We are pleased to announce the arrival of the newly revised and expanded editions of the Crucial Questions booklets from Reformation Trust Publishing. This series is designed to present Dr. Sproul's insights on various questions that tend to come up often in the minds of evangelicals today. The booklets deal with issues that trouble us, frustrate us, or confuse us. Dr. Sproul brings his trademark clarity and biblical and theological acumen to each topic.
The series includes five initial booklets including Can I Know God's Will?, Can I Trust the Bible?, Does Prayer Change Things?, How Should I Live in This World?, and Who is Jesus?. Each of these booklets has been published previously, but all have been thoroughly re-edited and repackaged. The series will soon grow with new titles on what it means to be born again, how to be sure you are saved, and the nature of faith.
In his long and fruitful ministry as a preacher and teacher, R.C. Sproul has built a well-deserved reputation as one who has helped many Christians to a deeper understanding of the core truths of the faith. Look to the Crucial Questions booklets for quick, clear answers on issues that may be troubling you.
Dr. Sproul notes that the will of God can mean many different things. He explains the different meanings, then shows how Christians can seek and find God's will, especially in the key areas of our jobs and marriages.
There is a common assumption that the Bible is "full" of errors and contradictions, making it useless. But Dr. Sproul affirms that there are many solid reasons to trust the Bible, for it is inspired of God and therefore inerrant and infallible.
Affirming that prayer does not change God's mind, Dr. Sproul nevertheless asserts that prayer has value as the means by which God works out His will. He also shows what prayer is supposed to be and what it is not.
Christians want to "do the right thing." But it can be tough to know what the right thing is. Dr. Sproul argues that the Bible is the supreme source for ethical guidance, providing ethical principles. He then shows how we can uncover and apply these principles.
Dr. Sproul unfolds the meaning of the biblical titles of Jesus, then surveys His life and ministry to show that Jesus was no ordinary man but God incarnate.
Can I Know God's Will?
Page 2 - The destination matters to the Christian. We are a pilgrimpeople. Though we do not wander in a wilderness in route to the Promised Land, we seek a better country, an eternal city whose builder and maker is God. Someday He will take us home to His kingdom.
So the ultimate destination is clear. We are certain that there is a glorious future for the people of God. However, what of tomorrow? We feel anxious about the immediate future, just as unbelievers do. The specifics of our personal futures are unknown to us. Like children we ask: "Will I be happy? Will I be rich? What will happen to me?" We must walk by faith rather than by sight.
Page 4 - We yearn for simple answers to difficult questions. We want clarity. We desire to cut through the entanglements to the heart of the question. Sometimes the answers are simple enough in themselves, but the process of finding them is laborious and confusing. Sometimes the answers are simplistic, giving us temporary relief from the pressures and the burdens of confusing questions.
Page 10 - Yet there is a God who is sovereign, whose will is greater than ours. His will restricts my will. My will cannot restrict His will. When He decrees something sovereignly, it will come to pass--whether I like it or not, whether I choose it or not. He is sovereign. I am subordinate.
Can I Trust the Bible?
Page 43 - Because of the complexity of our concept of God, it has become necessary to qualify in great detail the differences in what is being affirmed and what is being denied when we use the term God. Such qualifications do not negate the value of the word but only serve to sharpen its precision and usefulness.
Page 47-48 - Other matters, such as the topical arrangement of material, the use of free citations (for example, from the Old Testament by the New Testament writers), and various selections of material and parallel accounts--where different writers include some information that other writers do not have and delete some information that others include--in no way destroy the truthfulness of what is being reported. Though the biblical writers may have arranged their material differently, they do not affirm that Jesus said on one occasion what He never said on that occasion. Neither do they claim that a parallel account is wrong for not including what they themselves include. As an itinerant preacher, Jesus no doubt said many similar things on different occasions.
Does Prayer Change Things?
Page 1 - What is the goal of the Christian life? It is godliness born of obedience to Christ. Obedience unlocks the riches of the Christian experience. Prayer prompts and nurtures obedience, putting the heart into the proper "frame of mind" to desire obedience.
