All posts by LouTiscione

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Comfortable Confession”

“The Comfortable Confession”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

One of the most practical books of the Bible is the letter of James. James was the half-brother of Jesus. James may have written this letter as early as 40 A.D. In his introduction, James called himself a “bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” James did not consider himself to have a more special relationship to the Risen Lord Jesus than any other believer. His letter is often described as the “Proverbs” of the New Testament. The Epistle of James provides very practical insight for living the Christian Life.

Early in his ministry, the great Reformer Martin Luther called James a “straw epistle.” Yet in his later writings, Luther saw the connection between the Apostle Paul’s writing and James’. Specifically, whereas Paul defined the gift of faith through which God justified a believer, declared a sinner “right” with Him. James defined what that gift of faith actually looked like in the life of one who possessed it. James was not writing about earning one’s salvation, as Luther first thought. Rather, James declared the kind of behavior exhibited by one who possessed saving faith.

A “comfortable confession” is one that accommodates evil rather than exposes it. A comfortable confession of Christ avoids the attack of the evil one by ignoring it. Luther wrote this, “Also it does not help that one of you would say: ‘I will gladly confess Christ and his Word on every detail, except that I may keep silent about one or two things which my tyrants may not tolerate… For whoever denies Christ in one detail or word has denied the same Christ in that one detail who was denied in all the details, since there is only one Christ in all His words, taken together or individually.”

James 4:7 commands the one who possesses saving faith to “Submit to God and resist the devil and he will flee from you.” It is at the very point at which Satan and evil present themselves that the Christian is commanded to resist it, literally standing against it.

This is the point of attack at which the believer’s confession of Christ becomes uncomfortable. As the believer stands against evil, exposing it he or she is proving himself or herself to be a genuine follower of Christ.

The context of James 4 is critical in our understanding of the cost of following Jesus. The command to resist the devil comes after the proposition that friendship with the world is enmity with God, James 4:4. So then, the word of God puts before the believer the truth that worldliness is directly opposed to God. It is so opposed to God that He has said that to be a friend of the world is to be His enemy.

In accordance with the Epistle of James, a comfortable confession is one that is in friendship with the world and therefore at enmity with God.

I should say that God’s command doesn’t mean that Christians should go out of their way to be offensive! I believe that it does mean that whenever an issue is raised to a level of visibility such that it is put forth for all to see and declared to be the “right and loving” way, Christians are commanded to speak out against what is contrary to God’s word.

Attacks on truth such as redefining marriage, approving of alternative lifestyles, suggesting that abortion is a matter of one’s choice are all points at which Christians are tempted to have a comfortable confession.

When lies such as these are put forth as truth or when men and women suggest that the truth doesn’t matter or is relative, Christians are exhorted by God to expose the lie and the liar, Ephesians 4. It doesn’t matter if these attacks occur in the Church or the Public Sphere. God is sovereign over the government, the church and the family. Truth is absolute. All truth is God’s truth and He is sovereign over all.

The challenge is coming at an ever-increasing rate. Those of us who profess Christ are being confronted by evil. Men seem to regularly call evil good and good evil. God expects His people to act. We are called to be salt and light. Christians do not possess a comfortable confession. We are people who submit to God in every aspect of life. Caution, confession is meaningless unless it’s carried into the world!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “What is Praise?”

“What is Praise?”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
What’s so important about praise? It is necessary to define praise; to identify the object of praise; and to enable deep and critical thought of praise and worship. Look around our great city. We are blessed with an extraordinary number of churches. I suggest that the reason is that we are built for praise and worship. As written previously, “God made us for worship.” Worship includes the act of praising the object of worship.

Webster’s Dictionary defines praise as expressing approval or admiration. It continues the definition by including the idea of giving glory with God as the object. The essential ingredient in praise is that it requires an object.

Since the Garden, men have had the desire to praise. All too often praise was given to other men or places. The desire to praise has been built into us by our Creator. We will praise someone or something that we consider worthy. Praise and worth are intimately connected.

You might take a little test. Think about that which consumes your time and money. Then, consider whether the consumers you identify are worthy of your praise. In other words, would you choose to praise the one(s) to whom you give so much of your time and finances?

You may not agree with me at this point, but I am seeking to get you to think about worth. As you examine the definition it is clear that praise and worth are connected. The psalmist identified the greatest object of worth. Psalm 146, written by a man carried along by the Spirit of God, described a singular commitment to praise God! He said that he would declare praise to God throughout his entire life which he acknowledged was given by God.

