Pastor’s Viewpoints,”No One Cares…when truth doesn’t matter”

“No One Cares…when truth doesn’t matter”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
When a society is engulfed by lies, distortions, or half-truths the people begin to believe that truth doesn’t matter. We are close to this being the case in our society. Facts are considered those things that are to be spun to benefit someone or something. Every day a news story breaks and those reporting it give perspectives on the facts rather than simply stating them.

There is something even more troubling to me. Truth in the eye of the beholder is in the church. Basic understandings relating to God’s self-revelation are taught as “perspectives.” The real importance, we’re told, is “How does the Bible impact you?”

I am a Christian Pastor of an evangelical church. I often meet people, as I’m sure you do, who believe truth is a matter of perspective.

This low view of reality is not new. It’s as old as mankind. It’s been around since the “Garden.” Satan’s lie was a denial of absolute truth. “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4

Likewise, Jesus faced this phenomenon as He was being questioned by Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus a rhetorical question. He asked, “What is truth?”, John 18:38. For Pilate as for many truth was irrelevant. What really mattered was, who has the power? But unknowingly Pilate’s question expressed the result of absolute truth! God has absolute power. Pilate was standing in the presence of the one who would say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Matthew 28:18. Jesus, the God-Man, rules all things. He has absolute power. This is the truth and it matters to all!

A philosophy popularized by Joseph Fletcher in the 60’s called situational ethics, bases ethical decisions on circumstances. Fletcher claimed that this philosophy emphasized the primacy of love. This may sound good and reasonable. You may even think that because it is based on “love” it is gracious and promotes compassion. Yet, as you might expect, one’s definition of “love” is critical in situational ethics. Fletcher defined love in utilitarian terms; that which is loving promotes usefulness.

A further deterioration of culture came about by a philosophy that mirrors situational ethics. It is moral relativism. Moral relativism has no absolutes. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. Within this philosophy the governing dogma is that everything is relative except the absence of absolutes. This confused thinking is common today. It is the reason many think that truth doesn’t matter.

In moral relativism, truth has no role. One of the horrible results of such a philosophy is the secular view of human life which is the value of human life is derived from its usefulness. The truth is all human life which begins at conception is sacred because God set it apart. Human life has dignity and value because God is the Author.

Opposed to moral relativism is Amos 7:8, “… The LORD said, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

The plumb line is the word of God. Amos’ vision foretold the coming Messiah. Jesus is the absolute standard. He said that He is the truth, John 14:6.

Men and women will always seek to hide the truth so as to keep their evil deeds from the light of day, John 3:19.

I believe that the centrality of truth is essential if our western culture is to survive. I also believe that the church is accountable to God to teach the truth to her people. All people should expect our church and civil leaders to speak the truth. The starting place is personal. Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes” or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5:37

Christians are people of truth because genuine Christians are in union with Christ. Believers are purposed by God to bear the fruit of Christ-likeness.

May the church lead the way. May all who profess Christ live the truth, share the truth and by all means expect leaders to speak the truth in all aspects of life.

This is a unique and challenging time. Christian, don’t hide the light of Jesus, the way and the life and the truth, but let it shine!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Should You Fear?”

“Should You Fear?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The short answer is “Yes.” Everyone should fear God! Both believers and non-believers should fear God. The psalmist, Asaph wrote in Psalm 76:7, “But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?” He wrote this worship song to be used in corporate worship by those who know God. All believers know or should know the holiness and majesty of God. All believers know that God does not accommodate sin. He will exercise absolute justice. Only those who are in Christ will be able to stand before Him. Christians will stand before the holy God not in their own righteousness but only covered in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Most of mankind lives in denial of the God who is to be feared. Some Christians presume upon God’s electing grace in Christ by making their own god who is love as they define it.

The truth is: whether you are a Christian or not, fearing God is the only reasonable response of a creature to his Creator.

The Bible answers the question. Fearing God is the subject of much of Scripture. Three texts of Scripture in addition to Psalm 76 come readily to mind concerning man’s response to his Creator. Ecclesiastes 12:13, Matthew 10:28 and 1Peter 2:17 provide God’s revealed answer to whether or not He is to be feared.

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 commandment, 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 alternative to 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.

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?

