Welcome back to the beach with R.C. Sproul. We are in volume 2 of the Right Now Counts Forever columns. These span the years 1987 through 1996. Let’s go to one of those from 1987. It’s the October column, titled “What’s the Big Idea?” Sproul writes, “I remember Mama. I remember Mama standing in front of me, her hands poised on her hips, her eyes glaring with hot coals of fire and saying in stentorian tones, ‘Just what is the big idea, young man?’”
Dr. Sproul says she wasn’t really asking a question. It was a thinly veiled accusation. It sparks him, though, to think about this question: What’s the big idea? And specifically, what’s the big idea of the Christian life? Dr. Sproul goes on to write, “The big idea of the Christian life is Coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.” It means to live before God and the presence of God. He writes, “To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. . . . There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.” Before the face of God. That’s the big idea of the Christian life.
Let’s move on to 1992. Sproul received a letter from a young man in seminary who cried out for help. He was in a liberal seminary. He was surrounded by liberalism, and he was writing to Dr. Sproul for advice. In his response, Dr. Sproul has much sympathy for him because he remembers that he too was surrounded by liberalism in his seminary days. But Sproul encourages him to think of the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “‘Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has My word speak it faithfully’ (Jeremiah 23:28).”
Then Dr. Sproul adds this commentary: “The application of those words to my life was simple. I realized that God was not going to hold me accountable for what other ministers said or did. Rather, He was going to hold my feet to the fire for what I say and do. I had my marching orders, and so do you.”
Another column from 1992 has a fascinating opening line: “A number of years ago I shared a taxi with Francis Schaeffer in St. Louis.” Would you like to hear more? He says, “During our cab ride I asked Dr. Schaeffer, ‘What is your greatest concern for the future of America?’ Without hesitation or interval given to pondering the question, Shaeffer replied simply, ‘Statism.’” And so we have an article on statism.
One of these columns is titled, “Living East of Eden.” It is about a classic book. But it’s not John Steinbeck’s book of that title; instead, it’s Augustine and his beloved City of God. Dr. Sproul notes, “Human kingdoms come and go according to the persevering grace of God. The human city is always a monument to human corruption.” What do we learn from Augustine? We learn that we stand like Augustine before all of these changes happening right in front of our eyes. “We pray that God will spare our nation. If He chooses not to we ask for the grace to accept its demise. In either case we look to Him who is our King and to heaven, which is our home. We await the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, whose builder and maker is God.”
Dr. Sproul has one more column that I’d like to mention. It’s called “Take Up and Read Christian Classics.” He talks not only about classics, but he also ends up talking about one of his favorites objects, the Pittsburgh Pirates. You’ll have to track down the book and read it for yourself.