R.C. Sproul, Life Journey and Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow

Well, welcome everybody. You know, our next guest is a rare blend of scholar and communicator to everyday people, host of the radio show, Renewing Your Mind, author of over 50 books. He’s dedicated a good deal of his energy to the education of laypeople focusing on that gap between Sunday school and seminary. This he accomplishes through Ligonier Ministries. In an increasingly complex world, his most recent book takes us back to five very basic foundational spiritual disciplines. The book is titled, Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. And our guest is Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Q. Good afternoon, RC, how are you doing today?
A. I’m doing great, Dick. It’s good to be with you guys.

Q. You tell the story in this book of your own conversion. And I don’t know that many people have-have heard that story, and I think it might be a good place to start in terms of how it is that you came to the faith and became a Christian in the first place yourself.
A. Well, I was at the end of my first week in college, and that week had been spent in freshman orientation. And I had actually gone to a church-related college, but I went there on a football scholarship, not because of any interest in the church. And at the end of that week we were going to¢â‚¬¦ My roommate and I decided to head out to town to hit some of the bars across the border. We come to the parking lot and I realized that I was out of cigarettes. So I went back in the dorm and went to the cigarette machine. I can still remember it was 25 cents for a pack of Luckys. And I got my Luckys and turned around and saw the captain of the football team sitting at a table. And he spoke to me and to my roommate and invited us to come over and chat. And we did. And this was the first person I ever met in my life that talked about Christ as a reality.

Q. Really. Really.
A. I’d never heard anything like it. And I was just absorbed, sat there for two or three hours, and he was talking. He didn’t give a traditional evangelism talk to me, he just kept talking to me about the-the wisdom of the word of God.

Q. Yeah.
A. And he quoted–

Q. Ecclesiastes.
A. –Ecclesiastes. And the verse he quoted was, “the tree falls in the forest,” you know, and where it falls, there it lies.

Q. Yeah. Now, you know, when I read that I thought, I wonder if, you know, when we get to heaven and we tally up everybody that came to the kingdom through that verse in Ecclesiastes, I’ve got to believe it’s going to be a small, small number.
A. I believe it’ll be one. I just feel certain I’m the only person in church history that was converted by that verse. I mean, but it really¢â‚¬¦ God just took that verse and struck my soul with it. I saw myself as a-a log that was rotting in the woods.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I was going nowhere.

Q. Huh.
A. And when I left that guy’s table I went up to my room. And into my room by
myself, in the dark, and got on my knees and cried out to God.

Q. Wow.
A. ¢€œto forgive me.

Q. You know, this is the wonderful thing about hearing how people come to-to God because God brings us so many different routes.
A. His Word does.

Q. And, you know, a guy heading out for a pack of Luckys gets hit over the head with Ecclesiastes, and the next thing you know¢â‚¬¦ I mean, I’ve got a friend in Seattle who became a Christian because he got-he got stuck between two cars at a Young Life meeting where he dropped his brother off. And he figured, well, I’m going to go on in. And he went and listened to the sermon and went out and rolled himself a couple of joints and sat and looked at the sunset and decided, I’m going to follow Jesus. So, I mean, there’s lots of ways that God brings us. And that guy is actually a Presbyterian pastor now, as a matter of fact.
A. Isn’t that something.

Q. So now, your academic preparation, what was it that made you head down this highfalutin very, very rigorous academic preparation for your life? How did you know that that’s kind of what you were supposed to do?
A. Well, actually, to tell the truth, Dick, I hated school from first grade, you know, all the way-all the way through high school. And I just¢â‚¬¦ The last thing I wanted to do was even go to college but, again, I was converted my first week–

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthere, and I just¢â‚¬¦ Because it was a church-related college I had to take a course in the introduction to the Old Testament, first semester, and second semester an introduction to the New Testament. And I mean, I’ll tell you, I just absolutely devoured the scripture.

Q. Yeah.
A. I just read it all day. At the end of the first semester I had an A in gym because I was on an athletic scholarship, an A in Bible, and all the rest D’s.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I would have thought in Bible I would have flunked out the first semester.

Q. Wow.
A. And then at the beginning of my sophomore year I had almost like a second conversion. And it was a strange thing. I had a required course in introduction to philosophy.

