Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Are Men Basically Good?”

“Are Men Basically Good?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Look around at our world, don’t you find yourself asking, “Where are the good ones?” If there was just one good man or woman who would act upon his or her goodness our world would surely look different.

The question of man’s goodness is fundamental. It is the foundation of knowledge concerning the nature of man. The answer to this question is one of the two main concerns of the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation to man. It is concerned with the nature of man and God.

The basic question that all of us must at some point in our lives ask is, “Are men basically good?” Men’s desires are motivated by self-interest. From our politicians to leaders in business we are learning by experience what God revealed. We are seeing Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 reported on every day. The reality is that men are not basically good.

“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

I look to Scripture, seeking God’s revelation concerning the nature of man. The Bible declares that God created man and woman. God declared on the sixth day of Creation that everything He had made was very good. The statement “very good” means that everything God made was complete, perfect and there was harmony in all of Creation. The declaration of goodness included Adam and the first woman, later named Eve by the man. This was the condition of our first parents. The Bible teaches that this condition did not last. Genesis 2 ends with perfect goodness and Genesis 3 ends with Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden and being prevented from eating from the tree of life. The perfect goodness of Adam and Eve ended permanently.

Every human being inherits the sin of Adam. Therefore, man was no longer basically good. From the beginning God poured out His grace by establishing requirements for men to have a relationship with Him. The Bible reveals the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men. Only God is good, Luke 18:19. The One who made all things and called them very good is the only source of goodness, James 1:17.

God’s view of mankind quoted from Genesis 6:5 and Jeremiah 17:9 are inclusive statements. There is no goodness in man because of and since the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth and quoted the Old Testament. He wrote “no one does good, not even one,” Romans 3:12.

The plain truth is that men are incapable of doing good because their hearts desire self. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and revealed the absolute necessity of His action to give man a new heart, Ezekiel 36:28.

Even though I know that the Bible teaches that men are not basically good, I still hope against hope that our leaders would do good. I suggest that you are thinking in the same way. We all look around us and think that all it will take to solve our problems is for one man or woman to actually do what is good in any given situation. I thank the Lord, that our founding fathers understood man’s nature. They gave us a system of government with checks and balances.

We’ve been blessed throughout our history to have a few leaders who sought to do what is right. I thank the Lord for the courage they demonstrated, and some are even now demonstrating. Still, men pursue their own desires which are not good; they are focused in their own self-interest. No sacrifice is too great for others to make in order for these leaders to get what they want. What they want is their own power. They use fear to manipulate others to accomplish that end.

Don’t be surprised by this behavior; nor be intimidated. Rather stand against the evil that men do. God has revealed that only those who are in Christ have hearts that desire to do good. Know that only those who abide in Jesus will bear the fruit of Christlikeness. Above all know that all good is from God with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Only God is good. Unto Him be all glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Why Should I Fear God?”

“Why should I fear God?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
People have been subjected to many kinds of fear. The world is full of circumstances, not the least of which are diseases much like our current pandemic, that instill fear. We even fear the unknown. Perhaps, that fear is the most insidious. In our current crisis, we are given so much information that is purported to be factual that our minds imagine the worst and fear of what might happen paralyzes us.

I’m sure that you’ve noticed that some people use the lack of known facts to manipulate people with fear in order to accomplish their desired results. Yet there is a wise fear. There is a fear that is reasonable.

The plain truth is whether you are a Christian or not, fearing God is the wise and reasonable response of a creature to the Creator.

The Bible answers the questions, “Why fear and Who to fear?” God is the answer to both questions. Fearing God is the subject of much of Scripture. Three texts of Scripture come readily to mind that concern man’s response to his Creator. Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 10:28 and 1Peter 2:17 provide the clear answer.

Solomon who was declared by God to be the wisest man who ever lived expressed his deepest thoughts concerning life. He had every opportunity for greatness. He had great wealth. He had absolute worldly power over his kingdom. He pursued every passion and desire of his flesh. After evaluating all of his pursuits, he declared them all to be like hot air, “vanity of vanities”, Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8. Solomon repeated the vanity of man’s pursuits in the beginning of Ecclesiastes and at the end.

