Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A look at Lloyd-Jones’ sermon

DML-J’s sermons are precious pieces of literature and are, as Brencher notes, “warmly awaited.”[1] Brencher also says that “[O]ver 1,600 cassette recordings are currently available through the Recordings Trust and an estimated fifty to seventy-five other sermons are in private circulation or are distributed through Christian bookshops.”[2] The wide circulation of DML-J’s sermons and its world-wide reach and acceptance shows the rich content and the sound theology upon which DML-J built his sermons. In this part of the paper, I want to look closely at one of DML-J’s sermon on Isaiah 40. I want to point out and discuss the evangelistic tone of DML-J’s sermons that led the congregations which he pastored to experience a great numerical growth. It is true that not all DML-J’s sermons were evangelistic. He preached verse-by-verse on the book of Romans for thirteen years and on the book of Ephesians for eight years. This method of preaching was not for non-Christians or new converts, but for the mature Christians of his congregation. He preached on Romans every Friday night and on Ephesians every Sunday morning. However, on Sundays evening, DML-J switched his focus and deliberately preached evangelistic sermons. No wonder Sunday nights were when Westminster Chapel reached its greatest attendance. Robert Strivens mentions an attendance of around two-thousand people.[3] Thus, more than a preacher, DML-J saw himself as an evangelist. He perceived the importance to preach not only to feed Christians but first and foremost to rescue non-Christians from eternal damnation. Here are DML-J’s words on the importance of evangelism and evangelistic sermons, quoted from Strivens: ‘“the work of evangelism is to be done regularly by the local church and not by sporadic efforts and campaigns,’ ‘[W]hen the local church has a spirit of evangelism, members tell others about Christ, and through personal contact among friends, acquaintances and business associates bring many into the church.”[4] Preaching from John 17, he just said, “we must recognize that the plain and clear teaching of Scripture is that every single Christian person is an evangelist.”[5] These words reveal the passion of DML-J for evangelism and evangelistic sermons. For the sake of illustrating this point, it is important to show how the evangelistic tone of DML-J’s sermons functioned.

Now, let us turn our attention to a sermon he wrote on Isaiah 40: 3-5 entitled “The Only Way,”[1] which was recently published (2005) by The Banner of Truth Trust along with eight other sermons on Isaiah 40. This sermon was published in a book entitled The All Sufficient God, Sermons on Isaiah 40.

The Only Way (Isaiah 40: 3-5)


DML-J’s introduction reminds his hearers that all humanity is sinful and has prejudice. However, part of this prejudice comes from the devil’s work towards humans. He blames the devil for filling people’s minds with prejudice against God, against the Lord Jesus and against the Christian Faith. The devil is responsible for deceiving Christians regarding the content of Christian message.
Since this sermon was preached as a series of sermons on Isaiah 40, this introduction reminds DML-J’s hearers about verses one and two of Isaiah 40, preached previously. Here we see the benefits of sermon series preached to the same congregation. It provides a better understanding of the book in its larger context.


He connects his introduction about the devil deceiving people and about what Christianity really is by saying that “the message of Christianity is the great announcement that the warfare is ended, that our iniquity is pardoned and, above all, that there are great blessings for us, double blessings, infinitely more than all the guilt of our sin and all the punishment that we so richly deserve.”[2]

First movement:


· People are tired of the warfare (referring to World War II), exhausted, and disappointed. They are missing the hope of a better future.
· People are also desperate to receive God ‘s forgiveness , but usually do not know how to find it.


“Do you desire this blessing from God? Or do you think you have had the blessing of salvation? Do you regard yourself as a Christian?
DML-J, after asking a series of rhetorical questions, interacts with his listeners through what one may call the “Christian test.” He asks how important Jesus is in their lives and if Jesus is their Savior. He acknowledges that many people rely only upon the love of God without ever mentioning Jesus Christ.

Present Active Indicative (PAI) statement:

“…but they [blessings and assurance of salvation] only come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no salvation apart from him.”

