Ask R.C. Live (January 2017)

Ask R.C. Live (January 2017)

Lee: Thank you for joining us for this live
event with Dr. R.C. Sproul. I’m Lee Webb, host of Renewing Your Mind,
and I’m here with Dr. Sproul. And we look forward to spending the next hour
with you and taking your questions along the way. We have actually two audiences joining us,
one by phone and then another audience live on Facebook, and we’re glad to have you both
with us. If you’re joining us on the phone and would
like to ask R.C. a question, just press *3 on your phone, or if you’re watching on Facebook,
write your question in the comments section. And we’ll try to get to as many questions
over the next hour as possible. Now if you’ve never contacted us before,
we’re offering the pocket-sized edition of Dr. Sproul’s classic book The Holiness of
God. It is free to those of you joining us in the
U.S., Canada. Again, that’s if you’ve never contacted Ligonier
before, just go to, that’s Also joining us is the President and CEO of
Ligonier Ministries, Chris Larson, who will be sharing with us some of our ministry initiatives
over the next year, which may be the busiest year in Ligonier’s history. We’re excited that to tell you all about what’s
going on, but we’re glad to have all of you with us this afternoon. Dr. Sproul, we have enjoyed in the past tele-forums,
doing a lightning round segment of questions in which you answer each question in 30 seconds
or less. You want to give it a shot here as we get
started? Alright? R.C.: Sure. Lee: In Psalm 18 David said, “The Lord dealt
with me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands He rewarded me.” Was David there making the case for salvation
by works? R.C.: Absolutely not. What David was saying is that God had dealt
with him graciously and mercifully, nevertheless using the standard of his behavior of his
righteousness. As St. Augustine told us that we are given
rewards in heaven according to our works. We don’t get to heaven by our works, but we
are rewarded according to that standard. But it was Augustine saying that was God was
rewarding His own gracious gifts. Lee: I heard you take exception to the popular
bumper sticker saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” What’s wrong in your opinion with that statement? R.C.: What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s the problem is that when God says
something it’s settled, whether I believe it or don’t believe it. And so the middle term should be excluded. Lee: Alright, what does God want most from
us? R.C.: To love mercy and justice and to walk
humbly with Him. What I believe He wants more than anything
else is our worship. Lee: Are faith and belief the same thing? R.C.: Well we use the terms basically interchangeably,
but belief can also be used simply to…talking about making an intellectual assertion of
a particular proposition. I say, “I believe it, I believe that George
Washington was the first president of the United States.” Faith goes beyond that where it involves personal
trust in the truth of the Word of God. Lee: Since God is omnipresent, does He manifest
that presence in hell or does He choose not to be present there? R.C.: It is one thing to talk about God’s
choosing not to be present somewhere. If He ever chose not to be present any particular
place, then He wouldn’t be inherently, infinitely and eternally omnipresent. The problem with hell is not that God isn’t
there. People often think that hell is the absence
of God. Everybody who’s in hell would do everything
that they could, pay any price if possible to get rid of Him. The problem is that He is there, and He’s
there in His judgment. Lee: Alright, and would you state the gospel
in one sentence? R.C.: The gospel is the content of the Person
and work of Jesus with the subject of appropriation of it by faith alone. Lee: Alright, let’s wrap up this lightning
round with one final question, R.C., “What happened to the Steelers?” R.C.: What happened to the Steelers? We are not going to talk about that other
than to say “Wait till next year.” Lee: Ha ha, okay. R.C. it’s great to have you with us. I think our audience is primed and ready and
again, if you all have questions for R.C., if you’re on the phone with us, just press
*3 on your phone. And if you’re on Facebook, simply write your
question in the comments section. And again, we’ll try to get to as many questions
as possible. But we do have a question on the line, Jeannie
with a question about imputed righteousness of Christ. I’m not sure where Jeannie is calling from,
but Jeannie, go ahead, you’re on the phone with Dr. R.C. Sproul. Jeannie: Hi Dr. Sproul. Thank you so much for taking my question. The imputed righteousness of the Lord, how
are we to think of that? It seems to cause a lot of issues and problems
and arguments between Christians. R.C.: Well, we look to the Scriptures, and
we see when Paul explains the doctrine of justification, he goes back to the Old Testament
to Genesis 15, where the Scriptures say of Abraham, “He believed God, and it was counted
to him for righteousness.” And when Paul develops the doctrine of justification
by faith alone, what he is saying there is that when God counts somebody righteous on
the basis of faith, it’s not because He looks at them and sees that they are inherently
righteous, but rather they have been clothed by the imputation or the transfer of the righteousness
of Christ to that person by faith. That’s why we say the single meritorious cause
of our salvation is the transfer or counting of Jesus’ righteousness for me. That not only did He die to pay for the penalty
of my sins, but He lived the perfect life of obedience and fulfilled the law for those
who put their trust in Him. That’s what we’re talking about in imputation. That was the single, central, most important
point of the 16th century Reformation. Lee: Well, we’ll get to more questions along
the way. Before we go any further R.C., folks always
want to know how you’re doing. How are you feeling these days? R.C.: Well, I’m feeling great, actually. I’ve had some very good reports from my many
doctors, and I know most of the specialists in Orlando on a first name basis. But I just was at my pulmonologist Friday,
and he was very pleased with how I was doing and said, “We’re cruising.” He didn’t want to have to see me for another
six months. My endocrinologist was very happy with my
sugar levels and that sort of thing. And I haven’t had any further repercussions
from the two strokes I had a couple years ago. So all in all, doing pretty well. Lee: Ah, it’s great to hear. Chris: It’s been thankful…we’ve been thankful
to be able to see R.C. up and at ’em just around the campus and then having a full preaching
schedule as well. I have a question for you. Tell us about your insignia here on your jacket. R.C.: My insignia, can you see that? Chris: Can we get a little close-up on that? R.C.: In the 1517 section of our CD Glory
to the Holy One, it starts with my saying in quotation, “One hammer, one hammer in the
hands of an obscure Augustinian monk changed the history the world forever.” This is a mallet, indicative of that which
