2,700 At Westminster Chapel
“Here I stand, I can do no other … so help me God!” These words of Martin Luther, repeated by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at the final meeting of the British Evangelical Council Conference, echoed the stand for Truth which had been the mood of the Conference throughout the two days of meetings.
Two thousand seven hundred pastors and church members crowded into Westminster Chapel (and overflow hall) on Wednesday, 1st November, to hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones speak on the subject, “Luther and his message for today”. It marked the 450th anniversary of Luther nailing up his ninety-five theses at Wittenberg in 1517.
It was a tremendously powerful meeting, and not surprisingly for it commemorated a man whose spiritual experience is so relevant to the stand being taken by the B.E.C. at the present time.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones said that he was greatly encouraged by the sight of the immense congregation. He said he had the feeling that they had come together to demonstrate, to make a declaration, because unlike so many others at the present time they were not ashamed of the Protestant Reformation.
He pointed out that in the last fortnight the secular press had taken a greater interest in the Reformation than the church had. This was because the church was afraid of calling attention to it because they had ideas in their minds, and plans which were travelling in the exact opposite direction.
After relating Luther’s background and conversion, Dr.Lloyd-Jones described his protest against the sale of indulgences. Luther did not, at the beginning have the slightest intention of separating from Rome.
Then he showed that although Luther was a great man and a true genius, the Reformation could only have been brought about by God, who not only raised up Luther but influenced political and economic circumstances, to assist the Reformation. Even the discovery of printing came just at the right time.
The right question
The church today is in trouble, so what questions does she ask herself? Dr Lloyd-Jones showed that the right question is the great lesson to be learned from the experience of Luther. We should not be asking. “How can we have a territorial church… how can we find a formula for unity”.
The first question Luther asked is the question which needs to be asked today: “What is a Christian and how does one become a Christian?”
Then Dr. Lloyd-Jones showed that if a man has experienced the answers to these questions and acknowledges the sole authority of the Scriptures, there is no possible compromise with the Church of Rome.
Denying the Faith
Equally, it is impossible for such a man to be yoked together in the church with others who deny the very elements of the Christian faith. “These men,” said Dr. Lloyd Jones, “who think to deny the very being of God and about the Lord Jesus Christ as a homosexual – there is no agreement, it is light and darkness. And that we should desire to hold such groups together in one territorial church is a denial of the Christian faith. It is guilt by association. If you are content to function in the same church as such people . . . then you are virtually saying that though you think you are right, they also MAY be right . . . · and that is a denial of the only true faith.
There were some, the doctor pointed out, who said that Rome was changing. It is true, – Rome HAS changed. Since the time of Luther she has brought in the doctrines of Papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. So she is worse now than she was then.
How to help
“Are we to help them,” he said, “by saying to them ‘You know after all, there is not very much difference between us. We also have been moving and you know we are coming nearer together?’ Is that the way to help them? God forbid!
“If you want to help a troubled Roman Catholic show him the true doctrine – open the Scriptures to him, show him the error under which he has been brought up.”
He went on to say that the situation around us is developing rapidly as the Ecumenical Movement advances day by day, heading not only to Rome, but to the ultimate amalgamation of all the so – called world religions – anything in order ·to hold on to power and authority.
“The idea that evangelicals can infiltrate any established church … reform it, and turn it into an evangelical body, is midsummer madness. No institution has ever been reformed. This is the verdict of history. Neutrality at a time like this is cowardice.”
Towards the close of his address Dr. Lloyd-Jones made an appeal to evangelicals in the words of Revelation 18.4 –
“Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto Heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”·
“Come out!” he urged, “But come together also – come into the fellowship of this Council of churches that stands for the Truth and against compromise, hesitation, neutrality and everything that ministers to the success of the plans of Rome and the Ecumenical Movement.
“Come out, come in, – and then look back at old Martin Luther and say with him, ‘Here I stand, I can do no other … so help me God’.”
Editor’s note: This was published in the November 1967 edition of Evangelical Times.