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Antidote to Introspection: Reflections from Lloyd-Jones on John 17:1-5

12 August, 2008

A couple weeks ago we posted (here) some reflections from Martin Lloyd-Jones on Christ’s fulfilling of the law on our behalf, and how vital that is to a robust appreciation for Jesus’ completed work — ‘It is finished!’ Along the very same lines, here’s more from Lloyd-Jones on part of what this means for our daily Christian walk of faith. Who ever said doctrine wasn’t practical?!

“The one message which the gospel of Jesus Christ has to give to the world outside the church is the message concerning the way of salvation. But we must never forget that it is also always the central message which is needed by the church herself, because we have considered together the fact that, even having believed the gospel, we often find ourselves spending our Christian life in what may be called ‘shallows and miseries’….

There can be no doubt at all but that one of the besetting temptations and sins of the average Christian is the tendency to be looking in a wrong way at oneself. Now it is true that the Bible is full of exhortations to us to examine ourselves and to prove ourselves, yes, but there is all the difference in the world between doing that in the right way, and becoming introspective. You are introspective when you spend the whole of your time looking at yourself, looking inward, and being concerned only and supremely about yourself. The antidote to that, I suggest, is that we look again at the plan of salvation as it is unfolded in the Bible….

There are many today who would explain all our faith in terms of psychology. They claim it as a very clever and subtle form of self-persuasion, just a way of shifting your difficulties on to another plane….The answer to the good psychology argument is that we are dealing with certain historical events and facts which we must never allow ourselves to forget. Indeed, I am prepared to go as far as to say that whatever I may feel at this moment, though I may feel I am in a state of darkness and blackness, and am utterly discouraged, my position is still safe and I am secure because of these things that have been done in history outside of me and before I was ever born. Thank God I do not base my position on how I feel. Feelings are treacherous, they come and go, and what little control we have upon them!….But the answer is, I repeat, this marvellous plan of salvation. I must, of course, know that I am related to it — that is essential — but what I am arguing for is that if you want to enjoy these blessings and if you want to live this Christian life truly, you do so by looking at these things, by resting upon them and by saying, if you like, in the words of a hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less/ Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,/ I dare not trust the sweetest frame,/ But wholly lean on Jesus’ name./ On Christ the solid rock I stand,/ All other ground is sinking sand.

…When [the Holy Spirit] works in us, what he does is to make us glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  The man in whom the Spirit dwells does not talk about himself; whether he is a preacher or whatever he may be, you do not come away talking about him.

You and I have the inestimable privilege of being men and women who in this life and in our daily work and vocation can be glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, God grant that we all may be filled with this Spirit, the Holy Spirit, of God, that we may ‘know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made comformable unto his death’; that we may know what he has done for us; that we may know we are the children of God and joint heirs with Christ; that we may have glimpses of the glory that awaits us and that we may find our lives transformed and filled with his power, so that we may say with Paul, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.'”

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6 Comments
  1. 12 August, 2008 1:03 pm

    In my opinion, Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives us here too general an antidote to introspection and the ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom. Here is a nutshell of what he states: “I suggest, is that we look again at the plan of salvation as it is unfolded in the Bible … my position is still safe and I am secure because of these things that have been done in history outside of me and before I was ever born. Thank God I do not base my position on how I feel. … Oh, God grant that we all may be filled with this Spirit, the Holy Spirit, of God, that we may ‘know him … that we may know what he has done for us … so that we may say with Paul, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ ”

    So, what has God specifically done for us?

    What is the context of Paul’s statement: ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ ???

    I think that the specific antidote to introspection and ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom is not just “a robust appreciation for Jesus’ completed work” as great as that is.

    I think that the specific antidote to introspection and ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom is not just a hope that “is built on nothing less/ Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” as great as that is.

    Rather, I think that the specific antidote to introspection and ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom is an understanding and belief and rest that we have died to the Law and now are joined to Christ and walk by the Spirit.

    Yes, the Law is holy, righteous, and good. Romans 7:12. Yes, I should obey the Law. They are commandments. Deuteronomy Chapter 5 and Exodus Chapter 20. Yes, I should be grateful. Hebrews 12:28.

    But, the problem remains which is the sin within me. “But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.” Romans 7:8.

