I heard the words that came from Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few”. I was listening to a tape of a talk given in Australia by someone named John Stott. It was over 50 years ago. As this man John Stott went on to explain the passage, my life was forever changed. I realised that I was one of those people who was walking on the wide easy road. I suddenly knew that I had to enter by the narrow gate through Jesus that led to life. John Stott was perhaps the most influential person in my conversion some weeks later. From that point I began to listen to the tape of any talk he had given. I read the booklets he had produced. I felt, “This is reality”. In future years I was to meet him personally on a number of occasions and again I felt “This man is real.” Time only confirmed that conviction. Only God knows how many people have entered into full-time Christian ministry as a result of reading his writings and hearing him open the Word of God at conferences and church services.
Tributes to him have poured in from all over the world following his death. I add my tribute to that enormous list. Just a couple of little remembrances. I remember John meeting a young teenager during a conference in Australia. He asked John a few questions about the Christian life and later John promised to write to him to encourage him. He did and the correspondence continued for the next decade or more that I had contact with that lad. I wondered how many International speakers would notice a young teenager at a large conference. How many would take time to speak with a youngster when there were dozens of other “more important” people who wanted to spend time with this famous speaker?
I used his book, “Your Confirmation” with hundreds of young and older people as I prepared them for Confirmation. I have used his wonderful, well-balanced commentaries in Bible Studies over the years and for checking on his thoughts on passages for preaching. But one concept has always stuck in my mind among those many treasures. He spoke well over 40 years ago to a group of Christian nurses in Australia. I later heard the tape. He used the expression “bibline blood”. I had never heard of a word, “bibline”. The point he made was that we need to feed upon the word of God and to absorb it, so that we have “bibline blood”. He stressed that God’s word must become part of our life-blood. It was probably that concept that has influenced my study of the Bible over the years. His encouragement was to soak oneself in the Scriptures so that its truths became personally real to us, and manifest in our everyday living.
For his major contribution to the Christian cause in this world I am profoundly grateful. For these lesser known manifestations of his Christian love and concern I am also deeply grateful. He was “the genuine article” and thousands upon thousands of us around the globe praise God for what He has done through his life and ministry.
Blog No.031. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 8th August 2011