The Life of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

by Pastor John Kim

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones has come to make a pretty significant impact in my life. His commentaries and writings reveal a mind that was enthralled with the Word of God. His devotion to preaching the Word of God and in taking a stand for Biblical truths have been inspirational for many and just recently, I was able to appreciate the ministry of this faithful servant.
MLJ was born in Wales to parents who were not Christians but were religious, and so he was exposed to a nominal form of Christianity while growing up. It was while he had been pursuing his medical studies that God laid a hold of his heart and MLJ was not only converted to Christ in saving faith, but decided to forsake his medical practice and become a preacher to a poor village in Wales. To abandon a privileged position where he was working with a doctor who served the royal family in London was unthinkable to most people. Yet for MLJ, it was simply an extension of his following Christ.
His initial ministry took place in a small church in Sandfields, Aberavon starting in 1926 where without a seminary degree, he committed himself to preaching the Scriptures. He immersed himself in reading significant theological works, always taking a book with him wherever he went, especially during his summer months where he would have time off from his preaching ministry to spend time with his family. It was during these early years of ministry that his focus on preaching the gospel resulted in the conversion of many in the town.
From 1937 to 1968, MLJ ministered at Westminster Chapel, first starting as an associate to G. Campbell Morgan until his retirement in 1941 and then serving as the senior minister until health problems caused him to step down from full-time pastoral ministry. The latter years of his life were committed to editing his exposition of various books of the Bible for print. In 1981, he passed away from cancer after a long and faithful ministry.
MLJ was known as a Calvinistic-Methodist preacher, a strange combination in our day, but something that was not so uncommon in his day. In fact, the whole movement really started with George Whitefield, who in many ways was the catalyst for the whole Methodist movement in England and the American colonies. It was when Whitefield invited John Wesley to join him as a partner in ministry that the two took divergent paths as Wesley took exception to the doctrine of predestination and promoted his emphasis of man’s free will. And so the two branches of Methodism were formed, with the Calvinistic Methodists being the minority. It was even with much surprise to myself when I first read Whitefield’s biography that the concept of a “Calvinistic Methodist” was introduced and I found it to be a novel partnership.
It was MLJ who really epitomized the picture of a Calvinistic Methodist, with his firm commitment to the doctrines of grace, yet communicating with the passion of an evangelist. The calling to preach was one that he took seriously and believed with all his heart that it was to be “logic on fire, eloquent reason…theology coming through a man who is on fire.” Here was someone who had the clinical background, yet he did not shy away from connecting the use of intellect with the expression of genuine emotions. One of his most popular works to this day is Spiritual Depression – a work which really has ministered to many by biblically addressing those who face the challenges of emotional distress.
His interest in reformed doctrine also brought about a revival of Puritan literature. MLJ was instrumental in the starting of the Banner of Truth Trust, which has published numerous Puritan works, and also the two volume biography of MLJ by Iain Murray. Reading his life story and about the challenges he faced was truly inspirational as his love for God, his love for his wife, his love for preaching God’s Word, and his love for people really radiated in variegated ways that really moved my heart.
I had the opportunity to visit the library of MLJ while visiting London this past summer and seeing the books that he used to ground himself theologically was an exciting moment for me. I pictured him reading and digesting various sets like the works of Jonathan Edwards (I still have a hard time even reading the print – it’s so small!), the works of B.B. Warfield (which I have yet to begin), and other books, and I couldn’t help but wonder at the thoroughness with which he studied each work. I am sure that his medical background helped in his deliberate and purposeful examination of truth and in aligning it with the authority of God’s word. But I am even more sure that it was his commitment to study the Word of God with the Spirit of God guiding his studies that fueled his “logic on fire.”
His commentary on Romans was not finished as he retired before he concluded his studies on the epistle. Yet, to read with his typical thoroughness in explaining the text has helped me greatly in understanding its nuances. If anything, I have been incredibly blessed to see that someone who did not receive a formal theological education, was indeed used by God to communicate in a unique and powerful way the sufficiency and authority of the Word of God.
I often tend to do a little bit of “hero worship” when I read about various inspirational figures. But rather than “hero worship”, I think one thing that I have learned as I read biographies of significant figures in church history is this – God chooses to use whom He will for His purposes and He is not limited to any one profile. In fact, God will often use obscure and socially insignificant figures to do great things for the sake of His kingdom. But He can also use those who seemed destined for worldly success as well and mold them into an instrument for His purposes. We can learn and be challenged by many who have preceded us in the walk of faith. While we ourselves might not make the pages of a church history text, we can all strive to be a part of the great family of faith and be bound as one in the service of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones has come to make a pretty significant impact in my life. His commentaries and writings reveal a mind that was enthralled with the Word of God. His devotion to preaching the Word of God and in taking a stand for Biblical truths have been inspirational for many and just recently, I was able to appreciate the ministry of this faithful servant.

