LIFE IN THE SPIRIT, In Marriage, Home & Work, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Baker Book House, 1975; 371 pp., $8.95. [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
Baker has already printed one volume of Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on Ephesians. It was published under the title, “God’s Way of Reconciliation”, and contained sermons on Chapter 2. This volume is a reprint which was first published in 1974. The fact that it is already being republished shows its popularity. And such popularity is well-deserved.
These sermons, originally preached by the author I in Westminster Chapel during the morning service in 1959 and 1960, deal with the exposition of Ephesians 5:8to Ephesians 6:9. We are told in the preface that the publication of these sermons preceded the publication of sermons on Chapter 3 because of “the urgency of the problems with which they deal”; and that is the hope of the author that this volume “will eventually take its place . . . as one volume in a series on this great Epistle.”
Taking his starting-point with Ephesians 5:18-21, and especially with the admonition, “Be filled with the Spirit,” the author applies this to the relationships of husbands to wives, parents to children and servants to masters as the Scriptures deal with these relationships in this passage.
There are many worthwhile features about this book, too many, in fact, to list in this brief review. It contains an excellent emphasis on the distinct character of the Christian life when the author emphasizes that being filled with the Spirit is indispensable to godly living in all life’s relationships. As he returns to this theme from time to time in the book, he inveighs against the social gospel, raises important and Scriptural objections to those who seek to introduce in a worldly society an outward Christian morality, emphasizes again and again that the Christian is a pilgrim and a stranger in the earth, and firmly roots the life of the Christian in sovereign grace. Furthermore, the book contains some very interesting and original exegesis of the pertinent passages, which, if the reader does not finally agree with, nevertheless, furnishes food for thought. The book is expository throughout, and deals very specifically and concretely with the text. Even though the homiletics is quite different from what we are accustomed to in sermons we hear, the exposition is clear, concise, Biblical and thoroughly enjoyable. It is an aid to ministers not only, but to all who study these passages of Scripture. But what is of particular value is the fact that the book is filled from beginning to end with all kinds of sound Scriptural teaching concerning these important relationships of life in which we all are called to live. Especially in these days when these relationships are sadly corrupted, this book is an invaluable aid.
There are some weaknesses. For one thing, because these are sermons, the cross ought to be more explicit when it is often only implicit. For another thing, the chapter on child training suffers because, while it has many good points, a lack of understanding of the doctrine of the covenant weakens its force. Here especially the emphasis of the author on making the responsibility of the parents a more or less evangelical enterprise in which the parents lead their children to Christ gives an entirely wrong emphasis to covenantal instruction. Finally, rather strangely, and in flat contradiction to the text, the author supports unionism and even the strike and revolution under certain circumstances. But these objections do not detract from the considerable value of the book. We recommend it highly to all our readers.
THE PERSON AND MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, The Traditional Calvinistic Perspective, by Edwin H. Palmer; Baker Book House, 1974; 196 pp., $5.95. [Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko]
There are a number of reasons why this is an interesting and important book. Apart from the fact that it deals with a subject which has been somewhat neglected in the Church until the rise of Neo-Pentecostalism, it develops, in large measure, the historic stand of the Reformed Churches concerning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It also has some very good chapters; I found the chapters on “The Holy Spirit and Regeneration” (in which the truth of the sovereign grace of God in this work is clearly set forth) and on “The Holy Spirit and His Symbols” especially interesting. It is because of these good features that the book is of considerable value to all who wish to make this subject the object of their study.
There are, however, two very striking weaknesses in the book. I do not want to call these weaknesses to attention by way of criticism only, but rather to point out areas in which this doctrine of the Holy Spirit can be profitably developed along different lines than in Palmer’s work.
The first weakness is a failure to understand the important distinction which Scripture makes between the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. It is also in connection with this mistake that the author fails to distinguish properly between the Second Person of the Trinity and Christ in our flesh. This weakness repeatedly crops up in the book and leads to confusion not only, but leads also to statements which border on tritheism. The author forgets that all the works of God which are performed ad extra are works of the triune God. These works are performed through Christ and by means of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ. The problem which the author faces and fails to resolve comes out most clearly in Chapter 11, “The Holy Spirit and Divine Sonship.” The author finds that the Bible uses the title Son of God in four different ways. In writing about the “Trinitarian Sonship”, the author writes:
The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with this Sonship, except that he proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father, as we saw in chapter 1.
This is a rather obvious, but serious mistake. And it is because of this error that the author often defines the relation between Christ and the Father as well as the relation between the believer and the Father as being a relation between Christ and the First Person of the Trinity, or between the believer and the First Person of the trinity.
In the second place, the author includes a chapter on “The Holy Spirit and Common Grace.” His erroneous commitment to common grace also leads him into trouble in more than one place in the book. For example, without mentioning the term common grace, the author speaks of a relation of sonship between all men and God. He writes:
For this sonship, too, the Holy Spirit is necessary. For, as we have seen, it is the Holy Spirit who is specifically responsible for the creation of man’s soul. It is the third Person of the Trinity, and not the Father nor the Son, who endows all men with a spiritual nature, so that they have life, artistic ability, aesthetic appreciation, and intellectual gifts. If man. rises to the dramatic heights of a Shakespeare, the philosophical thoughts of an Aristotle, the artistic accomplishments of a Rubens, the musical genius of a Brahms, the statesmanship of a Churchill, or to the simple love of a mother for her child, the ability of a boy to study mathematics, or the skill of a girl in making a dress, then we must praise the Holy Spirit. For these are evidences of the second type of sonship and the Holy Spirit’s work in establishing it. (p. 136ff.)
In this same connection he writes on p. 138:
According to the Bible the Christian is like God. We have seen that this is so in the creative sense, so that the Christian, along with the natural man, may be called a son of God because he resembles God, being spiritual, rational, moral, and emotional. This moral agency of man is called the natural image of God. It is one way in which all men, in distinction from animals, are like God.
It is even because of this general operation of the Spirit that all men can pray.
But what does it mean to pray “in the Holy Spirit” and to have the Spirit of prayer? First of all, it means that without the Spirit prayer is impossible. It is noteworthy that even the prayer of the unregenerate is prompted by the Holy Spirit. . . .
But these prayers are not pleasing in God’s sight. They are nothing else than sinful expressions of the unregenerate heart. . . .
The question which, of course, immediately arises is: But how can they be anything else but pleasing in God’s sight if they are wrought by the Holy Spirit? Is God displeased with His own work?
These questions are worthy of more extended and more Biblical exposition. It would have been well also if the author had included a chapter on the Holy Spirit and the covenant—the covenant life as God lives it in Himself, and the covenant of grace which He establishes with His people through Christ, and the work of the Spirit as related to the covenant.