How A Study Bible Introduced Me to R.C.

So much has been written the last 48 hours about the passing of R.C. Sproul and the effect he has made on so many that are a part of the global church. I want to share with you how I was introduced to Dr. Sproul and his teachings.

The year was 2001, and I was a newly converted Christian at the age of twenty receiving some wonderful spiritual nurturing from a brother in Christ. This brother, being new to the gospel ministry, just started feeding me from a plethora of books and sermons he had been reading. When he would finish a book, it would get passed along to me. He even let me borrow his big study Bible, a John MacArthur NKJV of course, and we spent hours just reading and commenting over what I was starting to see and understand. I fell in love with the study notes and absolutely craved for more and more. I was so blissfully ignorant to biblical theology and the gospel ministry that my world seemed to get ripped apart and then graciously repaired almost simultaneously with every turn of the page. I was single and starving! Providentially our devotions and Bible studies became so precious that my heart and mind desired more. This desire and search for the things of God led me to a bible conference about an hour away from my home. I heard they gave discounts to students who attended so I got my $99, sign-up online, and waited for the days to arrive.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I just knew I was going to hear from the guy who wrote the notes in my study bible in person and a Baptist seminary president I heard of since I was raised in a Southern Baptist church. So during my spring break I spent the better part of three days traveling back and forth to attend the Ligonier National Conference. The main theme that year was the Holiness of God. I can remember showing up with my notebook, a small dictionary, and of course my huge study bible.

I was ready to learn some stuff…

I sat in the balcony by myself, but surrounded by a few younger fellas and a few groups scattered about. The main speakers for the conference were Allister Begg, Sinclair Ferguson, Jerry Bridges, R,C, Sproul Jr., R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and Albert Mohler. As I said the last two were the only men I was familiar with and only assumed that if they were speaking then the other speakers had to be worth hearing as well. The first general session I spent the whole time writing as fast as I could, so much that my hand literally cramped up. When the second general session began I gave up trying to take notes and just allowed the preaching to teach my soul. I heard my first panel discussion between these men as a moderator took questions from the audience and I was just intrigued how these champions of Christ answered with such eloquence and wisdom. At some point on the last day, I arrived early for the evening session and on the platform just slightly behind the pulpit was a chalkboard. Little did I know that this trademark symbol was a clear sign that R.C. would be the final speaker for the conference. His sermon was titled, “Worshipping a Holy God” and his text came from Hebrews 12:14-24.

Once he was done reading from the scriptures, he never looked down again and his words just came pouring out like a tidal wave. To this young Christian, I was struck by the way he spoke so clearly and with such passionate authority, not in himself, but confidence in word of God. To an aspiring worship leader, he gave me words that I would never forget. Never in a million years would I have thought that my love could grow faster and stronger from knowing Christ more through His word.

I left that conference with a fire in my belly and a song in my heart. I felt crushed by my finiteness in the presence of holy God at the same time encouraged to boldly stand for the truth, knowing all good and well that His sovereign hand would guide me, teach me, and love me.

In the closing minutes of his sermon from that night in Orlando, R.C. recollected about standing and singing during corporate worship with his late friends, family and mentors back in Pennsylvania. I find it comforting as I think about that night so long ago and the many things I have learned through his teachings, writings, and sermons in the years to follow:

“…all the saints that have gone before us are there [during worship], and guess who else is there? God is there, and the Lamb is there, He’s really there!…we cannot focus on the holiness of God without being led to a hunger and thirst in our souls to-worship–Him.”

-R.C. Sproul, (’39-’17) Theologian, Pastor, & Professor

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Laborers in the Marketplace (cont…)

We must ignore the world’s opinions and the satanic lies that effect Christians in the marketplace and communicate the gospel by using words! Words are fundamentally necessary in proclaiming the gospel to this world, especially in the business world. Since the time of the prophets in the Old Testament all the way up to Jesus Christ and his disciples, the advancement of the gospel has ridden upon the spoken words of faithful God followers. We must stand in the marketplace speaking in love and joy, yet with eager-boldness to those God brings into our lives. Do not be disobedient to the calling on your life to be a disciple maker for the kingdom of God. Answer the call!

