Another Hope: The Lasting Legacy of R.C. Sproul

By: Cade Campbell

Sproul2Two things happened this week.

The pastor, author, and founder of Ligonier Ministries, R.C. Sproul, died on December 14, 2017. And Stars Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi opened in theaters the next day.

As is true for so many pastors, Sproul’s ministry was significant for my own Christian discipleship, calling to ministry, and theological convictions. To this day, reading Sproul’s purple-blue paperback Chosen by God is one of the most formative events of my life. His clarity of teaching combined with his uncompromising stand on theological truths like biblical inerrancy, justification by faith alone, and the holiness of God have been used by God to solidify the ministries of bible-believing Protestants of all types – reformed and non-reformed alike. He was a giant.

Last night my wife Amy and I saw The Last Jedi, and as I drove home after the movie I couldn’t help but reflect on Sproul’s legacy. Now, don’t worry. This isn’t a campy Sproul-Star Wars memoriam. R.C. Sproul wasn’t the last Jedi. And he wasn’t Yoda either. Sproul’s legacy didn’t depend on him being an Obi-Wan Kenobi who was our only hope. R.C. Sproul knew he wasn’t our only hope. In fact, he spent his entire ministry pointing us away from himself and toward another hope. In a world of endless distractions, Sproul in life and death rightly readjusts our focus.

So, here’s what gripped my mind as I left the theater last night.  I caught myself having this thought: We’ve got to wait until 2019 to see how the story ends. Seriously, it wasn’t even five minutes after the movie had ended, and I’d already moved on and started thinking about the next release date.

We are all too often tempted to entertain ourselves to death through starving our souls by binging on shallow-expectations. There’s always another trailer to watch. There’s always another release date to put on our calendar. There are already pages upon pages of blog posts listing the most anticipated movies of 2018. And next December there will be another list of the most anticipated movies of 2019; the follow-up to The Last Jedi will probably make that list.

And I’ll probably watch it, but I really need something bigger to live for and long for. We were created to crave something far more filling. We were designed with desires more ravenous than a two-hour fantasy two years away can ever fulfill. Our hearts cannot bear the heavy burden of being anchored to the lightweight wisps of something utterly and eternally meaningless. They must be moored to truths and realities that are infinitely more important and subsequently infinitely more satisfying.

And that’s why I’m so very thankful again for the ministry, message, and example of R.C. Sproul. The Washington Post, in its obituary for Sproul, described him as, “outside the mainstream of popular American life.” That’s both an understatement and one of the highest compliments that anyone could receive. In a world glutted on a mirage of satisfaction, Sproul was truly satisfied.

He was satisfied because his focus was determinedly distant. He shared the desires of those of whom the world is not worthy, whose greatest desires lie not in this earthly realm but in the presence of the God he loved. The world might live paycheck to paycheck or movie premiere to movie premiere, but Sproul would settle for nothing less than the soul-satisfying glory of the holy God who justifies sinners by his grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

R.C. Sproul had, and still has, an elevated vision. He lived, and died…and lives for that which is eternal, and in dying that kind of death, he continued (as he still does) to be our teacher – inviting us to follow him as he followed Christ, to give our whole selves, mind, body, and hearts, to the God who speaks in the very words of the Bible.

This Baptist has learned a lot from R.C. Sproul, and I suspect I’ll continue to learn from him. He makes me want to live out the words of the final stanza of John Piper’s poem, The Calvinist:

See him nearing death,

Listen to his breath,

Through the ebbing pain:

Final whisper, “Gain!”

I want to live for something longer lasting than a weekend in December of 2019. I don’t want to live in a galaxy far, far away. Like R.C. Sproul, I want to leave the mainstream behind, and live in the galaxy of the gospel.


Cade Campbell (M.Div, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana. He and his wife Amy are originally from Mississippi. You can follow him on Twitter at @DCadeCampbell.

When Our Savior Snarled: Living in the Death of Death

By Cade Campbell

Snarling King (African Lion, Masai Mara, Kenya)

On Sunday morning, November 5, the Holcombe family in Sutherland Springs, Texas did what they always did on a Sunday morning; they went to church. As they made their way to the morning service, everything about that Sunday seemed like all the other ordinary Sunday mornings that had come before.

But it wasn’t an ordinary Sunday. The Holcombe family was going to church for the last time. During the Sunday morning service, nine members of their Continue reading “When Our Savior Snarled: Living in the Death of Death”

Bible Reading Resolution?

By Billy Doolittle

At the beginning of this year, like many other Christian, you resolved to read the entire Bible. According to Business Insider, 80 percent of people fail their new years resolutions by February. I want to challenge you to continue your pursuit to read the entire Bible if you have slumped, but in an order that may be new to you. Now that you fell off your reading rainbow so to speak, consider reading the Bible in its original order. Continue reading “Bible Reading Resolution?”

Craftiness of the Serpent and the Sovereign God: Joseph

By Evan Knies

In the later part of the book of Genesis readers are confronted with the story of Joseph. His jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery and he is brought to Egypt. Joseph is put in places by God to carry out His Will. Before Joseph was second in command in Egypt, he did not give into temptation by laying with Pharaoh’s wife. Joseph is punished by not giving into sin.

By this action of Joseph being imprisoned, Pharaoh at a later date realizes that there is one who can interpret a dream that he has received. Pharaoh calls Joseph up to interpret a dream and throughout Joseph’s life he has remained faithful. Joseph tells of the famine that is coming and by doing this Egypt is allowed to prepare. God has taken this evil act of his brothers sending him into slavery; the tempting of Pharaoh’s wife and God is bringing all of this about for His glory. Joseph’s struggle brought life to his family and to Egypt. He saves the entire kingdom. (Victor Hamilton also compares Joseph and his brother’s evil intentions to those who conspired against Noah).[1]

When Joseph is sees his brothers again after all that has taken place, Joseph is able to say that God had brought this about. His brothers meant evil and harm against him, but God used it to save them (Genesis 50:19). Joseph uses the verb “sent” to show that it was God who brought him to Egypt, not his brothers.[3] Even though Joseph’s own flesh and blood are the ones who sold him into slavery, God providentially brought about their evil deed against Joseph to save the kingdom. The Lord placed Joseph as a leader in Egypt to keep a remnant that would continue to exist and Scripture bears this out in Exodus 1.

[1] Hamilton, Genesis, 706.

[2] Hamilton, Genesis, 577.

 

Craftiness of the Serpent and the Sovereign God: David

By Evan Knies

In 2 Samuel, David becomes King of Israel and the Lord makes a covenant with David. In Chapter 11, David sinned against God and against one of his servants (Uriah) by laying with his wife. Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, becomes pregnant with David’s child. David calls Uriah home, asked him how the war was going, but wanted him to lay with his wife so that Uriah would think the child is his.

This action did not go how David planned and Uriah did not go down to his house. Uriah was concerned about his men in battle. David put Uriah at the front of the line in battle and Uriah died. David sins against Bathsheba in lying with her, Uriah by taking his wife and killing him. David sinned against God because he abandoned the covenant.

King David committed these acts and they did not go unpunished. David’s first child with Bathsheba dies. However, they have a second child named Solomon. Solomon will follow David in his footsteps and be the King of Israel. But more importantly, a King that does not fail his people will come from the line of Solomon. The gospel of Matthew mentions David’s sin by describing Bathsheba as the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:6). In Christ, the true king has come and redeems a people for his namesake.