We 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!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Calling it like it is”

“Calling it like it is”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
At the risk of being “politically incorrect” I’d like to take a moment to cause some thought to be given to evil versus good. We seem unable to distinguish between the two. Oh, not on a grand scale. We readily recognize evil perpetrated by radical Islamists. But when it comes to the subtler things, we allow ourselves to be confused by various reports of statements and incidents. Woe is used in Scripture to warn those who fail to “call it like it is.” 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 issued a warning to His people for their abusive and oppressive behavior towards their brothers. God issued this warning for leaders who failed to recognize evil as evil.

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

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

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

As a result of our sinfulness both believers and unbelievers often have a difficult time in discerning “the good”. Believers always appeal to the word of God and pray for the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit to guide our discernment, Psalm 119:105

There may be grey issues facing us today. Some say that not everything is black or white. In my opinion, we are too free to categorize issues as grey. Often they are grey because of our unwillingness to look at them through the lens of Scripture. But, there is one issue that is clearly evil. The issue to which I refer is the issue of human life. Some in our nation would suggest that a woman’s right to end the life of the baby in her womb falls under the heading of grey. But, any reasonable human being must admit in this day and age that life indeed begins at conception. The issue of the sanctity of human life does not fall in the category of ethical confusion. We need not wonder what the “good” course is. God is for life! Those who would call death good risk falling under the “woes” declared by Isaiah.

I am called to be a minister of the gospel. I am an ordained pastor. Yet, in this I am simply writing as a man who believes in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. I have been made a new creation by the sovereign grace of God. He has caused me to see the truth and the beauty of Christ. As a member of His family, I am obligated to declare the truth and live under His word. I dare not bless what God curses! I dare not remain silent when evil is called good, nor should any person who professes Christ.

I read somewhere that for evil to succeed all that is necessary is for good men to be silent. I am not good in the sight of God. I am a sinner. God alone is good and He expects me to stand for that which He has sanctified, namely human life. There is no middle ground when it comes to standing for the sanctity of human life.

During this critical time in our nation, look for leaders who call it like it is. Look for leaders who stand for the sanctity of human life!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Thinking People”

“Thinking People”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

God intends for His people to be thinking people. God has chosen men and women to be holy. Christians are commanded to be holy. The means of holiness is God working in us by the power of the Holy Spirit in concert with His word. There are two kinds of Christians of whom people refer. There are nominal Christians. These claim the title of Christian, but have little to do with God. Then there are the genuine Christians. These are those who have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world. God chose those who are His in Christ to be holy and blameless. The genuine “article” is called by God; regenerated by God; converted by God; justified by God; adopted by God; sanctified by God and glorified by God, Romans 8: 29-30.

God chose His people for His glory. Paul wrote that Christians have been chosen to the “praise of His glorious grace,” Ephesians 1:6. Christians are those who are in Christ; all others, including nominal Christians are in Adam. Those in Christ are alive and those in Adam are dead.

When Jesus prayed in the Garden, John 17:15, He asked the Father to keep Christians from Satan but not to take them out of the world. As a Christian Pastor, I am obliged to warn all who are in Christ that the world will continue to grow more and more evil. We will live in tribulation. But Jesus said to “take heart; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33. We know that we will share in Christ’s final victory. For now, we live in the “all ready.” When Christ returns we will experience the “not yet.” We will see Him as He is and we will be like Him, 1John 3:2.

Christians are told to keep their faith to themselves. For we are never to mix things like politics with our faith in Jesus Christ. At least so the secularists tell us. There are even some nominal Christians that have “bought” this lie. Somehow, we are to be spiritual people. Whatever that means in the mind of a secularist. The Bible says that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,” 1Corinthians 2:14. The truth is that the spiritual life is all of life. It includes that which we see and that which is yet unseen. We, Christians are spiritual people living in a world that does not see! Nevertheless, as those who live in this world, we are not to be naïve or ignorant of the things around us. We hear nonsense portrayed as wisdom and are expected to simply “wink” at it. Those who claim to be the intelligent elite are constantly trying to sell their folly as wisdom. Sadly, some Christians but it.

God has not called us to be naïve or ignorant of the things around us or the things that we hear. We are to be “as wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” Matthew 10:16. Jesus prepared the disciples He sent out, giving them authority and advice for acting wisely. So often, Christians think that we are to somehow “check our minds” at the door of the church building. I’ve actually heard self-appointed Christian leaders say, “God offends the mind to enter the heart.” What utter nonsense! God enters the mind and changes the heart. We are never to disengage our minds. God has given us our minds so that we can think our thoughts through Him.

Christians think using their minds which are being renewed by God as His Spirit applies His word. “We… take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2Corinthians 10:5.

Now to my exhortation and conclusion: Christians think within the church; Christians think in the workplace; Christians think as citizens of the United States of America; Christians think in every sphere of life in which God has placed them.

It is thinking Christians who glorify God and enjoy Him forever. There is no other kind of Christian but a thinking one. Think systematically; think in light of observable information; think biblically and make god-honoring choices.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Image Bearers”

“Image Bearers”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The world tells us that our value as human beings is based upon our current or potential contribution to society. There are ethicists who teach that human life has no more intrinsic value than plants and animals! I hope that this shocks you. It should. I suggest that human life has been given a unique value by the Creator. Genesis 1:26a, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” All men are image bearers of God!

At this point, I think that I’ve probably lost all the atheists. The fact is: there is a God. His existence is undeniable. He has made His divine attributes known by all that He has made, Romans 1:19-20. The Bible says that there is no other reasonable explanation for the world around us.

This article is not about the existence of God, directly. But, His existence is the basis for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of every human being. The sacredness of human life proceeds out of being made in God’s image. No other creature has been given such a distinction. Because of this, man is accountable to God. We have been set apart by God. We are made in God’s image. One of my favorite Psalms declares, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

The sense of the words of Scripture, Gen. 1:26, that declare men and women are made in God’s image are likened to objects viewed in a mirror. We are a reflection of God. Distortions of this idea have been offered over the years. Joseph Smith wrote that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…” Another famous or infamous personality teaches that God is actually a man who is six feet, two inches tall. He even goes on to describe God’s arm length.

I believe that grounding ourselves in the truth is the best defense against such false teaching. In other words, know the truth in order to recognize error. So then, what is the truth of being made in God’s image? It cannot mean that mankind looks like God in a physical sense, as those referenced above teach. God made us male and female! Both men and women bear God’s image. All reasonable people admit that men and women are not the same.

Bearing God’s image means to have some of the attributes of God. Attributes are simply characteristics that define a being. Now I used the word “some” to qualify the attributes of God that we bear. We are not God! No man is immortal. No man is self-existent. No man can make the claim that he had no beginning. Yet, all men are able to: reason, think, and have limited knowledge. All men have a sense of right and wrong.

In bearing these characteristics, we are faced with our limitations. For example, we don’t know everything, in spite of thinking we might. We don’t always do what is right in spite of having the moral law written on our hearts. The Bible says that every intention of the thoughts men’s hearts are only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.

Yet man’s sinfulness does not eliminate man’s dignity. God made man in His image, male and female He made them as recorded in Genesis Chapter One. Two Chapters later, the Bible records the Fall of Adam and the Woman. As a result, all of those attributes were marred by the Fall. We all still have the God-given attributes and we also have an inherited sin nature. Adam is referred to as the head of the Human Race, Romans 5:12ff. Along with the dignity of being human comes the responsibility for our actions.

Having said all this, the fact that we are sinners does not remove the dignity which God conveyed by making Man in His image. It also does not reduce our responsibility to exercise good management of His Creation.

Human Life is sacred because God made it so. Remember no man can change what God ordained. You have dignity and value because the sovereign God made you in His image!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Secret Evil”

“Secret Evil”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We see evil around us. We experience the effects of believing in a false religion. We look outside ourselves and are quickly informed of evil around the world and in our own country. We see lawlessness. We see a segment of our society rejecting authority. The police are despised, even though they continue to protect those who despise them.

Further, I was reminded of a sobering statistic. It is recorded that every 26 seconds a baby’s life is snuffed out. This occurring while we debate what a true conservative is and wondering why a law-breaker can be allowed to run for the highest elected office in the land. Abortion is indeed the “secret evil’ for which God will judge us. His judgment will come either sooner or later. God sanctified human life by breathing into Adam the breath of life and “he became a living creature,” Genesis 2:7.

