John Piper Friday – Piper on Martyn Lloyd-Jones

John Piper Friday – Piper on Martyn Lloyd-Jones February 2, 2007

Back in March of 2006, I wrote a long post which referred to John Piper’s article about Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I thought I would use this Piper Friday to highlight Dr. Piper’s article once more. You can read Piper’s whole article over on his website.

Piper begins by sharing two quotes that in some ways seem contradictory. Unless, that is, you are a preacher. For many of us the passion of our life is to preach in such a way that many are saved and helped, and yet we are conscious that true preaching is not something we can manufacture. As a result, there is often a sense of holy dissatisfaction that leads us to say — yes, preaching is my highest passion and it is wonderful, but in some ways I feel I have never truly preached as I ought. I remember the Doctor saying elsewhere that he believed he had only ever really preached as he ought twice in his life and, sadly, both times whilst he was dreaming!

“Preaching has been my life’s work . . . to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”

“I can say quite honestly that I would not cross the road to listen to myself preaching.” (Preface to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971.)

Dr. Piper outlines the Doctor’s life and influence on his own preaching very well, and I would encourage you to read the whole article. The following is just a snippet to whet your appetite:

“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.”

“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, Illinois: 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, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1990, p. 385).

He gave several reasons why. But he says that the most important theological reason for the prevailing indifference to revival was the view that the Holy Spirit was given once for all on the Day of Pentecost, so that He cannot be poured out again, and prayer for revival is therefore wrong and needless. This is where Lloyd-Jones begins to part ways with some standard evangelical interpretations of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (John Piper on MLJ)

John Piper then shares and comments on a series of quotes which demonstrate how Martyn Lloyd-Jones clearly linked historical revivalism with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I will share some of the quotes — you will have to visit Piper’s site for his commentary.

“Here is the first principle . . . I am asserting that you can be a believer, that you can have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and still not be baptized with the Holy Spirit . . . . The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something that is done by the Lord Jesus Christ, not by the Holy Spirit . . . . Our being baptized into the body of Christ is the work of the Spirit (that’s the point of 1 Corinthians 12:13) as regeneration is His work, but this is something entirely different; this is Christ’s baptizing us with the Holy Spirit. And I am suggesting that this is something which is therefore obviously distinct from and separate from becoming a Christian, being regenerate, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.” (Joy Unspeakable, Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 1984, pp. 21, 23)

“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, p. 51.)

“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)

“[We] can produce a number of converts, thank God for that, and that goes on regularly in evangelical churches every Sunday. But the need today is much too great for that. The need today is for an authentication of God, of the supernatural, of the spiritual, of the eternal, and this can only be answered by God graciously hearing our cry and shedding forth again His Spirit upon us and filling us as He kept filling the early church.” (Joy Unspeakable, p. 278)

“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)

“Let us together decide to beseech Him, to plead with Him to do this again. Not that we may have the experience or the excitement, but that His mighty hand may be
known and His great name may be glorified and magnified among the people.” (Revival,  p. 117.)

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