Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Finding a True Church”

Finding a True Church
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

God commands His people to “keep holy the Sabbath Day.” The “Sabbath Day” was changed by the Apostolic Church to the First Day, Sunday. The Church refers to every Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Each Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, a professing Christian will seek to find a local church in which to invest in the Kingdom and worship the King!

God’s command is addressed to believers in the Risen Lord Jesus. 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. Therefore, a believer will desire to find a body of believers with whom he can worship God.

A believer is one who has been saved, is being saved and will be saved. The Bible details God’s order of salvation, Romans 8:28-30. First, God Effectually Calls a dead person to come to life. Second, the effect of His call is Regeneration. All men are born dead in sin. God must raise a sinner from death to life. This is what Jesus meant by being born again, John 3. Third, God converts a sinner to a saint. In conversion God gives two gifts. One is the gift of faith and the second is the gift of repentance. Those gifts are exercised by those who receive them. Fourth, the result of turning from sin and turning to Jesus is Justification. Justification is a legal term. God declares a sinner to be in right standing before Him only by the merit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God covers the sinner with the perfect life of Jesus Christ and transfers the sinner’s sin to Jesus. This is called double imputation. Fifth and following justification, God Adopts the sinner into His family. Those changed by God become heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven. Sixthly, after justification God begins His work of Sanctification. As Justification covers the sinner with perfect righteousness, Sanctification is God’s progressive work to make the sinner righteous from the inside out. In Sanctification, the sinner responds to God’s work in him. God promised to make us more and more like Christ. Seventh and finally, the end result of Sanctification is what is called Glorification. God promised to take us to glory. Every believer will be in glory in heaven. The comforting fact of glorification is that God sees us as already glorified. Notice Paul’s use of the past tense for all the verbs in Romans 8:30.

A Christian, one who is in Christ has been saved; is being saved and will be saved by God’s grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone. He desires to worship God with fellow Christians. This desire is an expression of God’s adoption. Christians demonstrate their desire for God within the visible church. Likewise, Christian fathers and mothers desire to teach their children the blessing of worshiping God.

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

Christians grow by participating in corporate worship. Therefore, finding a church in which one can grow in Christ requires knowing what constitutes a “true church.”

The Bible reveals three marks of a true church. The first 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. Worship has all too often been turned into entertainment with man at the center.

But, against man-centeredness stands a true church. May you intentionally seek a local church that is God-centered rather than man-centered. For God has ordained Christian growth in Christ through the ministry of a local church centered on Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “God’s Blessing, The Law”

“God’s Blessing, the Law”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
If you are in Christ, know that He fulfilled the requirements of the law! You have been covered with the perfect righteousness of Christ. God did not remove the Law’s requirements. The Law reveals the character of God and points us to our need for Christ. Adam failed to keep God’s command; Jesus Christ did not. The gospel is the good news of God precisely because Christ satisfied the demands of the Law and offered the only perfect sacrifice for sin. So then, the Law is not opposed to the gospel. It points to man’s only hope in the gospel, the person and work of Christ. All men and women are born in Adam and thereby are dead in sin. We all deserve eternal damnation. But, God is merciful and chose some for salvation. By grace we are saved, through faith and this is the gift of God! (Ephesians 2:8)

So then, Paul raised the question, “Why then the Law?” God’s answer though him, the Law, “was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary,” Galatians 3:19. The law was added because of sin.

Sin is lawlessness, 1John 3:4. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, is recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The first part concerns man’s relationship to God. The second provides the basis for men to co-exist.

Both God’s Law and Civil Law carry blessings and curses, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As God created man and woman in His image, we all have the moral code in our hearts. All men have a general knowledge of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments declare what is right and wrong and express, the grace of God as part of the Covenant of Grace.

Following God’s work of Creation, all societies recognize the importance of law. A society falls when the rule of law is ignored. Leaders are expected to submit to the rule of law. In our nation, the Constitution provides the basis for the rule of law. No one is above the law! History records man’s awareness of his need for law. An ancient example is the Code of Hammurabi, the law code of the first Babylonian Dynasty ruled by Hammurabi circa 1728-1686 B.C. Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations likewise depended on the rule of law. As law broke down, those civilizations ceased to exist. Western civilization and especially our United States will stand or fall as a result of adherence to the rule of law.

