Remembering RC Sproul (MUST reading)

Short video of clips of RC proclaiming the gospel through the years

Hi TD Family,

I’ve thought about, gave thanks for, and ached for RC everyday since I first learned of his hospitalization and then ensuing Homecoming.  I’ve reminisced fondly over our times spent together, enjoying not only fine food, but hearing him explain to us the finer details of our Real Food, our faith in Christ.

My family will remember his gentleness and frivolity with our kids over the decades.  He loved kids, knew how to make them feel comfortable, and knew how to make them laugh.  He’s the one who taught us the unique “Give me five … up high … down low … ” ritual that I use with young ones today.

RC was also sincerely humble, not taking himself too seriously, often making fun of himself.  He once was excited to tell us, “As I came out of the shower this morning, do you know what Vesta (his wife) said to me? She said, ‘When I married you, I knew I was marrying an athlete, I just didn’t know it was going to be a sumo wrestler!'” We howled in laughter together.

I have often had people address me as Pastor or Pastor Arthur, have assumed I went to seminary, or comment that they couldn’t believe that I didn’t go to seminary.  More than anyone, I owe that to RC Sproul, whose calling and vision was to bring the seminary to the layman, to bridge the gap between seminary and Sunday School.  I am the fruit of what RC envisioned, a lay theologian on the street or in the field, as it were.

I commuted for work from South Pasadena to Orange County from 1990 – 1997, before opening up my Pasadena office.  I have often called my little blue Honda Civic my seminary, for it was there that I had stacks of theological courses taught by RC Sproul sitting in my passenger seat.  Each day, for nearly an hour’s drive each way, I would listen to the audio cassette tapes over and over again, hanging on RC’s teaching and being increasingly blown away with each listen … of the same lesson!  For hundreds of hours, I listened and learned from RC, meeting ultimately with … God.

It was RC that alerted me to the fact that in order to really maximize what you get out of a lecture, you need to listen to it about a dozen times.  I have found that to be true and lament when I see Christians think they know what a passage in the Bible says because they have read that passage before or have heard a message on that passage already.

In the absence of any older spiritual mentors at church for me, RC was like a surrogate spiritual father to me; not directly, but certainly indirectly.  Thus, it was a distinct privilege and joy to interview RC for you at TD a few years ago when we did the “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” series.

It is a great interview that is personal, honest, real, and very candid.  There are things that will surprise you.  We typically receive about 20 – 25 views a day on the TD blog.  In the last few days, we have received well over 2,200 views, primarily driven by these interviews.  Some have linked them to their blogs.

I am also giving you the links to some extraordinary tributes from extraordinary people that are MUST READS.  They will not only give you more depth to understanding RC, but will also help you grow in living out your Christian life. – Arthur

Arthur’s Interview With RC

A Personal Conversation With RC Sproul, Pt. 1

A Personal Conversation With RC Sproul, Pt. 2

A Personal Conversation With RC Sproul, Pt. 3

MUST READ Tributes to RC

Steven Lawson’s Tribute to RC (this one is especially good)

John Piper’s Tribute to RC 

Joni Eareckson Tada’s Tribute to RC

Sinclair Ferguson’s Tribute to RC

John MacArthur’s Tribute to RC

Al Mohler’s Tribute to RC

RC’s Biography

Stephen Nichols

 

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TD’er, are you a Christian that both society and the church can listen to?

(Al Mohler on CNN – the Christian lady interviewed sounds like many Christians sound – well intentioned but unclear on how faith intersects with life)

Hi TD!

Where do you stand on the Roy-Moore-running-for-senate controversy, especially since much has to do with his faith and his actions?  Wait, you don’t know who Roy Moore is and what the issue is about?

Christians have often been accused by both society and the church for being insular, burying our heads in the sand, caring only for our own local churches, and for not knowing what’s really going on in society and not making much difference in it.  While that cannot legitimately be asserted for Christians as a whole, sadly, I think it can be said for a sizable portion of the God’s church.

One of our aims in TD is to help those of you who are desirous and willing to become more effective in representing the Lord in your future engagement with society as a resident of this world, yet as a citizen of Heaven. We see that poignant engagement encompassing a broader scope of societal impact than perhaps you’ve considered; we’re talking about future engagement in academia, the marketplace, the church, the arts, the public square.

One of our aims in TD is to help those of you who are desirous and willing to become more effective in representing the Lord in your future engagement with society as a resident of this world, yet as a citizen of Heaven.

One way to catch a vision of this is to watch and study those ahead of you who are doing it well.  That’s why we have consistently exposed TD’ers through the decades to those who are excelling in their callings and who have made significant impact both in society and in the church.  The two cannot be divorced.

