The role of the love of God in preaching

I’m currently in the middle of reading volume 1 of Iain Murray’s fabulous biography of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The opinions of Dr. Lloyd-Jones on the essential work of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners are as relevant today as they were in the late 1920’s.

Lloyd-Jones was preaching in an area where theological liberalism was becoming popular. Church could be seen as nothing more than a social club, and “the Doctor” took a few opportunities in his own messages to critique this approach to preaching.

Please permit an extended quotation:

‘There is something even worse than that about the situation as I see it, and that is that present-day preaching does not even annoy men, but leaves them precisely where they were, without a ruffle and without the slightest disturbance…The church is regarded as a sort of dispensary where drugs and soothing mixtures are distributed and in which everyone should be eased and comforted. And the one theme of the church must be “the love of God”. Anyone who happens to break these rules and who produces a disturbing effect upon members of his congregation is regarded as an objectionable person…’

Judged in those terms, he went on, Christ himself must be found blameworthy:

‘If ever anyone knew the love of God, if ever “the love of God” was preached and understood by anyone, that one was Jesus Christ. Yet what was the effect He produced upon His congregations? Did all go home from the service smiling and happy, and feeling very self-satisfied and complacent? Was His perfect ministry one in which no one was offended and at which no one took umbrage? Do His services suggest the type so popular today—the building with “the dim religious light” where nice hymns are sung, nice prayers are offered, and a fine and cultured “short” address is delivered? Look to the pages of the New Testament and see the answer.’ – p.207, quote from Lloyd-Jones taken from the introduction to a sermon on John 8:32

And later:

‘…I say, with due reverence and consideration, unless we realise our deep and desperate need of it, the love of God is of no value to us and will make no difference to our lives. It thus behoves all of us, as we preach, not only to give our testimony as to the love of God towards us, but also to emphasise the equally great truth that all who have not felt a need of it are outside it.’
– p.208 from a sermon on John 9:25, given January 15, 1928

I love that final line: “all who have not felt a need of [the love of God] are outside it.”

Full disclosure: the links to in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of any purchase you make on Amazon if you make that purchase after clicking through one of these links.

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