was used by Martin Luther in 1517 when he tacked to the church door in Wittenberg, the
castle church, the Ninety-Five theses. And so, that’s the emblem that we’re using
this year for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Chris: And who gave you that mallet? Chris: Dr. Stephen Nichols. Lee: That’s right, that’s great. Our resident church historian, a teaching
fellow, and the president of Reformation Bible College but Chris, speaking of 1517, I mentioned
earlier that this perhaps is the busiest year in Ligonier Ministries’ history. There’s a lot going on. Would you bring our viewers and listeners
up to date? Chris: If Protestants can’t get excited about
the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I don’t know what’s going to get them excited. This is a year of anniversaries, so we’re
going to mark that next month at our national conference coming up soon. And then we also are celebrating the fortieth
anniversary of Tabletalk magazine in May. And then we’re taking several hundred people
over on church history tours in Germany this summer. Lee: Those are separate tours by the way. Chris. Different tours, we’ve got a trip that is
one of those riverboat tours leaving from Prague, sailing down the Elbe River. Then we’re doing a “Land of Luther” study
as well, plus having a Wittenberg, Germany conference on August 11th. So, there’s a lot going on. And we’re going to have something special
in the works for October 31st to actually mark the day, but we’re not going to let the
cat out of the bag just yet. R.C.: But we are going to pass out candy. Chris: Absolutely! Reformed candy. Lee: Chris, is there still space available
for those tours this summer? Chris: Yes, for the for the river boat trip
that we’re taking from Prague, there’s a few cabins remaining. The “Land of Luther” tour has reached capacity
now, and we’re over 200 people. But it’s still a good time to be able to come
over, celebrate with us. We’re going to do a concert with some of the
hymns that Dr. Sproul and Jeff Lippincott have been writing over the past several years. So, should be a really good time. Lee: R.C., folks tuning in either by phone
or watching us on Facebook, may wonder why, what’s such a big deal about the Reformation? Why commemorate it in the 500th anniversary? Why do we care so much about it? R.C.: Well, because of the critical importance
of the recovery of the gospel that had fallen into darkness in the Middle Ages and the recovery
of the gospel in the 16th century that provoked the motto of the Reformation, “Post Tenebras
Lux,” “after darkness, light.” And, we call ourselves evangelicals because
of the recovery of evangel, of the gospel, in the 16th century Reformation. Lee: Well as I mentioned, we have listeners
who are tuning in by phone, we’re glad to have you, but also a very large audience tuning
in live on Facebook. We’re glad to have you as well. And we’ve already received several questions
from you Facebook viewers and we’re grateful for that. Luke writes in, and his question to you R.C.
is this, “In evangelism, how would you respond to someone who claims they are not elect?” R.C.: I would say to that person that I have
no idea how they could possibly know that. I think that the Bible makes it clear that
it is not only possible but requires us to make our election and calling sure, that we
can have the assurance of being elect. But if I’m not yet a believer, that doesn’t
mean that I won’t be tomorrow or the next day or even on my deathbed. So I cannot possibly know in this world that
I’m not elect. And so in one sense, from a practical sense,
I assume that every person I ever meet, I assume that they are elect even though I know
it’s probably extremely unlikely that they would all be elect. But my working assumption is, we deal with
evangelism and outreach of the gospel is that I’m hopeful that that person to whom we’re
speaking is numbered among the elect. Lee: We have many folks tuning in from the
around the country and in Canada as well. We have a caller from Colorado Springs who’s
on the phone with us, R.C.. This is Benjamin. Benjamin, what’s your question for Dr. Sproul
today? Benjamin: Hi Dr. Sproul, thank you so much
for taking my question. Essentially my question is, I’d like to know
that you said that when the gospel is at stake, everything is at stake. And I have an Eastern Orthodox friend, he’s
referred to matters of election and the inscrutable will as distractions from true piety and calls
the Reformation emphasis on so-called matters of salvation, Greek thinking and a departure
from Hebraic understanding. So my question is, how do we as faithful ministers
of the full counsel of the Word of God, address this latent danger of antipathy, especially
in the light of the cultural temperature toward the authority of the Scriptures? R.C.: You know what, you were breaking up
a little bit Benjamin while the question was being asked, and so I did not get the full
import of it. Can you possibly ask it again? Benjamin: Of course, my apologies. We, as ministers of the full counsel of the
Word of God, how do we address the latent danger of an antipathy towards the full counsel
of the Word of God, especially those things that people would call “the matters of faith”? R.C.: I would say one of the most important
things you can do as a pastor, as a minister of the gospel is when you preach, preach through
books of the Bible so that you’re not beating your own drum, but that you deal with the
whole counsel of God as it is set forth on page after page after page. And so in one sense, you discipline then to
address whatever the text teaches, and it isn’t going to be very long when you’re preaching
through any book of the Bible, you’re going to have to deal with those issues that touch
on the whole counsel of God. Chris: What I’ve appreciated R.C. over the
years, is your emphasis where the power is located. R.C.: Yeah, the power is not in my preaching,
it’s not in our methods, it’s in the Word of God. That’s where He has, that’s where God Himself
has invested His power, His supernatural power in the Word. Lee: Well, if you do have a question and you’re
tuning in by phone, simply press *3 on your phone and we’ll get to as many questions as
possible. If you’re joining us live on Facebook, you
can simply write your question in the comments section. But, we’re so grateful for your questions. Jackie has a question for you, R.C., on Facebook
“How important are creeds and confessions?” R.C.: Well, when you ask how important creeds
and confessions are, from the very earliest time in the history of the church, the church
has not only proclaimed the truth of sacred Scripture, but have had…has had to deal
with distortions and radical departures from biblical truth in the appearance and occurrence
of multiple heresies that have threatened the church from the very beginning. And then one of the earliest creeds, in fact
what is thought to be the very first Christian creed was the simple statement “Jesus is Lord.” And that came out of the context of a loyalty
oath that was imposed by the Roman Empire where Christians were required to say publicly,
“Kaiser Kurios”, Caesar is Lord. And the Christian church in the first century
