b. 20 Dec, 1899, Cardiff, South Wales.
d .March 1st, 1981, St. David's Day and the Lord's Day .
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The Medical Doctor
In 1916 Martyn Lloyd-Jones headed off to the big city of London to being his education as a practitioner of medicine. His education was at Saint Batholomew's Hospital, better known simply as Bart's. Bart's carried the same prestige in the medical community that Oxford did in the intellectual community. Martyn's career was medicine. He succeeded in his exams so young that he had to wait to take his MD, by which time he was already chief clinical assistant to Sir Thomas Horder, one of the best and most famous doctors of the day. By the age of 26 he also had his MRCP and was well up the rungs of the Harley Street ladder, with a brilliant and lucrative career in front of him. Then something happened.
There was little doctrine to counter the rising trend of liberalism or to bring out the distinction between church-goers and true Christians. The three Lloyd-Jones boys enjoyed intellectual debate, but each was more committed to his career than to his professed faith. This was pretty common for their day. Most people saw religion as an impassioned hobby rather than a life-changing event.
Martyn and his brothers had all joined their church back in Llangeitho in 1914 at the encouragement of their minister but Martyn was now beginning to take a hard look at the reality of his spiritual condition. He later wrote, "For many years I thought I was a Christian when in fact I was not. It was only later that I came to see that I had never been a Christian and became one. " As he struggled with his salvation a grace truth came into focus. Martyn had not really heard sound preaching of the gospel in his early life. As he said, "What I needed was preaching that would convict me of sin and bring me to repentance and tell me something about regeneration. But I never heard that. The preaching we had was always based on the assumption that we were all Christians " As the young doctor read for himself he slowly but surely saw the logic and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the waves of the incoming tide, the reality of God's grace swept over Martyn's heart until trusting Christ was all he could do.
He had no dramatic crisis of conversion, but there came a point when he had committed himself entirely to the Christian gospel. After that, as he sat in the consulting room, listening to the symptoms of those who came to see him, he realised that what so many of his patients needed was not ordinary medicine, but the gospel he had discovered for himself. He could deal with the symptoms, but the worry, the tension, the obsessions could only be dealt with by the power of Christian conversion. Increasingly he felt that the best way to use his life and talents was to preach that gospel.
As surely as that reality overwhelmed him personally it overwhelmed him professionally. Soon it became apparent that God was calling Martyn Lloyd-Jones to preach and for that the world would never be the same!
Dr. Lloyd-Jones was not another young minister fresh out of a liberal theological college, trimming his message to contemporary opinion and the prejudices of his congregation. He was determined to preach the message with the crystal clarity in which it had come to him. The words of his first sermon taken from 2 Timothy 1:7 illustrate where his convictions lay:
"Our churches are crowded with people nearly all of whom take the Lord's Supper without a moment's hesitation, and yet .. do you imagine for a moment that all those people believe that Christ died for them? Well then, you ask, why are they church members, why do they pretend to believe? The answer is, they are afraid to be honest with themselves I shall feel much more ashamed to all eternity for the occasions on which I said that I believed in Christ when in fact I did not "
That was too much for some of the congregation and they left. But in their place - slowly at first- there came increasing numbers who were gripped by the truth, the working class of South Wales. The message brought them and the power of the Holy Spirit converted them. There were no dramatic appeals, just a young man with the clear message of God's justice and his love, which brought one hard case after another to repentance and conversion.
It was in his relations with the Church of England that the most serious controversy came. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a strong believer in evangelical unity. He did not believe that denominational barriers should separate those who had a true faith in common. And, as the ecumenical movement gathered speed and the liberal wing in the churches made greater and greater concessions to the currents of worldly opinion, he came to believe that the right answer was for the evangelicals to leave the compromised denominations and form their own groups. He had no illusions about the possible ultimate fate of new church groups. They might, in their own time, go astray. But he maintained that each of us had to do the best for our own generation, regardless of what might come later, and that the ecumenical movement put those who stood for the long line of truly Christian theology and practice in an impossible position.
The crisis came in a meeting chaired by the Rev. John Stott, leader of the evangelical wing of the Church of England. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an immensely powerful appeal to his large audience to come out of the compromised denominations. The meeting was a watershed. The evangelical Anglicans went one way and evangelicals in the nonconformist churches went the other. When the Congregational Union merged with the English Presbyterian Church, Westminster Chapel left the Congregational Union and joined the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. Many evangelical ministers in the Baptist Union and the Methodist church left those bodies some with and some without their congregations.
One should never take from this that Lloyd-Jones was in the ilk of some other separatists who seemed to only be looking for the next heresy they could point out in a church somewhere. Years before he had pleaded with the famous T.T. Shields in the states to abandon his caustic attacks on liberal churches. At the same time, Lloyd-Jones understood his times just as Spurgeon had 75 years earlier. He saw the effect of remaining in close relations with increasingly liberal church leaders. This collision had its inevitable outcome in the doctor's famed meeting with Billy Graham. Graham came to England a virtual unknown, and left eleven weeks later having recorded 37,600 public conversions. While friendly to Graham and even allowing Westminster Chapel to used as a planning site, Dr. Lloyd-Jones would not lend his name to the crusade. In 1963 he and Graham later had a very cordial meeting and parted as Christian brothers.
[Webmaster comment: He was never comfortable with the new style of preaching that Graham expounded (bright lights, soft music, big arenas). Though he refused to publicly endorse Graham, he was happy to meet him privately. i.e. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a preacher from the 'old school' of preaching.]
After much protest, he began to do some television. When Joan Bakewell on late evening TV said that she was surprised that anyone listened today to such old-fashioned views, he said, "They may be old-fashioned, but they can still fill the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Tell me a modern politician who can do that." Wherever he went, he filled the halls and churches.
"The Gospel is open to all; the most respectable sinner has no more claim on it than the worst. "- Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), Welsh preacher and writer.
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