Sunday, March 1, 2009

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Faced Death with Joy

On this day in 1981 Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones finished his earthly pilgrimage and entered the presence of his Savior. He had suffered from throat cancer for many months until he was no longer able to speak. When he realized his condition would not improve, he decided to suspend further treatments and requested his family not to pray for healing: "Do not hold me back from the glory." He was ready to meet the Lord.

Lloyd-Jones' refusal to take antibiotics caused his doctor to say, "It grieves me to see you sitting here 'weary and worn and sad.'" ML-J's reply was one of the last things he was heard to say: "Not sad!". . ."Not sad!" While reading Scripture with his daughter Elizabeth (2 Cor. 4:16-18), she asked her father if his experience was like the Apostle Paul's—the inner man being renewed and his light affliction working glory for him. Though unable to speak, "he nodded his head with great vigour."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones faced death the way he had faced life, trusting completely in Christ and His imputed righteousness. He was a successful and well-respected preacher, but he didn't rely on his success for his joy. Several months before his death he impressed upon his biographer, Iain Murray, the importance of Christ's command to His disciples after a successful mission: "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
'Bear that in mind,' he said solemnly. 'Our greatest danger is to live upon our activity. The ultimate test of a preacher is what he feels like when he cannot preach.' Our relationship to God is to be the supreme cause of joy. To lean upon our sermons or words of testimony from others is 'a real snare for all preachers'. 'We cannot lean on them'. (Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust; 1990. p. 738, emphasis mine)
On the night of February 28, 1981 Lloyd-Jones read Scripture, and his daughter Ann prayed with him before he fell asleep. Sometime during the early morning hours of March 1 he awoke in the presence of the Lord. On this day we remember David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who faithfully expounded the Word, gave us a sense of the presence of God, and modeled what he preached in his living and dying.

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness (Psalm 17:15).