Tag Archives: R.C. Sproul

Unseen Realities by R.C. Sproul

Sproul, R.C.  Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels, and Demons.  Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2011.  160 pp.  $14.99.  Purchase at Westminster for $9.93.

Introduction

R.C. Sproul is no stranger to Christian Book Notes.  You can read some of the reviews of his resources here.  He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries which strives to educate Christians with a more philosophical approach.  This is evidenced in many of Sproul’s writings including Unseen Realities.

Summary

Divided into four parts, Sproul takes time to look at four essential, but not often considered biblically, real truths of Scripture.  Part one looks at heaven with part two taking a look at its antithesis, hell.  Parts three and four look at angels and Satan, the demon of demons.

The chapters within each part contain elements of philosophy, personal experience, and simple biblical teaching on the subject at hand.

Review

I appreciated most that this book did not come off as a school teacher instructing students.  Rather, Sproul writes as an experienced Christian concerned that the younger Christians are not considering the importance of the “unseen realities.”  While there is teaching present, there is more open and honest discussion than in other resources by Sproul.  He is, after all, a teacher!

Perhaps the best element of Unseen Realities is the meditative aspect that it brings to the reader.  You cannot help but think more about these four truths.  Furthermore, Sproul helps to right some wrongs that have crept into popular views of each subject.  The readability factor of this resource is phenomenal.

While it was not necessarily the scope of the book, I would have liked to have seen a recommended resource list for those wanting to read more about the four subjects.  As it is, there are enough Scripture references to keep the reader busy for a while!

Recommendation

Unseen Realities is worthwhile resource to have in one’s library.  It will kick-start your own meditations and help you to “see” that there is more to this life than meets the eye.  Pick up a copy, read it, and then give it to another.

St. Andrew’s Expository Commentary: Acts by R.C. Sproul

Sproul, R.C.  St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary – Acts:  You Will be My Witnesses to the End of the Earth.  Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010.  448 pp.  $34.99.  Purchase at Westminster Books for $22.74.

Introduction

Acts is the third volume to be published in the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary Series. The other two are Romans and John.  This commentary series is not necessarily a commentary as commentaries go.  Rather, this series is a conglomeration of sermons preached by R.C. in the various books of the Bible.  The series strives to give a “big picture” of each book in the context of all of God’s revelation.

Summary

Sproul has divided Acts into 62 chapters with each chapter looking at specific passages chronologically as Luke wrote it in the book of Acts.  Dr. Sproul seeks to show the work of the Holy Spirit on a the infant church.  He strives to show that the young church was not perfect as many today seem to think.  His goal is to show that the church was reliant upon the power of the Holy Spirit–something rarely found in the church today.

As you read through Sproul’s understanding of the application of the book of Acts, you will learn how this book applies to the Christian today.  More importantly, you will note some of the glaring needs in the church today.

Review

At roughly 6-7 pages, each chapter is manageable in their own right.  You will be surprised at how quickly you are able to read through the entire book.  Obviously, there will be some differences in understanding the various passages given the denominational barriers we have artificially set up.  That being said, the application of each passage crosses those barriers and builds up the believer to look unto Christ and to seek the power of the Holy Spirit in life.

Recommendation

Many “laymen and women” in the church want to read and study more about the Bible.  They have found that most commentaries are too technical.  The St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary Series is the cure.  While the technical information underlies the messages, the messages themselves are perfect for the Christian seeking to learn more.  With three volumes already published and more on the way, this series makes an excellent edition to the Christian’s library.

Abortion: A Rational Look at An Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul

Sproul, R.C. Abortion: A Rational Look at An Emotional Issue. Orlando:  Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010. 257 pp. $15.00. Available at Westminster Books for $10.65.

Introduction

R.C. Sproul says this is “…a book I wish I did not have to write.”  I have reviewed a few books by R.C. Sproul and have always been blessed by his ministry.  This current edition marks the 20 anniversary of the original publication.  It is also being released in conjunction with the anniversary of the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on demand.

Summary

The book is divided into three parts with two appendices.  The first part looks at the ethical dilemma of our time.  Here Sproul outlines what the actual problem is concerning the abortion debate.  In the second part, he offers an objective analysis of both the pro-abortion and the pro-choice arguments.  Part three is a two-chapter response & strategy for those who are pro-life.  The two appendices offer a look a scientific look at the beginning of human life and a list of resources for the pro-life camp.

