Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Don’t stop at knowing!”

“Don’t stop at knowing!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Applying the science of biblical interpretation, will enable us to know what God has said. Once we arrive at what He said, there is a tendency to stay there. I would exhort you to move forward to apply what God has said. One area of applying what God has said concerns joining a local church. There are some in the evangelical world which place a very low priority on church membership. There is one clear observation that we can make concerning the New Testament. The human authors, especially the Apostle Paul did not write much on church membership because he assumed that those whom Christ made His own would naturally seek to invest themselves in a local body of believers. Church membership was assumed.

A genuine believer is one who has been born again by the Spirit of God working in concert with the Word of God. When God raises the spiritually dead, He makes him a new creation. As a new creation, He gives new desires. Believers have a desire to worship God, or you may be used to saying, “Go to Church.” Therefore, believers desire to find a body of believers with whom they can worship God.

The biblical doctrine of adoption necessitates Church Membership. God Adopts the sinner into His family by an act of His free grace. The adopted are heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven. We know that the Bible teaches that God sanctifies those whom He adopts into His family. Sanctification is God’s process of change in every believer. He works in each one causing him to respond by the ongoing mortification of sin. Believers work out their own salvation because God, the Holy Spirit works in them to make them more and more like Christ.

Likewise, the Bible teaches that salvation is God past act, His ongoing work and His future promise. Christians have been saved, are being saved and will be saved! The Christian’s desire to worship God with brothers and sisters in Christ is the motivation to invest in a local church. Church membership is the God-ordained normal means by which Christians live out their adoption.

Christians gather to: praise God, pray to Him, and hear Him speak both in the reading and proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.

Believers grow spiritually by participating in corporate worship. Therefore, finding a church is critical for living in Christ, applying God’s adoption. A believer desires a church in which he can grow up into Christ. As a result, it is necessary to know what constitutes a “true church”, that is, one that preaches the pure word, administers the two sacraments as Christ ordained them and exercises biblical Church Discipline. These three marks of a true church were re-discovered by the Protestant Reformers of the 16th Century.

These three marks are revealed in the Bible. They are necessarily present in every local congregation that calls itself “Christian.” For emphasis I repeat them. The first mark is that the pure word of God is preached. The second is that the two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are administered in accordance with Christ’s institution. The third is that Church Discipline is exercised in accordance with God’s word.

Christians are often deceived by pragmatists and others who base supreme value on “what works” to grow in numbers. Christians too often seek churches with the right programs, or an age group of those of similar life circumstances. It sometimes seems that God-centered worship and ministry has fallen on “hard times”, especially in the American Evangelical Church.

But, against man-centeredness stand the marks of a true church. I encourage all who profess Christ to seek out such a local church. Be intentional about seeking a local church that is God-centered rather than man-centered. God has ordained that Christians will grow spiritually through the ministry of a local church centered on Him. Don’t settle for fancy or entertaining skits, programs or social circles. If you are the father of a family, you not only need the spiritual growth possible in a faithful church, but your wife and, if the Lord has blessed you, your children need to be in a church that is God-honoring, Christ-exalting and Bible-centered. Once you find one, invest your God-given gifts and talents for the glory of God.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Know What God Has Said!”

“Know What God Has Said!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The statement I often hear in Christian circles is not the positive statement above but one that denies the very nature and character of the one true God. The statement is, “No one can know what God has said.” After all isn’t interpreting the Bible simply offering an opinion. What did God say about such a false notion? “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29

God, our God is the God of revelation. He desires to be known. He revealed Himself in two ways. We know that He exists because He has revealed His “invisible attributes” by what He has made, Romans 1:19. All Creation declares the glory of God, Psalm 19:1. Further, God has fully revealed Himself in His word written and Incarnate. “Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” Hebrews 1-2.

