Martyn Lloyd-Jones 2 vol Biography by Iain Murray

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Stephen L Smith

Staff member
Iain Murray's classic biography was published 30 years ago this year. This year marks 40 years since Dr Lloyd-Jones preached his last sermon. His second last sermon was a powerful sermon on Psalm 2 preached in Glasgow in May 1980. Iain Murray gives an insightful introduction. Dr Lloyd-Jones was very weak but preached with conviction - a message even more relevant today:
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Here is my review:

These two volumes constitute the authorised biography of one of the greatest leaders of the church.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1899. He trained at St
Bartholomew’s Hospital – one of the greatest medical institutions in Britain. He studied under Sir Thomas Horder – one of the most brilliant medical men at St Bartholomew’s.

As a young man, Dr Lloyd-Jones came under the conviction of sin and saw his need of a Saviour. Although a brilliant medical man, he saw that mans real problem was spiritual not medical. Man needs to be reconciled to God. The conviction of Dr Lloyd-Jones that mans major problem is spiritual led to a major decision – he would leave medicine with all its privileges and honour and become a preacher of the gospel.

His first pastorate was in the poverty-stricken town of Port Talbot, Wales in 1927. The same year he married Bethan Phillips – herself a medically qualified professional. God greatly blessed this ministry in Port Talbot and many were brought to faith in Christ. The biography details many amazing conversions from drunkenness, profanity and the like.

In 1938 Dr Lloyd-Jones became minister of Westminster Chapel in London alongside Campbell Morgan.

Volume 2 “The fight of faith” continues the story. World War 2 created trying
circumstances for the ministry at Westminster Chapel. Reduced church numbers and reduced church funds meant it was difficult to sustain two ministers. Eventually Campbell Morgan retired and Dr Lloyd-Jones became the sole minister until 1968. After World War 2, Dr Lloyd-Jones main priority was to build up the congregation at Westminster Chapel. He did this through doctrinal and expository preaching. He upheld the authority of the Bible believing it is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword” (Heb 4:12).

Dr Lloyd-Jones also ran a Friday evening fellowship where he encouraged people to carefully think through doctrine and also practical aspects of Christianity. However in 1952 he changed the format and gave a series of lectures on Bible doctrines which were a blessing to many. These lectures have been formatted into a book “Great Doctrines of the Bible” (Crossway Books) which are highly recommended. He followed this with his powerful lectures on the book of Romans.

Chapter 13, Sunday mornings in the 1950’s gives an insight into how Dr Lloyd-Jones led the worship services. Dr Lloyd-Jones used a traditional Reformed liturgy which gave coherence to the whole service. Scripture readings, prayers and hymns were just as important as the preaching of the scriptures.

In 1959 Dr Lloyd-Jones preached his classic services on Revival. He held to the classic view of Revival, namely that Revival is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, not something created or “worked up” by man.

Dr Lloyd-Jones retired as minister at Westminster Chapel and carried on an itinerant pastoral and preaching ministry until 1980. He died in London in 1981 and was buried in his beloved Wales.

The final chapter, “the best of men” summarises the significance of Dr Lloyd-Jones as a man and also why his ministry was so effective. He was a very gifted man with a mind of enormous capacity and energy. Often men see issues in fragmented parts but Dr Lloyd-Jones was often able to see the whole and put details in their proper perspective. Divine providence also guided him so that he continued to promote the sovereignty of God in his ministry and steer people away from error. Finally and very importantly, Dr Lloyd-Jones was a spiritually mature and godly man – indeed a spiritual giant.

The book contains 6 appendices containing various theological issues plus guidance on reading Dr Lloyd-Jones sermons.

This is an outstanding biography and will have a tremendous blessing on the readers theological and spiritual understanding. To get maximum benefit from it, one should read it multiple times. It is worth it!! Dr Lloyd-Jones sermons are highly recommended and can be found at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust – the official website for the Doctor’s sermons

Stephen L Smith

Staff member
I should also mention Iain Murray's follow up work "Lloyd-Jones messenger of grace" is an excellent book and nicely expands and updates important themes in Dr Lloyd-Jones ministry. One important aspect of this book I believe, is a discussion of legacies MLJ left the church. One of these legacies was MLJ's emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the life of the Christian. MLJ strongly argued that Reformed Christians need to recover the rich Reformed heritage of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

That said, MLJ's view of the baptism of the Spirit was controversial. Iain Murray devotes a chapter to critiquing it, while at the same time affirming Dr Lloyd-Jones had important things to say about the need for a full Reformed conviction on the Spirit of God.

@Taylor Sexton I am inclined to say that Dr Lloyd-Jones most important contribution to the Church was his view that the power of the Holy Spirit was essential to the life of the Church and the Christian, while at the same time acknowledging MLJ's important contributions to other aspects of theology and the Christian life. What are your thoughts on his legacies?


Puritan Board Freshman
I'm currently reading it the second time around, and what made it even more enjoyable, was coupling that with watching it coupled with Logic on Fire set of DVDs.

Regarding the Spirit: I recall hearing an earlier sermon regarding 'assurance' and 'sealing' of the Spirit, and MLJ appears to entirely distance himself from linking these two together (which I thought was fascinating, as that is probably exactly at this point that the criticism centres), however, it seems that later he came to place more emphasis on this 'direct witness' of the Spirit as being the pinnacle of assurance, thus drawing some criticism by those who thought he was overstating things at that point.

Happily, I have found that once one recognises the nature of the debate on that point, it does not detract from MLJ greatly needed emphasis on experiential religion (rooted in the word), but most importantly, a real reliance on the work of the Spirit, particularly upon preaching, but also upon the believer's life to be a witness and to generally live a victorious life in keeping with the NT emphasis here.

His later itinerant series of sermons demonstrates his keen awareness of the balance of the Christian life both in Word and Spirit. I think it is precisely this balance that is the overriding principle of his ministry which is in it self 'reassuring' and the mark of a sound teacher.


Puritan Board Freshman
I found this quote fitting. Found in summary form in MLJ biography Murray Vol 2:

“And thus we seem to be opposing everything, and so we receive criticism from all sides . . .

For myself, as long as I am charged by certain people with being nothing but a Pentecostalist, and on the other hand charged by others with being an intellectual, a man who is always preaching doctrine, as long as the two criticisms come, I am very happy. But if one or the other of the two criticisms should ever cease, then, I say, is the time to be careful and to begin to examine the very foundations.

The position of Scripture . . . is one which is facing two extremes. The Spirit is essential, and experience is vital. However, truth and definition and doctrine and dogma are equally vital and essential. And our whole position is one which proclaims that experience which is not based solidly upon truth and doctrine is dangerous.”

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John, pp. 400-403.
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