Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where is the Lord of glory?

Crossway Books has just published Living Water: Studies in John 4, fifty-six previously unpublished sermons by the late Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. (Now, pause just a moment and think about that: Fifty-six sermons on John 4? For goodness’ sake, there are only fifty-four verses in John 4!) Taken from this volume, the following quote by Dr. Lloyd-Jones is just as relevant, I think, as when originally preached:

“Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. I am not sure but that this is not one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services and they are orderly, they are nice—we come, we go—and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute, and there it is. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are ever facing this glorious possibility of having the greatest surprise of our life?

“Or let me put it like this. You may feel and say—as many do—‘I was converted and became a Christian. I’ve grown—yes, I’ve grown in knowledge, I’ve been reading books, I’ve been listening to sermons, but I’ve arrived now at a sort of peak and all I do is maintain that. For the rest of my life I will just go on like this.’

“Now, my friend, you must get rid of that attitude; you must get rid of it once and for ever. That is ‘religion’, it is not Christianity. This is Christianity: the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you to a level that you had never conceived could be possible for you. Oh, if we get nothing else from this story, I hope we will get this. Do not let the devil persuade you that you have got all you are going to get, still less that you received all you were ever going to receive when you were converted. That has been a popular teaching, even among evangelicals. You get everything at your conversion, it is said, including baptism with the Spirit, and nothing further, ever. Oh, do not believe it; it is not true. It is not true to the teaching of the Scriptures, it is not true in the experience of the saints running down the centuries. There is always this glorious possibility of meeting with him in a new and a dynamic way.”

“Where is the Lord of glory?” In this day in which churches seem to think they can make things happen simply by applying the right methods and latest strategies, it seems few are very concerned whether the Lord of glory shows up or not. Yet, isn’t this the crying need? Plenty of large churches dot the country. We know (because we’ve been to the conference or read the book) how to draw a large crowd. We’ve perfected the methods. But, my friend, where is the awful [i.e., awe-inspiring] presence of God in our midst? And, I’m not talking about Pentecostal-Charismatic hysteria (and I don’t think that’s what Lloyd-Jones had in mind, either). I’m talking about the church as she appears in the book of Acts, during the Reformation and throughout church history during other times of genuine revival.

We’re definitely missing something. Although he still has a number of admirers, preaching like that delivered by Dr. Lloyd-Jones is exceedingly rare in our day. Maybe, for all our admiration of the late Doctor, we just don’t believe God’s word to the degree that he, apparently, did. This is our loss.

HT: Justin Taylor

1 comment:

Ray Ortlund said...

Thanks. I agree. I believe we need an honest reappraisal of ourselves and our weaknesses with a humble readiness to do whatever it takes to rediscover New Testament gospel power, real power, for the glory of God. I just don't see how we can be content without this searching and humbling and reviving in our time.