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Category Archives: Quotes

Why Not Be Anxious? A Great Quote From Dr. James M. Boice

 James Montgomery Boice on Faith NOT Seeking Understanding:

“Whether you can see it or not – and often we cannot – everything is being used of God for your good as well as the good of others…This knowledge is by faith. It is not always by sight. But it is nevertheless certain, because it is based on the character of God, who reveals himself to us as both sovereign and benevolent…We are not to be anxious about the unknown future or to fret about it. We are to live in a moment-by-moment dependence upon God.” – excerpt from notes I took from a late 1980’s sermon of Dr. Boice

About Dr. James Montgomery Boice

*Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.

In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice – previous to Dr. Philip Graham Ryken (Currently the President at Wheaton College). Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.

James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian FaithLiving by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.

He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.

Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”

His wife, Linda, and three daughters survive Dr. Boice. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same.

 

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How C.H. Spurgeon Would Have Ended Up In A Lunatic Asylum!

The following excerpt is from “Men Bewitched,” a sermon preached at some indeterminate time in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

hen I was about fifteen or sixteen years of age, I wanted a Savior, and I heard the gospel preached by a poor man, who said in the name of Jesus—”Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” It was very plain English, and I understood it, and obeyed it and found rest.

I owe all my happiness since then to the same plain doctrine.

Now, suppose that I were to say, “I have read a great many books, and there are a great many people willing to hear me. I really could not preach such a commonplace gospel as I did at the first. I must put it in a sophisticated way, so that none but the elite can understand me.”

I should be—what should I be? I should be a fool, writ large.

I should be worse than that, I should be a traitor to my God; for if I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others too may be saved by it.

When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone.

About Charles Haddon Spurgeon – one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and undoubtedly the most celebrated preacher of the 19th century, began his ministry as a country-boy with only a year of formal education. But even without much training, his brilliant mind and depth of spiritual insight quickly became legendary throughout the world. During his lifetime Spurgeon is estimated to have preached, in person, to over ten million people. He published over 3,500 sermons, totaling between 20 and 25 million words and more than 38,000 pages. Today, over a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike. It is no wonder that this country-boy became known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

Born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, England, Spurgeon wouldn’t become a Christian until the age of fifteen. It happened one Sunday morning when a snowstorm kept him from reaching the church he usually attended. He ducked down a side street and stumbled across a small building with a sign that read, “Artillery Street Primitive Methodist Chapel.” Regardless of his own misgivings, he entered the small church and while listening to a Methodist layman comment on Isaiah 45:22, he “Saw at once the way of salvation!” Spurgeon immediately committed his life to Christ and became a zealous servant of God.

Desiring to share his new faith, Spurgeon began preaching. He preached his first sermon in 1851, at the age of sixteen, to a group of farmers and wives gathered in the village of Teversham. His text was 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” Audiences were held spellbound by the young Spurgeon’s speaking power, and he was offered his first pastorate at the Baptist Chapel in Waterbeach when he was only seventeen. The church, which had about ten members when he arrived, was soon bursting at its doors with over four hundred in the congregation. His inspiring style had caught the interest of many, and soon after his twentieth birthday, the country-preacher was called to be the new pastor of the prominent New Park Street Baptist Church in London. New Park Street was a church that had formerly been pastored by such spiritual giants as Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon.

In a day when preaching was considered not only a source of spiritual nourishment, but also of entertainment and political commentary, Spurgeon’s powerful and stimulating sermons drew enormous crowds. On a single night in London, preaching at the Crystal Palace, he preached to a congregation of 23, 654 without the use of a microphone! His sermons were published weekly in the “Penny Pulpit,” from 1855 until 1917, twenty-four years after his death. He published many religious books, including Lectures to My Students and Treasury of David, a seven-volume devotional-commentary on the Psalms. He also founded and served as president of the Pastor’s College in London, established the Stockwell Orphanages for boys and girls, and oversaw dozens of evangelistic and charitable enterprises. Spurgeon preached his final sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in June of 1891.

Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in January of 1856 and late in the following year they had twin sons, Thomas and Charles. Unlike Spurgeon’s mother who had seventeen children, nine of whom died in childbirth, Charles and Susannah had only the two boys.

Charles Spurgeon died at the relatively young age of 57, in January of 1892. His funeral service was held a week later, on February ninth, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Over 60,000 people waited in line to file past his casket.