    The specific antidote to introspection and ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom is that we were made to die to the Law and were given the Spirit which will produce fruit against which there is no law. “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:4-6.

    The whole book of Galatians builds on this theme.

    From the pledge of allegiance of Galatians 2:19-21: “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

    Through the quest of perfection of Galatians 3:3-5: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”

    Through the warnings and curses of Galatians 3:10-13: “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–”

    Through the study of historical supremacy of the promise over the Law as written in Galatians 3:17: “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.”

    Through the inadequacy of the Law of Galatians 3:21: “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.”

    Through the analogy of the Law as our temporary tutor and the fact of our “graduation” to Christ of Galatians 3:24-25: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

    Through the allegory of the bondage of the Law versus the freedom through the promise written in Galatians 4:21: “Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.”

    Through the ultimate warning of being severed from Christ written in Galatians 5:4: “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

    Through the preemption by the Spirit of Galatians 5:18: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”

    Finally, to the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

    If we truly do not understand, believe, and rest in this specific antidote, we will continually keep coming back to the Law whether we adorn it as “grateful obedience” or “loving obedience” or “being perfected by the flesh” or anything else.

    In conclusion, why did Paul state: ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’? What was the context? What were the preceding verses? What is the specific antidote? “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” We will never get away from that introspection and ‘shallows and miseries’ resulting therefrom until we understand and believe and rest in the fact that we have died to the Law and now are joined to Christ and walk by the Spirit.

  2. 13 August, 2008 5:14 am

    Bill~

    To be fair to Rev. Lloyd-Jones, I’m the one who excerpted his work and put it by itself into a post. In the context of his book (and I thought it was pretty clear in the excerpt?), the ‘antidote’ is not ‘the plan of redemption’ as any abstract notion, but the concrete reality of the covenant of redemption bewteen Father, Son and Spirit for our salvation, and all that entails of the fulfilment and accomplishment of all the things you mention in your comment.

    You appreciated the previous Lloyd-Jones excerpt about the importance of Christ’s fulfilling of the law, right? That’s from the same book as this passage, it’s just a different passage talking about the same overarching themes.

    ~B

  3. 13 August, 2008 8:14 am

    I need to get that book.
    p

  4. 13 August, 2008 8:21 am

    Thanks Brannon! It is a good reminder that we are only reading an excerpt. Thank you for excerpting his work into bite-size nuggets. My intent is not to review all of Rev. Lloyd-Jones writings nor be critical of Rev. Lloyd-Jones; rather, my intent is to propose how we can be more specific than what was quoted in the post. I do appreciate Rev. Lloyd-Jones. It is a blessing to read what he wrote.

    As an example, I think someone can appreciate something that I say with no or little comment, but that same person can refute or correct or be more specific about something else that I may say. Even regarding the same writing, the reader may state they generally appreciate what I say, but they may still try to refute, correct, or be more specific about certain parts. It happens to me, and I think it happens to others too.

    To use an analogy, it may be generally true and helpful for a writer in a short article to tell a reader that he or she should go on a diet. But, if a blogger comes up and suggests in a comment that a reader should consider eating salmon and aspargus and drinking plenty of water, then I think, if that was true, then everyone would benefit from reading that comment, regardless of whether that (salmon, asparagus, and water) should be inferred as “diet” or whether or not the writer had made the same specific suggestion earlier in his book or in another book.

    The important issue is not what all that can be inferred from a diet or any other general topic. The important issue is not that the writer even specifically said the exact same thing in other writings. The important issue is whether or not there was any sufficient added benefit to the readers in the comment beyond what was written in the posted article (or even if it is a worthwhile reminder or emphasis). I thought that there was such added benefit in my comment, but it may have not been sufficient. It also may have been true but not sufficiently related to the topic of the posted article.

    Your blog is the best. I read so much that I like and deserves meditation and upon which I want to comment. I apologize, such as now, when I get too eager and start stepping on toes. Thank you.

    Yours truly,
    Bill

  5. 13 August, 2008 8:56 am

    ha ha great analogy bill. vivid!

  6. 13 August, 2008 10:08 am

    Thanks, chaos, for the comment on my diet analogy. Thanks also for being kind and gracious to me. But, I want to know. So to speak, was my comment more like salmon, aspargus, and water, or really more like my favorite “diet”, pepperoni pizza with a diet caffeine-free pepsi? 🙂

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