Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Book Review: Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire. Jason Meyer. 2018. Crossway. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Doctrine and life are fuel and fire, not oil and water. The combustible combination of doctrinal precision and experiential power creates an explosion called the Christian life. No theologian explains the explosion better than Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The thesis of this book is that according to LloydJones, the Christian life is doctrine on fire.

This book is one of the books in Crossway's Theologians on the Christian Life series. I have read a good many books in the series. This one is a GREAT addition to the series. I loved, loved, LOVED it. It wasn't a surprise I loved it. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one of my favorite-and-best theologians.

Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life would be an EXCELLENT introduction to his life and work. I can't sing its praises enough. I think what I loved most about this biography was how it lets Lloyd-Jones speak for himself. So many quotes!!!!!

Not that the author had nothing to do but cut and paste, I imagine it takes a lot of work--a good amount of wisdom--to organize, arrange, select, and layout everything so that it flows perfectly and does justice to the subject. His observations are also worth noting. "If Sherlock Holmes had been a pastor instead of a private investigator, he would have looked a lot like Martyn Lloyd-Jones... Both Sherlock Holmes and Martyn Lloyd-Jones exhibit fine-tuned diagnostic acumen. In fact, the preaching ministry of the one affectionately known as the Doctor reflected all the marks of a medical cast of mind. His preaching would start with symptoms in society and then diagnose the root disease (i.e., the sin) and prescribe a gospel cure."

The premise of the book is simple yet profound: Doctrine should start in the head, catch fire in the heart, and create a life aflame with true obedience in the will. The Christian life as doctrine on fire must have all three realities. The abundant life comes only from a fully baked “both–and” combination of head and heart, light and heat, doctrine and life.

How Lloyd-Jones defines doctrine: Biblical doctrines are “particular truths” that the Bible “wants to emphasize and to impress upon the minds of us all.

Why is doctrine so important? He writes, "Divorcing doctrine and life is not a minor misstep but a deadly departure from the Bible. There is nothing which I know of which is more unscriptural, and which is more dangerous to the soul, than to divide doctrine from life...Impure living flows downstream from polluted doctrine."

Five dangers of 'the great divorce' of life and doctrine:
1. We dishonor God. The great divorce of doctrine and life means we deny him with our lives and insult the living God. “There is nothing which is more insulting to the holy Name of God than to profess Him with your lips and deny Him in your life.”
2. We quench the Spirit and hinder the work of God. The great divorce of doctrine and life leads to a situation in which “the Spirit is always quenched” and the work of God “is always hindered.”
3. We destroy holiness and joy. The great divorce of doctrine and life not only dishonors God; it destroys holiness and joy. It destroys holiness because it removes the direct association of doctrine to life. Holiness is like a cut flower apart from the soil of doctrine. Lloyd-Jones says that there “is no holiness teaching in the New Testament apart from this direct association with doctrine; it is a deduction from the doctrine.”
4. We become flimsy and shaky. If only those who endure to the end are saved (Matt. 24:13), then Christians will put a premium on a pattern of life that will last and stand the test of time. The whole purpose of doctrine is to help us endure by making us unmovable and unshakable; “not merely to give us intellectual understanding or satisfaction, but to establish us, to make us firm, to make us solid Christians, to make us unmovable, to give us such a foundation that nothing can shake us.”
5. We are highly susceptible to disaster. A shaky Christian life is susceptible to disaster because of the high winds of false teaching and temptation. You cannot separate what a man believes from what he is.  
The book first gives a brief overview or biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones life. (The book ends by examining his legacy). But the heart of the book focuses on doctrines--specific doctrines essential to the faith--and how to apply them.

Meyer follows the same three-fold format for each chapter: (1) introducing the doctrine, (2) defining the doctrine, and (3) applying the doctrine.

Favorite quotes:
I think the greatest weakness in evangelical Christianity today is that it forgets God. We are interested in experiences, we are interested in happiness, we are interested in subjective states. But the first need of every soul, as we shall see, is to be right with God. Nothing matters but that. The gospel starts with God, because what is wrong with everybody is that they are in a wrong relationship to Him. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The way to see sin is not primarily through self-introspection and self-examination, but by “going into the presence of God” and seeing ourselves in comparison to his absolute purity. The very moment we really see “the holiness and the greatness of God,” we have repented. The problem is not a failure to believe; it is a failure to believe the right thing. Essentially one could say that repenting is resizing. We start in the wrong place; we size up the things we see with our standards of measurement. We should start with God as our standard of reference and then resize all that we see in relation to him.
The church will be weak to the extent that it forgets its God. Our response to the doctrine of God is a measure of our spiritual health. If eternal life is knowing him (John 17:3), then do we hunger and thirst to know him? ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
If we cannot be still and study what Christ did for us on the cross, we have little hope for a humble grasp of who we are in Christ.  ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Is there anything greater than this, that God should take your sins and mine and put them on His own Son and punish His own Son, not sparing Him anything, causing Him to suffer all that, that you and I might be forgiven? Can you tell me any greater exhibition of the love of God than that? ~ Martyn Lloyd Jones
The doctrine of regeneration proves that you do not have a boring testimony, because being raised from the dead is not boring. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
If God has chosen to use such terms as righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, then it is our duty to face those terms and to consider their meaning; it is dishonoring to God not to do so. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
We must fight the doctrinal amnesia we face daily. We are all too prone to forget who we are and what is true of us in Christ. We must reckon ourselves rightly. If we are in Christ, then “as it is true to say of Him that He died unto sin once and for ever, so we also have finished with the realm and the rule and the reign of sin.” 
We must die to ourselves before we die physically. Life and freedom are found on the other side of that first death. ~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones
We are entirely confined to the Scriptures, and we can add nothing to them. Neither must we take anything from them. We are in no position to pick and choose from them. We cannot say, I believe this and I reject that, I rather like the teaching of Jesus, but I do not believe in miracles; I admire the way in which He died, but I do not believe that He was born of a virgin or that He rose in the body from the grave. The moment you begin to do that you are denying revelation. You are saying that your unaided human intellect is capable of judging revelation, and sifting it and finding what is true and what is false. That is to deny the whole principle of revelation, of the apostolate, and of this unique work of the Holy Spirit.  
Let us remind ourselves that when we are reading the Scriptures we must never take anything for granted; we must always be alert and alive, and always ready to ask questions. 
Prayer ceases to be prayer when it is divorced from the doctrine of God. 
“If you have never had difficulty in prayer, it is absolutely certain that you have never prayed.” “Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.”  Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Sin pollutes our prayers through the intrusion of self. In prayer, a person comes face-to-face with the temptation “to think about himself,” and in this self-focus and fixation a person finds himself “really to be worshipping himself rather than God.”  
Do not claim, do not demand, let your requests be made known, let them come from your heart. God will understand. We have no right to demand even revival. Some Christians are tending to do so at the present time. Pray urgently, plead, use all the arguments, use all the promises; but do not demand, do not claim. Never put yourself into the position of saying, “If we but do this, then that must happen.” God is a sovereign Lord, and these things are beyond our understanding. Never let the terminology of claiming or of demanding be used.  
One does not need to twist doctrine like a pretzel to make it practical. The practical is an inevitable outworking of the doctrinal. 
The acid test of our profession is this: What do you feel like when you are sitting in an air-raid shelter and you can hear the bombs dropping round and about you, and you know that the next bomb may land on you and may be the end of you? That is the test. How do you feel when you are face-to-face with the ultimate, with the end? 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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