There are some things we ought not to forget, and very few of us that the rest of humanity will remember. The scriptures encourage us to remember the following:
Remember the Sabbath Day (the third commandment);
Remember the poor (Ga 2:10);
Remember the persecuted & prisoners (Heb 13:3);
Remember your creator (Ecc. 11:7-12:8);
Remember the sayings of Jesus (Acts 20:35);
Remember your children’s tears (2 Tim 1:4); and
Remember from where you have fallen (Rev 3).
Some people will be remembered from the bible. For example, Peter exhorts us to: “Remember Lot’s wife!” Lot’s wife was a professed believer; her husband was a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:8). She left Sodom with him on the day when Sodom was destroyed; she looked back toward the city from behind her husband, against God’s express command; she was struck dead at once and turned into a pillar of salt! And the Lord Jesus Christ holds her up as a warning sign for His church; He says, “Remember Lot’s wife!” Remember: the Gospel privileges Lot’s wife enjoyed, the particular sin she committed, and the judgment, which God inflicted upon her.
In post-biblical history, however, we may not remember the most watched and adored of our time. In a BBC article entitled: “Who will be remembered in a 1,000 years?” (21 December 2017), Zaria Gorvett considers the fame of a boxer.
In the secluded western corner of London’s Highgate Cemetery stands a large marble tomb. It’s long and box-like, with a life-sized sculpture of a dog slumped at its foot. The stone is mottled and tendrils of strangling ivy are creeping up its base. An inscription reads “Erected to the memory of Thomas Sayers”.
If a guide asked a group if anyone has heard of this man, then they would shake their heads blankly. At the time of his death the situation was very different. It was the winter of 1865 and Sayers, who began his career as an illiterate bricklayer, had risen to become the most celebrated sportsman of the Victorian age.
This was England’s first bare-knuckle fighting champion. In his final match, which he fought largely one-handed in a Hampshire field, he was watched by thousands. Special trains were chartered to transport the spectators, who included fellow Victorian superstars like the novelists Charles Dickens and William Thackeray. Even the Prime Minister of the day, Lord Palmerston attended; Parliament shortened its hours especially and Queen Victoria asked to be informed of the result.
When he died a few years later, the funeral procession stretched for two miles and included some 100,000 people. The cemetery descended into chaos as people climbed trees and trampled tombstones, hoping for a better view.
One hundred and fifty two years on, his reputation has turned to dust. He’s still well known to history’s records and boxing triviality – but to the rest of us, he needs an long introduction.
Should it be our goal to be remembered? Surely not, among men, but our prayer like many in the psalms and beyond remain the same; namely, “Remember me, O Lord!”
Some people in Scotland think too highly of John Knox; others think ill of him. A Scottish cab driver was driving an American up the hill to Edinburgh Castle: “That is the house of John Knox.” The visitor replied: “And who was John Knox?” The driver said in disgust: “Go home, man, and read your bible!” The cab driver thought too much of Knox.
John Knox was converted by the Holy Spirit as he read John 17. He was discipled by “Master” George Wishart, whom Knox wielded a two-handed claymore sword for so that Wishart could preach the Gospel without being attacked in Scotland. When Wishart was summed to die as a martyr Knox asked to accompany Wishart, but Wishart said: “Nay, return to your bairns, and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice.”
Knox was called to preach in front of a congregation of Protestant refugees in St Andrew’s castle by another preacher (Mr. Rough), and Knox burst forth into an abundance of tears. The French brigaded the castle, seized Knox as a galley slave for 19 months, and burned Rough at the stake.
The English rescued Knox from the French, and for ten year Knox was a pastor-preacher in exile from Scotland because he was a Protestant (1549-1559). He served in Berwick & Newcastle (England), Frankfurt (Germany), and Geneva (Switzerland). Looking back over the years in England Knox imagined Christ saying to him something like Christ would have said to Peter: “Yet art thou too proude to be a pastour, thou canste notstoupe, nor bowe thy backe down to take up the weake shepe;thou does not yet knowe thine own infirmitie and weakness,and therefore canst thou do nothing but despise the weak ones.” (Dawson, p. 69)
When Knox returned to Edinburgh, Scotland on May 2, 1559. The bishops assembled in the Monastery of the Black Friars to discuss improvements to the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. For example, any priest caught in adultery loses 1/3 of pay; and priests could not put their sons in their wills (not supposed to have any sons in the first place). For example, Cardinal Beaton had 8 illegitimate sons. While meeting, a messenger unannounced entered the meeting and shouted: “Knox is returned to Edinburgh!” We read: “at once they closed their meeting & arose hastily.”
