Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a medical doctor-turned-preacher in England in the mid-1900’s. England’s churches were flailing. God used this man to spark a great revival. The spark He used to ignite that revival was “God-dominated preaching.” What is God-dominated preaching? Lloyd-Jones said it was preaching which focused on exalting the True and Living God of Holy Scripture. He identified three elements of God-dominated preaching: (1) God’s sovereignty; (2) God’s holiness; and, (3) God’s glory.
God’s Sovereignty in Preaching
Preaching mustn’t merely be “laced” with the sovereignty of God. It must be “saturated” with it. In 1969, Lloyd-Jones gave a series of lectures at Westminster Theological Seminary. In one lecture, he counseled:
I can forgive a man a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that though he is inadequate in himself, he is handling something which is very great and glorious . . . If he does that, I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Why do people listen to preaching? To hear a story-teller tell stories? To hear a “life coach” tell them everything’s going to be ok? To be entertained by a clean comedy routine or a clown show? No! People come to worship to hear Scripture declare that, although their life and the world around them seems to be in shambles . . . God is still sovereign and still sitting on his throne!
God’s Holiness in Preaching
Preaching also must be saturated with the holiness of God. In a sermon preached in Westminster Chapel (London), Lloyd-Jones observed:
You will never have a knowledge of sin unless you have a true conception of the holiness of God.D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Preaching the holiness of God ultimately leads us to His glorious justice toward sin, which He meted-out at the cross event. In a sermon preached in the 1940’s (later published in Life in Christ: Studies in 1 John), Lloyd-Jones remarks:
It is the holiness of God that demands the cross, so without starting with the holiness there is no meaning in the cross. It is not surprising that the cross has been discounted by modern theologians; it is because they have started with the love of God without His holiness.D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Such weak preaching has much power to accumulate crowds, but little power to transform souls.
God’s Glory in Preaching
Finally, preaching must aim—dead-center—for the glory of God. What exactly is the “glory of God?” Lloyd-Jones explains:
The glory of God is the essential being of God. . . . It includes beauty. It includes majesty. Better still, perhaps, the word, “splendor!” It, of course, includes the idea of greatness, of might, and of eternity! They’re all summed up in this one word, “glory,” and we really can’t get beyond that.Lloyd-Jones, sermon #4011, “The Glory of God,” Ephesians 1:6
Of course, one of the greatest displays of His glory is His redeeming sinners. His redemption highlights many God-dominated attributes (love, mercy, goodwill, forgiveness, etc.). Lloyd-Jones summarizes,
Our salvation is the greatest and highest manifestation of the glory of God.Lloyd-Jones, sermon #4011, “The Glory of God,” Ephesians 1:6
Indeed, God’s domination is lacking in today’s preaching. We structure sermons and services to appeal to the relics of sin in man’s flesh. Often, we end up drawing more glory to man than to God. Lloyd-Jones lamented the same sentiment his day:
This is the thing that troubles me so much about so much modern evangelism: That it’s all in terms of some benefit to men, and God seems to be forgotten!Lloyd-Jones, sermon #4011, “The Glory of God,” Ephesians 1:6
That was in 1954. Imagine what the good doctor would say of the abominations which occur today in preaching and in worship.
The next time you hear a sermon, ask yourself three questions:
- Did I hear the sovereignty of God proclaimed?
- Did I hear anything of the holiness of God uplifted?
- Did the message aim to glorify God and His Works or man and his?
If the answer to each of these questions is, “Yes,” then—by all means—bring others to hear a God-dominated preacher preach a God-dominated sermon . . . and thank your faithful pastor for doing so!