What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this: it is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.
— Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones
A while back, I did a post on expository preaching. I had stressed the importance of a preaching style that was unpopular for many decades, and a style that centered on a biblical text and expounded on it with clarity so that everyone in a church congregation could understand. However, one of the things mentioned in that post was a list of some of the greatest expository preachers that had ever lived. In this post, I intend to honor an individual who couldn’t have exemplified expository preaching any better.
When it comes to picking an expository preacher to honor from the Reformed tradition, there are a lot to choose from. Modern pastors such as Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. Voodie Baucham, and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson have all been personal favorites of mine. My favorite expositors of the past are interesting men such as Charles H. Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. Nevertheless, none of these men could compare to the tenacious, dedicated, and the faithful-to-the-text preaching of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones.
Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones’ ministry has affected the lives of many Reformed Christians, as well as many other Christians as well. His expository sermons every Sunday morning and evening, and bible studies every Friday night from the pulpit of Westminster Chapel in London, changed the way people would look at preaching for many ages to come. His preaching was not powerful because he was a man of charisma, humor, or had a great taste in topic selection, but because he would not relent to man’s options, but only upon the written Word of God.
Often times, Jones would preach for weeks, months, and even years on a particular passage of Scripture. I recently listened to six messages by Jones that were all on John 1, and there were many more as well. To describe the man as an expositor would be an understatement. He once told his fellow elders that a man who walks up to a pulpit without a Bible, is like a man who walks up to preach naked. He also once stated that to preach using anything other than a text from Scripture, is no better than a cheap clown. He was adamant against the abuse of the pulpit, public heretical teachings, and fine-arts incorporated into sermons. Long story short, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones is my man!
Now, does this mean I completely agree with Jones? By no means. In fact, there is plenty that I would disagree with him on. For example, Jones was a continuationist and believed cessationism was unbiblical. He also believed in a lot of the same things that Puritans would believe in, which were often times very legalistic. He also believed that the doctrines of grace were not essential and not worth debating. I didn’t agree with him on these issues and some others, but it doesn’t stop me from respecting a man who faithfully preached the Bible and had a strong stance on Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone).
What are some of the things I deeply admire about Him? He called out liberal Christianity, the sins of the Evangelical movement, the “sinner’s prayer”, unbiblical denominations, and the farcical Charismatic movement. However, it’s not the fact that he called these false movements out and rebuked them that made me have great respect for Jones, but it was the fact that Jones had done it all whenever a Scripture clearly refuted the wrong things.
Today, the Banner of Truth website (which is a publishing and media trust that was founded by Jones and his assistant) has over 1600 of his sermons. I encourage every single person, Reformed or not, to listen to his sermons. Expect a humble man and a meek voice, and yet a great power and move of the Holy Spirit when he begins to expound on a text. His sermons are all over YouTube, Banner of Trust, Vimeo (if you still use that… hopefully you don’t but just saying), and Sermon Audio. If you prefer transcripts, Banner of Truth also has those.
This post was not meant to be a long analysis of a man’s life, his strengths and weaknesses, but a man’s preaching which has shaped many men even today. Dr. John MacArthur once said had it not been for Jones, then he wouldn’t have ever discovered true expository preaching. Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones has taught many preachers, including myself, that preaching from a biblical text is not an easy route and that sermons must require an intense Spiritual discipline and burden. For this, I will always be grateful to the ministry of Martin Lloyd Jones from the 20th century, and look forward to the day when I can thank him for his teaching, his ministry, and for his passion to make people experience the presence through the preaching of the Word, and to think… he did it all for the glory of our great God.
Soli Deo Gloria.