• God-Centered Prayer Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2012

    It is easy to be critical of prayer, particularly the prayers of others. Robert Murray McCheyne’s words are often cited because they remain painfully true: “You wish to humble a man? Ask him about his prayer life.” Our prayers reveal much about us. Prayers with little or no worship and focusing on our needs (usually health) reveal a distorted, Adamic bent. What they reveal is self-centeredness, what Martin Luther labeled homo in se incurvatus: “man curved in on himself.” Listen to prayers at the church prayer meeting (if one still exists). You will discover that the majority of prayers … View Resource

  • God’s Sovereignty and Glory Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2017

    God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say … View Resource

  • Growing Up and Growing Down Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2007 | Genesis 33

    Grow up!” Some of us can recall with a measure of embarrassment being told these words following an incident in which we displayed less than mature behavior. Jacob is growing up, and it has been a long and painful process. In order for him to grow upwards, he must in fact grow downwards in his estimation of himself. Humility has never been a characteristic of Jacob! Genesis 33 recounts the much-anticipated reunion of Jacob and Esau after twenty years. Moses has carefully told the story in such a way as to create a sense of anticipation: Jacob is … View Resource

  • In Secret Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2014 | Matthew 6

    According to Jesus, it is what we do in secret that matters most. Jesus is not suggesting that the outward is unimportant—far from it. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). The answer is emphatically no. Still, it is also possible to have outward works but no inner reality. In this instance, religion is a pretense. Six times in the Sermon on the Mount, alluding to three distinct exercises, Jesus employs the term secret: Give “in secret…and your Father who sees in … View Resource

  • The Lamb of God Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2006

    And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Gen. 22:13). Like an old-fashioned grammar text, the Bible is a book in which many of the answers to questions posed early on are to be found in the back of the book. Take the idea that Jesus died for me. We sing Cecil Frances Alexander’s words: We may not know, we cannot tell What pains he had to bear; But we believe it was for us He hung and suffered there. And we sing these words because they reflect … View Resource

  • A Light in Dark Places Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2008

    The Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy until the advent of the promised Redeemer,” wrote John Calvin in a comment on Psalm 47:12. Paul would heartily concur! Writing from a prison cell from which he had no certain knowledge of escaping other than to his execution, joy is what came to mind. Joy is what the epistle to the Philippians is all about. So much is Philippians about joy that George B. Duncan once referred to it as “the life of continual rejoicing.” The opposite of joy is misery, and miserable is … View Resource

  • Limping Home to God Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2007

    Poor Jacob! You have to love him even though he’s such a disagreeable fellow! A cheat from birth, Jacob has lived up to his name and now finds himself away from home, fearing the wrath of his twin-brother, Esau. Not that life with his uncle Laban had been a picnic. “Out of the frying-pan into the fire” the saying goes, and Jacob found his uncle to be as wily a character as himself. What had probably been a temporary arrangement turned into twenty years during which Jacob fell head-over-heels for a woman called Rachel, but was “tricked” by his uncle … View Resource

  • A Mother in Israel Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2007

    Jacob, the wily one, after ten or fifteen years, finally returns to Bethel. God has been at work in his life, drawing the wayward patriarch to himself. It has been a difficult journey. It invariably is so when our wills are set at variance against the Lord’s. From the perspective of hindsight, Jacob could now speak to his family of a God “who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Gen. 35:3). Jacob had been sheltered within the orbit of God’s covenant faithfulness. Despite half-hearted commitment and questionable decisions … View Resource

  • A New Luther? Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2010

    The accusation that systematic theology (doctrinal formulations of the Reformation period in particular) overly governs (distorts) exegesis is not new, and Bishop N.T. Wright trots it out with renewed zeal in his latest book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (SPCK, 2009). View Resource

  • Nothing but the Blood Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2006

    The story of Melchizedek (Gen. 14:17-24) is both curious and unexpected. It is a story of immense significance in the development of the story of redemption. Abram is faced with a stark choice the consequences of which will reverberate down the corridors of the Old Testament and right into our own time. Returning from his great military victory in the rescuing of Lot and the cities near the Dead Sea (Gen. 14), gratitude to Abram was certainly in order. Two kings greet the conquering hero. But how different the encounters are! One (Melchizedek) is appreciative and gracious; the other … View Resource

  • Our Great Reward Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    In June 2006 in this section we commented on the way in which the story of redemption focuses on Abraham’s “seed” as the line by which the Messiah will come to save God’s people from their sins (Gen. 12:7; 13:15–16). This is but an outworking of the promise made in Eden that the “seed” of the woman will triumph over the “seed” of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). This now emerges once more in Genesis 15 — the chapter that inaugurates God’s covenant with Abraham. Abraham (whose name at this point is still “Abram”) has been victorious in … View Resource

  • Pastor, Professor, Pilgrim: An Interview with Derek Thomas Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2014 | Ephesians 4

    Tabletalk: How did you become a Christian? Derek W.H. Thomas: I became a Christian during my first year at university. My best friend (who had recently become a Christian) sent me a copy of John Stott’s Basic Christianity in the mail. Within a few days of reading it, I prayed something akin to the sinner’s prayer and received an immediate assurance that I was a Christian. TT: What is your role as editor-in-chief of Reformation21? DT: I make some behind-the-scenes contributions to the direction and content of the e-zine. Think of it like Red Adair rushing in … View Resource

  • The People, Place, and Presence of God Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2006

    There is a sense in which the whole of the Old Testament is simply the outworking of the promise in Genesis 3:15 — that the seed of the serpent will be at enmity with the seed of the woman and that the latter will be triumphant. Now, in Genesis 12, we reach another focal point of messianic expectation — the victorious “seed” will be from the loins of a man called Abraham. Like a ringing bell, the next few chapters will announce this messianic lineage with deafening tintinnabulation (ringing of bells). Over and over, a “seed” (the ESV renders … View Resource

  • Praying with the Patriarchs Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2006

    Does God take risks? The question is not as silly as it sounds, and in present-day discussions regarding what is called “open theism,” it is the pertinent question to ask. But let’s ask the question again, from a different perspective. Is God’s knowledge of the future certain? Certain in the sense of being unchangeable, set down by an unalterable divine decree that cannot be changed? The answer would seem, to orthodox Christians at least, obvious. But recently a flood of literature has emerged suggesting that the future is “open.” The so-called open theists take as one of their … View Resource

  • The Providence of God Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2007

    The entire life of Joseph is summarized in Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The teenager we met at the beginning of the story is now over a hundred years old. His life has come full circle, and he is addressing his duplicitous brothers. Their actions, in selling him into slavery, had nothing but evil intent written all over it. Their malevolence can in no way be lessened by the knowledge that things did not turn out as they might have done. Truth is, God overruled their evil … View Resource