Martyn Lloyd-Jones lecture on John Knox's powerful ministry

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Stephen L Smith

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Did not Mary Queen of Scots fear the prayers of John Knox more than she feared the English soldiers? Of course she did! Why? Because he was a powerful man in prayer ... Is not that the kind of man we need today? Where is the power, where is the influence, where is the authority? These reformers were only men like us ... but they were men of prayer, who lived in the presence of God and who knew they could do nothing without Him.

What is the test of preaching? I tell you; it is power! ‘Our gospel came to you’ says the apostle 1 Thess 1:5 ‘not in word only, but also in power’ ... Do you think John Knox could make Mary Queen of Scots tremble with some polished little essay? They were preaching to the congregation ... to change people. ... Prophetic! Authoritative! Proclamation! Declaration! ... Was John Knox a matey, friendly, nice chap with which whom you could have a discussion? Thank God he was not! Scotland would not be what she has been for four centuries if John Knox had been that kind of man. ... thank God prophets are made of stronger stuff! ... such a man was John Knox with the fire of God in his bones and belly! He preached as they all preached, with fire and power, alarming sermons, convicting sermons, humbling sermons, converting sermons, and the face of Scotland was changed. ...

Should I try and draw certain lesson for ourselves? The conclusion of all this is that righteousness and righteousness alone, exalts a nation, and there is no righteousness without a preceding godliness. The times are cruel; the world is in a desperate plight; there is an appalling moral breakdown before our eyes ... Our position is not hopeless, for God remains, and with God nothing shall be impossible. The conditions could not have been worse than they were immediately before the Reformation, yet in spite of that the change came. Why? Because God was there and God sent it. So the only question we need to ask is the old question of Elisha face to face with his problem: ‘where is the Lord God of Elijah’? And I want to ask that question this evening: Where is the God of John Knox? He who can give us the power, the authority, the might, the courage, and everything we need. ... let us go in His name with boldness unto the throne of grace, and as certainly as we do so we shall obtain the mercy that we need for our sinfulness and unfaithfulness, and we shall be given the grace to help us in our time of need, in our day and generation. The God of John Knox is still there, and still the same, and thank God, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Oh, that we might know the God of John Knox!

Remembering the Reformation in 'Knowing the Times'.
[This lecture was given in Scotland in 1960 to commemorate 400 years of the Scottish Reformation]
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Wes @Guido's Brother I saw this statement from Chapell's book "Christ centered Preaching" on your public facebook page:

"Today's cultural influences make it unreasonable for a preacher to expect a congregation to stay with a message for twenty-five minutes with the hope that something relevant will be said in the last five minutes. Generations ago, preachers were taught to save the applications for the conclusion of their sermon, but congregational needs and cultural realities now make that practice unwise." (page 74)

I agree a wise preacher will take cultural influences and cultural background into account, but I wonder if it is equally true to say that when the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way in the sermon you will have a congregation gripped by the message regardless of cultural background. See 1 Thess 1:5 and
1 Cor 2:4-5.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones has influenced my thinking in this matter, and when he says of John Knox (above) he was a man of prayer, and a man of Spirit anointed preaching, it seems to mew this is an emphasis we need today in Reformed preaching.

Thoughts?
 

PezLad

Puritan Board Freshman
On Sunday Jan 7, 1739 George Whitefield records that another ‘love-feast’ took place where the brothers gathered, shared a meal together and then prayed through the night.

Again Whitefield is able to report, ‘There was a great pouring out of the Spirit amongst the brethren’, even though he was not himself so ‘overwhelmed with joy’ as he had been the week before. (GW Journals, Banner of Truth edition, p.197)

“Oh that I was a flame of pure and holy fire, and had [a] thousand lives to spend in the dear Redeemer’s service,” he told Joshua Gee, for the “sight of so many perishing souls every day affects me much, and makes me long to go if possible from pole to pole, to proclaim redeeming love.” Whitefield. Interestingly, Jones escaped a burning house when he was a boy which left a definite impression upon his mind, perhaps things the Spirit used during his mininistry.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Did not Mary Queen of Scots fear the prayers of John Knox more than she feared the English soldiers? Of course she did! Why? Because he was a powerful man in prayer ... Is not that the kind of man we need today? Where is the power, where is the influence, where is the authority? These reformers were only men like us ... but they were men of prayer, who lived in the presence of God and who knew they could do nothing without Him.

