• A Lingering Obligation Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2008 | Matthew 28

    In 1792 a little-known shoe cobbler published a book in which he argued that the Great Commission remains a duty for every generation of Christians. Within two years the author, William Carey, left his native England and became a missionary to India. Today he is widely regarded as the father of modern missions. Carey’s An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens is one of the most pivotal writings in the history of world evangelization. The first section of this brief work focuses on Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18–20: “All authority … View Resource

  • Lessons from the Fall Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2008

    The Gospels depict the arrest and trial of Jesus in a way that shows us not only the insensibility of His accusers, but also His own steadfast faithfulness to the will of God through suffering and humiliation. Our Lord’s example shows us how to continue entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23; 4:19). Jesus, however, was not the only one who was on trial on this momentous occasion. The gospel writers highlight the events surrounding His abuse and trumped up charges, but they also record another trial that took place that night. This second trial was … View Resource

  • The Horror of Hell Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2008

    There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.” His views are at least more consistent than religious philosopher John Hick, who refers to hell as a “grim fantasy” that is not only “morally revolting” but also “a serious perversion of the Christian Gospel.” Worse yet is theologian … View Resource

  • The Law of Love Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2008 | Matthew 22

    Life is all about relationships. A significant part of what it means for us to be created in the image of God is to be relational. God Himself is a relational being. Not only does He relate personally to us as His image-bearers, He also has enjoyed perfect relational harmony as Father, Son, and Spirit from all eternity.  Our greatest joys and sorrows come because of relationships. In order for us to live as we ought, we must have our relationships properly ordered. This means that we must relate to the right things in the right way. God has … View Resource

  • True Greatness Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2008

    As Jesus approached His final week leading up to His crucifixion, He spoke plainly to His disciples about the events that were about to unfold in Jerusalem. He wanted them to know that the horrific things that would happen to Him were fully anticipated. So He spells it out for them (for the third time), that in Jerusalem He will be arrested, condemned, mocked, flogged, and crucified before being raised back to life on the third day (Matt. 20:18–19). It would be reasonable to expect that our Savior’s words would stir within His disciples deep concern or at least questions … View Resource

  • The Forgotten Mark Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2008

    Historically, Protestants have argued that there are certain, essential marks that characterize a true church. The Belgic Confession of 1561 identifies these marks as being three in number. In addition to the “pure preaching of the gospel” and the “pure administration of the sacraments,” a true church “practices church discipline for correcting faults.” While most churches would readily acknowledge the importance of the first two of these marks, the third one has fallen into such disuse that few church members have ever heard a sermon on corrective church discipline, much less seen it practiced. This is remarkable when one … View Resource

  • The Heart of the Problem Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2008

    The first and most important step in seeking a cure is an accurate diagnosis of the problem. Symptoms must be carefully interpreted so that underlying causes are not overlooked. Several years ago our nine-year-old daugter developed a severe pain in her elbow after a nasty fall. After probing that area of her arm and reviewing x-rays, the physician who examined her concluded that she had simply suffered a bad sprain. A week later, with the pain still lingering, a second doctor examined her. He reviewed her case for several minutes and then began probing Sarah’s wrist where he quickly discovered a previously … View Resource

  • Lessons from a Queen Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2008

    In contrast to many of the ancient Near Eastern cultures, the Bible demonstrates a great respect for women. Among Jesus’ closest followers were Mary and Martha, and women were often the object of His kindness (Matt. 9:20ff; 15:22–28; John 8:1–11) and illustrative of His teaching (Luke 4:25–26; 15:8–10). Once, in response to a Pharisee’s request for a sign, Jesus invoked the memory of a woman who lived one thousand years before His time. He used her example both to instruct and to warn those who had experienced the privileges of seeing His works and hearing … View Resource

  • Lessons from Nature Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2008

    The Bible frequently uses animals as illustrations to help us understand key points about life. In Proverbs, ants are held up as examples of being industrious (6:6), and a lion is used to describe a king’s wrath (19:12; 20:2). David warns us not to be like a horse or a mule in the way we relate to God, and Isaiah assures us that those who wait on the Lord will soar with “wings like eagles” (40:31). Jesus occasionally uses animals to make a point in His teaching. If our heavenly Father takes care of the birds of … View Resource

  • The Most Frightening Words Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2008

    As Jesus draws His Sermon on the Mount to a close, He makes one of the most frightening statements to be found in Scripture. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls His declaration the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name … View Resource

  • Kill Your Sin Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2008

    On May 1, 2003, Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven year old backpacker, did something unthinkable in order to save his life. After being pinned for five days by an eight-hundred pound boulder in a remote Utah canyon, he took his dull pocketknife and cut off his right arm to free himself.  He had tried chipping away at the rock at first, but it would not budge. Finally, he realized that he had only two choices. Either he must cut off his arm, or he would die. On the fifth day, hungry and dehydrated, he sawed through his flesh just below the … View Resource

  • What About Repentance? Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2008

    After four hundred years of prophetic silence, John the Baptist appeared on the scene of redemptive history as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He came in fulfillment of prophecy and with the spirit of Elijah to be a voice “crying in the wilderness” calling people to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3; 11:14; 17:11–12).  John preached a very simple and clear message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2). That message was no more popular in his day than it is in ours, yet our need of it is as urgent … View Resource

  • Worthy Partaking: Examining the Heart Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2006

    Participation in the Lord’s Supper is serious business. At least it is to God. That is not, however, the impression that is given by the way many churches approach this sacrament today. Too often the observance of the Lord’s Supper is tacked on to the end of a worship service, and efficiency, not seriousness, is the main concern. Consequently, many church members have never been encouraged to think very deeply about the nature of this ordinance, much less about the need to make proper preparations before participating in it. It is easily dismissed as a religious ritual that can be … View Resource

  • For God So Loved the World Article by Tom Ascol

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2005

    Every Christian believes in limited atonement. That may sound ludicrous to my Arminian friends because it has long been assumed that only Calvinists hold to the dreaded “L” in TULIP. But if the death of Jesus Christ is recognized as an actual atonement (and not merely a potential one), then the question of limitation cannot be escaped, unless you believe the lie of universalism. It is the recognition that Christ’s death actually atoned for sins that governs our interpretation of those wonderful texts that speak of the great breadth of His saving work. For example, John writes that Jesus is … View Resource