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‘Spiritual Depression’ mp3 series by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones


By stephen - Posted on 06 October 2011

In the autumn of 2010, I was privileged to enjoy a Long Service Leave break for a few months. It was during this time, driving around the southern parts of Victoria, that I listened to a series of talks based on the theme of ‘suffering’ by the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

His preaching was superb, very challenging, Biblical and highly engaging. However, it was Dr. Jones’ speaking manner that still reverberates within me as I recall these excellent messages.

That is, Jones' high reverence for an Almighty God was extremely obvious, passionate and real. This man’s God was holy, sovereign and truly great!

Stephen Cracknell shares his enthusiasm for these mp3s ...

 

Having, therefore, listened to Jones speak on 'suffering', it was a relatively easy decision to engage in critiquing these 24 mp3 sermons on spiritual depression called “Spiritual Depression” (The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust; distributed by Koorong).

However, I want to say from the outset that many (in fact, most) of these sermons are deficient in sound quality.

There are 2 ways, I believe, at looking at this: the glass is 1/2 empty or the glass is 1/2 full.

Let me explain:

One could listen to these sermons and complain about the lack of sound quality. That would be reasonable. They are not the best recordings but they are all ‘listenable”. In fact, a spokesperson from the MLJ recording Trust sounds somewhat like a broken record in explaining (at the beginning of many messages) that the Trust has laboured (hard!) to digitally engineer the best recording possible at the time (2004). An apology before the product is delivered! [1]

Or, one could listen to these sermons, knowing they were recorded over 50 years ago, and marvel that one could still listen to them today. I have chosen this path. I, for one, am extremely grateful that these recordings still exist at all; and it’s still possible to listen to them relatively clearly via my iTouch. Bravo, I say!

Not only that, but one can only wonder about the hours and hours that sound engineers have spent in getting these 24 mp3 talks to this ‘acceptable’ standard.

However, be warned and don’t expect the quality of recordings that many of us have come to expect; given the fact that the sound recordings we often listen to are fantastic in our modern age; even from our local church computer recording technologies. We are a spoilt bunch!

It is worth noting that these 24 sermons were preached by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones way back in Westminster Chapel from January 10th to July 18th in 1954!

They form the basis of that excellent book, which many of us have read, called ‘Spiritual Depression’; more about that in a moment.

I actually found it quite odd that the great expository preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, decided to preach a long topical series on a subject such as ‘depression’ in 1954. Yes, many of us know that he was a qualified doctor but why this topic and why so many sermons on this subject?

The late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones can answer this question in his own words:

“There is a volume of sermons preached by me published under the title Spiritual Depression. The story of how I came to preach that series may help illustrate this matter. I had actually determined – it seemed to me that I was being led in that way, but undoubtedly it was my own determination – to start a series of sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians. However, one morning while dressing, quite suddenly and in an overwhelming manner, it seemed to me that the Spirit of God was urging me to preach a series of sermons on ‘spiritual depression.’ Quite literally while I was dressing the series took order in my mind, and all I had to do was to rush as quickly as possible to put down on paper the various texts, and the order in which they had come to me, in that way. I had never thought about preaching a series of sermons on spiritual depression; it had never occurred to me to do so; but it came just like that. I always pay great attention to such happenings. It is a very wonderful and glorious experience apart from anything else; and I would not dare to disobey what I regard as a very definite injunction coming in that manner. I am quite confident that the preaching of that series of sermons was dictated to me by the Spirit Himself. ‘Preaching and Preachers’ by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Thousands of people, all around the world, are very glad that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones followed his conscience on this matter. It’s now regarded as a classic and still in print. No doubt, many people have been immensely helped by his advice.

So, back to the MP3 Series ‘Spiritual Depression’.

Well, not quite! Sorry!

David Renshaw (Academic Book and Bible Buyer) from Koorong very kindly sent to me a copy of Spiritual Depression with the MP3s of the same name. I am so glad he did.

The reason for that is - I chose to listen to the sermons along with the book.

Now, bear in mind that there are 24 MP3s and only 21 chapters in the book; and they are not completely in sync with each other. Also, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has slightly edited the written copy. He writes in the Foreword to the Original Edition in his book: “These sermons were preached on consecutive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel and are here reproduced virtually as they were delivered.”

Not completely, mind you; there has been some editing by the late Doctor.

Having said that, I still found this a really good way to go; headphones in my head, book in front of my eyes – off I go: listening and reading (auditory AND visual learning!).

