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Sermon #5706

Centenary of the Opening of Westminister Chapel



Sermon Description

Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones recounts the history of Westminster Chapel and its pastors. In this sermon preached in 1965 titled “Centenary of the Opening of Westminster Chapel,” he shares the love he has in celebrating the anniversary of this church that he pastored for nearly 30 years. Learn more about cathedrals, church buildings, and the danger to externalize religion—whether in building, art, or music. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones boldly declares that such externalization is inverse to spirituality—as one increases, the other simultaneously decreases. Dr. Lloyd-Jones proclaims his abhorrence for “non-conformist cathedrals” and analyzes the movements throughout the generations. What does it mean to say “there is a church within the church”? Learn about the story of Samuel Martin and the formation of Westminster Chapel on the old site of the Westminster Hospital. The remarkable survival story of this chapel amidst the bombings is recounted and told in a personal way by Dr. Lloyd-Jones. Hear of his confidence in its safety and his long history ever since.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. Dr. Lloyd-Jones begins by explaining the purpose of the meeting, which is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Westminster Chapel. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones expresses some hesitation about celebrating the opening of a building.

  2. Dr. Lloyd-Jones discusses the tension between the importance placed on the temple and religious buildings in the Old Testament versus the simplicity of New Testament worship. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says there is a danger of externalizing worship by focusing too much on buildings.

  3. Dr. Lloyd-Jones discusses how in the 19th century, Nonconformists developed an inferiority complex and built "Nonconformist Cathedrals" to compete with the Church of England. Westminster Chapel was built in this tradition.

  4. Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives a history of Westminster Chapel. The first chapel on the site opened in 1841 and seated 1,500 people. By 1863, the congregation had outgrown this building, so the current chapel was built in 1865 to seat 2,500 people at a cost of £18,000.

  5. The first pastor of the new chapel was Dr. Samuel Martin, who served from 1842 to 1878. Dr. Lloyd-Jones speculates that the strain of the large building contributed to Martin's death at age 61.

  6. The second pastor was Henry Simon, who served from 1875 to 1887. Dr. Lloyd-Jones speculates he left due to the strain of the building and the trend of the middle class moving to the suburbs.

  7. From 1887 to 1894, the chapel struggled to find a pastor. Many saw it as a "white elephant." George Campbell Morgan finally accepted the call and served from 1904 to 1917. He renovated the building but found the institute he started created a "church within a church."

  8. Subsequent pastors struggled with declining congregations and health issues. Dr. Lloyd-Jones speculates the large, difficult building contributed to these struggles.

  9. Dr. Lloyd-Jones recounts how he came to serve as co-pastor with Campbell Morgan in 1938 and then sole pastor in 1939. He discusses his confidence that the chapel would survive bombing in WWII, which proved correct apart from some minor damage.

  10. Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes by recounting the end of Campbell Morgan's ministry at Westminster Chapel in 1944. Dr. Lloyd-Jones went on to serve as pastor until his retirement in 1968.

Itinerant Preaching

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.