The Summer of 1559 was an extraordinary time of revival. Knox preached in the major cities, and promoted reformation of the church. Knox said he was: “Churching it like a Scythian.” (There was no watering down of the wine among the Scythians of Ancient Greece.)
In the summer of 1559 when he first returned to St Andrews, warning was sent to him by the bishop that if he dared to preach the next Sunday there would be a dozen hand guns discharged in his face. His friends advised delay, but he went ahead and took for his text Christ driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple. The famous painting above is of the scene of Knox leaning out over the pulpit before the Dutchess of Arguile holding her baby by Sir David Wilkie captured something of that day, June 11, 1559, and the effect of it at the time can be seen in the 14 priests of the Roman Church, who confessed the faith.
Five Swift Reforms that Year 1559
By the 1560 the French forces were defeated.
Parliament adopted laws
RCC was replaced with Presbyterianism
A Nat’l Confession of Faith established by 6 men named “John” in five days. The closing words of the Scots Confession—a prayer: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thine enemies be confounded; let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly name. Give thy servants strength to speak thy word with boldness, and let all nations cleave to the true knowledge of thee.”
Book of Discipline
How was Scotland Reformed into Presbyterianism so Fast?
“In Scotland the whole nation was converted by lump; and within ten years after popery was discharged in Scotland, there were not ten persons of quality to be found in it who did not profess the true reformed religion, and so it was among the commons in proportion. Lo! Here a nation born in one day.’” ( Kirkton’s History)
Calvin wrote to Knox: “We wonder at success so incredible and in so short a time.”
Knox explained the success of the Reformation in Scotland in his History: (Citing Isaiah 40 in Geneva Bible) . . . “This promise has been performed for us Christians here in the realm of Scotland. For what was our force or strength? What was our number? Yea, what was our wisdom or worldly policy was to us to have brought to a good end so great an enterprise?”
Knox replied to Calvin: “God gave His Holy Spirit to simple men in great abundance.”
Three Broad Lessons from the Ministry of John Knox
The Logos, Ethos, and Pathos of Reformation Preaching
Logos: “Unto me…is this grace given that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8
“God is friendly minded to sinners”
“We opened more fully the fountain of God’s grace to sinners”
“Christ so tender towards those who put Him to death that He first sent unto them the ministry of reconciliation.”
Ethos: The primacy of preaching over writing (“I consider myself rather called by my God to instruct the ignorant, comfort the sorrowful, confirm the weak, and rebuke the proud, by tongue and living voice, in these corrupt days, than to compose books for the age to come.”)
“It hath pleased God of his superabundant grace to make me, most wretched of many thousands, a witness, minister and preacher.”
Used Plain speech – Puritans loved this word plain. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8
Pathos: (“A dinging the pulpit”) – To Ding is to hit the pulpit hard and almost seem to be flying out of it.
A student there at the time was fifteen-year-old James Melville, and he would see Knox walking to church from the old priory, a staff in one hand and held under his other armpit by a friend, with furs wrapped round his neck. It was the year before his death and his strength was gone. Melville wrote in his Autobiography:
“Of all the benefits I had that year  was the coming of that most notable prophet and apostle of our nation, Mr John Knox, to St Andrews . . . I heard him teach there the prophecy of Daniel that summer and winter following. I had my pen and my little book, and took away such things as I could comprehend. In the opening up of his text he was moderate the space of an half hour; but when he entered to application, he made me so grew [shudder] and tremble, that I could not hold a pen to write.”
Melville says further that Knox had to be lifted up into the pulpit “where it behoved him to lean at his first entry; but before he had done with his sermon he was so active and vigorous, that he was like to ding that pulpit in blads and fly out of it!”
English Ambassador—Knox “put life into them more than 500 trumpets.”
A Love for the Church and the Courage to Reform Her
Two days before his death—“I have been in meditation these last two nights [concerning] the troubled church of God, the spouse of Jesus Christ, despised of the world but precious in his sight. I have called to God for it, and have committed it to her head, Jesus Christ.”
Earl of Morton at Knox’s funeral—“Here lies one who neither feared nor flattered any flesh.”