MLJ was born in Wales to parents who were not Christians but were religious, and so he was exposed to a nominal form of Christianity while growing up. It was while he had been pursuing his medical studies that God laid a hold of his heart and MLJ was not only converted to Christ in saving faith, but decided to forsake his medical practice and become a preacher to a poor village in Wales. To abandon a privileged position where he was working with a doctor who served the royal family in London was unthinkable to most people. Yet for MLJ, it was simply an extension of his following Christ.

His initial ministry took place in a small church in Sandfields, Aberavon starting in 1926 where without a seminary degree, he committed himself to preaching the Scriptures. He immersed himself in reading significant theological works, always taking a book with him wherever he went, especially during his summer months where he would have time off from his preaching ministry to spend time with his family. It was during these early years of ministry that his focus on preaching the gospel resulted in the conversion of many in the town.

From 1937 to 1968, MLJ ministered at Westminster Chapel, first starting as an associate to G. Campbell Morgan until his retirement in 1941 and then serving as the senior minister until health problems caused him to step down from full-time pastoral ministry. The latter years of his life were committed to editing his exposition of various books of the Bible for print. In 1981, he passed away from cancer after a long and faithful ministry.

MLJ was known as a Calvinistic-Methodist preacher, a strange combination in our day, but something that was not so uncommon in his day. In fact, the whole movement really started with George Whitefield, who in many ways was the catalyst for the whole Methodist movement in England and the American colonies. It was when Whitefield invited John Wesley to join him as a partner in ministry that the two took divergent paths as Wesley took exception to the doctrine of predestination and promoted his emphasis of man’s free will. And so the two branches of Methodism were formed, with the Calvinistic Methodists being the minority. It was even with much surprise to myself when I first read Whitefield’s biography that the concept of a “Calvinistic Methodist” was introduced and I found it to be a novel partnership.

It was MLJ who really epitomized the picture of a Calvinistic Methodist, with his firm commitment to the doctrines of grace, yet communicating with the passion of an evangelist. The calling to preach was one that he took seriously and believed with all his heart that it was to be “logic on fire, eloquent reason…theology coming through a man who is on fire.” Here was someone who had the clinical background, yet he did not shy away from connecting the use of intellect with the expression of genuine emotions. One of his most popular works to this day is Spiritual Depression – a work which really has ministered to many by biblically addressing those who face the challenges of emotional distress.

His interest in reformed doctrine also brought about a revival of Puritan literature. MLJ was instrumental in the starting of the Banner of Truth Trust, which has published numerous Puritan works, and also the two volume biography of MLJ by Iain Murray. Reading his life story and about the challenges he faced was truly inspirational as his love for God, his love for his wife, his love for preaching God’s Word, and his love for people really radiated in variegated ways that really moved my heart.

I had the opportunity to visit the library of MLJ while visiting London this past summer and seeing the books that he used to ground himself theologically was an exciting moment for me. I pictured him reading and digesting various sets like the works of Jonathan Edwards (I still have a hard time even reading the print – it’s so small!), the works of B.B. Warfield (which I have yet to begin), and other books, and I couldn’t help but wonder at the thoroughness with which he studied each work. I am sure that his medical background helped in his deliberate and purposeful examination of truth and in aligning it with the authority of God’s word. But I am even more sure that it was his commitment to study the Word of God with the Spirit of God guiding his studies that fueled his “logic on fire.”

His commentary on Romans was not finished as he retired before he concluded his studies on the epistle. Yet, to read with his typical thoroughness in explaining the text has helped me greatly in understanding its nuances. If anything, I have been incredibly blessed to see that someone who did not receive a formal theological education, was indeed used by God to communicate in a unique and powerful way the sufficiency and authority of the Word of God.

I often tend to do a little bit of “hero worship” when I read about various inspirational figures. But rather than “hero worship”, I think one thing that I have learned as I read biographies of significant figures in church history is this – God chooses to use whom He will for His purposes and He is not limited to any one profile. In fact, God will often use obscure and socially insignificant figures to do great things for the sake of His kingdom. But He can also use those who seemed destined for worldly success as well and mold them into an instrument for His purposes. We can learn and be challenged by many who have preceded us in the walk of faith. While we ourselves might not make the pages of a church history text, we can all strive to be a part of the great family of faith and be bound as one in the service of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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