Wednesday, October 9, 2019

John Knox on God's Word in the Home

In 1556 the Reformation was spreading in Scotland, but it remained out of favor with the authorities, and the established church remained under Rome. As reformer John Knox left Scotland to spend a few years as a pastor to English-speaking refugees in Geneva, he wrote a letter to be circulated among the Scottish people, "A Letter of Wholesome Counsel." In the letter, he gave counsel on the importance of God's word and how they might benefit from it, despite living in a country in which Roman Catholicism was still in power. While he goes on to teach the importance of Bible study as a congregation, here he speaks of the importance of the daily use of God's word in the home, a point which remains "wholesome counsel" today as we seek maintain true religion in an increasingly secular society.
"But to you, dear brethren, I write my knowledge, and do speak my conscience, that so necessary as the use of meat and drink are to the preservation of life corporeal, and so necessary as the heat and brightness of the sun are to the quickening of the herbs and to expel darkness, so necessary is also to life everlasting, and to the illumination and light of the soul, the perpetual meditation, exercise, and use of God's holy Word. 
"And therefore, dear brethren, if that ye look for a life to come, of necessity it is that ye exercise yourselves in the Book of the Lord your God. Let no day slip over without some comfort received from the mouth of God. Open your ears, and he will speak, even pleasing things to your heart. Close not your eyes, but diligently let them behold what portion of substance is left to you within your Father's testament. Let your tongue learn to praise the gracious goodness of him who of his mere mercy hath called you from darkness to light, and from death to life. Neither yet may you do this so quietly, that ye will admit no witnesses. Nay, brethren, ye are ordained of God to rule and govern your own houses in God's true fear, and according to his holy Word - within your own houses, I say, in some cases ye are bishops and kings; your wife, children, and family are your bishopric and charge; of you it shall be required how carefully and diligently ye have instructed them in God's true knowledge; how you have studied, in them to plant virtue, and to repress vice. And therefore I say, ye must make them partakers in reading, exhortation, and in making common prayers; which I would, in every house were used once a day at least. But above all things, dear brethren, study to practice in life that which the Lord commands, and then be ye assured, that ye shall never hear nor read the same without fruit." ("A Most Wholesome Counsel," from The Select Practical Writings of John Knox, 2011, p. 126-127; also available online at this link

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