Born of God (book review)

Sermons from John, Chapter 1
By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The Banner of Truth. 479 pages. £17.50
ISBN 978 1 848 711 259

‘Do you know what is the matter with us? I will tell you. We none of us really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!’

This was the bold statement made by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his congregation in Westminster Chapel, London, in the opening sermon of a series on the first chapter of the gospel of John in October 1962 (the beginning of his final series in John which ran at intervals until his retirement in 1968).

This series of 32 sermons is not, as in most of his other sermon series, a verse-by-verse exposition of John 1, but, rather, he explains, ‘to pick out the application to the state and condition of the Christian in the world’. The focus of the sermons is on two main themes and verses: ‘The relationship between law and grace’ (ten sermons on John 1.17) and ‘The assurance of salvation’ (18 sermons on John 1.12-13).

You might think 500 pages of such sermons preached almost 50 years ago might be both tedious in style and dated in application. But you would be wrong on both counts. They are both readable in their language (apart from occasional words like ‘concupiscence’ and ‘marasmic’) and relevant (for example, just substitute ‘Iraq’ for ‘Cuba’ in the sermon preached during the missile crisis on October 28 1962).

Focus on Christ

Read again the opening statement and ask yourself if, half a century later, it is any less true of Christians today. The timeless teaching of these sermons on our desperate human condition and the glorious gospel of Christ might still fulfil the original aim of the preacher to challenge us to focus again on Christ. ‘Look to him, look at him, and stay there until you have seen him and know him and are amazed and astonished. And you will find that you will be filled with life, life anew, life that is life indeed, life that is life eternal.’

Peter J. Grainger,
pastor of Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh, 1992-2009, & Director of ‘2 Timothy 4’ — ‘strengthening Scottish preaching’