On October 14 we lost to cancer an outstanding leader among us, Ray Stedman. Long-time pastor of Peninsula Bible church in Palo Alto, California, and author of Body Life and other books, Ray contributed largely, yet humbly.

Why? “He had his ego under control,” says his close friend, Fred Smith. Fred always marveled that a man so gifted could seek applause so little.

Another close friend, Jack Modesett, Jr., quotes Ray himself as saying, “If we will admit our inadequacy, we can have God’s adequacy.… The greatest problem in the church is trying to do God’s work with man’s strength.… The key to Christian sufficiency is realizing that everything comes from God and nothing comes from me.”

Then Jack adds this: “In Ray’s book Authentic Christianity, he tells the story of Paul’s escape from Damascus by being let down over the wall in a basket. Ray commented that Paul was useless to God until he became a basket case! He adds that we also are useless until we are ‘utterly bankrupt before some demand of life, and then discover it to be a blessing,’ because it forces us to ‘depend wholly on the Lord at work in you.’ When I read that I thought, It may be that no one has ever lived a life that was fully yielded to Christ, but Ray Stedman came very close.”

Life Slipping Away

Jack is not alone in that assessment. Perhaps it was because Ray’s perspective on earth foreshadowed his current perspective from heaven. In a sermon he preached just a year before his death, he quoted Paul’s statements about our “light affliction” working in us “an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory” and followed that with a call to break out of the limitations of this-world thinking:

“The world tells us, if you don’t take it now, you’re never going to get another ...

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