Why would he make such a commitment? The answer is God alone is worthy of man’s praise! God alone saves man. Every instance of deliverance from oppression is by the sovereign hand of God. Only God is eternal. Opposed to this all men die. There are no exceptions. The only hope for man is God. Only God gives eternal life, a life that will never end. God raises the dead. He gives those whom He chooses eyes to see the truth, Jesus. Jesus defined eternal life as knowing the one true God and the One whom He sent, Jesus Christ, John 17:3.

In addition, we see injustice all around us robbing us of hope unless we look to God who is perfectly just. The Bible declares that He will execute perfect justice. And, the Bible, God’s word written, is always true and altogether reliable. The psalmist affirmed the holy justice of God and wrote: God “executes justice for the oppressed, (God) gives food to the hungry.” Jesus said that God the Father will provide everything that is needed for His children.

If this isn’t enough to convince you of God’s worthiness to be praised, then know that God is King. He rules all of His Creation. God’s absolute and sovereign rule of all Creation is not relative. That is, you may be thinking that I write such things because I’m a Christian Pastor. Indeed I am. And, not only do I write these things, but I actually believe them! But, to paraphrase a great philosopher, if something is not true for all it’s not true at all. God is the Creator and Ruler of His Universe. Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and on earth” was given to Him. God who made us for worship is the only worthy object. Praise, which is part of worship, is to declare the character and deeds of the object. As we understand praise in this way, we likewise know that God is its only worthy object.

I’ve come to the end. I’ve defined praise to be declaring the character and deeds of its object. I’ve hopefully made a case to demonstrate that God alone is worthy of our praise. And, finally, I hope that I’ve been successful in guiding your thoughts about this very important aspect of life, namely praise.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Why go to church (An answer needed now more than ever)?”

“Why go to church?”
(An answer needed more now than ever)

The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Over the years, I’ve asked professing Christians this question. Generally, the answers are I go to church because God commands it; I go to church because I want to worship with the people of God; or, I go to church because I want to be fed. Now more than ever, Christians need to have a clear biblical answer to the question, “Why go to church?”

We know that 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.

The question is addressed to Christians, those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, it is directed to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. God ordains the salvation of His elect. First, He Effectually Calls a dead person to come to life. 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 said is being born again, John 3. The result of regeneration is Conversion, an instantaneous event that begins a process. That is, God converts a sinner to a saint. In doing so, He gives two gifts. One is the gift of faith and the second it the gift of repentance. Those gifts are exercised by those who receive them throughout their lives. The result of turning from sin and turning to Jesus is Justification. Justification is a legal term. God’s 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. After justification, God Adopts the sinner into His family. Those changed by God become heirs of His promise in Christ, namely heaven. Following adoption, God begins His work of Sanctification. Literally, 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. God promised to make us more and more like Christ. The end result of Sanctification is what is called Glorification. 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 of the verbs are in the past tense, even glorified.

Returning to the question, a Christian is one whom God has saved. God’s order of salvation revealed in Scripture is: God’s Effectual Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification. Each step along the way is by God’s action. In other words, a Christian is one who has been saved, is being saved and will be saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Christians, those made “new creations” don’t 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. A more accurate question is “why should I attend corporate worship?”

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. God made everyone for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. To worship is to bow down to and serve the object of worship. The object of our worship is 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.

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, has God filled your heart with a desire to worship Him with other believers?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Foundation of Hope”

The Foundation of Hope
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The psalmist asked himself a question that many have asked. He received God’s answer. His question was, “Why am I depressed?” God’s answer was because he had no hope! Psalm 42:11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” ESV

What is this thing called hope? And why is it so important for men and women? Hope can be defined as an eager expectation of fulfillment of a future blessing. When people hope they are expressing trust in or reliance upon the one whom they believe will bring fulfillment. The definition of hope expresses our need to have it. Without hope, we wander aimlessly in life and are tossed around by every one of its circumstances. When we see no future, we naturally get depressed.

There are many expressions of hope. For example, one of my hopes is that my fellow citizens will think critically, especially when irrational or unsubstantiated statements are made. I also hope that we all will examine accomplishments rather than be impressed by rhetoric. We can all remember one who promised “hope and change” yet brought disaster in the form of a change and division that none of us wanted.

