R.C. Sproul, the pioneering theologian, preacher, author and founder of Ligonier Ministries has died, aged 78. Sproul had been experiencing health issues for a number of years and was often seen with an oxygen tank as he continued to preach at various conferences and events.
His teaching ministry, Ligonier, updated their website with a short article announcing his death:
“Dr. R.C. Sproul went home to be with the Lord this afternoon around 3 p.m. surrounded by his wife, Vesta, and family in his hospital room in Altamonte Springs, Fla. He was 78. He died peacefully after being hospitalized twelve days ago due to severe respiratory difficulties exacerbated by the flu and complicated by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).”
A staunch proponent of Calvinism, Sproul was known for his relentless desire to see the holiness of God lifted high in our lives. His lightning intellect combined with a winsome ability to present the gospel with clarity saw him become one of the most influential teachers of our day.
His works included: “The Holiness Of God” (1985), “Renewing Your Mind” (1998), “Essential Truths Of The Christian Faith” (1992), and more latterly “Defending Your Faith” (2002), “What Is Repentance?” (2014) and “Can I Lose My Salvation?” (2015).
“Through his teaching ministry, many of us learned that God is bigger than we knew, our sin is more deeply rooted than we imagined, and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is overwhelming,” Ligonier noted.
Sproul once talked candidly of facing his own mortality, saying that he struggled to be completely free of any fear of death:
“I recently heard a young Christian remark, “I have no fear of dying.” When I heard this comment I thought to myself, “I wish I could say that.”
I am not afraid of death. I believe that death for the Christian is a glorious transition to heaven. I am not afraid of going to heaven. It’s the process that frightens me. I don’t know by what means I will die. It may be via a process of suffering, and that frightens me.
I know that even this shouldn’t frighten me. There are lots of things that frighten me that I shouldn’t let frighten me. The Scripture declares that perfect love casts out fear. But love is still imperfect, and fear hangs around.”
But despite his understandable reservations, he felt assured that Christ would sustain him through the transition from this life to the next, and he had some glorious words to accompany this promise:
“You can grieve for me the week before I die, if I’m scared and hurting, but when I gasp that last fleeting breath and my immortal soul flees to heaven, I’m going to be jumping over fire hydrants down the golden streets, and my biggest concern, if I have any, will be my wife back here grieving.
When I die, I will be identified with Christ’s exaltation. But right now, I’m identified with His affliction.”
Tributes have been pouring in from across the Christian world:
Sad to hear of the death of R.C. Sproul. Praying for his family. https://t.co/Sh7DIxAMhp
— Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer) December 14, 2017
One of the great, joyful, God-centered, Christ-exalting influences on my life. My tribute to RC Sproul. https://t.co/vSRjUtlVKw
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) December 14, 2017
I cannot overstate the influence RC Sproul had on my life and ministry. He taught me to value deep truth in simple speech. Seminary was never an option for me, but his ministry brought its treasures to my nightstand and my cassette player. My hero in the faith, now Coram Deo.
— Jen Wilkin (@jenniferwilkin) December 14, 2017
RC Sproul has passed. He was passionate about Jesus & the Steelers & was a gift to the world. Now he’s hanging with Jesus in joy forever
— Pastor Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark) December 15, 2017
— Tony Reinke (@TonyReinke) December 14, 2017
This is the final line from @RCSproul's final sermon on Hebrews 2:1-4, 11/26/2017:
— Steve Nichols (@DrSteveNichols) December 15, 2017
So, his earthly journey is done, but his true life in Christ is just getting started – a truth that R.C. knew deeply. Thus, I think it is only fitting to have some final words from the man himself, taken from an article entitled “Death Does Not Have the Last Word”:
“When we close our eyes in death, we do not cease to be alive; rather, we experience a continuation of personal consciousness.
No person is more conscious, more aware, and more alert than when he passes through the veil from this world into the next.
Far from falling asleep, we are awakened to glory in all of its significance.
For the believer, death does not have the last word. Death has surrendered to the conquering power of the One who was resurrected as the firstborn of many brethren.”
Do pray for the Sproul family at this time of loss.