Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Notes on a vital message by Martyn Lloyd-Jones


 To me, no one can be a great theologian, unless he is anointed and filled with the Spirit. There are many with intellectual powers, but it is not hard to tell the difference between them and those who are God-taught. Therefore, I am a fan of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a true man of God, and certainly, at the same time, a very intelligent person.

I have taken notes from a key audio message of his, preached in 1969 in Florida. Our son-in-law, Sammy, brought it to my attention and I have the firm conviction that it is a message that must be shared. It is a soul-disturbing word that speaks more to our generation than to his. I want you to have a chance to peruse the main points…
Dr. M. Lloyd-Jones, pastor of Westminster Chapel,
London. Died, March 1, 1981.
     The Problem of Evangelism         
 1 Thessalonians 1:5a, then v. 6 -10

 (notes taken from an audio recording of  Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

The term, which is used these days is “the problem of communication” or “how to articulate the gospel”. We fool ourselves by changing terms, but really we are talking about evangelism or preaching the gospel. The Christian church is failing to get her message across, so now there is discussion about how better to communicate the gospel to the world outside. We believe that the gospel is what is needed in men’s lives, but the question is… How do we get this message across?

We are living, it is said, in the post-Christian era, in the scientific age, and there is no use doing things as the church has done over the centuries. We must have some new way to communicate the gospel.

Some think that we need a new message. We cannot expect modern man with scientific knowledge to believe what his forefathers believed.  He cannot accept the miraculous or the supernatural, such as the virgin birth and the miracles done by the apostles. We must “de-mythologize” the gospel for man has come of age; he has grown up.

There is another big school of thought. It says, we don’t need to change the message, but we need new methods. How does big business succeed? They look around and see that it is done through publicity or advertising. The agencies use TV and radio and understand the psychology of the people. The church must become interested in these things. She has a commodity to sell and she must learn from the advertizing people how to go about it.

My position is simply this. I believe that this is entirely wrong for this reason: It is based on the assumption that we are faced with a new position. I cannot grant it for a moment. There is nothing new about the problem confronting us in these days. The church has always had this problem and for that reason, I am calling your attention to this chapter (1 Thess. 1).

The apostle is reminding the church in Thessalonica how the gospel had come to them in the first place and how they became a church. He was confronted by precisely the same problem that we have in this day. They were totally ignorant of biblical terms. Here is a summary of the apostolic method of evangelism. There were two big factors: 1) The preaching of the apostles. This was essential and the commission was given to them by the Lord. This is always an essential. We must have preachers. The Holy Spirit has always honored the spoken word.

Among the new ideas and methods, many say the day of preaching is finished. They speak of dialog, which means discussion, but dialog sounds better and it’s another term with which we delude ourselves. We must sit down and talk to people, get involved in drama, politics, etc. But nothing can substitute for preaching.

The other factor is: 2) The lives and testimonies of the members of the church (see v. 7-8). Wherever Paul went, people would say, “You were the men who preached in Thessalonica.” The news had been heard afar. Everyone was talking about it… in Macedonia, Achaia and everywhere. This news opened the door for Paul to preach and made it easier for him. It told of the amazing things that happened to people in Thessalonica, when they heard the gospel. This is vital, along with the preaching of the gospel. The lives testify. Without cars, without TV, without newspapers, without telephones, the news spread all over Macedonia, then crossed mountain ranges to the lower part of Greece… from mouth to mouth. There, people waited for Paul, in order to hear his message.

This factor has come into play, whenever there has been a great move of God. During the Protestant Reformation, everyone knew when someone became a Protestant. It was true among the Puritans, the Covenanters, and in the early Methodists.

“Our gospel,” said Paul. Just what is the message of the Christian Church? It is not a protest against war, or any kind of a political, social message. It is good news. It is the most thrilling news that has ever come into the world. If it doesn’t give people that impression, that it is the most amazing news they have ever heard, we have failed in our presentation.

Paul said that it came not in word only… he means that it did come in word. You may have a cold; but did you have a temperature? It is possible to have a cold without a temperature. The gospel did come in word, but with something else in addition. Why do I have to emphasize this? I am compelled to. The popular preaching today says that the gospel does not come in word. They say that Christianity is a wonderful spirit (an atmosphere). A phrase that is used is “Christianity is caught, not taught.” It is wonderful friendship and love to one another. “The big trouble,” we are told, “is that there have been too many theologians, teaching that it is this and not that. But Christianity is a quality of life, not so much a doctrine.”

That is a complete denial of what the apostle tells us here and everywhere else! The whole Bible tells us that. If the gospel does not come in word or words, it isn’t a true gospel. We have a summary in this chapter in verses 9 and 10.

Let’s listen to the Apostle Paul preaching to the people in Thessalonica. They are heathen, pagans, not Jews. They didn’t know the Old Testament. How did he preach? Here we confront the problem of communication, articulation, evangelism. These people are without any knowledge of this terminology.

