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A Decade of Memories

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2023 12:01 am

A Decade of Memories

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 27, 2023 12:01 am

Over the last ten years, listeners of Renewing Your Mind have been greeted each day by the friendly voice of Lee Webb. Today, Chris Larson and Nathan W. Bingham join Lee as he announces his retirement as host, shares favorite memories from his friendship with R.C. Sproul, and explains how the teaching of Ligonier Ministries has shaped his thinking and touched his life.

New to Ligonier Ministries? Request Your Free Copy of the 25th Anniversary Edition of 'The Holiness of God': https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/2632/holiness-of-god

Don't forget to make RenewingYourMind.org your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

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Hello and welcome to Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb. For almost ten years, it has been my great privilege to host this program that R.C.

Sproul started back in 1994. Tomorrow, though, will be the final time I will serve in this role. I have decided to retire so that I can spend more time with my wife, Donna, our four children, and our eight grandchildren. I'd like to take a few minutes to reflect on this past decade and to share with you some special memories of R.C. and the many times that he joined me in this studio at this table. And to help me do that, I'm pleased to welcome the President and CEO of Ligonier Ministries, Chris Larson, along with my colleague who will serve as the new host of Renewing Your Mind, beginning Wednesday, Nathan W. Bingham. Chris, I want to begin with just a profound sense of gratitude to you, to R.C., and to Vesta. But most of all, I want to thank God for His kind providence in allowing me to serve in this role for the past ten years. It has been a kindness of the Lord that I will never be able to fully understand or appreciate, so I am grateful. Lee, on behalf of all of us here at Ligonier Ministries, and I think even our listeners today, I would want to express our gratitude to you for the way that you have stewarded this program as its host and the way that you have really sought to help many, many people that you will never know this side of heaven to engage with God's Word and to hear this powerful teaching that comes through Renewing Your Mind. So thank you for the way that you have cared for our listeners and that you have carried on this program. And Nathan, again, we look at God's kindness in bringing you to Ligonier from Australia many years ago and how you've grown and gotten to know so many Ligonier students over the years and been an important part of our leadership team. And I know how excited you are to be able to even step into this role as we seek to reach as many people as possible. So I just look at God's kindness and His sovereign care for this program through you, Lee, and now you, Nathan.

Really is a thrill of a lifetime to be able to have this opportunity. But Lee, I want to thank you because it has been a pleasure to work with you over almost ten years and much of our work has been behind the scenes, not seen by the listeners, but you have taught me so much. And seeing you here in the studio, seeing you with Dr. Sproul live on camera taught me so many lessons that I did not know in The Lord's Providence would be helping me and preparing me for this new season. So thank you so much for your care for this program, as Chris said, but the role that you have played in preparing me for this next season. Well, I'm excited to be able to pass the baton or pass the microphone off to you, Nathan. You are ready for this role and I'm so delighted that you'll be assuming this role beginning Wednesday. I want to thank you for your direct involvement in this program through your work in social media and communications in expanding the outreach of Renewing Your Mind considerably.

Well, there's a wonderful team behind the scenes that makes that possible as well, as we know. Lee, you have shared some of your story before, but could you remind our listeners, what was your first touchpoint with Ligonier Ministries? Well, it was back in 1990, and I like to say that I was a Ligonier student long before I came to work here in 2013. But God in His kind providence led us to a church that was pastored by one of R.C. 's former seminary students. And the second week we were there, that pastor handed me a copy of a magazine, a small magazine, and it was called Table Talk. I had never heard of Table Talk, never heard of Ligonier Ministries, and never heard of R.C.

Sproul. I didn't know what Reformed theology was. All my wife and I knew was that we needed to leave the liberal mainline denomination that we had been raised in because we were not hearing God's Word preached faithfully, and we began to hear it at that church. At that time, the adult Sunday school class in this church was featuring a video series called The Holiness of God by this man named R.C.