would be quite willing to render civil obedience as much as they possibly could, but they balked
at that statement Kaiser ho Kurios, and they said in response to that “Iesous ho Kurios,”
Jesus is Lord. And when you look at the great creeds of church
history, for example the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed, you see that they were
written in response to serious heretical views that were arising, threatening the very essence
of the Christian faith. And that’s true also of the historic confessions
that were written. Now, these confessions were an attempt to
crystallize the essence of doctrine found in sacred Scripture, never to be seen as a
substitute for Scripture or having authority over the Scripture, but rather to give to
us a summary of what Christians believe, as defined in terms of confessional orthodoxy. Lee: We have one more question from Facebook
before we get back to the phones but Jordan, R.C., is asking for some encouraging words
for young men pursuing missions. R.C.: Well, it’s good to hear that there are
young people out there that are pursuing missions because that’s a pursuit that the Lord has
placed upon us, on the church with the Great Commission that we all are responsible for
the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Whether I’m actually going as a missionary
or contributing to that endeavor, but all of us are responsible that the Great Commission
be fulfilled because Christ is Lord. And because He’s Lord, we have to do what
He commands us to do. And so, I would encourage not just young people,
but all people, all Christians to make a priority of mission. Lee: We have a phone call, and this is from
Scott. He’s asking a question on regeneration. Scott, we’re glad to have you with us joining
us by phone. What is your question regarding regeneration
for Dr. Sproul? Scott, I think we hear your dog in the background
but we’re not hearing you. Can you hear us? Okay, I guess we’ve lost Scott. Let’s try… Scott: Yes. Lee: Scott, are you there? Scott: Yes, I am here. Lee: Okay, what is your question regarding
regeneration. If you can get right to the question, we would
greatly appreciate that. Scott: Okay, what’s the difference between
regeneration and conversion? R.C.: Well it’s a slight difference, but it’s
an important one. Regeneration is the work of God the Holy Spirit,
as He supernaturally and immediately changes the disposition of the soul from spiritual
death to spiritual life. And when we talk about conversion, regeneration,
conversion is a result of regeneration, where we are converted, we’re turned around or move
in a different direction. However, sometimes we get confused about this,
because particularly when people give their testimony and they say, “I was born again
on February the 13th, 1975,” and so on. And that person is testifying to a conversion
experience, when actually they may have been regenerated earlier than that but only became
aware of their state of conversion at a later time. And so, I think it’s important that we make
sure that we distinguish between those concepts. Lee: You know, before we go to more questions,
I want to just share with our audience, R.C., that one of the great things about working
at Ligonier Ministries is that, I would say maybe 90 percent of us have a story about
being Ligonier students before we came to work here. I’ve told you mine. Chris, I’m sure that people at our conferences
have heard you speak, but not many of them know that you were a Ligonier student long
before you came to work here. What is the one teaching that really solidified
your understanding of Christian doctrine from Dr. Sproul? Chris: Genesis 15:17. R.C.: Great! Chris: The Abrahamic Covenant and that the
separating of the pieces and the Lord making covenant and guaranteeing Abraham the terms
of that covenant, just in His own sovereignty and its power. And Abraham was uncertain about his future,
he had questions. He didn’t understand how all of these things
would come to pass that the Lord had said to him. And I was a college student and full of questions
and trying to understand, you know, what’s going to happen with my life. I knew I wanted to serve the Lord. I had a girl that was godly, and I thought
she’d be my wife. But just as a college student, you just don’t
know what trajectory your life is going to take. And it was through somebody that Dr. Sproul
was teaching at seminary at that time who took me under his wing, discipled me, and
began to unpack really that story in one of Dr. Sproul’s hallmark teachings on Genesis
15:17. And it’s one of those moments in my life that
completely changed my trajectory, as I understood God was in control, He was sovereign, He was
gracious in terms of keeping His covenant, doing for His people what they could not do
for themselves. Otherwise, I would just be fraught with anxiety
for the rest of my life. And I think that’s the testimony of a lot
of the ministry partners who come alongside of us, support this ministry, they’ve had
that moment where God has used you, R.C., to encourage them to see the holiness of God,
but also the graciousness of God, and you’ve just put your arm around millions of people. And I just know that so many people listening
today or watching today are grateful for the impact that you’ve had on their life. The Lord has used you. We’re grateful. R.C.: Thank you, Chris. Lee: Well, let’s get back to some of these
questions from our faithful viewers and listeners. Again, if you’re joining us by phone and you’d
like to ask Dr. Sproul a question, simply press *3 on your phone. If you’re joining us via Facebook Live, you
can write your question there in the comments section on your computer. We have a phone call from Alan, who’s asking
a question regarding the Holy Spirit and the Old Testament saints, R.C.. So Alan, we’re glad to have you with us on
this live event with Dr. Sproul. What’s your question for him regarding this
subject? Alan: Thank you, it’s an honor to speak to
you. Thank you for taking my call, Dr. Sproul. You’ve had a tremendous impact on my knowledge
of biblical doctrine. My question is the indwelling of saints in
the Old Testament by the Holy Spirit. What’s interesting is, or I should say frustrating
is I don’t find many, or I should say even a few theologians who hold to that view, even
including Reformed theologians, even less talking about it, or preaching it, or writing
on the topic. It is missing, it seems like, every time there’s
a study of the Holy Spirit. And you sort of look back at the Old Testament
saints, and the topic is vague, missing. No one talks about the saints in the Old Testament
being filled with the Holy Spirit. And so I think it leads to incorrect views
when you come to John 14:16 and Jesus saying, “It’s to your advantage that I leave, the
Holy Spirit will come.” Or John 7:39 where it says, “The Spirit was
not yet given.” And so all of a sudden, we get great theologians
and pastors teaching things that seems a little, I guess, different. And you know, they don’t talk about the Old
Testament saints being filled with the Holy Spirit. I know you’ve talked about this. I’ve heard you a number of times. I’m wondering if you can, sort of, talk a