Jesus said that the very greatest commandment that His children need to live by – everywhere, all the time – is to authentically love the Lord our God with the energy, fortitude, focus, intentionality, resolve, intensity, humility that we have; and that kind of love comes with a practical, tangible, meaningful love that impacts others’ lives in Jesus’s Name.  Again, the two cannot be divorced.  They are natural bed fellows.  When the first happens, the second naturally follows and, in fact, is a significant part of fulfilling the first.

One such Christian who is representing His Kingdom effectively in this way is R. Albert Mohler

One such Christian who is representing His Kingdom effectively in this way is R. Albert Mohler (or commonly referred to as Al Mohler), President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, author, social critic and host of the radio show, “The Briefing,”  frequent TV news interviewee, essayist, blogger, teacher, speaker, Ligonier Fellow, Christian apologist, and more importantly, faithful husband and father, and most importantly, child of God.

Take a look at his web site, read, listen, and let him help you grow, sharpen, expand, defend, and think as a Christ-follower:  Al Mohler’s website 

His CNN interview above on the Roy Moore issue is an example of  how a thoughtful, faithful Christian can represent Christ clearly and faithfully in the public arena while addressing public issues fairly and effectively.

This is not even public news yet (you are one of the first to know), but Dr. Mohler is coming out to UCLA to address questions of unbelievers, those in doubt, and serious questioners of the Christian faith at UCLA.  We at TD plan to be there to support and to learn from one of the best!  I’ll share more as the event draws nearer; but we can start praying for the impact of the event now.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15

Let’s open our hearts and minds and hands and feet to let our God make us into who He wants us to be, to do what He wants us to do, TD! – Arthur

Happy Reformation Day! – The Reformation 500 Celebration

Reformation 500 Celebration

Happy Reformation Day, TD!

If you’re asking, “Reformation? Reformation Day? What?,” then this post is for you.  500 years ago today, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his now famed 95 Theses that sparked the flame that spread throughout Europe and eventually … the world.

All over the world today, there have been celebrations, tributes, TV programs, articles written, video productions broadcast, and more to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  We invite you to watch a re-broadcast of Ligonier Ministries’ Reformation 500 Celebration to not only get a better theological and historical perspective of the Reformation, why God ordained it, it’s impact and need today, but also for needed reformation in our own lives.

In this celebration, you’ll get an animated history of the life of Martin Luther, new choral music written for the church (by RC Sproul and Jeff Lippencott), as well as terrific mini- messages (18 mins) addressing essential Reformation issues for our lives and our times.

Click above for the entire celebration or click below to watch the specific messages.  I encourage you to honor the Lord and what He did in the Reformation by watching at least one of the following videos. – Arthur

 

An Inspiring Q & A From One of the Greats!

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Hey TD,

Life is short.  It’s vital for us all to appreciate and treasure those who have made a big impact in our lives while they are still with us.  That’s exactly what I did at last month’s Los Angeles Ligonier conference as Dr. RC Sproul came to us via live video feed from Ligonier’s headquarters in Florida.

RC is not only one of America’s leading theologians, he’s also been a hero, mentor, teacher, and friend; someone I’ve looked up to a lot over the last few decades. Due to his health, RC is no longer able to travel significant distances.  Now 78, his health has been up and down over the last decade and has lived the last several years connected to an oxygen tank.  Though we’ve communicated via snail mail and on the phone, I haven’t personally seen RC in a couple of years. His daughter, Sherrie, would give us updates periodically and let us know he was doing well, but having seen him not doing so well in recent years, I wondered how well.

So, when he did a Q and A session at the conference, taking on live questions from the audience, I was nervous for him inside, praying that he would be able to keep up.  And what I saw was sheer joy to me, putting a smile in my heart and face, and leaving me amazed at how he could still answer questions coming from all over the place, and do so with such skill, precision, wit, and winsomeness.  I was blown away.  In my heart, I was yelling, “Way to go, RC!”