Like the hopes mentioned, there are endless arrays of temporal hopes. My hope of a thinking electorate may not come to pass. Yet, knowing that this hope is temporal I will remain positive because I have an ultimate hope which is eternal.

What is this eternal, ultimate hope? Reasonable people know that there is more to life than what is seen. This is not all there is, answering an old ballad. And as there is more to life than this world, there is a greater hope than our political, economic, or personal relationships can offer. It transcends this world and is far above and apart from it.

Ultimate hope is transcendent. No man can give it. In fact, we cannot even give it to ourselves. Only the transcendent being, God can give ultimate hope. The transcendent God, the one who spoke and created everything out of nothing said that ultimate hope is eternal glory. The Apostle Paul writing God’s words said “the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to His saints” is ultimate hope. He wrote this clear description. Ultimate hope is “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

It follows that God’s revelation of hope raises at least two questions. The first is easy to understand. Who gives ultimate hope? Clearly, God gives ultimate hope. The second is perhaps easy to see but strikes at the heart of man’s ability. To whom does God give ultimate hope? The former passage declares that ultimate hope is revealed to God’s “saints.” Now, it is necessary to understand what God meant by the word “saints”. Who are saints?

At this point, clarity is essential. Saints are not those who have departed this life and have been determined by some religious body to be holy people. Saints are those who have been set apart by God. Saints in the Bible are those whom God has chosen to be His.

A plain reading of Scripture allows us to see that God chose: a man, Genesis 12; a nation, Deuteronomy 7; and both Jews and Gentiles, Galatians 3. The fact of God’s choosing individuals to be His saints is declared by Apostles Paul and Peter, Romans 9-11 and 1Peter 2.

I have often asked myself why something so clear can be so confusing to some. The only answer that I can reasonably offer is that we do not like to think that God must choose us. We rather like to think that He needs our help in selecting the “right” people. However, it is only necessary to know what God thinks and has said.

The Bible’s clarity on this issue of ultimate hope and its recipients is the greatest comfort and assurance any man or woman can have. Since God gives it no man can take it from you. Much more should be said concerning God’s gift of eternal hope and Lord willing will. But in the interest of space and emphasis in this article I want to leave all who read it with this: God gives ultimate hope, which is eternal glory, to those whom He chose to be in Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Four Most Confrontational Words”

“The four most confrontational words”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“In the beginning God…” are the four words that upset my world. My hope is that they will upset yours as well! These words are revealed truth which can also be called reality. You know reality is that sticky truth that hits you in the face like a brick wall. Some may think that reality is what you make of it or believe it to be. Try standing in front of a brick wall and imagining that it’s not there. Then try running as fast as you can in the belief (even strongly held) that you’ll just pass through that wall. The result is obvious. So too is the confrontation of these four words.

Just like that wall, God’s words knocked me off my throne. A Christian can see the reality of these four words. The Holy Spirit who regenerates sinners also illumines their minds so that these words and all of God’s word can be applied. Yet, reality and truth are true for all or not true at all.

Genesis 1:1 declared clearly that there was a time nothing existed; therefore, God made everything out of nothing! Nothing existed in the beginning except God Himself. He spoke and all things leapt into existence. This God changed me. He made me a new creation. His words told me that I had no right to claim the throne of my life, to think that I was “in charge.”

In making me a new creation, He gave me new desires, specifically a new desire, a profound and deep desire for Him. The Great “I Am” is the only self-existent being. All things that exist proceed from Him. I am because He is. We know Him in Jesus who said, “Let Me tell you how to say Yahweh in Greek (I’m paraphrasing). It is Jesus.” (read the “I Am” sayings in John’s Gospel).

The confrontation came when I realized that He alone had the right to claim ownership of me and sovereign control of my life. There was no other reasonable response that a creature (me) could make to the Creator. Since all existence proceeds from Him, “In Him we live and move and have our being”, Acts 17:28 ESV, the claim of an absolute self-determination is unachievable.

At the risk of repeating myself, let me re-phrase. Before there was anything there was God. He chose a time to make everything out of nothing. Opposed to this is the view of eternal matter. A once great philosopher of the 21st Century said, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Acceptance of this view, in my opinion, requires a blind leap of faith into the dark rather than a step into the light.

King David said it best, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1, ESV

Considering God’s confrontation of Man’s idea of an autonomous, self-directed control over life, the question must be asked. How do you or have you responded to the reality that you are not in control?