 

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Dr. D.A. Carson on How To Destroy A Church

Some Intense Prophetic Words From D.A. Carson

“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it—admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism—all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – D.A. Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry

About the Author: D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including The Cross and Christian Ministry from which the quote above is derived; the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

 

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10 Wise Reminders on Preaching From Some Of The Best Preachers Of The Last 200 Years

Here are ten reminders for those who preach and teach the Word of God … as confirmed by some of history’s greatest preachers.

1. Effective ministry consists not of fads or gimicks, but of faithfully preaching the truth.

Charles Spurgeon: Ah, my dear friends, we want nothing in these times for revival in the world but the simple preaching of the gospel. This is the great battering ram that shall dash down the bulwarks of iniquity. This is the great light that shall scatter the darkness. We need not that men should be adopting new schemes and new plans. We are glad of the agencies and assistances which are continually arising; but after all, the true Jerusalem blade, the sword that can cut to the piercing asunder of the joints and marrow, is preaching the Word of God. We must never neglect it, never despise it. The age in which the pulpit it despised, will be an age in which gospel truth will cease to be honored. . . . God forbid that we should begin to depreciate preaching. Let us still honor it; let us look to it as God’s ordained instrumentality, and we shall yet see in the world a repetition of great wonders wrought by the preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.

Source: Charles Spurgeon, “Preaching! Man’s Privilege and God’s Power,” Sermon (Nov. 25, 1860).

2. Preaching is a far more serious task than most preachers realize.

Richard Baxter: And for myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so, the Lord knows, I am ashamed of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and that men’s salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood. Me thinks we should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the greatest earnestness that possibly we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin which we reprove, it would be so.

Source: Richard Baxter, “The Need for Personal Revival.” Cited from Historical Collections Relating to Remarkable Periods of the Success of the Gospel, ed. John Gillies (Kelso: John Rutherfurd, 1845), 147.

3. Faithfulness in the pulpit begins with the pursuit of personal holiness.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Take heed to thyself. Your own soul is your first and greatest care. You know a sound body alone can work with power; much more a healthy soul. Keep a clear conscience through the blood of the Lamb. Keep up close communion with God. Study likeness to Him in all things. Read the Bible for your own growth first, then for your people. Expound much; it is through the truth that souls are to be sanctified, not through essays upon the truth.

Source: Robert Murray M’Cheyne, letter dated March 22, 1839, to Rev W.C. Burns, who had been named to take M’Cheyne’s pulpit during the latter’s trip to Palestine. Andrew Bonar, ed, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1966), 273-74.

4. Powerful preaching flows from powerful prayer.

E. M. Bounds: The real sermon is made in the closet. The man – God’s man – is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God. Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor. . . . Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God’s work and is powerless to project God’s cause in this world.

Source: E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer. From chapter 1, “Men of Prayer Needed.”

5. Passionate preaching starts with one’s passion for Christ

Phillip Brooks: Nothing but fire kindles fire. To know in one’s whole nature what it is to live by Christ; to be His, not our own; to be so occupied with gratitude for what He did for us and for what He continually is to us that His will and His glory shall be the sole desires of our life . . . that is the first necessity of the preacher.

Source: Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, originally published in 1877. Republished in 1989 by Kregel under the title The Joy of Preaching. As cited in “The Priority of Prayer in Preaching” by James Rosscup, The Masters Seminary Journal, Spring 1991.

6. The preacher is a herald, not an innovator.

R. L. Dabney: The preacher is a herald; his work is heralding the King’s message. . . . Now the herald does not invent his message; he merely transmits and explains it. It is not his to criticize its wisdom or fitness; this belongs to his sovereign alone. On the one hand, . . . he is an intelligent medium of communication with the king’s enemies; he has brains as well as a tongue; and he is expected so to deliver and explain his master’s mind, that the other party shall receive not only the mechanical sounds, but the true meaning of the message. On the other hand, it wholly transcends his office to presume to correct the tenor of the propositions he conveys, by either additions or change. . . . The preacher’s business is to take what is given him in the Scriptures, as it is given to him, and to endeavor to imprint it on the souls of men. All else is God’s work.

Source: R.L. Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures on Preaching (Banner of Truth, 1999; originally published as Sacred Rhetoric, 1870), 36-37.

7. The faithful preacher stays focused on what matters.

G. Campbell Morgan: Nothing is more needed among preachers today than that we should have the courage to shake ourselves free from the thousand and one trivialities in which we are asked to waste our time and strength, and resolutely return to the apostolic ideal which made necessary the office of the diaconate. [We must resolve that] “we will continue steadfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the Word.”