Q. Yeah.
A. And, you know, I’ll never forget the first assignment was on David Hume. And I just thought this was so much nonsense. And I was so bored. I sat in the back of the class and I had Billy Graham sermons stuffed in behind my notebook. And while the professor was droning on about this stuff, I was getting edified by the Reverend Billy Graham sermons, you know.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s what it was. And then this one day he started to lecture on Augustan’s view of creation.

Q. Wow.
A. And he got my attention. And I sat there, and I had an experience that was almost as powerful as my conversion where all of a sudden my understanding of the nature of God just had exploded.

Q. Yeah.
A. I went downstairs and changed my major to philosophy–

Q. Wow.
A. ¢€œjust so that I could learn a more in-depth understanding of God.

Q. That is fascinating. Now, you went on and studied in Amsterdam.
A. Well, first I went, you know¢â‚¬¦ After I graduated from college then I went to-to seminary for three years, you know.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then I went and did doctoral studies in the-for the University of Amsterdam.

Q. Wow. Now, what was it that made you decide that you were called specifically to try to fill this gap between Sunday school and seminary,` as you say, for everyday Christians who, you know, good minds, good hearts, but-but not having the tools and resources often to really learn the things that those of us that went to seminary had the privilege of being exposed to.
A. Well, actually, when I went to graduate school my life’s ambition was to teach at seminary.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And that came to pass when I was still in my 20’s.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. I got an appointment at a seminary and it was fun, but I was also involved in the local church. This was in Philadelphia.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the pastor of the church asked me to teach an adult course on the person and work of Christ–

Q. Uh-huh.
A. ¢€œto the laypeople.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I did. And, you know, I had doctors and lawyers and housewives and farmers and all kinds of adults in that class. And what I discovered was they were more interested in these things than my seminary students.

Q. Praise God.
A. And so then when our seminary left town, I had an opportunity to go with the seminary or I had an opportunity to teach-to teach laymen in a large church situation. And I took that route.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I always wanted to keep my hand in the academic world, but I always felt like if we were ever going to make a difference, we had to get to the people.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I agree with you. So now Ligonier was born around that time then?
A. Well, also at the same time I was doing a lot of conference speaking for college students and Young Life and people like that. And a group of guys in Pittsburgh who were involved in campus ministries and with Young Life and InterVarsity and in the church, they got together and they came up with the idea of creating a study center where Young Life workers, IV workers, and campus ministers could go and learn what they couldn’t get in college, but without having to go full-time to seminary.

Q. Yeah.
A. So it was their idea and they asked me to come together, to western Pennsylvania, and put together a study center to teach these guys basic theology, and so on.

Q. Wow.
A. That’s how we got started. That was in 1971.

Amazing. Okay. We’re going to take a quick break and be back, folks. We are going to get to Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. But I think it’s really useful to kind of get the background of the person that is going to regale us with these truths. A most interesting story from Dr. R.C. Sproul. The book we’re talking about is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. We’re going to be back with more coming up right after this. I don’t¢â‚¬¦ I’ve got a feeling I don’t even have to tell you to stay there. You already want to. That’s good. We’ll be right back.
(Break.)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with
Dr. R.C. Sproul, his book is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow.

Q. We’ve been talking about his own decision to follow Jesus, his¢â‚¬¦ You know, Ann Tyler, I think it was, wrote a book titled The Accidental Tourist. And so far we’ve kind of got the¢â‚¬¦ And, of course, this is the wrong term to use with a reformed person, but it’s almost like the accidental philosophy major.
A. Well, yeah, I guess so.

Q. You know, because theologically we can’t actually go there, to that point of accident, but anyway¢â‚¬¦
A. Well, how about the unintentional.

Q. The unintentional. The unintentional. He’s kind of wandering through life looking for a pack of cigarettes and-and becomes a Christian. And then he’s wandering through life trying to read Billy Graham books behind the-the text book and the next thing you know is he’s a philosophy major.
A. I’ll tell you, if ever God brought anybody kicking and screaming into an academic vocation, I was the one, you know.

Q. So now, tell me about the inspiration behind Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. I mean, it is kind of an interesting thing. Here you’ve written 50 books, some of them very scholarly, most of them rigorously, intellectually credible but really targeted at helping everyday Christians who are serious about their faith and learning more about it. And now we get to this little volume that really is almost like back to the basics.
A. Well, let me tell you the inspiration for that. We have a-a-a lady that works at Ligonier Ministries, who is our chief financial officer.