The Law’s importance will finally be seen in the end of this world. The sign of the end will be apostasy. “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first…” 2Thessalonians 2:3. Paul was straightening out false teaching concerning the end of this world. Rebellion against God will be the first sign of the end. The visible sign of rejecting God is rejecting His Law.

Law benefits all mankind. God’s common grace toward all is experienced by the rule of law. It is the basis for relationships, contracts, economic prosperity and in summary the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

We all need God’s grace conveyed through the Law. Men are not basically good. All men are sinners; dead in sin. God’s Law given by His grace points to man’s only hope, the gospel. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” Galatians 4:4.

Throughout history the Christian Church has taught three uses of the Law. They are: to bound sin, to point to Christ and to provide the guide for living in Christ.

God’s blessing through the Law is profound. Without law we will perish. Because of The Law men are shown the desperate need for a divine Savior. May we commit to stand for the blessing of God’s Law and all law proceeding from it. May submission to the rule of law reflect the desire to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God, Micah 6:8. May the Law of God lead you to Christ!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “A Need to Know”

“A Need to Know”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
What you don’t know can hurt you. There are times when ignorance will lead you to ruin. The most damaging ignorance concerns one’s soul. Jesus said, “Fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” And, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” And, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Matthew 10:28, 39; 16:26 All these words are strong and clear!

Ignorance of God and of what He said can hurt you. Only knowing God and the one He sent, Jesus Christ will save your soul. We know that what God has said is true. God said that men are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, Ephesians 2:8-9.

Yet there was a time that men usurped God’s authority. These men were in the church rather than outside of her. They were false teachers and false leaders of God’s people. They sought to manipulate the people of God through man-centered guilt.

But God in His sovereign providence raised up godly men to call the church to submit to God’s word. One of these men was an Augustinian priest. His name was Martin Luther. History records his action of rebuking the church as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

On October 31, 1517, over 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses (complaints) on the Wittenberg church door in protest over the sale of indulgences. His action resulted from another monk who was “fund raising” in Germany. This monk’s name was Tetzel. This unscrupulous man was put in charge of the sale of indulgences in Germany. He was “heard announcing that the indulgence that they sold made the sinner cleaner than when coming out of baptism and cleaner than Adam before the Fall and that the cross of the seller of indulgences has as much power as the cross of Christ.” One of Tetzel’s more evil pronouncements was, “as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” (Taken from “The Story of Christianity” by Justo L. Gonzalez, Vol. 2)

Martin Luther started a movement. He and all the Reformers knew that the church needed to be in an ongoing reformation. They taught that the church had to be diligent to reform herself to be in accordance with the word of God. They declared that the root cause of Rome’s problem was her view of authority. The Pre-reformation church placed herself above God’s word. The church’s magisterium, her leaders placed themselves as the authority over God’s people.

The root cause of the Protestant Reformation, also referred to as the “Formal Cause” was Sola Scriptura. This Latin phrase, Scripture Alone means that God’s word, the Bible, has ultimate authority. Believers live under the word of God for the glory of God. Everything is for God’s glory!

The Pre-reformation church used their illegitimate authority to manipulate people with a guilt causing them to seek to “buy” merit from the church. Contrary to this, the Bible declares that only the perfect righteousness of Christ can merit salvation. Salvation is by God, from God and for God!

In addition to the formal cause of the Reformation was the material cause. The material cause was the teaching of the Scriptures that justification (God’s sovereign act of free grace) is through faith alone. Justification through faith alone or Sola Fides is the revealed truth that eliminates the idea that men can merit God’s favor.

The Reformation was one of the most significant events in history. Yet, the evangelical church seems to have forgotten it. The practices observed in many churches stand against the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Methods and programs are substituted for truth. It often appears that attracting people is more important than glorifying God! When asked about the Protestant Reformation, most in the church respond with a blank stare. Many have been taught that the Reformation was simply an event in history. However, the church stands on the shoulders of the Reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, Thomas Cranmer and others. They taught, that the church must always be reforming herself in accordance with the word of God and live in submission to the headship of Jesus Christ. Truly, we have a need to know who God is. Therefore, invest in a Church that teaches who He is!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The First Fruits”

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

“He has risen; The Lord has risen indeed!” Luke 24:6, 34 we read these words so easily. We even might hear them used to gather God’s people for worship on Easter Sunday. The angel told the women that Jesus wasn’t there. The tomb was empty. The angel told the women Jesus was not among the dead, but the living.

