This past Thursday, December 14th, Dr. R. C. Sproul went to be with the Lord. He was 78 years old and had been suffering with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for some time. Over the last few weeks, his health had deteriorated to the point of needing assistance to breathe. He passed away surrounded by family and close friends.
There are few people in the church, especially of my generation, who have not been touched in some way by the ministry of R. C. Sproul. Without reservation or hesitation, I have often spoken of him as one of the most gifted teachers in the church today. He had a gift for clarity and engagement that has been unsurpassed in our day; the American C.S. Lewis, at least in that regard. This, coupled with his tireless and fearless dedication to the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scripture made his voice a compelling and refreshing voice in the midst of a confusing culture, and a church that seems to be losing its grounding.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Sproul, but all accounts indicate he was as engaging and humorous “off-camera” so to speak as he was behind the lectern. The church rightly grieves the loss of one of our most precious number, but our grief is his joy. Our loss is his gain. As his friend and co-laborer, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson rightly puts it:
We do not begrudge our friend the fulfilment of his heart’s desire to behold the Holy One. Long ago, by faith, he “saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1) and pursued “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Now that faith has become sight and he sees the Holy One in all His infinite majesty. Those who loved him best will miss him most; we will all miss him. But we would not keep him back from that vision of God for which he lived and in which he has died. Soli Deo gloria!
If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading one of Dr. Sproul’s numerous works, or heard (or seen) any of his lectures, I can’t commend him highly enough to you. I don’t agree with everything he taught (he was Presbyterian, after all), but there are many things about which I would gladly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him. One book I particularly recommend is THE HOLINESS OF GOD, a modern classic. There’s a lecture series recorded in the mid-1980s that accompanies the book which Ligonier (his ministry) has kindly posted to YouTube.
By way of tribute, here’s the third lecture in that series on “The Holiness of God” entitled, “Holiness and Justice.” It’s about 30 minutes long, but so well worth the time. May the Lord continue to use Dr. Sproul’s words to touch our lives for His glory.