How R.C. Sproul Blessed the Church by Preaching the Curse

This was a passionate plea to consider the horrors of the cross and thus the splendor of God’s grace

“In this sermon, we see exactly what made Sproul’s teaching ministry so powerful for so many years. He reminded us of who we are. Even more importantly he reminded us of who God is. Let’s give it a closer look.”

 

It was the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the early days of this movement called The New Calvinism and this conference was meant to introduce all of these enthusiastic young Calvinists to the old guard, to those few men who had been faithfully preaching these truths for many, many years. It was only right that R.C. Sproul was there, it was only fitting that he was asked to preach. And did he ever! His sermon is the subject of the next entry in the Great Sermon Series.

Transcript

Tim: It was the 2008 Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. This was the early days of this movement called The New Calvinism or The Young Restless Reformed and this conference was meant to introduce all of these enthusiastic young Calvinists to the old guard, to those few men who had been faithfully preaching these truths for many, many years. It was only right that R.C. Sproul was there, it was only fitting that he was asked to preach, and did he ever. His sermon didn’t have the catchiest title of all time, it was called “The curse motif of the atonement”. But don’t be fooled by that simple title, this was not a cold or detached theological musing, this was an unforgettable proclamation of truth. It had some spine-chilling moments like this one.

R.C.Sproul: May the Lord curse you and abandon you. May the Lord keep you in darkness and give you only judgment without grace.

Tim: See, this sermon was far from a dry lecture, this was signature Sproul. This was a passionate plea to consider the horrors of the cross and thus the splendor of God’s grace. In this sermon, we see exactly what made Sproul’s teaching ministry so powerful for so many years. He reminded us of who we are. Even more importantly he reminded us of who God is. Let’s give it a closer look.

This video is brought to you in part by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can download a free book from Southern and learn more about training for preachers at sbts.edu/challies.

In the history of the church, there are momentary sparks and there are enduring flames. Momentary sparks, they’re like the one hit wonders of the music world. They appear overnight in a flash of viral sensation, but after a few short months, they disappear just as quickly as they showed up in the first place. But the enduring flames, they stick around. And as time passes, their influence only ever grows, and yet, it’s so hard to pin them down to one memory, to one sermon, to one flashy moment. They’re enduring flames because their entire ministry was marked by consistently showing up, by relentlessly fighting for the truth, by standing firmly on the Word of God. Since R.C.Sproul passed away it has become ever more clear that he was, in the words of his friend Al Mohler, a bright and burning flame. And he was brilliant, not because he introduced anything new to Christian theology, actually quite the opposite. Over the course of more than 50 years of ministry, he challenged trendy, novel theology to instead bring us back to, time and time again, to the unchanging truths of scripture. Every time Sproul spoke, every time he wrote, he was strong, he was steadfast, he was scriptural. And that’s why it’s so hard to pin him down to just one sermon or to one viral clip, but let’s try anyways. It’s fair to ask why of all the topics Sproul could have addressed at this conference, he chose to speak on the curse motif from Galatians chapter 4. We don’t have to wonder though because he actually told us.

R.C.Sproul: But there is one image, one aspect of the atonement that has receded in our day almost into total obscurity. We heard earlier of those attempts to preach a more gentle and kind Gospel and in our efforts to communicate the work of Christ more kindly, we flee from any mention of a curse inflicted by God upon his own Son.

Tim: The reason Sproul is preaching on the rare topic of the curse motif is actually because we’re the ones who’ve made it a rare topic. In our attempts to soften the brutality of the cross, we’ve strayed away from one of the harshest images of the atonement, that on the cross, God the Father cursed the Son. In fact, Sproul says that this disregard for the curse motif of the atonement, it actually betrays a serious misunderstanding of God himself. Our manmade God who loves all people and blesses all people, he’s incapable of cursing anyone, much less his own Son.

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