The overarching theme of 1 John is that of how the believer relates to the world in light of being a child of God. It is an epistle replete with calls to stand firm on the fundamentals of the faith in a world that increasingly rejects that message and in response to individuals even within the church that seek to alter the truth of Scripture. Adherence to sound doctrine brings life to the believer. It is this message that Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses in his compendium of sermons on 1 John titled Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John.
This book is a compilation of five volumes of sermons by Lloyd-Jones rolled into a single volume. In true Lloyd-Jones style, the approach taken in this book is supremely biblical while being of the utmost in practical application for the reader. He covers all the major elements of 1 John with the heart of a pastor, honing in and expounding on the issues presented by the Apostle John that continue to remain relevant and important for believers today. Since the chapters contained in this book comprise sermons of Lloyd-Jones, they are short yet powerfully written, allowing the reader to dig deep into the text without getting overwhelmed with scholarly points of emphasis.
Some examples of the superb explication provided by Lloyd-Jones in this book can be found in his exposition of I John 1:6-10. Lloyd-Jones aptly comments “If we say that we are walking with him and yet in the meantime are walking in darkness, then we lie. It is not true, it is a false claim, we misinterpret ourselves to our fellow men and women and to the world, and it is all wrong.” In a world where so many try and claim they are of the household of faith yet continue to walk in blatant opposition to God’s commands, such as statement as that made by Lloyd-Jones is sorely needed. He further declares “unless I realize I am a sinner and must repent, and if my only hope is not in Christ and His death for me on the cross and His resurrection for my justification, I not only have no fellowship with God, but I am dwelling still in utter darkness.” The answer of course is found in the blood of Jesus, a point Lloyd-Jones brings to bear as the solution to the sin problem.
Another outstanding portion of this sermon collection is Lloyd-Jones’ comments on 1 John 3:11-15. To be a child of God demands obedience to the Father’s commands provided in Scripture. Therefore, to live this thing called the Christian life requires the believer to be like Christ in our words and deeds, essentially what is known as our faith in action. Lloyd-Jones aptly describes the example set by Christ by commenting “His life was a life full of perfect obedience; as a son He rendered perfect obedience of God’s holy will and law. And, secondly, the great characteristic which we see in Him is this quality of love.” After all, Jesus did tell us that all the commands of God can be boiled down to loving God and loving others. A fruit of the believer should be that of love towards others. We love our fellow believers according to Lloyd-Jones because “we share the same interests; we have been brought out of darkness into light, separated from the world into this new kingdom. We are sharing and are interested in the same thing, in this glorious Word, in this praise of God.” The Body of Christ marching towards the beat of the same drum in love for God and for each other is a powerful thing indeed.
One final chapter of this book that is worthy of note is Lloyd-Jones’ explanation of 1 John 4:18. In this verse, the Apostle John declares that perfect love casts out fear. Lloyd-Jones avers the Apostle John is speaking of fear in relation to the Day of Judgment noting the believer should not fear that day because we are assured of our eternal destiny. Those who do live in fear of that day are the individuals who have failed to grasp the immensity of eternity for “they just enjoy life as it comes along, with the latest excitement and craze. They never stop to say, ‘What is the meaning of my life? What is to be my ultimate destiny?’ They are not afraid of the Day of Judgment just because they have never realized there is such a day.” Having confidence in one’s eternal destiny should produce love towards your fellow believer and also towards those who are walking in darkness. We should declare to those in darkness the solution to their problem. Such confidence should produce boldness in our lives to declare the gospel. Lloyd-Jones notes the need for such boldness stating “You will find yourself loving someone who is hateful, and you will draw the correct deduction and will say, ‘It must be that Christ is in me.”
1 John is a powerful book and Lloyd-Jones is a powerful preacher who is skilled at elaborating the truths found in Scripture in a way that is biblical, scholarly, yet truly accessible to all believers. Life in Christ is a collection of sermons on 1 John that I highly recommend everyone take the time to sit down and read and more importantly take to hear and apply in their daily life. Lloyd-Jones was a truly gifted preacher and this collection captures the preacher’s heart for which he was known. This collection of sermons would be a great tool for both personal Bible study or even in a small group setting as part of a study on 1 John. It certainly is a welcome volume to my personal library to which I will return many times in the future.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”