• Growing in Maturity Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2016

    One thing most children have in common is a desire to grow up. They look forward to being big and experiencing life from the perspective of someone who has advanced beyond childhood. Whether that involves going to school or getting a driver’s license, the privileges and opportunities that attend maturity lead children to aspire to growth. Adults expect children to grow as well. When they fail to develop and mature, it is abnormal and therefore cause for concern. Scripture encourages such desires and expectations for believers. Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by … View Resource

  • What Is Christian Persecution? Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2015

    Jesus told His disciples: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). He promised that if we follow Him, we will be persecuted. But what does that mean? What does the Bible actually teach about this important issue? Two experiences that I had as a young pastor have helped clarify my understanding of Christian persecution—that is, the kind of which the Bible speaks as inevitably coming against followers of Christ. The first was with a young professional who was full … View Resource

  • Church Splits Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2015 | John 17

    When an atom is split, its overall mass is reduced and a tremendous amount of energy is released. The results, graphically demonstrated by the two atomic bombs that ended World War II, can be massively destructive, with effects that linger for generations. The reactions that result from atom splits have their counterparts in the spiritual realm with church splits. When a congregation experiences division, the consequences are often devastating, widespread, and long lasting. The sinful severing of relationships always breeds betrayal and disillusionment. In a church, where members relate to each other as interdependent components of one body (Rom. 12 … View Resource

  • Discipline in the Home Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2013

    Early in our married life, my wife, Donna, spent two years working as a pediatric nurse at a large children’s hospital. Her unit regularly saw young patients who were in desperate need of medical care, sometimes extreme medical care. One of the greatest challenges of her job, exceeding even the emotional toll of caring for children who never did recover, was dealing with well-intentioned but misguided relatives of her patients. Occasionally, parents or other concerned family members would complain and even interfere with the treatment prescribed for sick and injured children. They could not stand seeing their child endure … View Resource

  • One Family Under God Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2013

    He was asking a question that I had heard multiple times during my years as a pastor: “Do you have children’s church?” This time, instead of giving an extensive explanation for our practice of not segregating our church worship gatherings by ages, I decided to give a brief and accurate yet intentionally provocative answer. Here’s how it went: “Yes, we do. Every Sunday.” “Great. Can you describe how it is structured?” “Sure. We have singing, prayer, Scripture reading, giving, and teaching. We also observe the Lord’s Supper monthly, and periodically we observe baptism.” “That sounds interesting. Are … View Resource

  • Faith of Our Founders: An Interview with Tom Ascol Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2012

    Tabletalk: How did you first hear the call to ministry, and how long have you been a pastor? Tom Ascol: I was sixteen years old when I first sensed God calling me to pastoral ministry. It was through the preaching of a guest preacher during a “youth revival” at my home church, South Park Baptist in Beaumont, Texas. Though I had grown up in the church, I had a very jaded view of pastors, so I thought God was playing a cruel joke on me. After several months of prayer, reflection, and counsel, our pastor asked me to preach for … View Resource

  • Revelation-Driven Life Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2012

    God wins. If I had to summarize the message of Revelation in just two words, those would be my choice. They not only convey the point of the book but also hint at its main storyline. Despite what some overly speculative interpreters would have us believe, the main character in the last book of the Bible is not the Dragon, Beast, or False Prophet; rather, it is God. Revelation is primarily about Christ, not the Antichrist. And the main point of the book is to demonstrate in graphic imagery the victory of God in Christ. Through the incarnate ministry of … View Resource

  • A Solemn Discharge of Duty Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2009 | 1 Timothy 5

    One of the most popular sermons I have preached is entitled “How to Fire Your Pastor.” I should have been suspicious when so many people requested copies of it! My purpose wasn’t to advocate such action; rather, I wanted to help the church know what to do and how to do it if that unfortunate necessity ever arose.  The issue is certainly relevant. It is estimated that in the United States over fifteen hundred ministers are dismissed from their positions each month. In some denominations it is almost epidemic. The relationship between churches and pastors is vitally important … View Resource

  • Some Will Apostatize Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2009 | 1 Timothy 4

    The Bible never sugarcoats the painful realities of living in a fallen world. Sin is portrayed in all of its dark hues, and the best of men are acknowledged to be at best, mere men. Similarly, the church is portrayed as in a constant state of conflict until the Lord Jesus returns.  The church in the world is the church militant—always engaged in warfare, under attack and advancing doggedly onward through enemy territory. As is true with any army, the church is not immune to the loss of some of her members. In fact, the skill and tenacity of … View Resource

  • The High Calling of Women Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2009

    In big, bold type the January 20, 1992, TIME magazine cover asked the question: “Why Are Men and Women Different?” In much smaller letters, almost as if apologizing, the thesis of the cover story was suggested: “It isn’t just upbringing. New studies show they are born that way.” No doubt that bit of information was news to many who had imbibed the feminist doctrine of the previous thirty years. But for anyone familiar with the teachings of the Bible, such discoveries hardly seem newsworthy. God designed men and women to be different and to fulfill different roles in the … View Resource

  • For the Love of God and Man Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2009

    When Paul called the elders of Ephesus to meet him at Miletus for a final opportunity of fellowship and instruction, he warned them of serious problems that would emerge in the church. “I know,” he said, “that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30). Though he himself had planted and nurtured that church for nearly three years, he knew it was not immune to potentially devastating false teaching. In fact, he … View Resource

  • The War Inside Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2009

    The Christian life is a war, and the fiercest battles are those that rage within the heart of every believer. The new birth radically and permanently changes a person’s sinful nature, but it does not immediately liberate that nature from all of the remnants of sin. Birth is followed by growth, and that growth involves warfare. Paul frequently employs the imagery of warfare to help Christians faithfully follow Christ. In Galatians 5 he gives us a peek behind the scenes to help us understand why the soul of one who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ is such a battleground. “But … View Resource

  • Sons, Not Slaves Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2009 | Galatians 4

    Have you ever stopped to consider that Christians who live after the coming of Christ are in a more privileged position than Jews who lived before the coming of Christ and even those believers who lived during His first advent? Jesus taught this very thing. He said, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11). He also said that it was to His disciples’ “advantage” that He leave them because, if He did not go … View Resource

  • A Message Worth Fighting For Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2009 | Galatians 2

    Paul’s letter to the Galatians is relentless in its insistence that there is only one, true gospel. Any subtraction from or addition to the saving message of God’s work in Jesus Christ renders the gospel impotent. That is why Paul so passionately pleads with the Galatians to hold unswervingly to the truth that he taught them, namely, that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Deviate from this, he warns, and you will miss God.  To illustrate the seriousness of what is at stake Paul writes about a very public and potentially scandalous confrontation that … View Resource

  • Getting the Gospel Right Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2009 | Galatians 1

    Sometimes, what is not said speaks more loudly than actual words. The silence, as we say, is deafening. In the opening verses of his letter to the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul employs this communication technique to underscore the seriousness of the subject at hand. As he does in all of his letters, Paul begins by identifying himself as the author, naming the intended recipients, and pronouncing a blessing on them (1:1–5). It is what comes next that is so uncharacteristic for him. Immediately after his introductory comments, and before launching into the body of the letter, Paul writes…nothing. … View Resource