It is reasonable, therefore, to assume that the Bible is understandable. Yet, many are lost when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Christians are faced with a myriad of interpretations. Christians don’t ask, “Who has the “right” interpretation?” Rather, I’ve heard people say, “They may all be right.” If we look at this issue of biblical interpretation logically, we must conclude that all interpretations cannot be right. When there are contradicting views of the Bible, one or both may be wrong. One thing for certain is they all can’t be right. There is only one right interpretation of a passage of Scripture. For difficult passages, we may never arrive at the right interpretation this side of heaven.

But, don’t lose heart. The entire Bible does not fall into the category of “difficult”. The vast majority of biblical doctrine is clear. For example, the doctrine of salvation is clear. God has revealed that men are born dead in sin and are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

To know what God has said, the church has applied the science of interpretation called hermeneutics. There are two principles by which we interpret Scripture. The first is called the biblical principle. The second is called the literal principle. The biblical principle is also called the analogy of faith. The Protestant Reformers recovered this principle of interpretation. They understood that the Bible interprets itself. This means the clear passages of Scripture shed light upon the more obscure ones. No one place of Scripture may be placed against another. In other words, there are no contradictions in the Bible. There may be apparent contradictions, but the Bible is consistent with itself. God does not speak with a “forked” tongue.

The second principle, the literal one, also called the historical/grammatical principle. “Text without context is pretext.” The words of Scripture find their meaning within the broader context of the passage. For example, because of the difficulty in understanding Hebrews 6:4, it would not be accurate to base a theology on the possibility of losing one’s salvation! Keeping that verse within its context makes it clear that the writer is speaking of one who may profess faith, but does not possess genuine saving faith. In other words, the writer was speaking of those who are called apostates.

The literal principle seeks to understand that which is plainly meant. It is how we read and understand any literature. Therefore, genre, grammar, meaning of words, context, and the time of the writing are involved in discovering the meaning. Figurative language is also taken into account. For example, we know that when the prophet Isaiah wrote that the “trees of the field shall clap their hands” he didn’t mean that trees have hands. God was describing the joy of all Creation when His plan of redemption is finally consummated. Or, when Jesus said that He was the “door of the sheep”, He did not mean that He looked like a door! Jesus meant that He is the only way for His people to have safety and security.

There are many good books. But there is only one that is life, Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4. I urge you to find a Church which will equip you to know the word of God and apply it for His glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “More Than One Day”

“More Than One Day”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The meal is finished. The extended family has left. Now, it’s time to get ready for Christmas. Well, no! It’s time to give thanks, rather to continue to give thanks.

We are blessed to have a day for giving God thanks. You may know that George Washington set the day apart to thank God for His providence. We do well to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But I suggest that thanksgiving is a life style for the Christian.

We list those things that we are thankful for, as our church does at our Thanksgiving Eve Prayer Service. But, God calls His people to respond by giving Him thanks always.

We look at those things that are not of our liking or are less than desirable and regularly complain about them. But we seem to easily forget to thank God for everything, even the bad things, for that is God’s will for us. He said give thanks in all circumstances. God said, “… all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his (God’s) purpose.” Romans 8:28. Therefore, the Church responds with thanksgiving.

One of the greatest celebrations in the Bible was a thanksgiving service. 1Chronicles 16 records King David preparing and implementing a celebration of giving thanks to God. The event that motivated David was the reminder of God’s covenantal promise made visible in the Ark of the Covenant. David organized this great worship service to, “invoke, to thank and to praise the LORD.” 1Chr. 16:4

The Ark of the Covenant was designed by God and it contained the stone tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments. There was also with the Ark in the Holy of Holies, the golden urn containing the manna from heaven and the budded staff of Aaron.

King David knew that the people of God needed a visible reminder of His providence. They saw the Ark of the Covenant as a constant reminder that God would be faithful to His promise made to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 17:7. The people of God were reminded that He provided their food in the desert. Jesus said that the Father knows what we need and He will provide for our daily sustenance. God’s people in the wilderness were fickle as are we. God gave them a sign of His leading them through Moses and Aaron. When rebellion broke out against Moses and Aaron, God caused Aaron’s staff to bud. God told Moses to keep that budded staff before the people to remind them of His chosen leadership. It became a reminder to the people that God was leading them and would protect them.