Source: G. Campbell Morgan, This Was His Faith: The Expository Letters of G. Campbell Morgan, edited by Jill Morgan (Fleming Revell, Westwood, NJ), 1952.

8. The preacher’s task is to make the text come alive for his hearers.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: As preachers we must not forget this. We are not merely imparters of information. We should tell our people to read certain books themselves and get the information there. The business of preaching is to make such knowledge live. The same applies to lecturers in Colleges. The tragedy is that many lecturers simply dictate notes and the wretched students take them down. That is not the business of a lecturer or a professor. The students can read the books for themselves; the business of the professor is to put that on fire, to enthuse, to stimulate, to enliven. And that is the primary business of preaching. Let us take this to heart. … What we need above everything else today is moving, passionate, powerful preaching. It must be ‘warm’ and it must be ‘earnest’.

Source: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival.” Lecture delivered at the Puritan and Westminster Conference (1976).

9. The preacher is to be Christ-exalting, not self-promoting.

R. B. Kuiper: The minister must always remember that the dignity of his office adheres not in his person but in his office itself. He is not at all important, but his office is extremely important. Therefore he should take his work most seriously without taking himself seriously. He should preach the Word in season and out of season in forgetfulness of self. He should ever have an eye single to the glory of Christ, whom he preaches, and count himself out. It should be his constant aim that Christ, whom he represents, may increase while he himself decreases. Remembering that minister means nothing but servant, he should humbly, yet passionately, serve the Lord Christ and His church.

Source: R.B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ (Banner of Truth, 1966), 140-42.

10. Faithful preaching requires great personal discipline and sacrifice.

Arthur W. Pink: The great work of the pulpit is to press the authoritative claims of the Creator and Judge of all the earth—to show how short we have come of meeting God’s just requirements, to announce His imperative demand of repentance. . . . It requires a “workman” and not a lazy man—a student and not a slothful one—who studies to “show himself approved unto God” (2 Tim. 9:15) and not one who seeks the applause and the shekels of men.

Source: A. W. Pink, “Preaching False and True,” Online Source.

These 10 reminders were compiled by Nathan Busenitz on his website June 7, 2012: http://thecripplegate.com/preachers-on-preaching/

 

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Your Destiny: 5 Things To Keep an Eye On

“Destiny” is from Frank Outlaw as cited in “The Best of Bits and Pieces” by Robert Gilbert.

 

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

 

Watch your words; they become actions.

 

Watch your actions; they become habits.

 

Watch your habits; they become character.

 

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

 
 

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Remembering John R.W. Stott on his Birthday – One of The Greatest Evangelicals of Our Time

Remembering John R.W. Stott Who Would Have Been 91 on April 27, 2012

I first met John Stott in 1985 after he had given a message at a Chapel service at what was then called Multnomah School of the Bible (Multnomah University) in Portland, Oregon. After he spoke he stayed for lunch and ate in the cafeteria. I was privileged to sit with him and hear his wisdom for over an hour. I was impressed with his humility, knowledge of the Scriptures, and genuine concern for us students. Two years later I was returning from spending two months in Spain on a missions trip and met up with my parents in London for a few days. While there we went to All Souls Church in London and worshiped there with John Stott delivering a wonderful Christo-centric sermon from Isaiah. Afterwards while waiting in a very long line to greet “Uncle John” he said to me without hesitation, “Hello David, how is your ministry at Multnomah going?” I couldn’t believe that he remembered my name, my ministry (with junior highers at the time), and where I was going to school! Needless to say, I was dumbfounded. I have always held Stott’s commentaries, books, and ministry in high regard – but what I loved most about Stott – was his genuine love for, and ability to shepherd like the Chief Shepherd – not just his local sheep, but around the world. I have taken random samples of tribute from Stott in this short article – many are from memorial services held for him around the globe, and some are from tributes in various venues. May John Stott’s tribe increase! We miss you Uncle John! – Dr. David P. Craig

“He (John Stott) truly was, in some ways, the first person who spoke the word of God to me through his literature and I also heard him in person,” proclaimed Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and whom Newsweek magazine described as a “C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century.”

Keller delivered the sermon at John Stott’s U.S. memorial service Friday (Wheaton Bible Church, November, 11, 2011) and shared that Stott’s bestselling book, Basic Christianity (1958), which has sold well over a million copies and has been translated into 25 languages, had a “profound informative influence” on him.

