Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Heaven and Hell”

Heaven and Hell
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
What’s the “bottom line” of life? It is that there is a heaven and a hell. When this life ends, an eternity begins. Everyone will be in one of two places, either heaven or hell. One of the most frequent themes of Jesus’ teaching was judgment. Jesus said that there will be a final accounting given to God (Matthew 11:20-24). He instructed His disciples to fear the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell, not the one who was able only to kill the body (Matthew 10:28).
Jesus was a master teacher. He used parables to teach about the Kingdom of God. He also used those same parables to confuse those who were destined to perish (Matthew 13:10-17 and Isaiah 6:9-10). The parables of Jesus are cumulative. That is, each one builds upon the previous. The final parable, Matthew 25:31-48, is about judgment. It is undeniable to all who read the Bible that God is holy, and He will judge the world. Judgment has been given to the Risen Lord Jesus. When He returns, He will put an end to all that is unholy and evil.
We would do well to examine that final parable that is called “the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats”. For the sake of brevity, I want to draw attention to the beginning and the end of the parable.
Jesus gave the time of judgment. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory” (Matthew 25:31). The exact date was not specified. But, clearly, the day of judgment is what the prophet Joel referred to as “the Day of the LORD” (2:31). The Apostle John was given a vision of that day, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them” (Revelation 20:11).
Jesus used the title “Son of Man” when speaking of Himself. This was a familiar Old Testament description of the Messiah, the King of Righteousness. Jesus said that He would come in His glory. That is, when He returns, He will not come as the Savior, but as the King who has all glory and honor and power. He will come sitting on His glorious throne. This is figurative language describing the absolute power and authority that Jesus possesses and will execute holy justice.
The initial actions of King Jesus are clearly stated. Jesus said that He will have all nations gathered before Him. No one will escape this divine appointment. Immediately, Jesus said that He will separate the sheep and the goats. The sheep are described as those “who are blessed by My Father” (Matthew 25:34). They are said to inherit the kingdom that was prepared for them from the foundation of the world. In other words, the sheep are those whom God chose in eternity to be in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6); they are God’s elect.
In the parable, Jesus described characteristics of sheep. The sheep discovered that as they ministered to Jesus’ brothers, they were ministering to Jesus. The sheep’s behavior was not a checklist of reasons for being “sheep”. It was a declarative statement that described the behavior of sheep.
God said that those who are in Christ live differently. They are new creations in Christ with desires for Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, sheep live like sheep. James wrote about the genuineness of saving faith. “So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). The Apostle Paul also wrote concerning the lives of “sheep” (believers). “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
The Parable ends with the reality of an eternal hell! Jesus said, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31). The horror of hell is not separation from God, but the presence of God in His wrath for eternity. The “goats” are commanded by Jesus to depart from Him. Their eternal home was prepared by God for the devil and his angels. The bottom line is the reality of heaven or hell. God has chosen those who will live with Him forever. This truth may not tickle men’s ears, but God has promised to raise the dead by His word in concert with His Spirit. Our only hope given by God is the gospel!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “God’s Dire Warning”

God’s Dire Warning
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Woe is a word that has fallen out of usage in our day. The basic meaning of “woe” is a warning of impending doom. Woe is used in Scripture to convey a dire warning from God. It often precedes God’s judgment of evil. Isaiah Chapters 5 and 6 have led me to reflect on our cultural decline. Isaiah 5:20, especially, “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 was directing 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 “woe” quoted from verse 5 is repeated five more times in Chapter 5 and once in Chapter 6. There are a total of seven woes, seven declarations of impending doom.

Our culture has turned morality upside down. We hear people proudly declaring something good that God calls evil! God’s people should know good from evil. He has revealed the “good” in the Bible. “Good” is that which is morally and ethically right. The source of all good is God. “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” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Our society calls the mission of Planned Parenthood to be good. This evil organization claims to exist for the interest of women’s health. Yet, the founder of Planned Parenthood believed in eugenics shaped by her belief in evolution. Eugenics is the attempt to improve the species through genetic control. In the case of Margaret Sanger improvement of the species would come by removing the less desirable members of society, such as minorities and the disabled. One of the tools that she advocated for improvement was abortion another was sterilization of minority women. The following quote of Margaret Sanger summarized her philosophy. “More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control” (Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12). Praising Planned Parenthood is asking God to bless that which is evil.

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

Issues of human life do not fall in the category of ethical confusion, nor political choice. We need not wonder what the “good” course is. God is for life! Those who would call death good risk falling under the “woes” that Isaiah declared.

