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Scripture Memory: Harmony.

VERSE : Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

26 October 2014
8 am & 11am Worship Service
Rev Colin Wong (The Text that Changed the World that Changes Us, Rom 1:16,17)
6:00 pm Evening Service
Lee Hock Chin (Marks of Brotherly Love, Rom 12:9-10) 

2 November 2014
8 am & 11am Worship Service
Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Brethren, Pray for Us! 1 Thes 5:25; 2 Thes 3:1,2 )
6:00 pm Evening Service
Rev Colin Wong (How Christians Ought to Conduct Themselves Socially, Rom 12:11-16)

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John Knox - the first Presbyterian Pastor

Why are we Presbyterians, or Bible-Presbyterian? At Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, we trace our roots to the first Presbyterian church founded by John Knox (1514-1572), the great Scottish Reformer.

  2014 marks the 500th anniversary of his birth.  God used him to lead spiritual reform in Scotland that continues worldwide through the Bible-believing Presbyterian churches.  When addressing the Scottish Reformation Society, Rev David Murray said, “No man in all our history has done more for Scotland than John Knox. By God’s grace he saw a land immersed in idolatry, immorality, ignorance, bondage and superstition, and by the Gospel of Christ transformed into a free, democratic, educated, poor providing for, liberated, civilised nation. Scotland was his monument. And all through Christ!”

Life of John Knox

Knox was born in 1514, three years before the German monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses that sparked the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Knox attended the University of St Andrews, was ordained a catholic priest, and worked as an apostolic notary and private tutor. 

In 1525, Scotland banned Luther’s books. Intense persecution against the protestants soon followed. In 1528, the 24-year old reformer, Patrick Hamilton was burnt for preaching justification by faith alone. Against this bloody landscape Knox was drawn to the gospel preaching of George Wishart (1513-46) in 1545, and became his personal assistant. A year later, Wishart was arrested for heresy and burnt to death by Cardinal Beaton. Knox wanted to be martyred with Wishart, but was told to care for the ‘children’ -  a charge he never forgot.

John Rough, the garrison preacher at St Andrews Castle, noticed Knox’s gifts and called him to the office of preaching. After praying, Knox accepted God’s call.

A period of siege and bombardment by the French navy soon ensued, though, and his congregation in the sea castle surrendered in 1547. Knox served as a galley slave for nineteen months and barely survived.

After his release two years later, Knox went to England and became chaplain to the protestant king Edward VI. However, Edward died in 1553, and was succeeded by the Catholic Queen Mary Tudor – “Bloody Mary” (r.1553-58). She restored Catholicism by killing more than 200 protestant bishops. Knox fled to Frankfurt with his bride Marjorie Bowes and later, in 1556, to Geneva where he ministered to congregations of English refugees. He attended Calvin’s Academy there, which he called ‘the most perfect school of Christ seen on earth since the days of the Apostles’.  His two sons, Nathaniel and Eleazer, were born there.

We see God’s hand in providentially funneling Knox and other English reformers to Geneva to produce an English Bible. Published in 1560, The Geneva Bible was a resounding success. Small and economically priced, it included maps, illustrations, chronology, notes, a concordance and a dictionary.

Though he was happy in Geneva, Knox yearned to see free gospel preaching in Scotland.

Although Scotland remained Catholic, the Protestants made up a sizable portion of the nobility who gradually took control of the Parliament by 1559. Knox returned to Scotland, and began preaching justification by faith alone. Many were saved. Knox founded the first Presbyterian church, Kirk of St Giles, Edinburgh, on 7 July 1559. His first sermon was about Christ’s cleansing of the temple as he denounced papal corruptions. 

Reformation made good progress in Scotland as noted by Calvin’s letter to Knox, “we are astonished at such incredible progress in so brief a space of time, so we likewise give thanks to God.”

In Aug 1560, the Scottish Parliament outlawed the catholic mass, ended the Pope’s power, and made the Kirk the official reformed Church of Scotland. Upon the Parliament’s request, the “Six Johns”, Knox and five other men with the first name of John, completed the Scots Confession in just four days! The Westminster Confession of Faith later replaced it in 1647. Knox also organised Scottish churches into presbyteries, synods, and a general assembly.

In Dec 1560, Knox suffered a severe blow from the death of his beloved wife. He was comforted by a letter from John Calvin, who expressed esteem for his partner and condolences for his loss. He raised his two sons with his mother-in-law’s assistance.

In 1561, Mary Queen of Scots arrived in Scotland from France, and announced her intention to celebrate Mass in her private chapel. The counter-reformation had begun. Yet Knox preached ceaselessly and boldly against Catholicism, Queen Mary and the Mass. For this, he was summoned several times before the Queen. Knox fearlessly corrected her each time. 

In 1564, the fifty year old Knox married Margaret Stewart who was only seventeen. She bore him three daughters. Civil war in 1566-72 forced Knox and his family to flee to Ayrshire and St Andrews, where he wrote The History of the Reformation in Scotland.

In July 1572, Knox returned to Edinburgh, feeble and ill. He continued to preach till his death on 24 Nov 1572.  Despite his many achievements, Knox was keenly aware of his sins and greatly humbled by God’s saving grace: “In youth, middle age, and now after many battles, I find nothing in me but vanity and corruption.” On his deathbed, he asked his wife to read  John 17, where he said, “I first cast my anchor.”  He was buried in the churchyard of St. Giles.

