Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. Suddenly, without warning, the road ended in a cliff.
If his trusty horse had taken even one more step, they would have plunged to their deaths. Stories captivate the imagination and stir the soul, and stories built on truth teach timeless lessons to young hearts. Today on Renewing Your Mind, we are privileged to present our founder, R.C. Sproul, reading his children's book, The Night's Map.
R.C. loved writing these books. He wrote several of them. As it turned out, this was his last children's book before he went home to be with the Lord in 2017.
In February of that year, R.C. and I sat down to talk about what inspired him to write this particular story. We'll listen to that interview at the end of the program today, but for now, I hope you'll gather the whole family together to enjoy Dr. Sproul reading The Night's Map. The McFarlands had family devotions every evening after dinner.
They read the Bible, sang hymns, and prayed together. One evening, Donovan said, Dad, the kids at baseball laugh and tease me and say we're old-fashioned. They say we're wasting our time reading the Bible, that it's just an old book full of made-up stories. Mr. McFarland smiled and said, Son, that problem has been around for a long, long time.
Many people have laughed at the Bible, saying it's not the Word of God, that it's filled with myths and made-up stories without meaning for us today. When grandpa comes this evening, you can ask him. I think he might have an answer. Donovan and the rest of the children wondered what grandpa might say. That evening, grandpa had barely settled into his favorite chair before Donovan repeated his question.
Do you think that we can really trust our Bible? Grandpa's eyes twinkled. He said, I just happen to have a story about that. Would you like to hear it? The children said, Oh yes, grandpa, please tell us the story.
And so grandpa began. Many centuries ago, in a distant land, there lived a knight. His name was Sir Charles, and he was a knight without a king. His neighbors told stories about the great king, and there were rumors that he had created the land and the people. Others said there was no king at all, or that he was evil.
All Sir Charles knew was that he had never seen the king. One day, Sir Charles received a letter. It was signed by the great king. Sir Charles the letter said, I am the great king.
I have known about you for many years. You will find a map included with this letter. It will lead you to the top of the tall mountain a few days' journey from here. If you can follow this map, your reward will be great. You will find a wonderful treasure, the pearl of great price. This treasure will last forever.
It won't rust or fade away. Blessings to you on your journey. Sir Charles was confused. Could this letter really have come from the great king?
Did he even exist? And why would he write to Sir Charles? Despite these questions, something stirred in Sir Charles' soul as he read the letter again.
Perhaps it was true after all. His confusion only deepened when he looked at the map. It was beautiful, but also strange. Sir Charles found that he had trouble reading it. The language was majestic, but he couldn't understand what it meant. Days passed, and Sir Charles could not get the map off his mind.
Finally, he set out on a journey toward the great mountain to find the pearl of great price. Along the way, he came upon a man seated at the side of the road. His name was Mr. Skeptic. Sir Charles dismounted and asked for help in understanding the map.
Mr. Skeptic quickly pronounced it worthless. Why are you reading this old piece of paper? You can't get any direction from this, he said. You need to forget about this old map and find your own way. And you certainly won't find the pearl of great price.
You're just wasting your time. Taken back by Mr. Skeptic's word, Sir Charles said, you can't find the pearl of great price.
Taken back by Mr. Skeptic's word, Sir Charles pressed on, but soon felt growing doubts that made it even harder to make sense of the map. As a result, he stumbled into a marsh and soon found himself hopelessly lost. After several days of wandering, he came upon a shop that specialized in selling idols. Sir Charles told the idol maker that he was trying to find the pearl of great price, but was having trouble reading the map. Could he help?
Mr. Idolmaker looked at the map and said it was unnecessary. There are plenty of things that are just as good as the pearl of great price, he said. Also, they are much easier to find. You can take any road you please, and you're bound to find one of them. Sir Charles was encouraged. He bid the man goodbye and took the first road he saw. It was not long before the road became overgrown with thorns and brambles. Soon it was completely choked. Sir Charles had to turn back. When he finally broke free of the tangle, he and his horse were bleeding and breathless.
