John Stott Remembered Word on the Week 3rd July 2021.
A decade has passed since Stott died. His influence on evangelicals over the last century was enormous. He remained within the Church of England and was based at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. From there he was able to carry on a global ministry assisting churches with the Gospel.
What is this Gospel which turned his life around? He heard it at age 17 from the evangelist Eric Nash. The sermon was taken from Pilates pathetic comment recorded in St Matthew Chapter 27 verse 22 “What Then Shall I Do with Jesus, Who Is Called the Christ?” Afterwards Nash pointed Stott to Revelation Chapter 3 verse 20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Stott later described the impact this verse had upon him as follows:
“Here, then, is the crucial question which we have been leading up to. Have we ever opened our door to Christ? Have we ever invited him in? This was exactly the question which I needed to have put to me. For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door. I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole. I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him.
I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well. I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good. But all the time, often without realising it, I was holding Christ at arm’s length, and keeping him outside. I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences. I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door. Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realise that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life.”
Stott’s abiding passion was summed up in what he called “double listening”. It involved listening to the culture and discerning where it was at. He then would listen for the voice of God to speak to the culture scriptural truths to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. The link would be made in texts such as “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter Chapter 3 verse 18).
I heard him preach on his 80th birthday. It was on the same theme. His ability to handle words with precision had not left him. Indeed, it is reflected in his many books not least of which is his “Through the Bible through the Year” which is our household’s this year’s breakfast fare!