20 December 2006

A Gem from MLJ

posted by Phil Johnson

've spent the first part of this week at home with some malady. I think it's either a sinus infection with upper respiratory implications, or else one of those ugly aliens that will eventually eat its way out through my chest.

Anyway, don't feel good and it's hard to concentrate, and yet I have a couple of inflexible writing deadlines (both already overdue) that I must meet this week.

I'm also feeling the need to post something of substance in the midst of all the egg nog that has been spilled on the blog this week. But with all the other writing I'm doing, and as foggy as my brain is, it's hard to get motivated to write something that doesn't even have a deadline. So I've been doing some reading here and there.

Tuesday, I was reading some back issues of The Banner of Truth, including the March 2006 issue, which is a wonderful tribute to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. One of the articles is a transcript of the first sermon the Doctor preached at Westminster Chapel, December 29, 1935 (71 years ago next week).

What's amazing is that from the first sentence of that first sermon, it's vintage Lloyd-Jones: pithy, profound, and powerful. There's not a wasted word here:

I feel it is an interesting and profitable subject to try to decide which is the more dangerous position for a man to be in—to state openly and avowedly that he is not at all interested in Christ and religion, or to follow Christ for the wrong and false reason. I know that, ultimately, there is no difference between these two men. The one who follows Christ for the wrong reason is as much outside the kingdom as the man who makes no pretence to follow Christ at all. That is perfectly true. But I do think there is an important distinction between the two when you regard things merely from the human standpoint. The difficulty with the man who follows Christ for a wrong reason is that he not only deludes himself, but he also deludes the church. When you are confronted by one who says he does not believe in Christ, then you know exactly what to say and what to do with him. When a man presents himself as a religious person, the church tends to take him for granted; it would be an insult to question him. The church assumes that because he acknowledges himself to be a religious man, therefore he is a Christian. One of the most dangerous places for such a man to be in is the church of the living God.

I am not at all sure but that one explanation for the present state of the church is to be found at just that point: she has been far too ready to associate church membership with true discipleship, and to assume that all who join the church are really following Christ.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The rest of the sermon is superb as well. It's an exposition of John 6:66-68, and as good a first sermon as you will ever read.
Phil's signature


Bryan said...

Fantastic Lloyd Jones!
I recently had a friend who recanted of the faith he formerly professed. Although it greatly saddened me, I was happy that he openly recanted instead of continuing to go through the motions of Christianity.

Too often people who have no faith and come to realize and embrace it stay in church and go through the motions which damage the body as Lloyd Jones points out. The Church needs to recognize this and understand there are tares among the wheat.

The good Doctor is fantastic

Martin Downes said...

What an excellent extract. DML-J knew from his upbringing the danger of a nominal church membership.

jen said...

Thanks for this post... I recently discovered Lloyd-Jones. I'm reading Spiritual Depression and gleaning much from it. Soooo, where do I go to find the rest of this sermon?

Douglas McMasters said...

Ah, excellent. Thank you Phil. Praying for your health, ability to think clearly, and economy of time.

Ebeth said...


Steve Lamm said...


Thanks for this post. I put the 2 volume Lloyd-Jones bio on my Christmas list. I hope I get it!

I'll be praying for your recovery by this weekend.

By the way, thanks for shooing away the crazies over at Pulpit!


candy said...

A timely post for me. We have a family member who has turned her back on the faith and we wonder if she really is a Christian. Her church does not practice church discipline or require membership so certain things in her life are not being addressed. It is a grievious situation. We hope she is not a tare among the wheat, but a prodigal.

candy said...

ps. lots of homemade chicken soup with veggies, lots of garlic, and cayenne pepper will help with your cold/bronchitis.

Unknown said...

His comments are right on target. The youth in the church seem very prone to being numb to the gospel message. This is in part due to the fact that they grew up hearing it every week and are somewhat morally compliant. They have not experienced the "Power of God unto salvation" key word (Power).