The Passionate Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jonesby Steven J. Lawson
Length: Approximately 4 hours. To read (190 pages)
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We live in a day and age where preaching has been cheapened and softened for the hearer. With the modern resurgence of expository preaching, Steven J. Lawson gives us a powerful and concise look at most likely the father of modern expository preaching in Martin Lloyd-Jones. The author weaves in the major moments of Dr. Lloyd-Jones life throughout as he focuses on the preaching style of this great man of God.
Who should read this?
This work is a unique biography that touches on the major life points of Dr. Lloyd-Jones, but focuses on the passionate preaching of the late pastor. Any believer could get great benefit from reading this book. However, I would say the main audience for all of the books in this series is those in ministry or studying to do so.
Our culture and churches are starving today for preaching that is deep and has power packed behind it. There has been resurgence in the recent years for expository preaching in evangelical churches. In the Long Line of Godly Men Profile Steven J. Lawson writes about the father of this resurgence Martin Lloyd-Jones, highlighting both the major moments of his life and his passionate preaching.
Dr. Lawson begins by looking briefly at the early life and influences of Martin Lloyd-Jones. He was born in Wales with a strong church influence from the Calvinistic Methodists. The family was forced to move to London because of financial hardship, which would impact Dr. Lloyd-Jones immensely. Early on he nor his father ever had an inkling about ministry as a profession. Martin was very intelligent and being a doctor was his chosen profession. The author then shares with us the dramatic calling and change of life that Lloyd Jones makes.
He was converted when he was 25 and felt nearly an immediate call to ministry. When he came to England, he began to Pastor the church called Westminster Chapel. Steven Lawson says, “He would fill its pulpit for the next twenty-five years, during which time Westminster Chapel would become a great gospel beacon that shone forth the light of the gospel, resulting in countless lives’ being transformed” (15). He would see great success from his leadership and preaching during his time there. His influence even today cannot fully be measured and Dr. Lawson shows great praise for all the lives impacted from all the years of his ministry in England.
The final eight chapters of this biography cover aspects of Martin Lloyd-Jones passionate preaching, and how they can be an example for our pastors/churches today. The author begins by looking at the beginning point, which is the sovereign call from God to preach. Many people would challenge Martin’s decision to leave the doctor profession for the pastoral calling. He would challenge back that God calls us to our work, and we must follow that path. Lloyd-Jones would add, “It is God who commands preaching, it is God who sends out preachers” (32).
Also, important parts of his preaching were being biblically based and expository in nature. He was serious about letting God’s authority in His Word direct and guide all of his messages. He says about this, “There is only one way for any preacher to be a mouthpiece for God. That is to preach the written Word entrusted to him” (58). Steve Lawson brings out here the most important part of the legacy of his preaching, which is the expository style. Martin Lloyd-Jones believed there wasn’t any other kind of true preaching.
One of the lost arts in today’s preaching world is the time and careful use of study for sermons. Martin Lloyd-Jones gives us a great example of putting the effort and time into study. Many elements included in his sermon outlines like opening illustration, locating the main idea, and using study tools are what you see taught in most seminaries today. The author pulls out many quotes and illustrations of Lloyd-Jones to illustrate the careful study he put in for all of his sermons.
The last four chapters of the book discuss areas of Martin’s preaching that gave it the lasting power it had. It was divinely focused in the way it addressed the greatness of God more than any point in his messages. His preaching was doctrinally grounded, in the way it continually came back to teaching deep truths of the Gospel to those who were listening. The author says about his preaching here, “Theology for Lloyd-Jones was the match that lit the flame in the pulpit” (127).
His messages were also theologically reformed. One example of this was Friday night services dealing with great doctrines and studies on the Book of Romans. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones held strong in his life and preaching to the main doctrines of Calvinism. This is where his roots from Wales came to influence his preaching. Lastly, his preaching was spiritually empowered. Preaching Lloyd-Jones believed had to be backed by the work of the Holy Spirit in order to have any power. The author writes, “A world of difference exists, the Doctor believed, between being naturally gifted to deliver an address and being filled by the Spirit to preach the Word” (162).
