Living in Orlando offers tremendous opportunities this Advent Season. With St. Andrews’ Chapel close by, we usually attend their Ligonier Ministries Advent Service. It is a glorious time to see old friends and hear R.C. Sproul deliver a powerful message.
This year however, R.C. did something that he rarely does. He preached for 45 minutes and entered into new sermon territory. When you have written over 45 books and produced numerous videos in so many subjects, it is rare to hear R.C. preach on something you have not heard before (especially if you live here in Orlando).
Dr. Sproul dealt with that little phrase in Isaiah 9: “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor…” That small phrase has led to numerous scholarly disputes, particularly in newer translations. I have just quoted from the English Standard Version, which decided to translate that phrase as if they were together. Sproul summarized well the linguistic discussion:
There is debate as to the punctuation of this passage. The nature of the question has to do with the comma between wonderful and counselor, so that the term wonderful is an adjectival qualifier. Further evidence of this is that the rest of the names appears in couplets, but that does not necessarily mean that we should put wonderful and counselor together. The majority report in church history is that they are two distinct names. The one born in Bethlehem is called Wonderful.
According to Sproul we ought to see this section of adjectives as two distinct attributes. He is wonderful and counselor, not as the ESV translates it: Wonderful Counselor.
With this context in mind, Dr. Sproul borrows the entirety of the sermon from one of the new published Puritan books by Jeremiah Burroughs entitled: Gospel Revelation. In this book R.C.’s favorite Puritan preaches several messages. Among them Burroughs preaches on why the name of God is the only One worthy to be praised (Psalm 148:13), and on another sermon he exegetes that one small phrase in Isaiah 9.
The central theme of the sermon is that we have the tendency to restrict our praise of God to His works and gifts. Though this is good, nothing satisfies the soul more than to praise God for Who He is. He is wonderful.
Burroughs develops the theme of wonder throughout the Scriptures. He focuses on the wonder of the Word made flesh, the wonder of the offices of Christ (Prophet, Priest, and King) and the wonder of Christ’s miracles. It was truly a delightful treatment of a word generally untreated in this Advent Season. It became evident throughout the exposition that the idea of Christ as wonderful is found in all of Scriptures.
Christ is indeed the wonder of this Season. We rejoice in this Advent season because our faith is renewed and strengthened. There is nothing we desire more in this season than that “our souls may be moved to doxology” in light of the wonder of Christ the Lord.