Q. Yeah.
A. And really she’s a genius. I’ve never seen anybody so bright in her field. In fact, we just had a board meeting last week and our board said to me, you know, if Enron would have had her working for them, they never would have gone under. And she’s so bright, yet she has a simple faith. And she said to me at a meeting–this was a couple of years ago or at least a year and a half ago–she said, you know, I like to hear you teach, but your books are too heavy for me.

Q. Really.
A. She said, can’t you write something for people that are just starting their Christian walk?

Q. Yeah.
A. And people that don’t have all this background that you assume when you-when you write these other books. And she was really pushing me

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œto write something more basic for the young Christian, and so on.

Q. Young Christian, but a smart person.
A. Yeah.

Q. Yeah.
A. But so, that’s what I did. And, you know, I thought about, you know, the basic means of grace that God gives us, the ways in which he has provided for his people

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œto grow from infancy, spiritual infancy, in the maturity and in the conformity to Jesus.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I tried to make a very basic, practical, and in other words not just a teaching tool, Dick, but training.

Q. Yeah.
A. In other words, you know how we ministers are, we tell people, you need to pray.

Q. Yeah. A lot of theory.
A. But we never tell them how, you know.

Q. People go home with every intention, but they’re clueless as to what they do next.
A. That’s right. So this-this little book is a how-to book.

Q. Now, when we get¢â‚¬¦ We start with the centrality of Bible, which doesn’t surprise us. And-and I want to bring up¢â‚¬¦ I found it interesting, I was talking to a young guy and, you know, this-this generation is very fond of the term postmodern. And-and he was talking about postmodernism and that, you know, we’re into story over proposition. And this was a Christian guy.
A. Right.

Q. And-and he goes on to say, you know, you got to think about it, Dick. The Word started out as an oral tradition, and-and at Gutenberg the new technology was introduced and-and we moved into a print tradition. And he says, now, you guys have got to understand, Gutenberg is dead. We’ve now moved into film and we’re into a visual tradition, and so you can put the oral tradition behind you. You can put the written tradition behind you, the printed word. We do word through film now. We don’t need the printed word anymore. Now, I’m stating it a little more radically than he did, but that was essentially the upshot of it, that the concept of word has-has become too enslaved in post-reformation thought to-to this printed word, and we’ve got to liberate ourselves from that. You start right at the fact that every Christian needs the word of God to grow. Talk about how you would respond to that young guy if he was sitting in front of you.
A. Well, I would say, you know, that this-this is an example, really an example, he’s an example of postmodern narcissism, that these guys think this is-that there’s been a radical change in the constituent nature of humanity since the advent of television, and-and now the human brain is disconnected from the will and from the affections and so on, and that now modern humanity has lost all capacity for thought.

Q. Yeah.
A. Now, this guy may be proving his own point with that because he’s not thinking very well, as far as I’m concerned.

Q. Yeah.
A. Well, the way I look at it is that the constituent nature of humanity hasn’t changed since the Garden of Eden, and we still need verbal communication from God.

Q. Yeah.
A. Human beings still are distinguished from chickens by virtue of our ability to communicate verbally

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand conceptually.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I think that it might only¢â‚¬¦ I mean, what’s happened is, we’ve almost been lulled to sleep by the narcotic of postmodernism–

Q. Yeah.
A. –and-and have become mindless.

Q. Yeah.
A. But-but fortunately, the mind is still there, and it still responds to the word of God because that’s the way that God has chosen to save the world. If he’d planned to do it through TV and through movies, he could have started the movies, you know, long before Edison. He could have had Adam be a movie producer.

Q. Yeah, yeah. So the concept of word that-that is developed throughout scripture is-is–operates at the level of Jesus being the Word, but it also is very much rooted in God as a communicator, and-and-and written word and written language is a distinguishing feature of humans that has-has been an important part of the human relationship with God from the beginning.
A. Exactly. But also John doesn’t say, in the beginning was the e-mail, and the e-mail was with God.

Q. Yeah, exactly. And it didn’t have a place where you could put it under junk mail, either.
A. Right. You know what I have found, Dick, you know, when it comes to the scripture thing, what I try to do here is help people get into the Word.