Page 2 - One might pray and not be a Christian, but one cannot be a Christian and not pray.
Page 3 - We can take comfort from the fact that God knows our hearts and hears our unspoken petitions as well as the words that emanate from our lips. Whenever we are unable to express the deep feelings and emotions of our souls or when we are completely unclear about what we ought to be praying, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Romans 8:26-27 says: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."
Page 4 - Is there a right and wrong time for prayer? Isaiah 50:4 talks about the morning as the time when God gives the desire to pray on a daily basis. But other passages give times of prayer during all hours of the day. No part of the day is set apart as more sanctified than another. Jesus prayed in the morning, during the day, and sometimes all night long. There is evidence that He had a time set aside for prayer; however, considering the relationship Jesus had with the Father, we know that communion between them never stopped.
How Should I Live in This World?
Page viii - All this talk of "theories of ethics" may leave you cold. However, ethical decisions enter into every aspect of our lives. No field or career is immune from ethical judgments. In politics, in psychology, and in medicine, ethical decisions are made regularly. Legislative action, economic policy, academic curricula, psychiatric advice--all involve ethical considerations. Every vote cast in the ballot box marks an ethical decision.
On what basis should we make these decisions? That's where the "ethical theories" come in. The Christian may say, "I simply obey God's Word." However, what about those issues where the Bible has no specific "thou shalt"? Can we find ethical principles in Scripture, and in the very nature of God, that will guide us through this difficult terrain? How can we communicate these principles to others? How does God's Word stand up against the eighty-some other standards?
Page 1 - In present word usage, the term ethics is often used interchangeably with the word morality. That the two have become virtual synonyms is a sign of the confusion that permeates the modern ethical scene. Historically, the two words had quite distinctive meanings. Ethics comes from the Greek ethos, which is derived from a root word meaning "stall," a place for horses. It conveyed the sense of a dwelling place, a place of stability and permanence.
On the other hand, morality comes from the word mores, which describes the behavioral patterns of a given society.
Page 4 - In a real sense, our beliefs dictate our behavior. A theory underlies our every moral action. We may not be able to articulate that theory or even be immediately conscious of it, but nothing manifests our value systems more sharply than our actions.
Who Is Jesus?
Page 2 - No person in history has provoked as much study, criticism, prejudice, or devotion as Jesus of Nazareth. The titanic influence of this man makes Him a chief target of the arrows of criticism and a prime object of revision according to the interpreter's prejudice. Thus, the portrait of the historical Jesus has been altered to suit the fancies of those seeking to line Him up on their side, to make of Him an ally in a host of militant causes, many of which are mutually exclusive. In the theologian's laboratory, Jesus is treated like a chameleon; He is forced to adapt to the backdrop painted by the theologian.
Page 6 - The nineteenth century brought an intellectual and moral crisis to the church—the rise of liberal theology that flatly rejected the supernatural core of the New Testament. This crisis eventually pressed hard on very practical matters. If the leaders of a church or the faculty of a seminary wake up one morning and discover they no longer believe what the Bible teaches or the church confesses, what are their options?
Page 8 - The Christ we believe, the Christ we trust, must be true if we are to be redeemed. A false Christ or a substitute Christ cannot redeem. If it is thought unlikely that the biblical Christ can redeem, it is even less likely that the speculative Christ of human invention can redeem. Apart from the Bible, we know nothing of consequence concerning the real Jesus. Ultimately our faith stands or falls with the biblical Jesus. Lay aside theories of biblical inspiration if you must, doing so at your own peril, but even apart from inspiration the New Testament represents the primary sources--the earliest documents of those who knew Him, the record of those who studied under Him and were eyewitnesses to His ministry. They are the most objective historical sources we have.
About the Author
Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder and president of Ligonier Ministries, and the minister of preaching and teaching at St. Andrew's in Sanford, Fla. He is the author of more than sixty books and served as the general editor of the Reformation Study Bible. Dr. Sproul is renowned for his ability to communicate deep, practical truths from God's Word.