After Jesus opened the eyes of His disciples, they declared to each other, “The Lord has risen, indeed!” May you all celebrate the great festival of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ with your church families. This historic event, the bodily resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

But what actually happened? There were many eye witnesses of His empty tomb. There were over 500 witnesses of Jesus after His resurrection.

There is so much importance placed upon the event of Jesus’ resurrection that the Apostle Paul said that if it was not true, the entirety of the Christian faith was useless, mere hot air.

According to the words of Jesus Himself, if He did not get out of the grave, if His bodily resurrection was not an historic fact, He would be just another liar! C.S. Lewis gave three options. He said Jesus was either a mad man, a liar or He was who He said He was!

Christians must be clear on this fact, a dead man got out of his grave. The body buried was the body raised up. But there were some reported differences between Jesus’ earthly body and His resurrected body. He traveled long distances instantaneously. He was able to pass through locked doors. But, He also ate food and was recognized by those to whom He spoke.

The Bible describes the resurrection body as an imperishable one. One that is glorious and perfect. One that is immortal. The Bible says that Jesus is the “first fruits” of those who have died.

The Christian Faith affirms that there is a man in heaven! His name is Lord Jesus. He has a physical, yet immortal and glorious body. He is declared to be the God-Man, the only begotten One of the Father, not made but eternally proceeding from the Father.

The truth of Jesus’ bodily resurrection gets even better. It gets better for all who belong to Him. The Apostle Paul said that Christians don’t grieve over death as others do who have no hope because we know that death is the entrance to paradise. When Jesus comes again, and He will, we will receive resurrection bodies like His.

As a minister of the gospel and a Christian, I would be remiss if I did not tell you the “down side”, and there is a terrifying “down side”. The Bible says that all the dead will be raised on the last day, which is when Jesus returns. Those whom God chose have their names written in the “Lamb’s book of life”. By His grace alone they will live in glory with Him forever. Alleluia! But (and this is a big one) those not covered by the perfect righteousness of Christ and His perfect sacrifice for sin will live forever in a physical state in the “Lake of Fire” which is Eternal Hell.

I urge you to take this event and the truth it affirms seriously. It is a matter of life and death. Jesus declared that this time between His first and second coming is the “year of the Lord’s favor” Is. 61:1-2a, Lk. 4:19. This is the time that God has provided for men to receive His salvation through Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. This is the time to be spared the wrath of God.

My prayer for this Easter Sunday is that the Sovereign Spirit of God would give eyes to see and ears to hear the saving truth of Jesus Christ to all who would worship Jesus this Lord’s Day. May the sovereign Lord bless you and your family. May the Spirit of God work in concert with His word wherever it is faithfully preached and change lives for eternity. Have a happy Easter!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Christ completed everything!”

“Christ completed everything!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The last word spoken by the Lord Jesus from the cross was “Tetelestai”. This Greek verb was recorded by the Apostle John in the perfect tense. The literal translation is “It is finished.” John 19:30 Jesus made a declaration of something accomplished that would have on-going implications. He said that redemption was accomplished!

Redemption implies that a price or ransom was paid. The price required by God to redeem His people from the bondage to sin was paid more than 2,000 years ago. This is the reason the Friday before Easter Sunday is called “Good Friday.” Jesus lived a perfect life and He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice.

Those chosen before the foundation of the world to be in Christ have Christ’s finished work applied to them. It is applied by the Holy Spirit when God effectually calls those whom He predestined and regenerates them. God then converts the sinner into a saint and gives the sinner the gifts of faith and repentance. Through God’s gift, expressed by the sinner now a saint, God sovereignly declares him justified. God adopts those whom He justifies. He sanctifies them and assures them that He will bring them to glory.