The writer concludes with a two-page challenge to all pastors and churches to reclaim again the passionate preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones. Steven J. Lawson’s challenge is this, “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” (177).
Oh what more of a difference the Gospel could have on our world if all those that fill the pulpit week and week out would follow the example of Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. We have in this biography not only a brief summary of his life, but a strong biography on the dawning of a new age of expository preaching in the evangelical world we know today.
One of the great strengths of this book is getting to know Martin Lloyd-Jones through his greatest calling, preaching. We see throughout this work the affect that preaching can have on the life of anyone in the world. We see in the opening chapter with his life milestones, all of the things that God prepared for Martin to be the strong pastor and preacher he was. The rest of the book we see all of the elements of his preaching from careful study to being spirit empowered, that help us see the person of Martin Lloyd-Jones in a deep manner. We are emotionally connected to this Godly man by the time we finish this work by Steven J. Lawson.
There are honestly not enough books out there that address some of the strengths we can learn about preaching from Martin Lloyd-Jones. One example of this is the chapter on careful study. I was personally challenged by the importance of study, and ways that I can put more effort into my preparation for sermons. It is hard to estimate the impact that Lloyd-Jones has had on my preaching and pastoral ministry. This book has even broadened my desire to preach the Word, and do it in a way that gives God the glory every time I do.
What makes this work stand out as a biography above most else, is all of the actual words quoted by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. You can know the man better, and understand clearly the points about preaching from this style of writing. I am so thankful that Steven J. Lawson decided to use so many of the powerful words of Lloyd-Jones about his life and preaching. Here is the example of one of those quotes, “The chief thing is the end of love of God, the love of souls, a knowledge of the Truth, and the Holy Spirit within you. These are the things that make up a preacher” (178). Feel the passion and direction behind these words that drove this man of God to the great calling of preacher!
One of the weaknesses of this book was the short biography of his life. It is understandable that the focus of this book was his passionate preaching, hence the title. I would have enjoyed a few more chapters discussing a little deeper the background that brought Martin Lloyd-Jones to the man he became. As the chapters went on there also was no harkening back to his life story to the influence on his preaching. The passionate and convictional preaching he became well known for was because of his upbringing, background, and calling from God.
The other weakness I saw in this work was the fact that the author never really addresses any of Martin Lloyd-Jones weaknesses as a person or preacher. There are a few allusions to some issues, but nothing substantial that would have deepened the book. It is important to learn from the mistakes and weak spots that each person has, in this work we did not have that opportunity. Godly men are flawed, and we should know about those issues in these profiles as well.
I would recommend this book as a great biographical work on the life and preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones. Especially for pastors and those that are aspiring to be in the future, this book will be of great benefit to their ministries. Take the time to read this book by author Steven J. Lawson, if you want a refresh or motivation to bring passion to the pulpit God has called you too!
It can be very disheartening to look around at churches today and see the lack of depth and passion behind the pulpit. Many preachers today have sacrificed biblically based and expository preaching for fluffy and seeker sensitive messages. Steven J. Lawson in his work The Passionate Preaching of Martin Lloyd-Jones exhorts churches and pastors back to passionate and powerful preaching of the late Martin Lloyd-Jones. Oh how we would listen to the words of the author as we head into the pulpit every Sunday. He writes, “May the centrality of the pulpit be so recovered today in churches around the world in order that the matchless glory of God might be brilliantly showcased” (80).
- “Lloyd-Jones stands as an example of what God can do through a man who honors and heralds His Word.” (Introduction)
- “In the pulpit, Lloyd-Jones would always be doing the work of an evangelist. He knew what it was to be in church but not be in Christ.” (9)
- “Theology should always ignite the heart, both in the preacher and the listener. Theology must be the foundation of every sermon.” (133)
- “In short, we need Lloyd-Jonses again to stand in the pulpits across our land and unapologetically proclaim the Word of the living God.” (178)