Is the Bible the Word of God? Part 5: John Stott on what to do with Scripture

John Stott was “born in London in 1921, is an evangelical Anglican,” and was a preacher and teacher of Scripture for more than half of the last century at All Souls Church in London and around the world.  He’s written a number of books, one of which is a small booklet titled Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life.  This booklet is the full text in written form of an address that Stott gave at the 1972 Inter-Varsity Fellowship Annual Conference.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

What Paul wrote about unbelieving Jews in his day could be said, I fear, of some believing Christians in ours: “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.”  Many have zeal without knowledge, enthusiasm without enlightenment.  In more modern jargon, they are keen but clueless.

Now I thank God for zeal.  Heaven forbid that knowledge without zeal should replace zeal without knowledge!  God’s purpose is both, zeal directed by knowledge, knowledge fired by zeal.  As I once heard Dr. John Mackay say, when he was President of Princeton Seminary, “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action.  But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.”

This reminds me of a similar turn of phrase coined, if I’m not mistaken, by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, another notable London expository preacher of the last century:  “Christianity needs to have both light and heat.”  The light of the knowledge of Scripture, and the heat of passion or zeal for the God who wrote and is the primary subject of Scripture.

This next quote is the one I wanted to draw attention to in this post.  It comes at the end of Your Mind Matters, and it made such an impression on me that I wrote it in the back page of my current Bible.  This paragraph answers the question of what to do with Scripture, assuming that it really is the Word of God.

I myself have a growing burden that God will call out more men for this teaching ministry today; that he will call men with alert minds, biblical convictions and an aptitude for teaching; that he will set them in the great capital cities and university cities of the world; that there, like Paul in Tyrannus’s hall in Ephesus, they will exercise a thoughtful, systematic teaching ministry, expounding the ancient Scriptures and relating them to the modern world; and that such a faithful ministry under the good hand of God will not only lead their own congregation up to Christian maturity but will also through the visitors who come briefly under its influence spread its blessing far and wide.

What should we do with “the ancient Scriptures” (the Bible)?  Thoughtfully and systematically teach through all of it (over a period of time), expounding (explaining) it and relating it to our fellow human beings.  Why is this important?  Because this is how God primarily works in peoples’ lives — through the teaching and preaching of the Bible.  Saying something like that isn’t putting God in a box or trying to limit him in some way.  It is stating the truth of how God works.  Don’t believe me?  Read the book of Acts for a start, and then read the rest of “the ancient Scriptures,” and you’ll see for yourself.

The theater in Ephesus

This is the ancient theater in Ephesus, where the events in Acts 19:21-41 happened. Click on the image for a hi-res verson.

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