Thankfully, Ligonier posted that Q and A online.  Please watch and be edified in your faith. It’s beautiful (and includes a funny impromptu interchange with John MacArthur) – Arthur

Questions:

(0:20) In Deuteronomy 23, it states that a Moabite shall not enter the assembly of God. How did David, the descendent of a Moabite, enter the tabernacle?
(1:55) As a new student minister, how can I respectfully respond to people in the church who encourage me to entertain and dumb down spiritual things for my students?
(3:20) If Jesus and Paul used harsh words against their opponents in Scripture, does that give us permission to do the same today?
(5:50) Is it true that you got a hole in one recently?
(6:50) Since the Manhattan Declaration, has there been a change of opinion or a clearer understanding from the evangelical community?
(8:16) How can the Lord regret something, if He knows everything?
(10:45) What is double predestination?
(13:49) Is it necessary for pastors to challenge their congregations to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
(16:45) How would you respond to the accusation that you teach the Bible is part of the Trinity?
(20:03) Is separation in marriage permitted in Scripture and if it is, under what conditions?
(22:26) Would emotional and/or physical abuse merit a separation?
(23:24) Given the Bible commands us to obey authority, how should we view the American Revolution?
(25:34) How should we understand generational curses in the Bible?
(27:30) Do you have any concerns about the spiritual formation movement?
(28:47) Since everyone is unable to obey the greatest commandment, are we always actively living in a state of sin?
(30:05) Why did God create sin and Satan?
(32:26) What do success and failure look like in the eyes of Jesus?
(33:57) 1 Corinthians 15:22, why is the first Adam’s condemnation universal and the second Adam’s justification limited?
(36:40) What is your view of the altar call?

Note: Answers given during Questions and Answers sessions reflect the views of the individual speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. Here is our Statement of Faith: http://www.ligonier.org/about/who-we-…

Killer Q & A

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Hey TD!

Those who went to the Ligonier conference last week were treated to a wonderfully rich time of teaching, theology, and a deeper knowledge of the God of the Bible.  This was the Upward Prong of our 3-pronged approach to the Christian life.

One particular treat were the Q & A sessions – one with Dr. RC Sproul and one with the rest of the speakers.  There is always lots of candor and humor that accompany the insight and truth shared.

Below is a Q & A session from LIgonier’s National Conference a couple of months ago with Dr. RC Sproul, Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Dr. Steven Lawson. Below is the list of questions discussed:

Questions:

1. Dr. MacArthur, can you tell us about the Shepherds Conference? (1:09)
2. How do you explain the term “Reformed” to a someone unfamiliar to Reformed teaching? (2:34)
3. Is our still heart deceitfully wicked after we are born again? (4:47)
4. How should I share the gospel when it could cost me my job? (7:08)
5. Is it biblical to say God “loves you” to believers and nonbelievers alike? (9:32)
6. What does it mean when we confess that Jesus has a reasonable soul? (13:05)
7. Dr. MacArthur, you spoke at 2016 Shepherds Conference about clergy malpractice. What did you mean by that? (17:08)
8. How can I best prepare students to live their faith out in public schools? (19:17)
9. How do I counsel a Reformed mother who is married to a Roman Catholic? (22:25)
10. With the rise of seeker-sensitive churches, how do we understand biblically ‘seeking’ God? (25:02)
11. How do you define a false teacher? How much error is needed before they are considered false? (32:23)
12. How is the current cultural climate forcing the “mushy middle” out of the church? (35:55)
13. Giving the failure of ecumenical movements, how do you promote unity in doctrine? (37:59)

Note: Answers given during Panel Discussions reflect the views of the individual speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries.

Enjoy!

TD – RSVP NOW for “Discovering the God of the Bible”!

2017 Regional Conference

Hey TD!

This weekend, we will have an amazing opportunity to go Upward and engage with God through deep, rich, God-focused theology! TD will be heading to Ligonier Ministries’ “Discovering the God of the Bible” conference on Friday and Saturday!

This will be a fantastic opportunity to not only hear the exploring and preaching of God’s word with excellence, but it will be an opportunity to hear the legendary John MacArthur in person.  Being under his preaching in itself is a treasured experience..  As he is closing in on 80, I don’t know how many more opportunities you will have.  His preaching itself is worth the price of admission.  Speaking of admission, the price for you TD’ers is … FREE!  Unfortunately, that’s not true for TD leaders 😦

The cost for TD’ers is FREE, but you do have to register!

You do have to register, however.  So, if you are able to come Friday or Saturday or both, please contact your small group leader ASAP and give him/her your name, age, mailing address, email address, and when you can go.

We will meet at church at 4:45 p.m. on Friday and at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

I need to turn in our registration on Wednesday morning!  Let us know ASAP! – Arthur

Schedule

Friday, June 09 2017

Start End Description Speaker
6:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m.

Sovereign Over All

“The Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth” (Ps. 47:2). God is Lord of all, sovereign over everything in creation, actively governing it to fulfill His good and holy purposes. This session will present the biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God, explaining how His sovereign providence is a comfort to believers.

Julius Kim
7:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.

Holy, Holy, Holy

“The Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness” (Isa. 5:16). The one, true God is set apart from all other gods—indeed, apart from all creation—in His holiness. This session will explore the holiness of God, emphasizing its importance in understanding who God is.