Returning to the base of the mountain, he met a man named Mr. Liberal. Sir Charles again asked for help in finding a way to the top of the mountain. Well, you certainly don't want to take the path with all the thorns and thistles and briars, he said.
There's a much easier way to go. There's a wonderful highway just around the corner that's very broad. It's smoothly paved, the gate is wide, and there will be plenty of room for you and your horse. Sir Charles thanked the man and guided his horse through the wide gate and onto the broad highway. He was relieved.
There were no thorns or thistles to entangle him. He hoped he might reach the top of the mountain that very day, but after he'd gone many miles, he and his horse began to grow tired. Suddenly, without warning, the road ended in a cliff.
If his trusty horse had taken even one more step, they would have plunged to their deaths. Stepping back from the edge, Sir Charles realized that there was no way forward, and he would once again have to return to the base of the mountain. He wondered if he should give up his quest. As he sat at the base of the mountain wondering what to do, he was greeted by a man who seemed to be carrying all his possessions in a large pack. Sir Charles, as a last resort, asked the traveler if he knew how to find the Pearl of Great Price.
The man, whose name was Mr. Pilgrim, lowered his pack. Sir Charles, I can help you. He said, I've been sent by a very wise man. He can help you read the map and find the Pearl of Great Price. I'll bring you to him. Sir Charles was astounded.
He followed the man to a small cave in the side of a hill. Inside, he found an old man with a kind face seated at a workbench and tinkering with a lamp. Welcome, Sir Charles. I've been expecting you, he said.
I've brought you here because I understand that you're searching for the Pearl of Great Price. The knight explained that he had received a letter and a map from the king, but nothing had turned out as he had hoped. The lampmaker smiled and said, if you want to find the Pearl of Great Price and you want to get safely to the top of the mountain, you must trust the map the great king gave you. Do you know who drew that map? The knight didn't know.
I did. Sir Charles was speechless. The lampmaker set down his tools and said, at the beginning of time, when the great king ruled the first people, he set them in a beautiful park. The great king gave them one restriction. There was one place in the park where they couldn't go, a small stone house. There were many things for them to enjoy in the park, but that particular house was off limits. He warned them that if they disobeyed, they would die.
One night, a man entered the park. He was the king's enemy, and he said, the great king is holding out on you. There are amazing things in that house that he doesn't want you to see.
If you explore it, you will learn many things and become as wise as he is. The people believed the king's enemy and crept into the house one evening. The king's enemy had deceived them. The king found them in the house, and they were banished from the park. Outside the park, they experienced great suffering. The king was the king's enemy. In the park, they experienced great suffering, and eventually, they would die.
Do you see, Sir Charles? Their entire future depended on whether or not they trusted the king, and that trust was what the king's enemy attacked. But the king loved the people, so sometime later, he sent his own son, the prince, to rescue them from the suffering they endured and to bring them back to the park. The king loved the prince deeply and reminded him of their special relationship just before sending him to bring the people back. To accomplish his mission, the prince had to travel through a dreadful wilderness without food or water. There, the king's enemy waited until the prince was very thirsty, and using the strategy that had worked so well in the park, he cast doubt on the king and his words. He said to the prince, are you really the king's son? If you are, send someone for water. The prince replied, I must travel this road alone and without water. Obeying my father more important to me than quenching my thirst. Leave me.
That was the end of the discussion. And the prince went on to restore his people to the park, though at great cost to himself. Just as he did with the first people, the king's enemy tried to tempt the prince by questioning the king's words. He said, if you are the son of the king, it's as if he might not actually be the king's son. The lampmaker paused and said, that map you have contains the great king's words. I drew it exactly according to his instructions. And though the first people failed to listen to the words of the king, the prince listened to his father no matter what anyone said.
That obedience cost him greatly. And when you find the pearl of great price, I'm sure you will soon discover much more about the prince. For now, you must take out your map, trust it, and follow it wherever it leads you. If you follow the map, it will take you to the top of the mountain and to the pearl of great price.