Q. Yes.
A. And what I’ve noticed in the many seminars that we do, I’ll frequently ask people¢â‚¬¦ We’ll have, you know, hundreds or even a few thousand people there and I’ll say to them, how many of you have read the whole Bible cover to cover?

Q. Yeah.
A. And we’re not talking just about new Christians, we’re talking about people who have been Christians 20/30 years.

Q. Yeah.
A. And a very, very small minority

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œsay that they’ve read the whole Bible. So then I ask them this. I say, how many of you have read Genesis?

Q. Yeah.
A. And almost everyone has read Genesis–

Q. Yeah.
A. –because it is narrative.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s a story and people can relate to that. And I say, okay. How about Exodus? They’re familiar with Charlton Heston and Moses and all that.

Q. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
A. So they-they still keep their hands up. I say, keep your hand up if you’ve read Leviticus. And a whole bunch of hands go down.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. I get the numbers and there’s hardly anyone left.

Q. Yeah.
A. And people start off with good intentions to read the Bible through, but when they get into the technical dimensions of the Levitical purification codes

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand that sort of thing, it’s so foreign to the world they’re living

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthat they’re-they’re confused, they get lost, they lose their interest, then they give up.

Q. Yeah. So what’s your advice to them?
A. What I do is I give them an outline in this book on how to get the skeletal overview of the Bible. You read Genesis and Exodus and then you skip over to Joshua. Stay with the history.

Q. Yeah.
A. And read Judges. It’s like a novel.

Q. Yeah.
A. And-and-and that’s the way. So your I Samuel. I get them to get an historical overview of the whole of the Old Testament.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I’ll have them read one major prophet, one minor prophet, a few psalms, a few proverbs

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œjust to get a taste of it. Because if they get that overview, that overall structure

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand then they can go back and fill in the gaps.

Q. Yeah. You give them a plan. It’s really a great contribution of this little book. There’s another thing we’ll get to right after the break. A red pen with some X’s and question marks. For those of you that have a hard time staying with it, there’s a real practical little suggestion about that. And also it turns out Dr. Sproul has decided to take up the violin. And it helped him understand what it means to learn how to read the Bible.

All that and more coming up right after this. R.C. Sproul is our guest. The book is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow.
(Break.)

Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. Our guest is Dr. R.C. Sproul. His most recent book is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. And it’s published by Word, the W now, a division of Thomas Nelson.

Q. We’ve been talking about the centrality of the Bible. And the-the very firstthing a Christian needs to grow is-is this-this relationship with God and-and this understanding of the word that God has given us that is God-breathed, that’s useful for doctrine and reproof, correction, instruction, and righteousness. And-and you get to some very basic things. And you suggest that people use a red pen and mark some X’s and some question marks. Now, what’s that about?
A. Well, it’s just one of the little techniques I picked up early on in my own Bible study. When I came to something, a text in the Bible that I didn’t understand

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI put a question mark next to it and kept on. In other words, I didn’t stop

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand get paralyzed by the question mark, I just kept going. But I marked it so

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthat I could come back to it.

Q. Yup.
A. But that¢â‚¬¦ And that was important. But then the other, the “X” was really important because if I came to a place where what I read in the Bible offended me

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œor I didn’t like it

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI put an “X” there.

Q. That’s the old Mark Twain, it’s not what I don’t understand about the Bible that bothers me, it’s what I do understand about the Bible.
A. Yeah.

Q. It’s that kind of stuff.
A. And I looked myself in the eye and I said to myself, self, you know, if this is the word of God and there are things you don’t like in it, then that can mean one of two things. Either you don’t understand it

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œor you got to change.

Q. Yeah.
A. Because there’s nothing wrong with God’s mind.

Q. Yeah.
A. The problem is with me. And-and by concentrating on those X’s

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand the questions, it was like an accelerated, great leap forward of where I
needed to change my thinking.

Q. Wow, wow. So-so then when you went to the publisher you said, I just want to start writing books about these X’s and question marks, that’s why you got
A. That’s because I’ve spent most of my life studying the X’s and the question
marks.