little bit more about your view on the Old Testament saints being filled with the Holy
Spirit. R.C.: Alright first of all, I’ve never talked
to a Reformed theologian in my life who didn’t affirm that Old Testament saints were indwelt
by the Holy Ghost. First of all, we distinguish among various
different works attributed to the third Person of the Trinity. For example, regeneration is so vitally important,
and it’s the Holy Spirit who is the One who changes the disposition of our hearts. And anyone who is a believer in the Old Testament
had to be regenerate before they would be believe…a believer. And so, anyone who was regenerate the Old
Testament was obviously…experienced the work of God, the Holy Spirit in changing the
disposition of their soul. And then, you also talk about ways in which
the Holy Spirit was filling people. Well, the first people we read about being
filled by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, strangely enough, were those whom God called
to be artisans for the construction of the tabernacle. They were gifted by God the Holy Spirit in
order to fulfill that particular task. And also, you see that other offices and operations
of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament saints included a particular charismatic anointment
or empowering, like the prophets who the Holy Spirit came upon them, and kings were anointed
by the Holy Spirit. And you go back to the book of Numbers and
you see where Jethro, the father in law of Moses, rebuked Moses for doing too many things
by himself. And he was led by the Lord to instruct Moses. He says, “Gather seventy of the people that
you know are elders among the people, bring them to yourself and I will take of the Spirit
that is upon you and distribute it among the seventy,” so that’s recorded there in the
Old Testament. And so, the multiplication of the empowering
of Moses was given. And at that time, when Joshua raised up a
question about it he said, “Moses, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp. Please forbid them.” And Moses replied, “Envious thou for my sake,
Joshua? Would that all of God’s people would be prophets,
and He would pour His Spirit out upon them.” And that prayer of Moses later became a prophecy
by Joel that in the latter days God would pour out His Spirit upon all believers. And that’s the significance, I think, of what
took place at Pentecost, where Pentecost saw that the taking of the Spirit of Christ and
distributed not just for seventy people to empower them for ministry, but to the whole
Christian community. All believers received the Holy Ghost and
being empowered. Now I know that not everybody believes that
aspect, as we’ve seen all kinds of controversies about the role and the person of the Holy
Spirit in our day. One of the best studies that you can ever
get is that study that was given by Sinclair Ferguson on the person and work of the Holy
Spirit. So, I commend that to you. Lee: From Facebook, Adrian has a question
for you, R.C., “Can a person be 100 percent sure of his or her salvation?” R.C.: Well, when you talk about 100 percent
sure, you ask me if I think something is the case, Adrian. And I could answer that question in a multitude
of different ways. I can say to you, “No.” I could say, “I don’t think so.” I could say, “Absolutely not.” Or I could say, “Yes, maybe,” “I hope so,”
or “I think so.” Or, I can say, “Absolutely certainly.” So those responses indicate various degrees
of certainty that are associated with a particular question. And when you ask me the question of, can a
person be 100 percent sure of their salvation? I don’t how to break that down into percentage
points. But we’re certainly called to have a full
assurance of our salvation by sacred Scripture. And I do think it’s possible to have what
would call an assurance, a full certainty of whether we are in the kingdom or not in
the kingdom. The problem emerges, however, when there are
people who are sure that they are saved and they aren’t saved, because they have a faulty
understanding of what salvation is or faulty understanding of where they are in their own
faith. But if we have a biblical understanding of
what salvation is and an understanding of who we are, then I think we can rise to a
very high level of assurance of our salvation. Lee: And Chris, as I hear Dr. Sproul give
that answer, it really sums up what Ligonier ministries is all about, our goal and mission,
right? Chris: That’s right. Awakening as many people as possible to the
holiness of God. And we’re trying to reach as many people as
possible through every means possible. So, it’s been a wonderful opportunity to see
this ministry grow and be able to reach people even this afternoon. Lee: Right. What are some different…speaking of reaching
as many people as possible that some of our viewers and folks who are joining us on the
phone may not be familiar with the different ways in social media and digitally that they
can reach us. Chris: We do three main things at Ligonier. We broadcast the Word of God. We publish the Word of God, and then we have
educational opportunities where people can study the Word of God. Basically, we’re trying to connect Christians
to teachers, trustworthy teachers. And so, we’ll do that through the Renewing
Your Mind broadcast. We’ll do that throughout our podcast and internet
outreach, but also the publishing endeavors. So the Reformation Study Bible, Tabletalk
magazine like I mentioned earlier, and also just the books that we’re publishing from
Reformation Trust and then the educational effort. This is one of the things where Dr. Sproul
had this one-on-one learning back in the Ligonier Valley Study Center when the ministry originally
started there in the early 70s. And you took some of those notes even from
Francis Schaeffer and through conversation with him about what was effective in terms
of that sort of life-on-life discipleship. And what did you learn in those early days
that you’ve tried to carry forward for the benefit of Ligonier? R.C.: Well, there’s no substitute for one-on-one
teaching in a classroom setting or any kind of education. Gilbert Tennent of Princeton College, the
old log college where it was Tennent on the one end of the log and the student on the
other end of the log, and they were having the interchange. And that’s what happened with L’Abri in Switzerland
with Schaeffer’s ministry where he opened his home and family for students that were
seeking the different understandings of truth. His ministry was more evangelistic, and ours
was more educational, as for as discipleship than ours. But yes, in the very beginning days, I had
several conversations with Dr. Schaeffer and got a lot of insight on how to proceed. Chris: It was interesting because you had
that that life-on-life discipleship there in Ligonier Valley Study Center, but then
the staff began recording your messages. And then those messages started to go out,
you know, remember cassettes, cassette tapes and reel-to-reel, and VHS. And those messages began to go out, and so
that the media part of the ministry almost began to eclipse what was happening there