Sproul, and we were hooked in the very first message. You know, we talk about R.C. 's desire to help people understand who God is. He certainly helped me gain a better understanding of the majesty and the holiness of God. But in the process he helped me understand who I am, a center in need of far greater grace than I had ever imagined.

R.C. shined the spotlight on that so dramatically, didn't he, in that series The Holiness of God, and in particular the depth of Isaiah's sin in Isaiah chapter 6. I'd like for us to just listen to a brief portion of the message from that series The Trauma of Holiness. Here is the man who possesses the most integrity of the Jewish people, who comes and gets one glimpse of the holiness of God, and he immediately suffers disintegration.

He comes apart. That's what happens to people who catch a glimpse of the character of God, because do you see that we spend our entire lives veiling ourselves from the true character of God? Because our natural bent, our natural inclination, beloved, is to hide ourselves from Him. You know, prior to that I'm not sure that I had taken my sin seriously, or at least seriously enough, because I'm not sure that I had seriously considered God's holiness. As R.C. often said, God plays for keeps.

He's not to be trifled with. And that gave me pause, and it helped me to see God for who He really is. And it's then that, you know, that I had a greater appreciation for what Christ had accomplished on the cross on my behalf. Fully cognizant of the bad news, the good news really meant something to me, and R.C. drove that point home so well in that message, the trauma of holiness.

And I'd like for us to hear how he concluded that message. Ladies and gentlemen, the price of repentance is very, very painful. True repentance is honest before God. And to come into the presence of a holy God is a painful thing. But when we come humbly, as Isaiah did, when we come on our face, God is ready to forgive, to cleanse, and to send.

I've heard many people say that R.C. helped them connect the dots, and he certainly did that for my wife and me. And one way he did that was by demonstrating the connection between the Old and New Testaments, the idea that the new is in the old contained, the old is in the new revealed, covenant theology. I had never heard of that before, but he helped me understand that. The fact that Abraham was saved by grace through faith, just like you and I are.

Also the fact that Christ fulfilled all three offices that we read about in the Old Testament, the offices of prophet, priest, and king. These were big things to me, and I couldn't get enough of this teaching. Nathan and Chris, I remember at that time I was serving as news anchor for the local NBC affiliate in Jacksonville, and it would take me about 15 minutes to drive home from work after the 11 o'clock newscast. And I would get in the car and immediately put in one of R.C. 's cassette tapes, those old cassette tapes. I remember those.

I would get home before the message ended, and I would just stay in the car and listen. I could not get enough of this teaching. And it was life-changing. The impact on my life and on my worldview was astounding.

And R.C. wrote about that in The Holiness of God, and he said this, how we understand the person and character of God the Father affects every aspect of our lives. It affects far more than what we normally call the religious aspects of our lives. There is no part of the world that is outside of his lordship. That means that there must be no part of my life that is outside of his lordship.

His holy character has something to say about economics, politics, athletics, romance, everything that we're involved in. And in my case, that meant how I performed my job as a news anchor, as a television journalist. It meant how I led my family as a husband and as a father. And these were all life-changing things for my wife and for me. What's remarkable, Lee, is that your story is not unique. Because we've heard from so many of our listeners, they share a similar testimony of grace, how the Lord has used Dr. Sproul Ligonier Ministries to renew their mind.

And so we just give thanks the way the Lord used him and his ministry, and that it is having this multiplying impact for millions of people really around the world. Lee, I bet some of our listeners would love to hear some special memories of your time in the studio with R.C. Well, one of my favorite memories, Chris, was early on when we celebrated R.C. 's 75th birthday right here in this studio. And we brought the whole family together, and we had a great time. For R.C., as you both know, his birthday was a big deal, as big a deal as Christmas. And he talked about that in that program.