“Therefore, I needed to rethink. I need to do what Hebrews 13:7 says I should do. I need to rethink my life in light of the results of his (Stott’s) life,” recalled Keller about his thinking several months ago when he was invited to speak at Stott’s memorial service.

He is the author of over 50 books translated into 65 languages, and was named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the “100 most influential people” in the world.

But despite the influence and recognition he received during his life, Stott is remembered for his humbleness and dedication in serving the Lord.

“The greatest gifts in John’s life were not his talents, it was actually his character,” remarked the Rev. Dr. Mark Labberton, a former study assistant of Stott who is now a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

Keller, who said he read six volumes on the life of John Stott over the past two months, stated that he uncovered five findings about Stott’s life that should make Christians rethink their own life.

First, Christians should be convicted by Stott’s Kingdom vision and zeal for God’s Kingdom.

“Everything I have read, known, and by all accounts, John Stott’s motives were about as pure as a human being’s motives can be,” asserted Keller. “He was not an ambitious man for his own glory. He did not want power. It was obvious he did not want status. He did not want wealth, he gave it away.” 

“But there was something driving him,” said the influential American preacher.

Although Stott was considered the greatest student evangelist of his generation and foresaw the rise of Christianity in the global South before most anyone else, he was not satisfied with his accomplishments.

“Here is my point. Most of the rest of us would be very happy being told you are the best. You are the best preacher, you’re the best of this or that. But he didn’t care about that. He wanted to change the world for Christ,” Keller explained. “I looked at his motives, I looked at his labors, how he spent himself, and how he gave himself. Why wasn’t he ever satisfied? It really was not worldly ambition. He really wanted to really change the world for Christ. We should be convicted by that.”

Stott’s life, according to Keller, should also make Christians reflect on their cultural learning curve in terms of the cultural blinders on their eyes, and believers should be chastened by his leadership controversy. If even a man as gracious as Stott could not avoid controversy and fall-outs with other Christian leaders, people should “realize that it (controversy) is going to happen. If you want to do something for Christ, someone will be mad.”

Keller also found that Stott was a great innovator, including his reinvention of expository preaching, invention of the modern city-centered church, his role as a Christian statesman who uses institutions to further the work of God, and his forcing evangelicals to deal with social justice issues.

Finally, the evangelical scholar, while studying Stott’s life, found that the English clergyman essentially created evangelicalism, which Keller sees as “the greatest center between fundamentalism and liberalism.”

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Wright, the so-called “successor” of Stott and the international director of Langham Partnership in London, remarked that Stott was way ahead of his time.

“From the early stages of his ministry, he reached out to the whole world. Starting here in the United States, his first international trip, and so many other countries … his thinking, his world was global,” said Wright. “Long before the Internet, John Stott had created a world wide web from relationships and friendships and ministries. Long before the iMac, or the iPhone, or the iPad, there was iFrances (Stott’s long-time secretary), reaching out to the world on behalf of John, by letters, faxes, and eventually, through emails… “He always spoke of himself as just an ordinary follower of Jesus. He once said we should not get used to adulation … he never reveled in being famous. I think he would want to be remembered as a disciple of Jesus.”

Dr. Joshua Moody, senior pastor of College Church, recalled Stott saying decades ago to a group of undergraduate students that included himself, “If I had to live life over, I would live for Christ.” After a pause, Stott added, “You know, if I had to live a thousand lives, I would live them all for Christ.” “We come here to honor a man whose preeminent purpose is to honor Christ,” declared the pastor of the host church of the U.S. memorial service for John Stott.

“I’m not certain that John Stott would want people to remember him,” said John Stott Ministries President Benjamin Homan. Those puzzling words about the man described as the architect of the evangelical movement in the 20th century make sense when you talk to more people who knew him. One of the most popular words used to describe Stott, who passed away Wednesday aged 90, is humble.

“Over and over again as people have described their interactions with John Stott, it is one of humility, and one of not pointing people to himself but to Jesus,” Homan said from Colorado. “The ministries that he began were never about promoting his works or his teachings. They have been about drawing the Church’s attention to the work of Christ around the world, how the Church is growing and how it needs to grow in depth and maturity around the world. I think he will be remembered as a global Christian.”

Not only was Stott’s daily routine strict, but his year was structured with a razor-sharp focus on maximizing his effectiveness in various ministries. For 25 years, Stott spent three months in every 12 travelling for international missions, speaking at conferences and preaching around the world. Another three months of each year would be devoted to writing, and six months dedicated to ministry.

