Sun, Oct 28, 2018
“LORD, Give me Scotland or I die!” - The Life of John Knox (1513 – 1572)
by Vincent Bradshaw
Series: GCS Sermons 2018

John Knox was one of the great Reformers.  Knox was from Scotland.  He was still a young man of 33 when the German Reformer Martin Luther died (1483 – 1546).  He was a contemporary and personal friend of French Reformer John Calvin (1509 – 1564).  Knox was born in obscurity.  His most famous biographer, Thomas M’Crie, places his birth in Gifford in 1505.  Others think he was born in Haddington in either 1513 or 1514.  According to Steven J. Lawson, Knox’s life shows how “God delights in raising up insignificant people to bring glory to His Name.”  Although particulars of his life are disputed, his legacy is undisputed.  History gives him titles such as, “The Father of Scottish the Reformation,” and “the Founder of the Scottish Protestant Church.”  Martyn Lloyd-Jones called him “the founder of the English Puritan Movement.”  Lawson wrote: “If Martin Luther was the hammer of the Reformation and John Calvin the pen, John Knox was the trumpet.”

John Knox helped develop the doctrine of Church and State.  During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was at its height and its doctrine of church and state was dangerous.  The Catholic Church considered itself God’s Kingdom on earth and utilized the powers of the state for ungodly ends.  In this system, a corrupt church and an oppressive state worked together to oppress people and suppress the Gospel.  For these reasons, the Reformers never hesitated to call the Catholic Church the church of the antichrist.  It was John Knox who helped develop the correct doctrine that a biblical church should function separately from the state (separation of church and state), but should preach to and disciple the state so that the state acts for the purposes of God.  As a result, the Church functions as the head of a society and directs the state as its arms, so that both work in tandem for the good and godliness of the people.  This was one of the key biblical doctrines that needed reformation and establishment.  John Knox accomplished this in Scotland.  Knox was also one of the fathers of ‘civil disobedience,’ that a people could righteously rebel against an ungodly state.  According to historians, this was “Knox’s special contribution to theological and political thought.”

John Knox was a man of astounding spiritual power.  He was a man of constant prayer.  Charles H. Spurgeon, an admirer, once remarked: “When John Knox went upstairs to plead with God for Scotland, it was the greatest event in Scottish history.”  Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, one of his adversaries said: “I am more afraid of Knox’s prayers than an army of ten thousand men.”  He was also a man of exceptionally powerful proclamation.  Thomas Randolph, then the English Ambassador, said: “I assure you, the voice of one man, Knox, is able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears.”  Finally, Knox was a man of indomitable courage.  Standing against all the hostile powers of the state, Knox said: “a man with God is always in the majority.”

“May God give . . men . . . with the indomitable spirit of John Knox” Steven Lawson