Stephen Nichols

Saturday, June 10 2017

Start End Description Speaker
8:30 a.m. 9:30 a.m.

A God Merciful & Gracious

God revealed Himself to Moses as “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6). This session will discuss the mercy and grace of God, making sure to note that these attributes are understood rightly only against the backdrop of God’s perfect justice and righteousness.

W. Robert Godfrey
10:15 a.m. 11:15 a.m.

None Other

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5). Counterfeit religions and philosophies present views of God or the gods that are ultimately the creation of humanity’s imagination. The God of the Bible, however, is like none of these beings. This session will consider the uniqueness of God in a world full of false gods.

John MacArthur
11:15 a.m. 12:00 p.m.

Questions & Answers

A questions and answers session with Dr. R.C. Sproul (live via video).

12:45 p.m. 1:15 p.m.

Optional Session: Learning to Love the Psalms

Throughout history, Christians have turned to the book of Psalms to inform their worship, prayers, and understanding of Christ. This session will look at the significance of the biblical psalms and why we should turn to them in worship and in private study.

W. Robert Godfrey
1:15 p.m. 1:45 p.m.

Optional Session: Seeing Christ in all the Scriptures

Christ Himself testified to the fact that Scripture leads us to Him (John 5:39). This session will consider how the Old and New Testaments testify to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Julius Kim
2:00 p.m. 2:50 p.m.

Question & Answers

A questions and answers session with Drs. W. Robert Godfrey, Julius Kim, Stephen Nichols, and John MacArthur.

3:30 p.m. 4:25 p.m.

The Lord Is My Salvation

“The Lord is my light and my salvation” (Ps. 27:1). God is the source and goal of our salvation, and He saves people from His wrath for the sake of His glory. This session will look at the Lord as the One who initiates, sustains, and completes our salvation, directing us to live lives of gratitude and worship for what He has done for us.

John MacArthur

The Gospel in Asia

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Hey TD,

In light of TD’ers heading to love and serve orphaned children, typical children, and college students in China and Taiwan this summer in Jesus’ Name, I’d like for us to pray for these trips and get an overview of what God is doing in Asia.

I read the following article a few weeks ago in Tabletalk magazine and would like to share it with you.  Pray about it and ask the Lord what He wants you to do in response.  Your response can come in many forms, big and small.  But there should be some response of some sort, even if it’s to pray. – Arthur

The Gospel in Asia

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The advance of the gospel in Asia over the last century has been extraordinary. Christian churches are growing and thriving in countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and of course South Korea, which boasts some of the largest churches in the entire world. Yet the gospel is also taking root in countries where we might not expect it to. For example, a movement of Reformed churches is growing in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. Moreover, the exponential growth of the house church movement in China is remarkable considering that the Communist government places strict restrictions on the activities of Christian churches. Clearly, the work of the gospel in Asia is something we rejoice over, continue to pray for, and look for opportunities to support.

PLANTING THE SEEDS

The roots of the modern evangelical movement are often traced back to the First and Second Great Awakenings in North America. These revivals have a mixed legacy, but we can be thankful for their emphasis on conversion and evangelism, which sparked a global missionary movement that ultimately marked the nineteenth century as the great century of Protestant mission work. Protestant missionaries traveled to Africa, South America, and Asia spreading the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. While we cannot ignore or fully disentangle the Protestant mission movement from the often-brutal historical context of Western imperialism, which led to many European countries’ annexing territories around the world and the subjection of indigenous people groups, missionaries did plant the seeds of the gospel throughout the world—including Asia.

A good example of planting seeds was the missionary work of Robert Morrison, who was sent by the London Mission Society to China in 1807. He was one of the first to translate the Bible into Chinese and bring the gospel to southern China. James Hudson Taylor followed Morrison, arriving in China in 1853. Taylor founded the China Inland Mission, with a focus on reaching the interior of China, away from the more popular and lucrative port cities. Unique for his time, Taylor and his colleagues chose to dress and eat like the local Chinese as a way of identifying more closely with those to whom they were trying to minister. The work of Morrison and Taylor introduced the gospel to China, and their legacy lives on today.

Another example of gospel seeds being planted in Asia and bearing amazing fruit occurred in Korea, where the first Protestant missionaries arrived in the nineteenth century. Protestantism grew during the early twentieth century with the famous revival (1907–10) in the northern city of Pyongyang. As a result of the revival, Christianity was firmly established and would play a crucial role during the period of Japanese colonial rule. Christianity served as a point of resistance against Japanese occupation, and especially against the imposition of Shintoism. After Korea gained independence, Protestant Christianity continued to grow, and today South Korea’s population has the highest percentage of Christians in East Asia.

