All posts by LouTiscione

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Acknowledge the Giver!”

“Acknowledge the Giver!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 Our nation has set aside one day to give thanks. Giving thanks implies that there is a giver. Whether God is acknowledged or not, we exist by His favor. We are particularly blessed to live in a country that sets a day aside for giving thanks to God.

We often experience things that are not to our liking and complain about them. It seems distasteful, even contrary to thank God for those “bad” things. It makes no worldly sense to give thanks to God for hardship. Exactly, it is nonsense to the world, but to those who have been changed by God it is wisdom. God has said to give Him thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:6; 1Thessalonians 5:18. Believers “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.

Thanking God is the response of one who has been changed by Him. Let us look back at one of the greatest celebrations in the Bible. It was a thanksgiving service! 1Chronicles 16 records King David’s organization of a thanksgiving worship service. It was motivated by the return of the Ark of the Covenant. David organized this great worship service to, “invoke, to thank and to praise the LORD.” 1Chr. 16:4 The Ark was a visible sign of God’s faithfulness to His covenantal promise made to His people.

The Ark contained the stone tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments. There was also with the Ark in the Holy of Holies, the golden urn containing the manna from heaven and the budded staff of Aaron.

King David knew that the people of God needed a visible reminder of His providence. As a man of God, David knew that God’s people were commanded to thank Him. The Ark of the Covenant was a constant reminder that God would be faithful to His promise made to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 17:7. God demonstrated His faithful providence by providing food for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus confirmed God’s faithfulness. He declared that the Father will provide the needs of His people, Matthew 6:25-32.

God’s people in the wilderness were fickle as are we. Even though God gave them a sign of His leading them through Moses and Aaron rebellion broke out regularly. As a visible sign of Aaron’s leadership God caused his staff to bud. God told Moses to keep that budded staff before the people to remind them of His chosen leadership. It continued as a reminder of God’s promise to lead His people by His chosen instruments.

Now, consider what God has given to us! We have been given God’s word written. We hear Him every time we read His word. Every Christian has been given the Holy Spirit who works in concert with the Word to change us and speak to our hearts. God has said that believers can approach His throne of grace with confidence because Jesus has given them access through His shed blood. As we come to the Father in our quiet moments, He has promised to hear us and to answer our prayers in ways that are beyond what we ask or think.

In addition, Christians are told by the Holy Spirit that they are children of God, Romans 8:16. Believers have God’s constant presence leading and protecting them. Believers have eternal security. Believers have been given a clear revelation of God’s plan of redemption in the Bible. Christians, therefore, should have a greater desire to give thanks to God. The Church of Jesus Christ belongs to Him. He is the head and king of the Church. The most fundamental reason to give thanks to God is His grace of adoption, Galatians 3:26-29. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1John 3:1

If you have been adopted by God through faith alone in Christ alone thank Him every day and set apart a time during this Thanksgiving Season to gather with His people to corporately thank Him for what He has done in Christ.

May your Thanksgiving Day be centered in giving thanks to God for the Person and Work of Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Understanding God’s Forgiveness”

“Understanding God’s Forgiveness”
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Matthew and Mark recorded Jesus’ healing of a paralytic. As significant and real as that physical healing was there was something more significant that is essential to all who profess Christ. That which is more essential is: Jesus’ healing of the paralytic pointed to His authority to forgive sins.

The Scribes thought, “This man is blaspheming,” Matthew 9:3 and Mark 2:7. Jesus knew what they were thinking. Jesus said, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”’ Mark 2:9-11

The Scriptures are clear. Sin is a direct offense against God. Sin is defined as missing the mark of God’s perfect righteousness. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “Any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” The Apostle John wrote, “Sin is lawlessness.” 1John 3:4b All sin, no matter how minor, is a direct offense against the Holy God. In light of this truth, there are no “private sins”. God is always the offended party. King David made this truth clear in his psalm of repentance, Psalm 51. In the fourth verse, David wrote, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”

That verse continues with these words, “… so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” As you may know, David did not appeal to God for justice. He appealed to God for mercy. God is holy. David knew the truth of God’s holiness. Every Christian should likewise know that God is holy. God never “winks” at sin. We should also know that justice is what is deserved. All mankind deserves to go to hell. That is perfect justice. Since the Garden, all are born dead in sin. There was only one born sinless. He is the Son of God, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He was born out of the normal course. His conception was of the Holy Spirit.

