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April 23, 2021

Logic on Fire

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This article is a review of the book Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. 

Spiritual Depression is an outstanding book with an unfortunate title. I say this because the book is not about clinical depression at all, but unhappiness in the Christian life.

If you are not familiar with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he was a Welsh minister who was born at the turn of the century (1899) and died in 1981. Lloyd-Jones is known for being minister at the famed Westminster Chapel in London for nearly 30 years.

This book is really, really good. It is based on a series of 21 sermons that you can listen to online at www.mljtrust.org.  Unfortunately, the audio quality is not great, but if you are in a quiet place or you have noise-canceling headphones you’ll be able to get a sense of the man behind the book. I listened to a couple of chapters from the book in order to help me digest the material better.

What makes this book so practical, theologically rich, and helpful is the way Lloyd-Jones approaches the subject. Before he became a minister, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a physician. So, he attacks the problem of unhappy Christians like a doctor, laying out its causes chapter-by-chapter. He then makes a diagnosis, and recommends a particular remedy suited to each problem.

I found his analysis penetrating and insightful, and helpful to me at a number of points. I also found him to be a wealth of wisdom for many common problems in the Christian life. If you don’t find every chapter helpful to you, that’s ok. Keep reading. By the end, you’ll have a treasure chest of things you can offer to fellow travelers in the Christian life.

Here are just a handful of quotes from Spiritual Depression.

10. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? (p. 20)

9. From the moment we become Christian, we become the special object of Satan’s attention. (p. 52)

8. The fact that you are unhappy or troubled is no indication that you are not a Christian; indeed, I would go further and say that if you have never had any trouble in your Christian life I should very much doubt where you are a Christian at all. (p. 66)

7. We must never, for a second, worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us. It is a waste of energy. If you can do nothing about a situation stop thinking about it. (p. 82)

6. Seek for happiness and you will never find it, seek righteousness and you will discover you are happy – it will be there without your knowing it, without your seeking it. (p. 117)

5. Be prepared for surprises in the kingdom of God. You never know what is going to happen. The last shall be first. What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook, the last first, the first last, everything upside down. The whole world is turned upside down by grace. (p. 131)

4. What is faith? Let us look at it positively. The principle taught here is that faith is an activity, it is something that has to be exercised. It does not come into operation itself, you and I have to put it into operation. (p. 143)

3. Every teaching is to be tested by the teaching of the New Testament, not by feelings, not by experience, not by results, not by what other people are saying and doing. (p. 184)

2. If you and I come to regard any aspect of this Christian life merely as a task and a duty, and if we have to goad ourselves and to set our teeth in order to get through with it, I say we are insulting God and we have forgotten the very essence of Christianity. The Christian life is not a task. The Christian life alone is worthy of the name ‘life.’ (p. 200)

1. The condition of the Christian as described in the New Testament seems always to include these two elements and at one and the same time we find that these Christian people of whom the apostle writes are ‘greatly rejoicing’ and are also ‘in heaviness.’ (p. 219)

I would be doing you a disservice to suggest that after reading these you will have a good sense of the book. These quotes are merely a glimpse of what Lloyd Jones offers. What stood out most to me was his relentless biblical logic, but not an ungracious, stale, barren kind of logic. It is, as Lloyd-Jones once said about preaching, Logic on Fire. Enjoy!

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Tim Augustyn

Pastor of Ministry Resources

Tim serves as the resident pastor, writer, and editor of Open the Bible. He was born and raised in northern Wisconsin, came to faith in his 20s while working in the business world, and received a Master’s in Divinity from Trinity International University. He is author of the children’s book Man on the Run, and co-author of The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional with Colin Smith. Tim and his wife, Janna, and their four kids live in Arlington Heights, Ill. Contact Tim at taugustyn@openthebible.org.
Tim serves as the resident pastor, writer, and editor of Open the Bible. He was born and raised in northern Wisconsin, came to faith in his 20s while working in the business world, and received a Master’s in Divinity from Trinity International University. He is author of the children’s book Man on the Run, and co-author of The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional with Colin Smith. Tim and his wife, Janna, and their four kids live in Arlington Heights, Ill. Contact Tim at taugustyn@openthebible.org.