• 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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