Consider what God has given to us! We have been given God’s word written. We hear Him every time we read His word. Every Christian has been given the Holy Spirit who works in concert with the Word to change us and speak to our hearts. God has said that believers can approach His throne of grace with confidence because Jesus has given them access through His shed blood. As we come to the Father in our quiet moments, He has promised to hear us and to answer our prayers in ways that are beyond what we ask or think.

The above gives abundant reasons for giving thanks. But, God is good beyond all measure. He has given us families, friends, provisions and above all the freedom to worship Him.

In addition, Christians have the Holy Spirit who testifies to our spirit that they are children of God, Romans 8:16. Believers have God’s constant presence leading and protecting them. Believers now have a clearer revelation of God’s working then did the church of the Old Testament. Christians, therefore, should have a greater desire to give thanks to God.

We have been given this opportunity to offer thanks and to take time for reflection upon the providence of God. Having enjoyed time with family and friends, acknowledge the one who has so graciously provided all that we enjoy.

My prayer is that you continually remember to give thanks to God. He is the source of all that we have. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 Thank the Lord God from whom all blessings flow! Thank Him especially all who profess to know the Father through Jesus Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Heaven on Earth”

“Heaven on Earth”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The title declares a lie promoted by leaders who seek to cause division by pitting those who see themselves as victims against all others. The so-called oppressed call the objects of their hate ignorant, racist, xenophobic or at a minimum simply not well-informed. The idea of man having the ability to create heaven on earth is rooted in an old, tired and heretical theology. The root of this philosophy is Liberation Theology.

Liberation Theology originated in Latin America in the 60’s within Roman Catholicism. It interprets the entirety of the Christian Faith from the perspective of the poor and oppressed. The most famous spokesman of this movement is Gustavo Gutierrez, a Roman Catholic Priest. He believed that the starting point of theology was a commitment to the poor. A dominant theme of Liberation Theology is social justice. Gutierrez teaches that sin is unjust social systems.

One of the social constructs that was recognized to fit with the system offered by Gutierrez was communism which is the logical end point of socialism. Some refer to both systems, communism and socialism as Marxism.

Our thoughts in relation to this erroneous view of reality are sparked by discussions of: reconciliation or walls/barriers when speaking of race relations, anger over the rule of law or hatred of those who are viewed as having more simply because of their birth.

The lie is rooted in a “small” view of God. Salvation is the relief of oppression. It follows that the imagined oppressors must be made to pay never-ending and retroactive reparations.

One of the biblical texts cited by those who seek heaven on earth is Micah 6:8. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” God spoke these words through the Prophet Micah during a time of prosperity. He expected His people, specifically Israel’s leaders, to do justice and to love kindness (mercy) and to walk humbly before Him! God’s expectation is that truth, the rule of law and mercy should be foremost in the mind of everyone who professes Christ. God was not indicating that men could build Utopia on earth. We live in a world that is marred because of the sin of Adam. God subjected all Creation to futility because of Adam’s sin. There is no Utopia, no heaven on earth. Jesus prayed that all of His people would know that they were to live in this world but were not of this world.

God has ordained all civil authorities. He has ordained that those in authority are His ministers for the good and welfare of all people. Yet, there will come a time when this world will be judged. When Christ returns, God’s curse declared in Genesis 3 will be lifted. There will be a “New heaven and a new earth.”

For now, called “The Already”, we live under the rule of law and Christians are to obey the civil government. The Church should be the voice of order. The Church is commanded to preach the true gospel. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. Salvation is to be delivered from the wrath of the Holy God by the Holy God and for the Holy God!