The completed work of Christ, redemption, extends from the individual to the corporate body. It extends even to Creation itself. The Apostle Paul declared that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself,” 2Corinthians 5:19.

Redemption which is God’s saving act is for His glory and by His sovereign grace. He extends grace to a spiritually dead person which causes him to see the beauty of Christ!

Good Friday reminds me of what God did for me. Good Friday is personal for everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is indeed personal. Thirty-two years ago, God snatched me from the pit of hell! He used a devastating auto accident. He broke me physically and caused me to see the Kingdom as Jesus said to Nicodemus, John 3:3.

Before God’s action on that day, I had no desire for Jesus. I believed that I was a good person. I believed that as long as my “good” outweighed my “bad” God would accept me. I didn’t realize that God is holy and requires perfection!

My thoughts of God were proceeding from a heart of stone. I was spiritually dead and didn’t know it. I used to think that all that “born again” stuff was for the weak-minded.

God caused me to see my helplessness. For a time, I was confined to a hospital bed. Through my accident, God gave me a word picture of my sinfulness that stays with me to this day. God caused me to dig into His word to learn more about His character. Jesus’ words, “It is finished” have been burned into my mind and heart. Good Friday is a day in which I reflect upon the steadfast love of the Lord poured out on me.

There is a foolish teaching that pervades the evangelical church. People are told that if they believe they will be born again. This is analogous to speaking to a dead person, lying in a casket and saying, “Get up!” More, it is the height of manipulation to tell people that we are made new creations by our own wisdom and ability. How can a dead person believe? The truth is “Ye must be born again” in order to believe! The Bible says: “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8. Every person is born spiritually dead. We are unable to reach out to God and live, Genesis 3:22-24. God confirmed the truth of His word through a tragedy which continues to point me to Him. God alone saves those whom He chooses. No one can stay His hand! He chose to save a sinner, namely me! This is the on-going effect of Jesus’ words, “It is finished.”

God used a traumatic event to cause me to see His sovereignty in salvation. I am not suggesting a person must undergo some tragedy to be born again. Some raised in covenant families don’t have a time of which to point for when they first saw the truth. Yet, God did regenerate them and because of His grace, they profess faith in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.

I pray that you will worship this coming Lord’s Day with a Church that teaches, believes, and lives this truth!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Unfailing Hope”

“Unfailing Hope”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?… Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:1, 3

King David wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He felt all alone, forsaken, abandoned by God. It has been said that desperate people do desperate things. But David’s desperation showed itself in constant prayer. He persisted in seeking God’s answer to his desperation.

Jesus told a parable, Luke 18:1ff, of a persistent widow to teach His disciples to persist in prayer. A demonstration of trust in the Lord is persistence in prayer in our times of need.

Psalm 22 is a prophecy of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. Jesus quoted from Psalm 22 as He hung on the cross. The fulfillment of David’s words in the first part of Psalm 22 were in Jesus’ taking upon Himself the full wrath of God for the sins of His people.

Yet, there is ongoing meaning for all who are in Christ. Desperation comes upon all of us. At some time we will all face being alone or feeling that we are alone. Therefore, there is something that must be known and lived concerning God. David knew that he lived before a holy God. He wrote, “Yet you are holy,” Psalm 22:3a. As David was, I also am aware that I live before God who is holy.

David wrote that the holy God is “enthroned on the praises of Israel.” That is, He is the God who has revealed Himself to His people who respond in praise. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4. Jesus said this to the Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22. The point is, there is only one God and He has revealed Himself as holy. Unless we know Him, we are lost and hopeless in our desperation.

I believe that many in churches are like the Samaritan woman, worshiping what they don’t know. In stark contrast David persisted in prayer because he knew that the object of his prayer was the holy God. He remembered that He was the One in whom his predecessors trusted. He remembered that God answered their prayers, heard their cries and delivered them from bondage.

We have a fuller revelation than did the church of the Old Testament. Yet, like them, we seem to think that there must be more than knowing the holiness of God! We demonstrate our desires by the things we do and teach. We think or at least some, that discipleship is a program. More, discipleship programs are often about how to live while being accountable to another person or group. Rarely is discipleship about theology. Often missing in these discipleship programs is learning about the one disciples follow.

