NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, May 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time now for our classic book recommendation. And for that we turn to book reviewer Emily Whitten.
Good morning, Emily!
EMILY WHITTEN, BOOK REVIEWER: Morning, Mary!
REICHARD: Tell us about our book for May.
WHITTEN: I’d love to. The book I brought along today is Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Originally it began as a series of sermons back in the 1950s. By 1965, enough folks prodded him for a written version that Lloyd-Jones published it in book form.
To set the stage for our conversation, I’d like to play a quote from African pastor and author Conrad Mbewe:
MBEWE: Spiritual Depression by Lloyd-Jones is a twentieth century classic. I mean it. We live in a day when there are so many self-help books produced by spiritual gurus who point people to themselves rather than pointing them to the Lord Jesus Christ for emotional help… In light of all the spiritual darkness that surrounds us, the book Spiritual Depression by Lloyd-Jones comes like soft refreshing rain upon the parched land, and it helps us to see how the scriptures truly help us through our emotional struggles.
REICHARD: I like that word picture of rain falling on parched land.
WHITTEN: Me too. Though just for the record, the rain he’s talking about isn’t Lloyd-Jones’ own insight. He’s talking about God’s Word and His truth bringing life to a dead culture.
I think that’s actually a great summary of Lloyd-Jones’s ministry and what made him different from other preachers of his day. He wasn’t just trying to give his own helpful opinions or entertain audiences to keep up church attendance. Rather, Lloyd-Jones set out to unpack God’s wisdom from Biblical texts and apply it to real problems people faced.
REICHARD: Tell us a little more about Martyn Lloyd-Jones life?
WHITTEN: David Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born in Wales in 1899, and he died in 1981 in London, England. He’s probably best known for serving as the minister of Westminster Chapel in London for almost 30 years.
But before he became a minister, he worked as a medical doctor. In that career, he estimated that 70 percent of the problems he treated stemmed from drunkenness, overeating, and sexual sin.
Here’s a clip of Jason Meyer at Bethlehem College on how that pushed Lloyd-Jones to become a preacher:
MEYER: Martyn was troubled, haunted, by the thought that he was simply in medicine helping people be able to return to sin with more abandon. Medicine could not address the real disease. Only the gospel had the power to change people at the core like it had done for him.”
Lloyd-Jones lived around the early to mid-1900s. And he really saw British culture turning away from Christianity. It was growing more secular. Science tried to reduce man to a machine, so politics and social reform seemed far more hip and pressing than some ancient religion.
Listen for a moment to an interview Lloyd-Jones did shortly after his retirement.
LLOYD-JONES: What we need now is to remind people of the spiritual nature of man. That man can’t live by bread alone. And if there was ever a need to emphasize this, it’s now.
REICHARD: It sounds so relevant today. When did he say this?
WHITTEN: That would have been in the late 1960s.
REICHARD: Well, it’s just as true today as it was then.
WHITTEN: Yeah, very true. And you know, as a doctor, Lloyd-Jones wouldn’t deny physical causes of depression, like lack of vitamin D. But his subject here is spiritual depression—depression of our spirit. He’s saying, you can’t reduce people to mere animals. God made us in His image.
And because we live in a fallen world, our minds and hearts are spiritual battlefields. Lloyd-Jones wants us to know that God’s Word can help us fight for joy and win those battles.
REICHARD: I noticed the full title of the book is Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure. What are a few of the causes and cures of spiritual depression?
WHITTEN: Here’s one—many Christians struggle with old sins they’re afraid God can’t forgive. Lloyd-Jones demonstrates how justification by faith in Christ frees us from all guilt and gives us assurance that God loves us.
Another cause for depression is a superficial idea of Christianity. The kind that says, “If I’m ever down or depressed, maybe I’m not a Christian.”
Lloyd-Jones says, “There is nothing more instructive or encouraging as you go through the Scriptures than to observe that the saints of God are subject to human frailties. They know grief and sorrow. They know what it is to feel lonely. They know what it is to feel disappointed.”
So Mary, in the world you will have trouble, but take heart. Christ has overcome the world.
REICHARD: I recognize that! John 16:33. One last question, Emily. Who do you think will most appreciate this book?
WHITTEN: Lloyd-Jones speaks in a pretty conversational way, so I think he’s more approachable than some classic writers. Overall, anyone who wants to dig into the reasons for our hope in Christ will find it beneficial.
And I know a lot of people prefer audiobooks. So let me add this: You can listen to over a thousand of Lloyd-Jones’ sermons for free at MLJTrust.org. That includes the original sermons that make up this book.
REICHARD: Excellent. Free is good. Thanks so much for this recommendation today, Emily.
WHITTEN: You’re very welcome, Mary. Happy reading.
REICHARD: Today, Emily recommended Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd Jones. If you visit worldandeverything.org and look up this particular segment, you’ll find some of the links we mentioned today.