“A new form of dispensationalism”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the gifts of the Spirit

From Chosen By Goda collection of essays reflecting on Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his legacy, edited by Christopher Catherwood.  Chapter 13: The Pastor’s Pastor, by Hywel Jones, 220, 221-2, 223-4.

What were these emphases?  First and foremost was the importance of spiritual life

When this element of spiritual life which was the result of the working of the Holy Spirit was under consideration, the Doctor could become a critic of orthodoxy, even Reformed orthodoxy.  He did so not only because of the heady effect which the (re)discovery of Reformed theology was having, but also because some exponents of that theology were overlooking or excluding the immediate works of the Spirit in addition to regeneration, viz. the baptism of the Spirit, the bestowal of spiritual gifts, and revival.  He pointed out repeatedly that Charles Hodge omitted any reference to revival in his three-volumed Systematic Theology and that B.B. Warfield regarded the gifts referred to in 1 Corinthians 12-14 as having ceased with the age of the apostles.  This the Doctor described as ‘a new form of dispensationalism.’ For him, Jonathan Edwards was right when he distinguished between excesses and the spiritual, though the latter would have varying, even striking, physical phenomena.  He declared: ‘We must learn to draw the line between the essential and the indifferent on the one hand and on the other between the indifferent and the wrong.’

The Doctor was interested in anything which appeared to display signs of spiritual vitality, wanting all the information about it and urging us to have the same interest.  In the [Westminster] Fellowship he would bring details of incidents which he had heard about and members would raise matters related to house church groups and the charismatic movement in their areas.  We discussed tongues, prophecy, miracles, healing, music and dancing and the use of the body in worship.  In all these the Doctor was most careful.  He would not dismiss all such phenomena as psychological or demonic as some would have preferred.  But he did not hesitate to say that those elements could be present.  On the other hand, he would not and did not endorse the charismatic moment.  He urged careful observation and evaluation in the light of what the Bible taught of the spiritual effects on an experience of God – awe and reverence, a sense of personal sin and unworthiness, love to the Saviour and the brethren, concern for the perishing and a spirit of prayer.  His most emphatic charge directed against us was ‘Why do we not have the problems associated with spiritual life?’ The answer was obvious.

He did not urge us to adopt the practices of the charismatics.  Rather he called on us to seek the Lord without setting limits to what He might do or what we would allow Him to do, asking Him to turn to us and visit us in gracious revival.  Meanwhile, we were not to follow any human methods for obtaining the Spirit because none were laid down in Scripture.  God gives the Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ to those who ask Him…

He was apprehensive about the effect which the various gifts practiced by charismatics would have upon preaching and preachers.  While urging the restoration of meetings like the society meeting of the 18th century, he contended for the retention of public worship in the nonconformist pattern, led from the front by the minister in a raised pulpit who integrated the service.  He did not regard this as either grieving or quenching the Spirit.  He gave himself to the preaching of the Word, ‘the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called’, and God exalted preaching through him…

While not denying that prediction may still occur, he regarded the prophecy referred to in 1 Corinthians 14 as the kind of thing which can happen in preaching when new thoughts and unprepared words are given from above.  He urged us always o be open to that dimension in preaching and never to adhere to our prepared sermons so rigidly as to refuse to follow such leading.

Review: Martyn Lloyd-Jones – A Family Portrait

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Family Portrait by Christopher Catherwood

“The private man behind the Great Man”

Christopher Catherwood is the grandson of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and he has set out to give a familiar perspective on this very public figure. Whereas Iain Murray’s David Martyn Lloyd-Jones the First Forty Years 1899-1939 (v. 1) and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 (v. 2) are the definitive biography at the present time, Catherwood set out to “complete the picture; to portray the private man behind the Great Man.” (p. 15) As described throughout the book, Lloyd-Jones had an intimate relationship with all of his family, especially his grandchildren, and this colors everything Catherwood writes, as he reflects on his experiences growing up and relating to this “Great Man.”

The general outline of Lloyd-Jones’s life is preserved, though the private side is emphasized. Those who aren’t familiar with his life will not be lost – they will be able to follow his upbringing, schooling and medical career, the first church in Aberavon, and his transition to Westminster in London. The major “events” are covered – the Puritan Conferences, his involvement with IFES, his preaching on the Holy Spirit and “charismaticism” (as found in The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit), and the fallout with John Stott and J.I. Packer when Lloyd-Jones made a call to “come out” of evangelically compromised denominations (particularly The Church of England). In all these subjects Catherwood is highly sympathetic to his grandfather, as is to be expected.

