“The first and foremost trouble under this heading is to be concerned about the person, rather than with the person himself. The trouble with the people who were not orthodox was that they were wrong in their doctrines about God and about the Lord Jesus Christ and about the Holy Spirit. But now I am indicating that there is a terrible danger of our putting the doctrines, the true doctrines, about the persons into the place of the persons. And that is absolutely fatal. But it is a very similar snare, which traps evangelical people, and orthodox people. You can be orthodox but dead. Why? Well, because you are stopping at the doctrines, you are stopping at the definitions, and failing to realize that the whole purpose of doctrine is not to be an end in itself, but to lead us to a knowledge of the person and to an understanding of the person, and to a fellowship with the person.

“The New Testament itself deals with this at great length in many places. And the history of the Church certainly brings it out very clearly. There are, indeed, churches today, and denominations that are perfectly orthodox, yet are quite dead. They do not seem to be  used at all in the salvation of souls, nor really in giving their people assurance of salvation. Why? It is because they remain only on the level of doctrine–this intellectual concern and this intellectual correctness. It is a terrible thing to substitute even doctrines for the living realization of the person.  And this applies also to preaching. Of course a preaching which is non-doctrinal is in the end quite useless. Yes; but let us remember there is a difference between preaching about doctrines and preaching doctrinally.

“By that I mean that you can preach doctrines in a purely intellectual and mechanical manner. You start with your doctrine, you expound it, and you end with it, and you have preached about the doctrine. That is not the business of preaching. The business of preaching is to preach doctrinally about God, about the Lord Jesus Christ, and about the Holy Spirit and their work for us in our salvation. You see, there are constantly snares in this Christian life. We have that powerful adversary, the Devil, who is ever trying to ruin everything that God does, and to rule over us, so we have to be careful. We must not spend our time merely with the definitions and the statements, and stop at them, thus failing to arrive at a knowledge of the persons, and failing truly to receive and to live the full Christian life. Dead orthodoxy, in practice, is as bad as heterodoxy, because it is quite useless.”

-D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, Revival (Wheaton: Crossway, 1987), 58-59

Dead Religion

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