What is the test of preaching? I tell you; it is power! ‘Our gospel came to you’ says the apostle 1 Thess 1:5 ‘not in word only, but also in power’ ... Do you think John Knox could make Mary Queen of Scots tremble with some polished little essay? They were preaching to the congregation ... to change people. ... Prophetic! Authoritative! Proclamation! Declaration! ... Was John Knox a matey, friendly, nice chap with which whom you could have a discussion? Thank God he was not! Scotland would not be what she has been for four centuries if John Knox had been that kind of man. ... thank God prophets are made of stronger stuff! ... such a man was John Knox with the fire of God in his bones and belly! He preached as they all preached, with fire and power, alarming sermons, convicting sermons, humbling sermons, converting sermons, and the face of Scotland was changed. ...

Should I try and draw certain lesson for ourselves? The conclusion of all this is that righteousness and righteousness alone, exalts a nation, and there is no righteousness without a preceding godliness. The times are cruel; the world is in a desperate plight; there is an appalling moral breakdown before our eyes ... Our position is not hopeless, for God remains, and with God nothing shall be impossible. The conditions could not have been worse than they were immediately before the Reformation, yet in spite of that the change came. Why? Because God was there and God sent it. So the only question we need to ask is the old question of Elisha face to face with his problem: ‘where is the Lord God of Elijah’? And I want to ask that question this evening: Where is the God of John Knox? He who can give us the power, the authority, the might, the courage, and everything we need. ... let us go in His name with boldness unto the throne of grace, and as certainly as we do so we shall obtain the mercy that we need for our sinfulness and unfaithfulness, and we shall be given the grace to help us in our time of need, in our day and generation. The God of John Knox is still there, and still the same, and thank God, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Oh, that we might know the God of John Knox!

Remembering the Reformation in 'Knowing the Times'.
[This lecture was given in Scotland in 1960 to commemorate 400 years of the Scottish Reformation]

I emboldened the first part of your post and want to compare it to this passage. That first paragraph is tremendously important, and so likely to be overlooked, or taken for granted.

James 5:16–18 - The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."

I've not read the book, but Douglas Bond's book in the Godly Men series is entitled "The Mighty Weakness of John Knox." This reformer was not terribly excited when God called him to the ministry--a preacher had singled him out from the pulpit in the middle of the sermon to take up the work of the ministry. Knox was terrified, and struggled immensely. He knew that it could cost his life (his good friend George Wishart was prior burnt at the stake). Knox was not a mighty man in himself, and he knew it.

That's no different than Elijah. He did mighty works, but as a man could only take so much, and was capable of being overcome with immense fear, and he fled from his work right after a mighty demonstration of the power of God at the contest between Jehovah and Baal. James helps us to see that it's not the mightiness of the man himself that conduces the power of the Spirit--rather, God makes much better use of weak and helpless men to demonstrate His power. Effectual and fervent prayers are by nature an admission of that weakness in ourselves, an appeal to the limitless power of God, and are delivered in bold faith that God will answer.

The question for us is, how weak are we willing to be in order that God might use us? God will do His work in such a way that we will not possibly be able to say to ourselves that we deserve the credit. The perfume will be poured entirely on the feet of Christ--not a drop to ourselves. Our pride is a great grief to the Spirit, and many times is the hindrance of His power. "He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Knowing our weakness, though, will give birth to humility, and prayer will follow.

As I've heard Paul Washer say at a conference, asking persons not to request photos with the speakers afterwards, there are no mighty men. There are only weak and frail men that God is pleased to use.

(Also, an encouragement for all of us who are not in ministry, James did not write this specifically to pastors. He wrote it to the ordinary Christian.)
 
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