The last chapter is entitled “Grandfather” and is the longest chapter in the book. It really is a testament to the man. So many preachers have a vibrant pulpit, or an active ministry, but sadly neglect or hurt those closest to them. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was not this type of man. The evident love and admiration that his grandson has for him, and the many stories and examples of how he lived that out in his family, are inspiring and moving.

I recommend this book because I recommend Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as a preacher, an expounder of the Bible, and as an example for us to follow. Also recommended is 5 Evangelical Leaders also by Christopher Catherwood, which gives a broader perspective of Lloyd-Jones, Packer, and Stott, as well as Francis Schaeffer and Billy Graham.

“God just thinks His own way”

Another quote from the Q&A from the 1996 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, The Pastor and His Study.  Iain Murray was the featured speaker, and the biography was of Martin Luther.  I highly recommend the audio from the conference.

Q: With regard to signs, things such as falling down and whatnot, being of relatively low importance.  I hear people use the text on the counsel  of Jerusalem in Acts, where Paul addresses the Jerusalem church and there’s a hush over the crowd as he talks about the signs and miracles that were done  among the Gentiles.  And I hear people looking to that and saying, “something’s wrong in our time.”  Or at least something very, very significant is missing, when we have a situation where we’re proclaiming the gospel  and these things are not happening.  John or Iain I wonder if you could help me out there.

Piper: I do not accept the cessationist or Warfieldian argument that there are points in history at which time only there is a great flare-up of signs and wonders.  However, I do think there are seasons, for reasons, at which time there are great flare-ups.  In other words, God is not limited to the apostolic era, or Elijah, or some other time – the crossing of the Red Sea – at which we have a little flare-up of miraculous things.  

But I think while there’s nothing I can see in the New Testament that would limit signs and wonders to the apostles, I think there’s good reason to believe that they had something extraordinary going on upon them.  The drawing near of the incarnation, and the foundation of the church was unique,  and therefore it doesn’t trouble me as much as it does some that the quality and prevalence of miracles in the hands of the apostles should be greater than what we have seen typically throughout church history, I would expect that, frankly, I would expect that from what I see biblically.

However, from the other side, I think, probably, our low expectation of signs and wonders in the evangelistic enterprise is a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a self-fulfilling low expectation.  If you don’t expect God to do a thing, He probably won’t do it.  And therefore I would think that we probably could expect more, that we could expect some remarkable turns of events and dreams like we’re hearing about among Muslims.   I read about this morning, that “the Lord bore witness with signs and wonders to the word of His grace.”  The Lord witnessed to the word.  Now you had the word right there being preached by an authoritative eye-witness you don’t  need anything else.  You don’t need signs and wonders in Acts.  That’s the last place in history that you need signs and wonders is when you have eye-witnesses to the resurrection.  And yet the Lord gave them.

And we are a generation who don’t have eye-witnesses, and you’d think logically, we need ‘em!  Well, God just thinks his own way, and if he wants to win Muslims through dreams, or if he wants to do something here through a healing.  So, what I’m saying is, if somebody says to me, “ we should be seeing lots of these things, we should see the book of Acts.”  I say, “well, wait, wait, wait, you don’t know that you should see the book of Acts.”  The apostolic age was unique and the signs and wonders done through the hands of the apostles may not be what  gifts of healings is about in 1 Corinthians 12.  Gifts of healings and miracles there in 1 Corinthians 12  may be of a lower order and less powerful, and less frequent.  So yes, probably we could see more, but don’t set up an ideal in Acts that you demand has to be, or the church is carnal and unbelieving.

“This is virtually Dr. Lloyd Jones own position”

From the Q&A from the 1996 Desiring God Conference for Pastors, The Pastor and His Study.  Iain Murray was the featured speaker, and the biography was of Martin Luther.  I highly recommend the audio from the conference.

Q: We’d love some more follow-up from you on your personal view of the Toronto Blessing.