And to the pearl of great price. Sir Charles thanked the old man and vowed that he would follow the map carefully. Sir Charles opened his saddlebag and took out the map. Now that he understood that the map contained the words of the great king, he found that he could understand it.
Where once there had only been confusing language, he now found straightforward instructions. The path was clear. The map indicated only one road up the mountain.
It was a narrow road, and it had a small gate. Following the map, Sir Charles sought and found that very road. The way was steep. Sir Charles and his horse were forced to climb the difficult slope.
But Sir Charles followed the map exactly. He didn't turn to the left or to the right. Just as the old man had promised, the steep road took him all the way up the mountain. At the top, as he emerged into a clearing, he saw something extraordinary.
It wasn't a pearl. Instead, he saw a man dressed in beautiful white robes whose voice was like a thunderous waterfall. Sir Charles was terrified and sang to his knees, saying, Who are you? The man said, I am the prince, the son of the great king. Sir Charles bowed his head and said, I received a letter from your father summoning me here. I'm looking for the pearl of great price.
Can you help me? The prince said, Sir Charles, my father and I provided you with the map and enabled you to read it. The map led you to me. I am the pearl of great price.
I don't understand, said the knight. Sir Charles, my father and I want you to know us. That's why we have called you. Come with me and I will take you to my father. His kingdom is just beyond this mountain. There you will dwell with us and we will dwell with you.
Sir Charles rose unsteadily to his feet and the prince took him by the hand. Together they set out for the kingdom beyond the mountain. The knight lived joyfully in the great king's kingdom, in the presence of the king and his son, and he was eternally grateful for the map that led him there.
At that point, Donovan and the other children were wide-eyed. Wow. What a story that was, grandpa, they said.
Yes, said grandpa. Of course, the knight's map was a picture of the Bible, the same Bible that your family reads every night at dinner. There will be people who will tell you not to trust it and to use something else to guide your life. But if you like Sir Charles, you will be able to tell the truth. There will be people who will tell you not to trust it and to use something else to guide your life. But if you like Sir Charles, want to find the greatest treasure in all the world, you must learn as he did to trust the map God has given you. That map is the Bible.
You can trust everything that it says. That was Dr. R.C. Sproul reading his children's book, The Knight's Map. This beautifully illustrated book is our resource offer today, and I'll let you know how you can make your request for it a little bit later on. But as I mentioned, I did have the opportunity to sit down with R.C.
just a few months, in fact, before he went home to be with the Lord in 2017. And I wanted to find out why he wrote this particular story, and here's what he had to say. Well, actually, the inspiration behind it was a novel I read in college by Herman Melville called Redburn.
The novel, of course, was famous for his South Sea stories, Oumu and Taipei and a group of others, and his great adventure stories of the sea, including Billy Budd, Redburn, and of course his great classic, Moby Dick. But in Redburn, it was the story of a young man who was taking his first voyage across the sea, and he was going to go by ship to England to Liverpool. And so his father, who was from Liverpool, gave him an old map of the city so that when he would arrive in Liverpool, he would be able to find his way around. But when he got to his destination, tragedy befell him.
The city had changed completely, and so he couldn't find his way around, and the map was useless. Now, this was a skeptical view of Scripture that was interjected here with the problem of Redburn. The idea was that the Bible now is antiquated. It's out of date.
It's not a useful tool for navigating our way through life. And what this book is about is a parable of the map that is given by God to His knight, Sir Charles. And it's the map that shows him how to get and find the pearl of great price. Well, let's continue that metaphor because, as you point out, Liverpool changed.
Therefore, the map was useless. How would you respond to the skeptic of the Bible who maintains that, hey, our world has changed over the many centuries. Therefore, how can we trust the Bible to get us where we want to go? The Word of God stands forever, and it applies to every conceivable situation that life can throw at us. It's the Word of God, and God doesn't change. Cities may change.
Cultures may change. But the Word of God stands forever. You know, the flower fades and withers, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.
