February 11, 2015

A Fiery Preacher On A Fiery Preacher

Stephen Nichols & Steven Lawson
A Fiery Preacher On A Fiery Preacher


Stephen J. Nichols (SN): Dr. Steven J. Lawson is back with us after we left him on a deserted island last time. So, Dr. Lawson, welcome back.

Steven J. Lawson (SL): Thank you. Great to swim back to the island.

SN: Glad you made it. Well, we didn't get a chance to ask you this last time, but usually when we have visitors to our island who have written books, authors such as yourself, we ask them if there's one of their books that they would like to leave behind in our theological library for future visitors. So which of your many books would you like to be left behind?

SL: That would have to be Foundations of Grace, which is a walkthrough of the entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, looking at the doctrines of grace as they appear, and progressive revelation tracing out this theme.

SN: I was hoping you would say that book. And I think that book is going to be a wonderful legacy for this generation, but even, I hope, for generations to come.

SL: Thank you.

SN: You're very welcome. And speaking of folks who leave a legacy for generations, your most recent book is on the fiery Scottish preacher John Knox. Why did you do a book on Knox?

SL: I find his life story to be the most intriguing, the most compelling account of a man's life. In fact, the lives of Calvin and Luther and others almost seem boring compared to Knox's life.

SN: Tell us about a few key events.

SL: Knox fled persecution from Bloody Mary. He took Scotland by storm with the gospel, preaching so passionately in Perth, where he first landed, that he created a riot. As he advanced to St. Andrews, troops were sent out to halt him, but he nevertheless continued on boldly, courageously, trusting in God. Once, he went to Stirling Castle, and the Reformation troops were discouraged and down, and it looked as if the queen's armies were going to win. He preached to the officers and preached to the troops in Stirling Castle. It was the turning point for the Scottish Reformation, and he was able to put more energy into the soldiers than five hundred trumpets blaring in their ears, it was said. He confronted Mary, Queen of Scots, and reduced her to a puddle of tears in her own palace. The commanding authority and power of one man with the Word of God—it just pulls me up out of my seat, quite frankly. It inspires me, it motivates me, and I see in him what we need in this hour.

SN: This is a larger-than-life figure who was used in a very significant moment. When you looked at his writings, his preaching, what was a key theme that you could see emerging from Knox's preaching?

SL: Here's what's interesting: we only have two of his sermons. Sixty-three volumes of Spurgeon, shelves of Calvin's sermons, but we only have two of Knox's that have survived, so it is hard to totally break it down and analyze it. But the ones we have are very Scripture centered, rooted and grounded in Scripture. They are very Godward in focus. They are Christ-centered in emphasis. They are exhorting. There is urging. There is pleading. There is also pastoral encouragement. There's no misunderstanding what he is saying. He's a very straightforward preacher. And he was a trumpet blast in the ears of his fellow Scotsmen.

SN: What more do you need in a sermon? It's all in there.

SL: He had lightning in one hand and thunder in the other as he preached.

SN: John Knox's legacy lives on, and thank you for writing this book so that we can see his impact extend even further still.

SL: May it be so.

SN: Thank you for being with us.