One of the great joys of writing the daily studies for Tabletalk and performing various other editorial tasks is that I must regularly listen to the teaching series that Ligonier Ministries has produced. Recently, I was asked to list what I believe to be the top ten lectures from R.C. While others might disagree with what follows at certain points, this list represents what I have found to be the most important and useful messages that R.C. has ever delivered.
10. “Knowing Each Other” from The Intimate Marriage
At the root of all marital problems is the failure to know one’s spouse and how to communicate with him or her. I love this lecture from R.C. because it is such a helpful reminder of the importance of getting to know one’s husband or wife even after we are married so that we can serve our spouses more lovingly and faithfully. It is an excellent lecture for newly married couples and for those who have been married for decades.
9. “The Beauty of Worship” from Worship
I’ll admit that for a long time I did not view visual beauty in the worship setting as all that important. After hearing this lecture for the first time about five or six years ago, I began to realize how God puts a premium on beauty because, of course, He is the standard of beauty Himself. This lecture is great for helping people develop a more comprehensive understanding of worship and all that is part of it.
8. “The Sword and the Keys” from Church and State
I think it is safe to say that there is a ton of misunderstanding in both the church and wider culture today as to the respective functions of the state and the church. This lecture is an excellent overview of the basic roles of each, explaining how each is actually a “minister” of God tasked with their own particular functions, which functions are not to be assumed by the institutions to which these functions have not been delegated.
7. “What Is Free Will?” from Chosen by God
In my twelfth-grade English class at a public high school we looked at Genesis 3, the story of Job, and some other biblical texts, all the while endlessly debating the reality of free will. I realize now how our collective understanding of free will was philosophically naïve and not reflective of biblical teaching. Had I heard this lecture at the time, I would have had a much different perspective. R.C. tackles the issue of free will, shows how it is more complicated than most people commonly assume, and explains simply the biblical understanding of our free decisions.
6. “Finding a Job that Fits” from Knowing God’s Will
During my senior year of high school and first year or two of college, I spent a lot of time agonizing over my life’s calling and what I should choose as a vocation. I wish that I had heard this lecture back then because it would have corrected the almost mysterious/mystic view that I had of how God would reveal His will for my life. R.C. points out in the lecture how it is in one sense very simple to discern one’s calling while making essential theological points about the decrees of God.
5. “What About Human Freedom?” from The** **Providence of God
People who are new to the study of Reformed Theology often have a hard time understanding how God can be sovereign, how man can be free, and how God is not responsible for evil. I certainly struggled with these questions and would have benefitted from this lecture from R.C. on how all these things fit together. It is one of the best, most comprehensible, and concise explanations of this complex subject I have ever heard.
4. “The Drama of Redemption” from The Cross of Christ
I know that R.C. considers The Cross of Christ to be one of the most important teaching series he has ever released as it looks at the purpose and effects of the atonement — the central doctrine of the Christian faith. This lecture from the series explains the depth of our transgressions and explains why God cannot just wave His hand and say “all is forgiven.” It provides a great starting point for understanding why an atonement had to be made if we were to be saved.
3. “The Great Exchange” from Justification by Faith Alone
I have long admired R.C.’s courage to stand firm for the biblical doctrine of justification when so many evangelicals have ignored it, watered it down, or acted as if it is really not that important in the pursuit of Christian unity. The heart of justification is the doctrine of double imputation — our sins to Christ and His righteousness to us — and it is brought down to earth in this important message.
2. “Counting It All Joy” from Joy
When I was growing up, other Christians that I knew often denied the reality of pain in their life because they thought Christian joy was incompatible with the admission of difficulty in their lives. Even I have thought at times that Christian joy means pretending that things are all right when they are not. That view creates a lot of problems. I love this lecture because R.C. looks at how the Bible addresses how we can be joyful without pretending that things are good when they are not.
1. “The Importance of Holiness” and “The Trauma of Holiness” from The Holiness of God
I am counting these two lectures as one because together they are an exposition of Isaiah 6:1–7, and collectively they feature what is probably R.C.’s most famous teaching on God’s holiness. This teaching has awakened thousands of believers to a better understanding of the Lord’s awesome character in a day when the holiness of God has been all but forgotten. Everyone I know, myself included, count these as must-hear lectures.