For all of us who were together in Cape Town for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation, we will remember the moving tributes given to the two giants of The Lausanne Movement, Billy Graham and John Stott.
They were personal friends who loved and admired one another, and they were the defining figures of global evangelicalism for the last sixty years.
On July 27, 2011, “Uncle John” went home to be with the Lord. He is now with the One who he served all his life and in whom he had total confidence.
John Stott impacted the church around the world in many ways. Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament. Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.
The Cross of Christ was central to the message. Stott preached the Cross as the sole means by which men and women could be made right with God.
The resurrection of Christ was the great hope of his life, as it is for all mankind, and the hope for life beyond death. This is the great reality he is now experiencing as the reward and vindication for all he preached and for which he lived during the many years of his ministry in London and around the world.
Perhaps more than any other person in the last century, John Stott restored confidence in the authority of God’s Word and in the centrality of biblical preaching and teaching. He inspired many evangelicals around the world to make a robust and clear affirmation of biblical truth while at the same time emphasising that this must be backed up with a distinctive, godly Christian life.
He was able to hold together, in constructive biblical tension, a passionate commitment to evangelism along with a profound commitment to ministering to the needs of people in the context of suffering and brokenness. This is best expressed in The Lausanne Covenant, of which he is the chief author, and which is seen as the defining evangelical document of the 20th Century.
Everywhere John Stott travelled to teach, he encouraged “double listening”. This was a listening to the voice of the Spirit of God through his Word, and listening to the voice and the needs of our broken world.
Stott was known for his love for the majority world and for students. He gave himself tirelessly to assisting and encouraging pastors and students in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific and the Middle East. He leaves friends everywhere.
Of course, his friends and his hosts knew that he would also always want to take advantage of bird watching whenever the opportunity presented itself!
The church in the UK and around the world is richer for his great life. His simple lifestyle, his powerful preaching with its precision of thought and expression, his books written with such depth and clarity, have touched thousands and thousands of people around the world.
We are saddened by his departure, but strengthened with the knowledge that his great confidence and his lifelong hope in Christ has now been made real to him, and his life’s work has been vindicated.
Daniel 12:3: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
We were blessed to be impacted by a man we loved so much.
Let us seek to honour Christ, and also to honour John Stott, through a life that is lived for the glory of God and for the good of the church and the world.
Doug Birdsall is Executive Chair of the Lausanne Movement. Lindsay Brown is International Director of the Lausanne Movement