at that little campus. And so, the ministry moved to Orlando in 1984
and the conference ministry. And you continued to writing books. Holiness of God was published in 1985, but
even that grew out of those early video lessons of the holiness of God. And fast forward now, you know, a couple decades,
and you get this vision for a school, almost a “back to the future” moment for us. The media ministry is growing well, the publishing
efforts are ongoing. We’re having conferences around the country
and even now around the world, but you also have this this passion for reaching college
students. And so the vision for Reformation Bible College
was born, and we opened the doors in 2011. What was it that gave you that zeal to pursue
this next leg of the journey for Ligonier? R.C.: There were many factors that follow…that
went into that, Chris. I won’t go into all of them. But you know, I started my vocational career
as a professor in a college and only later on became a professor in seminary. And I noticed, frankly, that college students
were so much more malleable than the seminary students then. It’s a critical point in their life where
the foundational understanding of truth was taking place, and it was to me the most significant
opportunity for Christian education to take place at the college level. And so, that was one of the main factors that
we were driven to begin the Reformation Bible College is so that we could focus at the college
level where students might be grounded in their Christian faith. I was converted as a college student, and
actually my virginal study of the Bible was the most significant and lasting impact on
my whole life and on my whole teaching ministry. I mean, I went to seminary and graduate school
and all that, but what happened in college is what really changed the trajectory of my
life. Lee: Well, shall we get back to some more
questions R.C.? We have some Facebook questions. We have one from Billy Mills. That’s a famous name. That’s the name of one of the great distance
runners in the 60s. I believe he won a gold medal in one of the
Olympic events in the, in the mid-60s. But Billy, I’m not sure that that’s this Billy
Mills, but he asks “R.C., what’s the most dangerous theological issue facing the church
today?” R.C.: I think the biggest problem we face
in the church today is a very, very serious failure to understand the person and work
of Jesus. Christology has been, throughout the ages,
the single most important thing. The great eras of controversy in matters of
understanding Jesus were the fourth century, and the fifth century, the 19th century and
the 20th century. And here we are, early in the 21st century
and the issues that came up in the 19th and 20th centuries about the deity of Christ and
His atoning work and all that He has accomplished didn’t go away when Y2K took place. These things are still going on in our day,
and they’ve infiltrated every nook and cranny of the church. Lee: And if you’d like to know more about
that, Ligonier is also involved in this work that Dr. Sproul just mentioned. We published The Ligonier Statement on Christology. If you’d like to know more about that, Billy,
and our other listeners and viewers, you can go to “,” that’s,
and we would encourage you to take a look at that. Tony writes on Facebook, “In light of our
postmodern society, R.C., where truth is relative?” Let me restate that, “In light of our postmodern
society where truth is relative, do you think evangelism is more difficult now because of
that?” R.C.: No, I don’t think there’s any more difficulty
at all. People embrace relativism. That’s the bad news. You notice the book that went to the top of
the charts and nobody expected it to The Closing of the American Mind, several years ago, from
a professor at Cornell, I believe it was, that he talked…to say that when a student
entered college, 95 percent of students entering college had already embraced relativism. And by the time they graduated from college
and had higher education, it was now up to 98 percent. That was the bad news. The good news is nobody’s a relativist consistently. You can’t survive for 24 hours being a relativist
unless you’re in a padded cell somewhere and under 24-hour watch, because every time I
walk to the street, and a bus is coming down the street, I know there can’t be a bus and
not be a bus at the same time in the same relationship. And so all of a sudden, I don’t become a relativist,
I become a realist, and I stop instead of stepping in front of the bus, unless I’m suicidal. I mean that’s what the reality is. And the other good news is and bad news at
the same time, is that human nature, the constituent nature of fallen humanity has neither improved
nor deproved from the day that Adam fell. We’re still dead in sin and trespasses. That’s true of 20th century postmodern America,
as it was true in the 17th century or 16th century. 16th century America, there wasn’t a whole
lot there, but in the 17th century there was. But that remains the same. So, the task of evangelism is the same now
as it was always. Lee: Again, if you’d like to join in and ask
Dr. Sproul a question, you can do that by phone. If you’re joining us by phone, simply press
*3 on your phone. If you’re joining us via Facebook Live, just
write your question there in the comment box. Going back to the phones though, R.C., we’re
joined from the great state of Oklahoma by James, who has a story for us. James go ahead. And we want to get to as many as possible,
so go ahead and be brief as possible, if you will James. James: Okay, God bless you and your ministry,
Dr. Sproul. It’s a blessing. It’s about predestination, sir. I have a question that I would like to show
an example, then ask you a question. God is in charge of predestination, right? R.C.: Right. James: So at the age of 10, right after my
second year of little league, I was severely ostracized. I was verbally abused because I was the only
one in the whole league that rooted for the Pittsburgh Pirates. R.C.: I can relate to that. James: All of a sudden, with one swing of
the bat, Bill Mazeroski changed my life, predestined me to greatness. So, couldn’t you say that it was God and Bill
Mazeroski that predestines our lives? R.C.: Well, I’ll tell you this. On that day in 1960, at Forbes Field in the
seventh day of the World Series, I was sitting on the third base line. I know that tens of million people say they
were there at that game, but I actually was there at that game and I saw it live. So, I had never really related that to the
doctrine of predestination or election, but it certainly was a joyful moment for me after
suffering through the rinky-dink era of the Pirates, to see them win a World Championship
after so many years. Lee: James, thank you for your call. Okay, James thank you for that call. Who was your favorite Pittsburgh Pirate, R.C.? R.C.: Ralph Kiner. Lee: Ralph Kiner. Alright, we have another call. This one’s from Memphis, and it’s from Russ. Russ, we’re grateful that you’ve joined us
today on this live event with Dr. Sproul. What’s your question for R.C.? Russ: Thank you, Dr. Sproul for taking my
