It was in 1985 that both my wife and myself sought the Lord Jesus Christ. We began to worship at Westover Free Church in Broadstairs, Kent. Our ideas of Christianity at that time were naturally somewhat disorganized. A person told me that all the basics of the Christian faith could be found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. So, with the enthusiasm of a new Christian, I began to read it and the other letters of the apostle. I soon realized that I would profit more with some help, but the problem was to know which commentary on Romans to choose. I suppose I must have bought the wrong one first, and instead of understanding the letter I became more confused.
One Sunday evening after the service, a pastor’s wife in the congregation asked me how I was getting on. I blurted out to her my problems concerning the letter to the Romans. She listened sympathetically and said that she thought there was a book that would help me. The following Sunday she came to me with her husband’s own copy of Romans: Exposition of Chapter 5; Assurance by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This book consists of twenty-six sermons preached on Friday evenings at Westminster Chapel in the winter and spring of 1957 and 1958.
I took it home and started to read it. Getting further and further into it, my mind started whirling as the author began to demolish all my confused and somewhat silly ideas about salvation. His logic left me breathless. I read the book right through, but this first reading did little more than disabuse me of many of the false notions I had picked up since becoming a Christian.
A second reading began, and this time glimmers of light began to appear. Words and phrases that I had heard other people use but had not understood started to take on a meaning, and almost a life of their own. In the first verse I found that being justified by faith really did result in peace with God, and that it was through our Lord Jesus Christ. That phrase became something more than words with which to end a prayer. As I read the book a second time those shafts of light came at me from all directions. ‘The Holy Ghost which is given unto us’ (v.5) was not only taking on new meaning, he was now working powerfully within me.
The end of that second reading of the book left me with a lot of new ideas, all of them true to God’s Word, but disconnected, and in places a little vague. Once more I began to read Dr Lloyd-Jones’ book, and on this third reading most of the loose ends came together. I realized how great is God’s love towards those whom he has chosen. I saw how Christ had died for us while we were still sinners, and how even when we were his enemies God had sent his only-begotten Son to the cross. All this, and much more, I learned from that final reading. By the time I had finished its 370 pages, Christian doctrine looked so simple, so logical and yet so astounding that every notion and prejudice I had ever had fled in confusion before it. The fog had gone. I was a different person by the time I closed that book.