I pray with all my heart that God will awaken each one of us today to the sweetness, the loveliness, the glory of the gospel declared by Christ.
— Dr. R.C. Sproul
A couple of weeks ago, Dr. R.C. Sproul found himself unable to breath one night, and he was rushed to the hospital. Since then, he was treated by the best doctors in his region, and they did everything they could to make him better. His family, fellow pastors and theologians, and all of the Reformed community lifted up their prayers for God to grant him a longer life. On December 10th, 2017, Ligonier Ministry, which was founded by Dr. Sproul, announced that his health was getting worse and that everyone should continue to pray for him. Though many people lifted prayers, though the doctors all they could, and though the family was there throughout his agonizing days… he went to be with the Lord.
Dr. R.C. Sproul lived a good life, and with every breath he had, he would do his best to glorify the Almighty God. For the past year, I would listen to Dr. Sproul’s podcast called Renewing Your Mind during my drive to college, church, or any place. I bought his Reformation Study Bible, as well as many of his published commentaries on certain books of the Bible. His publishing company, Reformation Trust, had so many helpful and wonderful books that benefited my Christian walk. He also wrote several books, many of which are in my library such as Chosen By God, The Holiness of God, and his Crucial Questions booklet series.
I once had the privilege of speaking with one of Dr. Sproul’s close friends, and a partner of Ligonier Ministries, Dr. Stephen Nichols. He was one of the editors of the Reformation Study Bible, and he is the president of Reformation Bible College. I asked him two questions: 1) what is it like to work under Dr. Sproul?, and 2) what was it like to work with him on the study Bible? He told me how humble, caring, and compassionate Dr. Sproul was. He told me about how much Dr. Sproul wanted to make a study Bible that would have the same impact as the Geneva Bible, and that would compel people to go deeper into the heart of God. Most of all, Dr. Nichols told me, along with everyone who knew Dr. Sproul, that he was a man who dedicated his life to glorifying God.
You see, R.C. Sproul was more than just a voice, and he was more than just an author. He was more than just a husband, father, and a friend. He was more than just a head of multi-million dollar publishing company and a huge ministry. He was more than just a pastor and professor. He was a man after the Lord, and who wanted all his days to be for the Lord. Dr. Sproul was a servant of God, and he served God until His dying breath. He will certainly go down in the history books as the John Calvin of our time, and as one of the greatest theologians and pastors that has ever lived.
Every time I watch a sermon from Dr. Sproul, I am astounded at a man who is so concerned with how we look at God. He truly cared about how Christians understood the holiness and righteousness of God. He truly cared about whether or not someone was going to go to Hell or Heaven. He poured his life into ministry so that God’s name would be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, that the Kingdom of God would grow. I am even sure that if he was still here, he wouldn’t waste a second to make sure every person would hear the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, the quote that was in the beginning of the post is from his last sermon he ever preached in the last week of November.
Now, I know many will miss our dear brother, author, and teacher of the faith. Dr. Sproul has influenced my life and ministry more than I could ever try to put into words. However, we cannot forget this simple fact: for the past few years, he has been looking forward to going to heaven. Dr. Sproul didn’t live an easy and painless life. Towards the end, he had trouble breathing, he had trouble getting up his stage, and he couldn’t even write anymore. He yearned to be his Lord, even as we all yearn for Him as well, like a bride waits for her long-awaited groom.
One of my most favorite quotes from R.C. Sproul has resurfaced on Twitter recently. It came from his book called A Taste of Heaven. It shows us just how much Dr. Sproul saw life as an “in-between” stage, until he would finally be with Christ, clothed in His righteousness. I have come to appreciate the words, and I hope you can too:
You can grieve for me the week before I die, if I’m scared and hurting, but when I gasp that last fleeting breath and my immortal soul flees to heaven, I’m going to be jumping over fire hydrants down the golden streets, and my biggest concern, if I have any, will be my wife back here grieving. When I die, I will be identified with Christ’s exaltation.
I must admit that I let out a couple of tears while writing this post. I am sure that many of my Reformed friends share my same sentiment. However, we must understand that R.C. Sproul is in a far, far better place than we can imagine. I can’t imagine how hard it is for the family, and I can’t imagine the burden of many of his fellow ministers, but they know that at the end of the day, Dr. Sproul would want us to strive for the gospel. He would advise all of us to look to Christ and to be advancing the Kingdom. I will miss Dr. R.C. Sproul, and I am sad that I never got to meet him in this life. One day, I will get to see him. But for now, I am happy he lived his life on earth as a servant, and now he reigns with Christ as a king in the heavenly places.
Till we meet again R.C. Sproul, rest in Christ’s peace.
(To watch a compilation of Dr. Sproul’s message of the gospel that Ligonier Ministries put together, click here. It is worth a few minutes of your time.)
Soli Deo Gloria.