The critic might say that this view of reality is demeaning and renders men and women to be pawns. But just the opposite is true. Understanding that you’re not God and He is brings you to the profound realization that He has condescended to reach down and bless man above all creatures. David wrote in Psalm 8:5 about man, “You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” This supremely points to Jesus Christ but is significant for the entire human race.

You are free to ignore this reality. But, for the sake of repetition, it would be like ignoring the wall I mentioned in my introduction. So then, “How do you respond to the truth that you’re a creature made by the Sovereign Creator?

If you’ve gotten this far, I believe that another question has arisen in your mind. And this is a necessary question: “If God has sovereign, supreme authority, and control, why am I responsible for my actions?” An honest question deserves an honest answer. Much more should be said on the subject but let me suggest a beginning to the answer. A biblical principle, one grounded in logic is that God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are not a contradiction. All men are responsible for what they do, there is no exception. Yet, God is sovereign over every action.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “All Life Maters”

“All Life Matters!”
(Especially babies in the womb)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Politicians convince people of the most amazing things simply by claiming that whatever it is will be in the interest of our children. I want to affirm the importance of children’s lives, in fact, I want to declare that all lives matter. Also, the importance of human life is not rooted in politics. The issue of life is a moral issue.

If we are serious about the importance of all life, we must address the most dangerous issue of our life. The issue to which I refer is abortion. The staggering fact is that since 1973, more than 62 million babies have been killed through abortion. Further, worldwide, almost 1.2 billion babies have had their lives snuffed out by the evil of abortion.

In this day of so-called scientific enlightenment, denying that the life of a human being begins at conception would seem to any reasonable person to be unbelievable.

I stand with those who say, “Let’s stop the violence.” Indeed, let’s stop it right now. Stand for the sanctity of human life. All people, especially Christians are accountable to the God of life to speak out against the moral evil of abortion.

God set human life apart and sanctified it!

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 value that a society places upon human life represents the overall worth of that society.

The protection of human life is not something upon which we can agree to disagree. It is not simply a political issue. The dignity of human life is an absolute! The right to live is given by God who is the source of life. He breathed into Man the breath of life, Genesis 2:7. Human life is sacred because the Creator, God made it so.

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 very own Declaration of Independence stated clearly both the source of life and its inherent value. “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 consequence for the taking of life is the life of the one who took it.

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. 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 Christians will allow the discussion of human life to center on personal choices rather than moral absolutes. However, 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 statistics overwhelmingly demonstrate that the most dangerous place for our children is not in schools, crowds, etc. but in the womb.

May the God of life bless your efforts to speak for our children. Pray for the protection of unborn babies and their mothers. Pray that the Lord will cause more of our citizens to see God’s blessing of human life from the womb to the tomb. May He be glorified in all things.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Truth”

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

A famous question was asked by the Roman Governor of Jerusalem who had the temporal authority “ordained by God” to crucify Jesus. His name was Pontius Pilate. He asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Most today believe as Pilate did. He believed that the most important thing was power. Truth to him was irrelevant. Pilate like most in our society fail to understand that real power is rooted in truth. Pilate stood before the One who was truth and who possessed sovereign power.

Observers of Culture have called our time in the west the Post-Modern Era. Simply stated, this era subverts the importance of truth as Pilate did. In the Post Modern’s mind, there is no such thing as absolute truth. One of the symptoms is reflected in our culture by what is called spirituality. We see it in movies and television. There are popular dramas centered in the world beyond this one. Talk shows on T.V. have segments to discuss the importance of having a spiritual connectedness to something, anything. People seem to be on never-ending quests to experience the latest spiritual guru’s method for attaining a deep spiritual fulfillment. You may have heard someone say, “It’s all about the journey.”

The obvious problem with this philosophy is that the “journey” may indeed end in destruction. The only revealed way to avoid destruction is to receive the Truth, Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel.

The simple definition is truth is reality. The Bible teaches that men naturally suppress the truth. We like to press reality down in a futile attempt to live above it or ignore it. A friend of mine once said that denial is not only a river in Egypt. We can deny or suppress the truth all we want. But we must live in and face reality.