If you are answering the call as a laborer in the marketplace then your task is to continue faithfully making worshiping disciples. Keep on picking up that cross daily for the sake of the gospel. Keep on encouraging the people providentially brought into your life with the message of hope that only comes from the scriptures. And, keep on worshiping our heavenly Father in spirit and in truth. Worship is the chief end of the church! “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” (John Piper)

So join in continuing to disciple worshipers of God and encourage them to do the same as the kingdom advances.

Soli Deo Gloria.

David K. Hayashi,

Laborer for Christ

Laborers in the Marketplace (cont…)

The Broader Solution

It is time that the confessing followers of Jesus Christ engage in the battle against Satan, this evil world, and against our very own flesh. This war does not look like the most current computer generated game with guns, knives, and bombs. No it is spiritual warfare by nature that is not always seen with the naked eye. It is a war that no one single unregenerate soul can sense, and it manifests itself here on planet earth. This war involves more than just simple flesh and blood; it has to do with eternal souls. These souls belong to our co-workers, employees, students, teachers, administrators, and fellow business owners. All of us will one day give an account of our lives the God of the universe, do people in the marketplace know this reality? Can we afford to just coast through work without communicating the gospel to them daily? I heard it once said a long time ago at a church retreat that, “We should always preach the gospel to people, and if necessary use words.” Where I sympathize with the heart behind such a statement, I can’t help but find it in complete contradiction to word of God. I find a complete different message being preached by Paul in his letter to the Romans:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” -Romans 10:14-15

Laborers in the Marketplace

“If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself.”

C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory

In the world of business the saying goes, “Time is money!”, so in that regard I’ll get straight to the point. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you are a laborer for the kingdom of God. The bible is very obvious and direct on this matter in Matthew’s gospel account. In Matt. 9:35-38 we see Jesus addressing the disciples and instructing them in a preamble to the Great Commission that comes later at the end of chapter 28 of Matthew. Some scholars try to exclusively connect people’s call to vocational ministry or the pastorate in Matt. 9:35-38, as if it only pertains to those called into full time ministry service. This conclusion couldn’t be further from the truth as revealed through scripture. This commandment along with the Great Commission is not exclusive to only the clergy. It is commanded to everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ as Lord. We assume that since the laborers are few, we get a free pass when it comes to the work of evangelism. How will they know if no one is willing to share with them?

The Problem

The need for the good news of the gospel to be communicated and displayed in the marketplace is of vital importance in post-modern America. The problem is that the church is failing miserably on this front! According to a 2005 report the actual number of people worshiping in evangelical churches in America each week is a dismal 17.7%[1]. Less than twenty percent are worshiping regularly in the American church. Where are all these people then? They are in the marketplace seven days a week. Why are they not in church? The quick answer is that most of them are just to busy. Busy at work selling retail items, transporting goods from coast to coast, and cooking or serving food to those of us who eat out on the weekends.

The long answer to the question is a theological one: they aren’t in church because they don’t want to be.  Romans 1:19-23, speaks of the natural man and what he decides to do beside worship a Holy God. The people that we encounter Monday through Saturday are just like the people in Romans Chapter 1. Some are very deliberate in their rebellion, but most lost people are just casual in their unbelief. Like sheep without a shepherd, lost people just wander aimlessly and with out purpose through this vapor of a life. Unfortunately, we can’t even bring ourselves to speak encouraging words to these people, let alone share the gospel with them. The only exposure they get of Jesus Christ is from the internet or as a curse word on television. Honestly, I get why people have disregarded the church and what it stands for. Instead of the gospel bringing light to the marketplace through laborers, we hear and read constantly of corruption, scandal, sexual misconduct, corporate greed, and the list goes on. The even more perplexing news is that “Christians” are perpetrating these disgraceful offenses. Contrary to true worshipers of God, we have federal prisoners and repeat felons claiming to be Christians who constantly violate God’s law by breaking the law of man. So before we begin to proudly beat the chest of our recent denominational conquests or seemingly successful evangelical endeavors abroad, don’t forget we are still failing at many aspects of the great commission here at home. A major factor in this problem is that we have elected to forfeit the providential hand of God for a more consumer friendly gospel. We live in a country where wealth, celebrity, selfishness, politics and hedonism have replaced grace, mercy, sovereignty, joy, and love. What can we do as Christian workers in the marketplace do to change this scene in America? Summarily we can start by repenting; followed by biblical Christian action to fight the enemy of the ages and to proclaim the truth of the gospel to our neighbors especially those in the marketplace…

[1] The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler. 2005. www.churchleaders.com