As I was reviewing the data collected by both pro-life and so called pro-choice organizations, I was struck with a deep sense of sorrow. My sorrow was both for the victims, babies in their mother’s womb as well as those young women who have been infected by the lies told them by organizations such as Planned Parenthood. The biggest lie is that abortion is safe. The psychological effects alone of an abortion may impact a woman’s life for decades.
The numbers are gruesome. Since 1973, the year in which the immoral decision made by our Supreme Court that declared abortion to be legal, there have been more than 56 million child sacrifices on the altar of progressiveness. Most of us who know better have remained silent. The issue of abortion is not only a Christian “thing.” The killing of babies in the womb is a human thing! It is our “secret evil.”
Our nation has taken up arms in order to defend the weakest of society. We have even fought to free those who have been oppressed by evil governments. But we insist that a baby in the womb has no right to live! The hard fact is that the most dangerous place for a child is in its mother’s womb. This exists in a nation that stands for liberty. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are only for those who make it to birth.
There is more. Of those who have an abortion the following is eye-opening: 74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities. 73% say they cannot afford to have a child. 48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner. Finally, less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. These statistics are from the Alan Guttmacher Institute. This organization studies “Reproductive Health” and considers abortion as a birth control method.
From January 1, 2016 to July 15, 2016, 587,779 babies were aborted. In comparison the hot ticket item of today, gun control, 6186 deaths have occurred by shootings during the same period.
Abortion is blight on our land. The first step in removing it is awareness. The primary purpose of this article is awareness.
With the first step being awareness, the next one is for the church to teach both the nature of man and the character of God. We can’t change our culture with more laws. We can’t change our culture by stiff penalties or, God forbid, violence against abortionists. Christians are not anarchists. We are commanded to submit to the governing authorities. The church has not been given the sword, civil government has, Romans 13. I am convinced that churches must teach both who God is and who we are. The leaders and pastors of Bible believing, Christ exalting churches are responsible to teach and preach the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Only God can change a man’s heart. Only God can cause men to see the Kingdom. Only God causes His people to live for Him. The God who is the Author of life is the only hope for changing our culture. He has given His word so that we might know Him. He sent His only Son, Jesus who is the full revelation of the Father. May you engage in a local church that keeps this main thing, the main thing by teaching the truth of God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Lawlessness”

Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The giving of the Law and God’s ordination of civil authority are two blessings of God that intersect each other. The intersecting point is God! A symptom of a godless society is lawlessness. Lawlessness leads to ruin. God’s giving of the Law was an act of His grace.

The blessing of the Law is stated in Deuteronomy 11:26-28. It was given to the Church of the Old Testament, which was a theocracy. A theocracy is when both the civil and religious laws are the same. In a theocracy there is no distinction between “Church and State.” There is currently only one theocratic system in the world today. It is Islam. Islam does not recognize any distinction between civil and religious law.

Within the theocratic system of the Old Testament Church, God declared that blessing would follow obedience to the Law. Likewise He said that curse would follow disobedience.

We do not now live in a theocracy. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Christians in Rome said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1 Note that Paul wrote these inspired words during the reign of Nero! This observation eliminates the assumption that Paul was only writing about “good” governments.

The Apostle Paul referred to civil authority and by implication civil laws. God is the one who ordains all civil authority. God’s purpose is to provide for an ordered society. Those who are governmental officers are God’s ministers for the good of all. They are charged with keeping order so as to promote good. As God is the source of all that is good, civil authorities and civil laws are subordinate to God’s law.

The Bible declared a situation in which there was a conflict between God’s law and man’s law. When the leaders of Israel commanded the Apostles to cease preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter and John responded, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

To help understand the importance of the Law and law in general, there are, what the Protestant Reformers called three uses of the Law as they are revealed in Scripture. The first use of the Law is to point to man’s hopelessness and his desperate need for a Savior. The second use of the Law is to restrain men who are untouched by any care for what is just and right unless compelled by hearing the dire threats in the law. The third use of the Law is to guide the life of a believer in pleasing God. These descriptions of the three uses of the law have been paraphrased from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, chapter 7, sections 9 and 10. John Calvin articulated what the Bible teaches concerning the Law, Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Galatians 3; 5 and Romans 13.

The intersection of the blessing of the Law and Civil authority is the second use of the Law. It is the means given by God to put bounds around sinful mankind. It is this use of the Law that is the foundation of every society.

It is accurate to say, “All truth is God’s truth”, especially when speaking of the rule of law. We are experiencing an ever increasing disregard of law by duly elected members of our government and some of our citizens. We read about our Executive Branch ignoring laws enacted by our Legislative Branch of government. We experience men and women committed to a cause taking the law into their own hands.

Apparently we have laws that don’t apply to all. Those who have been charged by the people to execute and enforce our laws only do so selectively. Law enforcement agencies are given enforcement restrictions when certain sensitive “action groups” break the law.

Our country was founded upon a principle that our government is by the people and for the people. Our founders understood God’s blessing of Law. I pray that all our citizenry would recognize our current situation. May we all devote ourselves to elect men and women who understand the necessity of the universal application of the rule of law. May we all submit to the governing authorities. Understand that it is because of God’s blessing of law that we will be able to guard those rights that He has given all men: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Worship the One, True God!”

