“I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe” – Mary, Queen of Scots.
Oh that we could pray fruitfully with as much fervor as that Scottish Elijah, the Reformer John Knox! I’m sure one of his prayers must have been similar to this prayer of the spiritually fruitful servant of God Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892):
“It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the Popery in the Church of Rome, there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. . . It wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Savior and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Spirit and puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the Vicar of Christ on earth. If we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors; we shall love their souls though we loathe and detest their dogmas. And so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened because we turn our faces toward Christ when we pray.”
It is very interesting to note that the first public sermon by John Knox, used powerfully by God in the time of the Reformation, was an exposition of Daniel chapter 7, a chapter misinterpreted by many today (e.g. the little horn interpreted falsely as being a future one-man-show AntiChrist at the very end of time or Antiochus Epiphanes or Nero). I will quote these words from John Knox’s work “First Book of the History of the Reformation within the Realm of Scotland: Containing the Manner and by What Persons the Light of Christ’s Evangel hath been Manifested unto this Realm, After that Horrible and Universal Defection from the Truth, which has Come by the Means of that Roman Antichrist” (try remembering that book title!):
“John Knox answered, “Before we hold ourselves, or that you can prove us sufficiently convicted, we must define the church, by the right notes given to us, in God’s scriptures, of the true church. We must discern the immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ from the mother of confusion, spiritual Babylon; lest that imprudently we embrace a harlot, instead of the chaste spouse; yea, to speak in plain words, lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ. For, as for your Roman kirk [church], as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, wherein stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan; and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks, than that I doubt that Jesus Christ suffered by the procurement of the visible kirk [church] of Jerusalem. Yea, I offer myself, by word or writing, to prove the Roman church this day farther degenerated from the purity which was in the days of the apostles, than was the church of the Jews from the ordinances given by Moses, when they consented to the innocent death of Jesus Christ.”
“These words were spoken in open audience, in the parish kirk [church] of St. Andrews, after that the said Dean Annand had spoken what it pleased him, and had refused to dispute. The people, hearing the offer, cried with one consent, “We cannot all read your writings, but we may all hear your preaching. Therefore we require you, in the name of God, that you will let us hear the probation of that which you have affirmed; for if it is true, we have been miserably deceived.”
“And so the next Sunday was appointed to the said John, to express his mind in the public preaching place. Which day approaching, the said John took the text written in Daniel, the seventh chapter, beginning thus: “And another king shall arise after them, and he shall be unlike unto the first, and he shall subdue three kings, and shall speak words against the Most High, and shall consume the saints of the Most High, and think that he may change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hands, until a time, and times, and dividing of times” (Dan. 7:24-25).
“In the beginning of his sermon, he showed the great love of God towards his church, whom it pleases to forewarn of dangers to come so many years before they come to pass. He briefly entreated the estate of the Israelites, who then were in bondage in Babylon, for the most part; and made a short discourse of the four empires : the Babylonian, the Persian, that of the Greeks, and the fourth of the Romans in the destruction whereof rose up that last beast, which he affirmed to be the Roman church. For to none other power that ever has yet been, do all the notes that God has shown to the prophet appertain, except to it alone; and unto it they do so properly appertain, that such as are not more than blind, may clearly see them. But before he began to open the corruptions of the Papistry, he defined the true kirk [church], showed the true notes of it, whereupon it was built, why it was the pillar of verity, and why it could not err, to wit, “because it heard the voice of the one pastor, Jesus Christ, would not hear a stranger, neither yet would be carried about with every wind of doctrine” (John 10:4-5; Eph. 4:14).
“Every one of these heads sufficiently declared, he entered to the contrary, and upon the notes given in his text, he showed that the Spirit of God in the New Testament gave to this king other names: to wit, “the Man of Sin” (2 Thess. 2:3-4), “the Antichrist” (1 John 2:18, 22; 2 John 7), “the Whore of Babylon” (Rev. 17-19). He showed that this man of sin, or Antichrist, was not to be restrained to the person of any one man only, no more than by the four beasts was to be understood the person of any one emperor. But by such means, the Spirit of God would forewarn his chosen of a body and a multitude, having a wicked head, who should not only be sinful himself, but that also should be occasion of sin to all that should be subject unto him (as Christ Jesus is the cause of justice to all the members of his body); and is called the Antichrist, that is to say, one contrary to Christ, because he is contrary to him in life, doctrine, laws, and subjects.”
“And then began he to decipher the lives of diverse popes, and the lives of all the shavelings for the most part; their doctrine and laws he plainly proved to repugn directly to the doctrine and laws of God the Father, and of Christ Jesus his Son. This he proved by conferring the doctrine of justification, expressed in the scriptures, which teach that man is “justified by faith only” (Gal. 2:16; 3:11); that “the blood of Jesus Christ purges us from all our sins” (1 John 1:7); and the doctrine of the Papists, which attributes justification to the works of the law, yea, to the works of man’s invention, as pilgrimages, pardons and other such baggage. That the papistical laws repugned to the laws of the evangel, he proved by the laws made of observation of days, abstaining from meats, and from marriage, which Christ Jesus made free; and the forbidding whereof, St. Paul called “the doctrine of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
“In handling the notes of that beast given in the text, he willed men to consider if these notes, “There shall one arise unlike to the other, having a mouth speaking great things and blasphemous” (Dan. 7:24-25), could be applied to any other, but to the pope and his kingdom? For, “if these,” said he, “be not great words and blasphemous: ‘the Successor of Peter,’ ‘the Vicar of Christ,’ ‘the Head of the kirk,’ ‘most holy,’ ‘most blessed,’ ‘that cannot err;’ that ‘may make right of wrong, and wrong of right;’ that ‘of nothing, may make somewhat;’ and that ‘has all verity in the shrine of his breast;’ yea, ‘that has power of all, and none power of him;’ nay, ‘not to say that he does wrong, although he draw ten thousand million of souls with himself to hell'” .”If these,” said he, “and many others, able to be shown of his own canon law, be not great and blasphemous words, and such as never mortal man spoke before, let the world judge.”
“And yet,” said he, “is there one most evident of all: to wit, John, in his Revelation, says, ‘That the merchandise of that Babylonian harlot, among other things, shall be the bodies and souls of men’ (Rev. 18:13). Now, let the very Papists themselves judge, if ever any before them took unto them power to relax the pains of them that were in Purgatory, as they affirm to the people that daily they do, by the merits of their Mass, and of their other trifles.”
“In the end he said, “If any here (and there were present Master John Major, the University, the subprior, and many canons, with some of the friars of both orders) that will say, that I have alleged scripture, doctor, or history, otherwise than it is written, let them come unto me with sufficient witness; and by conference I shall let them see, not only the original where my testimonies are written, but I shall prove that the writers meant as I have spoken.”
“Of this sermon, which was the first ever that John Knox made in public, were there diverse bruits [reports]. Some said, “Others sned [snipped] the branches of the Papistry; but he strikes at the root, to destroy the whole.” Others said, “If the doctors and Magistri nostri defend not the pope and his authority, which in their own presence is so manifestly impugned, the devil have my part of him, and of his laws both.” Others said, “Master George Wishart spoke never so plainly, and yet was burnt, even so will he be.” In the end, others said, “The tyranny of the cardinal made not his cause the better, yet the suffering of God’s servant made his cause the worse. And therefore we would counsel you and them to provide better defences than fire and sword; for it may be that else you will be disappointed. Men now have other eyes than they had then.” This answer gave the lord of Nydie, a man fervent and upright in religion.”
The book can be downloaded for free here:
The picture of John Knox was taken from this website:
Note : next year (2014) will be the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Knox