- Jeff Parks
The Doctor and a Guy
The Doctor is one of the greatest preachers God has called to be used to advance His kingdom. The guy, mentioned in the title, is the guy writing this - just an ordinary guy whom God has called to use to build up His kingdom. The Doctor is Martyn Lloyd-Jones. What I would like to share with you is something another great preacher taught me several years ago. That preacher is Dr. John Piper.
Several years ago, I read from a book written by Dr. Piper. In the book he shares a bit of wisdom imparted to him by one of his professors. He taught him that besides the Bible he should choose one great theologian and apply himself throughout that theologian’s life to understand and master that theologian’s ministry. It was so that he might become, in a sense, this man’s peer and be discipled by a man who had walked the walk well with his Lord and Savior. Dr. Piper chose Jonathan Edwards. I have chosen Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
I hope to share with you a few things that I have learned from the Doctor while also encouraging you to investigate being discipled by a dear brother in Christ who has gone on to be with the Lord but has left a Christ-honoring, Christ-magnifying ministry that can help you to do the same.
My first encouragement is that you do not forget to be yourself in your ministry and in life. Whether it is the Doctor that you might bring alongside or someone like Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, or Thomas Watson; do not become a parrot of someone else. Learn from them, but YOU must be YOU. God does not need another Doctor or Spurgeon or Watson. Do not become a parrot, but do learn from them, and never at the expense of learning, primarily, from the Word of God.
BRIEFLY WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE DOCTOR
The most important thing I have learned from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is this – PREACH THE GOSPEL TO YOURSELF DAILY…THROUGHOUT EACH DAY! Though this encouragement is simple, it is truly profound. The gospel is the heartbeat of every regenerate soul because ultimately, Christ Jesus is the gospel. He is the good news. Jesus Christ and what He has done to save sinners is the gospel. We must throughout each of our days, remind ourselves of the gospel message and then remind ourselves what is true about us because of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us. This is the foundation on which God’s children walk by faith. God’s Word reveals to us that the righteous will live by faith. The righteous are those who have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone. The believer’s faith is grounded in Jesus Christ, the object of our faith. Only as those in Christ set their minds on Christ, and what He has done and is doing, are they living by faith. A faith demonstrated by obedience and good works because we trust Jesus, understanding that all the great promises of Scripture are ours solely because of Him.
Another important lesson that the Doctor has impressed upon me is that preachers are to preach what God’s Word says and not what we think it may mean. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was not only a trained medical physician but was one of the most prominent physicians in the world before he left the medical field to be a physician of souls. His medical training greatly influenced how he meticulously thought through Scripture to find out God’s meaning and how to properly apply those discovered doctrines. The Doctor was greatly employed in digging deep in God’s Word to reveal what God has said so that he could apply those great truths to his own life as well as the lives of his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Lastly, what the Doctor has impressed upon me was the great need to read good books by faithful former and current brothers and sisters in Christ. In the words of the Doctor, “The business of reading is to make one think, to stimulate (one’s mind and develop ideas).”
Much like Spurgeon, the Doctor read copiously; and much of that reading was what was produced by the Puritans. Both Spurgeon and the Doctor greatly understood that the Puritans were excellent examples of believers who saturated themselves in the Word of God and then, by faith, applied those great doctrines to be conformed into the image of Christ. The Doctor was so influenced by the Puritans that he was a major contributor to the Banner of Truth Trust which, in reformed, evangelical circles, made Puritan books prominent.
I hope this brief synopsis on Martyn Lloyd-Jones will motivate you to take a closer look at his life and even more so at his writing that is pure gold for the soul. As a matter of fact, most of his books came from the sermons he preached. I would encourage you to start with his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. According to John Piper, this book is one of the most influential books he has ever read. To learn more about the man, I would direct you to the two-volume biography by Ian Murray, published by Banner of Truth.
In closing, I will leave you with this quote from J.I. Packer, "I felt and saw as never before the glory of Christ and of his gospel as modern man's only lifeline and learned by experience why historic Protestantism looks on preaching as the supreme means of grace and of communion with God." Lloyd-Jones "never put on any sort of act," but always "spoke as a debater making a case" or "as a physician making a diagnosis." Like Isaiah, his preaching seized men who thought themselves great and God small and lifted their eyes to see that they ARE small, and God IS great. His preaching always aimed at preaching Christ and Him crucified. Packer says as well in his Collected Shorter Writings, "I have never known anyone whose speech communicated such a sense of the reality of God."