April 27, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of John Stott’s birth. The Langham Partnership which Stott founded is giving away free copies of Basic Christianity while supplies last. Request your free copy. This article is published in partnership with the Langham Partnership.
This day marks what would’ve been John Stott’s 100th birthday, and 2021 is the 10th anniversary of his death on July 27. Few evangelical leaders have left such an indelible mark on the world.
Billy Graham eulogized Stott as “the most respected evangelical clergyman in the world.” His 50-plus books (including the beloved Basic Christianity) have sold millions of copies in more than 70 languages. He dedicated his life to equipping Bible teachers around the world. In 2005, Time identified John Stott as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Here was a life truly dedicated to the work of the gospel. His influence continues to be felt throughout Africa (and around the world) through the work of the Langham Partnership.
I will mention 10 of Stott’s books that have influenced me most.
1. The Preacher’s Portrait: Some New Testament Word Studies (Eerdmans, 1998)
This has always been a pocket guide for me. It deals with the concepts of a preacher’s identity: steward, herald, witness, father, and servant. This little book is worth reading once a year by preachers of the gospel.
2. Our Guilty Silence: The Church, the Gospel, and the World (Eerdmans, 1980)
Stott confronts why we are hindered in sharing the gospel and why we should overcome those hindrances. We have no compelling incentive to speak, we do not know what to say, we are not convinced it is our job, or we do not believe we shall do any good, because we have forgotten God’s power. This book prepared me as I left university to work in Zambia’s copper mines. I was determined to share the gospel at whatever cost.
3. Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life (InterVarsity, 1973)
Stott helped me to love the Lord my God with my mind by writing against a spirit of anti-intellectualism that was gaining ground among Christians. “Knowledge puffs up” became a canned phrase. Stott shows in this book that we need both knowledge and zeal.
4. Baptism and Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit (InterVarsity, 1976)
This small book deals with what it really means to be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit today. As ever, Stott was concerned to show what the Bible taught and not simply to support a side in a debate. He placed the book of Acts under the torch light of the epistles.
5. The Lausanne Covenant: An Exposition and Commentary (World Wide Publications, 1975)
I recall using this book to illustrate how evangelical Christians took evangelism so seriously. I challenged my fellow evangelical students at university that we should be zealous for evangelism if we would be true to the name.
6. Issues Facing Christians Today (HarperCollins, 1990)
This work was an encyclopedia for me across the 1980s and 1990s. I never read it from cover to cover, but often consulted it when dealing with some of the vexing issues in my ministry. I always came away thankful that I had it on my shelf. It has since grown legs.
7. The Cross of Christ (InterVarsity, 2006)
J. I. Packer referred to this book as John Stott’s masterpiece. It is his magnum opus, and rightly so because the cross is at the heart of our religion.
8. Why I Am a Christian (InterVarsity, 2012)
How can I ever forget the book that led to my dad’s conversion? I bought it for him when one day I saw him enter the Christian bookstore before he was even converted. I thought he needed to be challenged about Christianity by a man with a brilliant mind. Not long afterward, he began to walk with Christ.
9. Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (InterVarsity, 1978)
This book and Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s Studies in the Sermon on the Mount helped me immensely as I preached through this passage. OtherBible Speaks Today commentaries by John Stott have also been welcome references on my bookshelf. I think of his works on Acts, Romans, and Ephesians. Stott was a clear Bible commentator.
10. The Birds Our Teachers (Hendrickson, 2011)
When a friend learned of my love for bird-watching, he gave me this book. I devoured it from cover to cover in almost a single sitting. Since then, when I am asked about my bird-watching, I tell people that I am simply obeying the Lord who taught us: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26).