What we saw after our recent National election was the inevitable result of our leaders’ failure to maintain the rule of law without partiality. We live in a nation that is unique in the world. By God’s grace, we all have the right to express our views; to worship God freely; to invest ourselves in the political process as we desire. We don’t have the right to ignore the rule of law; to impose our views on others; to vandalize the property of our fellow citizens; to demean the very men and women who devote their lives to protect and serve all members of society.

May our leaders regain a sense of their duty to uphold the rule of law. May none of us, especially in the church, fall prey to those who teach that there is a heaven on earth. As Paul said to Timothy, may all of our men called to the gospel ministry “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” 2Timothy 4:2 The gospel is our only hope to be in the real heaven!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Living Under God”

“Living Under God”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The National Elections of 2016 are over. The results have been finalized. We have all had the opportunity to participate in determining by whom our Republic is governed. I hope that you exercised your right to vote and did so thoughtfully. You are either satisfied with the results or dissatisfied. Now we all face the bigger issue. We, Christians, those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are by God’s word commanded to obey the governing authorities, Romans 13: 1-7. As Christians are to make decisions in light of God’s word, so too are Christians called to live under God’s word.

The means by which we can make good choices in life is to understand that which is real. We are, by definition, people of the “Book”. The “Book” is the word of God written, the Bible. As such, Christians understand that the Bible is altogether true. Therefore, if we seek to know what is the “right” thing to do in any circumstance, we look to God’s word. I’m not being simplistic. I’m not suggesting that the Bible will tell you which car to buy or what house to purchase, etc. Yet, I am proposing that God’s word reveals principles by which we live in response to God’s grace of saving us for eternity.

I believe that confusing choices are a result of failing to recognize reality, otherwise known as absolute truth. Perhaps you have heard the term “World View”. This is the term that concerns reality. Specifically, a world view is a view of reality. There are basically two kinds of world views. One is biblical and the other is man-centered. A biblical world view looks at reality knowing God is at the center of the Universe. The man-centered world view sees everything revolving around man. A God-centered world view is based on absolute truth. A man-centered world view has not absolutes except that there are no absolutes. Christians develop a God-centered world view in order to live under God.

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life”, John 14:6. Genesis 1:1 declares, “In the beginning God…” Jesus is the truth and God is eternal. God is self-sufficient. He created everything that we see. These two declarations of God form the foundation of developing a God-centered world view.

With this as our foundation, it is necessary to understand what God’s will is. He is truth and He is the Creator, therefore, all men are accountable to Him. Christians especially ought to be concerned with knowing what He requires.

The overarching principle declared by the Holy, Sovereign Creator revealed fully in the Person and Work of Christ is to be holy, Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:15-16.

The Apostle Paul declared the way to live under God. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” 1Thessalonians 4:3. The word translated “sanctification” is the word that also is translated as “holy.” Christians are to be guided by God’s word not the world’s system or current cultural depravity. Christians, the Church is to be holy; to seek to be witnesses of the Holy God.

So then, is the choice that you are about to make enabling you to live for God rather than for yourself or someone else? The basic principle of holiness will eliminate unholy choices. If the house that you desire to purchase will put you in bondage to the lender, then your desire is not under God.

If you are tempted to “live together” with a member of the opposite sex, understand that you are choosing to live apart from God. Likewise, if you are desiring something that your neighbor has, your desire is not God’s will for you. If you are seeking a divorce because you “feel” that God’s sole purpose in marriage is your happiness, you are choosing to live outside of God’s will.

There are many more situations in life that can be used as examples of applying God’s principle of holiness, but these are, I believe, sufficient in providing clarity.

As a Pastor, I am accountable to God to ask, “What is your world view?” “How do you decide what is right or wrong?” I close with the words of the Psalmist, Psalm 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Therefore, find and join a local church that will enable you to develop a God-centered world view.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Happy 499th Anniversary”

“Happy 499th Anniversary”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed 95 statements to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany protesting the church’s collection of money for indulgences. The leadership of the church was manipulating her members to give money in order to lessen the time of loved ones in the fictional place the church called purgatory.