THE GOSPEL IN ASIA TODAY

Asia is a vast region, and each country has a distinct story about the gospel’s spread. No country is the same, but the Holy Spirit is working to bring the same gospel to each country. Here are three examples that will give us a glimpse into the work of the gospel in Asia today.

THE GOSPEL IN KOREA

After the Korean War, South Korea continued to see tremendous growth in churches and ministries. The fervency for evangelism and discipleship gripped Korean Christians, resulting in tremendous growth for the church in Korea. The numbers today are astounding. The largest church in the world is the Yoido Full Gospel Church, with more than three hundred thousand congregants. Yoido Church is a Pentecostal church, but many Korean Presbyterian churches have membership numbers in the tens of thousands. The Hapdong denomination which is a conservative Reformed Presbyterian denomination similar to the Presbyterian Church in America, has a membership of more than three million. In comparison, in 2015 the PCA reported a total membership of slightly more than 370,000. The largest Presbyterian church in the Hapdong denomination has a membership of more than 75,000.

The astounding growth of the church in South Korea has led to estimations that Christians make up nearly 29 percent of the population. This is one of the highest percentages of Christians in any country besides the United States. But the Korean church is not content to see the gospel impact only their country. Korean missionaries are now going out to the entire world in the same way their nineteenth-century Western predecessors did. Korea is often listed as the nation sending the second-highest number of missionaries, with the United States still sending the most missionaries of any country in the world.

THE GOSPEL IN CHINA

It is notoriously difficult to assess the growth and state of the church in China. In 1949, when the Communists defeated the Nationalists for control of the country, it is estimated that there were five hundred thousand Christians. With the Communist government’s restrictions on religion, many Christians gathered together in unregistered churches, avoiding public activities and gatherings that would draw scrutiny from officials. Yet all accounts point to the fact that the church in China, even under these hostile circumstances, grew and continues to grow. Chinese Christians are not deterred in their desire to spread the gospel even in the face of severe government opposition. Many scholars estimate that there are close to sixty million Christians in China. One scholar projects the growth to reach two hundred million by 2035. In comparison, there are 159 million Christians in the United States, and that number has been declining each year in recent decades. Consequently, China could eclipse the United States in total number of Christians in the next two decades. If the growth in China continues, Communist China will have one of the largest Christian populations in the entire world. The potential for the Chinese church is great. Not only is there an enormous opportunity for evangelism and church planting in China, but also for missionaries to be sent from China, especially to regions such as the Middle East where it may be more difficult for Westerners to gain entry.

THE GOSPEL IN INDONESIA

One last example is found in Indonesia. The country comprises a series of islands and is the largest Muslim country in the world. In the midst of this Islamic stronghold, the evangelist Stephen Tong started a growing Reformed evangelical church movement. Tong’s church in the capital city of Jakarta averages four thousand attendees each week. He has also founded a seminary and a Christian school, and he has planted multiple churches throughout Indonesia. Tong holds gospel rallies throughout Indonesia, where he preaches to thousands in stadiums and other open-air settings.

As his ministry has grown, Tong’s impact has extended beyond Indonesia to other Asian countries. He has established a regular preaching tour every week to Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Hong Kong; and Taipei, Taiwan; in addition to his Sunday preaching in Jakarta. Recordings of many of his sermons and lectures have circulated throughout the Chinese-speaking communities, earning him the reputation as one of the most influential preachers in Asia. Tong is likewise committed to Reformed theology and has introduced many in Asia to this rich biblical tradition.

THE GOSPEL MOVING FORWARD

The gospel is moving forward in Asia in unprecedented ways. Borrowing the words of Jonathan Edwards, who ministered during the First Great Awakening, this too is the “surprising work of God.” The gospel seeds that were planted more than two centuries ago have produced great spiritual fruit. What can we as Christians in the West do to support this movement of the gospel? Let me close by making a few suggestions.

1. Pray for the work of the gospel in Asia. 
Many brothers and sisters are serving in countries where there are enormous challenges and significant dangers.

2. Participate by reaching out to and sharing the gospel with foreign students and workers in your community from Asia
In this age of globalization, there are many students and workers from Asia coming to the United States for short periods of time. As they hear and receive the gospel in America, they will return to their home countries with the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

3. Finally, if you have the opportunity, go and travel to Asia and see for yourself what the Lord is doing
Contact missionaries and churches and ask what their needs are and how you can go and help. I am certain it will be a life-changing experience.

© Tabletalk magazine

Dr. Jeffrey K. Jue is provost, executive vice president, and Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He is a teaching elder in the PCA.