Again, notice King David’s declaration. “Yet you are holy.” David knew God! He was a man after God’s own heart. David had the revealed truth of the character of the God in whom he trusted. The Spirit of God held David accountable.

It is the same Spirit of God who holds disciples accountable to grow in the knowledge and love of God. Peter wrote, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…” 1Peter 3:15a. The means of growing is by God’s design through the Spirit of Christ working in us to do that which is pleasing in His sight, Hebrews 13:20.

Psalm 22 was not only a prophecy of Christ’s sacrifice; it is hope for all who know Him. The means God has given His people to persevere in the midst of feelings of desperation is the knowledge of who He is.

If you are going through a time of feeling deserted by God, turn to learn more of who He is. Turn to His revealed truth, the Bible. You will discover that He has promised never to leave His people. We may all cry “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” But know that the One who was truly forsaken by God, Jesus, is the light of the world. He has promised to be with us; to intercede to the Father; to go before us and to bring us to His heavenly home.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “You are Witnesses!”

“You are Witnesses!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The title is taken from the words of Jesus recorded by Luke, Luke 24:48a. The Risen Lord Jesus told His followers that they were indeed witnesses of His Person and Work. The implication of His words is that everyone who professes Christ is a witness of the gospel. Note that, Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to witness. He stated a fact of being not doing! The question before every Christian is, “What kind of witness am I?”

In order to answer this question, a Christian should know that his actions tell the world that he is following Jesus. Now Christians know that God made all people to worship Him. Therefore, it is safe to say that the first act of a witness of the gospel is worship.

The question is addressed to Christians, those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We must be clear on what it means to be a Christian. First and foremost, the Bible teaches that God makes Christians. One’s decision to profess Christ is only possible if God has first regenerated him.

The evangelical church seems to be saturated by the teaching that one’s decision makes him a Christian. The Bible teaches that God ordains salvation. God:
1. Effectually calls a dead person to life.
2. Regenerates the one He calls.
3. Converts a sinner to a saint. In doing so, He gives two gifts. One is the gift of faith and the second is the gift of repentance. Those gifts are exercised by those who receive them. The result is the turning from sin and turning to Jesus.
4. Justifies; Justification is a legal term. God declares a sinner to be in right standing before Him only by the merit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God covers the sinner with the perfect life of Jesus Christ and transfers the sinner’s sin to Jesus. All this is called double imputation.
5. Adopts the sinner into His family. Those changed by God become heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven.
6. Sanctifies; as Justification covers the sinner with perfect righteousness, Sanctification is God’s action of making the sinner righteous from the inside out. In Sanctification, the sinner responds to God’s work in him.
7. Glorifies; God promised to see us to glory. Every believer will be in glory in heaven. The comforting fact of glorification is that God sees us as already glorified. I would encourage you to read Romans 8:30 and notice that all the verbs are in the past tense, even glorified.

If you are one who professes Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, the above is how God made you His. If you’re not hearing this preached and taught consistently from the pulpit of your church, find another church!

Christian, God has made you a “new creation”, 2Corinthians 5:17, with a compelling desire to worship God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. You are exhorted to “offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God…” Romans 12:1.

Jesus gave the Great Command, “You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37. A Christian’s most basic demonstration of his love toward God is to worship Him! It is what your neighbors see first. It is a fundamental means that the Holy Spirit uses to change the one “in Christ.” When you gather with God’s people on the Lord’s Day, it’s not about loving people, helping people or being made to “feel good”. It is about demonstrating your love for the God who saved you and your love for others will proceed out of your worship.

In summary, the Psalter is the word of God and it was and continues to be the worship manual of the Church. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”’ The believer is glad, filled with joy, and is satisfied as he worships God! Each believer has this desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. Yes, God commanded corporate worship. But, a believer grows as he understands that corporate worship is more than a duty; it is our desire! So then, may God fill your heart with a desire to worship Him with other believers.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Eye of the Beholder”

“The Eye of the Beholder”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Why can’t they see what I see?” Does that question sound familiar? People see the same event and come away from the experience with different assessments of what happened or more importantly why it happened. Sometimes there are genuine differences of opinions. But, there are other times when the event is simply so clear that personal opinions are, frankly, irrelevant. Everyone has his own perspective of an issue based upon past experiences. Those perspectives are the motivations that form our responses to an event. Theologians call those kinds of perspectives “presuppositions”. Everyone has presuppositions. Presuppositions inform our understanding of the world around us. The basis of our presuppositions come from what is called a world view. The set of presuppositions each person holds depends upon his/her world view. A world view is how reality is viewed. That is, a world view is how we make sense of what we see and hear.