Eventually, the issue was seen to strike at the very character of God. The church had taken authority over God, by taking authority over His word. You may have heard the term Sola Scriptura. This Latin phrase declares that the Scriptures have ultimate authority. The English Reformer, Thomas Cranmer would write that “… it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything contrary to God’s word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another…” (Taken from the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England, Article 20)

We are free to believe whatever we want. But, no church calling itself Christian is free to re-define God in its own image or comfort nor to pervert His word for its own use! God has revealed Himself and one fundamental attribute of God is His sovereignty. Sovereignty means rule. When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we are referring to His absolute rule of all of His Creation. God expresses His sovereignty in His word.

Martin Luther simply recovered the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. The church in his day had obscured the truth from her people. The critical issue of man’s inability to stand before the God who is holy, holy, holy, Isaiah 6:3, is plainly revealed throughout the Bible. Luther courageously declared before the church authorities affirming the teaching of Moses and Paul that by God’s grace alone is a man able to stand before God. God credits, imputes, perfect righteous to those whom He chooses. Therefore, God justifies a sinner through faith alone and this faith is a gift of God, Genesis 15, Romans 1, 3, 4, and Ephesians 2:8.

Because of God’s appointment of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Cranmer and many others even before Luther, we by God’s grace can know the truth, be assured of the truth and rejoice in our union with Christ! We celebrate the Protestant Reformation because we seek to continue its legacy of ongoing reform in accordance with the word of God, having our minds illumined by the Holy Spirit.

Let me get to the heart of the matter. My salvation and yours depends upon a sovereign God. The Bible teaches that men are incapable of turning to God. All men are born spiritually dead. Only a God who is absolutely sovereign can save us. God breaks into the life of a man causing him to see the truth of life in Jesus. We do not have the ability within us to believe in God’s only begotten Son, Jesus. God must raise us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Only a sovereign God can promise that nothing will ever separate us from His love, Romans 8:38- 39.

In fact, I can’t think of anything in life that doesn’t depend upon the sovereign God. The Prophet Jeremiah was in mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem. He wrote, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” Lamentations 3:37- 38 Jeremiah declared that God ordains everything that happens!

I can hear the skeptics, “If the sovereign God ordains everything then what’s the point of doing anything?” God did not create robots. God’s sovereignty does not contradict our wills. Every single human being will do whatever he desires. God holds us accountable for what we do. But, God’s will stands above man’s will. He acts without any encumbrances. Whatever He wills is done.

God’s rule is absolute and inclusive. The fact that all men do not submit to God’s rule does not nullify it. There will come a time when God’s sovereign rule will be seen. When Jesus, the sovereign King, returns, every creature will submit to Him. Until then the visible rule of God is seen in the church, the visible kingdom of God.

So happy 499th anniversary to all who hold to the truth of God’s word which Luther et. Al. recovered for the glory of the holy and sovereign God! S D G. To God Alone Be Glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Politics or Morality”

“Politics or Morality”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Have you ever had the experience of listening to someone and feeling as though your body was like a thermometer? I’ve had that feeling more and more lately. Listening to some spokesperson list issues followed by a statement like, “There are good people on both sides.” There are issues about which reasonable people may hold opposing views.

In the church there are both creedal/confessional issues and application methods. Confessional issues are like a line in the sand. If one stands on one side, the side of the Confession or Creed that person is said to be orthodox.

For example, a confession all Christian Churches affirm is “Jesus is Lord.” If another would suggest that the meaning is only relevant to those who believe that Jesus is Lord and that there are other lords under whom men may live and still be within the “body of Christ,” that person would surely be seen as a heretic. What is confessed and believed is critical to life in Christ. A “said faith” is no faith at all, see Hebrews 6:4-6.