This is not my opinion. Although, I hold firmly to it. This is the word of God. “(We who are in Christ) were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:3c-5

The gospel is the power of God for salvation! Romans 1:16 The gospel is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. He died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; He was buried; He was raised from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures, 1Corinthians 15:3-4. There is no other payment for sin, 1John 2:2. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, Hebrews 9:22 (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus offered Himself to God in obedience. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was accepted by God the Father. The summation of the matter is, “For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2Corinthians 5:21 Jesus Christ bore our sins, each one, past, present and future. He experienced the full wrath of the Holy God in our place! In Christ, God’s perfect justice was satisfied.

All that is above represents propositional truth. These are God’s words of hope to His people! We know that they are true because God said it. We may or may not “feel” forgiven. But, if you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven.

There is an ongoing need to regularly read these truths. When God makes an individual a “new creation” in Christ his sinning does not stop. It has been said: ‘we sin because we are sinners’! Paul dealt with this struggle, Romans 7, justified yet sinner. The truth is our struggle with sin begins when God makes us a “new creation” in Christ. Because one is in Christ he recognizes his sinfulness. Those in Christ must live relying upon His finished work. Christians preach the gospel to themselves and confess their sins to God every day!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Biblical Praise”

“Biblical Praise”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
You would expect that the most fundamental activity of the Church, namely Praise and Worship, would be demonstrated and taught by every Bible believing, Christ exalting congregation. Yet in our age of consumerism, it is necessary to define biblical praise; to identify the object; and to enable deep and critical thought concerning it.

Our surrounding area is blessed with an extraordinary number of churches. The primary reason is that God made us for worship. Biblical worship includes praising the object, the Triune God.

Webster’s Dictionary defines praise as expressing approval or admiration. The definition continues with the idea of giving glory to God. 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 was 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 objects 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 who is Jesus as He is revealed in the gospel. Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God and the One whom He sent, even Jesus Christ, John 17:3.

We see injustice all around us intent on robbing us of hope. Conversely, the Bible declares that God will execute perfect justice. 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, Matthew 6:25ff.

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. The truth of God’s word is true whether it is believed or not. That is, you may be thinking that I write such things because I’m a Christian Pastor. Indeed, that is my calling! I not only write these things, but I also believe them! 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 attributes and mighty works of God. As we understand and apply praise in this way, we likewise know that God is its only worthy object.

I’ve come to the end. I’ve defined biblical praise as the declaration of the attributes and works of God. Hopefully I’ve made the case that God alone is worthy of praise. And, finally, I hope that I’ve been successful in informing how you think about this very important aspect of life.

“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, “The Protestant Reformation… Still Reforming”

“The Protestant Reformation… Still Reforming”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The faithfulness of an Augustinian monk changed the church. Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. The Pope sent a cleric to Germany to raise money for building St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The cleric was Johann Tetzel. He summarized his message by the saying, “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings a soul from Purgatory springs.”

Luther was outraged by connecting salvation to giving money. As Luther studied the Bible to teach it, the doctrine of justification by faith alone became clear to him.

God caused Luther to see that the gospel revealed the perfect righteousness of God which He imputes to a sinner. He does so only by faith alone, Romans 1:17; 3:28 and 4:4-5. The Latin term is Sola Fides. Luther said that when he understood the doctrine of imputed righteousness it was as if the gates of Paradise opened and he walked through.

In addition to Sola Fides, four additional biblical doctrines were recovered from the Scriptures. They are: Sola Gratia, by Grace Alone; Solus Christus, by Christ Alone; Sola Scriptura, by Scripture Alone and Soli Deo Gloria, to God Alone be Glory. The Five Solas reflect God’s plan of redemption. They had been taught by the church until the Middle Ages. The Reformers recovered these doctrines and faithfully taught them as the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”, Jude 3

The second Sola, Sola Gratia, means by grace alone. The Bible teaches that salvation is by God’s grace alone. All men are sinners, born dead in sin. We have inherited the sin nature of Adam. Genesis 6:5 and Romans 3:10-18 are two passages that teach man’s total bondage to sin. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus makes this fact clear. Salvation is by grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8. Even the faith that Christians profess is a gift of God’s grace. Salvation from start to finish is solely by God’s grace.

