Biography · BOOK REVIEWS · Calvinism · History

JOHN KNOX AND THE REFORMATION – Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Iain Murray

Buried deep in the catacombs of church history lie heroes that deserved to be revived from time to time.  John Knox stands among several men who faithfully raised the banner of the gospel and defended the truths of the Protestant Reformation.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Iain Murray guide readers through the life and legacy of the great reformer, John Knox.

Chapter one is an overview of the Protestant Reformation with an emphasis on the Scottish Reformation.  A few themes that are developed include the sovereignty of God over all things, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and justification by faith alone.  Lloyd-Jones reminds readers that “John Knox and other men risked their lives, day after day” in order to promote the aforementioned realities. The author also stresses the reformers were men of prayer and men who we faithful in the pulpit.  “Such a man was John Knox, ” writes Lloyd-Jones, “with the fire of God in his bones and in his belly!  He preached as they all preached, with fire and power, alarming sermons, convicting sermons, humbling sermons, converting sermons, and in the face of Scotland was changed …”

Chapter two is Lloyd-Jones attempt to credit John Knox as the founder of Puritanism.  The author points to several noteworthy qualities in the Scottish reformer – ability, energy, shrewdness, wisdom, originality, and courage.  But his preaching stands out: “His great characteristic as a preacher was vehemency.  Great preachers are generally vehement; and we should all be vehement.  This is not the result of nature only; it arises from the feeling of the power of the gospel.  Vehemence is, of course, characterized by power; and John Knox was a most powerful preacher, with the result that he was a most influential preacher.”  Lloyd-Jones continues, “When the Lords and others were alarmed, and frightened, and all ready to give in, Knox would go up into a pulpit and preach a sermon; and the entire situation was transformed.  One man ‘more influential than the blustering of five hundred trumpets in our ears.'”  The reader is left to determine whether or not Lloyd-Jones is successful in defending his thesis.

Iain Murray concludes with biographical overview of John Knox.  Several themes emerge including the fervent prayer life of Knox and his commitment to Reformed theology.  Murray, like Lloyd-Jones emphasizes the preaching ministry of Knox: “His authority came from the conviction that preaching is God’s work, the message is his word, and he was sure the Holy Spirit would honor it.  This was the certainty which possessed him.”  Indeed, such a certainty should possess every preacher of God’s Word.

John Knox and the Reformation is a powerful look at a potent preacher.  It is an important reminder of the need for courage in the face of adversity and faithfulness in a faithless generation.  John Knox stands as an inspiration for Christ-followers and is an exemplar for pastors who make it their aim to faithfully feed, lead, and protect the flock of God.

4 stars

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