D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Spirit, Love, and Mysticism


Adrian Warnock posted an outstanding excerpt from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of my favorite authors, detailing how Christ’s love through the Holy Spirit changes people and does so in a way the mystics of old understood, but we have discredited in large swaths of Evangelicalism.

There are, unfortunately, even many evangelical Christians who deny that God has any direct dealings with men today, and who hold feeling and emotion at a discount. They frequently substitute for true emotion a flabby sentimentalism. They are afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit, and so afraid of certain excesses which are sometimes found in mysticism and in certain people who claim to have unusual experiences of the Holy Spirit, that they ‘quench the Spirit’ and never have any personal knowledge of Christ. Indeed, they often go so far as to deny the possibility of such a knowledge….

(HT: Rick Ianniello)

As they say in the blogging biz, read the whole thing. It’s great stuff.

Considering that Lloyd-Jones said this decades ago only shows how entrenched the malaise has been. Even in a charismatic age, too many of our churches want to hold the Holy Spirit at arms length, fearful of how He might change us and draw us to a more intimate knowledge of Christ that is, dare I say it, mystical.

My question then is, how do we who believe as Lloyd-Jones does go about eliminating that fear in our churches of the Holy Spirit and of that deeper place of intimate, mystical love for Christ?

16 thoughts on “D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Spirit, Love, and Mysticism

  1. In answer to your question I think Christians need to depend upon the Holy Spirit for discernment. It’s a circular argument but not if you believe in the reality of the Spirit’s power. We shouldn’t be gullible but instructed by God’s Word, love, and his living Spirit.

  2. The thing that amazed me once I finally became part of a charismatic (pentecostal) church was that they taught that everyone could be filled with the Holy Spirit, but then would not trust people to actually hear from the Spirit for themselves. How sad is that?! “Here, you, too, can be filled with the Holy Spirit, but I’ll tell you what He’s actually saying to you since you can’t possibly actually hear and understand Him yourself.”

    • Steve,

      Yours is a difficult statement because I see both sides.

      1. Leaders need to encourage their charges to exercise their gifts. In addition, good leader recognize those gifts and help draw them out of others.

      2. Leaders need to prevent immature Christians from operating in unproven or downright bogus gifts.

      Those two are the responsibility of leaders. I think today’s leaders do an awful job at both.

      Of the two, failing at #2 is perhaps the greater problem as is evidence by the rank stupidity and false prophetic words spoken unendingly in what passes for the charismatic movement today.

      I say that because I would guess that 95 percent of the “prophetic words” spoken over me were wrong. It gets worse in that all the correct words were spoken by just two men; everyone else has been wrong.

      When I have approached leaders about others giving false words, I’ve been almost universally blown off. So much for discernment!

      I won’t tolerate bogus words, not at all. People who speak them do incalculable damage to the Body of Christ, ruining lives and causing others to stumble or abandon the faith altogether. Charismatics of all stripes need to clean house and this is one of the first places to begin. Anyone who gives any kind of word of knowledge, word of wisdom, or prophetic word MUST have a proven track record with the leadership of a church before they should be allowed to speak them to anyone. Why something so simple like this can’t seem to be done is beyond me.

      I will grant you that self-centered leaders afraid of surrendering the spotlight may quench gifted people. That has not been my personal experience, though. I have seen some “gifted” people who most definitely SHOULD have been quenched, but not as much the other way around. If that has been your experience, could you share more?

      • Yeah, Dan, I’m ready to correct what needs to be corrected (see comment below), but not by limiting folk by their “track records”. Paul said everyone may prophesy, one at a time, so if the Spirit so moves, I’m perfectly happy with everyone doing so, whether rich or poor, learned or ignorant, newly born or an old geezer in the Spirit. The important corrective comes by judging of the prophetic words that come forth. The big question then becomes how do we correct the unspiritual without putting such a chill or placing such cumbersome restrictions on everyone else that they are afraid to launch out in the future?

        I’m not a great proponent of “personal” words, not only because they are almost always wrong, but they are not well attested in the NT. The Agabus story of Paul on his way to Jerusalem is a case in point. Silly, pointless, completely ineffective for any corporate good or even to Paul himself. Sorry, but it’s hard for me not to see Agabus as a self-indulgent blow hard. How do such words benefit withal? Is it even appropriate or should it be anticipated that they come forth at all? We each have the Holy Spirit, so if he wants to tell us something special, he’ll tell us himself.

        I do appreciate,your call for us to clean house. Methodolgy and degree could be the subject of a great discussion.

  3. David

    Two things are true here. One is that mystics are needed today as much as ever (and not the kind that write books, but those who inhabit every gathering of believers). The other is those with discernment who can interpret the mystics within orthodoxy for the edification of the whole of the body.

    We’ve too many mystics unchecked and discerners who’ve grown cold into judgmentalists.

    • Peyton

      David, I agree fully with your observations.

      Unfortunately, the place to find mystics and discernment is within the (Easstern) Orthodox Churches. Protestantism is appallingly mental (witness our atrocious art), and provides no basis to understand, much less discern, mysticism. We can detect heresy a mile away, but cannot truly “move with the Spirit” because someone might accuse us of heresy.

      Maybe we need to give up some of our pride and acknowledge that the “other side” has something to offer. πŸ˜‰

    • David,

      I’m afraid that too many of today’s mystics have gone off the deep end. Here’s a sure truth: anyone who goes around letting everyone know he or she is a mystic or prophet probably isn’t. That’s worked for me a long time and I’m sticking with it!

      • I think a good watermark would be that (1) genuine mystics are insanely, madly in love with Jesus, (2) they revere the Scriptures, (3) they are blown away by God’s awesomeness, (3) they have a great deal of endurance, and (4) they almost never think of themselves as “mystics”.

        And with the territory, God often does some real humdinger, mind-blowing things in their lives.

        I think St. Teresa of Avila could be used as one example. I’ve personally read her autobiography, and I think my characterization is pretty close to being a good generalization.

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