Discernment Lesson: Comparing a Beth Moore & Martyn Lloyd Jones teaching on on the same verse

I recently did a discernment lesson on the most popular story Beth Moore tells, The Hairbrush Story. Chris Rosebrough has dismantled it sentence by sentence, and I pointed readers to that link, and then offered some of my own insights.

Because writing a discernment lesson about a false teacher takes so much time, which means I have to spend a lot of time wallowing in her muck, it necessitates a spiritual wash afterwards. I got curious about Moore's teaching on Ephesians 3:19, which The Hairbrush Story was allegedly about. She focused on the part of the verse which promises the full measure of God (NIV), or the fullness of God (ESV).

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

I love Martyn Lloyd Jones' sermons, especially on Ephesians, which I am going through anyway. I decided to listen to his treatment of the verse, the same verse, the one and only verse, and see what I could learn. After hearing Moore, I really did want to know more about the full measure of Christ. It is a majestic topic. The phrase kept rolling around in my head. So I headed over to the Martyn Lloyd Jones (MLJ) Trust Sermons and listened so my mind could be cleansed from the mud and I could learn about Jesus from a credible preacher. I found the MLJ sermon All the Fullness of God

As I was pondering these things, a tweet came up from my twitter friend Landon Chapman at Entreating Favor website and Fire Away! podcast. Here it is:

This is very, very wise. I take his advice to heart.

I have never immediately compared a false teacher's lesson on a verse to a credible teacher's treatment of it. Of course I always compare the false teacher's lesson to the Bible. Also, it's not often I can find a false teacher having focused solely on one verse for the point of her lesson and then find a preacher who also preached on that exact sole verse. Comparing would be easy. Not uncomplicated or fast, but easy as in apples to apples. The Moore teaching was still fresh in my mind, as I listened to Jones'. I listened to MLJ's sermon three times in fact.

I found that Beth Moore and Martyn Lloyd Jones, having taught the same single verse, came to exactly opposite conclusions. Totally at odds with each other. One says yes, the other no. One says black, the other says white. One says up, the other down. By the picture below, you can easily see which Bible teacher's teaching I found biblical.

Lloyd Jones' well known nickname; A nickname I dub Moore

Moore taught that the full measure of Christ in us believers is something we do not currently possess.
Jones taught that the fullness of Christ is something we currently do possess.

Moore taught that we could possess it IF we do certain things.
Jones taught that the fullness is something every believer already has as a gift.

Moore taught that the reason we want the full measure of Christ is so we can get blessing and power.
Jones categorically rejects this.

Moore taught that the fullness was a feeling.
Jones taught that the fullness was a doctrine.

Moore taught that we want the full measure of Christ so we can get something, power, love, blessing.
Jones taught that having the fullness of Christ is something we aspire to because Christ is the prize.

They even have a different summation point-

Beth Moore teaching the point of lesson: "I’ve got to know somebody totally loves me."
Lloyd Jones says the point of the verse is: "It is the highest doctrine of all."

I won't go on, you can see it on this chart I made. I included the links from which I delved into each lesson, and the minute at which I heard each teaching so if you care to check it out yourself, you can. Below the chart are the two illustrations each teacher gave. Moore's was with the measuring cup and Jones's was about a bottle. They come to opposite conclusions. Moore believes the fullness has a quantity to it and Jones says the full measure is about the quality of it.

Note: MLJ preached the Ephesians series between 1957 and 1980. Moore's hairbrush story was re-published on LifeToday in 2012 and that is where I reviewed it, though she had delivered it at least as early as 2011 and maybe a year or two earlier than that. The comments in the chart are direct quotes.

The illustration: Moore's measuring cup and liquid.

With this visual prop, Moore was teaching that we do not possess the full measure. However if we do certain things in our own power and then ask for the fullness, Christ will give it AND "the power that comes with it". In Moore's interpretation, we are all 16 oz measuring cups and some of us have 2 ounces of the fullness and others of us have 4 ounces and others get to be filled up completely. Moore said she was totally filled when she received that overtaking, overwhelming feeling in the airport.

However, it's obvious that a total filling is not something that will happen on this side of eternity.