“Worship the One True God!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Many Christians celebrate the feast of Pentecost which is sometimes called Whitsunday. Pentecost as you may know was celebrated in the Old Testament. The Bible refers to it as the Feast of Weeks. It was ordained by God to be one of the three mandatory celebrations in Israel along with Passover and the Feast of Booths. On the occasion of this feast the Apostle Peter delivered his famous sermon recorded in Acts 2:14ff. On that particular day, God poured out His Spirit on “all flesh” in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, Joel 2:28 which was also foreshadowed by God’s empowerment of elders recorded in Numbers 11. Note that Peter said that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled. Peter spoke in the 1st Century. Joel may have delivered his prophecy under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit around 830 B.C. Yet many Christians continue to be deceived by so-called prophecy experts who insist that what Joel said, quoted by Peter is still yet to come.

Joel prophesied and Peter declared that God’s Spirit would be given to all believers. The church in the Old Testament had only a few select people upon whom the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was given by God. God anointed kings and empowered prophets to speak His words.

At the ascension of Christ into heaven the Bible says that “He gave gifts to men”, Ephesians 4:8. The ancient Creeds of the church profess that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Every believer called by God and regenerated by His Spirit is given the power of that same Spirit to accomplish the ministry given to him by God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” 1Corinthians 12:4-6.

Apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we are powerless in terms of ministry. Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it, Matthew 16:18. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates, illumines our minds and empowers us for ministry in building the church.

Trinity Sunday follows Pentecost Sunday. Every Lord’s Day that follows Pentecost is marked as Sundays after Trinity Sunday. Trinity Season ends on the third Sunday before Advent. It is the longest season on the Christian Calendar. Trinity Season was observed from the early Church through the Reformation until today.

The ongoing purpose of celebrating Trinity Season in the Church is that God has revealed Himself in three persons. We worship a Trinitarian God. The word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible. But every aspect of what the word means does. For example Matthew 28:19 commands disciples to make disciples by identifying them with the Triune God! Jesus’ words in this verse also comprise the Baptismal formula in the universal Christian Church. Notice that Jesus’ words recorded by Matthew use the definite article “THE” before each person of the God-Head. The revealed doctrine of the Trinity is that God is three distinct Persons, yet One God.

As we were created for worship, to who worship the One True God, worshipers affirm the revealed truth of the Trinity. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, paragraph 3 declares the Bible’s teaching concerning the Triune God. It states in part, “In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity…”

I propose that this teaching is fundamental for our lives. Jesus said that eternal life is to know the one true God and the one whom He has sent, Jesus Christ. To have eternal life, one must embrace God who is three in one.

The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that the Father initiates life in Christ. The Son accomplished redemption by living a perfect life and offering Himself as the perfect atonement for sin. The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ. The life I live is in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God, the Father.

In this time of great uncertainties, it is essential to know the true God. He is always true and faithful and has revealed Himself in His word. May the Lord empower you to draw your confidence and security in Him, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Sovereignty of God Re-visited”

“The Sovereignty of God, Re-visited”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
All Christians affirm the sovereignty of God. Yet all Christians hedge on God’s sovereignty on some aspect of life. You may hear, “God is sovereign but I chose Him and was saved” Or, “God is sovereign but the He has nothing to do with the evil that we see.” I’ve forgotten who originally said, “If there is one molecule of Creation outside of God’s authority, He is not God!” As a believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ, I have found that the issue of God’s sovereignty is the primary means that God uses to change me. As I live my life in Christ, aspects of my own perceived autonomy are broken down by God.

The obvious one, one that occurred early in my life in Christ is the sovereignty of God in my salvation. I initially thought that my salvation was based upon my choice of believing in Jesus. It didn’t take very long before God broke that down. He convicted me of my pride of ownership. He showed me that my choice was a response of God choosing me. His word states clearly that He chose me before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:3-4. He also convicted me that His choice of me was not based upon anything in me. His choice was solely based upon His electing grace. My salvation, my security, everything that I am and have been made is due to the God who is sovereign. He alone is God and besides Him there is no Savior, Isaiah 43:11

Concerning the evil we see all around us, God has said that nothing occurs outside of His ordained plan. He is not the author of evil, yet evil done by others is part of His plan. The word also declares that God’s plan is good. Evil is not good. But, its place in God’s plan will be used for good. 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

Reasonable men and women know that evildoers exist in the world. The recent event in Orlando, FL was done by an evildoer. An adherent to radical Islam planned and implemented his plan for doing evil. The evil done was not caused by guns or any other weapon. This evil act was not about homosexuality. This evil and all evil are done by individuals. This particular evildoer in Orlando, FL was motivated by a false religion that expresses devotion to a false god. Let me say as an aside, that genuine Christians grieve along with the families of the victims of this evildoer. There is no joy or rejoicing over the taking of human life. Those who call themselves pastors of Christian Churches that teach otherwise are what the Bible declares as deceivers and false teachers. They are promoting evil as much as is radical Islam!

