The following are insightful commentaries from John Stott.
“Nothing is more important for mature Christian discipleship
than a fresh, clear, true vision of the authentic Jesus…
Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead… At every step of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.”
”Evangelism and social action are like two wings of a bird. The church cannot fly except with both in action.”
(Examining such pungent quotes from the famous English apostle John Stott, we remember our early experience with a person who had zeal without knowledge and craft without Love. He wrote to our friends in the States that we were not evangelizing –we were teaching social gospel. Our sin was that word had spread that we were treating cuts and sores and deworming the mountain folks, gaining undying gratitude and open hearts.)
John Stott said: “Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.” “A Christian should resemble a fruit tree with real fruit, not a Christmas tree with decorations tied on. The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”
“Here's how to determine God's will for your life: Go wherever your gifts will be exploited the most.” “ Our Christian life began not with our decision to follow Christ but with God's call to us to do so .
Faith, Hope & Love. Faith is directed towards God, love towards others (both within the Christian fellowship and beyond it) and hope towards the future, in particular, the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future. Every Christian without exception is a believer, a lover and a hoper. Faith, hope and love are three sure evidences of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” “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? God intends us to penetrate the world. Christian salt has no business to remain snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars; our place is to be rubbed into the secular community, as salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it going bad. And when society does go bad, we Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach the non-Christian world; but should we not rather reproach ourselves? One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad. It cannot do anything else. The question to ask is: Where is the salt?
“The purpose of prayer is emphatically not to bend God's will to ours, but rather to align our will to His.” ”For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God [Gen. 3:1-7], while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man [2 Cor. 5:21]. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.”
“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.”
“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
“We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunderclap of God's, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. 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.”
“God does not love us because Christ died for us; Christ died for us because God loved us. Grace is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.”
“Probably the greatest tragedy of the church throughout its long and checkered history has been its constant tendency to conform to the prevailing culture instead of developing a Christian counter-culture.” “Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fiber of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God's Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?”
“What we need is not more learning, not more eloquence, not more persuasion, not more organization, but more power from the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.”
“At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of our disobedience himself. He bore the judgment we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve. On the cross divine mercy and justice were equally expressed and eternally reconciled. God's holy love was 'satisfied.'
“An unchurched Christian is a grotesque anomaly. The New Testament knows nothing of such a person. For the church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God. It is not a divine afterthought. It is not an accident of history. On the contrary, the church is God's new community. We are sent into the world, like Jesus, to serve. For this is the natural expression of our love for our neighbors. We love. We go. We serve.”
Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, 'I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.' Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross.
“These then are the marks of the ideal Church - love, suffering, holiness, sound doctrine, genuineness, evangelism and humility. They are what Christ desires to find in His churches as He walks among them.