Solomon’s conclusion concerning the purpose of life and all of man’s pursuits was: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

From Solomon, king of Israel to the Apostle Peter the fear of God was known and declared to be central. Peter wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1Peter 2:17

Peter wrote to the church and exhorted her members to be holy people, set apart to God. He encouraged them to behave as those who have been changed by God. He called Christians to honor everyone; to sacrificially love those within the household of God and to fear God. Their fear of God was demonstrated in their worship. Fear includes a sense of awe, trembling and reverence.

In the case of Solomon fearing God was the only reasonable way of life. Peter gave the members of the church God’s guidance for life. Yet, each writer based his exhortation on an underlying assumption.

The underlying assumption was given by Jesus. Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is God’s answer. Men are to fear God because of who He is and what He can do. Jesus’ words provide clarity. Jesus said that only God has absolute sovereignty over His creatures. Therefore, we must approach Him with great humility. We are finite and He is infinite. We have limited power. He has absolute power. Jesus said that, “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18

Only fools live in denial of the absolute power and authority of God, Psalm 14:1. Only a fool would risk an eternity in hell! Why should I/we fear God? We fear God because He is!

How many think that their lives are hidden before God? How many are blind to the truth that they are created beings? How many give explanations for creation that fit within their limited understanding? How many think that there is no God to fear?

Fear God because, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Everything you see around you is there because of our Creator God. We have been made to worship God. He is to be feared. He is the one who sent Jesus, His one and only Son. Jesus is the one who has the words of eternal life. Fear God! He is the One who ordained everything that comes to pass, everything! “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Remember Life!”

“Remember Life!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.” Psalm 125:3 (ESV)
Amid our current concerns over a virus, albeit a dangerous disease, I wonder how deep our society’s concern for life is? I think of the vast number of lives taken every day by the evil of abortion. We remember the more than 60 million plus babies that were not allowed to see the light of day. We remember leaders who have covered over evil by calling abortion the right to choose. We remember that God has set human life apart as sacred, Cf. Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Men and women bear the image of God. God is for all life!

In fact, God ordained capital punishment in Israel for premeditated murder. Human life is so precious in God’s eyes that one who unlawfully takes it rightly forfeits his life.

We should not be surprised that those who believe in their hearts that there is no God would have such a self-centered and low view of life that abortion would be referred to as a woman’s right to choose. Whereas the fear of contracting a virus justifies closing our country and inflicting harm on our citizens.

Psalm 125 is called a Song of Ascent. Verse 3 declares that God restrains man’s evil. Further, psalms of ascent were used in the worship of God. The ascent was the act of going up to worship. Symbolically, as we worship the Living God, we lift our eyes to heaven from where our help comes, Psalm 121:1.

Psalm 125:3 quoted above is part of a song of worship. The details revealed include two unconditional promises to His people. Israel, the church of the Old Testament was promised by God to: always have a strong foundation for life and be assured of His protection. Verse 3 contains a conditional promise that God will keep evil from ruling over His people. The caveat is that God expects that His people would not “stretch out their hands to do wrong.”

We no longer live under a theocracy. That is, God has instituted Civil Government for the good and welfare of all people, Romans 13. Yet, believers ought not to take comfort in that this conditional promise of God no longer applies. God is holy. He never “winks” at sin. Sin is a direct offence against His character. He will never accommodate sin. Abortion is sin. It is first a sin against the holy God. It is also a sin against man and if His people do wrong, there will be consequences.

The Apostle Paul advised the Church in Corinth that judgment must be directed inside the church. He declared the truth that God will judge the world. Christians are followers of Jesus. We were made new creatures by God’s grace alone. Believers live under God’s word. Jesus Christ is the King and Head of the church and His word is her standard.

I in no way indorse those who would take the law into their own hands. Violence against abortionists can never be acceptable in defense of life. Those who would advocate such violence do more harm than any possible good that they may see. Yet I am calling Christians to be who they profess to be.

There are three actions Christians can and should take against the evil of abortion. First, Christians should pray for God’s protection of the unborn and for those who have been deceived to think that abortion is simply an acceptable choice. Second, Christians could support local pregnancy crisis centers financially and/or by volunteering. We in Weatherford have an opportunity to do exactly that. Grace House Ministries is a blessing to our community. I give the Lord thanks for their efforts in being used by God to minister to women and their unborn babies. Finally, Christians have been commanded to disciple the nations. We are called to be people of light. We know that the only way by which this evil can be purged from our land is by God’s grace in changing the hearts of men and women.

