Reflections on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: the First Forty Years (Banner of Truth, 1982, 381 pages)
I don’t remember the conference at all. Somewhere along the line I picked up a recording of it. I decided to listen to the messages. I especially liked the now characteristic Q&A panel discussions included in gatherings of this sort. The only speaker I remember from this conference was Dr. Alistair Begg. And the reason I recall him was the answer he gave to one of the questions in that particular session. What one book has made the greatest impact on your life? Begg’s reply was Ian H. Murray’s two volume biography of D. Martyn Lloyd –Jones.
That stuck with me, in large part I suppose, because like both those men, I too am a preacher. I settled on acquiring my own copy of Murray’s work with a desire to discover for myself what made it so very valuable to someone of note like Dr. Begg. My wife surprised me some time ago with the volumes as a gift. But I confess they have set on the bookshelf at home for some time now with no attention at all from me.
But this recent vacation I took volume one, the first forty years (1899-1939), with me to Idaho. I devoured it. Murray has gifted evangelicalism with a readable and stirring account of the Welsh M.D. turned pulpiteer. It took little time for me to gain some notion of its value to the likes of Dr. Begg and others who long to fulfill their calling to preach as best they can for the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom.
In the introduction Murray explains in part why Dr. M L-J eschewed the writing of an autobiography.
“Dr. Lloyd-Jones disliked any indulgence in personal publicity on the part of Christians. He viewed the personality-cults evident in some of the churches of the Victorian era as disastrous to the interests of true spirituality. Man-centeredness in any form disfigures the kingdom of God. The church at her best is a power in the world not because of what she says about herself but because of what she is by the grace of God” (p. xii).
Murray managed to gain permission to write his subject’s biography with Dr. Lloyd-Jones help in the process. But the collaboration came with a nonnegotiable condition. Murray explains:
“His one, oft-repeated, proviso, vehemently expressed both in conversation and in prayer, was that the sole aim of any record should be to advance ‘the glory of God’” (p. xiii).
The great apostle Paul, another man of God who was more than anything which print can convey (p. xv), exhorts in 1 Cor. 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Surely preaching falls under the comprehensive umbrella “all” in that verse.
I don’t know Dr. Alistair Begg at all. But I am willing to bet he found these volumes so very valuable because, like me, a preacher of the gospel, he longs to preach for the glory of God. There is much to learn from the biography of Dr. M L-J to that end.
I can hardly wait to get my hands on volume two.