Explanation of the text:

He quotes the first part of verse three in the text of Isaiah 40: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness.” He then says, “That is how salvation will come. The Lord will come and without this Lord there is no blessing.” DML-J connects the Old Testament with the New Testament and links Isaiah’s prophecy with the promised Messiah revealed in the new covenant.

Lived experience:

He mentions the great philosophers, religious leaders and teachers that the world has produced. He mentions Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Buddha, and Confucius. He points out the value of their teachings such as utopias, good living, and idealism. He ends up showing that this is common to all religions. Christians, however, have something unique. Christians’ uniqueness is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

Explanation of the text:

Here, DML-J explains the last part of verse three. His emphasis is on God who is coming to earth with a great mission.


Usually kings, when traveling from one place to another, sent people before them to prepare their way. People were sent to repair damaged roads or even to build new ones. He connects this illustration directly to the words of Isaiah 40.3.


The idea that the Bible explains the Bible is present in this sermon. DML-J quotes several New Testament passages that characterize what Christianity is and relate them to the first coming of Jesus. The passages used at this point of the sermon are Galatians 4:4-5 and John 3:16.

DML-J spends a relatively long part of his sermon trying to correct the wrong views on what Christianity is all about. He addresses it mainly to people that do not know about Jesus’ first coming and are waiting for his second. His goal is to make people realize that Jesus is the only way and means for salvation. DML-J makes very clear that there is no salvation apart from him. He emphasizes, “Jesus is central; Jesus is essential. It is entirely in him.”[3]

Second movement:


At this point, DML-J narrates the entire nativity story, linking it to Isaiah’s words, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.”

PAI statement:

“You cannot be blessed, you cannot be forgiven, there is no redemption, no new life, for you unless you see that God sent his only Son into the world.”[4]


“He [Jesus] is the new highway along which alone God’s blessing can come. And it is essential to believe that. You and I must believe that before we can receive this blessing.”[5]

Second PAI statement in this movement:

“…this new way is also equally essential before the Son of God can come into your heart and into your life and mine.”

Explanation of the text:

DML-J is getting close to the end of his sermon, and now his emphasis is on repentance. He will quote and explain several New Testament texts that focus on repentance, beginning with John the Baptist who is the one to whom Isaiah directly prophesied.


“You must repent, said John. You must realize that you are sinners in the sight of a holy God. You must give up making any excuse for yourself and give up relying upon any goodness that belongs to you or to anybody else. You must realize that, face to face with God, you are a miserable, wretched, vile sinner, deserving hell and nothing else. And you must admit and confess that to God, and then, and then only, will you be ready to receive him.”[6]


DML-J’s conclusion is an attempt to bring upon all his hearers potential repentance. He tries to bring all his audience to realize their necessity of a Savior. He talks in general terms, not making distinction of who is or who is not Christian; for him, all the assembly needs to repent. For DML-J everyone needs a new heart given by Jesus. Morality and religiosity do not save, but only deceive. He ends this way: “Are you a child of God? The only condition is the utter, absolute recognition of your desperate, helpless need, and of what he has done and what he can do for you and in you – what he will do if you but ask him to do it. Ask him now.[7]

[1] David M. Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), 19-32.
[2] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 20.
[3] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 26.
[4] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 28-29.
[5] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 29.
[6] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 31.
[7] Lloyd-Jones, The all-sufficient God : sermons on Isaiah 40 32.
[1] Brencher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) and twentieth-century evangelicalism 233.
[2] Brencher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) and twentieth-century evangelicalism 233.
[3] Robert Strivens, "The Evangelistic Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones : Lessons for Today," FOUNDATIONS (0144378X)(2007): 5.
[4] Strivens, The Evangelistic Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones : Lessons for Today 6.
[5] Strivens, The Evangelistic Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones : Lessons for Today 6.

Note: Copy of this material is allowed and free, since the source is cited / A reprodução dos textos é permitida e gratuita, desde que citada a fonte.

Rodrigo Serrao

No comments: