Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Joy of Investment”

“The Joy of Investment”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Well done good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21, 23
I’m sure that you’re all familiar with Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. It is the second to the last parable in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus told many parables about the Kingdom and this one concerns final judgment. Yet this parable speaks to genuine saving faith. We don’t like to think that when Jesus returns He will judge all mankind. Revelation 20:12ff describes King Jesus coming as the Absolute Judge. The passage describes two books being opened at His coming to judge the living and the dead. The first book is a record of everything that each person does while in this life. The second book is called the Book of Life. The Bible says that anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life, “he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Now we know that God doesn’t need to have books either to record deeds or to know whose name is in the Book of Life. God is all knowing, the term is omniscient. He knows all things and He knows who His children are. Many Christians have been told that they don’t need to worry about the first book, the book of deeds or works. But it is of crucial importance to all of us! The Bible says a great deal about works. Jesus told disciples to store up treasures in heaven. Of course, Christians’ names are recorded in the Book of Life. That is, all those who have received God’s gift of professing faith in Christ alone have had their names recorded by God in His Book of Life. God will execute perfect justice. Therefore, there will be levels of reward and punishment.

First, Jesus will return and “settle accounts”. The servants were brought to give an account of their lives. Two of the servants in the parable heard Jesus’ comforting and encouraging words. One heard only judgment! Likewise, each person will give an account to Jesus.

Second, the letter of James expresses the reality of saving faith. The third servant had a faith that was dead. He did not have saving faith. The undeniable truth is that God’s gift of faith produces good works. One cannot be assured of heaven and produce nothing for the Kingdom!

At this point, you might be thinking that this pastor has “just gone to meddling”. After all you might say, “my faith is a private matter between me and God.” True but not true enough. Saving faith is expressed through investing in the work of the Kingdom. Without any such investment, there is only judgment. I didn’t say it, Jesus did. “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest… Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt. 25:26-30 ESV)

Notice that Jesus affirmed that the wicked servant knew the truth about Him. Yet knowing the truth did not motivate the man to invest what Jesus had given him. When the truth pierces a man or woman’s heart there is a necessary response. The Bible says that those who are in Christ are new creatures. God changes our desires. It’s not out of a sense of duty alone that we invest in the Kingdom. It is supremely out of a desire to love Jesus by serving His body, the church.

This desire to invest falls under the heading of stewardship. You have probably heard of Christian Stewardship when your pastor encouraged financial giving. But in Jesus’ teaching, stewardship represents the whole of life. Financial giving is only one aspect of stewardship. We are called to invest what God has given in the form of tithes, offerings, and all of our gifts and abilities given by Him. Investing ourselves like this is part of worship.

According to this parable and the whole counsel of the Bible, God owns everything and everyone. Those whom He calls and adopts as His children desire to invest all that He has given in the work of the Kingdom. It is a joy to do so. Jesus’ words to the two faithful servants not only confirmed their place in heaven, but also meant living in the joy of Jesus, the Master!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Repentance”

Repentance
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation… If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us (Peter and the Jews) when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I (Peter) that I could stand in God’s way? When they (the Jews) heard this they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”’
2Cor. 7:10; Acts 11:17-18

Repentance is a change of mind that includes much more than thinking in a different way. It causes us to change every aspect of our lives informed by our minds. The penitent one changes the way he thinks and makes decisions. His motivations to serve himself are changed. An essential doctrine of the Christian Faith is that genuine repentance means to turn away from sin.

Further, repentance that leads to salvation is always coupled in the Bible with faith. Here’s why. Repentance is to turn away from and faith is to turn to. The Apostle Paul said that Christians are to count themselves dead to sin (turning from) and alive to God in Christ Jesus (turning to), Romans 6:11.

If genuine repentance leads to salvation then it is reasonable to ask, “Why doesn’t everyone repent”, or at least all those that hear this truth? The obvious answer is that some choose not to repent. But this answer only raises another question. Why do some choose to repent and others not?

This same question could be asked of believing. Why do some choose to believe and others not? The Bible answers both questions the same. Repentance and faith are gifts from God!

When the Jews in Jerusalem who had believed heard Peter’s testimony concerning Gentile believers, they said, “… God has granted repentance that leads to life”.