Remember life, all life, and never stretch out your hands to do evil (or support those who do)!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “No Words to Say”

“No Words to Say”
The Rev Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor
Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
There are circumstances in life that come our way that force us to admit that we have no words to say that explain the circumstance. Our Church Family and I have been thrust into such a circumstance. We have experienced the tragic loss of life of a dear friend and leader in our church. He leaves behind a beautiful family, a loving wife and two wonderful children in addition to many shocked relatives and colleagues in his profession. Our dear friend was a caring and compassionate man. He loved the Lord, trusted in Christ and sought to live his life as a faithful witness of the Risen Lord Jesus. He was blessed by the Lord with gifts of healing and comfort. He was an excellent physician who spent many long hours in the Emergency Room treating patients for all sorts of conditions.

My brother, friend and co-laborer in ministry was a godly example and I will miss him dearly. My thoughts are that my life and the lives of those he touched will never be the same. What can one say to bring comfort? What could I say to his wife and children who were living through this nightmarish event?

I was unable to come up with any suitable words. Everything seemed so trite and inadequate.

I’ve been asking myself, “What would he say?” I know that my dear friend is before the throne of God and being forever glowing in the inexpressible brilliance of the glory of God! But what of us who remain?

Immediately, Psalm 121:1-2 came to my mind. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.” My dear friend and I spoke of the reality of these verses often. We often said in dark situations, God is in charge! He is my hope. We look to Him because He is always faithful to His word.

This Psalm is part of the fifth book of the Psalter. The five books reflect the different stages of the life of Israel, the church in the Old Testament. Book Five is especially appropriate for our future hope of victory promised by God! Book Five includes Psalms 107-150. In general this grouping looks forward to a final restoration. The human authors thank God for His deliverance from captivity and look forward to the eternal reign of Christ.

In particular, Psalm 121 is entitled a “Song of Ascents”. This is a psalm sung by the people of God as they went up to worship God. It is significant as it draws the worshiper’s attention to the reason for his certain hope. Our hope, like the Old Testament saints, is in the God who created everything by the word of His command. He created ex nihilo, out of nothing. He alone is able to give us hope that is certain. He is the one who speaks words of hope, comfort and assurance to His people.

As I searched for words to say, God revealed that He has the words of eternal life! When many were deserting Jesus, He asked His chosen twelve disciples if they would do likewise. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”

Indeed, my dear friend knew this truth because God chose to reveal it to him. Likewise, I, now more than ever, remind myself of God’s grace in opening my eyes to the truth. God has spoken and His words are true, reliable, clear, and sufficient.

In the past, when my dear friend and I were confronted with the final enemy, death of a loved one, we would remind each other that we don’t grieve as others do who have no hope.

I read the words of the Apostle Paul with renewed intensity. 1Thessalonians 4:13-14, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

God has the words to say! Brother, life won’t be the same without you here. I am grieving, but I will see you again!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Regulative Principle of Worship”

“The Regulative Principle of Worship”
(Something to remember as many resume gathering for worship)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Worship is the most important activity of life and I believe Corporate Worship is our most critical need and comfort. God made us for worship. In worship, we engage with God who is “holy, holy, holy.” Isaiah 6:3 Its importance is so great that God ordained how to worship Him.

Worship is defined, in part, as “reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Worship is an Old English compound word, worth ship. It described the devotion and obedience that a knight offered to his sovereign. In kneeling down before the king, the knight would bow his head, offering the back of his neck to the king’s sword. In so doing the knight was visibly displaying to the king that his life would be forfeit if he failed to serve the king.

God is the supreme sovereign who has revealed the content of acceptable worship.

Moses wrote to the people of God and declared to them that God chose the place of worship. The context moves from individual behavior to corporate practice. Deuteronomy 12: 31-32, detailed God’s general principle for the content of corporate worship. “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way (the way the pagan nations worshiped their idols), for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. “

Matthew recorded the words of Jesus concerning this very important topic. “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:19 This is the heart of what is called “man-centered” worship. Church leaders employ methods that are intended to grow their churches in numbers. They insist that the church ought to be “seeker” sensitive. Corporate worship is believed to be an evangelistic enterprise. Yet the Bible teaches that worship is for God by God’s people who are sought by Him, John 4:23.