The Protestant Reformers did not originate new doctrines. They did not offer an alternative perspective on salvation. They declared and taught the plain truth of God’s word. The Reformation was a providential blessing from God through which the truth was recovered. The magisterial church in Rome had perverted the truth of the gospel. Today, the truth of God’s salvation is taught in every true Church and it can be said that the Church is in an ongoing state of reformation in accordance with the word of God.

Yet there was a main issue that concerned the great Reformers. It was authority. The Latin phrases Solus Christus and Sola Scriptura which mean respectively, by Christ Alone and by Scripture Alone, emphasize the rightful source of authority. The Reformers asked the Scriptures, “Who has supreme authority the Church or God?” Of course, we would all say that God has supreme authority. The Bible reveals that God is absolutely sovereign. The Bible also reveals that Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, Matthew 28:18. The Reformers saw that the Roman Church usurped God’s authority and held God’s people in bondage.

To state the issue of authority clearly, Christ is the King and Head of His Church. He exercises His Kingship and Lordship through His word, the Bible. The Bible is the ultimate authority of all life and salvation. All men live under the word of God.

Of course, there are many authorities over us. God established the church, civil government and the family. All derive their authority from God’s word. His word, the Bible is the ultimate Authority and Christ is the Supreme King and Ruler. Men possess a granted authority. When men usurp God’s authority, it is invalid.

The four Solas described above reveal God’s means of redemption. Men are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone as God has revealed it by Scripture alone. The fifth Sola describes God’s purpose for redemption. Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be glory. God’s own glory is His purpose. Everything is ordained by God for His glory. Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” And, Romans 11:36, “For from Him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Life is not about us; it is all for God. Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Sovereignty of God”

The Sovereignty of God”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Have you ever asked yourself, “Who’s in charge of _______ (you fill in the blank)?” When the evil of men is observed, this question of authority rises to a higher degree of relevance.

Rather than answer the question, we would often rather fix the blame. We blame everyone from society to God. We blame everyone except the actual perpetrators. Concerning fixing the blame, there are still some who blame America for 9-11. The fact is, evil men flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, murdering thousands.

It is reasonable, even necessary to investigate fully what happened. It is prudent to seek ways for the prevention of such evil in the future. But, placing the blame in the right place or studying prevention still does not answer the question, “Who’s in charge?” Since, I believe the question is so important, I’d like to offer the answer and then explain my basis for it.

God is in charge! By the plain meaning of the word, “God”, He must be in charge or He’s not God. God has absolute authority over all His Creation, even the evil one, Satan, is under God’s authority, CF Job 1,2.

God has revealed His Character, Name, in the Bible. The Bible is God’s self-revelation. He has revealed His character by way of declaring His attributes. One of God’s attributes is His sovereignty.

Years ago, a man in a church that I served was concerned about using the word “sovereignty”. He said no one understood that word anymore. My response to him was that we shouldn’t stop using words because people may not understand them. Rather, it would be more edifying if we explained the meaning of important words such as sovereignty. (The organized church has been tasked with building up the body not reducing it to the lowest common denominator, CF Ephesians 4:11-16.) It is this word, sovereignty, which provides the answer to our question. We know God is in charge because He is sovereign. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and earth” had been given to Him, Matthew 28:18. Jesus’ declaration to His disciples is a statement of absolute authority!

God not only revealed His sovereignty by declarative statements such as Matthew 28:18, but He also revealed it through the historic narratives. One such historical narrative is recorded in Daniel 4:34-37. The human author, Daniel, a faithful worshiper of God, recorded an incident that involved a king who thought he was the be-all and the end-all. 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. The tree in the king’s dream was him.

After a time, because of the king’s pride, God drove him mad. He made him act and appear like a wild beast. At the time appointed by God, the king’s senses returned to him. Daniel recorded what the king said. Nebuchadnezzar said this about God, “His 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?”’

This radical statement was spoken by a pagan king. The king was humbled by God and caused by Him to see the truth. He declared that all creatures are under the sovereign authority of God. He rules over every man’s actions and He holds him responsible. This great and mighty ruler who thought he was a god was used by God to declare His absolute authority.

