World Changer Wednesday – John Knox

Convicted with Truth – John Knox

One of the most colorful and impactful figures who led the Scottish Reformation is John Knox.

It has been said that Martin Luther was the hammer of the Reformation, John Calvin the pen, and John Knox the trumpet.[1] Martyn Lloyd Jones would call Knox the first English Puritan as Knox desired for the church to be pure and would pave the way for puritanism.[2]

This remarkable man may have been somewhat forgotten through the ages as his gravesite is in parking stall #23 of St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This defender of truth who fought against religious idolatry in Scotland and England was born in 1514. Knox went to school and was part of Roman Catholicism. It was through his study of John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, that Knox was converted. He was like a sponge absorbing the water of God’s Word. He couldn’t get enough and he devoted himself for over two years to meticulously studying the Bible.

Knox served as a bodyguard to Scottish reformer George Wishart. He would stand with a broadsword ready to defend his mentor. His mentor would eventually be burned at the stake and the mantle was passed on to John Knox. The Lord was with him and he was used in a mighty way.

Knox eventually was captured by the French and forced as a rower for two years. Eventually, he was released in England. He then was placed in a high position under Thomas Cranmer.

He then fled for persecution as Mary Tudor, Mary I (1533), came into power as the queen of England. (Known as Bloody Mary, under her reign there were over 280 individuals who were killed by being burned at the stake for being Protestant.)

He fled to France and Switzerland. In Switzerland he met John Calvin, where they, being like-minded in theology and ecclesiology, built a strong friendship that would remain throughout their lives.

The Lord eventually brought Knox back to Scotland through the death of Mary of Guise (a staunch Catholic who made being a Protestant illegal). He was leader over the reformation movement in Scotland.

John Knox passed away on November 24, 1572. Before he passed away, he asked his wife to read John 17 and said, “Go read where I have cast my first anchor” as this was the text that the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart to bring him to salvation. At his funeral two days later, Earl Morton, the regent of Scotland, said, “Here lies a man who in his life never feared the face of man.”[3]

John Knox is a world changer for several reasons, but here are a few to share:

He Saw the Importance of Preaching and God’s Word

He was convinced that biblical preaching demanded the best mental powers. Thus, he labored to absorb the expository works written by the leading theological writers of ancient and modern times.[4] He knew that there was power in God’s Word and his authority came from the authority of God and His Word.

Knox, who was compelled by God’s Word, wrote:

“For as the Word of God is the beginning of life spiritual, without which all flesh is dead in God’s presence, and the lantern to our feet, without the brightness whereof all the posterity of Adam doth walk in darkness, and as it is the foundation of faith, without which no man understandeth the good will of God, so it is also the only organ and instrument which God uses to strengthen the weak, to comfort the afflicted, to reduce to mercy by repentance such as have slidden, and finally to preserve and keep the very life of the soul in all assaults and temptations, and therefore if that you desire your knowledge to be increased, your faith to be confirmed, your consciences to be quieted and comforted, and finally your soul to be preserved in life, let your exercise be frequent in the law of your God.”[5]

He knew that the life-changing message to minister to the world was not his words but God’s. He was just the instrument to communicate this truth to the world. He was passionate, and others who heard him knew where his passion was: in the Word of God.

He was Fearless in Defending Truth

Knox’s authority came from the Word of God and he was willing to speak publicly about truth, even if that meant it was against those who were in charge of the country at the time. He was not afraid to speak out against kings and queens, even if they threatened to have him killed. He is a towering figure in a time when it would have been easy to crumble under the monarch in charge. God placed John Knox at the right place at the right time in history to be a beacon of light.

When one has a high view of God and a high view of Scripture, then one does not fear man. John Knox’s focus was on pleasing God. When we put God in the right place, how we view others, regardless of their position or title, comes in the right place. The Bible reminds us that “fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25 NIV). May we be world changers like John Knox, who boldly and passionately proclaimed God’s Word.

[1] Lawson, Steven J. John Knox: Fearless Faith. Pg. 15.

[2] IBID. Pg. 32.

[3] IBID. Pg. 107

[4] IBID. Pg. 29

[5] IBID. Pg. 113