Faith in the Promises of God through Prayer
“Let us now humble ourselves in the presence of our God, and, from the bottom of our hearts, let us desire him to assist us with the power of his Holy Spirit . . . that albeit we see his Church so diminished, that it shall appear to be brought, as it were, to utter extermination, that yet we may be assured that in our God there is power and will to increase the number of his chosen, even while they be enlarged to the uttermost coasts of the earth.”
Prayer From John Knox for the Holy Spirit: “Because we have need continually to crave many things at your hands, we humbly beg you, O heavenly Father, to grant us your Holy Spirit to direct our petitions, that they may proceed from such a fervent mind as may be agreeable to your holy will. Amen.”
Our identity, besides being one of the most precious things to prevent from theft, crisis, or loss, is extremely important to God. The Father has given his children an identity in Christ that will shape us on our journey to heaven. If in the process of identity formation we ignore what God says concerning our identity, then we may expect confusion in other seasons of spiritual formation.
Just after birth, a child is given an identity. Identity formation, however, is a longer process. When Jesus Christ was approximately thirty years of age the Father spoke of his identity at his baptism just before entering fully into his calling. In the same way, identity in Christ ought to precede our calling to Christ. It is at this important season of identity that Satan challenges each of us, as he did our Lord. The devil’s first attacks on our Lord were aimed at his identity: “If you are the Son of God.”
The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to kill and destroy us in each season of spiritual formation. In the spring they confuse our identity, in the summer our calling, in the autumn our intentionality, and in the winter our legacy. The world escorts us to the pit; the flesh entices us to fall in; and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents a dark and slimy collection of lies, condemning thoughts, and foolish strategies designed to confuse and distort our identity formation.
An Identity Group is the first of four spiritual formation groups designed to shape us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It assumes that you have to begin here before asking the next three major questions of the Christian life: Where’s my place (calling)? How do I steward all my gifts, resources, and efforts with intentionality in the light of eternity (intentionality)? What inheritance, testament, and benediction do I leave behind as I prepare to cross the river of death in order to gain eternity (legacy)?
Allistair Begg writes: “In January of 1981, he invited me to speak at the Londonderry Young People’s Convention. Just what a man in his late seventies was doing as the chairman of such a gathering, you might well ask. The answer had to do with a particular ministry of his. He was the founder and leader of a boys’ Bible class called Crusaders, a weekly duty he fulfilled for fifty years. His mission statement was clear. He wanted every boy that came to class to have: A Bible in his hand, A Savior in his heart, and A Purpose in his life. Many boys had come to faith in Christ through the years as a result of his ministry, and not on account of T.S.’s athletic ability or dress sense or knowledge of contemporary music. He was devoid of all of that.
When I stayed as his guest for the week during which I spoke, I was introduced to what he referred to as his ‘rogues’ gallery.’ His sitting room had large windows, extremely high ceilings, and a central fireplace he kept stocked with coal. The furniture was plain and comfortable, and a large table over by the window was stacked with books and correspondence. And everywhere, pictures of his ‘rogues.’ Some were by this time successful surgeons. It had been one of “his boys” who had performed open-heart surgery on T.S. some years before. Others were schoolteachers, others in banking and commerce, a significant number in pastoral ministry, and all of them regularly in his prayers. Prior to my visit and certainly afterward, he had written to me and never failed to remind me that he remembered me ‘regularly at the best place.’
T.S. lived alone and had a housekeeper who came in regularly to take care of his domestic affairs. When she arrived on this particular morning, she was not met by the normal cheery smile and bright eyes. She found T.S. sprawled across his bed. He was fully dressed and had obviously begun his day as usual, because when others were called to help and they moved his body, they discovered that he had fallen on top of his prayer list. He had gone to heaven praying for his “rogues.” He could never have died that way had he not lived in such discipline. It is a matter of great concern to me that the varied opportunities of my life can be an excuse for neglecting the kind of routine that is clearly necessary for the maintenance of a meaningful walk with God.”
Begg, Alistair, Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith (Kindle Locations 583-603). (Chicago,IL: Moody Publishers, 2005). Kindle Edition.
Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? is a painting by French artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin inscribed the original French title in the upper left corner: D’où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous. The painting was created in Tahiti, and is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
This blog seeks to let the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament answer these questions, though primarily “Who are we in Christ?” Jesus asks two questions; namely, “Which person are you of the two?” and “Where are you going of the two places?” Your identity determines your destiny. The main question is one of identity.