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 no absolutes except that there are no absolutes.

The concern is truth. Truth is also defined as that which is real, reality. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life”, John 14:6. In other words, Jesus is reality. In fact, Jesus is the ultimate reality. Therefore, in order to fully understand reality, Jesus must be at the center of our thought. Yet, truth or reality is not dependent upon our embracing it or even recognizing it.

A biblical/God-Centered world view begins at the beginning! Genesis 1:1 declares, “In the beginning God…” God is eternal. God is self-sufficient. God created everything that we see. The Apostle Paul wrote that God has revealed His invisible attributes by what He has made, Romans 1:20. Jesus said if His disciples would abide in His word they would know the truth and be set free, John 8:31-32.

The reason everyone doesn’t’ see what I see is because of the failure to see reality. Man’s refusal to see the truth or accept reality is at the heart of the problem. Men suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18.

I propose that the only world view through which one can be confident of seeing the truth is the God-centered one. Truth is objective. Reality is not in the eye of the beholder. Here is the truth. The only self-existing being is God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, Hebrews 13:8. All truth and reality proceed from Him.

Obviously, much of society, some might even suggest that most of society doesn’t look at life through a biblical world view. The basis of a man-centered world view, namely, moral relativism is the primary means by which truth and reality are suppressed.

The man-centered world view is attractive because it suits man’s sinfulness. The Apostle Paul wrote that men suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18. Jesus said that men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil, John 3:19.

It must be clearly stated at this point that seeing life through a God-centered world view is necessary not only for Christians but for all men. The reason is obvious. The reason, truth/reality is not in the “eye” of the beholder. There are absolutes whether we think there are or not. There is a supreme being whether we think He exists or not. The Supreme Being who has revealed Himself as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit has established absolutes. Further, God established laws by which all nature is governed. God has also established moral law. All men have the moral law on their hearts. By God’s moral law, we are able to know whether something is right or wrong.

As a Pastor, I am accountable to God to ask you, “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.” And the words of Jesus who said that the word of God is eternal and unbreakable, Mathew 5:17-18 and John 10:35.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Devotion Produces Duty!”

“Devotion Produces Duty!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Duty implies an obligation and devotion represents desire. They are separately defined but connected. Both duty and devotion are considered to be virtues. I suggest that their connection is critical for those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that the relationship between the two is God’s design for His people. Jesus didn’t come to save His people and place them in another form of bondage. He came to set His people free. God sets His people free from the bondage of sin to be free to live for Him, Romans 6:11. I believe that the connection between duty and devotion is made clear by the Bible’s description of one who belongs to God. The psalmist wrote, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you,” Psalm 73:25. And the Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Philippian Church, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…” Philippians 3:8.

God’s command to those who are His to: hear, understand and obey Him cannot be ignored. God requires obedience which is our duty, but mere obedience is not enough. Therefore, God changes the heart of a sinner to make him a saint. He gives the sinner a desire for Him.

Growth in the Christian Life is manifested by moving from the duty to obey God to a profound desire for Him which motivates our obedience.

Jesus was asked to define the “great commandment in the Law,” Matthew 22:37. He referred to Deuteronomy 6:5. God’s command is clear, “love” God! In His command, we come face to face with the connection between duty and devotion. We are obligated to love God. However, Love is a choice we make that is based upon a desire. Before God’s absolute obligation can be met, there must be a desire to carry out His obligation to love Him.

There is a problem rooted in our human nature. The Bible says that men are not born with a desire to love God. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that the natural man is an enemy of God. God must change a sinner and give him the desire to love Him.

