The Theologians on the Christian Life series is discounted at Westminster Bookstore through Thursday, April 26. One of the recently released volumes in the series is Lloyd Jones on the Christian Life by Dr. Jason Meyer, Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church and Associate Professor of Preaching at Bethlehem College & Seminary. In this interview, Dr. Meyer answered questions about his new book and its role in helping people live the Christian life.

Credo Magazine (Brandon Freeman): Tell us about a little bit about your life, marriage, ministry, and some of the current ministry projects you are working on.

Dr. Meyer: I have been married to my wonderful wife, Cara, for 18 years. She really is the love of my life. I could spend the rest of the interview talking about her. We have also been blessed with four children (two teenage daughters that we had the more natural way and two sons – 11 and 9 years old that we adopted from Ethiopia).

In terms of ministry, I thought I had my dream job as a New Testament Professor at Bethlehem College and Seminary. But God had other plans. About five years ago, God invaded my life and called me to pastor Bethlehem Baptist Church. The chief joy of this pastoral journey is that God has given me more of Himself. I am a happy pastor. I enjoy it even more than I thought I would.

In terms of ministry projects, I wrote a commentary on Philippians for Crossway that comes out in September, I just wrote a book on discouragement that should come out next year, and I am in the process of completing commentaries on 2 Corinthians (for B & H) and the Gospel of Mark (for the Good Book Company).

Credo Magazine: Tell us about your new book Lloyd Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life As Fuel and Fire, why you wrote it, and how you hope it is received?

Dr. Meyer: I love the entire series on Theologians on the Christian Life. It really is a fantastic series. I felt like Martyn Lloyd-Jones was missing from the list and so I emailed Crossway and asked if anyone was going to do a volume on Lloyd-Jones and if not, I would be willing to try my hand at it.

I felt passionate about adding Lloyd-Jones to the series because of the impact he had already had on my life up to that point. In seminary, John Piper told me about not turning to the Bible with a cold heart. He said we should try to find someone that we could read who would consistently light our fire in a short space of time. Lloyd-Jones became that person for me.

All of his books were originally sermons and so they have a heraldic quality to them – you feel directly addressed. I felt like he had to be represented in this series and I wanted people to be blessed by his ministry as much as he has blessed me. That is my prayer for this book – that people would not just discover Lloyd-Jones, but through Lloyd-Jones the theologian, that they would have a living encounter with God himself.

Credo Magazine: How is the Christian life one of doctrine on fire?

Dr. Meyer: My contention in this book is that too many people divorce doctrine and life or head and heart or light and heat. Doctrine and life are fuel and fire, not oil and water. The combustible combination of doctrinal precision and experiential power create an explosion called the Christian life. No theologian explains the explosion better than Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The thesis of my book is that the Christian life is doctrine on fire.

Credo Magazine: What is the place of doctrine in the Christian life and how should it shape our Christian lives?

Dr. Meyer: Biblical doctrines are “particular truths” which the Bible “wants to emphasize and to impress upon the minds of us all.”[1] Lloyd-Jones passionately believed that knowing biblical doctrines should not be isolated from experiencing these truths in everyday life. Deep theology should lead to new levels of experience and obedience.

It may help at this point to avoid abstraction by giving a specific example of what he has in mind. The resurrection of Jesus is a core biblical doctrine. Lloyd-Jones believed the doctrine should be understood, embraced, and defended, but it should also be experienced. Paul declares and defends the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, but he goes even further in Philippians 3:10. The apostle has an experiential ambition to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). In other words, Paul is not interested merely in the truth of the resurrection, but in the power of the resurrection. Why stop short at doctrinal knowledge of the resurrection? Scripture reveals the resurrection of the Lord so that we will encounter and experience the resurrected Lord himself.[2]

Credo Magazine: Lloyd-Jones preached a famous sermon series on spiritual depression. How does the threefold deductive structure of Lloyd-Jones help Christians face this deep darkness?

Dr. Meyer: Dr. Lloyd-Jones often demonstrated a medical cast of mind in which he would define the condition, diagnose the causes of this condition, and then offer a prescription.

1. The condition: Spiritual depression is a debilitating condition of feeling cast down, dejected, and disquieted. Instead of composing a specific definition, the Doctor unpacks the picture of Psalm 42 to paint an overall portrayal of this condition. A spiritually depressed person is someone “tearful and weeping, who does not want to eat, or to see anybody, and who is so pre-occupied with all his miseries that the kind of picture and impression that he presents is one of gloom and depression.”

2. The causes: What are some of the underlying causes of spiritual depression? The Doctor detected several interrelated factors: (1) temperament, (2) physical health issues, (3) Satanic attacks (4) unbelief, and (5) a lack of doctrinal clarity and balance.

3. The prescription. Lloyd-Jones sermon series on spiritual depression follows a logical flow through twenty-four sermons. He starts with the overarching principle of “taking yourself in hand” in the first sermon. In the rest of the sermons, he emphasizes “taking doctrine in the right order.” He takes the reader through a series of sermons that deal first with the doctrines of sin, justification, and the new birth. Then he leads the reader on a guided tour of nearly ten chapters of practical theology. These chapters address the various tactics the devil uses to distract Christians from focusing upon Christ. The Doctor then takes four chapters to lay out a doctrine of suffering that centers upon God’s fatherly chastisement for our sanctification. He closes the book by unpacking three key concepts in Philippians: the peace of God, contentment in Christ, and the final cure of Christ’s all-sufficiency, which he calls the “cardinal doctrine” of the New Testament.[3]

Credo Magazine: When helping people learn to engage the spiritual disciplines, what can ministry leaders learn from Lloyd-Jones’ approach?

Dr. Meyer: People tend to engage the spiritual disciplines in terms of raw willpower – strive more, work harder, do better. God never designed the spiritual disciplines to be divorced from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. There is a way to work in the strength that God supplies or in the strength that we supply. The Holy Spirit is a missing ingredient in the discipline and devotion of many Christians today. Lloyd-Jones made the Holy Spirit an absolute necessity in every part of his ministry and life. His theology is a stirring reminder to press into the empowerment of the Spirit.

[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible: God the Father, God the Son (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003), 2.

[2] “Paul does not say that he is anxious to have a greater knowledge about Christ…He tells us that he longs for a greater and more intimate personal knowledge of the Lord himself.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life of Peace: An Exposition of Philippians 3 and 4 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 69.

[3] Ibid., 29