Issues of application in churches do not rise to the level of dogma. Church government or the frequency of celebrating the Lord’s Supper are not considered moral or essential issues.

Christians live in the world but are not of the world, John 17:14-19. We who are in Christ must make decisions concerning the things we hear. The “thermometer-like” response that I have been having concerns the confusion of political issues and moral issues. When the “red” rises in me, I must fall on my knees and remind myself of the truth that God is sovereign even and especially over evil.

My purpose for this article is to aid critical thinking so as to give tools for making informed decisions. The first step is to have definitions of terms solidly in our minds. Words have meaning. Without definite meanings we would not be able to communicate with each other. The word “moral” concerns what is right or wrong in human behavior; the word “right” describes that which conforms to facts or truth; “good” is everything that is virtuous and “evil” is the absence of “good”.

All genuine Christians affirm that God’s word is in fact His word. I teach and hold that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. The doctrine of inerrancy relates to the original autographs, the original writings in Hebrew (Some portions of the Old Testament were written in Aramaic.) and Greek. Knowing this and referring to Jesus’ words, “… No one is good except God alone,” Luke 18:19, we realize that in order to know what is good we must look to God’s word.

Knowing the “good” is not an option. God said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” Isaiah 5:20. God has told men what is good, Micah 6:8. Good, right and moral are related terms. In contrast, wrong, evil and sinful are related.

Here’s the problem: many times over the past few years and more frequently over the past weeks, I have heard people say that the issue of human life is a political one and there are “good” people on both sides. The two sides are referred to as “Pro Life” and “Pro Choice.” It would be more accurate to describe the latter side as “Pro Death.” Every time I hear a news person or political candidate describe the issue of life as political, the red in the thermometer rises in me. It compels me, as a Christian to speak out on this horrible state of affairs in our Nation. We are being confronted by those who are calling evil good and good evil. They categorize life as something that is under the purview of politicians saying that human life in the womb can rightly be ended by the mother’s choice. They celebrate the merchants of death, Planned Parenthood, by calling them providers of women’s health care.

I am NOT advocating a violent response. I AM advocating the use of the minds that God has given to all of us. Human beings bear God’s image. We can think and reason. No reasonable human being would choose to end the life of a baby in the womb.

I urge you who profess Christ to think; think deeply about God’s gift of life. Think about the Lord of life, Jesus Christ by whom through whom and for whom everything is made and exists, Colossians 1:16-17.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Has truth taken a vacation?”

“Has truth taken a vacation?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
I’ve stopped listening to the TV news. I’ve even turned off some of our local radio stations that report what they call the “news”. It seems that there is little concern for truth. The main emphasis has become spinning a story to support an agenda. This is my observation of our culture. Perhaps you may be confused over much of the main line media ignoring the despicable past behavior of one candidate for President and instead focusing on another candidate’s words spoken while he was in the business world, with no factual proof that he ever acted in accordance with his words.

We who are professing Christians shouldn’t be surprised by the depravity of man. The Apostle Paul wrote concerning this condition of mankind. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1:18

The suppression of the truth in the world is not unexpected, or it shouldn’t be. Yet, in light of our culture, my main concern is the church. It seems that truth fares no better in churches. I recently received a survey by a ministry that I respect in done in partnership with another respected para church ministry. Ligonier Ministries partnered with Lifeway Research to discover the “State of Theology” in Evangelical Churches. The survey asked, “What do Americans believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible?

By God’s design, the church is to be a light in the world. The church is to be a witness of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, this survey discovered great confusion in Evangelical Churches. Here are some examples of the questions and the answers received by men and women who attend an Evangelical Church for worship.

The survey discovered that “46% agreed or somewhat agreed that God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.” Also, “36% of self-identified evangelicals agree or somewhat agree that they contribute to earning heaven by the good deeds that they do.” There were several more alarming results. The survey reported that 43% of those surveyed agreed that God is the author of Scripture and at the same time, “modern science discredits the claims of Christianity.”