The Protestant Reformers understood man’s tendency to invent a worship that seeks to satisfy physical desires. Their recovery of biblical worship was handed down to the church and is called the “Regulative Principle of Worship.” It is stated succinctly in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, Paragraph 1. “…The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.”

Protestant Reformed Churches, those who seek to be faithful to the Scriptures and the Doctrines recovered by the Reformers, have applied the Regulative Principle in Corporate Worship by including the elements of biblical worship. Those elements are: the reading of Holy Scripture, the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, the offering of prayer, the preaching of the Word, the presentation of offerings, confessing the faith and observing the two Sacraments. On special occasions corporate worship includes the taking of oaths before God such as Commitments made for Church Membership.

The worship of God is serious. We gather in reverence and experience worship as a sacred event. It is sacred because we are coming before a holy God. We are submitting ourselves to Him as He has commanded. We know that God can only be approached by those who are covered by the righteousness of Christ.

I pray that all who profess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead will view worship on the Lord’s Day as wholly set apart to Him and not for our entertainment. Both the Old and New Testaments reveal God’s view of true worship.

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods…Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96: 4, 8, 9.

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Self-evident Truths”

“Self-evident Truths”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We are blessed by our sovereign God to live in a country established upon the rule of law. Even now, when it seems that more and more of our liberties are being taken away or restricted, our Nation is still a Nation built upon the rule of law. It is a good time, especially now considering our current restrictions of freedoms to remember the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. It begins with, “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.”

We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by whether our Country was founded as a Christian Nation. Even a cursory reading of our founding documents reveals that the Founders were not encased in a moral or religious vacuum. Surely, many of our Founding Fathers were deists, seeing God as the cosmic watchmaker, far removed and uninvolved with His Creation. The God revealed in the Bible is both far above us and near us.

However, our founding documents, especially the Declaration of Independence relied upon biblical principles. We were founded as a Judeo-Christian Nation. The basis of our law was grounded in God’s Law. Our stated view of mankind was drawn from the Bible.

Returning to the sentence quoted from the Declaration of Independence, the first observation is that our founders understood absolute truth. They referred to self-evident truths. That is, they assumed that all men clearly understood that there are absolutes and those absolutes could be evident to all men.

What were these “self-evident” truths? First, they declared that all men were created. They affirmed that there is a God. The self-evident truth is that He is the Creator. The Bible teaches that men and women are made in God’s image. Further, the act of God in creating Man is documented to be with one man and one woman. Adam was an historic being. Adam was endowed with an immortal soul, unlike all other creatures. Our founders like all their contemporaries understood that mankind was not the product of millions of years of chance via evolution.

The Founders also affirmed the equality of men. They wrote that all men are created equal. Notice that the source of man’s equality was not nor is it government. The source of man’s equality is God, the Creator not the government!

God likewise was the source of certain unalienable rights. The Founders understood that all men naturally possessed three fundamental rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are among the basic human rights given by God. These rights do not come from government. Yet, God has ordained governments to guard these rights, Romans 13.

The first unalienable right is life which is given by God. Government oversteps its bounds when it seeks to grant or take away life. God has given the right to life. Human life is sacred, and the harshest penalty is rightly levied upon one who murders another.

The late Francis Schaeffer said that the future of our western culture would be determined by our view of human life. How are we doing? You decide.

Liberty is defined as the right to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing. God gave Adam the freedom to choose. Adam chose poorly and disobeyed God. The result of his disobedience was the Fall. As a result, all men inherit the consequence of Adam’s sin. Every inclination of man’s heart is only evil continually, Genesis 6:5. Nevertheless, we are free to choose what we want. We also bear the consequences of our choices.

Liberty is a treasured possession. Like the right to life, liberty was designed by our founders to be guarded by government. Like life, government is not the source of liberty. Liberty is guarded by the rule of law such that one man’s exercise of freedom does not take away another’s liberty.