Let's listen. It's hard for me to remember the difference between Christmas and birthday because I don't really have a birthday. I mean, that's something we have to get straight. I never really celebrate a birthday at our house. And it's not even a birth week. It's a birth month. It's not the birthday that just keeps giving. It's the birthday that just keeps receiving. You know, that was one of the first times, by the way, that we had Vesta on renewing her mind. I asked her about those early days at the Ligonier Valley Study Center in that program, and whether she had any idea that the Lord might grow the ministry to what it is today. I never really thought about it.

We just kept day after day doing what we thought we should do, and I wasn't concerned for what the future would bring. But I can't believe it. I am overwhelmed.

Are you? I mean, R.C. and I, I just say to him, can you believe how God has used you in the ministry of Ligonier?

It's wonderful to be used that way. You know, we love Vesta, and it's so great that she comes into the office every day, and she's such an encouragement to our staff. A real special moment, though, in that show was when I asked R.C. and Vesta's daughter, Sherry, to talk about R.C. Sproul, not as the theologian, not as the author or the pastor, but as R.C. Sproul, the dad.

I would say that it's the role that he plays best, and that when I was growing up, I thought everyone had a father just like mine, and it wasn't until I got into high school and got to know other families a little bit more deeply, I realized how blessed I am by my dad. You know, one of the cherished possessions I have in my office at home is a framed picture of R.C. and me here in the studio. It appears, by the way, on our Renewing Your Mind webpage.

You can scroll down to the bottom and see that. And R.C. has a big grin on his face, as he often did, and this is probably taken before one of our recording sessions when he's trying to stump me with a baseball trivia question, and he usually did stump me, by the way. But all that to say, we had a great time together here. You know, it's interesting.

I was just thinking, Chris and Nathan, he's buried just a few hundred yards from where we are right now. And on his grave marker is the inscription, He was a kind man redeemed by a kinder Savior. We've already heard a sense of R.C. 's sense of humor, haven't we? And I'd like to share with you a story, a brief story that I think encapsulates R.C.

's sense of humor along with his kindness. One day here in the office, I happened to be listening to Dr. Stephen Nichols record one of his Five Minutes in Church History podcast, and he was talking about this declaration that was signed by a group of evangelical pastors in the 1930s. In essence, it was a protest against Adolf Hitler and the German church that had sided with the Nazi regime. I heard Dr. Nichols call it the Barnum Declaration, as in P.T. Barnum. And so the next day I happened to be recording an interview with R.C. and Steve on the importance of studying church history. And I thought to myself, R.C. is going to be really impressed that I know about the Barnum Declaration. Well, in that interview the next day, I asked R.C. about it, and he answered—he talked about it so eloquently, as he often did. And at the end of the interview, after we taped the program, he looked at me with that grin, and he said, Lee, we're going to need to go back and re-record that, because you called it the Barnum Declaration.

It's the Barman Declaration. Of course, I was embarrassed, but he looked at me and he started laughing. He said, but you do know, Lee, there is a Barnum Declaration.

I said, no, what is it? He said, there's a sucker born every minute. But, you know, he could have embarrassed me when we were taping the program.

He could have said, let's stop. No, that's wrong, Lee. You got that wrong.

It's the Barman Declaration. But I reflected on that, and I've never forgotten it. He was so kind to me in that regard, and I've never forgotten that. We've all experienced that kindness from Dr. Sproul here. Anyone who served alongside of him knows how much he cared for the person. And I even think our listeners pick up on that over the years.

If you've listened to his teaching here on Renewing Your Mind or anywhere on our website at Ligonier.org, you get to hear the way that he comes at expositing the biblical text or teaching a point about theology or even philosophy. There is a kindness in the way that he is seeking to serve the student. You know, and he would come into the studio usually 15 minutes before we would do a recording, and he would interact with the staff. He would want to know how their family was doing, where they ate last night, what their favorite food was, and that sort of thing.

And I think that was just a nice part of our interaction. He'd also like to tease us if the M&Ms were not properly situated just within his reach. That's right.