The words that God caused the human authors to use for love are critical for understanding. The New Testament word in Matthew 22:37 has at its heart the idea of sacrifice. It is referred to as sacrificial love. In Deuteronomy 6:5, the word for love conveys the meaning of total devotion. God’s command written by Moses called God’s people to a total devotion, to submit to Him and to demonstrate their devotion by a holy life.

Duty is not enough to satisfy God’s command. There must be a desire by which duty is produced. God gives that desire. Jesus said that one must be born again in order to see the Kingdom of God, John 3:3. As regeneration precedes faith; so too desire precedes duty. God changes the heart and gives the desire to obey Him. This desire motivates the believer to obedience.

All Man’s actions are dictated by desire. The same is true for Christians. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is God’s grace in changing our desires when He makes us new creations. We as Christians have a desire to love God with our whole heart, soul, and strength because He gave it to us. When we don’t desire God, the Holy Spirit convicts us to confess our sins to Him. God promised believers, “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, 1John 1:9. The ground of God’s forgiveness is the atoning sacrifice of Christ, 1John 2:2. Only Jesus appeased the wrath of the holy God.

To summarize, Jesus said knowing the truth sets one free, John 8:32. Knowing Jesus is freedom. God has set His people free from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ. We have been freed from sin and given a desire for God.

The world views Christianity as either moralistic, legalistic, or fantasy. It is none of those. The Christian faith is freedom. Yet this freedom is not license to sin. One who has received the saving grace of God responds by loving God, therefore, living for Him.

God loved you first and gave you the desire to obey Him unless you don’t belong to Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Woe forCalling Evil Good, Culture in Decline”

“Woe for calling evil good, Culture in Decline”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
You don’t often see “woe” used in an article. It’s a word that has fallen out of usage in our day. But it’s a word that ought to be understood and taken seriously. Woe is used in Scripture to convey a dire warning. It usually precedes God’s judgment. Isaiah Chapter 5 has led me to reflect on some current issues. Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” God was issuing a warning to His people for their abusive and oppressive behavior towards their brothers. More specifically, God was directing His “woe” against the leaders of His people. There are six woes’ in Isaiah 5. Taken together, we could call this situation, “Living without a moral compass.”

Isaiah comprehensively covered God’s judgment and salvation. Chapter 5 was addressed to God’s “vineyard”, His chosen people, Israel, more specifically, Judah. By direct implication, this declaration is for the Church. God sought justice and righteousness within His people and found none! God’s indictment was directed to “those who were wise in their own eyes,” Isaiah 5:21.

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

We also have God’s promise to work all things together for the good of those who love Him, those whom He has called, Romans 8:28.

The Bible was written to believers but it applies to all people. God does not have a sliding scale. He doesn’t grade on a curve. “All must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2Corinthans 5:10

Therefore, there is a necessity for all societies to have and maintain a moral compass. A moral compass is simply a clear understanding of right and wrong. God made man in His image. All men have a sense of what is right because God put it within all of us.

Because of the Fall of Adam, all men inherit Adam’s sin and are born with a sin nature. Even though we all know what is right, we suppress the truth. Within our culture, we often have a difficult time in discerning “the good”.

Our Western Culture has been led down a destructive path, the path of moral relativism. “What’s right for you may not be right for me” is the opinion of many. Our culture calls things that are evil good and vice versa. We no longer use words such as sin and evil. Sickness and dysfunction are the politically correct replacements. Evil is reserved for those senseless acts of violence committed by crazed killers who murder school children or Islamic terrorists. We have placed issues of human life in a confusing ethic. Men have usurped God’s authority in deciding when to end human life, from the womb to the tomb. When horrible events occur, like the recent school shootings in Florida, our leaders look to legislation. Even with more laws, our culture continues to spiral downward.

I write this as a man who believes the Risen Lord Jesus. I am accountable to God 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. There is a dear price to pay when culture stops teaching by life and example that there is an absolute standard of good. God and His word is that standard and we have effectively removed both from the public sphere.

“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, Luke 18:19! Sin and evildoers will be with us until Christ returns. Yet, God has given all of us a moral compass. Everything is not relative. May we continue to live in this great culture teaching right and wrong to our children. May we all acknowledge that good morals are grounded in a good God who is the absolute standard.