The result?

Stunning series of messages; stunning book!

Dare I say it (in the context of overprescribing of anti depressant drugs, in my view) [2], these messages are more important today than they were back in the ‘50’s (as important this issue was back then [3]).

The great thing about this book is that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones deals with the ‘causes’ of depression (he calls it ‘spiritual depression’ because His concern is with depression in the life of the believer) as well as its ‘cures’. In some way, therefore, the title of the book is somewhat misleading.

He refers to the Christian suffering from depression as a ‘miserable Christian’ on many occasions and his tone can be somewhat assertive at times. He chooses empathy over sympathy and his treatment of the causes is exhaustive.

For example, he deals with those of us who fear the future, or fear the past, or those of us who cannot let go of that ‘past sin’ that we have committed and refuse to see it in the light of the Cross.

However, whilst that strength of his approach should not be minimised, the other overwhelming strength of this mp3 series/book is the Biblically saturated ways to cure the problem.

It is this that greatly erodes the title of the book/sermons in my view.

What do I mean ‘erode’?

The title and subject of this mp3 series/book is spiritual depression. Of course it is, but it is far more than that; far more.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones deals far more than with the subject of depression as he does on how we should live the Christian life and I put it to you that the mp3 series/book could’ve been subtitle … “Living the Christian Life”.

This is important – so important. Many people will not access the mp3 series/book because they believe that depression is not an issue in their lives. That may be so, but Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones deals with so many relevant issues that impact all of us and many aspects of the Christian faith are dealt with by the good Doctor.

Hence, this book is essential reading for all Christian people; yet another ‘must read’. All of us could profit greatly by what he has to say and the straightforward manner in which he says it [4].

Getting back to my original point about this mp3 series/book being ‘Biblically saturated’ is critical.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes that the mind, heart and will are all vitally important in living ‘Christianly’; however, it is the MIND that must be engaged first. Why? Because it is God’s gift to us and by it we understand Biblical doctrines (teachings).

For example, a cause for ‘spiritual depression’ (and by that he means ‘depression’ – as we understand it – in the life of a Christian) COULD be simply an ignorance of who we are ‘in Christ’ and what God has done for us ‘in Christ’.

This awareness (into the mind, then the heart) could result in a vital turnaround in the life of a spiritually depressed Christian who now understands his/her depression needed a doctrinal cure. Hence, no anti-depressant medication is required for this soul! He/she now understands how mightily privileged he/she is a child of the living God and then responds accordingly (will)!

The source of our joy must be in the living Person of Christ – not what the world offers nor the constant ‘putdowns’ by Satan as he seeks to rob us of our joy; for it is his desire for us to be but ‘miserable Christians.’

Christ was, and still is, the Answer!

Consider these words by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the context of depression and feelings: “So, if you and I find ourselves afflicted by this condition, there is only one thing to do, it is to go to Him. If you seek the Lord Jesus Christ and find him there is no need to worry about your happiness and your joy. He is our joy and happiness, even as he is our peace. He is life, He is everything. So avoid the incitements and temptations of Satan to give feelings this great prominence at the centre. Put at the centre the only One who has the right to be there, the lord of Glory, Who so loved you that He went to the Cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek Him, seek His face, and all other things shall be added unto you.”

There is so much more that I could say about this mp3 series/book. Suffice to let you know that this is a superb mp3 series/book; a mighty mp3 series/book by a might pastor-teacher. It is an mp3 series/book that every Christian could listen to/read for immense profit.

In summary, both the “Spiritual Depression” mp3 series and the book are both HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Stephen Cracknell

 


[1] What I found most annoying is listening to a spokesperson from the Trust warning us NOT to illegally copy the mp3. Fair enough, but not right at the end of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ message where one is digesting the impact of the sermon in the core of one’s soul – only to be interrupted and pounced upon by the Trust's conscience police!!

[2] I have personally suffered from depression and for a time was given anti-depressant medication before I was converted to Christ.

[3] Obviously the issue of depression was of great concern in the 50's; hence DR. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES long series of messages

[4] This book is essential reading for pastors. Before succumbing to the temptation of sending off Christian members of the flock to “the professionals” to deal with depression; read this book and/or listen to the mp3 series - please.

 

The mp3 series and book are available at KOORONG; both reasonably priced.

“Spiritual Depression” (MP3 series on CD Rom). The Legacy Collection. The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust.

“Spiritual Depression. Its Causes and Cures” (Book. Marshall Pickering; 300 pages).

 

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