He started this way. He told them about God. You worship idols, and you are doing something foolish. You made them yourselves.  They are the projection of your own minds (Of course, if a man creates his gods, he makes himself greater than they are. Self-creation exalts a person above even the idols. The greatest god is himself!). You have teaching about idolatry in the book of Acts and you have it in two Psalms. The apostle started with idolatry and showed them the seriousness of it. It is in the fact that they had not been worshipping the true and living God.

“You have worshipped lies,” Paul preached, “useless substance. But there is a living God. He revealed Himself to the Jews. He is from eternity to eternity. He is the living God, who created the world from nothing.” He starts in the first verse of the Bible. He preached about the God who interferes in the lives of men. He is the God of history. He gave them this message from the Old Testament. He went on to tell them “You all have been made by God and if you die this way, you will experience the wrath to come. You must give account to God, no matter that you have been ignorant. He will judge the whole world, according to the law that He had given to His people... the 10 commandments and the moral law.” He preached the true and living God and showed them their destiny.

Only when we return to this kind of preaching will we get the interest of the modern man. The world is full of idolatry in a different form today. The modern idols are cars, houses, family, spouses, sex, and prosperity. That is today’s religion. To confront it, we need this apostolic preaching about God and the wrath to come.

Wait a minute, someone says. You just said that the gospel is good news. It doesn’t sound like good news to me. You’re preaching judgment, wrath, and terror. Is that good news? Of course not, but it is the introduction to the good news. Men are outside the church today, because we have forgotten to preach the introduction. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not start even with the mentioning of the Lord Jesus Christ. It starts with God! It’s no use to tell people “Come to Jesus, come to Christ,” They have no need of Him. Man must see his condition, under the condemnation of the Law of God, facing eternal judgment, and hearing the thundering of Sinai. He then sees himself as an utter failure with no hope and he flies to Christ. It starts with God. The “law work” must take place. There are too many people who have never repented. They have taken on Christ as a friend. There are no true conversions, without a law work. After that comes the gospel

Then Paul told them about His Son from heaven… this man who lived in Palestine... the Carpenter, who at 30 years of age began to teach and do miracles. Who is Jesus? They tell me, you don’t need words or doctrine. I tell you, we must preach to them the person, who is Christ. We are all damned, if Jesus is only a man. He is God/Man; He is God’s Son. We give them the doctrine of incarnation.

This Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come (v.10). What is this? More theology, I’m afraid. You can’t get away from doctrine. If you don’t know the truth about the Lord, you’re not a Christian. It means that Jesus didn’t only give us teaching, so we could deliver ourselves. He was not just an example, but came in order to deliver us. “He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin… smitten of God.” This is the doctrine of atonement. You can’t be a Christian without this. This is the essence of Christianity. “Behold the Lamb of God… by whose stripes we are healed.” He delivered us.

“Whom He raised from the dead.” This is the doctrine of the resurrection. There is no gospel apart from the literal, physical resurrection of Christ. We are saved, because Christ rose from the dead. If not, our preaching is in vain. It is God’s proclamation to all of creation that the work is complete. The Law is satisfied… God is satisfied. It gave the final proof that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God. That is the preaching of Paul in Corinth.

“To wait for His Son from heaven.” He not only rose from the dead, He ascended and took His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. There He is seated. But this isn’t the end, yet. He will return. The Son of God is coming back into the world, not for salvation this time, but for judgment. He will not be the Babe of Bethlehem, but the King of Kings. He will judge and set up His reign of righteousness. The universe will return to its pristine condition.

If you reject the preaching of the gospel, you are denying the gospel. This is the message and you must not leave out any part of it. Those were the words then, and they are the words today.

But it also came in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. Paul knew that he was clothed with the Holy Spirit, that the Almighty God, the Holy Spirit, was using him as a vessel. What did Paul have? He had the Holy Spirit! The apostle Paul never pleased men. He never used flattery. He had no jokes, tricks, methods, or lighting to create atmosphere. He rejected all of that; he hated it. The Spirit was upon Him. That has been the hope of every preacher and there is no hope for true effectiveness in preaching the gospel until we return to this.

But the Holy Spirit also was working in them. They had no background, no understanding of these things. They never heard this before and it made them uncomfortable. What Paul was preaching, was true of them. Then they heard the gospel and they believed it and showed evidence of it. They turned to God from idols. The evidence is that you turn your back on idols and begin to serve the true God. He becomes the Lord of your life and you live for His glory. They began a work of faith and a labor of love. They persisted in the gospel, even when persecution arose. You couldn’t make them those early Christians deny the faith. They became a phenomenon. Everywhere they became a matter of conversation. A miracle took place in them. They were new men. This is the only hope for men in this present age.


Post a Comment