. I briefly considered a review post like I did at the end of 2005 and 2004. I also thought about doing a post on what blogging has meant to me, but realised that like so many other things, David Wayne had already said it better. I could have written about my mistakes and the lessons I had learnt, but my posts here, here and here have already covered that ground.

So I decided that a tribute post was clearly the answer returning thanks to others is always a good thing to do at moments like this so that is what I decided to do.

There are so many people that I want to thank, but I have decided to focus in on one of them. Before I get to that, however, there are a number of people I want to thank briefly. I would like to thank:

  • My God for creating me, saving me, empowering me, and sovereignly determining that he would use me the way he does and place me where he has.
  • My wife for being such a gracious blog widow I still can hardly believe that God was so gracious as to give me you who I have done nothing to deserve.
  • My family for keeping me sane you kids are the best gift God has ever given your mum and me!
  • My parents for raising me as a Christian.
  • My dear friend and Pastor, Tope Koleoso, who incidentally preached his heart out yesterday morning. All too often preaching just explains some facts or doctrines to us and leaves us to figure out for ourselves how to apply it. I was never very good at figuring out how to live in the good of what I had learnt thank you Tope for preaching in such a way that we are left in no doubt about what we need to do differently on Monday morning as a result of your message. If you have not heard one of Tope’s sermons yet, go listen right now to yesterdays message on “Discipline”. It is the perfect introduction to his preaching.
  • My previous pastors and those men of God who have discipled and mentored me Colin Potter, Mike Hewitt, Robin Hawkins, David Nunn, Terry Brewer, Eric Hutchinson, David Coak, Henry Tyler, and others.
  • My favorite living preachers who have given me so much despite in most cases never having met me.
  • Those who, although they are dead, still speak and have inspired me more than they will ever know until I get to heaven and seek them out to thank them for it these men include of course Spurgeon , Wesley, Whitfield . . .the list goes on and on . . . .
  • The bloggers who have inspired me, welcomed me, interacted with me, and linked to me. There are too many to mention everyone but some that stand out in my memory are of course the Warnies, The Reformed Charismatic bloggers, and I ought to thank every blogger in the Blogdom of God as together we make up a formidable group who largely (despite our differences) interact with remarkable grace. But specific thank you’s must go to Josh Claybourn and Hugh Hewitt who were the first “big time” bloggers to link to me, correspond with me . . . so you can blame them for inflicting this blog on such a wide audience. Of course, no list of thank you’s would be complete without a mention of David Wayne who, as I say in my sidebar, taught me everything I know about gracious blogging.

But the person I want to focus on in this post is the one writer I would like you to get to know more than any other Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones combines in one man my passionate desires for increased intimacy with God and for reformed theology. I have already claimed him as a father of the charismatic movement elsewhere. Although he would not have called himself this, he almost single-handedly inspired the breed called Reformed Charismatics. The cries of his entire ministry, and particularly his closing years echo resoundingly today.

I will share some more quotes in this post on his views on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. You will see from them why I like this man, and want to publicly confess my debt to him and his ministry. I am of course in good company in declaring such a debt. Although he is not spoken about much these days, he is in danger of becoming evangelicalism’s best kept secret it is time 25 years after the death of the 20th century’s finest English-speaking preacher to revive his memory and learn from his wisdom!

He has many books, and a number of them can be bought at Amazon. Of course, many have heard of his series on Romans, but there is much more to the Doctor than that. I recently was directed to an article at Banner of Truth which gives guidance as to where to start with his many books I would largely concur, but would also emphasise Joy Unspeakable and Prove all Things as being books you simply cannot miss reading.

The best article on Lloyd-Jones on the web comes perhaps unsurprisingly from one of our modern heroes John Piper. The quotes in the rest of this post all come from that article.
Piper acknowledges his own debt to Lloyd-Jones and credits reading his sermons as setting the course for his own life. Piper remarks in his post on the way that God providentially organises the smallest details of our lives. He is eager to retell the story of how Lloyd-Jones was prevented from taking a role in Wales he had set his heart on. Amazingly, it was a missed train by a supporter which set in motion the events that led to him accepting the call to Westminster:

“His main supporter on the board of the college had missed the train and couldn’t support his call to the presidency. And so he accepted Westminster’s call and stayed there 29 years until his retirement in 1968.

I can’t help but pause and give thanks for the disappointments and reversals and setbacks in our lives that God uses to put us just where he wants us. How different modern Evangelicalism in Britain would have been had Martyn Lloyd-Jones not preached in London for 30 years. How different my own life may have been had I not read his sermons in the summer of 1968! Praise God for missed trains and other so-called accidents!”