A fortnight ago, I was privileged to visit Knox’s nondescript gravesite - marked on a public car park lot No.23 of Edinburgh’s St Giles Church. In contrast, an imposing 4-metre high egoistic statue of a past mayor of Edinburgh on a horse stood just steps away. I was miffed that the grave of a great godly man should be so desecrated and run over daily by cars. However, someone gave me an interesting perspective on this: “Scotland didn’t need to erect a monument to John Knox. Scotland is his monument.”

Presbyterians sailed to America

In the seventeenth century, many Scottish Presbyterians migrated to Northern Ireland in search of freedom. From Ireland, 200,000 sailed to America in the early 1800s.  Persecuted English Puritans (including Presbyterians) eg. the Pilgrim fathers, also sailed to USA. Hence, American Presbyterianism is derived from Scottish, Irish and English Presbyterians.

Bible-Presbyterian - from America to Singapore

Between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the American Presbyterian denomination endured multiple splits.  In 1936, the modernist-fundamentalist controversy led J. Gresham Machen to the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of America (which later changed its name to Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1939). In 1937, Carl McIntyre & Oliver Buswell broke away to form the  Bible Presbyterian Church, a denomination which held to abstinence from alcohol and premillennialism.

Rev Timothy Tow studied in Faith Seminary (USA) in the 1940s and was influenced by McIntyre. Upon returning to Singapore, Rev Tow and Eld Quek Kiok Chiang founded Life Bible-Presbyterian Church on 30 October 1950, the first B-P church in Singapore.

Chronology:

1514  John Knox born in Scotland

1545  Converted to Protestant faith

1557  Studied under Calvin in Geneva

1559  John Knox founded the first Presbyterian church in Edinburgh, Scotland.

1690   Presbyterian Church officially established as the national Church of Scotland

1937  Founding of the Bible Presbyterian Church, America

1950   Founding of Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore

What would John Knox say to us?

1.  Read & Obey God’s Word. To Knox, the Word of God is the only authority for Christians and for churches. Cherish the Bible that many martyrs fought to translate, publish and read. Today, though we have the Bible always with us in our phones, many are too busy to read it, and are hence in danger of returning to ignorance.

2. Preach the Gospel. The Reformation made an impact largely due to the preaching of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Thomas Randolph said of Knox’s preaching, “the voice of that one man is able in one hour to put more life into us, than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears!” 

3.  Teach your Confession.  Knox wrote the Scots Confession to instruct the flock and catechise children. John Murray lamented that in modern Scotland, “a whole generation is growing up without any knowledge of the very basic truths of Scripture. It is time for the Church to return to the use of catechisms and the memorising of Scripture.”

4.  Fear God, not man.  Called “The thundering Scot”, Knox was not afraid to preach the truth to anyone, even kings and queens. On one occasion when he was debating with Mary Queen of Scots in her residence, the Queen’s Secretary interrupted Knox, saying “You forget yourself; you are not now in your pulpit!” Knox calmly replied, “I am in the place where duty requires me to speak the truth, deny it who will.”  The Earl of Morton gave a eulogy at Knox’s funeral: “Here lieth a man who never feared the face of man, who hath been often threatened with dagger, but yet hath ended his days in peace and honour.”

5. Pray. When the Marian persecution began in 1554, Knox wrote a pamphlet on Prayer. Mary Queen of Scots feared Knox’s prayers “more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” C.H. Spurgeon said, ‘When John Knox went upstairs to plead with God in Scotland it was the greatest event in Scottish history.’

6. Support Christian education.  Knox proposed national education to be provided for every child.  Each town was also to have a College with adequate staff supported by churches.

7. Feed the hungry.  Compassion for the poor and needy convinced Knox to implement the first national social welfare system in Scotland.

8. Influence Policies.  Knox urged Christians to present to their political leaders with the Bible’s teaching on moral, economic, social and defence matters. 

“The rare combination of the theologian and the statesman in Knox was equally remarkable. It laid the foundation of that elevated system of Christian ethics and social science which, when carried out, even partially, made Scotland illustrious”, wrote James Begg.

By God’s grace, Knox founded Presbyterianism and reformed the Church in Scotland. Today, we thank God both for our Presbyterian heritage, and for the translated word of God that our forefathers fought so hard for. Though our circumstances may change, the spiritual battle remains the same. It is still best won with the most powerful weapon in Knox’s arsenal – the word of God.                                  -  Lee Hock Chin

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Golden Age Fellowship (English/Chinese)

Date   :    1 Nov 14 (Sat) at 4 pm
Venue    :           Beulah MPH

Speaker : Rev Daniel Khoo

Topic : Longevity or Eternal Life? (Mt 19:16-22)

Should you wish to bring refreshment, kindly contact:
Mrs Sng Teck Leong (Chinese Service) : 96937021 / Mrs Evelyn Tay (English Service) : 62803344

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LTF Camp 2014 (8 - 12 Dec)

Theme:          Spiritual Exercise

Speaker:        Mr. Lim Chien Chong (Grace B-P Church)

All teens aged 12-17 are invited!

Registration ends on 23 Nov.

Contact Elder Lim Ching Wah (9183-6783) for more information.

Love gifts to defray the cost of the camp are greatly appreciated.

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1) Infant Baptism on Christmas Sunday, 21 Dec 14. Parents who intend to have their infants baptised must register by 23 Nov 14. Please call the Church office (65949399) or email Yin Chan giving child’s name, date of birth and parents’ names and contact.

2) Scripture Memory Verse Review No. 5. A written review exercise of the verses are obtainable at the front counter today. Please submit by 9 Nov 14. Review Nos. 1-4 are also available for those who missed it.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25