Yesterday I had the distinct honor to be in attendance at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Orlando for the memorial service of R.C. Sproul. The day was filled with reflection about the life, ministry, and the impact that R.C. Sproul had on so many people around the world. The service was God honoring and well attended by a vast array of people. I wanted to offer some brief words of reflection in honor of a man who left an indelible mark upon my life and will be greatly missed in the years to come.
The Fearless Champion
R.C. Sproul was a voice of reason in a world of confusion. He was a lion in the world of theology who was not afraid to enter battles over necessary doctrines. When the liberals waged war upon the inerrancy of the Bible—R.C. Sproul did not remain silent. When politicians sought to redefine marriage, R.C. Sproul pointed to the Word of God as the sufficient source to define marriage and family. When people wanted to play fast and loose with the doctrine of God—R.C. Sproul was keenly focused on pointing people to the Scriptures in order to know God rightly.
With a winsome personality that avoided arrogance in the midst of great success—people were drawn to R.C. Sproul even if they disagreed on matters of paedobaptism or predestination. Like a valiant warrior, he stood the test of time. Like a victorious athlete, he finished his course and kept the faith. In a day where so many ministers fall or leave the ministry because of controversies over money, family, or various other scandals—R.C. Sproul is an example of faithfulness worthy of emulation.
Early in my spiritual development and prior to pursuing formal training for the ministry, I began to wrestle with the doctrines of grace. I recall feeling as if they were unfair and uncharacteristic of a loving God. I began to search out authors on both sides of the fence in order to understand what Calvinism was and how it could be defended or refuted from the Scriptures. It was during this season that I came upon a book by R.C. Sproul titled, Chosen By God.
In this book, R.C. Sproul put me in a place where I could not escape the hard questions. He helped me understand that predestination was a biblical doctrine and one that was rooted and grounded in the Scriptures. On page 10, he writes, “We talk about predestination because the Bible talks about predestination.” Like a faithful preacher of God’s Word—R.C. Sproul continued to point me back to the authority of God’s Word.
As the founder of Ligonier Ministries which has developed many arms of ministry that include online learning and formal education through Reformation Bible College—R.C. Sproul’s entire ministry was focused on helping people to know God. In what is perhaps one of the most popular clips of R.C. Sproul circulating the Internet, R.C. Sproul addresses the audience at a Ligonier conference during a questions and answers session. He passionately asks, “What’s wrong with you people?” It’s essential to know that he was not looking for a “mic drop” moment. It was pure passion that overflowed from a foundational commitment of his entire ministry which was to help people know God.
R.C. Sproul was not my pastor, but he helped me to know God. He showed me that the study of theology was not some lifeless study of words and concepts without a crescendo that pointed upward to God. R.C. Sproul taught me that God is not boring. I am forever grateful for his influence on my life and theological development.
Some weeks back I received an invitation to speak in the chapel service at Reformation Bible College in February of 2018. After accepting the invitation, I was hoping to have a few minutes with R.C. Sproul while I was in Orlando. I wanted to personally thank him once again for his impact on my life. As God’s providence would have it—that moment will not happen. The conversation that I had hoped for will have to wait until eternity. Instead, I gathered with a group of teaching fellows, conference speakers, and friends of Ligonier at a reception on the campus of Reformation Bible College where we laughed, told stories, and engaged in great conversations. When the day ended, we were all reminded that R.C. was not there engaging in the conversations.
Praise God for raising up one of the giants of our era in church history. May God be pleased to raise up more champions of the faith. May God’s Word continue to increase in the hearts of God’s people with zeal that’s driven by a proper knowledge of God.