Posted by: Tim | April 19, 2008

Together for the Gospel – R.C. Sproul

Every message at the T4G conference was good, but the sermon that impacted me the most was R.C. Sproul’s message titled “The Curse Motif of the Atonement”. I did not attend T4G-06, but I did download the mp3’s, and it is interesting that it was also his message on justification by faith that I listened to the most.

Here’s a shot of C.J. Mahaney introducing R.C. Sproul. Sorry it’s a bit blurry but it gives you an idea of how good a seat I had (thanks to my new friends from Jackson, MI, who saved the seats!). The introduction was very well done and funny, so I may describe it in a later post.

In this message he focused on Christ becoming the curse for us. His text was Gal. 3:11-14, with a focus on v13 (ESV below)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

Dr. Sproul read from Deut. 28:1-19 (not sure if he read the whole thing but he read quite a bit), and he observed that we generally like blessings but we don’t like curses. He quoted the famous blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV below, I seem to remember that it looked like he might have been using the Ligonier ESV Reformation Study Bible)

[24] The Lord bless you and keep you;
[25] the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
[26] the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Dr. Sproul pointed out that this blessing contains Hebrew parallelism, meaning that each line means the same thing. In other words, the Lord bless you = the Lord make his face to shine up on you = the Lord life up his countenance upon you.

The ultimate blessing is for the Lord to turn His face to you. The great moment that we all look with ope towards, found in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, is when we see the face of God (Rev. 22:4). When Moses asked to be shown God’s glory, he was only granted a glimpse of the back of the Lord, and his face shone afterwards (Ex. 33:17-23). The pure in heart will see God (Mat. 5:8 ) Seeing the face of God is synonymous with blessing.

However, Dr. Sproul’s message was not about blessing but about the antithesis of blessing: curse. He described the rich theological words “propitiation” (Jesus receives the wrath of God) and “expiation” (Our sin is transferred to Jesus) (these are my approximate definitions, not Sproul’s! I think get the main idea). Dr. Sproul went on to describe the scapegoat in the OT who was forced outside the camp, away from the Tabernacle and the covenant community. The scapegoat was a metaphor for the sin being put on the animal and taken outside the camp.

Dr. Sproul then showed how this relates to Jesus’ work on the cross.

– the Father turns His face away from the Son (removing the blessing)

– Jesus is executed by the Romans outside of the camp (outside the city of Jerusalem)

– Jesus cries “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

– Jesus became the curse

It is important to note that Jesus was not just cursed, but He actually became the curse. Around this point of the message, Dr. Sproul said something that I hesitate to write in the blog, but I want it to be clear that it was said with humble reverence, not in the careless, sinful way that the phrase is normally used in modern language. Dr. Sproul said that God damned Jesus, there on the cross. He became the curse.

Dr. Sproul completed the message with a couple of statements that I quote as closely as I was able to write it down.

You will either bear the curse of God, or flee to the one who took the curse of God upon Himself for you.

If you believe this, you will not add to the gospel, but will preach it with accuracy, clarity and conviction.

As the message came to a close it was so intense. It hit me all at once like a freight train that Jesus became the curse for me. It broke me up by the end of the message and I felt my love for my Lord deepen significantly as I understood this awesome, terrible truth.

This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard, and I am grateful to my Lord for what He has done for me, and for allowing Dr. Sproul to preach about it with excellence.

If you would like to download this or other messages in mp3 format , they are available here at no charge on the Sovereign Grace website.


  1. I was there too at T4G 08, and I was sitting on the floor near the left side of the auditorium while Dr. Sproul was speaking. I am with you 100%! When that message came to a close my head was down and tears flooded my eyes! I could not Believe what Jesus had done for me! I still can’t! His Grace is Amazing beyond words! I was overwhelmed with an indescribable sense of the love of God for me during Dr. Sproul’s talk. The Spirit was testifying with my spirit that I truly was a child of God and I was just overwhelmed. I could hardly speak afterwards. I didn’t want to laugh or talk or anything…I just wanted to sit still and stand in awe.

    Thanks for your post!

    -Mark McAndrew

  2. Thanks for your comment Mark.

    I am encouraged to hear that you were as blessed as I was by Dr. Sproul’s message. Praise be to our great God!

  3. I was there when you shared that at the Tab and all I could say in my heart was, “Right on Pastor Tim, Right on”… been a fan of R.C’s for years since I saw his video tapes on holiness and use of the word Numinous to describe God. Interestingly this year God has put in my heart a longing for New Wine in the New Wine Skin- when you preached that I felt the New Wine coming down to the Tab. Oh that we would always divide His Word rightly so that the Shadow of Christ’s Work (OT Covenant) never over-takes the reality of a “better covenant”. Not to be too wordy…. I always appreciate your invitations for people to come to Christ. Perhaps someone’s plummet line has fallen short of “a righteousness that is by faith” and they need your invitation. God bless and I hope we can have a coffee some day we have lots to encourage oneanother in.

  4. Hey Kam,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Coffee sounds good…but Coke sounds better!

    I picked up RC’s book on Holiness but I have not got around to reading it yet.

    It is great to hear about God’s work in your heart. May the Lord pour out His Spirit on His church!


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