That's right. Along with his favorite beverage, a caffeine-free Diet Coke. In his favorite Steelers mug. Exactly.

With us. You know, obviously there was a very public side of Dr. Sproul's ministry, his teaching here on Renewing Your Mind, his writing along with his preaching at St. Andrew's Chapel. But there was also a very personal side of his ministry. And with R.C. 's permission, I wanted to share that with our listeners in a special edition of Renewing Your Mind. Later in his ministry, R.C.

would wake up quite early and go to a local restaurant to have breakfast. And actually, he did some of his advanced work on his writing and teaching there. We have a placemat from that restaurant that has an outline for a book that he was going to be working on. That work carried over to the men's locker room of a local country club.

And I'm told that R.C. had two lockers there. He had one with his golf clubs and his golf equipment.

The other contained his writing material, and he would sit there in that locker room and do much of his writing each morning. Well, a fellow member of that club observed R.C. sitting there, and he was curious to know who this man was and what he was doing. And someone told him, he said, well, that's R.C.

Sproul. He's a prominent Christian teacher and a theologian. Well, that made no impression on this fellow. By his own admission, he wasn't a Christian.

But later, they ended up having lunch with a mutual friend. The man I'm referring to is named Guy Rizzo. And I'd like for you to listen to a portion of that Renewing Your Mind program when I interviewed Guy and Dr. Sproul.

R.C. made a comment that if there were any contradictions in the Bible and it was inspired by God, and if there were any contradictions, then it couldn't be the inerrant Word of God because God would be contradictory and therefore no God at all. And I said to myself, sitting there listening to him, oh my goodness, I said, you're telling me that whole book doesn't have any contradictions in it?

I'm a lawyer. I'll go through that thing. I'll find the contradictions. And that got me started reading the Bible. And I went home, and I had some time on my hands, and I went through the Bible and read it from the beginning to the end straight through in a month. And then I started to have some questions, and because of R.C. 's schedule, I was able to find them when I wanted some contradictions explained.

And over a period of time, R.C. took the time, explained everything, and never contradicted himself and never explained the gospel in any different terms. Didn't say anything that I wanted to hear. I was still opposed to it and antagonistic. Fairly antagonistic sometimes, huh?

But R.C. was always the same and always explaining it using the same theology. And eventually I'm reading the Bible, and the Holy Spirit put it on my heart, and I find myself in tears saying, this is the Word of God. R.C., do you remember those conversations in those early days?

Oh, yes. He was a hard case. He really was because I must explain the gospel to him 17 times. One time was not enough. I'd get halfway through it and say, objection. And he would approach the bench.

So we would have to go back over and over and over and over. There's cross-examination. Yes, there was. Well, that began a close friendship that lasted until the time that R.C. went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Guy Rizzo was one of four people, including Eucharist, who spoke at Dr. Sproul's memorial service. And he's just one of several men whose lives were changed through similar one-on-one encounters with R.C. Lee, what we were able to witness in Dr. Sproul is someone who lived out his faith with authenticity. It comes through his teaching, of course, but to know him and to walk alongside of his ministry, particularly in those waning years of his life and his ministry, his health did not keep up with his spirit.

His body began to weaken over time, and he did not hide that fact. That's right, Chris, and he shared some of those struggles with us on this program. As you know, his series along with his book Surprised by Suffering has been an enormous help to people dealing with suffering with the problem of pain. And I asked him how he was applying those biblical truths to his own health challenges. The Lord knows when I'm going to die and how I'm going to die, right?

He certainly knows that I'm going to die. And so when I go to bed every night, I pray my prayers. And then at the end of my prayers, I pray the twenty-third Psalm every time, the Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want, I mean, what's there to want when the Lord is your shepherd? You know, he lays down the green pastures. He leads me by the quiet waters. He restores my soul.