question. The question is this, “How would you respond
to someone who claims to be a Christian and also asserts that there is no such thing as
hell, that God is love and God in His love ordains that no one shall spend eternity in
question, in hell.” That’s my question. R.C.: Now, I would say that that person could
certainly be a truly regenerate person. All kinds of Christians have all kinds of
theological weaknesses and errors. We always have to struggle about this. So I don’t just make the automatic assumption
that somebody’s not a Christian if they neglect a particular doctrine. Although, to deny the reality of hell in any
significant way certainly raises the question of whether or not a person is indeed in the
faith because it is such a central core teaching of Scripture. And again, Jesus taught more about hell than
He did about heaven. And so, if you’re not willing to listen to
Jesus’ teaching about the nature of hell or the existence of hell, then that raises real
questions about how open you really are to your Lord. Again, I still think it’s possible, a person
could be that weak in their understanding and still be a redeemed person, but it’s hard
to imagine. Lee: Russ, we appreciate your call. By the way, today’s lesson in Tabletalk touches
on that particular issue. It talks about the goodness of God and how
the goodness of God does not negate His justice or His wrath. So we would commend that lesson to you from
Tabletalk. By the way, if you’ve never contacted Ligonier
Ministries before, we would love to send you a pocket-sized edition of Dr. Sproul’s book
The Holiness of God. It was published many, many years ago, but
it is truly a bestseller. And if you’ve never contacted us before, we
would encourage you, go to “” It’s good for folks who are tuning in via
Facebook Live or on the phone with us from the U.S. or Canada. We have a few more minutes. R.C.: One second Lee, before we go on. Just going back to that question and about
Tabletalk treatment on hell, it’s true that the goodness of God does not negate the doctrine
of hell. It demands it. If God is good, then evil must be punished
or He’s not good. Lee: Yeah, thank you Dr. Sproul. Alright, going back to Facebook, Sean has
a question for you. And would you address, R.C., the role of the
civil magistrate? Timely, as we are beginning a new administration
here in the U.S.? R.C.: Yeah, what’s the question? Lee: Well, he just would like for you to… R.C.: The role of the civil magistrate…well,
the New Testament tells us, particularly in Romans 13, that the civil magistrate is under
the sovereignty of God, and he is a minister of God. I can remember speaking at the inaugural prayer
breakfast for a governor several years ago here in the state of Florida where I said,
“Today’s your ordination day.” I said, “God has ordained the church. He’s also ordained the state, and all who
are functioning in that role are under the authority of Christ, who is the King of kings
and the Lord of lords.” People may declare the separation of church
and state, but people often mean by that the separation of the state and God. But remember that God is still sovereign over
all things. And that’s why we are called upon to be zealous
and scrupulous in being submissive to the civil magistrates, unless they command us
to do something God forbids or forbids us from doing something God commands, for the
sake of honoring Christ, who is the supreme authority over all of them. Lee: Is that why some governments, including
the British government, refer to their secretaries of particular cabinet posts as “ministers”? R.C.: Yes, that’s one of the reasons historically. Lee: Alright, we have one more question from
Facebook. This is from Julie, who happens to be a former
colleague of mine. And Julie, it’s so good that you’re joining
us. How would, R.C., she asks, “How would you
recommend one share the truth about the errors of some Catholic doctrines without being offensive
or argumentative?” R.C.: Well, it’s pretty hard not to be argumentative
and hard not to be offensive, because when you disagree with anybody, the tendency is
for people to be offended. And when you talk about being argumentative,
argumentative is a negative description of things. But the giving of solid biblical arguments
is what we are called to do. Now to make a sound and argument to support
the truth claims of a position is not necessarily to be argumentative. Argumentativism is described as a hostile
spirit, a mean spirit. So, one doesn’t have to be argumentative to
make sound arguments, but I would encourage people to make clear and biblical arguments
for the truth. Lee: Alright, we have a question on infant
baptism by one of our phone callers, and this is from Lynn. Lynn, what is your question regarding infant
baptism for Dr. Sproul? Lynn: Thank you so much for taking my call
and for your ministry. My question is regarding infant baptism, and
my understanding is that regeneration occurs at infant baptism. And you already said that regeneration and
conversion are not the same thing. So, if they’re not the same thing, what has
happened if regeneration has taken place and a child that’s been baptized does not come
to saving faith? Have they lost their salvation, or we just
can’t know that? I’ve struggled with this for a long time. R.C.: Yes Lynn. I would say, first of all, I’m not at all
an advocate of baptismal regeneration. I don’t think that baptism conveys regeneration
either for infants or for adults. Regeneration is a sovereign work of God the
Holy Spirit. Now, one of the things of which baptism is
a sign, is the sign of regeneration. But that doesn’t mean that the sign is always
conveyed automatically by the sacrament itself. As a Protestant, I believe that the sacraments
are effective by and through faith, but what does happen in the operation of baptism is
that God makes a promise to His people and to their seed that if they come to faith then,
and that would presume that they were regenerate because they couldn’t be coming to faith unless
they were regenerate. But the idea is that that the promise of God
to all who believe, is to enjoy all of the benefits that were wrought for us by Jesus
Christ. We participate in His death and resurrection
and are cleansed of our sin and all the rest, all of which things baptism is a sign, but
it doesn’t convey any more than circumcision automatically conveyed salvation in the Old
Testament, as Paul labors in Romans that we can’t assume that just because somebody has
been baptized that therefore they are regenerate. Lee: Okay. On Facebook, Todd Anderson has a call R.C.
for you, I mean a question for you, “How should we respond to the hyper-grace movement?” R.C.: If we’re talking about hyper-grace in
terms of grace covering everything including there are those in that movement that are
basically antinomian. That is, they believe that once we experience
grace, we’re no longer under the law in any sense, even in the instructive sense. And I’m going to say if a person is saved
by grace, not by law, we understand that,. that nevertheless that doesn’t mean, it’s