“He was extremely disciplined in his personal life and very simple in his habits. He lived in a one bedroom, one living room with a small kitchenette, and that was his life. He did not have any great wealth or style. He was very simple and frugal,” Wright recalled.

His mentor taught him how to engage in ministry publicly as well as in a pastoral capacity while maintaining equal integrity in both.

“I find him to be a man of genuine humility, not just fake humility, but genuine, through and through humility. He was able to mix with what we might call the ‘rich and famous’ on one hand, or with the ‘poorest of poor’ in other parts of the world, and do so with equal integrity and simply be himself.”

Stott died peacefully at 3:15 p.m. local time on July 27, 2011, at his Christian assisted living home at St. Barnabas College in Lingfield, Surrey, England. At his bedside were his niece and close friends, who read 2 Timothy 2 to him, and listened to Handel’s “Messiah” with him in his final moments on earth.

In 2006, Stott broke his hip and had increasingly become incapacitated. Wright said the elderly clergyman did not suffer dementia, but was weak and in pain in the time leading up to his death. Stott will perhaps be best known for being the chief drafter of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, the evangelical manifesto on evangelism and theology.

He also was the primary author of the Preamble to the 1951 constitution of the World Evangelical Alliance, the world’s largest evangelical organization, now representing some 600 million evangelicals in 128 countries.

“I can’t think of another evangelical theologian who would come close to Stott in both the depth of his diligent scholarship and the breadth of his unifying work in the global body of Christ – especially through the Lausanne Movement,” said Greg Parsons, global director of the U.S. Center for World Mission, in an email.

“It is probably his involvement in guiding and crafting the masterful document known as the Lausanne Covenant that will be the best single thing for which he is known,” remarked Parsons, who was a member of the Statement Working Group at Lausanne III in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010. Parsons shared that Stott’s talk at the Urbana Student Missions Conference in 1976, titled, “The Loving God is a Missionary God,” became the first chapter of USCWM’s Perspectives reader.

John Robert Walmsley Stott was born to Sir Arnold W. Stott, an accomplished physician and an agnostic, and Emily, a Lutheran who took her youngest son to All Souls Church in Langham Place, London, as a young boy. Stott later became rector of All Souls in 1950, then rector emeritus in 1975.

In 1959, Stott was appointed chaplain to the queen and served in that position until 1991. He retired from public ministry in 2007 at the age of 86, two years after being named by Time magazine as one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People.”
Fond memories of Stott include his passion for bird watching and his affection for chocolates.

John Stott Ministries President Benjamin Homan recalled that the month before Stott passed away, a friend had visited and told Stott that a black bird was outside his window. Stott, who had lost much of his eyesight by then, corrected his friend, saying that it was a nightingale, which he knew from the bird’s chirp.

“John Piper on John Stott – Year One In Heaven”

Today is John Stott’s first birthday in heaven.

Coming toward the end of my (32-year) ministry as Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church, I read Alister Chapman’s new biography of John Stott with special interest. I wanted to see how he finished at All Soul’s and how he shaped the rest of his life.

Stott became Rector at All Souls in 1950 at the age of 29. Just shy of 20 years later he told the church council on September 20, 1969 that “he wanted to stand down.” The church was not prospering as it once had. He felt his calling was to “wider responsibilities.”

The council accepted the proposal and 15 months later Michael Baughen took the helm. “Within a few years All Souls was bursting again” (75). But, Chapman observes, “by almost any measure, Stott’s ministry at All Souls was a success” (77).

Stott was still on the ministerial team at All Souls for another five years. When the severance was complete in September, 1975, he wrote, “I find myself pulled and pushed in various directions these days, and need divine wisdom to know how to establish priorities” (Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott, A Biography: The Later Years, IVP, 2001, 248).

I found this comforting. It is remarkable how many good things there are to do. And if one is ambitious to live an unwasted life for the glory of Christ, discernment is crucial. Sudden release from decades of familiar pastoral expectations can easily lead to sloth or superficial busy-ness.

Stott’s discovery was that his calling was a remarkable global ministry. “As with Jim Packer, Stott gave himself to Anglican politics but in the end tired of them. Neither had an obvious, appealing role to fill in England. Both were in demand elsewhere. The result was that two of England’s most gifted evangelicals spent most of the end of their careers serving the church beyond England’s shores” (Godly Ambition, 111).

