• 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

  • Evidences of Assurance Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2016

    The Westminster Confession of Faith insists that Christians may be “certainly assured that they are in the state of grace” (18:1) and goes on to assert that this “infallible assurance of faith” is “founded upon” three considerations: “the divine truth of the promises of salvation” “the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made” “the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are children of God” (18:2). The possibility of “certain” and “infallible” assurance is set against the backdrop of medieval and post-Reformation Roman Catholic views that paralyzed the church … View Resource

  • The Christian Life as Pilgrimage Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2016

    Who would true valour see, Let him come hither; One here will constant be, Come wind, come weather. There’s no discouragement Shall make him once relent His first avowed intent To be a pilgrim. A half-century ago, I sang these words in school assemblies set to music composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The words appear in Part 2 of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress as part of Mr. Valiant-for-Truth’s testimony. Earlier, Valiant had introduced himself to Mr. Great-heart and his companions with the words, “I am a Pilgrim, and am going to the celestial city.” All … 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

  • 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

  • What’s in a Name? Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2013

    Hallowed be your name” is what Jesus taught His disciples to say in prayer (Matt. 6:9). It expresses a desire that the Father will be revered and praised and spoken about in a manner that befits His resplendent glory and dignity. After hearing God speak and seeing a bush on fire with no apparent sign of being burned up, Moses asked, “What is your name?” In reply, God first said, “I am who I am” (or “I will be what I will be”), then shortened it to “I am,” then to “the Lord” (I AM translates the Hebrew Yahweh … View Resource

  • 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

  • Church Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2011

    In the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the church comprises the “whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be, gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof” (25.1). This is otherwise known as the invisible church. In another sense, the church is the body of the faithful (1 Cor. 12:27; Eph. 2:21–22; Rev. 21:2, 9), consisting of those throughout the world who outwardly profess faith, together with their children (WCF 25.2). This is otherwise known as the visible church. The Greek word that is translated as “church” in the … View Resource

  • Concupiscence Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2011

    Our Dear Temeluchus, We are very pleased with the success you have had appealing to this young man’s sexual appetite. Telling him that every other young man is viewing pornography was a good move, and ensuring that he turned down the offer to block particular internet sites was crucial. Having his friends mock the very idea of sexual purity as prudish and “puritan“ was a stroke of genius. And how did you manage to get a Christian counselor to say that experimentation would ensure a more balanced and healthy attitude toward sex? You are showing great promise, our young trainee … View Resource

  • The Regulative Principle of Worship Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2010

    Put simply, the regulative principle of worship states that the corporate worship of God is to be founded upon specific directions of Scripture. On the surface, it is difficult to see why anyone who values the authority of Scripture would find such a principle objectionable. Is not the whole of life itself to be lived according to the rule of Scripture? This is a principle dear to the hearts of all who call themselves biblical Christians. To suggest otherwise is to open the door to antinomianism and license. But things are rarely so simple. After all, the Bible does not … 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

  • Corinthian Enthusiasm Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2009

    Only one book is absolutely essential to save us, to equip us to obey God’s will, and to glorify Him in whatever we do. Only one book gives us undiluted truth — the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Only one book serves as our ultimate and final authority in all that it affirms. That book, of course, is the Bible, God’s Holy Word. No wonder John Wesley once exclaimed, ‘Let me be homo unius libri’—a man of one book! And yet the irony is that if we use only this book, we may in fact be … 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

  • 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

  • The Edge of Death Article by Derek Thomas

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2007

    All of us who are adults have had the temptation to pat a child on the head and say something appropriate. When Jacob had spent seventeen years in Egypt with his family and the time of his death drew near (Gen. 47:29), he made his son, Joseph, swear to him that he would ensure that he would not be buried in Egypt, but in his own burial plot back home in Canaan — a piece of land bought by Abraham (50:13). Then, as news of his death came to Joseph, he took his two sons, Ephraim and … View Resource