Review

To be able to actually live up the “rational look at an emotional issue” subtitle to this book is impressive in its own right.  Sproul actually goes above and beyond his own calling as a pastor with the republication of Abortion: a Rational Look at an Emotional Issue.  He does a remarkable job of spelling out the argument for both sides of the debate.  While he is unashamedly pro-life, he remains objective when discussing the issue from the pro-choice perspective.  Especially helpful was his dealing with the reality that both sides value human life…a truth that is lost on many in the pro-life camp.

Even more, his two concluding chapters on the correct response and proper strategy for the pro-lifer is worth the price of the book.

Recommendation

I believe that every member of the pro-life camp should read this book.  It will open your eyes to a deeper understanding of what is at stake.  It will also provide a winsome manner in which to engage “the other side.”  For those who are pro-abortion, I would recommend this resource to you as well.  Here you will honestly find a fair and balanced handling of your claims as well as thoughtful responses to your arguments.  Sproul has done a marvelous job in looking at what has become an extremely emotional issue with a much needed rational perspective.  Do not let this achievement go unnoticed.

5 Books Every Christian Needs + A Sale

A while back I was asked about the five books that every Christian should own if they were starting a library. We had some fun with it here on Christian Book Notes as we tossed around books that we would recommend. I will be using that information to have some fun come March.

In the meantime, I talked with four other men whom I greatly admire and have been influential in my life and various ministries. I talked with Tim Challies (Tim) of Discerning Reader, Tim Brister (Timmy) of Provocations & Pantings, Owen Strachan, Instructor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College, and Trevin Wax of Kingdom People.

The Rules

The rules were quite simple.  Our challenge was to come up with 5 books, and 5 books only, that every Christian must have in their library.  Even more specific, if a new believer wanted to build a library, these 5 books needed to be the foundation from which to begin.  The only other rule was that the Bible was assumed already.

The Discussion

I believe Tim said best what I was thinking, “I don’t know how we’ll ever agree on five, and only five, books.”  That being said, the Lord provided a common thought process as we hammered out which five books should be on this list.

Timmy offered the first attempt of which we wound up keeping three of them.  Not because Timmy is so brilliant, but because the five of us were thinking with one mind.  The most surprising book to be knocked off this list was John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Trevin though Augustine’s Confessions would be more suitable for this list than Pilgrim’s Progress. Tim, however, offered a different book that we all agreed upon the author of which was referred to as “the bomb” at one point in our discussion.

We had four of the 5 books in less than an hour through emails that included much bantering and chiding of one another!

The last book was going to be difficult as we needed to decide what genre from which this particular title must come.  After looking at the list of four, I offered one that I refer to as a “toolbox book.”  It covers a wide range of topics and is a great help to both new or old believers.

We ended up with a list of books that offer an apologetic for the Christian faith, a book that looks at the atonement and two books that offered an exposition on the character of God.  The last title to be added offers an understanding of the process of sanctification.  Our list of 5 books was now complete.

More About the List

There were some books that were discussed but ultimately left off the list due to inaccessibility to a wider range of readers or we just could not agree on it.  One of those books was Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections – a book we all love and enjoy but don’t feel as though everyone would feel the same way we do.

A biography did not make the list because it was just too difficult to pick one biography that would appeal to everyone.  Sadly, They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick, a suggestion from one of the guys, did not make the cut, either.

While I am sure that there will be much debate (feel free!) on our list, this is the list we came to in our discussion.  These five books represent a great introduction to the Christian faith and walk.  What is more, most of the books reference so many other rich and solid books that if one were to start with these 5 books and then work from the bibliographies found therein, they will begin to amass a library rich in theology and sound doctrine that would rival that of many biblical scholars.  So, what did make the list?  Without further ado…

The 5 Books

An excellent resource introducing the essentials tenants of the Christian faith as well as a defense of the faith.

This book is great at introducing the depth of the great God we worship and serve.  Each chapter will expand your mind and knowledge of God.

