Murray, Iain H. D.M. Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years 1899-1939. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982. 394 pp. $36.00. Purchase at Westminster for $25.20.
Most readers here at Christian Book Notes will know that I am big fan of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. One of the first books I ever reviewed was the new, at the time, biography by Iain H. Murray on the Doctor entitled Messenger of Grace. I have also been extremely blessed to interview one of his grandchildren, Jonathan Catherwood. I began reading this particular book as part of my “enjoyment reading” in which I had no intentions of writing a review. I am planning on reading through everything that Dr. Lloyd-Jones has published. Most of it is available here.
In essence, Murray takes the reader from birth to the call to become a minister at Westminster Chapel in London, England. You will read about ML-J’s conversion experience–not unlike many who thought they were saved only to be shown that they truly were not. You will learn of his time studying medicine–which is how he became affectionately known as the Doctor. You will meet a young Bethan Lloyd-Jones who really wanted nothing to do with him…at first. Finally, you will see him wrestle with his call to the pastoral ministry. Even though he fled from the public eye, the fact that he left medicine to become a pastor was an event that caught the eye of most in both Wales and London, England.
As you read about his first charge as a lay-preacher in Aberavon, Sandfields, you will see that he quickly became a much sought after itinerant evangelistic preacher. He would preach all over Wales in both Welsh and English sometimes in the same sermon. You will discover early influences in his preaching ministry and pastoral convictions. You will conclude with his believing his time at Aberavon was coming to an end even though he wanted to remain. Sadly, for him at the time, he found that the Lord was calling him to London, England. The volume pretty much ends with Lloyd-Jones accepting the call to join G. Campbell Morgan in the pulpit at Westminster on the same day that England entered into World War II.
There is much to be learned from the life of ML-J. Most do not get beyond his sermons available at OnePlace.com. There were many interesting aspects that formed the ministry of young ML-J that lead to his later convictions of the way the ministry ought to be handled. Perhaps for me, as a pastor, was the way in which he sought to exegete Scripture. In essence, he did what I was taught in class despite never having any seminary “training.” In that aspect, he and C.H. Spurgeon were one in the same. His preaching of our sin and how horrible that is to God would be an excellent starting place for the church at large today. His thoughts on revival–which he experienced some of while at Abravom–rival those of Jonathan Edwards.
As I stated above, I had no intentions of writing a review on this book. While reading it, however, I felt that people need to know more about ML-J. Young pastors today would do well to read volume one of Murray’s two-volume biography as they will see how a man of God goes about his work as a pastor. For those who are not in the ministry, reading this biography will shed much light on pastors and theologians today like John Piper and Alister Begg as well as teachers like Don Whitney and Michael Haykin. This is a fairly long, albeit, easy read and definitely one I would recommend you persevering through even though volume two is looming!