I trust you had a Merry Christmas! After a pause for Christmas, I resume sharing about my mentoring from the writings of great men and women of God from the past. Today–Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Lloyd-Jones, I count him as my greatest preaching mentor through his writings.
My college and graduate school preaching mentors reinforced expository preaching, and even pointed me to Lloyd-Jones. They included my Old Testament and Hebrew professors. Dr. Roy Hayden and Dr. Howard Ervin (who was so brilliant and erudite, I felt like I needed a dictionary every time he spoke in class or chapel–He increased my vocabulary many-fold). Another was Dr. Jerry Horner, a Southern Baptist New Testament scholar, who preached even while teaching Greek grammar. He could preach an entire sermon on the Greek preposition eis (“into”). I also was mentored by him as I served as his Graduate Teaching Assistant. Dr. Lloyd-Jones was all of them rolled into one.
A renowned Welsh Reformed pastor and scholar, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones had been a medical doctor called into the ministry and became one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century. He is known for his in-depth insightful expository preaching. For example, he spent three years preaching through Ephesians verse-by-verse. I also relished Romans, Acts, the Sermon on the Mount—so much richness. He would not only give exposition, but illustrate through the stories, lives, and teaching of great men and women of God through the centuries.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones has taught me a love for the Puritans. I once thought of the Puritans as, well—“Puritanical,”—stuffy, strict, stodgy. But once I started reading Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Watson, The Valley of Vision, etc., I began to realize the depth of their relationship and fellowship with God and their experiences of the Higher Christian Life. Lloyd-Jones and Tozer once shared speaking at a conference together. They remarked that they had come to about the same place spiritually–Tozer through the mystics and Lloyd-Jones through the Puritans.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones also mentored me through his books on the Holy Spirit (Joy Unspeakable, The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit) and Revival. The biography of his preaching ministry, The Sacred Anointing, reinforced to me the sacred calling to preach, and the need for the anointing of the Holy Spirit every time I speak. John Piper (another of my mentors through his writings and video teachings) tells this story:
In July, 1959 Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his wife Bethan were on vacation in Wales. They attended a little chapel for a Sunday morning prayer meeting and Lloyd-Jones asked them, “Would you like me to give a word this morning?” The people hesitated because it was his vacation and they didn’t want to presume on his energy. But his wife said, “Let him. Preaching is his life.” It was a true statement. In the preface to his powerful book, Preaching and Preachers, he said, “Preaching has been my life’s work … to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.
I too love preaching, even on vacation. So even though I am “retired,” I am called to preach—whether in a church service, a conference, a webinar, a podcast, a blog like this, book, or an article. I have preached to five people (on several occasions) and to 5000 (on only a few occasions)—it doesn’t matter how many or how few—I love to preach the Word of God. Just little more than a week ago, I shared by Zoom with a men’s meeting called “The Huddle” with six people. Whether three people or 300 view these blogs and video meditations, I am called to share God’s Word. I hope to do more by Zoom.
I do it imperfectly and I am still learning as a lifelong student. I have not perfected the art and skill of social media. Sometimes I am not practical enough, or relevant enough, or funny enough. I may preach too long and deep for some people, and it may not be entertaining, but that is my calling. I am like Jeremiah: “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (NIV).