I have so been enjoying the summer months and spending time at the beach with these great authors. Here we are at the end with volume 4 of Right Now Counts Forever. These columns span from the years 2007 right up until 2018. As I look over these columns, I see a number of themes that were central to Dr. Sproul’s life, legacy, and ministry.
One of those comes from a column from May 2010. It’s titled “Making Molehills Out of Mountains: The Crisis over Justification.” Dr. Sproul writes, “The crisis regarding the doctrine of justification that provoked the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century has not yet been resolved. Thus, the Reformation is by no means over.” He goes on to say, “This crisis again confronts the church with what Luther once called ‘the issue upon which the church stands or falls.’ Without the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the gospel is not merely compromised, it is lost altogether. And in the place of the good news comes the bad news.” That’s the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Sola fide.
In another one of these columns, Dr. Sproul returns to the theme of apologetics. This is from his October 2016 column titled “The Most Valuable Aim of Apologetics.” He tells us that the task of apologetics, of defending the truth of Christianity, has at least three main aims. First, apologetics is to provide an answer to the critics of the Christian faith. Second, the major aim of apologetics is to tear down the intellectual idols of our culture. Then he adds the third, and what I believe is the most valuable aim of apologetics, which is to encourage the saints, to shore up the church.
He goes on to write that not everybody is called to be a professional apologist, but we are all called to study apologetic issues and to see that there are reasons for the hope that is within us. There are reasons. We must know the truth and defend the truth and not run from questions that we get. But we must run to these questions with solid and sure answers. That’s apologetics.
That brings us to the theme that is so crucial, so essential to Dr. Sproul and his writing and teaching: the doctrine of God. One of the columns from December 2014 is titled “Our Beautiful God.” Dr. Sproul writes, “I’m afraid that the idea of the beauty of God has been all but eclipsed in our contemporary culture, both in the secular community and in the church as well.”
Not only has the beauty of God been eclipsed, but so too has the holiness of God. His column from October 2017 is crucial. For one thing, that was the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: October 2017. It’s also crucial because this is one of the last columns of the Right Now Counts Forever series that Dr. Sproul would write. Here he is talking about the trauma of holiness, returning to the theme that was captured in his classic book, The Holiness of God. Here’s how he ends this column, again returning to his friend, Martin Luther:
“Martin Luther and the other Reformers understood the holy character of this God. For them, the recovery of the gospel was such good news because they knew the trauma of holiness and the only way to endure the presence of this holy God’s judgment is to be covered in the holiness and righteousness of Christ.” This is the last line from that column. “May God in His grace grant to all of us a renewed vision of His majestic holiness.”
Those are priceless words. And these four volumes contain priceless columns. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through them, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have. Thanks for joining me these past several months as we’ve been spending time at the beach with great authors and great books.