If your head is spinning, there’s more. Concerning the issue of ethics, that is how Christians make decisions concerning marriage and life, etc., “only 52% of self-identified evangelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree that sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.” Concerning abortion, I was astounded to learn that “only 48% of self-identified evangelicals attending church once or twice per moth strongly agree that abortion is a sin.” Lest you think that only the uneducated Church goer reflects this kind of reprobate thinking, the survey asked this question of those who have graduate degrees, is it true that “only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation”? The answer received was that 56% of this educated group disagreed or somewhat disagreed with the exclusivity of Jesus Christ!

Rather than seek to discover the root cause of this situation in the church, I believe that the more effective action is to be faithful in informing the members of our churches of the truth of who God is and what He has said. The conclusion reached by the organizations who performed this survey is worthwhile to quote exactly.

“Faithful Christians can look at these survey results and lament the state of theology in America. Or, we can look at these results and engage our Great Commission work with a renewed urgency and purpose. Ligonier Ministries is taking the latter approach. It is easy to get distracted by cultural trends and apply our resources toward chasing novel methodology. This survey reminds us of the necessity of teaching foundational truths: God’s holiness, Christ’s person and work, humanity’s true need to be saved from the wrath of God, and the Bible’s authority – even in the twenty-first century.”

My commitment as a Christian Pastor is to teach the truth. I urge you as a professing Christian to find a local church which is likewise committed to teach the truth. Above all, I urge you to worship God in a church that holds Him as the only object of worship! Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Clear Contrast”

“Clear Contrast”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We can learn a great deal by simply listening. Radio is one of the greatest sources to hear a clear contrast between what all Christians know to be true and what the world thinks. I should re-phrase the statement by inserting the word “should”. There is a clear contrast between what all Christians should know to be true and what the world thinks.

May I give a short answer for revising my statement to “should know” rather than the assumption that all professing Christians know the truth? The sad fact is that many churches calling themselves Christian are not teaching the truth. Church members are not being equipped to evaluate what they see in the world from a God-centered World View. Surveys done reveal that the life-styles of those who profess to be Christians are no different than the life-styles of those in the world. These churches are more interested in entertainment than exposition.

This article is not about the state of the Evangelical Church. Rather, this article concerns the obvious contrast, the clear contrast between a biblical, God-centered World View and a Man-centered one. For the purpose of explanation, I draw upon two recent statements. One is clearly Man-Centered and the other is clearly God-centered. Remember, a World View is the way we see reality.

First, the Man-centered statement that I heard on one of our local radio stations. A man was interviewed for having written a book that concerned looking for direction in times of difficulty. The author asked, “Where do you go when things are bleak?” He suggested that the one whom people often don’t list or go to even as a last resort is God. So far, so good. I rejoiced when he said it. But, then he gave the method. He suggested imagining two chairs one for you and one for God. He said to set aside five minutes. One minute to speak to God and four minutes to listen to God.

At this point, I’m sure that many of you who are Christians are saying, “That’s great advice!” I had a different reaction. My reaction was in the form of a question. How does one know that God is speaking? Now, I certainly believe that God speaks to His people. The way in which He speaks is through His word written, the Bible. A friend of mine says, “If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible out loud.”

The truth is, the Mormon Cult believes exactly what that author was suggesting. They suggest that in order to know God’s will just pray and ask Him and He’ll tell you. Beloved, there are many spirits as there are many antichrists operating in the world. We will even tell ourselves things to suit our needs. If you want to know God’s will go to His word. God’s purpose for you is holiness, 1Thessalonians 4:3. Don’t fall for the nonsense that God “pours” His will into your head. That is a heresy called Gnosticism. It is darkness. God’s will is revealed in His word in the form of principles. The Holy Spirit applies those revealed principles uniquely to everyone who is “in Christ.” This is light. This process is called sanctification, a work of God’s free grace.