Q. Oh, you’ve got 50 bucks now.
A. That’s what makes the theologians, you know.

Q. Well, that’s a great piece of advice. Now, it’s interesting that my brother-in-law who, otherwise, is in a sound, clear thinking and of sound mind, decided to start studying the violin as an adult. And-and it-it’s one of the most amazing things to watch, his pursuit of this-this new passion. And now I learn that you did the same thing, which is there is a whole interesting phenomena there of grown men deciding to try to play one of the most wonderful and difficult instruments on the face of God’s earth.
A. That’s right. How old is your brother-in-law?

Q. Well, he’s in his-he’s in his 40’s.
A. Boy, I’d give anything to start when I was in my 40’s. Try starting it when you’re in your 60’s.

Q. Yeah. But see, you say that you’ve learned something about how to get into God’s word through learning to play the violin.
A. Oh, sure. You know, Dick, I always said that one of my dreams for heaven was to learn how to play the violin. And we started this church a few years ago. And we have a string quartet, and they’re so beautiful. I listen to violin music all the time. And I said, why wait. Why not get started now. And so I jumped into this. And my teacher is this¢â‚¬¦ She’s really a world-class performer

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œsymphony, philharmonic all that stuff, from Russia. And she trained with some of the best teachers in Russia. And she barely speaks English, right? And so she tries to impose the same rigid Russian strictness on me that she went through. And so when I’m doing it wrong she smacks my hand and says, nyet, nyet, nyet, you know. So I’m learning more Russian than I am violin from this woman. But I’ll tell you what. I am having an absolute ball with this thing. And when I have the opportunity, I’ll practice three hours a day.

Q. Wow.
A. I mean, I just love it. It is so hard.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I screech so much.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. But it is so beautiful and worth it when you do get it right, you know? And I just¢â‚¬¦ A music instrument, piano playing, all that sort of thing. It is a discipline and we are called to be disciples. And so many people¢â‚¬¦ How many millions of people start on piano

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œlessons. They play one note with one finger and then they go to two fingers,
and then two hands, and then, you know, all this stuff. There are different plateaus.

Q. Yeah.
A. And at each plateau another percentage of people get off the boat and give it
up.

Q. Yeah.
A. And what happens is you have to get¢â‚¬¦ If you’re not trained yourself, you have to get under the discipline of somebody else. Will I have to see this teacher every week and put up with her smacking my hand and saying, nyet, nyet, nyet, nyet, you know, all that stuff, if I didn’t I’d never get anywhere

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. ¢€œand then people who start out in learning the Bible, it’s the same thing. If you have trouble being disciplined, get in a Bible study group.

Q. Yeah. You got¢â‚¬¦ The point, it’s a wonderful point that-that we somehow assume that this is going to come naturally for us. And we realize that anything worth accomplishing in life is-is going to take some work and that’s true of-of getting into the Word as well. You know, you talk about that second discipline here, and it has to do with prayer. And-and actually not unlike the CFO who asked you to write a simple book about the basics of Christianity, Martin Luther was asked to write a book about prayer one time by a barber. And-and that was one of the stories you told in this, why we should pray and how do we pray.
A. I’ll tell you that little book has revolutionized my own prayer life, Dick.

Q. Hm.
A. You know, I’ve known¢â‚¬¦ I mean, I’ve been a friend of Luther’s. I feel like, like I know him personally, I’ve read so much Luther over the years. But one of the most beautiful things he ever wrote is this little book called A Simple Way to Pray. When his Master Peter said, Dr. Luther, could you teach me how to pray? Luther goes back to his study and writes a book for the guy. And it’s just like, you know, the disciples came to Jesus and they said, you know, we watch you. We see that there’s some kind of relationship between your intense prayer life and-and-and your own righteousness. Lord, teach us how to pray.

Q. Yeah.
A. And this is what pastors are supposed to do. We’re supposed to help our people learn how to do it, not just beat them over the head with a club and make them feel guilty, because this is probably the greatest area of guilt among Christians there is.

Q. Yeah.
A. That people don’t have a very disciplined prayer life. That’s because they don’t know how to pray.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. They don’t know the joy of prayer. And-and if we¢â‚¬¦ Do we have time, I can give a little summary–

Q. Yeah, sure.
A. ¢€œof what Luther says? One of the little tricks, if you will, that Luther gives us is praying through The Lord’s Prayer, The Ten Commandments, and The Apostle’s Creed.

Q. Yes.
A. Now, what he means, and what I explain in the book is-is that when you pray, pray through The Lord’s Prayer. It’s not that you pray The Lord’s Prayer.

