I read Murray’s biographies of Martyn Lloyd-Jones over 20 years ago. They affected me deeply as I was growing in my understanding of the Bible and the church’s mission. I have to confess , though, that I rather lost interest in MLJ, not because of the man and his teaching, but because of those who constantly referred to ‘The Doctor’ with hushed tones and the little sharp intake of breath. It was the perceived harking back to the halcyon days of MLJ in his prime that I found became rather disagreeable.
Well, I was searching for a quote from the first volume of his biography which came to mind while in sermon preparation. I did not find the quote, but I did start re-reading the book.
All that to introduce I quote I found this morning which struck me. MLJ was making the decision to enter the preaching ministry:
[MLJ] was also preoccupied with the need for evangelistic work among poorer, working-class people. This conviction arose not simply out of interest in them as people, but equally out of a persuasion that modern Christianity, unlike the apostolic faith (which was relevant to the ‘Barbarians’ and to the ‘unwise’ as to the ‘Greeks’ and to ‘the wise’), seemed to appeal largely to only one social and cultural group. That was evidence to him that the transforming power of real Christianity was largely absent. He wanted to see the message which he believed had been given to him of God tested in a place where social habits did not support church-going.
– The First Forty Years, Iain Murray, Banner of Truth, p. 105-6
Am I right in thinking that this is a word for today? I am often struck that we in the reformed/evangelical world do our work in middle class, affluent areas, that once we are there that is where we stay. I sometimes think we are too happy in our comfort zones.
Of course, I speak as one planting a church in an affluent neighbourhood where there is less and less of a culture of church-going. We are doing pioneering work here. Yet we must not neglect the poor. It is my heart’s desire that one day, if God should allow us to get established here and into a position to plant a daughter church, that we will turn to the poor neighbourhoods near us.
4 thoughts on “The Gospel and the Poor”
Sometimes I think we must work where we are called, for the time that the Lord appoints us to work in that area. Just as Paul was in Ephesus for a time, then Corinth, etc.
May God continue to bless your ministry and I am sure if the opportunity later presents itself to minister to the poor by planting a church (or otherwise), the Spirit will prepare not only your heart but the heart of those receiving the Word.
Yes, something I’ve been thinking about, too. Nevertheless, you can and likely will suffer as much persecution to the mid & upper classes as to anyone else. The Lord’s work must be done to all.
I share your MLJ convictions, I read him lots about 15 years ago but all the talk of the Dr made me ill, especially when it was coming from guys who didn’t know him.
I went to a church on a council estate. I was from there and everyone else drove in and then out. The church moved away because they couldn’t reach the people. I don’t think they really tried. MLJ was right we need to go to the poor as well as the middle classes.
I didn’t mean to decry evangelism to the rich, so apologies if that was not clear. I suppose I just observe an imbalance or lack of concern.
during my training I worked with a church for a couple of years. It was just like the church you describe – in the middle of a council estate but the members and attenders travelled in. I found out that since its inception 40 years before, they had never had a pastor who lived locally. I would say that within 6months of being there I realised there was no hope unless the people were willing to live there. Sure enough, at the end of my two years the church decided finally to close its doors (not because of anything I said, I hasten to add!).
A heart for the poor implies living among them. That is a big ‘ask’!
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