Rest in Peace, John Stott

John Stott died yesterday. He was a pastor and teacher and writer and bird-watcher and probably my most influential spiritual mentor from afar. The world has lost a great man, but the gospel goes on. He has run his race. He has finished the course. He has kept the faith.

The one and only time I ever heard John Stott preach live was at the Urbana Missions Conference in 1979, which I attended with Jeff Barneson, who was then at the University of Colorado in ministry. If memory serves, Stott was teaching each day in Isaiah. I had never heard anyone preach like John Stott preached; it was electrifying. The only way I can describe it was that Stott took God seriously (if you want a modern day example, listen to the preaching of John Piper or David Platt). Stott’s preaching that week had a profound impact on me, not so much for what I learned in Isaiah, but for his demonstration of how one preaches the gospel. He preached with blood earnestness.
The first book I ever read by Mr. Stott was then entitled “Christian Counter-culture,” it was a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (I think it has since been published as “The Sermon on the Mount”). Wow! John was absolutely brilliant at grasping the theme and structure of a passage and walking idiots like me through them to a full understanding. I don’t know of any other Bible commentator who was better at explaining the structure and thought of a New Testament passage. If you are studying or preaching through a New Testament book and Stott has written a commentary on it, his is probably the best there is, or one of the top few.
John was one of the first influential pastors who drew evangelicalism back to its lost ministries of mercy roots. It’s hard to understand how radical this was back in the ’50’s, but when Stott started to minister, evangelicalism was interested mainly in preaching the gospel, it did not have much of a social conscience. Mr. Stott did not see how one could separate the gospel from ministries of mercy, so he called the church back to a healthy desire to serve the poor and needy and orphans and widows and the uninfluential and powerless. Stott had a powerful influence on my own thinking in this area.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. John Stott influenced me tremendously from afar by his written words. Thank you, Mr. Stott, for being faithful to the Scriptures and for working hard to interpret them correctly.
Rest in Peace, Sir, until the resurrection.
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