Unfortunately, many churches erroneously teach that God’s sovereignty is somehow qualified by man’s “free” will. Yet, the Bible says God will make even the mighty submit to Him either now or when Jesus returns. God is sovereign whether or not man submits to Him. God’s rule is absolute. God is in charge regardless of whether we think He is or not! Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, whether we believe it or not. This is our comfort in the face of evil. S.D.G. (Soli Deo Gloria)

Pastor’s Viewpoints “False Prophets”

“False Prophets”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
In our declining western culture, some have been manipulated to think that character doesn’t matter. One of the symptoms of cultural decline concerns the importance of character. We are told it’s not appropriate to look into someone’s past to determine how he or she might act in the future. As opposed to this, the Christian Faith is a step into the light not a leap into the darkness. We who are Christians don’t possess a blind faith. We trust in what we have “learned, firmly believed and been convinced of” 2Timothy 3:14. Christians trust in the Person and Work of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.

Jesus had much to say concerning character. He provided direction concerning determining character. He taught His disciples how to live as citizens of the Kingdom. The Church under King Jesus is to live by His teaching in His Sermon on the Mount.

You will find this greatest sermon ever preached recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapters 5 through 7. The entire sermon was a teaching that Jesus gave to His disciples. Matthew set the context on a mountainside. Jesus saw the crowds that were following Him, and He went up on the mountain and then sat down. Matthew 5:2, “And he opened his mouth and taught them (his disciples) …”

This sermon was given by Jesus not as another Law but to describe His ethic or practice. In other words, Jesus laid out the standard of life in His Kingdom. He lived what He preached. The purpose of His Sermon is to drive those who have been born again to their knees. We who profess the name of Christ do so by the sovereign grace of God who has raised us from death to life. We read the sermon and realize that it presents an impossible life-style. We are compelled to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit of God in order to live the Christian Life. Jesus was the only one who actually lived in accordance with His sermon. Nevertheless, the ethic of Jesus’ sermon is not for some future time or supposed age. It is the economy of life for every citizen of the Kingdom now!

The verse concerning a person’s “fruits” is near the close of Jesus’ sermon. He declared that there will be false prophets. He said that these false prophets will look and dress like sheep but will actually be wolves. These wolves will seek to devour the sheep. The sheep represent the people of God. The wolves naturally, are those who are opposed to God and seek to destroy God’s people. Note that this condition is within the visible church.

The Bible is God’s word to His children. But, it is absolutely and universally true for all men. What the Bible says, God says. What God has said is binding on all people regardless of whether or not it is believed. Jesus declared a universal truth concerning the recognition of character and genuineness within the visible church or wherever character must be assessed. An individual’s character is not found in eloquence or erudition, real or imagined. It is not found in appearance, popularity, or charisma. Character can be assessed by looking at past behavior. In order to discern a man or woman’s character it is necessary to study his or her past behavior. A man’s past actions are his “fruits” in accordance with Jesus’ words.

False people have “rotten fruit” produced by their past actions. Sometimes these false people actually say things that might be true. They may be lifted up by those who have ulterior motives. Jesus said look at what they have produced before determining their genuineness.

The Church needs leaders who are genuine. A man of character will necessarily understand his need to live penitently before the Holy God. He will regularly confess his sins to God and trust in His forgiveness in Christ Jesus. It is critical that the church choose men of character to be Elders for the spiritual growth and well-being of her members. What is taught ought to be matched by what is lived.

So then, we have the words of our Savior to direct us in recognizing the sheep and more importantly recognizing the wolves who come to us dressed as sheep. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-16a

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Purpose of the Law”

“The Purpose of the Law”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The law, “was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary,” Galatians 3:19. Paul was referring to the Ten Commandments. He said the law was added because of sin.

The Apostle John wrote that sin is lawlessness, 1John 3:4. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God, “question and answer no. 14.

The Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The first part concerns man’s relationship to God. The second provides the basis for men to co-exist.

Even in society, the importance of law is reflected. All cultures depend upon what is called the rule of law. Removing law condemns a society to destruction. Therefore, we expect our leaders to submit to the rule of law as a guard to our freedom. A good example of the rule of law is the Constitution of the United States of America. It is the basis for our rule of law. No one is above the law nor is the principle of due process ever suspended.

God’s Law and Civil Law carry blessings and curses, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As God created man and woman in His image, we have a moral code in our hearts. All men have a knowledge of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments specify what is right and wrong because they reflect the character of God. At its root, the Law of God expresses His grace and is part of what is called, the Covenant of Grace.

Why do we need the grace of God in the Law? As Paul said, it was given by God because of sin. The sinfulness of man leads to law breaking. No man can keep the Law perfectly. Fundamentally, God gave the Law to demonstrate man’s need for a Savior, who would keep the Law perfectly. The Bible reveals God’s grace through the Law. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” Galatians 4:4.