I have gone to this depth at the risk of repetition in order to emphasize the biblical answer to why some repent and believe. As stated above, the answer is: both repentance and faith (believing) are gifts from God. They are given to those whom God converts from a sinner to a saint. They are given and received at conversion.

Just as saving faith has three parts: knowledge, agreement and trust. Repentance also has three parts: acknowledgment of sin, sorrow over sin and finally turning from sin. When we believe, we look to a certain body of information, i.e. the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. Also, we agree or assent to the truth of that body of information. Finally, saving faith requires trust. That is, we rely upon the truth of what we know and affirm, Hebrews 11, living our lives by this faith.

Now concerning repentance, the Bible teaches that the sinner acknowledges his sin which leads to a godly sorrow for it. But even these two are not adequate for true repentance. There must necessarily follow a turning away from sin.

There is a moment in time, appointed by God when He calls and regenerates a sinner converting him and giving him the gifts of repentance and faith. From that moment the Christian strives to live penitently and faithfully.

God’s promise of heaven is for everyone who is in Christ. Those who are in Christ repent of sin and believe in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel! Further, on the believer’s way home to heaven, the Spirit of God continues to sanctify those in Christ. The Holy Spirit works in the believer prompting a life of faith and repentance. Drawing from a line in an Indiana Jones movie… only the penitent may pass (survive).

By God’s grace and mercy alone in and through Jesus Christ alone, He gives the gifts of repentance and faith. If you do not know God in Jesus Christ, I appeal to you to run to Him! There are no prerequisites for coming to Christ. I urge you to go to Jesus, the only Son of God. As we come face to face with our own sinfulness, being grieved by it and committing to turn from it, God causes a light to shine in our hearts to see the beauty of Christ and rely upon Him. I can’t emphasize this truth enough. Repentance and faith are gifts from God received at conversion and they are expressed throughout life. They truly are the gifts that keep on giving and it’s all by God’s grace. Run to Christ!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Distractions”

“Distractions”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel…Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Mark 1:15, 38

The urgency to preach the gospel should be foremost in every church that professes Christ as her head! Yet, it seems that the evangelical church continues to be distracted by cultural circumstances. Church leaders continue to “take up” the latest social issues, like gender equality, women’s roles, or racial reconciliation rather than the fundamental problem of mankind, which is sin!

Surely, social injustices were present when Jesus began His public ministry. What did Jesus, the God-Man, do in the face of social injustices? He preached a clear message. He said, “Repent and believe in the gospel! Both verbs are in the imperative mood and present tense. The imperative is the mood of command. The present tense describes current and on-going action. Therefore, both repenting and believing are current on-going actions commanded by God.

Jesus gave two reasons for obeying His dual command. The first was the “time is fulfilled.” The second, “the kingdom of God is at hand”.

The first referenced Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:25. The Apostle Paul confirmed its fulfillment, Galatians 4:4. The time of fulfillment for the Messiah’s arrival on earth was set by God in eternity. Further, Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue, see Luke 4:18-21. He was the one Isaiah prophesied would inaugurate the “year of the Lord’s favor”. Jesus’ coming began the time for salvation which will continue until He returns in judgment. Likewise, the Apostle Peter boldly told the religious leaders,” there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.

The second reason given by Jesus in Mark 1:15 was the rule of God was at hand. Jesus the King and Lord, the one who rules all things, was physically in the midst of His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority, Matthew 28:18. He commands repentance and faith!

Repentance and faith go hand-in-hand. Repentance is a change of mind, a turning away from sin. Faith is trust in the object who is Jesus. When God converts a sinner into a saint He gives two gifts. One is repentance. The second is faith. Those converted turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. Paul explained the action of a converted sinner in Romans 6:11. “So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Both God-given gifts continue throughout every Christian’s life. We live repenting and believing, turning from our sin and relying upon the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Jesus was very specific in His command. He commanded believing in the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16b.

I’m sure that you’ve heard that the word “gospel” means good news. So, what’s the good news? It is, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1Corinthians 15:3-4. This is truly good news because we all deserve to go to hell. But, God who is “rich in mercy”, Ephesians 2:4, chose some for heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus as He is offered in the gospel! That is relying upon the only begotten one, Jesus, not born but eternally proceeding from the Father. Those destined for heaven rely upon Jesus’ perfect life and His perfect sacrifice for sins. This reliance is not by our strength and power. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The gospel is good news because God applies it to those whom He has chosen.

Therefore, he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 The only solution given by God to all of man’s problems is the gospel. I pray that the church not be distracted. But, by God’s grace and His power proclaim the gospel!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The God-Man”

“The God-Man”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Years ago, I remember sitting in our family room watching a so-called Christian Television Program. The star of the show announced one of his future crusades by calling people to come “expecting a miracle”. The dictionary defines a miracle as a supernatural event.

Naturally, my interest was heightened by such an announcement. Contrary to this showman’s prideful claim, there is a miracle that surpasses all miracles revealed in the Bible. Our lives rest upon the genuineness of this miracle. The miracle to which I refer is the Incarnation. The meaning of Incarnation is God in the flesh. The Second Person of the Trinity is fully God and fully Man.

The Prophet Isaiah predicted this miracle. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 God’s promise was fulfilled in 4 B.C. with the birth of Jesus. Matthew wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23

The Incarnation was so important that God spoke through His prophets throughout the Old Testament declaring the absolute necessity of the God – Man. It is a miracle that we simply cannot adequately understand, but we receive it as the absolute truth because God said it. Our hope of eternal life is real because the miracle of Jesus’ conception was real. Jesus was conceived out of the natural course, without sin.

The Apostle Paul took the opportunity of rivalry and disunity in the church to declare both the explicit and implicit meaning of the Incarnation. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

The first explicit revelation is that the Incarnation is the ultimate definition of humility. God, the Creator of all, condescended to lower Himself and take upon Himself human nature. God came to earth as a man. All the while, He remained divine. He voluntarily set aside His glory. No analogy is adequate to describe Jesus’ humiliation in the Incarnation and His crucifixion.

Further, Paul wrote that Jesus was born of woman, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, Galatians 4:4. Jesus was fully man, but a man without sin! Jesus was born without sin because He was born out of the natural course. He was miraculously born of Mary who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because of Jesus’ humility in fully submitting to the Law in obedience to God the Father even unto death upon a cross those who are in Christ are accepted by God because of His blood and righteousness. Apart from Jesus’ Incarnation we would never be able to have a relationship with God. The Incarnation led to the satisfaction of the Law’s demands! Because of His perfect sacrifice payment for our sins has been made.

Second, Paul also wrote of Jesus’ exaltation. Because of His perfect obedience to His Father, even to death on a cross, God gave Him the name that is above every name. That name is Lord. The Father gave Jesus to be the Master of all that exists. Jesus said, “all authority in heaven and on earth” was given to Him, Matthew 28:18.

In summation, Paul wrote of God’s purpose in the Incarnation. Everything about the Incarnation is for the glory of God, the Father! The entirety of God’s plan of redemption is for His glory!

The Incarnation also has an implicit affect. The implication of the Incarnation, God with us is that those who are in Christ are joint heirs of heaven with Him. The God-Man, the sinless One, offered in the gospel, is man’s only hope.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Do I have free will?”

Do I have free will?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
If I was asked to make a list of the ten worst questions to ask in church this would be on that list. It might even be near the top! I really want you all to read my entire article, so I’ll refrain from giving the short answer to the question.

When seeking to answer a question, especially one that concerns the issue of man’s free will, you ought to be clear on the meaning and use of the words. The will of man is the faculty of the mind by which choices or decisions concerning a course of action are made. The word free means unencumbered, not enslaved, or controlled by obligation.

Substituting the meanings of the words, the question can be rephrased. “Do I have an unencumbered mental faculty by which I am able to make choices?” Every person answering this question will respond in accordance with his own personal opinion.

Therefore, since there are likely as many opinions as there are people asked, we ought to seek the one opinion that matters. In other words, what has God said, if anything, concerning the issue of man’s will?

You might try to find the instances of the words “free” and “will” in the concordance of your Bible. My starting place is the Garden of Eden. After God made Adam, He told him that he was free to eat of every tree of the Garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 2:16-17.

We know what happened. Adam and the woman, later named Eve, ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. At the end of Chapter three of Genesis, we read that God “placed the cherubim (mighty angels) and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” God insured that no man would be able to eat of the tree of life and live forever, Genesis 3:22-24.

We next look at God’s destruction of the earth by the universal flood, He surveyed all mankind and declared “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Genesis 6:5. Further, the prophet Jeremiah spoke for God and said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament. Men have not changed. The Apostle Paul wrote, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Romans 3:10

God declared that man’s will is in bondage; it is not unencumbered! Yes , I do what I desire. One of the greatest, possibly the greatest American Theologian, Jonathan Edwards wrote a book entitled, “The Freedom of the Will.” The basic premise of his book is that men do whatever they want to do. The problem is that before God regenerates a man or woman, the only thing that they desire is sin!

The reality revealed by the word of God is, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us … while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son…” Romans 5:8, 10. Man’s will is in bondage to sin! Jesus said that “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32.

All this may strike you as just some philosophical rambling, but this truth is much more. Understanding our human nature is essential if we are ever to know the depth of God’s grace.

So what are we to make of the question? Do I or you have free will? Even in a purely physical sense, we are limited. No one can honestly claim that he can do whatever he wants. All of us have certain restrictions placed upon us. Next time, may God forbid, that you’re pulled over for driving above the speed limit, try telling the officer that you are free to do whatever you want, because the speed limit doesn’t apply to you.

Apply that same logic to life in Christ. Tell God that you’re free to choose Him or not. Tell Him that you did not inherit Adam’s sin. Tell him that your will is not in bondage to sin that you are able to take and eat of the tree of life and thereby you can choose to live forever!

How have you answered the question?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Facing the Truth”

“Facing the Truth”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Roman Governor of Jerusalem asked Jesus the most profound question of all time and didn’t realize it! Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, John 18:38. In Pilate’s mind, truth was secondary. He believed that the most important thing was power, revealed by his further conversation with Jesus. Pilate declared his authority over Jesus, so he thought, and Jesus responded with the truth. “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…” John 19:11. Ironically, Pilate’s question foreshadowed our age.

Observers of Culture have called our time in the west the Post Modern Era. Simply stated, this era subverts the importance of truth as Pilate did. In the Post Modern’s mind, there is no such thing as absolute truth. One of the symptoms is reflected in our culture by what is called spirituality. We see it in movies and television. There are popular dramas centered in the world beyond this one. Talk shows on T.V. have segments to discuss the importance of having some kind of spiritual connectedness. People seem to be on never-ending quests to experience the latest spiritual guru’s method for attaining a deep spiritual fulfillment. You may have heard someone say, “It’s all about the journey.”

The obvious problem with this philosophy is that the “journey” may indeed end in destruction.

Opposed to this is what is called truth. The simple definition is: truth is reality. The Bible teaches that men naturally suppress the truth. We like to press reality down so as to seek to live above it or ignore it. A friend of mine once said that denial is not only a river in Egypt. We can deny or suppress the truth all we want. But we must live in and face reality.

Every time we look around, we see men and women telling us that truth is relative. What’s true for you may or may not be true for me. Those who see reality are referred to as simple-minded or bigots. Their charge against those of us who recognize absolute truth is: “Who made you the purveyor of truth?” The political world is filled with such charges. There are those whose sole effort it seems is to “make numbers” say whatever is expedient. We have poll numbers, jobless numbers, etc. that are designed to support one position over and against another.

The reality of truth has also fallen on hard times in the church. Some church leaders in the United States have downplayed the truth and conformed to culture. They claim to teach that Christianity is all about relationships. Truth, sound doctrine, is contrary to what they call love. They claim that doctrine is of little value. They teach that the church’s mission is to meet “felt needs”, to offer courses on how to have a better marriage or how to live as a single or divorced person, and to attract people through entertainment.

Meeting “felt needs”, offering programs, or entertaining worship do not represent the mission of the church. The truth is one’s relationship with the Jesus of the Bible is the fundamental reality of life. Having a relationship with the biblical Jesus is what matters. There is only one true Savior. He said that He is the way, and the truth, and the life, John 14:6. He is the Jesus of the Bible. Dare I say that He is not simply known in the eye of the beholder? He is the reality of life!

The church is to teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine, that is, the truth. Teaching the truth enables believers to apply God’s word facing reality in every circumstance of life. In so doing, believers will be equipped to make a difference in the world for the glory of God.

Let me be bold and say very simply and clearly that truth is reality. Truth matters since it is what is real. God has revealed the truth in His word and fully in the Person and Work of Jesus. He is the only Son of God, not born, but eternally proceeding from the Father. He is the Jesus offered in the gospel. He is the Second Person of the Trinity. All life is by Him, in Him and, for Him. Every relationship is designed by God to find meaning as a result of knowing the Truth, Jesus. He alone enables us to face the truth!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Upside Down World”

“The Upside Down World”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The world is upside down when right is called wrong or good is seen as evil. I believe that our Western Culture has reached the stage of being upside down! In our day, an unnatural lifestyle is called gay. It was said that “love won” when God’s institution of marriage was redefined as a union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Those who support the killing of unborn babies are said to be “pro-choice” rather than “pro-death.”

For such conditions, God issued a warning to the Church. God said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” Isaiah 5:20a This reality may offend our sense of rugged individualism. There are things that are right, good and loving and they are not defined by me or anyone else! Woe is used in Scripture to convey a dire warning. It usually precedes God’s judgment. Isaiah 5:20 continues with more clarity for our upside down world. “Woe (to those)… who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” God issued a warning to His people for their abusive and oppressive behavior towards others. More specifically, God directed His “woe” against the leaders of His people. God’s people had become man-centered idolaters and thereby lived in an “upside down world.”

The book of Isaiah comprehensively covers God’s judgment and salvation. Chapter 5 was addressed to God’s “vineyard”, His chosen people. God sought justice and righteousness within His people and found none! God’s indictment of wicked people continued. They are described as oppressive, self-serving, unjust and liars. The word “woe” is repeated six times in Isaiah 5.

God expects His people to know good from evil. He expects His people to follow “the good”. “The good” is that which is morally and ethically right. The ultimate source of “the good” is God. He has revealed “the good” in His word. “He has told you, O man, what is good.” Micah 6:8a

The Bible was written to believers, yet it is universally applicable. God does not have a sliding scale. He doesn’t grade on a curve. “All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” 2Corinthans 5:10.

A recent candidate for the Presidency once called upon God to bless Planned Parenthood. This organization claims that they operate for the interest of women’s health. The founder believed in eugenics shaped by her belief in evolution. Eugenics is the attempt to improve the species through genetic control. Margaret Sanger, the organization’s founder, believed improvement of the species comes by removing the less desirable members of society, in her view, minorities and the disabled. One of the tools that she advocated was abortion another was sterilization of minority women. Margaret Sanger summarized her philosophy. “More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control.” (Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12)

Issues of human life do not fall in the category of ethical confusion. We need not wonder what the “good” course is. God is for life! Those who call killing babies good fall under the “woes” that Isaiah declared and are living in darkness in an upside down world.

Some issues may not be as clear as the issue of the life of the unborn. An example that comes to mind concerns obeying the rule of law. Applying the law of the land is described as inhumane especially when it involves the borders of our nation. Some have even said that it is unloving to expect those seeking entrance to our country to obey our immigration laws.

I am a minister of the gospel. Yet, in this I am writing as a man who believes in the Risen Lord Jesus. God made me a new creation by His sovereign grace alone. He caused me to see the truth and beauty of Christ. As a member of His family, I am obligated to declare the truth and live under His word. I dare not bless what God curses! I dare not remain silent when evil is called good.

It has been said, that for evil to succeed all that is necessary is for good men to be silent. I am not good in the sight of God. I am a sinner. God alone is good and He expects me to stand for that which is good, right and true not for the values of our upside down world.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “It’s Inhuman!”

“It’s Inhuman!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Inhuman is to lack pity, kindness, or mercy. The political “elites” otherwise known as Progressives or Extreme Liberals have lately been issuing the cry of “It’s inhuman!” The issue, of course is the so-called mistreatment of foreign children crossing our southern border. It’s inhuman to cruelly rip these children from there assumed parents.

All manner of personal slander against our President and his family is being levied by those who say that they are really concerned for the treatment of these illegal immigrant children. Politicians can convince people of the most amazing things simply by claiming that whatever it is will be in the interest of children; even to the point of ignoring or breaking the laws of our land.