The thesis of Chapman’s book, Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement (Oxford, 2012), is that Stott “was both a Christian seeking to honor God and a very talented man who believed he had key roles to play in God’s work in the world and wanted to play them. In short, he combined two things that might seem incongruous: godliness and ambition” (8). With that double drive, “few did more than John Stott to shape global Christianity in the twentieth century” (160).

This ambition was as vital to the end of Stott’s days as his mental and physical life would sustain. One reason is that it was biblically grounded. Explaining his own understanding of ambition he said,

Ambitions for God, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world?

Christians should be eager to develop their gifts, widen their opportunities, extend their influence and be given promotion in their work — not now to boost their own ego or build their own empire, but rather through everything they do to bring glory to God. (156)

May every one of us, in the transitions of our lives, seek the kind of holy fire that gives both the light of discernment and the heat of ambition. All of it for the glory of God. This is my deep longing as I face whatever future God gives.

In remembering the humble preacher, author, and theologian, here are a few of his lasting words:

“His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us with no other choice.”

“The truth is that there are such things as Christian tears, and too few of us ever weep them.”

“Every Christian should be both conservative and radical; conservative in preserving the faith and radical in applying it.”

“I believe that to preach or to expound the scripture is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and His people obey Him” (His definition of expository preaching).

“When it comes to preaching – Theology is more important than methodology.”

“The gospel is NOT preached if Christ is not preached.”

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”

“We should not ask, ‘What is wrong with the world?’ for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, “What has happened to salt and light?”

“Social responsibility becomes an aspect not of Christian mission only, but also of Christian conversion. It is impossible to be truly converted to God without being thereby converted to our neighbor.”

“Sin and child of God are incompatible. They may occasionally meet; they cannot live together in harmony.”

“Good conduct arises out of good doctrine.”

“Every powerful movement has had its philosophy which has gripped the mind, fired the imagination and captured the devotion of its adherents.”

“The Christian’s chief operational hazards are depression and discouragement.”

“Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God.”

“Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind that God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace.”

“Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of the resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.”

“Writing a book or a manifesto, is the nearest a man gets to having a baby.”

“The very first thing which needs to be said about Christian ministers of all kinds is that they are “under” people as their servants rather than “over” them (as their leaders, let alone their lords). Jesus made this absolutely plain. The chief characteristic of Christian leaders, he insisted, is humility not authority, and gentleness not power.”

“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.”

Did You Know? 
Stott daily woke up at 5:00 a.m. to read the Bible and pray for hundreds of people before breakfast. For over 50 years, he would read the entire Bible annually.

 

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3 Principles To Remember Concerning Trials By George Sweeting

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” – Isaiah 43:2-3a

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7

(1) Trials are a common experience of all of us. No one is immune. Trials are a part of living.

(2) Trials are transitory. Greek scholar C.B. Williams translates 1 Peter 1:6 this way: “In such a hope keep on rejoicing, although for a little while you must be sorrow-stricken with various trials.” Trials, though difficult, are “for a little while.”

(3) Trials are lessons that shouldn’t be wasted. Though not enjoyable or necessarily good in themselves, trials constitute a divine work for our ultimate good. Jesus never promised an easy journey, but He did promise a safe landing.

“God incarnate is the end of fear; and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst…will be quiet in the middle of alarm.” – F.B. Meyer

“Adversities do not make a man frail. They show what sort of man he is.” – Thomas A Kempis

“Sometimes your medicine bottle has on it, “Shake well before using.” That is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are ever usable.” – Vance Havner

“We are always on the anvil; by trials God is shaping us for higher things.” H. W. Beecher

“Pressure produces! As we face the pressures of life, let it not just be a passive acceptance, but rather a positive cooperation with God’s purpose for our lives.” – George Sweeting

 

About the author: DR. GEORGE SWEETING is a former president and chancellor of the Moody Bible Institute He received a diploma from Moody Bible Institute, his B.A. from Gordon College, and his Doctor of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Dr. Sweeting has served as a pastor in several churches, including Grace Church, Madison Avenue Baptist Church, and The Moody Church and also spent nine years traveling the world as an evangelist. Dr. Sweeting has written numerous books, including The Joys of Successful Aging, Too Soon to Quit, Lessons from the Life of Moody, and Don’t Doubt in the Dark. He is the host of the radio program Climbing Higher and a former columnist for Moody Magazine. The above three points were adapted from one of his sermons on the purpose of trials in a Christian’s life.

 

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