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The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones – A Review by Bob Thomas

Author
Category Book Reviews
Date October 18, 2013

‘MAGISTERIAL’ is the word most often used to describe Iain Murray’s biography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I remember how eagerly and impatiently we waited for the first and then the second volumes, and yet after devouring them both in turn, wondering if our intrepid author had struggled to tell the story of such greatness in just 1,131 pages.

Since then others have added to the story, from the family-orientated contributions of his wife and grandson, to further publication of his own writings and sermons, and books giving another perspective of him. Among the latter are some who display less care and thoroughness in dealing with source material than Murray does, sometimes giving him less credit than he deserves in his use and assessment of it. Still others, largely of a pentecostal or charismatic bent, have sought to draw the Doctor posthumously into their camp.

Well, ‘the moving finger writes and having writ, moves on’ and it is now 31 years since The First Forty Years1 was published and 23 years since The Fight Of Faith2 first saw the light of day. The time has come for a recast to make the Lloyd-Jones story more accessible to a younger generation and bring back to our remembrance one whom James I. Packer describes as ‘The greatest man I have ever known.’ It is also time for some criticism and misinformation to be answered and put right. Indeed, one suspects that ‘accessible’ will become the adjective of choice to describe this present volume.

The Life Of Martyn Lloyd-Jones3 is in some ways a condensation of the earlier volumes, but it is many other things as well. As noted above, the more concise nature of the present volume makes the Lloyd-Jones story more accessible to readers. This in itself makes this a valuable book, highlighting the most important elements of the Doctor’s life and ministry after separating out the less important. Most importantly for this reviewer is Dr Lloyd-Jones’ encounter with depression and its outworking (pp 276-282).

I first heard this material as a lecture delivered by Mr Murray at an Australian Banner of Truth Conference while he was writing The First Forty Years, at a time when as a young minister charged with running the Christian Education work of a denomination recently released from liberalism, and editing its national journal, I found myself under strong attack from our residual freemasons and liberals, now long-gone. The attack was vicious, ongoing and severe, and I nearly buckled under the pressure. But just as Dr Lloyd-Jones had fastened on the word ‘glory’, listening to the lecture I felt that ‘Heaven came down and glory filled my soul’. At the end of the lecture we sang Charlotte Elliot’s beautiful hymn ‘Watch and pray’, and I left that conference ‘strong in the Lord of Hosts and in His mighty power.’ I’ve often used this as an illustration in preaching and it always draws comment from grateful souls.

Another matter worthy of note is that we have here a more nuanced and positive picture of Dr Lloyd-Jones’ relationships with other spiritual giants of his day, notably John Stott and J. I. Packer. Certain differences between them are well known, but in the present volume, all three emerge as ‘bigger men’ than we might have previously thought, their friendship and respect for one another more fully intact.

Other things worthy of note are: the preacher’s need for a deep sense of the necessity for preaching which is Christ-centred and cross-centred;
dependence on the empowering of the Spirit; and a deep commitment to the preaching of the gospel as ‘the power of God unto the salvation of all who believe.’

Again, Iain Murray leaves us deeply in his debt as he ventures once more into a genre he has made his own – Christian biography.

Notes

    • Life of D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

      D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

      Volume 1: The First Forty Years 1899 - 1939

      by Iain H. Murray


      price £17.50
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      ‘MAGISTERIAL’ is the word most often used to describe Iain Murray’s biography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I remember how eagerly and impatiently we waited for the first and then the second volumes, and yet after devouring them both in turn, wondering if our intrepid author had struggled to tell the story of such greatness in […]

    • Life Of D Martyn Lloyd-Jones

      D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

      Volume 2: The Fight of Faith 1939 - 1981

      by Iain H. Murray


      price £19.00
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      ‘MAGISTERIAL’ is the word most often used to describe Iain Murray’s biography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I remember how eagerly and impatiently we waited for the first and then the second volumes, and yet after devouring them both in turn, wondering if our intrepid author had struggled to tell the story of such greatness in […]


    • price £11.00
      Avg. Rating

      Description

      ‘MAGISTERIAL’ is the word most often used to describe Iain Murray’s biography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I remember how eagerly and impatiently we waited for the first and then the second volumes, and yet after devouring them both in turn, wondering if our intrepid author had struggled to tell the story of such greatness in […]

Bob Thomas is the editor of New Life, the Australian online Christian newspaper, from the 1 October 2013 edition of which the above was taken with permission.

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