Here was a godly man indeed. And a friend to hundreds of thousands of people - through gracious word spoken eye to eye, through gracious word spoken from platforms, and through gracious word written in many books. But, in whatever context, John's words were clean with a joyous clarity, crafted in prayer, and offered back to the Spirit who shaped them for His purposes - for the honour of Jesus' name and the glory of the Father.
When John spoke, there was never any doubt whose messenger he was.
In even trying to encapsulate John's achievements and his character, it's hard to know with which to begin. His extraordinary undertakings in biblical scholarship, in thought leadership, in growing a local church, in building up evangelicals in the Church of England, in reshaping international mission to include social action, in creating an international movement of evangelicals - all this make his graciousness, meekness and humility seem all the more remarkable. Similarly, his graciousness makes his achievements seem all the more extraordinary - how, from a human point of view, did such a gentle, kind man manage to help gather so many to fresh missional purpose and radical cooperation? Jesus, would be his answer, I'm sure.
John was one of the founders of LICC, our first Director and our President. He saw the urgent need to enable Christians to integrate their faith with their whole life - at work as well as in the neighbourhood, in the lecture theatre as well as in the sanctuary. Part of John's genius was not only to be a genuinely great bible teacher, but to see the key issues of the time. When he brought LICC to birth he saw the key issue, 'Is Jesus lord of all, or not?' For the global church it remains a primary challenge today.
So John led and shaped LICC to develop and offer wisdom to Christians from all over the world and from all kinds of professional and ecclesiastical contexts. He maintained a vigorous interest in our work and when we last visited him, his delight in our passion for the cause and his concern to see LICC continue to flourish were gleamingly evident.
There is indeed so much about John to give thanks, and praise, to God for.
But this is also a time of grief for us, and for many, many people.
May the God of all comfort, grant you his comfort at this time.