The greatest need for the Church today is to have faithful men who will proclaim the whole counsel of God. Instead of feeding the sheep, preachers today have often sought instead to entertain people. This article aims to look at the life and preaching ministry of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It was said that without question, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was “the finest biblical expositor of the twentieth century.” When “the final chapter of church history is written, the Doctor will stand as one of the greatest preachers of all time.” In this article, we will answer the following question, “What can we learn from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ ministry?” To answer this question, we will draw three different conclusions from the life and ministry of the Doctor.
Communion with God
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones knew that the “highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can be ever called” is to preach God’s word. He also knew that there was more to the Christian life than just preaching. Martyn Lloyd-Jones knew that the sum and great joy of the Christian life are to have communion with the living God. It was said by Lloyd-Jones that “a life spent in communion with God is the only life worth living. To be reconciled to God, to live in his presence, is a far higher thing than simply working for him.” A preacher may be busy all his life in ministry and still not know God. Therefore, we to learn that it is vitally import for the preacher to know and experience God personally before he preaches to others.
Additionally, we discover that there is more to preaching than merely learning how to preach. Lloyd-Jones teaches us that there is a spiritual aspect that is tied to ‘effective’ or ‘spirit-empowered’ preaching. True biblical preaching goes deeper and further than theological knowledge. The ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows us that true biblical preaching stems from a life that is lived in communion with God. The preacher must be a man who pursues personal holiness. Robert Murray McCheyne said, “my people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” Before the minister opens his mouth to preach, his life has already preached a sermon. Therefore, we see that effectiveness in the pulpit is directly related to the preacher’s spiritual health. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, that “the preacher must be a man who is characterized by spirituality in an unusual degree… The preacher’s first, and most important task is to prepare himself, not his sermon.”
Therefore, the first lesson that can be drawn for the life and ministry of the Doctor is that the preacher must first experience God himself before he preaches to others. In many cases, young preachers today spend more time preparing their sermons than preparing their hearts. When asked about her husband, Bethan Lloyd-Jones said, “no-one will ever understand my husband unless they first realize that he was a man of prayer and then an evangelist.” Dr. Lloyd-Jones first met with God before he ministered and evangelized others.
Diligent in the Study
Another area we can learn from the ministry of the Doctor is his diligence in the study. Before he would preach on a given text, he would spend hours in his study, devoting himself to the ministry of the Word. His biblical text and sermon came to him after these long hours of private study.
A valuable lesson that can be drawn from Lloyd-Jones diligent study is this: the effectiveness of the sermon is closely related to the form in which it has been planned. In other words, the sermon does not just ‘come together’ in delivery when he enters the pulpit. The hard work must begin in the study. As one looks at Lloyd-Jones’ preaching, it is obvious that he is rational, logical, and well structured. It is important to note that this was birthed out of his own personal study.
If the sermon is “not clear, logical, and rational, it will rarely be compelling.” The delivery of his sermon is directly tied to the work done in his private study. To be simple and clear in the pulpit, one must begin this process in the study. The depth of one’s research will impact the breadth of one’s ministry. Therefore, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones sets an excellent example for others to follow. There is a call for the preacher to be diligent in the study of the Word.
The Necessity of the Spirit of God
The last lesson we can learn from Lloyd-Jones’ preaching is the necessity of the Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the Word. Lloyd-Jones knew that if his preaching was going to transform lives, it must come by the Holy Spirit, with much power and conviction (1 Thess. 1:5). It is clear that it is the work of the Holy Spirit which makes preaching powerful. This truth gives great hope for the preacher since there is nothing in himself that makes preaching powerful. Instead, it is the Spirit of God working through his preaching.
Lloyd-Jones claimed that the “greatest need in the church today is to restore authority to the pulpit.” True gospel preaching cannot be sustained without the power of the Holy Spirit. He explained, “Nothing but a return of this power of the Spirit in our preaching is going to avail us anything.” Lloyd-Jones exhorts preachers to actively seek God for his Spirit in preaching, but also to expect him to come in power. Lloyd-Jones goes on to say that “the one who raises up preachers has an inexhaustible supply of the Spirit to give.” Thus, whenever a man steps up to preach, he must seek the favor of God and beg him to come in power with His Spirit, so that God may receive all glory.
As one looks at the life and ministry of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, it becomes quite clear that his reasoning and urgent passion was an outflow of his walk with God. The need of our day is for God to raise up another generation of Lloyd-Jones’. The church needs ‘theology coming through a man who is on fire.’
Beeke, Joel R., and Mark Jones. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2012.
Davies, Gaius. “The Doctor as Doctor.” In Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Chosen by God, ed. Christopher Catherwood. Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1986.
Lawson, Steven. “The Life & Ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.” Expositor Magazine 10 (2016): 7-13.
Lawson, Steven. The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust, 2016.
Lewis, Peter. “The Doctor as Preacher.” In Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Chosen by God, ed. Christopher Catherwood. Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1986.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1995.
Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching & Preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1987.
Murray, Iain H. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith, 1939-1981. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1990.
Murray, Iain H. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, 1899-1939. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982.
Murray, Iain H. Seven Leaders: Preachers and Pastors. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2017.
Murray, Iain H. The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1899-1981. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2013.
Packer, J. I. “A Kind of Puritan.” In Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Chosen by God, ed. Christopher Catherwood. Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1986.
Sargent, Tony. The Sacred Anointing: The Preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1994.