I just started my exegesis paper titled, “The Apostasy of Israel and the Mission to the Gentiles: Looking at Romans 11” for my Biblical Theology of Mission class. And little and behold I received my copy of RC’s newest title by Crossway.
I have heard many say over the last month about this title “do we really need another commentary on the Book of Romans?” But after already reading selected potations of RC’s new title, I say yes, yes for 2 reasons mainly.
One – The commentary is a selection of the sermons RC has preached through the book of Romans. Why is this good? Is instead of a critical, in-depth, hard to follow along read, it is as if you are listening to RC talk right at you with his stories and jokes all together in one.
Two – The commentary is easy to understand. This can be bad and good, but yet great for the unregenerate. The book can and should be given to those that have not heard the Gospel. RC puts the importance upon the gospel and staying focused on that, easy as 1, 2, 3… It is both good for the unsaved and saved.
“Sproul’s sermons at St. Andrew’s Chapel are the foundation of these never-before-published expositions on Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
Chrysostom had it read aloud to him once a week. Augustine, Luther, and Wesley all came to assured faith through its impact. The Reformers saw it as the God-given key to understanding the whole of Scripture.
Throughout church history the study of the book of Romans has been pivotal to understanding Christian life and doctrine. Convinced that “Paul’s fullest, grandest, most comprehensive statement of the gospel” is just as vital today, R. C. Sproul delivered nearly sixty sermons on Romans from October 2005 to April 2007 at St. Andrew’s Chapel, where he has pastored for more than a decade. These never-before-published, passage-by-passage expositions will enrich any study of this weighty epistle.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina
“‘R. C. Sproul,’ someone said to me in the 1970s, ‘is the finest communicator in the Reformed world.’ Now, three decades later, his skills honed by long practice, his understanding deepened by years of prayer, meditation, and testing (as Martin Luther counseled), R. C. shares the fruit of what has become perhaps his greatest love: feeding and nourishing his own congregation at St. Andrew’s from the Word of God and building them up in faith and fellowship and in Christian living and serving. The St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary will be welcomed throughout the world. It promises to have all R. C.’s hallmarks: clarity and liveliness, humor and pathos, always expressed in application to the mind, will, and affections. R. C.’s ability to focus on the ‘the big picture,’ his genius of never saying too much, leaving his hearers satisfied yet wanting more, never making the Word dull, are all present in these expositions. They are his gift to the wider church. May they nourish God’s people well and serve as models of the kind of ministry for which we continue to hunger.”
W. Robert Godfrey, President, Westminster Seminary California
“R. C. Sproul, well-known as a master theologian and extraordinary communicator, now shows that he is a powerful, insightful, helpful expository preacher. This collection of sermons is of great value for churches and Christians everywhere.”
Derek W. H. Thomas, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Minister of Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi
“I tell my students again and again, ‘You need to buy good commentaries and do so with some discernment.’Among these commentaries there must be preacher’s commentaries, for not all commentaries are the same. Some may tell you what the text means but provide little help in answering the question, ‘How do I preach this text?’ R. C. Sproul is a legend in our time. His preaching has held us in awe for half a century, and these pages represent the fruit of his latest exposition, coming as they do at the very peak of his abilities and insights. I am ecstatic at the prospect of reading the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary series. It represents Reformed theology on fire, delivered from a pastor’s heart in a vibrant congregation of our time. Essential reading.”
Steven J. Lawson, Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama
“R. C. Sproul is the premier theologian of our day, an extraordinary instrument in the hand of the Lord. Possessed with penetrating insight into the text of Scripture, Dr. Sproul is a gifted expositor and world-class teacher, endowed with a strategic grasp and command of the inspired Word. Since stepping into the pulpit of St. Andrew’s and committing himself to the weekly discipline of biblical exposition, this noted preacher has demonstrated a rare ability to explicate and apply God’s Word. I wholeheartedly recommend the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary to all who long to know the truth better and experience it more deeply in a life-changing fashion. Here is an indispensable tool for digging deeper into God’s Word. This is a must-read for every Christian.”
Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
“How exciting! Thousands of us have long been indebted to R. C. Sproul the teacher, and now, through the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary, we are indebted to Sproul the preacher, whose sermons are thoroughly biblical, soundly doctrinal, warmly practical, and wonderfully readable. Sproul masterfully presents us with the ‘big picture’ of each pericope in a dignified yet conversational style that accentuates the glory of God and meets the real needs of sinful people like us. This series of volumes, a joint effort between two premier publishers, is an absolute must for every Reformed preacher and church member who yearns to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus. I predict that Sproul’s pulpit ministry in written form will do for Christians in the twenty-first century what Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermonic commentaries did for us last century. Tolle lege, and buy these volumes for your friends.”
Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“John Wesley once said of a colleague that Scripture so thoroughly pulsed through his spiritual veins that he ‘bled Bibline.’ The same could be said without exaggeration of R. C. Sproul. More specifically, one could easily say that he ‘bleeds Pauline.’ The theology of the Apostle to the Gentiles courses through Dr. Sproul’s veins in all of his work. Therefore, it is a special privilege to be able to read his sermons on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Romans has turned the world upside down for two millennia. Not only did it lead to Augustine’s conversion; it was a primary source for his defense of the gospel against Pelagius. This epistle was the catalyst for the Reformation and shaped the minds and hearts of many leaders of the modern missionary movement. Romans continues its revolution to the present day and each of R. C. Sproul’s expositions reminds us why. Read this book and, by God’s grace, you’ll never be the same.”