The second observation occurred during the recent Vice Presidential debate. This observation is a perfect example of a man holding a God-centered World View. There were two statements that struck me. In the midst of the moderator trying to speak over Gov. Mike Pence, he said,” My Christian faith is at the heart of who I am.” And, “… an ancient principle… where God says before you were formed in the womb I knew you.” As a professing Christian, Gov. Pence’s actions are informed by his faith. And, because of what God has said concerning the sanctity of human life, he works against the “abortion sacrament” that is a fundamental principle of the Democratic Party.

Where do these two statements originate for Gov. Pence? The first, Christians live by faith because everyone who is in Christ is a new Creation is from 2Corinthians 5:7 and 17. The second concerning the sanctity of human life is from Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:13; and Jeremiah 1:5. These references are only three. God’s word throughout declares: He is the author of life; He is the sanctifier of human life; and He holds men accountable to stand for human life!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “What Choice Do I Have?”

“What choice do I have?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
My guess is that the title made you believe that this article would be about who to vote for in our upcoming election for President of the United States of America. Well, what follows may aid you in making that choice. But my main point is that we, especially those of us who are Christians, make choices continuously. The question is, “How do you choose? How do you decide what is the right course of action?”

Most politicians are proud to say, “I always do what I think is right.” In the ultimate sense, that statement is irrelevant. The relevant question is, “What is the right thing to do?” What anyone thinks is right matters only if one’s thoughts are held captive to obey Christ! 2Corinthians 10:5 The word of God informs each believer of the way to blessing, Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

Christians are not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewal of the mind. The result is: “That by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

Ephesians 5:11 points out that Christians were once in darkness but are now “light in the Lord.” Therefore, believers are to live as children of light, that is, to follow Jesus. Disciples of Jesus Christ are told that the “fruit” of living as children of light is “found in all that is good and right and true.” Knowing what is good, right and true is called discernment. Doing it is wise living.

The Ancient Hebrews knew that “the fear of the LORD was the beginning of wisdom”, Proverbs 9:10a. In order to live wisely it is necessary for the creature to know the Creator. God has revealed what He wants us to know of Him through His word written. Just as the church in the Old Testament knew to apply God’s word for wise living, every believer ought to do likewise.

The application of God’s word is wisdom. Knowing the right action requires knowledge of what God has said.

The Bible reveals attributes of God. He is good, righteous and true. The only way to know God is to know His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The Father is the source of wisdom and discernment. Knowing the right choice comes through having a personal and intimate knowledge of His Son, Jesus.

Making right choices, discernment is wise living. Wise living follows the way of blessing. God said the way of blessing was to obey Him. Conversely, He warned that a cursed life would follow the one who disobeyed Him. I have yet to meet someone who wanted to live a cursed life. Yet, by ignorance or avoidance of God’s word, we head towards destruction.

All this being said, the answer to, “What choice do I have?” is to know what is right, good and true. The method for knowing is not easy, but is a blessing. The method is the systematic, intense study of the Bible and the theology which proceeds from it. This is not only a personal endeavor. God has ordained that we grow in discernment and wisdom corporately. I am speaking of the necessity of growing in a church that teaches “sound doctrine”, Titus 2:1.

The Apostle Paul addressed the barrier to growth in discernment and it is recorded in 2Timothy 3. He wrote of the “last days”, those days between Jesus’ first and second coming. Paul said that people would be “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

Paul was not describing the world in general. He was describing the visible church corrupted by those who only looked godly. He gave a timeless answer to the problem. Paul’s answer then was for Timothy to continue in what he learned and firmly believed. Paul reminded Timothy that all Scripture was breathed out by God and it’s the Scriptures which are able to make the believer “competent and equipped for every good work.” God’s answer remains the same. The visible church is the place for growth in discernment through personal and corporate study of all that is good, right and true. Then you will be able to make the right choice!