• A Catechism on the Heart Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2012

    Sometimes people ask authors, “Which of your books is your favorite?” The first time the question is asked, the response is likely to be “I am not sure; I have never really thought about it.” But forced to think about it, my own standard response has become, “I am not sure what my favorite book is; but my favorite title is A Heart for God.” I am rarely asked, “Why?” but (in case you ask) the title simply expresses what I want to be: a Christian with a heart for God. Perhaps that is in part … View Resource

  • Time to (Re)Discover Hebrews Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2011

    Of all the New Testament letters, Hebrews seems to be one many Christians find strange and alien. Here we enter the world of Melchizedek and Aaron, angels and Moses, sacrifices and priests. It all seems so Old Testament, so intricate, and even confusing. If so, it is time to (re)discover Hebrews. But how? View Resource

  • What Does Justification Have to do with the Gospel? Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2010

    There is a striking plausibility about saying that “justification by faith is not what Paul means by ‘the gospel.’” After all, as N.T. Wright elsewhere observes, we are not justified by believing in justification by faith but by believing in Jesus Christ. View Resource

  • Speed with God Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2009

    When Sereno E. Dwight included the seventy resolutions in his biography of his great-grandfather Jonathan Edwards, he added the arresting comment: “These were all written before he was twenty years of age.” Doubtless the resolutions display the marks of relative youth — references to God are frequent, while references to Christ and to grace are noticeably infrequent. Edwards’ sense of the need for radical consecration was then greater than his ability to show how such devotion would need to be resourced in Christ over the long haul. While this is not wholly lacking, there is no doubt that introspection … View Resource

  • Surprised by Joy Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2008

    November 22, 1963, the date of President Kennedy’s assassination, was also the day C.S. Lewis died. Seven years earlier he had thus described death: “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” The metaphor inherent in these words is striking. It comes from the world of students and pupils, but only a teacher would employ it as a metaphor for death. The words (from The Last Battle) bring down the curtain — or perhaps better, close the wardrobe door—on Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. But they also open a window into … View Resource

  • The Practice of Mortification Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2007

    The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance. My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or … View Resource

  • Columba: Missionary to Scotland Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    In reading the “lives of the saints” it is difficult to the point of impossibility to discover the unvarnished truth. That is certainly true in the case of Columba, or Columcille, the Irish missionary to the Scots and Picts in the second half of the sixth century. Columba’s biography, written by Adamnan one hundred years after his death, contains all the stock-in-trade elements of medieval hagiography: visions and revelations, prophecies, visitations of angels, healings, resurrection of the dead, and battles against dark forces (including, in Columba’s case, banishing by the sign of the cross a sixth-century ancestor of the Loch … View Resource

  • A Testimony of Faithfulness Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2004

    Among all the names mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews, only one belongs to a member of the New Testament church. Here are four clues. If you still can’t get the answer, look up Hebrews 13:23. Clue number one: This person seems to have been known to the author. That is not much help in narrowing down the field, unless one holds the minority view that Paul wrote Hebrews. Clue number two: This person had recently been released from imprisonment for the sake of Christ. Got him yet? Clue number three: Actually this person was known very well … View Resource

  • Privileges Bring Responsibilities Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2004

    The letter to the Hebrews, as our studies throughout the year have shown, is full of Old Testament language and ritual. Running throughout it is an ongoing sense that as believers we are on the move, on a pilgrimage through the wilderness. This motif echoes in our ears as we turn the pages. We are seeking to reach the land of rest (4:1). Indeed we can already come near enough to see the throne of its King (4:16; 10:19). It is the throne of grace before which Christ our High Priest stands. So we run the race … View Resource

  • The Author of Faith Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2004

    My last contact with the late Professor John Murray — to whose writings and influence I, like many others, owe a lasting debt — was particularly memorable for me, partly because I asked him a question to which he gave the answer: “That is a difficult question!” As a somewhat diffident young person it was something of a relief to know that my question wasn’t totally stupid. It is a question on which I have continued to reflect. So, what was the question? It may seem a rather recondite one. My question was about the translation and the theological … View Resource

  • Theologian of the Spirit Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2004

    The figure of John Owen (1616–1683) towers above — almost head and shoulders above — the galaxy of writers we know collectively as the English Puritans. His theological learning and acumen was unrivalled; his sense of the importance of doctrine for living was profound. David Clarkson, Owen’s assistant in his latter years, and himself no mean theologian and pastor, well summarized it in his funeral sermon: “It was his great design to promote holiness in the life and exercise of it among you.” Throughout his work, Owen employed, what was to him, a very significant distinction between the conviction … View Resource

  • The Life of Faith Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2004

    The opening words of Hebrews 11, “now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” sometimes perplexes Bible students who are accustomed to the classical Reformed description of faith as consisting of knowledge, assent, and trust. These biblical words seem to be giving a rather different definition. What is the explanation? It is a relatively simple one: the author of Hebrews is not analyzing faith into its component parts; rather, he is telling us how faith operates. Faith is the substance, that is, the assurance, the steady confidence of mind, even the “title … View Resource

  • “The Greatest of All Protestant Heresies”? Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2004

    Let us begin with a church history exam question. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) was a figure not to be taken lightly. He was Pope Clement VIII’s personal theologian and one of the most able figures in the Counter-Reformation movement within sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism. On one occasion, he wrote: “The greatest of all Protestant heresies is _______ .” Complete, explain, and discuss Bellarmine’s statement. How would you answer? What is the greatest of all Protestant heresies? Perhaps justification by faith? Perhaps Scripture alone, or one of the other Reformation watchwords? Those answers make logical sense. But none of them completes Bellarmine’s … View Resource

  • The Christ of the Three Appearings Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2004

    Many pastors, perhaps most, take a very deep breath before they commit themselves to preaching through Hebrews! Understandably so, for it brings most Christians into a world that is alien and distant: Melchizedek and Aaron, temple and furniture, blood and animal sacrifices, types and antitypes. Yet Hebrews is a key to the entire Bible, a roadmap to the whole history of redemption, as its opening verses make clear. And from time to time — as in the lofty opening verses — the author provides us with remarkable, and in some senses “simple,” summaries of the saving plan of God … View Resource

  • What’s in Your Mind, Believer? Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2004

    Since the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the question has been asked endlessly: “What is the role of the law of God in light of the Gospel?” The apostle Paul found himself asking it (for example, Gal. 3:19: “What purpose then does the law serve?” NKJV). He had a profound sense of the place of the Law in the history of redemption and in the covenant purposes of God. But he also answered the question in terms of the life of the believer (for example, in Romans 8:3–4). Ever since, Christians have faced … View Resource