Thursday, August 18, 2005

Does Anyone Disagree With the Doctor?

A word about one of my greatest heroes ... Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

I was first introduced to the great Doctor through his series on Revival that he preached at Westminster Chapel and I was gripped. But I gained more of a "working" relationship with him when my home church in Dunstable went through a dramatic change on their doctrinal stance concerning the Holy Spirit. Once they believed in the baptism of the Spirit, now they didn't. Once they believed in gifts and welcomed them, now they didn't. (A ghastly stereotype - but I don't want to talk about cessationism). And it was through reading a small section of Dr Lloyd-Jones' sermons in John that I began to realise that Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones agreed ... with me!!

Namely that the baptism with the Spirit is a very definite experiential event that is distinct from and may be subsequent to salvation and regeneration. I tracked down his key book "Joy Unspeakable" and my views became grounded. Consider his following comments about revival - the wider, broader work of the Spirit:

"The essence of a revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down upon a number of people together, upon a whole church, upon a number of churches, districts, or perhaps a whole country. That is what is meant by revival. It is, if you like, a visitation of the Holy Spirit, or another term that has often been used is this--an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What the people are conscious of is that it is as if something has suddenly come down upon them. The Spirit of God has descended into their midst, God has come down and is amongst them. A baptism, an outpouring, a visitation.

And the effect of that is that they immediately become aware of His presence and of His power in a manner that they have never known before. I am talking about Christian people, about church members gathered together as they have done so many times before. Suddenly they are aware of His presence, they are aware of the majesty and the awe of God. The Holy Spirit literally seems to be presiding over the meeting and taking charge of it, and manifesting His power and guiding them, and leading them, and directing them. That is the essence of revival".

How glorious!! What rich awesome amazing words!! But my point is that the Doctor passionately believed in a deep rich experiential knowledge and relationship with the Holy Spirit. And what puzzled me was that the anti-charismatics that I had the unfortunate pleasure of encountering all loved to slag off "tongues-speakers". They loved to dish "experience" and "froth". Mention any well known charismatic and you got a sneer. If they were really bad then Alan Morrison or Peter Masters would dissect them with their blunt axe heads. But no one would talk about Dr Lloyd-Jones ...........

Banner of Truth publish his awesome books (and I thank God for their ministry) but I don't think they would claim to be sympathetic to charismatics in the least - and yet you don't hear them talking about the Doctor's view of how one receives the Holy Spirit!! Even better the websites of the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust and the FIEC are linked (and the FIEC seem even more anti-the Holy Spirit than the Banner!). And noone talks about Dr Lloyd-Jones ..........

Noone has published a book to rebuff his careful and minute exegesis of the doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit laid down in "Joy Unspeakable". Noone has explained what exactly happened in John 20:22 then on the Day of Pentecost other than mumbling that the disciples were "special". Noone has dealt with his pointing to the Lord Jesus and why the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove - when He was the Son of God. Noone has explained away his understanding of Peter's sermon "this is that which you SEE and HEAR" - and how on earth that can EVER be "quiet and non experiential when you get converted".

I am truly interested and intrigued! I absolutely adore the Doctor and will read anything he has written but I don't pretend to agree with everything he taught - especially his view on apostles and prophets. It was a great project rebuffing how I thought he had missed the point in the continuity of Ephesians 4. Yet I wonder why noone has done the same for him with the baptism of the Holy Spirit? I have no doubt he would have welcomed and loved the prospect of "taking him on". Ian Murray's great biography paints a picture of a man who welcomes debate - something I strive to emulate.

I challenged Dr Jebb's successor at my old home church - if he could present a more convincing case than Dr Lloyd-Jones about the baptism of the Holy Spirit then I would be quite prepared to change my views. Obviously he couldn't - he didn't even try. So called me old fashioned - but I still passionately believe that the great inheritance open to all the saints is that they will be clothed with power from on high!! That as Ern Baxter called it; "the great coronation gift" has been poured out. The Davidic anointing of the Holy Spirit! And as Thomas Goodwin said so rightly - the next step in glorious experience MUST be heaven itself!!

So come Lord!! Pour out Your Spirit again on a dry and barren soul!! Flood me as You promised!! Give me joy unspeakable and full of glory!! Let my spirit cry with Yours; "Abba! Father!!". I want to receive an experience of You - an encounter with You that the world will SEE and KNOW!! Come Holy Spirit!!

PS: An excellent biographical look at Lloyd-Jones on the Holy Spirit and in particular his baptism, filling and gifts is Dr John Pipers - a presentation at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in 1991.

Key quote showing that Dr Lloyd-Jones wasn't afraid of speaking out:

Those people who say that [baptism with the Holy Spirit] happens to everybody at regeneration seem to me not only to be denying the New Testament but to be definitely quenching the Spirit" - "Joy Unspeakable" - p241. Ouch! :)

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