• Just Me And My Bible? Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2015

    Roman Catholic theology is noted for the emphasis it puts on tradition, which is placed alongside Scripture as an equally authoritative stream of revelation. The Reformers rightly rejected this view and emphasized sola Scriptura as the church’s only infallible authority. But is there a place for tradition in the Reformed faith? John Murray, the former professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, once spoke to this question: There is a Reformed tradition. It is enshrined in the Reformed creeds, theology, worship, and practice. We believe it is the purest representation and expression of Apostolic Christianity. It is in … View Resource

  • Jesus and the Church Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014 | Matthew 16

    How many times does Jesus mention the church? I’ve asked that question in a number of forums (Reformed University Fellowship, Sunday school, Drug Court Bible Study, the pulpit, and so on), and have received answers ranging from thirty-six to six. Surprise is the typical response when I reveal that Jesus mentions the church, the ekklÄ“sia, only twice. Initially, this seems to confirm the bias of those who say they admire Jesus but have little regard for the church. The church, they say, is man’s invention. Jesus said little about the church. He didn’t intend to found a … View Resource

  • The Gain of Godliness Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2009

    Rich people are materialistic. We all know it. All they care about is their money and things. Or so I thought. My background consists of a blue-collar neighborhood and an inner-city high school in Southern California. My quick judgment of wealthy people, when first I encountered them, was that they were superficial, worldly, and materialistic. They were caught up in things and appearances. They lacked the simplicity of the virtuous poor, the salt of the earth, among whom I numbered myself. “The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil,” says the apostle (1 Tim. 6:10 … View Resource

  • The Public Reading Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2009

    Until I come,” says the apostle Paul, knowing that his death is imminent, seizing, perhaps, the opportunity to give direction to the church for the centuries ahead, “give attention” (NASB), or “devote yourself” (NIV), “to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” It’s clear enough what the apostle Paul wants done in the public assembly of the church. He wants Scripture read. The practice of the synagogue was to unroll the scrolls of Scripture, read a portion, mark where they stopped, and then the next Sabbath pick up again where they left off. The reading was lectio … View Resource

  • Character Qualifications Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2009

    The composition of the typical Presbyterian session is familiar enough. Professionals, prosperous businessmen, and community leaders predominate. Some are devout, some less so. Most were chosen, truth be known, because of their prominence in endeavors outside the realm of the church. Successful leadership in the world, it is assumed, should translate into successful leadership in the church. The single outstanding feature of the qualities listed in 1 Timothy 3:1–13 is the complete absence of any concern for a potential officer’s success in the world. There is a concern for one’s reputation in the world (v. 7), that is, the world’s … View Resource

  • Chief of Sinners Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2009

    How might we describe the psychology of Christian experience? Is it characterized by joy, peace, and contentment? Or is it characterized by lament, struggle, and holy discontent? Should I feel good about myself or bad about myself? Should I forget past failure and delight in present grace or continue to remind myself of the evidence of the depths of my depravity in my past record and present reality? What I hope you’ll say is: “Both!” But what I suspect most will say is the former and heaven forbid the latter. Look at any recent Christian advertising, whether for books … View Resource

  • Sowing and Reaping Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2009 | Galatians 6

    The words of the apostle Paul are ominous, fearsome, sobering, encouraging, and strengthening as he says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). When I was a young boy, the Baptist minister under whose ministry I sat between the ages of 10 and 20 preached a sermon on this text that made a crucial difference on how I handled my teenage years. I was at a stage when I was just beginning to question whether I wasn’t foolish for being a “goody-two-shoes.” After all, here I … View Resource

  • Children of Promise Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2009 | Galatians 4

    Which is more important, the unity of the church or its purity? To which are we to give preference: love or truth, fellowship or doctrine? The apostle Paul places great emphasis on unity: “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise” (Gal. 4:28). Galatian Gentiles and all believers are “brothers,” are “like Isaac,” and, as such, are “children of promise.” We are all spiritual children of Abraham and Sarah. We have become “children of promise,” descendants of Abraham “like Isaac,” not through birth, but rebirth; not by law, but by promise; not by works … View Resource

  • The True Sons Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2009 | Galatians 3

    Who are the true sons of George Washington? Every player in our political arena today attempts to legitimize his or her political agenda by an appeal to the Founding Fathers. American politicians must be able to show that they embody the principles first established by our Founders. Who best represents their concepts of justice? Of freedom? Of the “common good?” Of the separation of church and state? Conservatives, liberals, the American Communist Party, and even the American Nazi Party of the 1930s present or presented themselves as the true heirs of the Founding Fathers. You may have seen pictures of … View Resource

  • Not According to Man Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2009

    My high school-aged children attend a secular prep school. The process of deciding to educate them there was long and difficult. They spent their lower and middle school years in Christian schools and home school. But in the end, all factors considered, the prep school seemed to us the best choice. Among the many challenges that have come our way as a result have been regular contact with people of other religious persuasions, Christian and non-Christian. Evangelicals are few and far between. For the most part our children have stood tall, rising above the moral and spiritual milieu that pervades the … View Resource

  • Pluralistic Worship Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2008

    During the Reformation era, debates raged over what things must be considered crucial to Christian faith and practice, and what could be considered adiaphora (Latin for “things indifferent”). All sides agreed that the doctrines of the Trinity, the atonement, and justification were central. But what about worship issues? What about the elements of worship, sacramental theology, church architecture, and furnishings? Theological considerations drove the Reformers to insist upon biblical preaching, congregational singing, vernacular Bible readings and services, and sacramental practices that were consistent with their rejection of a sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist. The Reformers did not always agree on … View Resource

  • The New Covenant Meal Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2006

    One of the great insights of the Reformation was the recovery of the biblical concept of “covenant.” This recovery was fueled by the “new learning” of the Renaissance humanism, the return ad fontes, “to the sources,” of theology in the original texts of the New and Old Testaments and in the writings of the church fathers. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Muslim Turks brought a flood of Greek and Hebrew scholars with their manuscripts into Western Europe. For the first time in a thousand years in the West the Bible was being studied in the … View Resource

  • God-centered Worship Article by Terry Johnson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2005

    What is worship that is not centered on God? Worship that is centered on something other than God is not worship, we answer simply. It may be a religious gathering, it may be exciting, it may be informative, but it is not, by definition, worship. Among the primary virtues of traditional Reformed worship is its God-centeredness. Its structure and content leave no ambiguity about what the people of God have gathered to do: offer publicly to God their sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15). A church gathering to offer traditional Reformed worship assembles to meet, to encounter, to know, and … View Resource