the old question that Paul writes, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And his answer is, “God forbid!” But some people want to make it sound that
once you have experienced grace than basically you can live however you want, you know, free
from the law, blessed condition, I can sin all I want and still have remission. And like I say, this is one of the greatest
threats to the contemporary evangelical community, I think, right now is the resurgence of the
radical character of antinomianism and libertinism. And part of it is related to that seriously
deficient doctrine of the carnal Christian that has just been so widespread that believes
that a person can actually be a Christian and still not have had their constitutive
nature changed by the Holy Spirit. They’re still in a state of carnality, total
carnality. That’s just an impossibility. Lee: Okay, Liz has a question from Facebook,
“Why should a Christian study church history?” R.C.: Boy, you know I wish I had a lot more
time not only to answer that question, but to fulfill the study of church history. You know, it’s the old maxim whether it’s
church history or other history is that those who refuse to study history are doomed to
repeat it. And virtually every heresy that we face everyday
today is a rehash of some heresy that the church had to deal with in the history of
the church, and that God has preserved His church through all the centuries. And we hope that by now we’ve learned something,
and by studying the history of the church. Just why did Luke write the book of Acts? He wrote his Gospel, but then he also wrote
the early history of the Christian church, which was very important for the church to
understand its origins, its mission and its doctrine. Lee: Right now, you’re preaching as the co-pastor
of St. Andrews Chapel, you’re preaching through the book of Galatians. And I remember you teaching through that back
in the mid-90s, when the Evangelicals and Catholics Together, a document came out and
you thought that we needed to address that issue. Obviously, you feel it’s still important? R.C.: Yes, it’s obviously still important. Lee: Alright, shall we take one more call
here before, I think we’ve got just a few more minutes left. We have a call from someone who says that
they don’t feel saved. And this is from Georgia, and I believe it’s
either James or Janie. I’m not quite sure, but James Smith from Georgia,
are you online with us? James: Yes, sir. Thank you. Lee: Okay. Now, what is your question for Dr. Sproul. James: Yes, I have given my life to Christ. I don’t feel any different and, let me say,
I’m very honored to be talking to you, sir, and I appreciate all that you’ve done. But I’m nervous, so I’m sorry. I just don’t feel any different. You hear all these stories, these quote, unquote
testimonies about people, “When I gave my life, I felt this way, and I felt,” and they
talk like they have Jesus in their hip pocket or something to that effect. So, I don’t understand. R.C.: I think I understand it James. First of all, I haven’t written a book like
this, but I’ve often thought about writing a book called “The Sensuous Christian,” who
lives and dies by their feelings. It doesn’t matter whether you feel, if you’re
forgiven by Christ, that’s an objective state of affairs. If you’ve confessed your sins and God promised
to forgive you your sins, if you confess your sins then your sins are forgiven, it doesn’t
matter how you feel. You may still feel guilty. Or conversely if a guy commits a crime, and
he goes to the courtroom, and the judge says to you, “How do you plead.” And he says, “Not guilty. And, you say, “Why? And he said, “Because, I don’t feel guilty.” Not feeling guilty is no proof of guilt or
innocence and not feeling forgiven is the same thing. So I would say to you that you need to look
at the objective truths of the Scripture. See what it is that Jesus teaches about salvation,
and if you trust in those words of His teaching, then you can be assured that you are in His
kingdom. But as soon as you start resting on your feelings,
you’re cooked. Lee: Great answer. Dr. Sproul, thank you so much for fielding
all of these questions. We got to a lot. We didn’t get to all of them, and we so appreciate
your calls as well as your questions on Facebook. Hopefully, you’ll be able to join us again
when we do this again. We’ve really enjoyed doing these tele-forums
and these live events, and we will certainly, I’m sure, do more in the near future. And again, before we say goodbye, if you’ve
never contacted Ligonier Ministries before, we would like to send you a pocket-sized edition
of Dr. Sproul’s book The Holiness of God. Simply go online to Let me repeat that, it’s,
and that offer is good for our folks who are joining us in the U.S. and Canada. We want to thank all of you who are ministry
partners at Ligonier. Chris, we would not be able to do what we
do here, including this live event, without the support, financially, of our ministry
partners. Chris: They come alongside and empower this
ministry through their gifts but also through their prayers. And this is what I would say to the ministry
partners who are listening or watching. You are the ones that can take the message
that we’re working to produce and publish abroad. You’re going to know so many more people than
we’re going to be able to reach. It’s your sphere of influence that’s going
to transform lives, and it’s going to change communities. R.C.: Can I say something, Chris? Recently, I was asked by Chris to address
our staff at a staff meeting that we hold regularly at a regular time just for a 15-20
minute talk, and one of the things that drives me nuts is that I can’t stand up and give
a speech that somebody isn’t putting a microphone in front of me or a TV camera. And I say, “Can I just talk to these people
alone and let me alone with all this stuff.” So he says to me, “Do you mind if we videotape
or whatever you did with it? Chris: Facebook Live. R.C.: Yeah, “Facebook Live thing while you’re
giving this speech to the staff?” And I said, “Okay.” I didn’t want to. I was reluctant. He tells me that this was listened to by 400,000
people. How is that possible? I mean, it just blows my mind. I can’t imagine it. And we heard from people literally all over
the world. And that’s because of people who make this
extension of ministry possible. Chris: Our pledge is we’re going to keep on,
by God’s grace, proclaiming the holiness of God, and we need your help, if you’re listening
or watching. Take this message, spread it, share it, and
let others know about Ligonier Ministries. By God’s grace, we’re going to be motoring
on for a few more decades because there’s a lot of work to do in this world. Lee: You can join us and become a ministry
partner simply by going to There’s space there where you could learn
more about becoming a ministry partner, or if you would like to call and talk to one
of our colleagues, they would be more than happy to take your call at 800-435-4343. That’s 800-435-4343. Chris, thank you for being with us. Dr. Sproul, it’s been fun. R.C.: I’ve enjoyed it very much. Thank you. Lee: Thank you, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you so much, and God bless you.