With all the cries concerning the protection of these foreign children no mention is made of the single biggest action of ripping a child from its mother. Society has “cleaned up” this evil act by giving it a less convicting name. We call this heinous crime abortion, the killing of a baby in the womb. Since 1974, more than 52,000,000 babies have been killed through abortion.

In this day of so-called scientific enlightenment, denying that the life of a human being begins at conception would seem to any reasonable person to be unbelievable.

Why do so many Christians speak strongly for the sanctity of human life? Actually, everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus should stand for life. The reason, God is for life. He is the one who set apart human life and sanctified it.

Since, the mid Seventies, the “Progressives” have given government the authority to remove the right to life given by our Creator. As Francis Schaeffer wrote in 1981, “The dignity of human life is not some peripheral issue,” The Christian Manifesto.

The protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. The sanctity of human life is an absolute! The right to live is given by God who is the source of life. He breathed into Man the breath of life, Genesis 2:7. Human life is sacred because God, our Creator made it so.

Secular Humanism has clouded the mind of our culture. In a culture where there are no absolutes, men make decisions based upon personal preference. Our culture is governed by moral relativism. Everything is considered relative. There are no absolutes except that there are no absolutes. Yet, the sanctity of human life is an absolute.
Our very own Declaration of Independence stated clearly both the source of life and its inherent value. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Founders of our country declared that the source of life was God and that life is an undeniable right given by Him, therefore an absolute.
Further, when God gave the Law through Moses to His people, He included a commandment against murder, Exodus 20:13. The word translated kill or murder in the 6th Commandment is understood to mean the unlawful taking of life. Only God can authorize the taking of life. God’s highest consequence for the taking of life is the life of the one who took it.

The 6th Commandment is not only a prohibition for Man, but it reveals the character of God, as do all the Commandments. That is, God is for life not death. Jesus said that God is the God of the living, Matthew 22:32. Jesus also said that He is the life, John 14:6.

God has called His people to be light in this dark world. Christians are to stand for the truth, not only in the circle of believers, but also wherever God has placed them.

It seems to me timely to write concerning the sanctity of life. With such concern for illegal immigrants’ children, it behooves all of those who have any sense of humanity to cry out for the “silent ones”, those in the womb. Whether you are a Christian or not I urge you to speak for those who have no one to speak for them. Speak for the unborn babies. The statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is not in school or crossing our borders but in the womb.

May the God of life protect all children.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”

“Psalm 23 Reveals the Ground of Assurance”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“The LORD is my shepherd.” David wrote Psalm 23 and declared that Yahweh, Jehovah, the LORD was his Shepherd. He harkened back to Exodus 3:14. The Great “I Am” appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Moses asked God for His name. God told Moses that He is who He is. In other words, God declared that He is the Eternal Being. There is more to God’s name. LORD is descriptive of God’s covenantal faithfulness. The Hebrews held God’s personal name in such regard that they did not speak His name. God gave His name in the Hebrew verb “to be”. All being, all existence proceeds from the only one who has being, existence in Himself. In Psalm 23, David declared the propositional truth. Yahweh IS the one who tends and cares for every believer!

I recall one Bible teacher saying that we are misnamed as human beings. We should be called human becomings. We are always changing from one thing to another. From the time we are born we age. As we age we mature. God, however, never changes. He is. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever”, Hebrews 13:8.

When David made the declaration: “The LORD is my shepherd” he stated that he was cared for and guided by the One and only Eternal Being. His declaration was made of the absolute highest and greatest being. More, king David addressed the eternal One as his Shepherd. As such, David was declaring his intimacy with God.

King David knew the LORD. He wrote that the one who led him, cared for him and provided for his needs was the Great “I Am”. As we look at this psalm, we who know the LORD profess with David the certainty of God’s care and providence.

The Gospel of John recorded the “I Am “sayings of Jesus. John 10:11 in particular recorded who this Great “I Am” was and is. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.”

The Apostle Paul wrote these words about Jesus who is the Great “I Am”. “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell”, Colossians 1:15-19. The fullness of God was revealed in Jesus who is eternally begotten (not born) from the Father.

