I credit Dr. Stott with instilling an early love for theology. His book, The Cross of Christ (1986) is one of the first serious books I read as a Bible College student. I’ll never forget the words of Dan Jarrell, who served as the Dean of Men at Multnomah Bible College: “The Cross of Christ is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” Indeed, Stott’s work stands as one of the preeminent works on Christ’s redemptive work. One highlight among many stand out in The Cross of Christ: “Since Christ’s blood is a symbol of his life laid down in violent death, it is also plain in each of the four images [propitiation, redemption, justification, redemption] that he died in our place as our substitute. The death of Jesus was the atoning sacrifice because of which God averted his wrath from us, the ransom-price by which we have been redeemed, the condemnation of the innocent that the guilty might be justified, and the sinless One being made sin for us.” And Stott reminds pastors to deliver an uncompromised, undiluted, Christ-centered gospel: “… The responsibility of Christian teachers, preachers and other witnesses is to seek grace to expound it with clarity and conviction. For the better people understand the glory of the divine substitution, the easier it will be for them to trust in the Substitute.”
Stott’s reminder serves to awaken a church that seems ready to compromise the gospel at every turn. A compromised gospel begins to neglect the great truths of justification by faith alone, imputation, penal substitutionary atonement, propitiation, and the wrath of God. A compromised gospel removes the rough edges of the cross. And a compromised gospel places the focus of attention of man instead of God in all his glory.
May the life and legacy of John Stott remind Christians to faithfully proclaim the gospel; a gospel that magnifies Christ and his redemptive work for sinners. May his example motivate Christ-followers to stand in the gap and serve people with humility and kindness. May each of us stand with John Stott on the final day and proclaim the words of St. Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7, ESV).