Well, you have a section for parents at the end of the book. It's a series of questions and answers and Scripture proofs to help guide children into a deeper understanding of the scriptural truths behind the book. As you mentioned, the map itself, the knight's map, represents the Bible. The great king represents God. How about Sir Charles the knight?
Who does he represent? Sir Charles is the Christian who is trying to make his way through the journeys of life. And of course, I borrow some of the imagery from Pilgrim's Progress in there, and so he meets Pilgrim along the way. And of course, Sir Charles is the pilgrim in the story, and he meets all the skeptics, Mr. Liberal, Mr.
Skeptic, and so on, just like Pilgrim met Mr. Worldly Wise and Vanity Fair, and all of those things that would lead him away from the truth of God and would distract him. So our pilgrim, Prince Charles, has to deal with all of the false ways that are suggested, alternate ways to find the pearl of great price that are all wrong and misguiding until he finally finds the lamp maker. And the lamp maker, of course, is the Holy Spirit. He's the one who illumines Scripture for us. And what truth from the Bible does the lamp maker's story convey? Well, the idea is that there is a lamp maker, that the lamp maker, the Holy Spirit, is the one who superintended and inspired the text of Scripture in the first place. But not only that, he is the one who illumines our minds to make it possible for us to understand the text of Scripture. It's not that he adds any kind of new meaning to the text or some mystical insight, but he takes the scales off our eyes and gives us the ability to understand and embrace the truth. R.C., I love this story because I really enjoy maps, always have.
I've enjoyed reading them, studying them, trying to figure out where I am and how I can get to where I want to go. Some maps can be very simple to read and understand, but others can be quite complex. How does that relate to God's Word? Well, again, you say that some maps are more difficult to read than others, and Luther used to speak about the clarity of the Bible, but he acknowledged that not all parts of the Bible are equally clear.
And so sometimes we can lose our way when we find the difficult passages. And Luther's basic principle of interpreting the Bible was you interpret the obscure in light of the clear, not the clear in light of the obscure so that you don't turn the Bible into a wax nose that can be twisted and shaped according to your own inventions and devices. So there's enough there to get the Christian from point A to point B?
The Bible is clear enough that it leads a six-year-old child to the Savior. In fact, at one point when Luther was trying to argue for private interpretation and to get the Bible into the hands of the laity, the church reacted negatively and wanted to keep the Bible chained up and have to be used only by the clergy, by the officials of the church. And Luther was warned that if you give the Bible to the people, it will open a floodgate of iniquity, creating thousands of different churches and denominations all claiming to be the true church, which is exactly what happened. But Luther was not so naive as that he thought that couldn't happen.
He said, that might very well happen, but if the floodgates of iniquity be opened, said Luther, so be it, so be it, because the value of that book is so great that every person and the individual can find the pearl of great price, even if they get lost at other points in the difficulties. I so treasured every opportunity I had to interview Dr. Sproul. And as I listened to that particular interview from 2017, it reminds me of how gifted a teacher R.C.
was. He was able to make deep biblical truth clear and understandable to students of all ages. We have featured his children's book, The Night's Map, today here on Renewing Your Mind, and we invite you to contact us and request a copy for your own family. It comes in a hardcover picture book style full of beautiful illustrations and easy-to-read text. We will send it to you when you give a donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. You can give that gift online at renewingyourmind.org, or you can call us to make your request at 800-435-4343.
It's already mid November, and it's never too early to start thinking of gifts for the upcoming holiday season. The Night's Map would be a great gift for children or grandchildren in your family. To say thanks for your donation of any amount today, we would like to send you this beautifully illustrated book. Today is the last day we're making this offer available, so we do hope to hear from you soon. Our number again is 800-435-4343. Our online address is renewingyourmind.org. Well, you know, Christians have always struggled with the relationship between law and gospel. Why do we need the law if salvation is by grace alone? Dr. Sinclair Ferguson joins us next week to answer this important question, and I hope you'll join us beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind.
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