“God ordains that we gaze on his glory, dimly mirrored in the ministry of his flawed saints” ~ John Piper
An Unforgettable Teacher
When R. C. Sproul died on December 14, 2017, the internet was flooded with tributes from various leaders in evangelicalism. These tributes came from people all over the theological spectrum, but they shared one common trait: Gratitude. Many people expressed thanksgiving for all they learned through R.C.’s teaching ministry.
I, too, learned much from him. He’s one of my Big Three—one of the three evangelical leaders who has shaped me; the other two are John MacArthur and John Piper.
I learned of R. C. Sproul in May 2005. After I was discharged from the Marine Corps, I boarded a plane from Hawaii to Florida. Greeting us at the airport (along with my father) were my brother-in-law Juan and his wife Kathy. As we were driving from the Orlando International Airport to my in-laws’ home, Juan and I started discussing a sermon recently by John MacArthur. During the discussion Juan asked me if I had ever heard of R. C. Sproul. When I said I hadn’t, Juan made it clear I needed to give him a listen.
As with many others, what impressed me most about Sproul was his uncanny ability to simplify difficult theological concepts so that I could understand them.
Two Important Books
Sproul published many books, but two were seminal in my life:
The Holiness of God. The truth of God’s holiness does not make an appreciable difference in most of our lives. But Sproul set the uniqueness of God to music and made the concept dance before my eyes. His book made me see that because God is holy and I am not, he doesn’t owe me anything. He brought this truth home with a profound illustration that I recall often.
Sproul said that if he endured a life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he still would not be able to charge God with any injustice. Why? Because, as a sinner, God doesn’t owe us a life of ease. More to the point, God doesn’t owe us anything. Yes, in his wonderful grace God blesses us with many good gifts, but we’re wrong to assume that God is obliged to do so.
Chosen by God. While modifying some of the language in the TULIP acronym, Sproul sketched the lineaments of Calvinistic theology with clarity of thought and simplicity of expression. Sproul anticipated objections to such a degree that as soon as I wanted to ask a question, he was answering it in the following sentence.
God used R. C. Sproul to take me back to Scripture over and over again, to re-read the sacred oracles and make sure I was seeing all that was there. And what I’ve seen is glorious. With the weeping prophet I can say, “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
 John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), 17.