This monumental work by John Stott looks at the importance of the cross and how it impacts not only the believer’s life, but the history of the entire world.  The doctrine of the atonement will become more real to you than ever.

Sproul’s work on the doctrine of God’s holiness is second to none in terms of readability and accessibility.  To read the Holiness of God is to come to the realization that your salvation has more to do with God than it does with you.

Don’s book on the Spiritual Disciplines is a wonderful toolbox to help the Christian grow in sanctification for the sake of godliness.  While you might not do everything in this book, there is enough biblical advice found within the pages, that the reader will certainly find a biblical means by which he can grow in his faith.

The Sale

Westminster Books has been so kind as to offer a sale on all of these books and a special bonus if you purchase all five.  The sale will last until 31 December 2010.

They are going to offer an additional 10% off the five books listed above.  If you purchase all 5 books, they will even offer free shipping and handling!  The specifics of the sale are listed below.

Mere Christianity: The additional 10% off is for the paperback, $8.87.
Knowing God: The additional 10 % off is for the hardcover deluxe edition only, $15.80.
The Cross of Christ: an additional 10% off, $15.20.
Holiness of God: an additional 10% off, $8.19.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life : an additional 10% off, $8.85.


If you purchase all five books, you will save more than $40 off the list price plus get the free shipping and handling!

To receive the discount on these books and/or the free shipping and handling, you will need to use the coupon code 5BOOKS (*note – this code is to be entered on the shopping cart screen where it reads “ENTER SPECIAL OFFER COUPON CODE”).

Even if you own most or all of these books, this offer allows you to buy multiple copies for your friends and family or even your pastor in time for Christmas.

St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: John by R.C. Sproul

Sproul, R.C. St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary-John: In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Lake Mary: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2009. 434 pp. $27.00. Purchase at Westminster for $17.55.

Introduction

This is the second book in the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary Series. These are being co-published by both Crossway Books and Reformation Trust Publishing.

Summary

This commentary on the gospel of John is not so much a commentary on the history of interpretation or exegetical work and word studies of the contents of John. Rather, this is commentary is Dr. R.C. Sproul’s sermons on the Gospel of John. We are blessed with fifty-seven sermons preached on Sunday’s at St. Andrew’s in Sanford, Fl. That encompasses almost two full years of Sunday morning sermons according to Dr. Sproul in the preface.

Chapter by chapter, verse by verse, Dr. Sproul unpacks and unleashes perhaps some of the best messages recently preached from the Gospel of John. He intertwines high theology and doctrine with simple and practical application in just about every sermon. He shows how the evangelist continually pointed his audience toward the great truth that God became flesh and dwelt among us.

Each chapter is only 6-10 pages long and therefore makes for fairly easy reading in that a chapter can be read and meditated on each day. You will plumb the depths of the purpose and content of the Gospel of John as it applies to us today while you read these messages.

I greatly enjoyed his two-part sermon on the man born blind (chapters 25 & 26).  In these two sermons, Dr. Sproul takes a look at sin and suffering and how we should biblically view suffering in light of Scripture.  In the course of these two sermons, we find that God is always glorified in suffering even if man does not give him the glory.  We see how the man reacted (praising God and being willing to be thrown out of the synagogue) and how his parents reacted (not willing to be chastised for their son’s good fortune!).  Sproul concludes this two-part series with the exhortation to speak of Christ and what He has done for you on the cross (assuming you are a believer).

Recommendation

As I stated in my review of the commentary on Romans in this series, having a compilation of Dr. Sproul’s sermons on a particular book of the Bible is a wonderful addition to any Christian’s library. I am excited that the sermon series on John was the second book to be published in this commentary series. This is not a book that you will purchase as a resource where you will only use it if you are wanting to study the gospel of John. Rather, you will find that drinking of Dr. Sproul’s wisdom through the reading of these messages now transcribed and collected into one source will be of great benefit to your soul.

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology: Together For the Gospel

Dever, Mark, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., C.J. Mahaney. Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 192 pp. $21.99. Purchase from Westminster for $14.51.

Introduction

Do these men need any introduction to the evangelical community? The men who comprise the Together for the Gospel “movement” are Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and C.J. Mahaney. Contributors include Thabiti M. Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. Every two years, since 2006, these men have gathered in Louisville, Ky to exhort and challenge pastors and Christians to stand together for the gospel. In other words, be the unity that is called for in Scripture despite denominational “walls.”