Piper goes on to explain what it was about Lloyd-Jones that is so unique and what has clearly inspired him and so many of us so much:

“From the beginning to the end the life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a cry for depth in two areas depth in Biblical doctrine and depth in vital spiritual experience. Light and heat. Logic and fire. Word and Spirit. Again and again he would be fighting on two fronts: on the one hand against dead, formal, institutional intellectualism, and on the other hand against superficial, glib, entertainment-oriented, man-centered emotionalism. He saw the world in a desperate condition without Christ and without hope; and a church with no power to change it. One wing of the church was straining out intellectual gnats and the other was swallowing the camels of evangelical compromise or careless charismatic teaching. For Lloyd-Jones the only hope was historic, God-centered revival . . . .

Lloyd-Jones has done more than any other man in this century, I think, to restore the historic meaning of the word revival.

[Lloyd-Jones said] A revival is a miracle … something that can only be explained as the direct … intervention of God … Men can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have produced a revival (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival, Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1987, pp. 111-112.)

But for Lloyd-Jones it was a great tragedy that the whole deeper understanding of revival, as a sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit, had been lost by the time he took up the subject in 1959 at the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Revival. “During the last seventy, to eighty years,” he said, “this whole notion of a visitation, a baptism of God’s Spirit upon the Church, has gone.” (Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, p. 385).

The Doctor clearly linked historical revivalism with the baptism with the Holy Spirit as the following quotes demonstrate:

“The difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and a revival is simply one of the number of people affected. I would define a revival as a large number, a group of people, being baptized by the Holy Spirit at the same time; or the Holy Spirit falling upon, coming upon a number of people assembled together. It can happen in a district, it can happen in a country.” (Joy Unspeakable, Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, 1984, p. 51.)

“What is needed is some mighty demonstration of the power of God, some enactment of the Almighty, that will compel people to pay attention, and to look, and to listen. And the history of all the revivals of the past indicates so clearly that that is invariably the effect of revival, without any exception at all. That is why I am calling attention to revival. That is why I am urging you to pray for this. When God acts, he can do more in a minute that man with his organizing can do in fifty years (Revival, pp. 121-122.)

“The purpose, the main function of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is … to enable God’s people to witness in such a manner that it becomes a phenomenon and people are arrested and are attracted. (Joy Unspeakable, p. 84.)

Lloyd-Jones was remarkably dismissive of cessationism:

“[Before Pentecost the apostles] were not yet fit to be witnesses … [They] had been with the Lord during the three years of his ministry. They had heard his sermons, they had seen his miracles, they had seen him crucified on the cross, they had seen him dead and buried, and they had seen him after he had risen literally in the body from the grave. These were men who had been with him in the upper room at Jerusalem after his resurrection and to whom he had expounded the Scriptures, and yet it is to these men he says that they must tarry at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. The special purpose, the specific purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to witness, to bear testimony, and one of the ways in which that happens is through the giving of spiritual gifts.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sovereign Spirit, Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, 1985, p. 120.)

“If the apostles were incapable of being true witnesses without unusual power, who are we to claim that we can be witnesses without such power?” (The Sovereign Spirit, p. 46.)

“I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say that all these gifts ended with the apostles or the Apostolic Era. I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, p. 786.)

“The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (The Sovereign Spirit, p. 31-32.)

“There is no question but that God’s people can look for and expect “leadings”, “guidance”, indications of what they are meant to do … Men have been told by the Holy Spirit to do something; they knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to them; and it transpired that it obviously was his leading. It seems clear to me that if we deny such a possibility we are again guilty of quenching the Spirit. (The Sovereign Spirit, pp. 89-90.)

Piper explains He deals with the cessationist arguments and concludes that they are based on conjectures and arguments from silence in order to justify a particular prejudice “To hold such a view,” he says, “is simply to quench the Spirit.

Lloyd-Jones admitted that he did not feel he completely lived in the good of his understanding of the Spirit, but there was no doubt that some remarkable experiences surrounded him as one observer, Stacy Woods, puts it:

“In an extraordinary way, the presence of God was in that Church. I personally felt as if a hand were pushing me through the pew. At the end of the sermon for some reason or the other the organ did not play, the Doctor went off into the vestry and everyone sat completely still without moving. It must have been almost ten minutes before people seemed to find the strength to get up and, without speaking to one another, quietly leave the Church. Never have I witnessed or experienced such preaching with such fantastic reaction on the part of the congregation”

I will leave this 2000th post with some fantastic words from the Doctor himself, which I couldn’t have said better myself:

“Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but to be definitely quenching the Spirit” (Joy Unspeakable, p. 141.)

“It is not that God withdrew, it is that the church in her “wisdom” and cleverness became institutionalized, quenched the Spirit, and made the manifestations of the power of the Spirit well-nigh impossible” (The Sovereign Spirit, p. 50.)

There is more information and links on The Doctor at www.misterrichardson.com/mlj.html and his audio sermons can be downloaded at mlj.org.uk

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