John Stott, Basic Christianity (Study Guide)

BasicChristianityStottThe following is a study guide I composed in ministry at South City Church for John Stott’s Basic Christianity.

Download Study Guide for Basic Christianity by John Stott.

John Stott, Basic Christianity Details the essential claims of Christianity and the salvation we as Christians claim we both need and can find in Christ; a valuable resource for those exploring Christianity to use alongside reading through one of the Biblical gospel accounts, such as Mark.

John Stott on Comfortable Christianity

The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers [Luke 14:25-30] — the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity.’ In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience.

~ John Stott (Basic Christianity)

If our Christianity does not make us uncomfortable, if it does not disrupt or disturb us, if it leaves us where we are, then I’m afraid our Christianity is not Christ’s Christianity. We’ve fashioned a Jesus after our own image. And any Jesus, other than the Biblical Jesus, is not the saving Jesus.

“Take up your cross,” he said, i.e., “Following me means dying to yourself.”

“Seek God in Scorn of the Consequences” (John Stott)

In seeking God [i.e., to consider God, his actions, and his self-revelation as recorded in scripture with a genuine willingness to accept what one finds] we have to be prepared not only to revise our ideas but to reform our lives. If the Christian message is true, the moral challenge has to be accepted. So God is not a fit object for man’s detached scrutiny. You cannot fix God at the end of a telescope or a microscope and say ‘How interesting!’ God is not interesting. He is deeply upsetting. The same is true of Jesus Christ.

‘We had thought intellectually to examine him [Jesus]; we find he is spiritually examining us. The roles are reversed between us… We study Aristotle and are intellectually edified thereby; we study Jesus and are, in the profoundest way, spiritually disturbed. … We are constrained to take up some inward moral attitude of heart and will in relation to this Jesus. … A man [or woman] may study Jesus with intellectual impartiality, he cannot do it with moral neutrality. … We must declare our colours. To this has our unevasive contact with Jesus brought us. We begin it in the calm of the study; we are called out to the field of moral decision [Carnegie Simpson, The Fact of Christ, 23-24].’

We have to be ready not just to believe, but to obey. We must be prepared to do God’s will when he makes it known. … This, then, is the spirit in which our search must be conducted. We must … seek God in scorn of the consequences.

[The hindrance to this sort of search is fear.] Fear is the greatest enemy of truth. Fear paralyses our search. We know that to find God and to accept Jesus Christ would be a very inconvenient experience. It would involve the rethinking of our whole outlook on life and the readjustment of our whole manner of life. …

We do not find because we do not seek. We do not seek because we do not want to find, and we know that the way to be certain of not finding is not to seek.

John Stott, Basic Christianity, 17-18.