A: I think often that people forget that Calvin was a preacher of the gospel and I heard the gospel from Calvinists. It is not something esoteric. Calvin’s favorite verse was John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (ESV). Calvin was Christ-centered in his preaching and that Christ-centeredness is the powerful fruit of Calvin that Calvinists today don’t stress. I wanted to show the Christ-centeredness of the gospel.
Calvin’s doctrine of providence is also a great comfort knowing that in the circumstances of our lives our heavenly Father is overseeing and directing all things. Even in the bitter times we can have comfort in the advancement of his kingdom. This is a huge blessing and encouragement as an individual, father, teacher, and pastor.
Q: After the enormous amount of works on and about John Calvin, what made you want to write a biography on John Calvin?
A: A lot of the books I read on Calvin didn’t seem to me to communicate the Calvin I felt that I met in his writings. Some of these books are by scholars and for scholars so not accessible and they focus narrowly on one issue and so distort Calvin. There are books that are a good introduction to his life and others to his thought but these two things have been kept separate. Some introductions speak only about his life and there are other introductions that speak only about his theology. It would bring Calvin alive to integrate both his life and thought. I thought to write a book of his life and thought for laymen in the church, but I hope also reflecting good scholarship in my presentation.
Q: How has the life of John Calvin helped your work ethic in teaching and preaching?
A: Knowing something about Calvin’s life is profoundly humbling since most of his work and scholarly production was done in his last 25 years. It helps to be a genius, as Calvin was; he had remarkable gifts of memory and analytical skills. In his own life this was linked to a remarkably disciplined will to be productive and in a sense he wore himself out and worked himself to death. Most of us, if we worked as hard as he did would not produce the quality of work that he did. It is good to have him as inspiration but also to realize that we don’t have the same gifts. This will keep us humble as we work.
Q: In a few ways, how has John Calvin/Calvinism influenced Westminster Seminary California?
A: Our seminary, Westminster Seminary California, does follow Calvin’s basic curriculum for the preparation of ministers. The first thing Calvin would stress is that education take place in the context of faith and piety and life for God.
Secondly, Calvin would say that one could not be a good pastor who is not a good student. The critical part of the office is to study and preach the word of God. The knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is important to study the Bible in the biblical languages. We continue that with talented teachers of Greek and Hebrew at our seminary.
Q: What do you believe to be the most important truth that Calvin lived out of his theology in the ministry of teaching the gospel to Geneva?
A: I think the single most important teaching of Calvin would be justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Calvin believed that it was the hinge on which our religion turns because justification teaches us that we are helpless in ourselves and that Christ must do it all. This was foundational to what Calvin did in Geneva.
Q: In what ways do you think today’s younger generation could learn from the life and work of John Calvin?
A: I believe they can learn that Calvinism in the first place is not theology, but it is Christianity for the church. Calvin did not see himself primarily as a theologian but as a pastor. This is critical. Some people have been drawn to Calvinism because of intellectual power. As valuable as that is, Calvin would have seen intellectual power as secondary to Christ and the church.
The second thing is the church today needs to listen to Calvin on worship. There is all sorts of craziness being done and promoted in the worship of the church usually in the name of evangelism. We need to learn afresh from Calvin that worship is not evangelism but meeting with God and that meeting has to be conducted on God’s terms and most people in America today don’t think like this. Reading Calvin on this would help the church to worship God appropriately.
Q: What do you want your readers to get the most out of reading John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor?
A: I hope in the first place that if they’ve been influenced by the negative stereotype that float in various books they’ll begin to see the real Calvin who was a real person, whose personality was positive and not negative and grim.
Secondly, I would want them to learn Calvinism not only as theology but as a living form of religion that certainly has theology but encourages the life of the community in a vibrant way.
Q: In one or two sentences, why would you tell people to read John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor?
A: They should read it because they’ll find it readable, interesting, informative and spiritually profitable.
You can purchase John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor, by Dr. Robert Godfrey here.
The same day I release mine, so did another, here is Collin Hansen’s interview with Dr. Godfrey.
(special thanks to Maatern Kuivenhoven for transcribing this interview)
From DG Ministry: “John Piper focuses on the supremacy of God by unfolding Calvin’s zeal for the glory of God. God rests lightly on the church’s mind in our time. We are obsessed with ourselves and God takes second place, if that. The experience of his majesty sometimes seems to have disappeared from the modern evangelical world. John Calvin saw a similar thing in his day. His aim was to “set before [man], as the prime motive of his existence, zeal to illustrate the glory of God”—a fitting banner over all of his life and work. “The essential meaning of Calvin’s life and preaching,” writes John Piper, “is that he recovered and embodied a passion for the absolute reality and majesty of God. Such is the aim and burden of this book as well.”
From Me: This small, short little note that John Piper does here in near 60 pages would be a great gift for the great number of people in today’s world, namely America who has no idea of the beauty that is in John Calvin’s example for us in our faith, living for the glory of God. Having a passion for the glory of God in today postmodern culture I personally believe starts by having a passion for the Word of God. Today in the often times of America’s cesspool of sin, they see the Scriptures as a list of guidelines, or a manuel to having a successful life. I so often hear form my old friends, and unbelievers, “Yes! I believe in God” and “Yes, I believe in the Bible!” But as an absolute authority over their life, their life-style, their morals, their families, etc. NO! The importance of Piper’s book on Calvin for 2009, is seeing the majesty of God in the Word of God and how Calvin saw this as an importance over all the Christian life. If you want to tell someone about Calvin, and Calvinism that is short and to the point, then buy one to read, and a few to pass-out to your friends.