57 Replies to “Ask R.C. Live (January 2017)”


  2. God bless R.c , God has used him greatly to help me understand my walk with him when all isn't making sense . God bless you R.C 🙂

  3. Thank you for playing this.And the opportunity to call in. The timing didn't work out. So wonderful to hear Dr. Sproul's health is doing well. God is good.

  4. My favorite theologian, wahoo! God bless you R.C. – your teaching, fidelity to Scripture, and your love have impacted me immensely!

  5. I am excited about the offer of the Holiness book by R.C. Sproul. For the past year or so I've been studying for my own book on Holiness, as it pertains to the sanctification of believers. Hopefully this will contribute to my own stores of understanding, that I might better expound holiness to others. Thank you!—minister sheldon

  6. God bless you Pastor Sproul. I have learned a lot from your teaching for years.
    May God continue to lift and guide you, and bless you, as you teach His Word.
    John 14:6
    1 John 3:8

  7. I will miss this man so much. But, i know it will be for a little while. Thank you so much for your ministry R.C.

  8. I was extremely blessed to see you in person, Dr. R.C.! I have learned SO much from you through the Holy Spirit. And I pass on what I've learned!! Thank you for allowing the Lord to work through you, Sir! 🙂

  9. I don't mean to be rude, but what is the status of Dr. Sproul's health? Something happened to cause him to require a breathing apparatus? I don't see anything on the internet about it. 🙁

  10. Please, please, please. Please, please Dr. Sproul as much as possible, please continue to answer questions. Audio files are more than enough, but Lord willing for decades to come they will bless countless children of Heaven.

  11. I was introduced to RC my senior year in high school and I am glad to find him funny thing my english teacher during junior and senior year work for RC while she was living in Orlando Fl

  12. His one sentence answer of what the Gospel is would never be understood by a seeker. I wish he'd phrased it with a few more words. I LOVE R.C. – my favorite expositor since I came to faith in 1988

  13. Wrong…..belief implies placing your whole being in the hands of God. Unless good old RD thinks that the Nicene Creed is just about intellectual assent.

  14. I love Dr. Sproul. I so look forward to seeing him. I miss him. I appointed him my spiritual mentor in 2012 when I learned the truth of Reformed theology. Sadly, I didn't have much time with him. But, he left a Lot of material to study. 🙂

  15. Can someone please help me with what Dr. Sproul said in 4:19, about GOD's omnipresence (even in hell)… that GOD is there in HIS ___? (jetren? something).

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