In the Wisdom and Providence of God
by Burk Parsons
The first time I heard R.C. Sproul speak was at a Ligonier Ministries’ National Conference. As he systematically unfolded the doctrines of grace, he boldly proclaimed the biblical Gospel, and at the end of his message, he pointed his finger directly at me, or so it seemed, and said, “If you don’t believe that you are radically corrupt and saved by the electing grace of God alone, you need to repent.” I thought to myself: “Who does this Sproul guy think he is?” That same year, I received my first issue of Tabletalk magazine, and on the front cover was a picture of a smiling baby wrapped in a blanket and stamped across the page were the words “Total Depravity.” I again thought to myself: “Who do those guys at Tabletalk think they are?” Two years and many arguments later, I was committed to the doctrines of grace. I repented of my self-reliant Christianity and found myself humbled by God’s sovereign grace.
It was my eager study of the Word of God that convinced me of the doctrines of grace, but the Lord used Tabletalk to help me study the Scriptures with greater insight and understanding. For years, I cross-referenced the passages found in the Tabletalk daily studies pages with my New Geneva Study Bible. It was Tabletalk’s consistent exposition of sacred Scripture that brought me into line with the Word of God and with orthodox Reformed theology.
After I completed my bachelor’s degree in biblical studies, I began my studies in seminary and was hired at Ligonier Ministries. One evening, during my first semester of seminary, I wrote in my journal a prayer to God asking Him to provide me with a mentor under whom I could study all the intricate nuances of biblical theology. I wrote of my desire to learn from a man who would challenge me theologically and encourage me spiritually as I prepared for ministry. And though I had not yet even met R.C. Sproul, I wrote and prayed to the Lord to place me directly under Dr. Sproul’s tutelage and leadership. In His wisdom and providence, the Lord did just that, and He has blessed me with one of the most wonderful friendships I’ve ever known. So, in answer to the first question I ever asked myself about R.C. Sproul, my response is simple: He is my boss, my mentor, my pastor, my spiritual father in the faith, my brother, my friend, and the one who has taught me what it means to live authentically coram Deo, before the face of God.