“Often men have acted as though one has to choose between reformation and revival. Some call for reformation, others for revival, and they tend to look at each other with suspicion. But reformation and revival do not stand in contrast to one another; in fact, both words are related to the concept of restoration. Reformation speak of a restoration to pure doctrine, revival of a restoration in the Christian’s life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture, revival of a life brought into proper relationship to the Holy Spirit. The great moments in church history have come when these two restorations have occurred simultaneously. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation, and reformation is incomplete without revival.” (Francis Schaeffer, No Little People)
One of the reasons I prefer the “small church” to the “big church” is the opportunity both pastor and parishioner have to know each other on more than a casual level. It is healthy for members of a congregation to know their pastor well and for a pastor to know the “heartbeat” of his people. The best-case scenario is a pastor/parishioner relationship is when there is some kind of mutual knowledge.
But you don’t always have to know someone – or even have met someone – to consider them a pastor of your soul. Many of us read books from Christians authors we will never meet and, yet, we feel equipped, encouraged and guided by them. Many of us listen to preachers in other states or countries that we will never meet and, yet, we feel as if their messages address issues in our heart exactly when we need to hear them.
God is not limited in using men and women in our lives that we never have the privilege of knowing.
For me, R.C. Sproul has been a pastor of mine – even though I never met him.
My 1st exposure to his ministry was at a 1997 Ligonier Conference in Pasadena, CA where Sproul and John MacArthur debated infant baptism.
Sproul takes the pedobaptism position; MacArthur rejects it.
And while I agree with MacArthur’s position and think he “won” the debate with ease, I remember hearing Sproul’s presentation and thinking, “Woah! This man can teach!”
In my lifetime, the most gifted teachers of doctrine are these 3 men: Wayne Grudem, William Barrick, and R.C. Sproul. Each of them have the rare ability to take complex truth and communicate it in simple terms.
Where Sproul sets himself apart from these men is he adds the profound element that most lack. Sproul will “flat out” get you thinking. He never has to say, “Now, as I close I want you to think about ______________.” The way he can communicate and draw implications of truth is so excellent that you are already mulling it all over before he says, “Amen.”
One great example of this – and I would encourage you to take a listen – was this sermon entitled “The Curse Motif of the Atonement”, given at the 2008 T4G Conference (I was privileged to be there as well.”
This man was used in profound ways in building a love for theology and church history in my heart.
Someone tweeted Thursday that it is ironic that in a year in which we are commemorating the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation, we have lost a man who was more of a modern-day reformer than anyone else. I could not agree more.
Sproul is now in heaven, and whatever theology needs to be corrected (and that probably isn’t much), has being corrected.
Can’t wait to finally meet him there!
I couldn’t resist!
The Sunday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is all about quotes. No commentary from me, no reflection, etc. Just a provocative or informative quote from a saint in church history.
“History has two sides, a divine and a human. On the part of God, it is his revelation in the order of time (as the creation is his revelation in the order of space), and the successive unfolding of a plan of infinite wisdom, justice, and mercy, looking to his glory and the eternal happiness of mankind. On the part of man, history is the biography of the human race, and the gradual development, both normal and abnormal, of all its physical, intellectual, and moral forces to the final consummation at the general judgment, with its eternal rewards and punishments. … A view of history which overlooks or undervalues the divine factor starts from deism and consistently runs into atheism; while the opposite view, which overlooks the free agency of man and his moral responsibility and guilt, is essentially fatalistic and pantheistic.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 1, page 1)