My first contact and knowledge that there was ever a great expository preacher named Martyn Lloyd-Jones came during a crisis time in my life while serving as a missionary. It was at the end of our first term. Many wondered if I would recover from a very difficult first term on the mission field.
In fact, I myself and even my wife, wondered this at first. By the grace of God, He brought me into contact with a retired, 30-year, medical missionary from Hong Kong by the name of Dr. Bob Chapman. Dr. Chapman counseled with me weekly with long-distance phone calls and letters. He led me back to specific Scriptures to help me and into long sessions of prayer.
One of the things he encouraged me to do was read Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ book, “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and its Cure”. It is probably the single, most impactful book I have ever read outside of the Bible as it drove me towards the Bible, Christ and the Cross at a critical time in my life. It is a book of discipleship that led a struggling disciple to learn how to overcome and to walk in victory; how to walk in faith and holiness. I am ever so grateful to Dr. Chapman for leading me to this resource and my first encounter with “the doctor” (as he is affectionately known today). So, it was a medical missionary doctor (also biblical counselor) who led me to a medical doctor who became a preacher.
Ever since then I have been pushing myself to know more of “the doctor’s” preaching and teaching. I listen to him almost once a week through the MLJ Trust (www.mljtrust.org) He is known as the most influential expositor of the 21st century. For me he is simply the preacher, teacher and writer that the Lord used, in addition to the loving care and prayers of my wife, Dr. Chapman and several others, to send me back to work on the mission field. And now, I can reference Dr. Bob Chapman’s encouragement to read Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ book as the essentially the re-launching of a fulfillment of the missionary call in my life.
In the early 2000s, when fellow missionary colleagues and I traveled to a conference outside of London, we had a full day in that tremendous city to see the sights. Some wanted to go to the WW2 museum, which I did also, but at the top of my list was to visit Westminster Chapel where “the doctor” served so faithfully from 1939 to 1968.
I greatly desired to see the place of ministry this great man of God had served and who had so inspired my life. I wanted to see first hand this place where he preached in the shadow of the more well-known Westminster Cathedral, yet from which he had a far greater spiritual impact upon the world! Westminster Chapel actually sits exactly in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Cathedral, with a 5-minute walk to one or the other.
Well, the day we arrived we found its bookstore was closed. When I asked someone who seemed associated with the church (she and others were on the street witnessing to passersby and praying with whoever wished), she said the church caretaker is probably available to give us a tour and went to find him.
The caretaker told us that he could not open the bookstore, but that he could take us on a tour of the church building and answer any questions we might have. I was overjoyed to get this opportunity and to actually stand in the pulpit from which “the doctor” preached Christ, His Cross and the Gospel! I remember vividly taking a moment to thank the Lord for using Dr. Lloyd-Jones to help me in my life and ministry.
One of the things I appreciate about the preaching and writing of Dr. Lloyd-Jones is his focus on the gospel and the cross of Christ…which is why I was so taken aback by the blog post I read today by Pastor Tommy Clayton (click on the photo below to go to “The Cripplegate” blog post).
In it he shares his similar appreciations for Dr. Lloyd-Jones and insights about a turning point for “the doctor” early on in his ministry. It was quite helpful to me as it sort of filled in some gaps that I wondered about related to the influences in Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ life and ministry.
Apparently his early preaching lacked a focus on the Cross of Christ and so it lacked the Gospel message and its power. A rebuke from an elderly believer in this regard, caused Dr. Lloyd-Jones to study two important resources at the time about the atonement, which greatly impacted his preaching from then on. Apparently, he was a well educated man, who wasn't afraid to get more education!
Finding this post yesterday was an encouragement, because I have been personally studying much about the atonement as a goal this year. So, I invite you to click the picture/quote below and you can enjoy the post as well. Thank you Pastor Tommy Clayton for writing it.
May the Lord richly bless you as you serve!
Robert Thomas Clark, M.Div.
Follower of Christ