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

The Christian Church since the Reformation has taught that God’s Law has three uses. They are: first, to bound sin, second, to point to Christ and third to provide the guide for the Christian Life.

The Old Testament also reveals two principles regarding the Law. God said blessing results from obedience and curse is the result of disobedience, Deuteronomy 11:26-28. God declared that His way was the better way.

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

History also records man’s awareness of his need for law. One example is the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient law code of the first Babylonian Dynasty ruled by Hammurabi circa 1728-1686 B.C. Much of his code parallels that of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations likewise depended on the rule of law. As law broke down, those civilizations ceased to exist. They became unable to fight against invaders. Western civilization and especially our United States will also stand or fall as a result of adherence to the rule of law.

In summary, without law we will perish. Because of God’s Law we are shown our desperate need for a divine Savior. May we commit to stand for the blessing of God’s Law and all law proceeding from it. May submission to the rule of law reflect the desire to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God, Micah 6:8. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “A warning to those who call evil good”

“A warning to those who call evil good”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
You don’t often see “woe” used in an article. It’s a word that is rarely used in our day. But it’s a word that ought to be understood and taken seriously, especially in light of recent events. 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 a current issue, namely the Senate “hearings” concerning a man nominated to the Supreme Court.

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. More specifically, God directed His “woe” against the leaders of His people.

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 word “woe” quoted from verse 5 is repeated five additional 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

We have recently witnessed the character assassination of a nominee to the Supreme Court. I firmly believe that the motivation of his attackers is fear. I further believe that their fear is rooted in the elimination of their unholy sacrament of progressivism, abortion.

Evil behavior often comes dressed in “good intentions.” In this case, the so-called “good” intentions are clothed in a professed desire to protect and honor women, especially those who have suffered sexual abuse. Reasonable people wonder, “Why would such an allegation with no evidence be used against this particular man at this time?” A closer examination reveals that, after all the peripheral issues are pushed aside, only one issue remains. That issue is the sanctity of human life. It is well-known that the primary objection to Judge Kavanaugh by the progressive element in our society is his view of human life. This is a critical time for our culture. I pray that people of honor will recognize what is actually happening and stand against evil and stand for that which is good, right and true!

Because of man’s total depravity, recognizing that which is good, right and true must be determined outside of ourselves. God is the standard of good. He is the author of all life and He has sanctified human life.

With the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and His sanctification of human life the ethics of abortion can be seen clearly. Abortion 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 are placing themselves under the “woes” that Isaiah declared.

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. May we who know the truth, ask God’s blessing on that which is good and speak openly for the sanctity of human life!

May all honorable people speak out against the destruction of a man’s character for the sake of protecting the evil practice of abortion. May the root cause of these attacks against Judge Kavanaugh be unveiled for all to see.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Character… where are the honorable people?”

“Character…where are the honorable people?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Character is the word used to describe the personal qualities of an individual. The qualities in view concern a person’s morals and ethics. The issue of character was recently framed in another way. Justice Clarence Thomas in a recent lecture, asked, “Where are the honorable men?” He was reflecting on our government and our cultural decline.

God revealed the standard measure of character, what we might call “honorable.” The Bible provides the true definition of character. The Old Testament contains the history of men of character. The Bible also contains narratives concerning men of weak and deceptive character.

Joseph and Moses are good examples of men of godly character. As you read their stories, the first thing that should come to mind is that these men are not perfect. The Bible does not fail to describe their faults as well as their virtues.

Genesis 39 is a part of Joseph’s life that reveals his godly character. We are told that Joseph became a successful man. He was put in charge of the household of an officer of the Pharaoh. We read that the LORD was with Joseph. Joseph had an ongoing relationship with the LORD. As a child, Joseph thought he was of special privilege. As you may recall, his superior attitude angered his brothers to such a degree that they plotted to kill him but ended up selling him as a slave.

Years later, Joseph continued to walk with the LORD. He became very successful. His character was tested at this very comfortable point in his life. The beautiful wife of the officer who entrusted his household to Joseph sought to seduce him. Joseph resisted. Moses recorded what he said. “… “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge… How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”’ Genesis 39:8ff

Even this strong statement did not dissuade the officer’s wife. She persisted and the Bible records Joseph’s action as fleeing from her presence leaving his garment that she grabbed in her hand. The officer’s wife wrongly accused Joseph and her testimony was believed. Her husband put Joseph, the innocent one, in the king’s prison.