Piper: My approach toward the third wave, even though now the Vineyard has disassociated itself from Toronto, has been what I have called all the way along a critical openness.   That is, I don’t rule out in principle that God is in the signs and wonders movement, or any other particular manifestation.  There’s nothing biblical that I can see that would hinder God from using healing, or prophetic utterances properly understood, or tongues, or laughter or falling down to manifest outwardly something that’s happening inwardly.  But, having said that, once you say what Iain Murray said, which I agree with, and what Edwards would say, is that these outward things prove nothing, and are therefore in a very low level of significance as far as what the Holy Spirit is really about in the world, namely holiness and salvation.  Once you say that it seems like you pull the plug for a lot of people because you are not manifesting the proper enthusiasm for what is viewed to be such a great blessing.

The reason I’m soft on this is because not only do I not see a biblical condemnation of it, but I assess movements doctrinally on the one hand and then what is being produced as far as holiness goes on the other hand.  And I simply know of too many people whose lives have been profoundly helped for good by lying on the ground for 45 minutes in a kind of laughter or peace.   I never have, I went over to the Apache Plaza here when the Toronto Blessing came to town, willing to expose myself to everything under the sun, just about, and had about five high-powered guys around me, praying like crazy, I’m sure, some of them wishing, “goodness I wish this guy would go down, because if he went down, then it would be all right.”  And a whole bunch of my staff went down, and some of you in this room were on the floor, and attribute right now a sweet fellowship with the Lord that is continuing and an enrichment of your own ministry because of what God did spiritually at that moment, and I enjoyed that 25 minutes of prayer that they did over me, and I felt great peace, but I didn’t get dizzy, and I really, really was not saying, “I’m not going down under any cost.”  I frankly, wanted to try it.  What is this “carpet time” that they do, you know?  So I’m very – excessively – open,  some would say.

My son Abraham is 16, and he read me in yesterday’s Tribune, and I said, “is this dealing with the Toronto thing?” He was reading to me out of the newspaper, he said “there’s not anything religious to it at all.”  It was a psychological study on laughter movements in history.  Zero religion.  It talked about this laughter movement in Indonesia or something that lasted for 6 months.  It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.  It was a little girl, started laughing, and there were these laughing fits that lasted in this community for 6 months.  And it had no religious connection at all.  So I just really find it hard to get excited about falling down or laughing.  I get excited about the Lordship of Christ, and taking risks for Jesus, and bringing people to Christ, and exalting the sovereignty of God. 

And so the other thing besides holiness in people’s lives which I’ve seen come of this, is preaching and the exultation of the word.  And I find it not very high.  I’ve heard stories, “you know the preaching was good.” But the thing that thrills people is the external manifestations.  I’ve watched it happen.  And so the word does seem to drift more into the background and the effort it takes to produce a good message from the book, the external word, is minimized.   and so those would be my concerns open and yet critically open. 

And so I don’t really make anybody happy, you know the cessationists – I got invited to wales a few years ago, to speak at the place where Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke often, and when they found out I had these kinds of attitudes, they withdrew the invitation.  It’s been real painful to have those experiences happen, and on the other side the people that prophesied over me over at Apache, saying, “The Lord’s hand is upon me to do this and that,” and I’m sure my lack of full bore engagement in the Pentecostal side is leaving them thinking I must be hardhearted or something.   And so I just kind of walk my own way and nobody knows quite whether they can trust me or not, I think.

Iain Murray:  I do think the brethren in Wales were confused, because this is really, this is more or less virtually Dr. Lloyd-Jones own position, I think they were really confused on it.

Piper: That’s somewhat comforting.  Even the criticism I got from Iain, when I spoke on Lloyd-Jones here that I had not been completely just to him, was a grief to me because for the news to go out from this conference that Martyn Lloyd-Jones is anything other than almost a god, little “g,” would make me very sad, because I don’t have many heroes in the world, especially not many in this century, and for me to have my reputation go to Wales and elsewhere that I am mainly critical of Martyn Lloyd-Jones is sad.

Review: The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit



The Baptism and Gifts of the Spirit by Martyn Lloyd-Jones


The Original “Cautious-but-Open” position.

This book was originally published in two separate parts: Joy Unspeakable, and The Sovereign Spirit: Discerning His Gifts/Prove All Things (same book, different titles). The Sovereign Spirit fits in between chapters 7 and 8 of Joy Unspeakable. The complete sermon series in chronological order is in this book, The Baptism and Gifts.  The 2008 edition of Joy Unspeakable also includes all 24 sermons, but the older Shaw Books edition must be supplemented by the other book.  Confuesed yet?  Me too.