Our hope is in a sovereign God. God is sovereign over evil. He will crush all evildoers.
God is in charge! By the plain meaning of the word, “God”, He must be in charge or He’s not God.

God revealed His sovereignty with declarative statements, Genesis 1:1, Matthew 28:18. He also revealed it through historic narratives, E.G. Daniel 4: 34-37. Daniel, a faithful worshiper of God, recorded an incident that involved a pagan king. The king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar. He was a ruthless man, king of the ancient Babylonian Empire. This king had a very confusing dream about a huge tree that “a holy one from heaven” ordered to be chopped down. God empowered Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel’s interpretation predicted that the king would be humbled until he acknowledged the one true God.

God drove the king mad. He made him act and appear animal-like. When God restored the king’s senses, Nebuchadnezzar said these words about God, “His (God’s) dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”’

When it comes to salvation, evil or any circumstance of life, God is in charge, He planned them and will use them for His glory and our good.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Responding to Evil”

“Responding to Evil”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

I am always amazed by the depth of man’s evil. When I see it my heart burns. When evil is ignored or blamed on anything other than the evil-doers, the fire burns hotter. John Calvin, the great reformer of the 16th Century wrote, “All who really serve and love God, ought to burn with holy indignation whenever they see wickedness reigning without restraint among men…” The Psalmist wrote, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!” Psalm 97:10a

The one thing that God does not tell us is to ignore evil. There are some who selectively quote Scripture. Picking verses that suit presuppositions is never helpful. For example, “Love your enemies,” Matthew 5:44, is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The complete verse is, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The context is Jesus teaching His disciples the standard of life in the Kingdom. One of the repeated phrases spoken by Jesus was, “You have heard that it was said…” Jesus addressed the teaching of the leaders in Israel who focused on the letter of the law and neglected the deep, spiritual meaning. They were taught that they should love their fellow Jews and hate their enemies. But the love of which Jesus spoke was divine love. Only God demonstrated perfect love, the love of the cross. This love is the essence of life in Christ. It is the basis of life in the Kingdom!

Those who know God are to hate evil and love good, Amos 5:15. The appearance of a contradiction does not mean that there is one. We know that the Bible is altogether true. There are no contradictions because God, the Author does not contradict Himself. Therefore, there must be two different things being expressed.

The difference in calling for loving enemies on the one hand and hating evil on the other is a matter of context. God’s exhortation to love enemies is directed to those in the church who find themselves under the hand of evil men. The response of believers experiencing evil is to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” Romans 12:17

Concerning those of who profess Christ and see evil from afar, Thomas Aquinas saw two Christian duties. The First is to combat evil by every means and the second is to believe that God will vanquish it according to His perfect (but hidden) wisdom and providence. Aquinas’ reflection on the issue of responding to evil was a reflection on the verse referenced from the Prophet Amos.

When evil occurs, there are always those who are quick to admonish Christians to love their enemies. Christians are to love all men. Christians are also to be people who stand for truth and justice. 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?”

Believers in the Risen Lord Jesus are never to “wink” at evil. Christians are not to respond with a man-centered idea of love. We worship a holy God. He is holy and He is love. He defined love in the cross of Christ. When you see evil done on others, seek justice. Know that God will pour out His wrath upon all evil and wickedness.

It is never right to spiritualize the response to evil. Evil is real. Evil is not a thing. It is behavior that opposes God. The short definition of evil is the absence of good. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” 3John 11

The response to evil is clear. In response to evil those who profess Christ are to do good. When we see evil being done to others, the response should be to seek justice by all lawful means available. When we experience evil our response is to do good knowing that God will execute perfect justice. Of course, in order to respond to evil it must be recognized. Evil is behavior opposite of what God requires. Be wise and identify and name the evil-doers! Inanimate objects are not to blame. Evil is done by people. It comes from the heart of man, whether they follow the false god of Islam or their own evil desires!