In an age of watered-down gospel presentations, weak 20-minute sermonettes, and squishy contextualized messages, the church has never been in greater need of true biblical preaching. Dr. Steven J. Lawson recognizes this fact and offers a solution, “We must capture the primacy and power of biblical preaching once again. There must be a decisive return to preaching that is Word-centered, God-exalting, Christ-centered, and Spirit-empowered.”1 In short, he claims, “we want again Lloyd-Joneses!”2
In his tenth offering to the Long Line of Godly Men profile series, Dr. Lawson presents the famous twentieth-century Welsh preaching divine, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As with the other volumes in the series, the book is compact and concise; it can be read over the course of a long afternoon. But the book provides a much-needed dose of biblical truth presented in a biographical syringe.
After a brief overview chapter of the life of Lloyd-Jones, Lawson sets out to explore the aspects of faithfulness that made “The Doctor” so rare in his time, yet so vital to the resurgence of expository preaching today. Noting that Lloyd-Jones was “a Puritan born out of time”3, he stood head-and-shoulders above other preachers in his day with regards to capturing the awe of God and devoting himself wholly to the text of Scripture.
In his presentation of the distinctive markers of Lloyd-Jones’ faithful ministry, Lawson offers the reader a sort-of “Nine marks of a Healthy Expository Ministry”; essential aspects that must be present in the life of every expositor.
In chapter 2, Lawson draws attention to the need for a preacher to be “Sovereignly Called”, noting Lloyd-Jones’ radical call away from the medical field and into pastoral ministry. Chapter 3 focuses on the absolute necessity for the preacher to be “Biblically-based” as Lloyd-Jones was. In fact, Lawson notes,
“In his personal Bible reading, he used the Robert Murray M’Cheyne system of daily Scripture reading. He pored over four chapters of Scripture each day, two in the morning and two at night. Those who knew him best said he was like what Charles Spurgeon called John Bunyan—a walking Bible.”4
In an age where most preachers were caving to pressure for cultural relevance, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was “Distinctly Expository”, meaning he was committed to always expounding the biblical text. To do so, he was also “Carefully Studied”. In this chapter, Lawson walks the reader through a 30,000-foot overview of the expositor’s preparatory checklist. While this was no doubt the Doctor’s method, it is also to be the method of modern-day preachers.
Chapters 6 and 7 zero in on Lloyd-Jones’ character, being “Divinely Focused” and “Doctrinally Grounded.” In fact, as Lawson notes, doctrine is the backbone of all faithful preaching.5 Further, Lloyd-Jones asserts the absolute need for a doctrinal focus in preaching. He writes,
“It is not enough merely to give people an open Bible. Perfectly sincere and genuine and able men and women may read this book and say things that are quite wrong. We must define our doctrines.”6
As with all the subjects of the Long Line of Godly Men profiles, it is noted that Martyn Lloyd-Jones was “Theologically Reformed”; not merely by tradition or confession, but by spiritual conviction. In an age of man-centered wisdom within the church, Lloyd-Jones held to the Biblically-derived doctrines of grace, and preached them vigorously.
The final chapter showcases Lloyd-Jones’ distinction as being “Spiritually Empowered”. While not a particularly charismatic person, the Doctor was notably Spirit-filled each time he entered the pulpit. This was not due to his use of tactics, but rather, the gravitas that comes with faithfully preaching as God’s divine messenger, bearing the full weight of biblical authority.
In a day where “Rockstar pastors” are worshiped and emulated, Dr. Lawson sets forth the life, character, and practice of “the finest biblical expository of the twentieth century.”7 We often tend to forget the faithful ones who came before us, but a devotion to Christian biography is one way to discover God’s stewards; those He has placed in the church for her edification (Eph. 4:11-16). In the end, we are called to imitate the faith of those who have gone before us (Heb. 13:7).
For many who are discovering Martyn Lloyd-Jones for the first time, Lawson’s volume is essential reading, as it faithfully introduces God’s servant. For those who have been blessed by Iain Murray’s work and others, Lawson’s offering serves as a blessed refresher and a needed reminder for what God requires of preachers.
Let us never forget the need for passionate preachers! We want again Lloyd-Joneses!
Title: The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Author: Steven J. Lawson
Publisher: Reformation Trust, 2016.