Finally, the Declaration states that all men have an unalienable right to pursue happiness. God has given mankind the right to pursue his or her dreams. I continue to pray that we will all be able to return the free pursuit of those things or occupations that satisfy us and through which God provides.

Thank God for His providence in the establishment of this great nation where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were recognized as His gifts.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Eternal Decrees of God”

“The Eternal Decrees of God”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Recent events have led many to think that things are out of control! Who, if anyone, is in charge? There is someone in charge! The one true God has given us hope.

The great prophet Jeremiah struggled with this uncertainty. He is referred to as the weeping prophet. God inspired him to write two books of Scripture. One is called by his name and the second is called Lamentations. Jeremiah wept. He lamented over the state of the once great city of Jerusalem. God used the Babylonian Empire to crush Judah. Judah’s capital city, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people were sent into captivity. Jeremiah wept over what had happened knowing that God had exercised judgment against His people for their idolatry. He gave us the answer to: “Who is it that controls all things?” “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’s answer was clear. God has ordained everything that comes to pass. There was nothing then nor now, good, or bad, outside of His sovereign authority.

Likewise, answers to this question and others were sought from Scripture during the Sixteenth Century Protestant Reformation. By the Seventeenth Century England’s Parliament commissioned many pastors and theologians to give biblical clarity concerning the true religion, a description of man’s expression of biblical faith in Jesus Christ. They produced a document called the confession of faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith is still used as an expression of sound biblical doctrine. This Confession is part of the constitution of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It remains our Confessional Declaration. The PCA began in 1973 as a Presbyterian Denomination committed to: biblical faithfulness, reformed doctrine, and obedience to the Great Commission.

Chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, paragraph 1 reads in part: “God from all eternity did ordain whatsoever comes to pass… “. In ordaining everything, they re-stated what the Bible declares: God is not the author of sin nor does He offer violence to the will of His creatures.

Reasonable people know that if God is not in charge, we live at the whim of someone or something else that has different intentions than the God who is always good! The fact that we often do not understand events does not nullify the sovereign authority of the God who ordained them.

This truth reflects the character of God. If He is not in charge, He is not God! If God has not ordained everything that happens, then all creation is at the mercy of some indeterminate entity or force. The Bible is clear and even man’s fallen reason testifies to the truth that a sovereign God ordains everything.

What then are we, believers in the truth to make of this? Jeremiah wrote in the same book, Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Likewise, the Apostle Paul wrote, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

God is in charge and He has a good plan because He is good. Jesus said to the rich ruler, “… No one is good except God alone,” Luke 18:19.

Notice that, I asked, “What are believers to make of the truth that God is in charge?” God promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him. The ones who love Him are those whom He called. Therefore, there is comfort for believers, the called ones, because God ordains everything that comes to pass. In other words, God has a wonderful plan for those who have placed their trust in Him. Those who place their trust in Him are those whom He calls.

So, when things look bad, they often are. But if you believe in the Risen Lord Jesus know that God will work those bad things together for your good. Trust in a good God. Do not place your trust in circumstances or in some human savior who promises to change your circumstances.

Remember that everything that happens has been ordained by God. Amid life, even the bad things, God has promised the ultimate good for His people and He never goes back on a promise!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “He is Risen… Now What?”

“He is Risen… Now What?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The bodily resurrection of Christ is an historic fact. Jesus completed everything necessary for redemption. He completed God’s plan of redemption established in eternity. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that the Father accepted His atoning sacrifice and that everything Jesus said is absolutely true. He is fully God and fully Man. He was the Passover Lamb which has been sacrificed, 1Cor. 5:7. The Risen Lord Jesus is our hope!

Those who stand firmly in the Person and Work of Christ have been made His followers by the Holy Spirit. Disciples are followers and learners of Jesus Christ. But only God makes Christians. No one is born a Christian. No one is righteous, no one even seeks God. The Bible describes all mankind as naturally children of God’s wrath. But, God is rich in mercy. God has chosen to pour out mercy on those He chose before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1, 2.

The Bible defines salvation to be deliverance by God from God for God. The Apostle Paul wrote that believers have been crucified with Christ. Christians no longer live for themselves but for Him. Christians live for God. We have God-centered lives. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2Cor. 10:5.