At the end of His sermon on the mount (Matthew 7) He calls for a decision by setting a clear, uncompromising contrast between two identities; one enters the narrow path with a smaller crowd and ends up with life in the end. She bears good fruit and is authentic. She withstands the torrents of trials and death itself because she heard and put into practice Christ’s words. The other identity is that of one pretending to be some one they are not (a wolf in sheep’s clothing). She takes the broad path with the large crowd, bears bad fruit, and doesn’t put into practice the Gospel. She is not known by Christ, and at last she is like a house that ended in a big crash.
On the one hand, there are those who use God to get something from Him and others. On the other hand, there are those who receive Christ’s acceptance, forgiveness, and His righteousness. They get Christ, then use everything to love Him and others.
You must want and receive Jesus in exchange for everything else – your good works, your reputation, and yourself. For the saddest words of separation are spoken to those who say: “I lived did all these good things my whole life for your Name. Why don’t You accept me? Did we not . . .?” Jesus, nevertheless, said: “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”
Have you placed all your trust in Christ? Do you trust He lived a perfect life of goodness in your place? Do you trust that He paid the penalty you deserved by dying in your place? Do you trust He rose again and won the victory over death? Have you put His words into practice? Have you repented of your entitlement-mentality that Christ owes you something for your good works? Do you know He loves you? Lovers make great knowers.
Jonathan Edwards’s daughter, Esther, describes how her father’s counsels were beneficial to her as an adult. She made a trip to visit his home and wrote:
“Last eve I had some free discourse with My Father on the great things that concern my best Interest—I opened my difficulties to him very freely and he freely advised and directed. The conversation has removed some distressing doubts that discouraged me much in my Christian warfare—He gave me some excellent directions to be observed in secret that tend to keep my soul near to God, as well as others to be observed in a more public way—What a mercy that I have such a Father! Such a Guide!”
When Edwards died in March 1758, his wife, Sarah, wrote to their daughter Lucy:
“My very dear Child,
What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a very dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.
Your ever affectionate mother,
 Esther Edwards Burr, The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-57, ed. Carol F. Karlsen and Laurie Crumpacker (New Have, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 224.
*Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, vol. 32, Correspondence by, to, and about Edwards and His Family (Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University).
Good Words to My Five Sons. May this encourage you, too.
One: Arise from the battlefield and behold. Though death and wounds exist, you stand like warriors of old shouting victory with the sword of truth pointed to GOD Almighty. His last cry on the cross was a victory cry, it is your security in suffering. Morning has dawned in your life. Joy is going to flood into your soul like a pool of water in the wilderness. Pant after Him and His love. It shall be better than life and make His Presence distinguish you among all the other writers & teachers. You have suffered the loss of a daughter, and courageously carried her casket in front of a cloud of witnesses, leading us to sing a hymn. Your other daughters adore you, and your son looks to you for the fatherly blessing.
Two: You shall prosper & be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall stand. You shall rejoice soon when morning comes with joy and your name all over it. You shall stand tall in your identity and be posted secure in your calling as a Gospel preacher. Fear not, GOD is with you. It SHALL come to pass. Shepherd the flock under your care – your wife and four little sheep.
Three: You shall prosper and be established in the land. You shall mount up and be established on firm ground. No one can stand against you when you will become God-hungry and humbly love well. Morning is come with joy and victory over mourning, weeping, & darkness in your life. Stay near Him whose Presence shall distinguish you as a father to your sons and soon-coming-daughter.
Four: The Lord is establishing you. Morning dawns with joy in your life. No more weeping, darkness, and night. It has ended. Soon you shall be fortified to enter more fully a age-old battle of generations and enjoy your inheritance. No one will be able to stand against you as you draw near, panting after God. His Presence alone is what will distinguish you among all the others. Fear not. See how God gave you pastoral ministry with a man of God, and there is much to learn.
Five: You shall prosper and be mighty in the land. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. God will establish the work He has begun in you. A time is coming, soon, when Nehemiah 6:16 shall come to pass in your life. Indeed, this is happening now. See how God has raised you up at such a young age in that high tower of a work place. Walk humbly under God’s mighty Hand, and He shall exalt you to make much of Him in due time. You are pursuing a godly woman, and i delight in your masculinity.
Embrace the Truth; Renounce the Lie and Foolish Strategies