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J.I. Packer: John Stott Was 'Most Modest of Men'

The author, pastor, and theologian, 'summoned us to learn our faith,' says British-born J.I. Packer.

In celebrating John Stott's life, British-born Canadian theologian J.I. Packer focused on Stott's lifelong passion for sharing the true gospel of Christ with the world at a recent memorial service.

"John Stott was the most modest of men," theologian Packer said in his sermon on August 5. "If he could have briefed me in advance for this message that I am to give now, he would most certainly have said to me, ‘Focus on Christ. Don't focus on me.'"

Stott, who passed away July 27 at the age of 90, was one of the most respected evangelical leaders of the 20th century. For more on his life and work, see Christianity Today's obituary and the special section devoted to him.

Stott "was a man concerned with every breath he took, that everyone to whom he ministered should enjoy the fullness of the the full gospel in its truth and in its power, and should not change any part of it because that would mean exchanging the true gospel for a false one," Packer said.

Below is Packer's sermon, broken up into three sections. Notable excerpts from each section are also given:

Part One

[11:42] "Positively, we could say, his ministry was concerned to lead us into the fullness of faith, and so into enjoyment of the fullness of Christ. Negatively, he was as concerned as anyone ever has been to counter hostility to this Gospel and, yes, he faced hostility just as all of us still face hostility. Today it calls itself liberalism, but the essence of liberalism is that something different is believed about Jesus from what you have in the New Testament. Something different is affirmed, therefore, about Christian discipleship from what you have in the New Testament. And one of the things that marks our liberal friends over and over again is... obstinacy in holding on to these false notions and declining to come back to the true ones."

Part Two

[0:36] "John summoned us to learn our faith, to not be sloppy in terms of our doctrine, and equally, not to be sloppy and casual in terms of our service of the Lord whom we love and honor as our Savior."

[12:40] Stott was "a 15-talent man of God, who loved the Bible and believed in its trustworthiness and expounded it accordingly; who loved the Lord Jesus and believed in the gospel that proclaimed salvation in Jesus and leads us into the life of communion with Jesus and experience of the power of Jesus. Thank God for John... and don't stop thanking God for John. He was one of the supreme gifts of God for the renewal of the church in the 20th century."

[14:08] "For John, the Bible was supreme; Christ was supreme. I say to you, in the Lord's name, imitate both those emphases. They are truth; they are wisdom. There's power in them. They are there for us to follow."

Part Three

[1:15] "I believe that the kingdom zeal, if I may use that phrase, of evangelicals all around the world, and most certainly Anglican evangelicals, has been greatly increased through John's ministry. I think that his vision for a renewed church... has been picked up and is being maintained and is still exciting people, just as it began to excite people when John expounded it."

[2:21] "Now it's for us to pick up the torch, and in our own situations, our own churches, our own districts, our own homes, and wherever we go, it's for us to carry on what John began."

[3:10] "Do people find us friendly? In our churches Sunday by Sunday, do people wander in and find themselves ignored at coffee time, or do they find us friendly? Do we make friends easily... or do we allow ourselves, for whatever reason, to stand apart? ‘We are the evangelicals, we are special, we are different. So we don't come too close to you, and we don't expect you to come too close to us.' I see something satanic about that attitude. I beg you, brothers and sisters, take your cue from John Stott, one of the friendliest men I have ever met, and show friendship in Christ as part of your witness and your work for the Savior."

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