Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sermons for a Vibrant Christian Life

D. M. Lloyd-Jones. Living Water. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009. 727 pp.

Reviewed by Ryan M. McGraw



These fifty-six sermons are based on John 4 and are some of the last sermons that Lloyd-Jones preached at Westminster Chapel (1967-1968).

While Lloyd-Jones provides a thorough and satisfying exposition of the fourth chapter of John’s gospel, these sermons include a wide range of topical material that is closely related to the text. For instance, when preaching on or near an ecclesiastical holiday, he wove the theme of the occasion into the sermon. Though many of us reject Church holy days, Lloyd-Jones provides a good model for those who observe them by preaching messages appropriate to the occasion without breaking his series. This illustrates well the manner in which the central themes of Christ and His gospel are always relevant to every sermon.

Some important emphases of this volume include the nature and importance of revival, the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, the manner in which the gospel is the only message which satisfies the entire man, the self-evincing authority of the gospel, and the contrast between Christianity and mere religion. Sermons 7-8 provide nine characteristics of “praying in the Spirit” that are of immense practical value, since they connect what is commonly a purely subjective topic with objective biblical criteria.

Those who are familiar with Lloyd-Jones will recognize the oft-repeated emphasis on the importance of the gospel penetrating the mind, then the heart, and finally the will. This theme plays a prominent role in this book. In sermons 16-18, Lloyd-Jones introduces this important theme and argues that the reason why Christ alone is able to quench the longings of the human soul is due to the fact that he alone offers satisfaction to every aspect of the image of God in man. Sermons 19-26 are a masterful presentation of the manner in which the gospel provides intellectual satisfaction from every possible angle. Sermons 27-35 demonstrate the way in which Christ satisfies our emotional nature. Finally, sermons 36-38 show that the highest provision for satisfaction to believers given by Christ is the Lord’s ability to sustain them in joy through trials and tribulation.

Some of the most notable sermons in this volume are “Guidance,” “In Trials and Tribulations,” and “More than Conquerors.” The last of these is Lloyd-Jones’ last Sunday morning sermon at Westminster Chapel. The most valuable insight of this volume is the author’s continual assertion that God always deals with our personal problems indirectly rather than directly. It is as we focus on the glory of Christ himself in his person and work alone, and as our problems become of secondary importance, that Christ truly begins to minister to us in all of our trials and tribulations. This book is of high value to produce a joyful vibrant Christian life, and reading it will go a long way to increase the fervor of preachers in setting forth the unsearchable riches of Christ.

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This review was first published in the Puritan Reformed Journal.