Lloyd-Jones teaches the opposite. He focuses not on the vessel but on the quality of the filling. He said we already possess the fullness of Christ in us when we're saved. He said the power of God (omnipotence) is an attribute of God that is NON-communicable. MLJ also said the fullness is not a quantity, but a quality. Why?
because the amount varies. It varies in the same man from time to time. It varies from one of us to the other, and yet we all can have the fullness.
Here is an illustration to show how you can possess the fullness and yet have more of it. Take a bottle and put it into the sea. You can fill it. Then you can say that bottle is full of the sea. Then you can take a great tank and do the same thing. They both have a fullness but they haven’t the same amount. And the sea is always the sea. The little bottle full of sea has just the same characteristics of the sea in fullness as the tank has.
The drastic difference between the two teachings comes from their view of Jesus and of self. Jones' eyes are on Christ, Moore's is on herself. With her, the fullness is something we get, power comes with it, we do things with this power, we get blessing, we receive affirmation of love, and we can have more of it. We, we, we. Her eyes are on self.

Jones shows us where our eyes should be. Not on the bottle, not on the amount that is IN the bottle, not on the tank, not on anything we might think we get, but on the SEA. It is what is IN us that matters. It's all about Christ in us, His righteousness, His fullness. It has nothing to do with our works, our deeds, our emptying, our effectiveness, our requests, or anything whatsoever to do with us. He bestows His fullness of Himself to us on salvation. It is all about Christ.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)


  1. I haven't listened to Jones' sermon yet (however, I have heard Moore's story as well as Chris Roseborough's dissection of it); however, I must make the observation that in reading your chart it would seem that Jones is specifically rebutting Moore's teaching, yet his sermon was decades before her.

    1. I agree it's eerie that it looks like that. One late edit I put in was the specific Note that MLJ preached the Ephesians series between 1957 and 1980. Moore's hairbrush story was re-published on LifeToday in 2012 and that is where I reviewed it, though she had delivered it at least as early as 2011 and maybe a year or two earlier than that, in order to make it clear they were decades and worlds apart.

    2. I think it goes to show what the Bible has always said, those false teachers have a repertoire that goes back to the Garden and are always the same, lust of the eyes, pride of life,lust of the flesh; and that good preachers preach in spirit and in truth, which the Spirit never changes. It boils down to the only two streams that exist, the seed of the serpent and the seed of the Son, starkly seen in the Ephesians lesson.

  2. I've never heard the Ephesians sermons, but I think the 8-voulme series MLJ did on Ephesians are just his sermons in print, and I've read them all (citing a lot from them on my blog).

    Thanks for that parallel teaching from these two: it demonstrates why I like MLJ and why I can't stand Moore!

    1. Hi Glenn!

      Thanks for the comment, and yor'e welcome for the comparison. WOw, the whole commentary series. I knwo MLJ delivered the sermons over a 20 year period, it' smonumental. I have to pay close attention while listening because he is so logical and his progression builds. I can't let my attention wander for a minute. The sermons are physically demanding that way but also spiritually demanding, they take so much out of me. They give us such a clear picture of God and by contrast of course, myself, and I just crumble. But I love them, just love them

  3. I too cannot stand Beth Moore and warn others, especially family members who do Bible studies from her, that she is a false teacher. They just don't believe it. This is an excellent example of some of her false teaching. I have the whole series of books that M.L. Jones did on Ephesians as well as his whole series on Romans. He is solidly preaching the truth of God's word and is well worth the time and effort to listen to his sermons or if you can afford it, to buy the books and read them. They are spiritually demanding, but you will see the wisdom and knowledge God gave him to help us in our walk to become mature Christian.

    1. Hi Carolyn,

      Well said! I agree, Jones is spiritually demanding, but so worth it. Your'e right, it is so worth it though. I listen to him online. I do wish there was a transcript or I could afford his commentaries. I spend a lot of time moving the sliders back and forth to hear and re-hear certain parts again and again., just so I can catch it

  4. I am a voracious reader and listener of Lloyd-Jones. His sermons are so well grounded in truth and logic. He teaches the bible like no other, his sermons always lay scripture out bare so there is no mistaking of it's meaning.

    I love listening to good bible teaching, and there just isn't enough to time to listen to all the audio sermons that I'd like to hear, but I always seem to keep coming back to a select few - Dick Lucas, Alistair Begg, D.A Carson, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones especially.

    I could listen to those guys teach scripture 24-7.

    1. Hi Mon,

      I agree, there are so many great preachers available to us in this technological age. I love MLJ too. His sermons are demanding but I'm convicted and pierced by him like no other.

      I'm not aware of Dick Lucas, thanks for the heads up.

  5. Thank you for taking the time to post articles such as this one which I pray will help my relative to recognize the error of following Beth Moore's teachings.

  6. I started reading this, in researching Beth Moore. My grandson had been asking questions about her studies. Before I did the parallel reading, I read the whole content regarding Ephesians 3:19. I came to same conclusion as MLJ did. It was not hard, if you take it in context. Beth Moore obviously didn't.


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