And you go on with that. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. And, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. I mean, that's reality when you're not well and you are in the valley of the shadow of death and you know it. And the whole thing I ask for is that I not be afraid, not that I won't have pain, not that I won't suffer, because we're all going to have to do that. But the worst thing is the fear. And so when he says, yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Why? Because thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. You know, in that interview, R.C. referred to a prolonged period of time that he was not well and unable to teach or preach.

That happened right after one of our national conferences. I think he was out for seven or eight weeks, and he told me that he was pleading with the Lord during that time to let him feel well enough to preach Easter Sunday at St. Andrew's Chapel. Well, the Lord answered that prayer, and I'd like for you to hear how Dr. Sproul concluded that sermon. I know that the day I was converted to Christ, my heart was set on fire. And to this very day I have fire in my bones that won't quit. I know that there are people in this room right now who are unconverted, where the Holy Spirit has never changed the disposition of their souls, where their hearts are frozen in a deadly coldness to the things of God.

I know that. But I pray that before you go to your bed this night, when you put your head on the pillow, that you earnestly pray to God that He will light a match to your soul, so that you will know the joy of Easter, that you will have that fire in your bones, that you can never again go to church in a casual or cavalier manner. Oh, that God would set fire to your soul. Do you hear the passion in Dr. Sproul's voice there? He had that passion in everything that he did, in his teaching, in his preaching, in his writing. And as I mentioned earlier, that passion was evident to me when I first read his book, The Holiness of God, and when I saw the video series that he did on that. And it had a profound impact on my life.

It set my life professionally and personally, spiritually, on a different trajectory. And that's why I'd like for you to have a free hardcover copy of that book, The Holiness of God. If you've never contacted us before, we'll be glad to send you a free copy. Dr. Sproul paints an awe-inspiring vision of God that encourages us as Christians to become holy, just as God is holy. So again, we'd like to send you a free copy of The Holiness of God.

If you've never contacted us before, you can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343, or you can go online to renewingyourmind.org. What's amazing is that through Renewing Your Mind, there are more people just now hearing Dr. Sproul's teaching who've never come across it before. And perhaps they're just tuning in today for the first time, and they're just now going to begin a journey across decades of faithful biblical teaching. And what an honor it is for us to be able to carry forward this program. And thank you, Lee, that you have been able to share some of these tender reflections of your time here with us at Renewing Your Mind.

Thank you, Chris. You know, when you and I began talking about this role back in 2013, I would have taken this job just to be here at this table with R.C., because his teaching meant that much to me. But the added blessing for me has been the relationships forged with our teaching fellows. I'm indebted to them—to Robert Godfrey, Sinclair Ferguson, Steve Lawson, Steve Nichols, Burke Parsons, and Derek Thomas. The interviews that I was privileged to do with them have meant so much to me over the years, and I'm grateful for them. But again, I do want to thank you, Chris, for the kindness and the favor which you, R.C., and Vesta showed me by giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. I also want to thank you, Nathan, for our relationship over these many years, and I want to thank the team that helped me do this program every day.

I did not do this alone. I have been surrounded by a great staff, and I want you to know their names—Deb Fenimore, Kent Madison, David Fenimore, Daniel Recard, Rob Jorgensen, Dave Terrio, Alex Lowther, Savannah Stark, and so many others who make this show possible every day. I'm indebted to them. I also want to thank you, our listeners. I've had the privilege of meeting many of you at conferences and at various events that we've hosted over the years, and you've let me know that you listen to the program and that you enjoy it. And if we have forged a good relationship over these many years, I'm grateful for you and your encouragement. Most of all, I want to thank our loving Heavenly Father. As King David said in Psalm 16, the lines for me have fallen in pleasant places, and I'm grateful for the great privilege that He afforded me to host this program for the last ten years. Here we played some of the excerpts from the Trauma of Holiness from the Holiness of God series by Dr. Sproul, and tomorrow we're pleased to feature the entire lesson. And I hope you'll join us for that Tuesday here on Redoing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 02:26:02 / 2023-02-27 02:36:41 / 11

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