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology was the theme for 2008. This book is an adaptation of the messages presented at that three day conference. The audio can be downloaded and listened to here for free.

Summary

Beginning with the necessity of sound doctrine, Ligon Duncan offers an apologetic for the need of biblical doctrine to be taught on a regular basis. In what I thought was the best message of the conference, Thabiti discusses what it means to bear the image of God and how we, as Christians, need to be more explicit in doing. John MacArthur discusses the inability of the sinner to repent apart from the grace of God.

Mark Dever looks at five common mistakes from the pulpit by pastors trying to “improve” the gospel. R.C. Sproul looks at a controversial subject; i.e., the curse motif of the atonement–I thought the second best message of the conference. Al Mohler takes an academic look at the rejection of substitutionary atonement in recent years. Piper looks to the book of Hebrews to discuss how Christ will create in us a radical sacrifice. C.J. Mahaney concludes with the sustaining of the pastor’s soul–yet another quality message.

Review/Recommendation

Obviously, the charge can be brought against these men that they are all Calvinists. While that may be true, that does not mean that they are arguing against non-calvinists. Rather, they are showing how these doctrines give them an urgency to sharing the gospel in thought, word, and deed. I liked C.J. Mahaney’s comment at the conference when asked about the heresy of hyper-calvinism. His response was something along the lines of I thought hyper calvinism was just someone who got really excited about the gospel!

For those who disagree with these doctrines, then MacArthur’s chapter will not be for you. However, these messages will encourage your soul and exhort you to diligent study of the Scriptures.

I would recommend this book to anyone in pastoral ministry. As I stated earlier, you can download the messages for free and listen to them. Having attended the conference (and taking notes), I have found that reading the book is better for me as it allows me to interact a bit more with my thoughts and the thoughts of the speaker.

Finally, a reading (or listening) of Mahaney’s chapter on sustaining the pastor’s soul is a must for all in the ministry as well as those who attend church on a regular basis. Pastoral care is often not mentioned and taken for granted by many. Mahaney helps to change that.

St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Romans by R.C. Sproul

Sproul, R.C. St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary-Romans: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 520 pp. $34.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for $22.74.

Introduction

To many, R.C. Sproul needs no introduction. For those that have never heard of Dr. Sproul, allow me to introduce you to him. Dr. Sproul hosts the radio program Renewing Your Mind which is part of a larger ministry dedicated to equipping the saints in their faith. This larger ministry, Ligonier Ministries is dedicated to “faithfully present the unvarnished truth of Scripture and help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness.” Dr. Sproul has written numerous books to this end.

Review

The St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary series is not a traditional commentary as some may think. This series is a collection of Dr. Sproul’s sermons each Sunday as he preached verse-by-verse through a particular book of the Bible from start to finish. Romans, the first volume to be published in the series, consists of 58 weekly sermons preached by Dr. Sproul.

Given the nature of this series, it is difficult to pick up in the middle of the book and select a chapter at random without first having read the previous messages. What is more, the reading of these sermons helps to “see” the thinking of Dr. Sproul as he exposits the Bible. Many will disagree with his understandings and comments in Romans (see esp. chapters 24, 25, 33, & 34) though they cannot argue that Sproul “makes this up as he goes.” However, once read from cover to cover, you will have a deeper understanding of what Paul wrote to the Romans.

Recommendation

Having a compilation of Dr. Sproul’s sermons on a particular book of the Bible is a wonderful addition to any Christian’s library. I would recommend Romans to any Christian. Even more, I would recommend this book to any young preacher seeking to understand the art and craft of a sermon. To be able to read a series from start to finish and see how Dr. Sproul planned each sermon with those of the past and the future in mind is a priceless by-product to this series.

Those who are not going into the preaching or pastoral ministry will also gain much from this series. To be able to “sit at the feet” of a faithful expositor such as R.C. Sproul and learn about God’s Word is a wonderful treat. While not nearly as massive a collection as Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ series on Romans, I personally believe that many will benefit from the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary series just as many have from Lloyd-Jones’ sermons.