I found this wonderful story in Modern Reformation magazine in an article by Jon D. Payne. He found the story in a book by Iain H. Murray’s A Scottish Christian Heritage. I love Murray’s works because he helps put the history of the church in perspective and I recommend any of his books to you, which you can find at Banner of Truth Trust (BTW, Banner of Truth is one of the few places I recommend for buying Christian books. As for Christian bookstores, please, if you are a true follower of Christ, stay away!!!)
Here is Payne’s quote:
“One Lord’s Day as Robert Bruce (1554-1631) ascended the elevated pulpit at St. Giles Kirk in Edinburgh, King James VI was comfortably perched in his royal gallery overlooking the congregation from the rear. The relationship between Bruce and the Steward king, though once amicable, became strained due to Bruce’s unwillingness to negotiate the truth in light of James’s unscrupulous politics–especially as it concerned the newly established Presbyterian Church of Scotland (1560). On this particular Sunday, after Bruce commenced his sermon, the king showed his contempt for Bruce by carrying on a loud and impudent conversation with his courtiers. Bruce paused for a moment, and the king quieted down. When Bruce began preaching again, however, the king continued his ill-mannered conversation. After this took place a third time, the fiery Scottish preacher looked up to the royal gallery and declared: ‘It is said to have been an expression of the wisest of kings, When the lion roars, all the beasts of the field are [quiet]: the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is now roaring in the voice of his Gospel, and it becomes all the petty kings of the earth to be silent.'”
What an absolute wonderful quote, for it truly shows us the supremacy of the Gospel over the kings of the earth. No matter what position a man may hold, be it a king or a mayor or a Senator, when the Gospel is truly preached, they should quiet down and listen. Even the most exalted king or athlete or superstar is not above his or her need for the Gospel. It is through the Gospel that Jesus is speaking to us today. Not with new revelation, but in the proclamation of the ultimate revelation that has been already been given through and in the person of Jesus Christ.
I’m sure that King James VI was angered by that statement. But he would have done himself well by coming down out of his box seat and humbled himself among the peasantry at the foot of the cross. If a man is ever going to find favor with God, he cannot do so without coming to the cross and laying aside all his pretentious entrappings about himself.
The church would do well by remembering this truth, and pastors would do well to remember it as well. The pastor is not to be the latest hit comedian, or counselor, or big buddy, or motivational speaker. He is to be a man who stands in the pulpit week after week declaring the truth of God’s word, for in doing so, he is being used by the Holy Spirit so that we can hear from the Lion of Judah.
I can’t tell you the number of times I will have preached a sermon and someone will come up to me afterward and say, “I loved it when you said …, for that really spoke to me and encouraged me.” The entire time I’m thinking, “Did I say that?” I don’t remember saying it, but the Lord took what I said and encouraged someone in the congregation with it in such a way that it applied to their particular situation. That only happens when we preach God’s word faithfully.
Now think about what takes place when a pastor becomes a motivational speaker instead of a preacher of God’s word. Instead of looking to proclaim the truth found in Scripture, especially the parts that are unpopular, he uses God’s word as a spring board into a message that will motivate people to be better people. On the surface, this sounds good and to many, they believe that this is what should take place. After all, we don’t want messages about “suffering” and “righteousness.” We want messages that tell us how good we are and how much God loves us. Of course He loves us, we are such wonderful people!
But… that is not the Gospel. The Gospel doesn’t tell us how wonderful we are, but how wonderful He is in that He came to save us because we are so wretched. Whether we are kings or queens in reality or in our own minds, we need the gospel. We need to hear the truth that we don’t want to hear. We need to hear that there is nothing in us that will bring about favor with God. We need to know that what we truly deserve, which is eternal hell. I know, this doesn’t seem fair. But that is fair, for we have offended a Holy God and if He is fair, He gives all what they deserve. What we want is His grace which is found in The Gospel itself.
Motivational sermons won’t do us a lot of good at that point. Which is sad, because those who truly had their “best life now,” will get to think about that nugget of truth for eternity, and remember that they did indeed have their best life while on earth. As Abraham said to the rich man who burned, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented.”
Allow me to say, I don’t want my best life now. Let the Lion of Judah Roar! Let the Gospel go forth from the pulpits in America, as unpleasant as it is, because it is much better for us to humble ourselves under His word than to listen to the wisdom of the world. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
We need men in our pulpits who will proclaim the truth and not fear the outcome. I like what A.A. Hodge said concerning this:
“It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth than to find one intrepid enough, in the face of opposition, to stand up for it.”
Unfortunately, much of the church today has drifted the way of the world, with motivational messages, and messages meant to uplift instead of conform us to the image of Christ. Conformity to Christ is not easy, it’s done through the fires of affliction and the pastor who punts on this issue is no pastor at all.
Brannon Howse writes the following:
Many such churches would claim to love truth but what they really love is a man-centered Christianity that helps them obtain success in their marriage, finances, family, and a positive attitude that produces health and a successful personal life without the pain of dying to self, picking up the Cross of Christ and being persecuted for proclaiming Truth.
II Timothy 4:3 tells us that many Christians will only want to hear what makes them feel good and appeals to their flesh; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
Pastors must not buy into the world’s message and preach the Gospel, because God can take the message and convert souls. Motivational talks, while they may convert our attitudes for a day or a week, lack the power to change us into children of God. What is amazing is that God can take the meekest pastor, to the most bold, to the most confident, and used them to speak to His children. He can take those who are being as faithful to the word as they can, and speak throught them to convert the lost and bring them to salvation. But they must preach His word, not the world’s word.
Is there any king or president that can do that in our day an age? They may claim to be able to keep the seas from rising and they may claim to bring peace to the land, but all they can really do is hope the Lion of Judah blesses their endeavors. Otherwise, they are truly petty in their endeavors. Just think about King James VI. How much of his life and reign to do we know about? Was it all that important?
The reason I asked that is that the Lion of Judah roared in his direction on the Sabbath day so many years ago. The only hope that King James VI had of any future is if he listened to the roar. Did he listen, or just get angry like so many kings and queens of our day do. Remember, during his day, King James VI was on top of the world. Where is he now? If he shrugged his shoulders at the roar, it’s not pretty. Will you hear the roar of the Lion? Or will you just shrug your shoulders as well, and join the ancient and unknown kings in their place in eternity?