The believer’s life in Christ is made possible by the perfect life of Christ and His perfect sacrifice. His bodily resurrection is the proof of this absolute truth.

So now, we who are in Christ live in Him. We are called to work out our salvation because God is at work in us, Phil. 2:12-13. The Evangelist, Luke wrote the practical application for living in Christ by the power of His resurrection. Luke 24:48, Jesus said to His disciples, “You are witnesses of these things.” Therefore, a Christian is a learner and follower of Jesus Christ our Master and is a living witness of the Risen Lord! The Christian lives each day in the reality of the bodily Resurrection of Christ.

A friend of mine called a Christian, “A work in progress.” Jesus taught a parable that concerns this “work in progress.” This progressive work according to the Bible is called living “in Christ.”

In the parable of the Talents, Mt. 25:14-30, Jesus gave a comprehensive view of the Kingdom Life. Christians are citizens of the Kingdom and live before the King expecting His return at any time. King Jesus expects His servants to invest in His Kingdom. This again is the Christian’s life “in Christ” in light of the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection.

The Parable of the Talents immediately precedes Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment. The Parable of the Talents not only teaches God’s expectation for His people to invest what He has given. It further emphasizes the absolute sovereign rule of God.

I’m sure you all know the story. In summary, Jesus compared the Kingdom of heaven to an owner who went on a journey and gave his property to three of his servants. They were given a specified sum of money, “according to his ability”, Mt. 25:15. The master then left on his journey, returned after a time and sought to settle accounts.

Two servants invested the master’s money and presented him with a return on their investment. They hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.” Unfortunately the third servant hid the master’s money and had no increase to give to the master. This servant did not hear comforting words. He heard words of judgment.

The two faithful servants invested what their master gave them. They represent those who live the Christian Life. Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings. He has entrusted His people with gifts and talents and yes, money. God’s call to Christians is: invest what you have been given for God’s glory.

I pray that we will be able to gather for an Easter Celebration in the future. But now, perhaps more than ever, we must answer the question: “Has the historic reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus changed your life?” May you live for God. May you seek to glorify Him in all that you do. May your life be an investment in the Kingdom as the Master has commanded!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Kiss the Son, Lest He be Angry”

“Kiss the Son, Lest He be Angry”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The title is taken from Psalm 2:12. The Psalmist gave this directive considering the reality of the sovereignty of God. He asked a question, which is as relevant today as it was when the Psalmist wrote it. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Psalm 2:1a

I confess that over the recent weeks I have been angry, first with myself, then with those who profess to know the truth and live ignoring it. I ask, “Have I failed to adequately teach God’s people about biblical worship?” There appears to be little understanding of our need to gather for worship and whom we worship.

Our spiritual dilemma of faithfulness to God’s word versus civil directives appears to have clouded our, even my, thinking. Of course, we don’t want to put others at risk for most activities, that is, except those physical “needs” considered essential.

The answer: confess my sins daily and constantly remind myself of the God whom we love. The one to whom we bow before in worship, our Redeemer who is the King and Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ!

I believe that our fundamental problem is our desire to be autonomous. We think that we are the center of the universe and certainly the most important thing is our physical health. Charles Darwin, for example sought to eliminate man’s need of the Creator God. His theory was purposed in proving that all creation came about through chance and natural selection. He supposed that if his theory of evolution was true then man could assume the place of God.

Most have rejected pure Darwinism. Over the years there have been many caveats made to Darwin’s original theory. As we have learned more about God’s wonderful and marvelous Creation, pseudo intellectuals have modified Darwin’s theory to accommodate the observed intricacies of our Universe.

Darwin wrote of one of the weaknesses of his theory. He admitted that the theory of evolution could not explain the complexities of the human eye. He was sure that as technology advanced, those complexities would eventually be explained in evolutionary terms. Today the functions of the human eye are known but the eye’s ability to do all that it can still points to the sovereign purpose of God. As we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, Psalm 139:14a gives us great assurance that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a sovereign Creator.

Still men suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18. This is precisely the Psalmist’s point in Psalm 2. Faced with our true place as creatures before a sovereign Creator, we seek to be god and think that we can “make ourselves safe.” Especially during times such as these, Christians must remind themselves that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over everything. There is nothing that comes to pass that He hasn’t ordained. But He is not the author of evil.

