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Beloved Theologian R.C. Sproul Dies at 78

R.C. Sproul

Ligonier Ministries released the news yesterday that their founder, famed theologian R.C. Sproul, has died. Dr. Sproul suffered a stroke in 2015, and in December of this year was admitted to the hospital for complications caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a disease of the lungs. He passed away at the age of 78.

R.C. Sproul was well known for his books, Ligonier Ministries, his radio broadcast, and seminars called "Renewing Your Mind." There were few areas of theology, philosophy, and history that his great mind left untouched. For some, Dr. Sproul was their go-to Christian apologist. For others, his encouragement to pursue holiness by pointing his readers to the character of God in his book The Holiness of God is how R.C. Sproul will be best remembered. For all of us who were blessed, encouraged, and admonished by his fruitful and faithful ministry, Dr. R.C. Sproul will be remembered as a giant of the faith and a generous intellect who strived his entire adult life to point people to Jesus.

R.C. Sproul's love for Jesus is now reaping the full reward. Over the last twenty-four hours or so, many have referenced what is now a famous quote of Sproul's from his book A Taste of Heaven: "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."

R.C. Sproul's journey to heaven took its first big step forward when he put his faith in Jesus in 1957. In his tribute to R.C. Sproul for The Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor describes the event beautifully:

R.C. was reborn in September of 1957 during the first weekend of his first semester at Westminster College, a progressive Presbyterian school an hour north of Pittsburgh. Following freshman orientation, R.C. and his roommate (whom he had played baseball with in school) wanted to leave their dry campus to go to a neighboring town to drink. When they got to the parking lot, R.C. reached his hand in his pocket and realized he was all out of Lucky Strike cigarettes. They returned to the dorm, which housed a cigarette machine.

As he started to put his quarters in the machine, the star of the football team invited them to sit down at a table with him. He began asking them questions. They ended up talking for over an hour about the wisdom of God. What struck R.C. was that for the first time in his life, he was listening to someone who sounded like he knew Jesus personally. The football player quoted Ecclesiastes 11:3 ('Where the tree falls in the forest, there it lies') and R.C. saw himself as that tree: dead, corrupt, and rotting. He returned to his dorm that night and prayed to God for forgiveness. He would later remark that he was probably the only person in church history to be converted through that particular verse.