The doctrine of the church in relation to the phenomenon of revival in the thought of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
The fact that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, as St. Paul maintains in his fifth chapter of the letter to the Ephesians, is sufficient reason to be concerned about its unique nature and character, as a community of believers gathered out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, living under the Lordship of Christ. However, a cursory glance at the pages of the New Testament will reveal a vast number of images and symbols used there to describe the Church and its indispensable place in the purposes of God as well as in the lives of believers. A brief consideration of the history of the Church reveals an unexpected factor. Until the time of the Reformation, the Church was accepted as a "given" factor, as a spiritual society in communion with God through Christ, vivified by the Spirit, a congregatio fidelium. It was only after the Reformation and in order to meet its challenge that the self-conscious question was raised as to the unique and distinctive nature of the Church. The tracts written at that time, as may have been expected, were highly polemical in style and not very edifying from the perspective of the doctrine of the Church. In the last one and a half centuries, the Roman Catholic Church, with its Vatican I (1869-70) and its Vatican II (1962-65), has attempted to handle the question of the nature of the Church. At the first Council, the institutional nature of the Church was entrenched in a formidable way, while at the second Council the biblical viewpoints onto the Church were exposed in a pastoral fashion. Likewise in this century, the World Council of Churches emerged from the Protestant side of the Church, being officially constituted in 1948. This factor, too, gives witness to the developing interest in matters relating to ecclesiology, as seen especially in the particular question of Church unity. It is in this time of ecclesiological self-awareness that David Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserted the importance of the Church in evangelical theology. However, rather than supporting the rising notion of ecumenism, he assailed it vigorously for its doctrinal indifference and its lack of commitment to evangelical truths as seen in the Reformed tradition of faith. He, therefore, in contrast asserted a notion of evangelical ecumenism as a unity of churches and Christians based upon a distinct doctrinal basis of Truth found in the New Testament. Being a committed evangelical, it might be imagined that LloydJones would have played down the importance of the Church as has so often been the case in evangelical circles in this century. This pitfall he avoided, while nevertheless maintaining his attention on the individual person in all his teaching. A vast knowledge of the period of ferment, known in the history of the Church of England as the time of the Puritans, enabled LloydJones to focus on that form of the Church understood as "the gathered saints" or the regenerate community. This affected his understanding of membership in the Church and the way people come to faith in Christ. His clear principle is found running through his teaching : it is the believer's relation to Christ that puts him in relationship with the Church, not his connection with the Church that puts him in saving relationship with Christ. This principle has implications for his understanding of the sacraments as being limited to the regenerate as well as for the way discipline is exercised in order to keep the church "pure". It will be seen that Lloyd-Jones was greatly inspired by the example of the Puritans and their doctrine of the church. His distrust of the comprehensive nature of the Church of England and his antipathy to all forms of Roman Catholicism stem from this Puritan desire in him to see a godly church set up in our time, after the pattern of the New Testament church. The phenomenon of Revival, which runs as a theme through much of his preaching, was seen by Lloyd-Jones as a sovereign work of the Spirit of God, in answer to the prayer of faithful people. This awakening he regarded as a way of purifying the church, but also as being a means of genuinely extending the boundaries of the Church, in contrast to much modern evangelism and its methods which he distrusted. This message the Church of today needs to hear, lest it be found building on a foundation other than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ, our Lord.