The rest of the story confirms the depth of Joseph’s character. He spent his life trusting in the Lord and pursuing godliness. Joseph’s life was a foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect life which is the standard of perfect character. Jesus said of Himself, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

In order to express the kind of character that Joseph did, one must be humble. Humility is a virtue which enables the one who has it to rightly assess himself before God. Jesus said that He was gentle and lowly in heart. The word from which both gentle and lowly are derived can also be translated as humble.

The Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus’ humility in Philippians 2:6. “Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Jesus set aside His glory. His humility extended to obeying the Father even to death upon the cross.

The human author of the story of Joseph was himself a humble man. Moses wrote, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3 The Spirit of God inspired Moses to write these words about himself when his leadership was challenged by two people who were the closest to him.

Like Joseph, Moses’ life demonstrated his trust in the LORD. When Moses sinned and God forbade him to enter the Promised Land, he endured the consequence of his sin and continued to obey God.

Character is the measure of a man or a woman. Behavior reveals character and it matters profoundly. Men and women of character are humble and can be trusted. Their character is seen over time. These are the honorable people!

Through viewing a person’s character whether it is good or evil, future actions can be anticipated. We are all sinners in the sight of God. Yet we must make decisions concerning those whom we choose to entrust with various roles in life. Choose wisely. Choose men and women of character. Choose honorable people.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Grace”

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

The Apostle John wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 (ESV) John referred to the law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai and to the truth which is reality revealed in the person of Jesus. But, what is the meaning of grace? For years Sunday school teachers have taught our children that grace means unmerited favor. Grace is to receive what is not deserved. Mercy is another expression of grace. The opposite of grace and mercy is justice. The law of God given through Moses is a revelation of the absolute perfection of God. The law He gave to men is the absolute standard of perfection. The Jews sought to make the law fool-proof. The leaders of the Jews came up with more than 600 nuances of the basic commandments of God as a means of addressing every aspect of life and how men should behave in order to keep the law. Yet, Jesus repeatedly said that they had missed the spirit of the law. The truth is that no one can keep the law. The Apostle Paul wrote that the purpose of the law was to bound sin and lead men to their need for a Savior, Galatians 3:19-29.

May I offer you a fundamental principle of life from the word of God? God requires absolute perfection. Jesus said perfect righteousness is required to enter the kingdom of heaven.

God doesn’t grade righteousness on a scale. I remember taking Quantum Physics in Engineering College years ago. If the professor didn’t grade our tests on a scale no one would have gotten a passing grade in his course. He took the lowest grade and the highest grade and developed an acceptable score. God doesn’t do that. If you think that God will compare you to others at the end of your life, you won’t have a “passing grade.”

Are you willing to be honest with yourself? If you are, the undeniable conclusion is that you’re not perfect. No one is. This is the need for grace. Since no one is perfect no one will go to heaven unless God extends His grace.

God’s grace is the only means by which men may have a “passing grade.” But God’s grace is not simply winking at our failure to be perfect. God’s grace is extended as a result of merit, perfect merit. God’s grace is extended only because of the perfect merit of Jesus Christ. What all men fail to do, He did. The grace of God is His favor extended to His people as a result of the merit of Jesus on their behalf. This grace is called saving grace. It is given by God to those whom He chose before the foundation of the world. His choice is not based on anything we will do or have done. His choice is unconditional, Ephesians 1, 2.

You may be thinking that this choice of God to extend saving grace as He wills is unfair and God is not unfair. I agree. God is not unfair. But grace is not about fairness. God is perfectly fair. We call His fairness divine justice. He has said that at the end of this world there will be a final judgment. Two books will be opened by God. One book is the record of everyone’s deeds. The other is called the book of life. The judgment of God is that anyone’s name that does not appear in the book of life is thrown into the “lake of fire.” Those two books represent the difference between justice and grace. Those who live thinking that God winks at their sin and will somehow extend grace to them at the end are those who will experience perfect justice. On the other hand those who live their lives relying upon the perfect life of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice will experience the fullness of God’s grace in eternal bliss.

So then, Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor based upon the merit of His only Son, Jesus. There are only two alternatives for mankind. Rely upon your own merit or rely upon the merit of Christ. In either case the standard is perfection. The truth is Jesus is the only One who was perfect.