Every time we look around, we see men and women telling us that truth is relative; it is a matter of perspective. What is true for you may or may not be true for me. Those who see reality are referred to as simple-minded or judgmental bigots. The charge against those who recognize absolute truth is: “Who made you the purveyor of truth?” The political world is filled with such charges. For example, there are those who take pains to make numbers say whatever is expedient. We have poll numbers, jobless numbers, positive case numbers, etc. that are used to support an agenda.

The church is no different. Some prominent Church leaders would have us believe that it is all about relationships and that truth is something contrary to what they call love. They claim that all this talk of doctrine is of no value. What is important, they say, is one’s relationship to Jesus and to others. The word “missional” is often used to describe the outworking of relational importance. However, it never enters the realm of possibility in their minds that there are many different Jesuses proclaimed. Having a relationship with the real Jesus is what matters. There is only one true Savior. He said that He is the truth and the life and the way. He is the revealed Jesus of the Bible. Dare I say that He is not simply known in the eye of the beholder? He is the reality of life!

The church’s job, some leaders say, is to meet “felt needs”, or to offer courses on how to have a better marriage or how to live as a single person, or divorced person. Rather than to see that the church is to teach what is in accordance with sound doctrine, what the Bible teaches. This emphasis enables believers to apply God’s word to every circumstance of life as people who have been set apart by Him. Thereby believers are equipped to make a difference in the world for the glory of God.

In answer to Pilate’s and culture’s question, “What is truth?” Let me be bold and say very simply and clearly that truth is that which is real. Truth matters since it is reality. By God’s grace, He has revealed truth. His name is Jesus. He is the only begotten one of God, not born, but eternally proceeding from the Father. He is the one revealed in the Bible. He is the one offered in the gospel. All life is lived in response to Him. Every relationship is designed by God to find meaning through knowing the Truth, Jesus.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind”

“The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Especially now, amid turmoil, the Church needs to declare the truth of the Good News of God. People need to hear that there is ultimate good news!

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 urgency to preach the gospel ought to be foremost in every church that professes Christ as her head! Through the gospel, the Person and Work of Christ, God has reconciled the world to Himself. Those who receive the gospel are at peace with God, the ultimate and necessary reconciliation.

The reason for Jesus’ public ministry was to preach. His message was clear. He preached: “Repent and believe in the gospel!” Both verbs 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 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 first 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 present with His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority, Matthew 28:18, commands repentance, and faith!

Repentance and faith go together. 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 other 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 specific. 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 am sure that you have heard that the word “gospel” means good news. So, what is 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 profoundly 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. Those who receive the gospel have a hope that is eternal, the only hope of mankind!

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

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Do the Right Thing!”

“Do the right thing!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We are constantly bombarded with situations that call for making an informed decision. Of course, generally, all would want to do the right thing!

Therefore, one must know what is right before he can do it. Further, to know what is right, one must know the source of all that is right. The source of what is good, right, and true is God. He has revealed what is good, right, and true in His word. All actions must be held up to the light of Scripture to determine right or wrong. God said that blessing is the result of obeying Him and curse is the end of disobedience, Deuteronomy 11:26-28.

Before we accept the charge of racism which is readily thrown about by those of a Marxist persuasion, we ought to understand terms biblically. The idea of race is rooted in evolution not Scripture. In fact, the Bible declares that there is one race, the human race. Racism is “the notion that one’s own ethnic stock is superior.” The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd Edition.

The assumption underlying the definition is the pitting of one ethnicity against another in determining superiority. This idea of “race” did not originate within biblical Christianity. It is a construct that proceeds out of Darwinian Evolution. The Bible declares that all men descended from one man, Adam, Genesis 1; 2; 10; 11; Romans 5:12ff. Adam is the Federal head of humanity!

Yet, the witness of the Church is being compromised by those who seek to marry Evolution, Marxism, and Race with the teaching of the Church. I urge Bible believing Christians to know what God has said. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

In addition, Romans 12:2 exhorts Christians not to conform to the world, but to be transformed by the renewal of the mind. Ephesians 5:11 points out that Christians were once in darkness but are now “light in the Lord.” Therefore, believers are to live as children of light, that is, to follow Jesus, which includes doing the right thing because of knowing the right thing.

Doing what is right, wise living, begins with fearing God, Proverbs 9:10a. It is the way of blessing. By ignorance or avoidance of God’s word, we will do the wrong thing and head towards destruction. Do not be fooled by following someone who seeks to pin some sort of “virtue badge” on himself in order to elevate himself to a “higher” moral plane in his own mind. As a follower of Christ, seek the facts, evaluate them biblically and act in accordance with God’s word.