Christopher Catherwood, in his biography of his grandfather Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Family Portrait, describes the two emphases that come out when the series is split into two books: “The more controversial Joy Unspeakable has outsold by a large margin its more cautious companion volume. Maybe those who wanted to believe in the baptism with the Holy Spirit without qualification did not want to know of the equally biblical restraints!” (p. 132)

He also wrote the introduction to this book: “the Doctor realized that many reformed people had become dry and arid in their Christian lives – that although their doctrine was sound, their day-to-day faith lacked the fire and sense of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that should be present in the Christian’s life.” (p. 12)

This is the theme of the book. Lloyd-Jones brings you face to face with the reality of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as described in the Bible, and then looks at churches and believers around him and says “Why aren’t we like that?” He says “The great and constant danger is that we should be content with something which is altogether less than that intended for us.” (16). He addresses those who would simply dismiss the Scripture by saying “that was for a different dispensation.” “That is a very serious charge – namely that the Scripture does not apply to us.” (37) “Our greatest danger, I feel today, is to quench the Spirit.” (81)

He is constantly bringing out points from the Scripture, and examples from church history, and saying “If your doctrine of the Holy Spirit does not include this idea of the Holy Spirit, it is seriously, grievously defective,” (125) or “Think about it [the example of the puritan John Flavel] and work out your doctrine to account for something like this.” (85)

This is absolutely vital: “The greatest need of the church from every standpoint is a great visitation of the Holy Spirit, and it is only as she receives this she will be enabled to understand again, to grasp and to preach to others, the saving message of the gospel of the Son of God. So we shall go on with our study: nothing is more vital.” (320)

“This is New Testament Christianity! New Testament Christianity is not just a formal, polite, correct, and orthodox kind of faith and belief. No! What characterizes it is this element of love and passion, this pneumatic element, this life, this vigour, this abandon, this exuberance.” (361)

One might quibble with his precise teaching and terminology regarding the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.” I’m not sure I’m completely convinced myself regarding his terminology. When it comes to the substance of what he describes, I am in complete agreement. I want more of that! Whether you call it the “baptism” or something else, the point is we need more of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers. I started this book as a convinced cessationist. I finished it as someone desperately desiring more of the Spirit in my life, whatever that might mean.

Here is Lloyd Jones on the “controversial gifts”:

“We start then by saying that it is always possible that the Holy Spirit may give this gift to certain individuals. So that when we hear of any reported case, we do not dismiss it, nor do we condemn it. We must examine it. In the sovereignty of the Spirit he can give any one of these gifts at any time; we must therefore be open. But for the reasons we have already adduced we must also always be cautious and careful, we must ‘prove all things’, and only ‘hold fast to that which is good.’ (p. 271)

All throughout Lloyd-Jones is scriptural and he is balanced. He longs to see the Holy Spirit work in power. It is desperately needed in the church today. He says, “Anyone who cuts out portions of Scripture is guilty of a very grievous sin… we are probably quenching the Spirit, and are just desirous of going along in our undisturbed, self-satisfied, smug kind of formal Christianity.” (p. 268) He takes apart theological views that would limit and, in his words ‘quench’ the Spirit, a dispensational hermeneutic that says “that’s not for today.” Lloyd-Jones says this: “Let me begin to answer it by giving you just one thought at this point. It is this: the Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (p. 159)

But he is also cautious – very much so. He examines and proves many teachings and practices that are prevalent in the charismatic or pentecostal movements, and subjects them to the piercing analysis of the Scriptures, and while he is open, he puts up with no nonsense. You cannot manipulate the Spirit – He is sovereign and does what He wants when He wants. You can’t put him in a box either way – by relegating his work strictly to the 1st century, nor by boxing Him up like a machine that responds if you push the right buttons. Lloyd-Jones had an incredible grasp of church history and shows many examples of what he means – good and bad – from history.

This was the set of sermons that helped cause John Piper to change his position on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the early 90’s. I highly recommend this as a balanced, Scriptural, yet reproving, and stirring call for more life and vitality that only comes by the Spirit of God.  I highly recommend it.