David wrote Psalm 23 more than 3,000 years ago. Yet all who profess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead have the Great “I Am” as their Shepherd as David did. King David looked forward to the person and work of Christ. We who trust in Jesus look back at Him.

God’s faithfulness revealed in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation is for all who call upon the name of the LORD. We say with King David” The LORD is my Shepherd. Therefore, I trust that the LORD will meet my needs. Because He is my Shepherd, “I shall not want!”

Jesus said do not worry about the needs of life. He said the Father knows my needs and will provide what I truly need.

Confidence in God’s providence is not exclusive to me but applies to everyone who calls upon the name of Jesus! Those who call upon the name of Jesus are those who rely upon and trust in the Person and Work of Christ.

The object of saving faith is the Jesus revealed in the Bible. He is the God-Man. He is God in the flesh. He is not a created being. He is not the Jesus of another testament, book or philosophy. He is not just a prophet. He is fully God and fully Man. This is the Jesus who promised God’s love.

There are two aspects of life in Christ to which David pointed in Psalm 23:1. They are guidance and provision. The Good Shepherd, Jesus guides and provides for His people. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Jesus said that He knows His sheep and He calls them by name, John 10:3-14.

You who hear Jesus through His word follow Him. You belong to Him. He will provide your needs. You shall not want! Your eternity is secure in Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Loss is Inevitable”

“Loss is Inevitable”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We all face loss of some kind. We lose treasured things as a result of tragedies like fire, extreme weather, etc. We lose the opportunity of maintaining close relationships as a result of friends moving away. We lose jobs as a result of “down-sizing” or bankruptcies. The most stinging losses are those of people. The loss of family and friends due to death are the most stinging! The loss of life of a loved one challenges everything that we hold dear. The depth of this loss can cause despair.

God knows the significance of loss. He inspired the Apostle Paul to declare the necessity of good theology as the remedy to deal with the most significant loss, life, in this world. As we continue to live in this world, death, still has power over us. Paul wrote two significant texts concerning physical death. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15:56-57. We know that Christ was victorious over death. He is Risen! Matthew 28:6 He has ascended to the right hand of God. Revelation 5 Jesus rules all things in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 We know that those who are in Christ will share in His victory. When He returns, we will see Him as He is and we will be like Him.1John 3:2

But, what about now? Paul addressed our life now in 1Thessalonians 4:13. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as other do who have no hope.” Paul desired to inform the church. This pre-supposes that the church was ill-informed, at least to the degree that physical death was challenging the faith of believers. They didn’t know everything. It was a disturbing thought that when God made me a Christian, I didn’t immediately become an expert in doctrine! I’m sure that you’ve experienced the same realization. When I have the privilege of sitting under someone who has “walked” with the Lord for a long time I discover how much I don’t know. I continue to study the word and listen to those who teach sound doctrine. My life in Christ will continue on this track until I go to be with the Lord. The Christian Life is one of growing in the knowledge of, dare I say, sound doctrine! We learn that God grows us up in Christ not in ourselves. The Apostle knew that the only remedy for despair over loss was sound, good theology.

Notice the first phrase in 1Thessalonians 4:13. Paul wanted, he desired, that the church be informed! How sad it is that in our day, many leaders of churches desire members to “feel” as though their desires and interests are being met! Being led by our desires will only lead to despair. We are no match for the world. We are certainly no match for the issue of loss, especially the loss of life.

Our family is in the midst of this inevitable loss. My mother, who has been granted 99 years of life is in the process of dying. The words of Paul have pierced my heart as never before, “… you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Because of the sovereign grace of God in choosing to make me His, I know that He has given me a hope that can never be taken away, even by death. I know that my mom is in the hands of the sovereign God.

I can’t fathom the depth of despair that those who do not know God experience. Even for those who profess Christ, I can’t imagine the damage that the lack of sound doctrine does to their faith. The Christian Life, as ordained by God, is a life of learning from and following Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. When the world’s challenges come, where do you go? Are you being taught the truth? Growing in the knowledge and love of Christ is essential for our life.

May the Lord use this challenge in my life to cause you to seek out a church that teaches sound doctrine. May you grow in Christ. May He deepen your trust in Him and confirm the hope that He gives to His own.