It is always a delight to hear the coffee maker begin the hissings and drippings that mean that the morning coffee is ready. Morning Bible readings and prayer are the only way to start the day.
Then I turn to the books. Speaking of good starts for the day, R. C. Sproul often shows up at my house. At least once a week, he drops by and lately, he has been visiting with me each morning. I wish I could say that R. C. and I were close buddies and he actually was coming into my house each morning and engaging me in some discussion. I have to settle instead for some of his many good books.
A few months back, Dr. Sproul’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew was published by Crossway Books. This book is a hefty hardback of over 800 pages and 129 chapters. It consists of expository sermons that Sproul preached over Matthew’s Gospel. It is part of a series by Sproul called St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary. Other commentaries in the series include studies through Acts, Romans, and 1 & 2 Peter.
Sproul is an extremely gifted communicator. Sometimes, Reformed preachers have dug so deeply in the mines of theology that they cannot speak to normal audiences, including both churched and un-churched people. Sproul is no backwoods fundamentalist. He got his doctorate at the Free University of Amsterdam, which was the center of academic Reformed scholarship in the 20th century. Sproul taught theology at various seminaries, but he is best known for his work at Ligonier Ministries. But in spite of his degrees, his years inside the classrooms of seminaries, and his studies, he is an effective and popular communicator.
Through Ligonier, Sproul has had tapes, videos, and books produced and sent out all over the world. Ligonier also publishes a monthly devotional magazine called Table Talk. He has written theological studies, books on every day Christian living, books on Christianity and culture, books on philosophy, and even some children’s books. He also does radio broadcasts.
It was late in his career when he turned his ministry work to pastoral ministry. He now pastors St. Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. From his expository (chapter by chapter, verse by verse) preaching, he is now producing his commentary series.
Sproul does not do in-depth explications or studies in the texts of Matthew. The person wanting more of the theological detail would need to look elsewhere. (I find William Hendriksen’s commentary on Matthew very helpful, and I just acquired Leon Morris’ work, and Charles Spurgeon did a commentary on Matthew.) Anyone wanting to read more extensive sermons would do well to read Daniel Doriani’s 2 volumes or John MacArthur’s 4 volumes.
What Sproul does best is to give a short, thought provoking, convicting sound look at the text. His book is excellent for a morning reading. It would work for family time (which we need to restore once again). It is great for the person who is not theologically well grounded, but does not want fluff. It works for the man in a hurry or the woman with too many kids and not enough time. It is good for beginners; it is a good refresher for long-time Bible students.
Sproul presents good morning theology. You will pick up on a number of key figures in history–both church and secular history. You will better understand the texts. You will see applications of the Gospel to everyday life and to the broader culture. You will find doctrine, correction, reproof, and instruction (2 Timothy 3:16).
Since December, I have been preaching through Matthew. Now, 26 sermons into the series, I am working slowly through the Sermon on the Mount. Now, just beginning chapter 6, I will be working even more slowly through the Lord’s Prayer (or the Model Prayer). Sproul has nine sermons on the Lord’s Prayer. I usually read Sproul early in the week, just to help bring the coming week’s text into focus. And often, later in the week, after I have plowed through some other fine books, I go back to Sproul again.
Right now, I am also reading A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity by R. C. Sproul. This book was recommended to me by singer and worship leader (at Parish Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee) Nathan Clark George. This is a brief (172 page) study on worship. It is easy to war over worship and liturgy, and those wars really help use up energy that could be devoted to advancing the kingdom. This book is warm and encouraging. And, it has the Sproul hallmarks: good theology, good stories and illustrations, and practical application. Also, it is a uniting, not dividing book. Note, Dr. Sproul is a Presbyterian, so there are practices that some of you might not cotton to. (But never just read those with whom you agree.)
A Taste of Heaven was published by Reformation Trust, the book publishing arm of Ligonier Ministries. It has recently been reprinted and retitled as How Then Shall We Worship: Biblical Principles to Guide Us Today.