• Overcoming Legalism Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2016

    Jimmy was raised in a legalistic church setting. He professed faith as a child and was taught the glorious truth of the gospel that Jesus Christ died for sinners. But after that initial profession of faith, his entire Christian experience was focused on rule-keeping. Christians, he was taught, kept the rules—and not simply the straightforward biblical commands, but also a range of “principles” in the area of dating and friendships, alcohol use, popular culture, and the like. The major concern was to keep Jimmy and younger Christians like him “unspotted from the world”; the result was that the gospel he … View Resource

  • True Revival and False Revival Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2016

    Throughout the centuries, pastors have tried to understand what God is doing in their congregations. Sometimes, there have been periods of dryness and deadness when there has seemed to be little interest in God’s Word, even among those who claim to be Christians. But at other times, there have been periods of “great awakening” when God has seemed to be on the move, when people have experienced intense spiritual interest, and when revival has seemed to be all around. It was at those times that pastors offered guidelines or marks that might help them and others distinguish true conversions from … View Resource

  • Ministering to the Abused and the Abusers Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2015

    It is a nightmare scenario for all involved: a man calls his pastor in tears and demands a meeting as quickly as possible. Thirty minutes later, he is in the pastor’s office, confessing that his wife caught him touching their thirteen-year-old daughter in a sexual manner. He seems utterly distraught—until the pastor urges the man to call the child abuse hotline and selfreport. Then, the abuser begins to hedge: “Won’t that destroy my family? Won’t that cost me my job? Won’t that destroy my reputation?” The man refuses and walks out of the office. Two weeks later, his entire family … View Resource

  • Remember the Sabbath, to Keep It Holy Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2015

    Have you ever slept for several hours, woke up, but remained unrefreshed? Perhaps you remember Washington Irving’s story “Rip Van Winkle.” Rip is a henpecked husband who wanders to the mountains to escape, meets a strange crew, falls asleep, and snoozes for twenty years. He wakes up to find the world completely changed, his wife dead, and his neighbors envious that he had outslept his nagging wife’s natural life. What’s striking about Irving’s story is that Van Winkle’s sleep wasn’t restful. It was sleep without refreshment. This was a kind of resting that did no real good. And sometimes, we … View Resource

  • The Centrality of the Church Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2014 | Matthew 16:18-19

    For those to whom [God] is Father the church may also be Mother,” John Calvin observed in his Institutes (4.1.1). A few paragraphs later, he teases out what this metaphor means. God uses the church to bring us into spiritual life in the same way a mother conceives children in her womb; He continues to use the church to sustain us in the Christian life just as a mother cares for children all her days. “Our weakness,” Calvin writes, “does not allow us to be dismissed from her school until we have been pupils all our lives.” The church serves … View Resource

  • The Ordinary Christian Church Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2014 | 1 Timothy 3

    Throughout its history, the church has tended to view itself as extraordinary. For example, in the medieval period, the church was an extraordinary place apart from the world, the sacred separated from the profane, the place of salvation, the holder of the mysteries of heaven. The church contained extraordinary people—monks and nuns, priests and bishops, and above all the pope as Christ’s representative on earth. These extraordinary people were the ones who had callings to do ministry; everyone else simply did work. Even more, the church had extraordinary means—sacraments that conveyed grace through the working of the rituals themselves. As … View Resource

  • Who Draws the Line? Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2012

    As Jesus ascended into heaven, He delegated His authority to the Apostles to make disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20a). This delegation of authority has typically served as the basis for thinking about the authority (or power) of the disciples gathered as the church. In other words, here Jesus grants authority to order worship (implied in baptism and teaching) and to declare doctrine (implied in teaching what Jesus … View Resource

  • Self-Centered Sermons Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2011

    Our Son in the Unfaith, We see that you are making progress with your charge. We applaud you for that. The enemy has enough minions preaching His infernal Word faithfully; to see this one begin to totter and swerve from his task causes me great and unholy happiness. Might we suggest another avenue by which you might neutralize his effectiveness and so undo his ministry? Begin to work ever so subtly that he would become the focus of the sermon instead of God’s wretched Son. That sounds like a difficult task, we know. Believe us, our general-in-unbelief struggled to get … View Resource

  • Grace Transforms Everything Article by Sean Michael Lucas

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2010

    In our town, a church just went through a rebranding effort as part of their relocation to a new building in a different section of town. Their logo and signage are beautiful and well conceived. One sees their stickers on cars everywhere. And their tagline is memorable: “Faith changes everything.” View Resource