A TRIBUTE TO DR. R.C. SPROUL
Reformed Theologian R. C. Sproul entered eternity 14 December 2017, at the age of seventy eight. We praise God for Dr. R. C. Sproul of Saint Andrews Chapel, Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College. His Reformation Trust books have faithfully promoted the historic Reformed Christian Faith. The Reformation Study Bible, which he edited, has been an invaluable aid in discipling pastors and missionaries throughout Africa, in returning to the Word of God as our ultimate Authority in all matters of Faith and conduct. The Church worldwide has been enriched, educated, equipped and empowered by the over fifty years of preaching, teaching and writing ministry of Dr. R. C. Sproul.
It was my privilege to know Dr. R. C. Sproul and to be a guest speaker at Saint Andrews Chapel. It was one of the most intimidating assignments in my life to preach from Dr. R. C. Sproul’s pulpit, with him sitting in the front row! Not that he was not gracious and encouraging, but to have the duty to expound the Word of God in the presence of such a giant of the Faith is a most humbling experience.
R. C. Sproul has been a dynamic champion of historic Christianity, firmly grounded in the rock of God’s Word. The Five Solas of the Reformation were the structure of his Theology. He was a tireless Apologist and Evangelist, engaging in the battle for the heart and for the mind in the world war of worldviews, in the clash of civilisations. R. C. Sproul has run the race and kept the Faith.
His passing into glory is a loss for us, but not for him. Dr. R. C. Sproul has now left the land of the dying and has entered the land of the living. He is now more alive than ever before. And he has left behind a treasury of solid teaching in books and video materials which has immeasurably enriched, equipped and empowered the Church of Christ.
Robert Charles Sproul was born 13 February 1939 in Pittsburgh. His father, Robert Cecil Sproul, served in the US Armed Forces during World War II. As a student, R. C. Sproul excelled in athletics and received an athletic scholarship to Westminster College, which he entered unconverted, but early in his freshman year he was led to Christ. By the time R. C. Sproul graduated he was not only converted but convinced of the truths of the Reformation. He testified of this in the opening pages of his book The Holiness of God.
On 11 June 1960, R. C. Sproul married Vesta Ann, his childhood sweetheart.
After college, R. C. Sproul studied at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary under the mentorship of John Gerstner. His first pastorate was of a Presbyterian church in Lyndora, Pennsylvania, where many of the congregation were Hungarian immigrants.
After seminary, he pursued doctoral studies under G. C. Berkouwer at the Free University in Amsterdam where he learnt Dutch well enough to listen to their lectures and read their textbooks.
After a year in the Netherlands, R. C. Sproul returned to the United States and on 18 July 1965 he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA. He later transferred his ministerial credentials to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
R. C. Sproul then taught in Westminster College (1965-1966), Gordon College (1966-1968) and Conwell Theological Seminary. He also taught a Sunday school class at Oreland Presbyterian Church outside of Philadelphia and then pastored for two years at College Hill Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
R. C. Sproul founded Ligonier Valley Study Centre in Pennsylvania, in 1971. R. C. Sproul launched Table Talk in 1977. This devotional magazine has reached a distribution of over one hundred thousand, with an estimated readership of more than two hundred and fifty thousand. In 1982 Ligonier launched a radio programme The R. C. Sproul Study Hour. The daily programme Renewing Your Mind began airing in 1994. This broadcast has reached many millions. From 1971 until 2017 R. C. Sproul Chaired the Ligonier National Conferences every year, with regional conferences across the country and international conferences and study tours. It is calculated that on any given week R. C. Sproul’s ministry has reached more than two million people around the globe through radio, web, blog and literature. In 1984 he moved the ministry to Orlando, Florida.
Ligonier Ministry now includes a team of Ligonier Teaching Fellows: Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, Burk Parsons, Derek Thomas and Robert Godfrey. Chris Larson is the President of Ligonier Ministries.
R. C. Sproul played a leading role in drafting and advocating for the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy of 1978, which is a foundational statement of the Coalition on Revival.
In 1994, R. C. Sproul took a bold stand of opposition to the so-called “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”. He also opposed the so-called New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision view.
R. C. Sproul never seemed to hesitate in taking a bold stand for the essential doctrines of historic orthodox Christianity, standing firmly on the Five Solas of the Reformation, the Authority of God’s Word, the centrality of Christ and the Gospel of justification by faith alone, because Christ alone has fulfilled all righteousness.
R. C. Sproul was a leading advocate of classical apologetics. He was also a powerful pro-life advocate, declaring abortion as “perhaps the crucial ethical issue of our time.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul was a great champion of the Faith and a steadfast friend. Just last month, Dr. R. C. Sproul wrote this encouraging response to our new book: “The Greatest Century of Reformation presents the history of the Reformation in a compact, readable and winsome way, encouraging us to stand firm in our beliefs regardless of the consequences. It parallels, in some ways, the leading of the Holy Spirit in the early Church as Paul, the apostles and the early believers preached and taught the Gospel. I am delighted to have received the book and for the dedication you gave. May God richly bless and use it in His Kingdom.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul’s books and lectures on audio CD are a vital part of our William Carey Bible Institute Library at Livingstone House. His books are an essential part of our Libraries for Pastors programme throughout Africa.
In 1997, R. C. Sproul founded Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida. He preached his last sermon there on 26 November 2017 on Hebrews 2:1-4: “So Great a Salvation!”
In 2011, R. C. Sproul founded Reformation Bible College, to educate students in the knowledge of God and His Holiness in the Reformed classical tradition.
Some of R. C. Sproul’s books have included: The Symbol: An Exposition of the Apostle’s Creed, Classical Apologetics, Chosen By God, The Holiness of God, Loved By God, Truths We Confess, The Work of Christ and he served as the General Editor of the Reformation Study Bible.
R. C. Sproul, with firm conviction and a broad smile, went against the popular tide, calling us back to historic Christianity, insisting that “you cannot determine truth by counting noses”. “God is holy and we are not!”
Faced by a culture of increasing moral relativism and militant atheism, R. C. Sproul has stood as a champion of the Faith, with infectious enthusiasm, rescuing a generation of Evangelicals from compromise and confusion, with rigorously Biblical and ruthlessly logical teaching.
R. C. Sproul consistently called Christians to stand in a line of faithfulness that began with the Apostles and continued through the Church fathers and Reformers to the present. He enthusiastically taught on the devotion and courage of Professor Martin Luther and the Theological precision and passion of Reformer John Calvin.
Once, after I had given a presentation on Jonathan Edwards at Saint Andrews Chapel, R. C. Sproul informed me that he had majored in studying Jonathan Edwards and the Great Evangelical Awakening.
In 1976, in a Tribute to his mentor, Professor John Gerstner, R. C. Sproul wrote: “In an era of Church history when theology is in chaos, the Church is being shaken at its foundations and Christian ethics shift and slide with every novel theology, we are grateful for the vivid example of one who stands in the midst of confusion as a bright and shining light.”
The same could easily be said for Dr. R. C. Sproul, a bright and shining light, steadfast, faithful and true to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. We pray, at this time, that all who have been blessed by R. C. Sproul’s gifted communications would take his books off the shelf and read them afresh, proclaim these great doctrines of the Reformation anew and steadfastly apply the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life.
Frontline Fellowship has been blessed by the steadfast example, friendship, encouragement, prayers and generous support of R. C. Sproul over many years. May God find us faithful in carrying the torch further.
Ecclesia Reformata Reformanda est. Semper Reformanda!
The Church, being reformed, must continue to be Reformed.
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