God’s word reveals the reality of “living in Christ” in all circumstances. Psalm 2: 11-12, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way. For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Serving the LORD begins with worship. Worship is humble submission to God. The New Testament calls believers to offer themselves as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God because that is our reasonable worship Romans 12:1. I pray that the Church will seek God’s deliverance so that we might again gather to worship and praise Him as He has commanded.

The Psalmist declared what was at stake for failure to know the truth. He said that Jesus’ anger, judgment and wrath would be experienced by those who persist in thinking themselves to be God. The most evident testimony that one acknowledges Christ before men is to bow before Him in worship.

This is not news. Yet, we have allowed the world to shape our behavior. We’ve succumbed too often to the elevated worth of those who rule over us rather than govern us as we have elected them to do.

Jesus said to fear the one who can destroy both our bodies and souls in hell. Don’t be deceived, Jesus is the Sovereign Lord. Fear Him trusting in His deliverance. He will have the final say. Christian, persevere in being a true disciple of Jesus. Remain in His word. “Kiss the Son!”

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “A Pastoral Letter… Hope in the midst of crisis and fear”

“A Pastoral Letter…”
Hope in the midst of crisis and fear
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor
Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Fear, anger, uncertainty are all emotions that come to the surface when confronted with something out of our control. I am the Pastor of a Reformed Presbyterian Church. I preach and teach the sovereignty of God. I seek to live under the word of God for His glory. I know that God is in charge. The Bible teaches that there is nothing that comes to pass that He has not ordained. There are no coincidences.

I write these weekly articles not only for our community but also for our congregation. I would not write anything that I have not preached or taught in the church.

I have observed over these past few weeks fear and panic within the Christian community. We are indeed traveling in uncharted waters. Our country, the entire world is trying to deal with a virus that in some cases causes severe illness and even death. None of us can say with any certainty how this will turn out or when it will end.

But, we are those who have hope! “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) The faith that the writer declared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the gift that God gives at conversion. The hope that we have is grounded in this gift of faith. Note that the word assurance is used in the English translation. The original word’s range of meaning includes conviction or confidence. That is, the gift of faith, genuine saving faith is a certainty, a conviction of a hope. This conviction, assurance is of “things hoped for”. The “things hoped for” are those things promised by God to all who trust in Him! Ultimately, heaven is not some doubtful or uncertain destination for a believer. No! Heaven is assured to those who live trusting in the. Person and Work of Christ!

But there are other “things”. We have God’s promise never to leave us or forsake us, Hebrews13:5 Therefore, we know that God is with His people. He is walking along side of us. Beloved, it is wise to be concerned over this virus. But, it is essential that we know in our head and heart that God is in charge even of this. We know, as those who have been given the gift of faith, “that for those who love Go all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)

The question that I ask myself every day is, “Are my actions testifying to the certain hope that God has given to me?”

Before this “pandemic” it was easy to remind ourselves that God made us for worship. He expects those who have certain hope to worship Him. But now, in light of the government’s restrictions on gathering for worship, that basic and clear exhortation is not so easy to apply. Virtual worship, watching on our computers or TV’s is not the same as gathering with God’s people for worship. It’s something like the difference between “face time” with your family versus visiting them. Ask any “shut-ins” and they will tell you that there’s nothing like worshiping God with His people on the Lord’s Day.

Yet, for a time, churches are working to find means by which their members can stay connected. We need to praise God, confess our sins and hear His word read and proclaimed. We all need to be reminded of the certain hope that we have. We need to be reminded that God is in charge!

Likewise, our elders are working to use whatever technology is available to us to provide an electronic means to remind us of whose we are. Our intention is to offer whatever means we can so that our congregation will stay connected. Our prayer is that we will increase our desire to gather to worship our King and Lord when this pandemic is over.

In the interim, for this coming Lord’s Day we have set up a link for you all to praise God in your homes:
https://youtu.be/-NGw6lBBWa0

Further, our web site will continue to have my full sermon in audio format. Our church web site is: www.weatherfordpca.org.

Pray that our sovereign Lord will deliver us from this viral disease. Pray for God’s protection for all those physicians and medical workers who are on the “front line” fighting this virus.