What I am concerned with is this, that this notion of gradual development and progress has taken a very firm root in our churches and is believed very extensively. And if this is so, it is then unnecessary to believe that God intervenes definitely in individual lives – it is a gradual process and we are all gradually improving. No wonder that the words ‘conversion’ and ‘re-birth’ are being heard less and less frequently. No wonder also that men and women in increasing numbers are absenting themselves from places of worship. A Christian church is a place where it is preached that God does intervene and interfere, and that, apart from Him, souls are lost; in her history that intervention has often been seen and witnessed by hundreds and thousands. And as long as the church preached that, and for ever magnified the power of God unto individual salvation, men and women came, sometimes out of fear and for other reasons, but they came because they felt that their attendance might make an eternal difference to their lives.
When the church does not preach the intervention of God, and believes instead in the gradual evolution of men, why! there is no need to go to church or chapel, you can evolve at home our out in the field or on the beach, and that is a perfectly logical position for the world to take up. But it is not Christian and any man who believes and preaches that, according to the teaching of Jesus Christ, has no right to claim the name of Christian. For according to Him men are saved, not by gradual development over millions of years but by a change of life, at times sudden and dramatic, here and now in this present life. If He did not teach that, I ask you in all seriousness, what did He teach?
– Evangelistic Sermons at Aberavon, pg 5.
I think it is quite without scriptural warrant to say that all these gifts ended with the apostles or the apostolic era. I believe there have been undoubted miracles since then. At the same time most of the claimed miracles by the Pentecostalists and others certainly do not belong to that category and can be explained psychologically or in other ways. I am also of the opinion that most, if not all, of the people claiming to speak in tongues at the present time are certainly under a psychological rather than a spiritual influence. But again I would not dare to say that ‘tongues’ are impossible at the present time.
– from a letter dated 18 September 1969, pg 202, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Letters 1919-1981.
Another doctrine which is most important when cultic matters are evaluated is the biblical doctrine of sin. The absence of a belief in sin is the hall-mark of the cults. That is what I meant earlier when I said cults are often preached from so-called Christian pulpits. Certain men have become very popular through preaching that there is no such thing as sin, that it is very wrong to talk about sin, and that the Church, by preaching a doctrine of sin, has kept the people from truth. Instead of a belief in sin, they say, you must believe in yourself. ‘Positive thinking’, as it is termed, is very popular in America today, and it is being preached in this country also. It sounds so marvelous – ‘There is no such thing as sin; you must not speak against yourself, you must not look down on yourself. Believe in yourself; you are wonderful if you only realized it! What the Bible calls sin is an insult to mankind; we now understand all these things psychologically.’
None of the cults like the doctrine of sin; and, of course, for the very good reason that you are never going to be popular if you preach the biblical doctrine of sin. But the cults must be popular, otherwise they cannot succeed. God is not in them, so something has to keep them going. The men and women who keep going do so by pandering to people, pleasing them and praising them.
It is exactly the same with regard to the doctrine of salvation. Obviously if the cults do not believe in sin you would not expect them to be right about salvation. They do not believe that the Son of God came from heaven to earth in order to take sin upon Himself and bear the punishment… They do not believe in substitutionary atonement.
Ephesians 6:10-13 – The Christian Warfare, pg 129-130.
In a discussion about the reasons why Dr. Lloyd-Jones discontinued the candidates class at his church, Iain Murray makes reference to the first book review Dr. Lloyd-Jones ever wrote. The book reviewed was A. T. Schofield’s Christian Sanity, which had much that was agreeable to Dr. Lloyd-Jones. But, Dr. Lloyd-Jones took issue with the author’s statement that “nearly 75 per cent out of 1,000 Christians questioned were converted before the age of 20.”
Here are Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s comments:
From this, Schofield tends, as many others definitely do, to conclude that conversion is somehow related to puberty and its concomitant changes. One wonders whether there is not a grave danger here of confusing ‘confirmation or acceptance into full membership’ with ‘conversion’. To me, there is nothing which is quite so pernicious and detrimental to the true interests of Christianity as this association of ‘conversion’ with a certain age period. There is no question but that this teaching is responsible for all the concentration upon ‘the young people’ which characterises our church work in these days, and makes many a minister and deacon say woefully: ‘The young people and children are our only hope – we must concentrate upon them.’ Such statements and such a belief show a lack of faith and set a limit upon the power of God. The Gospel recognises no such limit – there is hope to the end, to the eleventh hour. There is as much hope today for the middle-aged and the aged as there is for the young people. It may be more difficult to teach morality and ethics to the older people or to teach one’s own special fads and fancies with respect to the Christian life, but to ‘The Help of the helpless’ and ‘Hope of the hopeless’ there are no such distinctions. Yea, indeed, the besetting sin of most who are concerned in Christian work is to concentrate on one particular age or one particular truth instead of delivering ‘the whole counsel of God’ to all and sundry whoever or whatever they may be. Concentration upon the young is a large part of the genius and success of Roman Catholicism, but surely it is the very antithesis of the genius of Protestantism. It is one thing to produce a religious man – men can do that – but it takes the power of God in Jesus Christ to produce a Christian man, and there is no limit to that power.
– pages 161-162, D. M. Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years