Lloyd-Jones on the folly of thinking God is only love and ignoring punishment and hell

Lloyd-Jones could have been saying this for the 21st Century not the 20th. There really is nothing new under the sun:

“All this modern preaching on the fact that God is love is an indication of the same attitude and spirit. We are told today that the old sermons that preached the law and talked about conviction of sin and called people to repentance were all wrong because they were legalistic . . .So it is said that we must return to the message of Jesus. We must get rid of all our theology, our argumentation and doctrine—it is all unnecessary. The business of preaching is to tell people that God is love. It does not matter what they are, or what they have been, or what they have done, or what they may do—God loves them. Nobody will ever be punished. There is no law; so there is no retribution and no hell . . .

Dignitaries in the church tell us that what we need is a “religionless Christianity.” One of them has written a book in which he says that if you really want to find God, do not go to places of worship. He says that he has found more of God in the brothels and beer parlors of Algeria than he has ever found in a church. Kindness, love for one another—that, we are told, is the message. This is all just a very clever, modern, sophisticated, philosophical way of saying, No repentance!

. . . If you know the message of the Bible at all, you will be in no difficulty about answering this question. Repentance is essential to salvation. There is no salvation without it . . . If you say you need a Savior, it must be because you realize that the life you have been living is wrong and sinful, that it deserves the judgment and punishment of God and of hell . . . the object of that death upon the cross was to reconcile us to God. It is a personal reconciliation. Christ’s death does not just put us right with a law—it puts us right with a person . . . to have this relationship, this communion and fellowship with God, we must be like Him. We see that we must be righteous, for there is no communion between light and darkness—that is impossible, and therefore we must be delivered from all that is wrong and evil. That is repentance . . .

The world needs to be reminded of judgment. This country [England) is becoming lawless—all countries are—and it is no use trying to solve the problem by passing acts of Parliament—you cannot do it . . .you need to change human nature. The trouble is in the human heart, on both sides of industry. Because people have no idea of the judgment of God, they ultimately have no sense of responsibility. Every man is out for himself, trying to get the best for himself . . . The world needs to know that it is rushing in the direction of final judgment. Only the prospect of judgment can sober it and bring it to its senses, and it is the business of the preaching of the Gospel to tell the world that, and not to say that God loves everybody and therefore everybody is going to heaven. Our Lord preached judgment, as we have seen; that is the sole explanation of why He died.”

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Victorious Christianity, 1st U.S. ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003), 66-74.

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  • Risto Mikkonen

    English is not my mother tongue, but I try to analyze the meaning of the sentence “God is not only love” which I gather is the appropriate interpretation of the message conveyed in the above text. To be honest, I find the sentence extremely obscure. Does it mean that there are areas in God’s being that are not love? If so, how can James write “with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”? Then again, if the sentence means that “God is love, but not only love”, how should I interpret it? What might “love, but not only love” mean? If in His being there is an aspect of which one can say intelligibly “love, but not ONLY love”, isn’t this aspect, then, somehow different from… love? Otherwise the addendum would be void of meaning. “Selanne is a goal scorer but not only a goal scorer” makes sense only if it refers to some other feature in Selanne’s game, eg. setting up goals. This metaphor is a lousy one, however, since setting up goals goes hand in hand with goal-scoring; it is a similarly positive thing, whereas “God is (love, but) not only love” is clearly expressed in a tone that implies that this “not only love” aspect in God produces in Him actions or thoughts or decisions or SOMETHING that “mere” love would not. Therefore I conclude that in order not to be void of meaning the sentence must imply something like the following, “God is love, among other things, but He has also characteristics/features of some other type.” Which means those features must be void of love; otherwise they would NOT be of some other type. Which contradicts what James writes (quoted above) and also what John writes, “God IS love.”

    • Risto Mikkonen

      Religion is a many splendored thing. It seems to give its proponents the permission to defy the laws of logic and semantics with good conscience. Mr. Lloyd-Jones’s interpretation of the concept of repentance is ultrareligious in its Catholisism (re+penance). The Greek word ‘metanoia’ means simply accepting the gospel which declares that the kingdom of God IS now in us, thanks to Jesus. Religion, whether “Christian” or not, can never accept this. Luther hit the nail on its head when he said, “There are many religions in the world and then there is the gospel.” Prophets and apostles would NEVER have dared say something as stupendously and arrogantly stupid as, “God is not only love”. They said things such as, “God cannot lie,” “God is love”, and “Let your Yes be Yes and No, No. For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” The brain-damagingly stupid “God is not only love” contradicts all those three verses. Verily, verily I say to you, “Because the carnal mind is enmity to Logos (ie. logic), for it is not subject to the laws of language, nor indeed can be.”