I have written to Christians. Jesus said, only those who have been born again are able to see the truth and thereby know the One who has revealed it, John 3:3, 5, 7. Yet, God’s word is absolute it applies to both believers and non-believers. For example, God gave the Law, Exodus 20. The Law has three uses. The first is to put bounds around sin. The second is to point to man’s need for Christ and the third is to be the guide for living the Christian Life, the means of sanctification, Galatians 3:19ff. The Law reveals to all men what is good, right and true. Man’s laws stand under God’s law to protect the innocent and punish the wrongdoer. So, for a believer and a non-believer the first step in doing the right thing is to obey the law.

There are two fundamental questions for discerning right action. First “Is it lawful?” and second, “Does it agree with God’s Word?”

God “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?” Micah 6:8

The truth of God is needed today. The assault on our culture and the Church is real. We must face it head on. It is imperative that Church teach the truth, so that her members know it and live it. I remember the words of D.L. Moody, paraphrased. The place for the ship is in the sea but God help the ship if the sea gets in it. The place for the Church is in the world (John 17:14ff), but God help the Church if the world gets in her.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Authority”

(The constant need to remember the importance of authority)
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
More than a year ago, I wrote an article about the Rule of Law. At that time I was reflecting on the actions of some members of past administrations. More recently I authored another article on the Rule of Law as I thought about current unrest and rioting. Repetition is helpful in keeping our minds focused on an issue. The issue before us is the assault on not only our society but also on the Church by Marxist philosophies redressed as new movements.

God has established Civil Government for the good and welfare of all people, Romans 13:1. The one who resists the governing authority resists God. Christians are to obey the Governing Authorities with one exception. When government commands us to do what is contrary to God’s word, we must obey God rather than man, Acts 5:29. Notice the word “command.” For example, if our government was to require women to have an abortion, Christians are to obey God rather than man and uphold the sanctity of human life. Yet, we must understand that in so doing we will bear the wrath of the authority imposing such an evil command. Christians are to be willing to stand for the truth and bear the consequences of doing so.

Our understanding of authority is at the root of submitting to the Rule of Law. Our ultimate submission is to the One who has ultimate authority, our Sovereign Lord, Matthew 28:18.

I Thank God that so far we live in a nation that does not coerce us to obey evil laws! Pray for those in other parts of the world where liberty and freedom are suppressed. Christians in those nations pay the price for living in Christ. Often, they pay with their lives! As we pray for them, pray also that we would have the courage to stand against such evil abuses in lawful ways that are at our disposal. I pray to God that we all would have the courage to speak the truth against the evils of current Marxist movements dressed in the clothing of equal rights or social justice.

We see an ever-increasing disregard for the Rule of Law which is rooted in the rejection of authority. If this continues we will find ourselves living in a lawless society. No one will be safe.

We all have the natural desire to be our own authority rather than to submit to any authority. Those who refuse to submit to authority shock me and I’m sure you are shocked as well. Yet their behavior proceeds out of their unregenerate hearts which are dead in sin.

Social philosophers tell us that men are not individually responsible for their actions. The evils of Western Culture has oppressed certain groups and is the cause of evil behavior. They tell us of systemic, that is inherent racism that is part of being a member of a certain ethnicity.

There are even some in the Church that have accepted this social theory. But the Bible is clear. Individuals are responsible for their actions. All men are born dead in sin. Every “intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

Man’s desire for autonomy unraveled ancient cultures as it is crushing ours. It is rooted in the Fall. Since the fall of Adam, all men have sought to throw off the shackles of any authority, supremely God’s. Yet, men soon learned that authority and law was necessary to live in safety. One of the earliest secular law codes upon which a society was built was the Code of Hammurabi named for its author who lived between 1728 and 1686 B.C. Hammurabi’s law code was built upon other more ancient law codes. It formed the foundation of Ancient Babylonian civilization which ended with Hammurabi’s death when factions developed each establishing their own authority and rejecting previously established law.

Within the Covenant of Grace, God gave the Law through Moses. The second part of the Ten Commandments is called the moral law. God gave His means by which men are to relate to one another. It continues as the basis of an ordered society.

May we all stand against the chaos of lawlessness. May we have the courage to do what is right, which is what God requires, both in the Church and society. By God’s grace may He give His people the courage to not only speak the truth but live it.