Q. Yeah.
A. But you start at the beginning. Our Father, who art in heaven. And the first part of your prayer may be, you know, like John says, what behold what manner of love is this that we should be called the children of God.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. I can’t believe, oh Lord, that you have adopted me into your own family and that I have Christ as my elder brother and that I can come to you as my Father, as my heavenly Father, who transcends all the strengths and the weaknesses of any earthly Father I have known. You know, and I can pray like that for ten minutes. And then I say, I know that the first thing that you’ve told us to pray for is that your name be regarded as Holy, that your name will be hallowed, because I realize that your Kingdom is never going to come in this world like it is in heaven, and your will is never going to be done here until first your name is regarded as sacred and that we treat it with reverence and adoration. Yeah. And I can pray like that. I have never been able to pray through all three of these segments in less than an hour. I can’t do it in an hour’s time.

Wow. I’ll tell you what. We’ve got to take a break.
What a great, practical suggestion. The book is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. We’ve only talked about the Word and prayer. There’s also worship, service, and stewardship. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.
(Break.)

Q.Well, this is Dick Staub back with you and we’re visiting with Dr. R.C. Sproul. A wonderful little book, Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. The CFO of Ligonier Ministries, a brilliant woman, said to Dr. Sproul, you know, could you write something that’s just for the, kind of the beginner? And-and here’s the interesting thing about books that are well-written and have good content for beginners. It turns out we’re all beginners.
A. That’s right.

Q. It turns out that-that when you get into this stuff, even if you’ve been walking with Jesus for a long time and you’ve learned a lot, you go back and you begin to remember and learn some things and be reminded of some things that are really at the heart of God. And I’ll say just on the chapter on prayer, as I was reading that chapter I-I found myself–and it wasn’t the guilt that you were talking about–but I found myself just wanting to pray because-because the-the-the whetting of the appetite and the, just the simple little reminders of what prayer is makes you want to pray. And-and as-as Dr. Sproul has said, this isn’t just, you know, admonishing you to pray book, it-it’s giving you some practical suggestions. And we were just talking about one of them, praying through The Lord’s Prayer. And then you move on to The Apostle’s Creed, and you move on to The Ten Commandments. And you get yourself a pretty active prayer life if you just-if you just spend a good amount of time praying through those.
A. Exactly.

Q. Yeah. You know, worship. This is an interesting one. You-you start with the story from Leviticus that reminds us that worship is serious business. And-and we’re in a church today that has really blurred the distinction between worship and-and-and a whole bunch of other things. And we’ve had some interesting conversations about seeker services, and-and-and so forth. Why is worship such serious business?
A. Well, because of God’s command. You know, he says, I will be regarded as holy by all who come near to me. And at the, you know, the number one sin of the human race and what is most carefully prescribed in the beginning of The Ten Commandments is the sin of idolatry.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And that means changing the glory of God for a lie. And refusing to honor God as God. That is most basic to our fallen humanity.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And conversion does not cure that all at once.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so we have to learn how to worship God. And the main thing is to learn who he is.

Q. Yeah.
A. And who we are.

Q. Yeah.
A. That’s the secret.

Q. You-you tell a wonderful story about the culture shock you experienced when you went to Amsterdam, and you went in Dr. Berkouwer’s class the first time. And-and something happened that was a cultural thing, but it goes to the point of-of understanding the distinction between Berkouwer and you, as a student, and a distinction, therefore, between us and God.
A. Well, we sat in this large amphitheater. There were probably 200 students there. And the door opened and Dr. Berkhouwer entered. And the moment he entered everybody stood up at attention. And there was kind of a holy hush in the room. And he stood up at the podium and opened up his notebook and nodded with his head, and everybody sat down. And we sat there while he delivered this lecture. No one ever dared raise a hand or offer a comment.

Q. Yeah.
A. And when he was done he closed his notebook and that was the signal.

Q. Yeah.
A. And everybody stood up again and out he went, you know. And I thought, wow, this is incredible. And one day I was in the classroom, and it was really hot, and I took off my coat. And I was sitting there writing notes and all of a sudden he stopped in the middle of the lecture. And he looked up at me and he said, would the American please put his coat back on. He didn’t know who I was, but he knew I was an American because, you see, only an American would have the audacity to take their coat off.

