Three ways to live

Which is your way?

The Gospel according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Part I

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 9:14 am on Sunday, October 7, 2007

I am current reading an excellent book “Spiritual Depression” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In the book the doctor (that is what he is commonly called) examines various causes of depression among Christians. One of such causes is a lack of understanding of the gospel. To suggest a cure for this problem, he provides a very clear gospel presentation in Chapter II, one of the clearest I have ever seen. Here is a shortened excerpt of the first part of the gospel presentation – conviction of sin. I tried to keep original wording wherever is possible.

The doctor says that lack of understanding of the gospel occurs most often in those who have been brought up in Christian households and hence have taken Christianity for granted. These people go to church, are interested in Christian things, but then you compare them with the New Testament description of the new man in Christ, you immediately see the difference. Indeed, they themselves see that. They read books which are meant to give instruction about the Christian way of life, they attend meetings and conferences, always seeking this something they do not find.

The doctor calls them the miserable Christians, who did not understand the way of salvation. They assumed they were on the right road and all they have to do is to continue along it. But they were on the wrong road! Focusing on sanctification, they did not understand justification. This is the same problem the Jews of New Testament had. They said that all one have to do is to keep the Law, and on this basis God will accept you and be pleased with you.

Yet the correct teaching is that we are saved by faith and not by works. Why so many miserable Christians do not see it? Because they don’t see a need for it. Many people do not see themselves as sinners. That kind of person thinks of sin in terms of action, or what he/she does. Sometimes they put it quite plainly: “I have never really thought about myself as a sinner: but of course this is not surprising as my life has been sheltered from the beginning.” Such people have heard it preached that Christ has died for our sins and they say that they believe that; but they have never really known its absolute necessity for themselves.

Such people need to be convicted of sin. “There is no one righteous, no not one, all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God”. The way to know yourself as a sinner is not to compare yourself with other people (you can always find those worse than you), but come face to face with the Law of God. The Law of God is not just “Do not steal, do not murder”. It is also to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Here is a test for you and me: “Are you loving God with all your being?”. If not, you are a sinner. You can be innocent of all gross sins and yet be guilty of being satisfied with your life, having pride in your achievements and feeling that you are better than others. If you have never realized your guilt before God you will never have a joy in Christ. “Not the righteous, sinners Jesus came to save”. “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick”.

I will continue with the second principle in my next post.

6 Comments

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Comment by Herdingcats

October 7, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

Hi, I’ve been thinking of you two. There’s a bit of upheaval here over a playground (see my blog) and I’ve been turning to Christ for some clarity on the situation.

Do you think there’s a similarity between spiritual depression and the “7 year itch”? We take our spouses for granted and become bored and “not in love” with them too. This is a common phenomenon.

I know that you have not been married a long time, but you may have an opinion on this. Just curious.

We can also neglect our friends, family, etc. Our relationship with God is the “canary in the mine”. It dies before our other relationships do.

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Comment by annechovie

October 8, 2007 @ 9:35 am

You made some excellent points here. Pride can be the deadliest of all sins, and that includes spiritual pride. The essence of sin is, in the words of Bible teacher Louie Giglio, “hijacking the glory of God for ourselves” Independence of God, even having pride in our own morality or spirituality, is the root of sin. Sin is an attitude of the heart and not necessarily “acts”, althought the acts are just a manifestation of the sin in our heart. Depression is a result of focusing on ourselves, instead of living in thanksgiving and with the sole purpose of bringing God glory.

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Comment by Vitali

October 8, 2007 @ 9:57 am

Yes, you are right, we’ve been married for only 2 years so probably would not know much about “7 year itch”. Personally, I am aware of this problem but not so sure it has anything to do with spiritual depression. The reason marriages break apart is because of people’s consumer-vendor relationship with each other. This makes them abandon their spouses when they are no longer as attractive, interesting, exciting or useful in any other sense. That could be accompanied (but not caused) by depression.

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Comment by starsapphire

October 8, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

hi, Lloyd-Jones is a good writer and thinker isn’t he? I’m reading his book on Christ’s Sermons on the Mount. The clarity of his insights makes his writings very enjoyable to read.

So often I fear myself falling into the trap described by Lloyd-Jones where christianity has become a social club for me, rather than a life-transforming relationship with God. The line between the 2 is so fine, and it’s easy to fall off the straight and narrow. Or worse still, be deluded into thinking that I’m on the straight and narrow.

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Comment by Vitali

October 9, 2007 @ 8:38 am

I think Dr. Lloyd-Jones is simply excellent. I would not say he is easy to read, but there is such a power behind his words. Can’t really explain it.

Exposition on the Sermon on the Mount is one of his best works. I’ve got the book but haven’t read it yet.

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Comment by ALL THE BEST

October 14, 2007 @ 1:24 am

This sounds like a fascinating book! I am a Christian, I was brought up in Christian household and I understand the way of salvation. However, I can see how it is easy to take Christianity for granted, as I know I am guilty of this from time to time.

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