To read these essays by the late Alan Stibbs was for me akin to a refresher course. They had the effect of bringing me back to the early sixties, when I had the privilege and blessing of sitting under his teaching at Oak Hill Theological College, London.
Although a quiet and retiring person, in the pulpit and the lecture room he preached and taught with captivating authority and conviction. When he preached at the 7:30 morning service in the chapel, every bed in the college was empty. The late Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, said of him: ‘He knew his Bible, but he [also] knew his God’.
The book commences with a short biography of Stibbs’ life – covering particularly his time at Cambridge University, his missionary service in China with the China Inland Mission, and subsequently his work as principal of Oak Hill Theological College until his death.
The main part of the book contains various essays he wrote from 1940 to 1967. As the title suggests, the essays were about the one subject dear to his heart – the greatness of our salvation. Although some of the articles were written as long as sixty-nine years ago, their value and importance have not diminished. A glance at the titles will immediately show that they are still at the heart of the battle for Bible-centred preaching today.
They address such topics as: ‘The gospel we proclaim’; ‘The authority of Scripture’; ‘Justification by faith’; and ‘The Bible and the pulpit’. All are still relevant and lie at the heart of the church’s ministry.
The hallmark of Alan Stibbs’ writing, preaching and lecturing was its faithfulness to Scripture as God’s Word to man. It is from the exposition of that Word that these essays come. This book would be invaluable to anyone considering a ministry of preaching and teaching Scripture today.
Equally, however, ministers of many years’ standing will find it challenges them regarding the place of God’s Word in their own preaching. This was a concern of Alan Stibbs who, on occasions, spoke to his students of men who started well in the ministry but later lost sight of the centrality of the cross and the need to preach ‘so great a salvation’.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book, not only for preachers but for everyone in the pew.