If anyone would care to transcribe this sermon and email it to me so I can post the text, I'd appreciate it.
Today, December 8, 2013, at Christ the Word church, located at the corner of Central Avenue and Murd road in Sylvania, OH, I had the opportunity to hear a guest pastor give one of the best sermons that has ever been given. For a minute, I thought I was listening to a sermon given by the reincarnation of Charles Spurgeon.
The guest pastor was R. C. Sproul Jr. Before I get into the meat of my comments, I want to give a bit of background on R.C. Jr., but I can't do that without mentioning a bit about R. C. Sproul Sr.:
Ligonier Ministries hosts several theological conferences each year, including the main conference held each year in Orlando, FL, at which Sproul is one of the primary speakers.
Sproul was passenger on the Amtrak train that derailed in the 1993 Big Bayou Canot train wreck and often gives firsthand accounts of the story."
Now for a bit about R. C. Sproul, Jr.:
"Robert Craig Sproul, better known as R.C. Sproul, Jr. (born 1965), is a Calvinist Christian minister and theologian and is the son of Robert Charles Sproul, a noted Reformed theologian and founder of Ligonier Ministries."
"Sproul holds degrees from Grove City College (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Literature, 1986) and Reformed Theological Seminary (Master of Arts in Theological Studies, 1991) and received his D.Min. in theology from Whitefield Theological Seminary (2001).
After working with Ligonier Ministries for some years, Sproul founded Highlands Ministries (formerly Highlands Study Center) in Bristol, Virginia, in 1996, which he still heads. In the same year, he planted Saint Peter Presbyterian Church in Bristol and until 2001 served as its senior pastor and then until 2010 as its Associate Pastor of Education. He is also a teaching elder of Heritage Presbyterian Church (Centerville, TN). Sproul serves as executive editor of Every Thought Captive, a bimonthly magazine published by Highlands Ministries. 2009-2010, he worked as a teacher for Veritas Press, which specializes in Christian educational texts.
In 2010, Sproul was appointed a Teaching Fellow and Assistant Professor of theology, philosophy, and apologetics at Ligonier Academy in both the Bible college and D.Min. programs. He has spoken at a number of conferences and is a vocal supporter of homeschooling, traditional family roles, Biblical patriarchy and limited government.
Sproul was married to Denise Elizabeth Sproul (née Rocklein), who died December 18, 2011 at the age of 46 after a long battle with cancer. Sproul and his late wife have eight children aged from 18 to 2. Their disabled daughter Shannon died October 3, 2012."
The germ of the sermon was Isaiah 45:1-8:
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:
2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places,[a]
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron,
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.8 “Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the Lord have created it.
However, the main point was a bit different. Now, a brief aside. Pastors, Rabbis, Priests etc. are all teachers and what separates a great teacher from a good teacher is the ability to relate material in an understandable manner and present it such a way that it is retained by the students. R.C. Sproul, Jr. has mastered this ability.
The truly noteworthy part of the sermon was Sproul's teaching about how to deal with tribulations.
From Romans 5:3-5 "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Now, this is an easy passage to read but a difficult one to follow. Sproul Jr's tribulations have been far more significant than my own, which have consisted of catastrophic financial hardship, however, I must say that I do get irritated when I am counseled on areas I need spiritual improvement in by someone who may live in a half million dollar house and whose worst tribulation consists of getting a stubbed toe. It's easy to be a faithful Christian when everything is going your way. It's a bit different when you have tribulations of the magnitude that R.C. Jr. has to deal with---i.e. the loss of his wife and a special needs daughter in a fairly short span.
The beauty of Sproul's sermon was in the way he explained that serious trials and tribulations are actually encouragements to maintaining and improving faith. I cannot think of another example of a sermon which delivers this message in such a concise and clearly understandable way---and I say that having a current church pastor who is among but a handful nationwide who can belt out a sermon of great depth, but deliver it with clarity and brevity.
Kick back and give a good listen to this great sermon.