Back in the 70s (?) I recall buying two tapes by Stott with four half hour sermons on the Second Coming of Jesus – as an Adventist I thought they were among the best expositions on the subject I had heard. As with such materials they get lent out and lost track of. I hope they have done some good wherever they’ve got to. The titles went something like, ‘The Promise of His Coming, The Manner of His Coming, The Certainty of His Coming, and the Challenge of His Coming.
I have downsized my library a lot since retirement, but I still hang on to some of John Stott’s commentaries, and given quite a number of his ‘Basic Christianity’away.
One of the most memorable moments of him speaking was at one of the occasions he was invited by the Student’s Association to speak at Newbold College, It was what followed his presentation that has lodged in my mind since, that of loyalty to the Gospel and his amazing mental recall that was evidenced in the question and answers that followed. It was about the time that ‘Myth’ had been published and some of its authors were present at that occasion and posed questions which went in the order of point 1, point 2, point 3 etc with their own sub points. I thought when Stott finished his reply to point 1 with its sub points he might have just paused to be reminded of what points two and three were again. But no, he continued replying confidently and authoritatively to all the points presented by the authors of ‘Myth’ who were present. In addition, as I can vaguely recollect and in my own words, he suggested respectfully that if they no longer believed the Scriptures and the Gospel it contained shouldn’t they feel obliged to return their ministerial credentials. (Anyone there at the time check me out on this?). But I can understand what J. I. Packer means when he says of Stott, “He had an unparalleled gift for setting things in order in his own mind and then articulating them to others.”
“In 1977 Professor John Hick’s symposium The Myth of God Incarnate was published, and in 1987, ten years later, The Myth of Christian Uniqueness. All the contributors confessed that they had “crossed the Rubicon” from “exclusivism” and “inclusivism” to “pluralism.”
“The reason we must reject this increasingly popular position is that we are committed to the uniqueness of Jesus (he has no competitors) and his finality (he has no successors). It is not the uniqueness of “Christianity” as a system that we defend, but the uniqueness of Christ. He is unique in his incarnation (which is quite different from the ahistorical and plural “avatars” of Hinduism); in his atonement (dying once for all for our sins); in his resurrection (breaking the power of death); and in his gift of the Spirit (to indwell and transform us). So, because in no other person but Jesus of Nazareth did God first become human (in his birth), then bear our sins (in his death), then conquer death (in his resurrection) and then enter his people (by his Spirit), he is uniquely able to save sinners. Nobody else has his qualifications.”
In 1966 when sharing the same platform Dr John Stott disagreed with Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones over his passionate appeal for evangelicals to come out from their existing denominations to a unified Evangelical movement. Fearful of an ‘evangelical’ exodus from the Anglican church Stott responded critically to Dr Lloyd-Jones appeal but is said to have later apologised to him as it was inappropriate for him to have replied to Lloyd-Jones’ appeal, seeing he (Stott) was the ‘chair’ at the meeting.
Back in 2006 Andrew Grills did an appraisal of the coming together and what eventually separated these two men who towered ‘above the landscape of twentieth century British evangelicalism.’ There is no doubt that they have been respected and revered by ministerial colleagues and lay around the world, said in some circles to have been the two greatest expository preachers of the twentieth century.
Says Rick Warren in his tribute to John Stott, “If you were going to name the most influential pastor of the 20th century, John Stott would be my choice. In fact, I believe he is among the three most influential Christians in the last half of the 20th century, right alongside Billy Graham and Mother Teresa.”
Stott did cause a stir among evangelicals with his stance on the subject of ‘Hell’. In Essentials, Stott says on page 314: “Emotionally, I find the concept intolerable and do not understand how people can live with it without either cauterising their feelings or cracking under the strain.” But Stott’s feelings must give way to what Scripture says. And for Stott, Scripture supported his feelings. On page 316 he says, “It cannot, I think, be replied that it is impossible to destroy human beings because they are immortal, for immortality – and therefore indestructibility – is a Greek not a biblical concept. According to Scripture only God possesses immortality in himself (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16), he reveals and gives it to us through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).” Says Stott on the nature of hell fire, “the fire itself is termed ‘eternal’ and unquenchable’, but it would be very odd if what is thrown into it proves to be indestructible. Our expectation would be the opposite; it would be consumed for ever, not tormented for ever. Hence it is the smoke (evidence that the fire has done its work) which ‘rises for ever and ever’ (Revelation 14:11; cf. 19:3).” For the conditionalist, God made man out of the dust of the ground and breathed in him the breath of life and he became a living soul (Genesis 2:7). He doesn’t have a soul – the living being is a soul. Stott has not yet gone to be with the Lord; he awaits the Second Coming of Jesus and the resurrection (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Despite the furore his conditionalist views caused, the links below will show how Dr John Stott has been greatly admired as a great Christian thinker and leader.
The first book I bought of his was, Men Made New: An Exposition of Romans 5-8 (Reprinted 1973). When I took it out of the bookcase a few days ago it fell open to page 22. The last paragraph on the page reads:
“Is there a Christian reading these pages who is full of doubts about his eternal salvation? Are you sure you have been justified, but not at all sure that all will be well at the end? If so, let me stress again that final glorification is the fruit of justification. ‘those whom he justified he also glorified’, as we shall see when we come to study Romans 8:30. If this is your problem, I would urge you to trust in the God who loves you. Ask him to go on flooding your heart with his love through the indwelling Spirit. And then away with gloomy doubts and fears! Let them be swallowed up in the steadfast love of God.”
Those thoughts by John Stott brought to mind the hymn Blessed Assurance by Fanny Crosby, a hymn writer who had as great an influence in her era as Dr John Stott has been in ours. ‘Considered to be the greatest hymn-writer in the history of the Christian church’ that last paragraph by Stott is echoed a century later in one of her still most popular of hymns of today echoing the best in Christian belief:
Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
With three months of the year over the last 50 years spent in Wales John Stott would know how the Welsh love to repeat the last stanza of a hymn or the refrain or part of a refrain, and this is what Fanny Crosby does here as she repeats,
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
All the tributes you read about him lead to saying, that was the life of John Stott’s!
Tributes To John Stott:
Legacy Of A Global Leader – Christianity Today
Leaders And Friends Remember John Stott – Christianity Today
The Man Who Wouldn’t Be Bishop – CT Library
Evangelism Plus – CT Library
Rest In Peace: John Stott – Cross Walk
John Stott: A Life Lived Well – Premier
The Rev John Stott: Daily Telegraph Obituary
John Stott: Evangelist And Theologian Dies Aged 90 – Christian Post
John Stott Has Died – Christianity Today
Basic Stott – Christianity Today