Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Martyn Lloyd Jones: Rooted in the Word and Spirit of God

Last week I wrote about a document I keep on the desktop of my computer entitled, “My Motivation.” It is designed to remind and inspire and focus me toward Christ-centered living, but it’s comprised of pictures rather than words. Nine of the fifteen pictures are of various men of God who inspire me for a number of reasons, the first of whom is Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones.

Dr. Jones is most well known for his long-tenure as the Pastor of Westminster Chapel in London where he faithfully taught the Bible for some thirty years. And indeed, the primary reason he appears in my personal “Hall of Faith” is because of his long and uncompromised commitment to preaching the Word of God, on its own terms, in the prominent worship services of the church.

He received much criticism for this stalwart devotion and much pressure to teach the Bible in a more culturally relevant manner, but he never bowed to such pressure. Rather, as a true lover of God and servant of the church, he clung to the Word of God and made it the only substance of his teaching. And for this God greatly blessed his ministry over decades of time, and has blessed it all the more in the years after his death.

Why has God blessed him so? Simply because he sank the roots of his life and ministry deep into the eternal Word of God, by the love and grace of the Spirit of God. The longevity of our fruit is directly related to the location of our roots, and the ministry of Dr. Jones was deeply rooted in the Word and Spirit of God.

Thus, he was not afraid to say “without hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching” (Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971: 9). By “true preaching” he means preaching that is rooted in the Word of God and empowered by the Spirit of God. He means preaching that speaks to culture without ever bowing down to the pressures of culture, either within or without the church. And indeed, this is the greatest need of the church, and the world, because what people most desperately need is to know and submit to the wisdom and will and ways of God, given that we might discover the fountain of undying life and joy which is God.

Therefore, Dr. Jones appears in my personal “Hall of Faith” in order to remind me never to compromise my commitment to the Word of God, no matter what the pressures. In time, this fierce commitment will bear lasting fruit to the glory of God and the good of the church.

Longing to be rooted with you in the Word and Spirit,
Pastor Charlie

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Discipline of Love

On the desktop of my computer I keep a document entitled, “My Motivation.” It is designed to remind and inspire and focus me toward Christ-centered living, but it’s comprised of pictures rather than words. Words are important and my life is filled with them, but pictures are important, too, especially when they capture something of the spirit words are meant to arouse.

Five of the fifteen pictures have to do with cycling which is important to me because it is the primary means by which I pursue physical health, and I pursue physical health because I want to live long and bring as much glory to the name of Jesus Christ as I can. There is no higher calling or privilege than dying for the sake of the Name, and by God’s grace I would embrace that destiny if Christ called me to do so, but oh how I long to preach Christ with passion when I’m 75 or 90 or 100. There’s something beautiful and powerful about old preachers who’ve been long refined by the Spirit of God and time, and I want to be one of them! Make no mistake, Glory of Christ, this is what lies behind my passion for cycling.

One of the pictures is of the small prison in which the Apostles Paul and Peter were likely kept in the days before their respective trials in Rome. A few years ago, I had the privilege of standing in that space for ten or fifteen minutes, and it had a very deep impact on me. These men were willing to suffer any discomfort or danger to exalt the name of Jesus Christ in the world and I, too, want to live with that disposition. As lovers of Jesus, we don’t seek suffering but we’re willing to suffer if that’s what it takes to spread the love that’s shaped our lives, and this picture reminds me of this calling.

The remaining nine pictures are of various men of God who inspire me for a number of reasons. In order of appearance, but not importance, they are Martin Lloyd Jones, John Piper, John Bunyan, Augustine, David Livingston (one of the long-time Pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church), Dawson Trotman, Hudson Taylor, and Jim Elliot. In the coming weeks I plan to write about why I have chosen each of these men to be on my personal “wall of faith” but for this week I want to encourage you to contemplate this question with me: in what practical ways do you discipline and inspire yourself to remember Jesus Christ and his love and call upon your life? Love is greater than discipline but there is discipline in love (2 Timothy 2:8-9; Hebrews 12:1-2). More on this in the weeks to come!

Growing with you in the discipline of love,
Pastor Charlie