Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2004 1:17 PM
Subject: MARTYN LLOYD-JONES' METHOD? [05/15/04]

I received the following email from a Pastor on my list:

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, pastor of Westminster Chapel for many years would preach a substantive Gospel sermon (long), pray and then walk out. A deacon would get up and read the intimations (announcements). One of the notices he would give was something like this: 

"If any of you feel you can no longer live without the Savior, the Doctor is in his office." 

A line would form down the hallway with inquirers and others needing counsel. When pressed by a visiting American preacher/scholar, the deacon said reluctantly, "The Doctor doesn't publish numbers, but we probably have 25 converts every Sunday."



Since the foregoing report is obviously something other than "firsthand" information, I do not know whether or not it is an accurate representation of Dr. Lloyd-Jones's method or system in regard to giving people the opportunity to come forward and confess faith in Christ. However, if it is accurate or at least close to accurate, it raises an interesting point -- especially in relation to some of the objections made against the method of the Public Invitation as means of opportunity for hearers of the Gospel to come out and openly confess Christ as Savior.

A few observations:

I do not know that Dr. Iain Murray, Pastor Erroll Hulse, Ernest Reisinger, Fred Zaspel, Jim Ehrhard, Reformed Baptists, or the Founders Associates -- or any who object to what they call the "Public Invitation System" -- use the same alleged "office system" as Dr. Lloyd-Jones, or if they even approve of it. Nevertheless, this "office system" does furnish us with a particular method which may illustrate how the APPLICATION of the objections by these gentlemen to the Public Invitation method might likewise apply against the method of one whom they greatly admire -- presuming Dr. Lloyd-Jones did use this method.

It is one thing to object to a practice or system used by others, yet it is another thing to validate your own practice or system. One cannot establish "accreditation" for a method by simply "discreditating" another system. To prove another wrong does not prove you are right. The question is, if the Public Invitation system is wrong on the grounds of certain principles, is the "office system" any better when evaluated by the same principles?

(1) Some of the objections against Public Invitation amount to this, that the method or system is not revealed in the Scriptures as an approved way of urging and inviting people to confess faith in Christ.

The implication is that a system or method must have precedent in Scripture as a "pattern" of practice for it to be biblically approved. We are exhorted to "emulate the New Testament practice of evangelism." We are told that Jesus and the Apostles and the early church did not use the Public Invitation system, consequently there is no justification for it to be used by us today.

If this be the case, we wonder if these same objectors would apply the same principle or  guideline to the alleged method or system of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones -- if the report above is an accurate representation of Dr. Jones' method?

Did Jesus and Apostles go to an office in a church building after they delivered a sermon, then a Deacon would advise concerned persons to form a line of inquiriers so as to receive counsel in the office? Is there a biblical precedent for this type of practice? Was this the practice in "New Testament evangelism"? If the Public Invitation system is held to such a standard, should not the "office system" be held to the same standard?

(2) Also -- and if as we suspect -- there is no record of this "office system" in the early church, this method obviously must have been instigated by someone in past history. Perhaps not Charles Finney, but some other person who may not have liked Finney's method of the "anxious seat."

Wonder who was the first evangelist or pastor to specify the pastor's office as an approved, acceptable "spot" where confessions of Christ as Savior were approvingly made? Wonder if this office system was before or after Finney's "anxious seat" method or the use of  "enquiry rooms" in Spurgeon's time? And if it is a fact that the "office system" had an origin after apostolic times, we wonder if this invalidates it -- applying the same principle as used by objectors against the Public Invitation as a system?

(3) We also wonder if this "office system" would not likewise mislead some common, unlearned inquirer to assume that to be "saved" he would have to "go to the office" for counsel from Dr. Lloyd-Jones? If one is capable of confusing "going forward" during the Public Invitation with salvation itself, then would not the same type of person be capable of confusing "going to the office" with salvation?

(4) Since it is alleged by objectors to the Public Invitation system that it magnifies the "personality of the speaker" and his "appeal," we wonder if the "office system" might not attach too great an importance to consulting with a person such as Dr. Lloyd-Jones in his office as the method of finding the way to salvation? Would not this tend to magnify Dr. Lloyd-Jones -- or a pastor -- in his office as being "the" person and the place in the matter of receiving the proper, authoritative instruction on how to "close" with Christ as Savior?

(5) Furthermore, was there not a danger on the part of some of their wrongly perceiving Dr. Lloyd-Jones as being a "Westminster Father-Confessor" and the office as a sort of "Westminster Confessional"? Would not such a practice have made Dr. Lloyd-Jones somewhat of a "mediator" on an order similar to the Roman priest in his confessional, directing souls on how to receive the forgiveness of sins?

(6) Then there is the danger of giving a "false assurance" to those who conferred in the office with Dr. Jones. Might not some mistakenly think that because they went into the office, and privately conferred with the respectable Doctor, they must certainly be saved? If this type of danger exists in the case of the Public Invitation, surely it seems likely that some might make the same mistake in regard to conferring with Dr. Lloyd-Jones in his office.

(6) Also, would not this "office system" tend to replace baptism as a means of public profession, as is alleged by some against Public Invitations? If there is a threat to the practice of baptism by the use of Public Invitations, then would not the same danger exist in regard to the use of the "office system"?

(7) Furthermore, if people were saved for centuries before the office of the pastor became an approved place for confessing faith in Christ, why use the "office system" today? If the church got along without this office system in the past, why use it now?

(8) John Wesley did not use the "office system," so far as we can find in his Journals which tell of his evangelistic work, neither did George Whitefield. If Wesley's and Whitefield's lack of using the modern Public Invitation system tends to invalidate this method, then would their practice not likewise tend to invalidate Dr. Lloyd-Jones's "office system"?

(9) We do not find that the terminology, "the Doctor is in his office" is "biblical terminology." If one is to be told to "run to Christ," as Brother Fred Zaspel says, then should not the hearers of Dr. Jones have been told to "run to Christ" rather than being invited by the Deacon to stand in line to meet the Doctor in his office?

(10) Lastly, would not one's response to the invitation to stand in line to get an entrance into the "Doctor's office" involve a "decision" on the part of the hearers, the ones invited? And are we not told that making a "decision" to respond during a Public Invitation is rather taboo, and even "unnecessary" where faith already exists in the heart? If it is wrong to make a decision to come forward during the Public Invitation, why would it not likewise be wrong to decide to accept the invitation to stand in line to go into the Doctor's office?

And as for the "numbers" of converts mentioned in relation to Dr. Lloyd-Jones's system, if numbers can be misleading in relation to Public Invitations, might they also not be misleading in regard to the "office system"? How can we be sure that the reported number of those who stood in line, entered the office, and received counsel were indeed to be regarded as "converts"?

And if they were indeed converts, where are they today? Have they adopted the charismatic practices which were introduced at Westminster after Dr. Lloyd-Jones resigned as pastor? Where are the thousands -- 25 every Sunday -- which were reported by the Deacon as being "converts" during the many years of Dr. Lloyd-Jones' ministry?

If there are those reading this who use the "office system" allegedly used by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, or if you use an alternative system of hearing confessions and giving counsel, you might like to test your system by the same principles which are used against Public Invitations.

As the old saying goes, "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." -- -- Bob L. Ross

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