Q. But that word audacity is an important one for us to think about when it goes to the lack of preparation that we put into worship. The mind frame that we often have about worship, what is viewed as a great American quality of kind of casualness and spontaneity, which may be in the mind of God kind of like, will the Americans please put their coats back on, you know. Talk about the whole notion of glorifying God, and the weightiness of God, and the significance of being brought into the holy of holies, and what we need to hear from that in terms of how we go about worshiping as Americans and as Christian Americans.
A. Well, you know, if I can expand on that story in Amsterdam.

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œI was going crazy over there culturally, anyway. And I was so lonely and I was living 25 miles out of the city. And one day I saw this baseball game on television. And I found out they had baseball in Amsterdam. And I’d played a lot of baseball. So I visited one of the baseball clubs and ended up hooking up and started playing baseball, right?

Q. Yeah.
A. And of course these games were on television. Andhaving an American baseball player playing there was like having a Canadian hockey player down here, you know?

Q. Yeah.
A. And I got a call from the biggest newspaper in Holland, and they asked me if they could come out and do a little interview. And I said sure. They came out with their cameramen and they interviewed me for half an hour. And that was it. The next thing you know, in this huge newspaper I open up the sports section and they have half the page is my picture and two inch headlines about me. I am the feature in the thing. But do you know what it was about? It was not about my prowess as a baseball player, it’s that I was a minister playing baseball.

Q. Yeah.
A. They couldn’t conceive that. They couldn’t conceive I’m a dolminae, you know, sliding in the dirt.

Q. Spikes up.
A. I mean, it was shocking to their sensibility.

Q. Wow, wow.
A. So but it is. I mean, that just underscored to me again how cavalier we are about everything in this country.

Q. Yeah.
A. We’ve lost the sense of-of reverence.

Q. So when we-when we think about understanding what worship truly is and-and kind of the-the-the basics that your CFO was looking for when it comes to worship, what’s-what comes to mind?
A. The holiness of God.

Q. Uh-huh.
A. That has to be at the center of our understanding, but we’re errant. We’re invited to come into his presence. The wall of partition has been removed and we are told to come boldly.

Q. Yeah.
A. But not arrogantly. Not presumptuously. We still have to remember whose presence it is.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, when we-when we just built our sanctuary I had all kinds of problems with the contract, the construction workers. I mean, not really serious problems, we had fun. They teased me all the time when they were building the sanctuary. And they would say, hey preacher, what do we do here with the stage?

Q. Yeah.
A. And I’d say, guys, it’s not a stage. It’s a chancel. They’d never heard the word chancel in their life.

Q. Yeah.
A. You know, so every time I’d come in there they’d say, hey preacher, here’s the stage. You know, they just ribbed me to no end about giving me that word stage which was just killing me because that’s what’s happened in the church. The church has become a stage.

Q. Yeah. What do-what do we¢â‚¬¦ What’s happening to American Christianity as a result of our kind of loss of reverence and the arrogance that we bring into worship sometimes?
A. Well, it’s basically the loss of God. I mean, everything is man-centered now. Church. Life. Culture. The whole thing. We are living in a period of the eclipse of God. And I’m thinking of God the Father, Dick.

Q. Yeah, yeah. And-and it’s happening often in the church.
A. Yes.

Q. Yeah. It’s not just the culture which is¢â‚¬¦ You know, when people say, man, if Jesus comes back he’s really going to be ticked. They tend to think he’s going to be ticked at the world. He’s going to start with the church.
A. Jim Boyce used to say that what we’re doing now is that we’re doing the Lord’s work in the world’s way.

Folks, we-we’ve just barely scratched the surface on-on Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow. As a matter of fact, we only even got to three of them. We talked about the centrality to the Bible, a bit about prayer, a bit about worship. There’s another whole chapter on service, there’s a whole chapter on stewardship with a great story of RC’s first baseball game and his uncle saying, hold onto your wallet, when he saw a clergyman coming by. Let me tell you, RC’s had the right preparation for his work. But you just can spend more time with him by picking up a copy of the book. It is Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow, Dr. R.C. Sproul. This is really easy reading, very readable, but it’s very powerful stuff. I think everybody ought to have it. We’re going to be back with more of The Dick Staub Show right after this. Don’t go away.

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