All posts by LouTiscione

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.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Christian Sabbath”

The Christian Sabbath
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

God commanded 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 Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Each Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians set apart (keep holy) the first day of the week because Christians live in response to God’s grace. Therefore, Christians live under God’s word. The fourth commandment is central to all who call upon the name of the Lord! We who are of the household of God worship Him because He sought each of us to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

I wrote an article in 2012 which asked Christians a question. The question was, “Why go to Church?” The question was directed to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. God’s word reveals His order of salvation by declaring: His effectual call; His act of regeneration; His conversion; His justification; His adoption; His sanctification; and His glorification. This represents God’s logical order of salvation. (CF: Romans 8:29-30)

Note that man’s will is not part of this logical order. Every action is God’s alone. Even the work of God’s free grace that is called sanctification is God working on the inside of the one who has been justified.

One of the primary evidences of God’s work of free grace in sanctification is that person’s desire to worship Him. Therefore, my question from 2012 remains, but slightly re-phrased. “Christian, why do you go to Church?” God makes Christians demonstrated by God’s order of salvation above. The Apostle Paul defined a Christian as one who is “in Christ.” Those who are “in Christ” are made “new creations”, 2Corinthians 5:17.

Christians, those made “new creations” don’t simply go to church. Christians are the church. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. Yet, there is a divine mandate for each member of the body of Christ to gather together to worship Him. Note the key verb in my previous sentence. Christians gather on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, to WORSHIP Him!

This is truly the heart of the matter. God made every one for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. Worship means to bow down to and serve the object of worship. The object of our worship is God. For Christians, there is only one reason to gather on Sunday. It is to worship God!

The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms gives the answer to my question. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”‘ God places in each believer a 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. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.

God commanded corporate worship. But, it is more than a command. Worship is the primary desire of a Christian. The command and desire to worship carries blessings to the believer. God speaks to us in worship as we read His word and preach it. God meets us in our need as we confess our sins to Him and pray to Him. God continues to change us from the inside out to be more like Christ as we worship Him.

I believe every Christian should ask himself this question, “Why do you go to Church?” The answers heard most often are: “I’m looking for a place where I’m fed (meaning to be satisfied).” Or, “I’m looking for a place where my children are offered ‘relevant’ programs.” Or, “I’m looking for a place for my age group so that I have something in common with most of the people.” Or, a favorite one, “I’m looking for a place that has a praise band that plays uplifting music.” These responses have something in common. They are all man-centered. Without realizing it, they say, “I go to church to meet my felt needs.” We like to “feel” good about ourselves. God-centered worship is convicting. It is not comfortable to meet the God who is Holy, holy, holy, Isaiah 6:3

I urge you to ask yourself the “Church” question and get ready for God’s conviction!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Repentance unto Life”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer #87 defines Repentance unto life. It “is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”

The Catechism’s definition includes: the acknowledgement of sin, godly sorrow over it, and finally a turning from sin.

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

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

By God’s grace and mercy alone, He gives the gifts of repentance and faith without which there is no good news. As we come face to face with our own sinfulness, being grieved by it and committing to turn from it, God causes light to shine in our hearts to see the beauty of Christ and run to Him. I can’t emphasize this truth enough. The gifts of repentance and faith are received in a moment in time and they continue to be expressed throughout life. They truly are the gifts that keep on giving and it’s all by God’s grace!

Pastor’s Viewpoints,”Precious Gifts”

“Precious Gifts!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Politicians can convince people of the most amazing things simply by claiming that it will be in the interest of our children, this extends from illegal immigration to gun control. We intuitively know children are precious gifts from God.

For example, as a citizen of our great nation and a Christian who thinks biblically, I look at the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I see this right based in the biblical principle that human life is sacred and should be protected, Genesis 2:7. Men and women bear the image of God, Genesis 1:26-27. Yet, my purpose here is not to debate the validity of our 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. My purpose is to embrace the cry in our country to protect our children.

This cry concerning our children publicized when it relates to gun control ignores the single biggest cost of human life concerning our children. As tragic and horrible as school shootings or so-called drive by shootings are, the staggering fact is that since 1974, more than 52,000,000 babies have been killed through abortion.

In the interest of our children, I stand with those who say, “Let’s stop the violence.” Indeed, let’s stop the violence right now and stand for the sanctity of human life! God is for life. Therefore, chose life not death!

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

The protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. The dignity of human life is an absolute! God who is the source of all life breathed into Man the breath of life, Genesis 2:7.

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

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

God has called His people to be light in this dark world, Matthew 5:13-16. Christians are to stand for the truth, not only in the circle of believers, but also wherever God has placed them. My concern is that some professing Christians will fall under the deception of false teachers within the church who tell men and women that abortion is only a private decision made by a mother, that being “Pro-Choice” is virtuous. When in reality, God warns those who would call evil good and good evil, Isaiah 5:20.

Nevertheless, whether you are a Christian or not I urge you to speak for those who have no one to speak for them. Speak for the unborn babies. The most dangerous place for our children is not in school or on our streets because of guns but in the womb. Our children born and unborn are precious gifts from God!

May God convict you to speak for our children. Pray and support ministries such as Grace House Ministries in our own community. Children are precious gifts from God.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Gospel”

“The Gospel”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Keeping the main thing the main thing!”

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

The gospel must be every Christian’s focus. Likewise, the urgency to preach the gospel ought to be foremost in every church that professes Christ as her head! The popular Christian bracelet, “What would Jesus do?” would be more edifying if, “What did Jesus do?” was printed on it.

Jesus said the reason for His public ministry was to preach. His message was clear and direct. He preached it as a command. “Repent and believe in the gospel! Notice both verbs. They are in the imperative mood and present tense. The imperative is the mood of command. The present tense describes current and on-going action. Therefore, both repenting and believing are current on-going actions commanded by God.

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

The first was a reference to Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:25. It was confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:4. This time of fulfillment was in fact the time set in eternity by God for the Messiah’s arrival on earth. Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue, see Luke 4:18-21. Jesus said He was the one prophesied who would proclaim the “year of the Lord’s favor”. In other words, Jesus declared that at His coming God was commanding men and women to call upon Him and be saved. The Apostle Peter boldly told the religious leaders in Jerusalem , “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.

The second reason given by Jesus was not separate and distinct from the first. The Kingdom of God, namely the rule of God was at hand. Jesus the King and Lord, the one who rules all things, was physically in the midst of His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority, Matthew 28:18, commanded repentance and faith!

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

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

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

Therefore, he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8