A Sermon by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (An excerpt)
Let me put it to you like this. Christianity is not a philosophy. What is a philosophy? Well, a philosophy is made up of ideas put forward by men, in an attempt to try to understand life and our problems and how to deal with them and how to solve them. It is a matter of ideas, of thoughts and of teachings. My point is that while there is obviously a teaching and a doctrine which is a vital part of Christianity, that is not the first thing. What differentiates this is that it is first and foremost a record of historical events and historical facts. What mean these stones outside Gilgal? All that they mean is that certain things happened to these people-history. Let us be clear about this. There are so many people today who talk about the Christian attitude-towards war and peace, a Christian attitude towards education, a Christian attitude towards art, drama and literature. Now all that tends to turn it into a philosophy, into a teaching, into a theory, into a point of view. But that is really not to be true to our position. So Christianity, we must remember, is not one of a number of theories and ideas and philosophies with respect to life. It is quite unique because it is teaching which is based upon history.
I can go further and I can say this. That this is the thing that differentiates the Christian faith from religion-from any kind of religion. You take these religions that people, some of them, are turning to at the present time. Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism, or any one of these ‘isms’. What are they? Well, they are all something invented by men. They are all teachings. They involve a kind of worship, but they are not based upon facts and upon events. They are all based upon ideas-and they are ideas that are supposed to lead you and to help you to arrive at the particular deity that you want to worship.
Now here again, you see, our Christian faith is entirely different. It calls attention to facts. And that is why this building in a sense is going to do exactly the same as the bread and the wine do in a communion service. They again are calling attention to facts. So, we must start with this all important matter-this principle-and realise that it is vital to our whole situation. The uniqueness of the Christian faith depends upon a series of historical facts and events and the teaching which results from them.
It is probably not altogether right to excerpt from one of the greats, though I think the good Doctor would be happy with my reasoning here. How many were saying in 1977, when the sermon was given, that the Bible was a good book but that much of it consisted of “meaningful fables” and “nice stories” and that its historicity was in serious question? This type of liberal Christianity, already quite popular then, was something that Martyn Lloyd-Jones abhorred. How much more are the historical parts of the Bible under attack today? Yes, parts of the scriptures are beautiful poetry and some are eschatological wonders. But there are the parts that, until the past few centuries, were always considered history and still are by men in agreement with Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Remarkably, currently and in the recent past, men are calling what has always been considered history poetry or allegory. There is the “Documentary Hypothesis” and a myriad of similar criticisms which weaken the inspired intentions of the text. Some go so far as to question the miracles.
I admire men like David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Walter Martin, and Charles H. Spurgeon and I agree with them. All great scholars, they upheld the Bible as the inspired word of God in times of question. We are living in times when many consider the Bible as just another book on the shelf. In their time, these great men were astonished that anyone could have such an opinion and if any were with us today I think they would receive more mocking than they did in their day and would respond no differently than when they were alive.
This is a sermon that needs to be heard more today than ever. I am including a link to the text of this sermon and another to the recording of the actual sermon. Either would be more than worth your time.
A sermon WITH THE SAME TITLE was preached at Newport; South Wales; in 1977. Martyn Lloyd-Jones often used this text at the opening of new churches. It was on this text that he last preached at the opening of Barcombe Baptist Chapel in 1980.