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Sermon #PP14


A Lecture on Church Music and Altar Calls



Sermon Description

In this lecture on church music and altar calls, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses matters facing the church today that threaten the preaching ministry. Regarding music, Dr. Lloyd-Jones is concerned that congregations are opting for more special singing, quartets, and choirs, and focusing less on the preaching ministry. The more a church is focused on her building, ceremony, special singing and music, the less the church experiences a robust and Biblical spirituality. This leads, he believes, to an entertainment style of ministry. All instruments are to accompany congregational singing alone. Additionally, there is the danger of altar calls. He laments the rise of the altar call, rooting it in emotionalism which imposes a wrong pressure on the will. In contrast, Dr. Lloyd-Jones presents a Biblical case for appealing to the mind. Sinners do not have the inherent power of “making a decision” for Christ; rather they must be regenerated. The conversion of a soul is not produced by an emotionally-based, momentary decision––it is the work of God. What the preacher longs for is solely the work of the Holy Spirit and therein one finds power in preaching––not in the techniques of the preacher but in the movement of God.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The question of whether we should do anything to condition the meeting and condition the people for the reception of our message. The question of music comes in here. The preacher is the man who's in charge of all these things.
  2. Deliberate attempts at conditioning the people are surely thoroughly dead. This attempt to condition the people, to soften them, as it were, is surely something that militates against the true preaching of the gospel.
  3. The history of the altar call - came in with Charles G. Finney in the 19th century. Caused great controversy at the time. Difference between Nettleton and Finney.
  4. It is wrong, surely, to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached through the mind, the intellect, and then the affections. Romans 6:17 - ye have obeyed from the heart that form of sound doctrine.
  5. Too much pressure on the will is dangerous. The results become not the truth itself but the personality of the evangelist or some vague fear or psychological influence. Can become drunk on music.
  6. The preaching of the word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking. Like the sacraments should not be separated from the preaching of the word.
  7. This whole process surely carries in it the implication that sinners have inherent powers of decision and of self conversion. This is something, surely, that we must reject theologically. The sinner is completely impotent.
  8. There is an implication, surely here that the evangelist somehow is in a position to manipulate the Holy Spirit and his work. This activity of the evangelist is a vital element and it can make a difference to the activity of the Holy Spirit, surely a very serious position to take up, and surely an unscriptural one.
  9. This method tends to produce a very superficial conviction of sin, if any at all. The reasons that people respond are often that they have got the impression that by doing this they're going to receive certain benefits. Illustration of the "star convert".
  10. A sinner, I say, does not decide for Christ. The sinner flies to Christ in helplessness and in despair.
  11. No sinner really ever decides for Christ. That's a very wrong and a very false term. A sinner flies to Christ in helplessness and in despair.
  12. The argument of results can be answered in many ways. We should not hold the jesuitical doctrine of the end justifying the means. Examine the results and claims. What percentage are lost? If some are real, the work of the Spirit, would have happened anyway.
  13. Differentiate between immediate and remote results. May get immediate results but consider the remote effect - the general result and effect upon the life of your church and churches in general. The total level of spirituality has gone down.
  14. Ministers say their problems have increased rather than decreased. Can't get calls from certain churches. Criticized for not making the call. Introduced a carnality, unhealthy interest in numbers, impatience with the message.
  15. The men who organize this activity are able to predict with extraordinary accuracy the number of responses and results. This is unthinkable in connection with the work of the Holy Spirit. You never know what the Holy Spirit is going to do. The wind bloweth where it listeth.

Sermons: Preaching and Preachers

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.