I am called to be a minister of the gospel. I am an ordained pastor, a Teaching Elder. Yet, on this I am writing as a man who believes the Risen Lord Jesus. I have been made a new creation by the sovereign grace of God. He has caused me to see the truth and the beauty of Christ. As a member of His family, I am obligated to declare the truth and live under His word. I dare not bless what God curses! I dare not remain silent when evil is called good.

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!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Imago Dei… The Image of God”

Imago Dei… The Image of God
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Here “they” go again! “They” are the secular humanists, those who see themselves as gods, usurping the authority of the one, true God. Their evil philosophy has plagued mankind for decades. It has reached a fever pitch. Some sociologists teach that individuals have no innate value except for the socio-economic group into which one is born. These so-called experts group people into one of two groups: oppressors and victims. Some teach that human life has no more value than plants and animals. This should shock you. Human beings, regardless of ethnicity, race, or socio-economic origin, have a unique value given by the Creator. Genesis 1:26a says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’”
The fact is, there is a God. His existence is undeniable. He has made His divine attributes known by all that He has made (Romans 1:19-20). There is no other reasonable explanation for the world around us.
But this article is not about the existence of God, directly. Yet, His existence is the basis for the sanctity of human life. The sacredness of human life proceeds out of being made in God’s image. No other creature has been given such a distinction. Because of this, man is accountable to God. We have been set apart by God. We are made in God’s image. One of my favorite Psalms declares, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
Scripture, in Genesis 1:26, declares that men and women are made in God’s image. The sense of being made in God’s image is likened to objects reflected in a mirror. We are a reflection of God. Distortions of this truth have been offered over the years. For example, Joseph Smith wrote that “God himself was once as we are now and is an exalted man.” Another infamous personality, Kenneth Copeland, teaches that God is a man who is six feet, two inches tall. This Word of Faith cult leader is reported to have borrowed his lie from the cult of Mormonism.
The truth is the best defense against such false teaching. Knowing the truth is the way to recognize error. So then, what is the truth of being made in God’s image? It cannot mean that mankind looks like God in a physical sense, as the views referenced above teach. God made us male and female. Both men and women bear God’s image. Yet, all reasonable people admit that men and women are not the same.
Bearing God’s image means to have some of God’s attributes. Attributes are those characteristics that define a being. Now I used the word “some” to qualify the attributes of God that we bear. We are not God. No man is immortal. No man is self-existent. No man can make the claim that he had no beginning. Yet, all men can reason, think, and have limited knowledge. All men have a sense of right and wrong.
In bearing these characteristics, we are faced with our limitations. For example, we don’t know everything, despite thinking we might. We don’t always do what is right despite having the moral law written on our hearts. God said, “every intention of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Yet man’s sinfulness does not eliminate man’s dignity. God made man in His image; male and female He made them as recorded in Genesis chapter one. Two chapters later, the Bible records the fall of Adam and the woman. As a result, all those attributes were marred by the fall. We all still have the God-given attributes, and we also have an inherited sin nature. Adam is referred to as the federal head of all mankind (Romans 5:12ff). Along with the dignity of being human comes the responsibility for our actions.
Having said all this, the fact that we are sinners does not remove the dignity which God conveyed by making man in His image. It also does not reduce our responsibility to exercise good management of His creation.
You have dignity and value because the sovereign God made you in His image. One of the fundamental truths under attack today is the dignity, more, the sanctity of human life. Speak out for life.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Sound Doctrine”

Sound Doctrine
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Apostle Paul commanded Titus, a pastor, to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Paul gave the same command to another pastor, Timothy, “… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2). Sound doctrine is biblical teaching. The preaching of the word of God written — the Bible — was not only for Timothy in the 1st century, but it extends to the Church until Jesus returns. Sound doctrine, biblical teaching, is also the focus of the church until the return of Christ.
Every Christian pastor would affirm his call to preach the Bible. Yet, surveys of the evangelical church in America reveal that doctrinal teaching is not the norm. Christian pastors would likewise affirm the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. But, practices in the Church do not support the reality of the sufficiency of Scripture. Some teach that there are “things” that need to be added to be effective and successful. Programs that address lifestyles are cleverly devised. Preferences in worship music are considered if the church is to “reach” our modern culture. The word “relevant” regularly comes up in conversations concerning one’s church of preference. Relevant is defined today as hearing a “message” that addresses “my” feelings or circumstances. The trend is to design worship for men, women, and children so that chords are struck affirming emotions. Today, church leaders diligently seek to accommodate various life stages to develop a “relevant” message.
Obviously, not all evangelical churches fall into these worldly traps. There are many that consider the importance of sound doctrine and biblical preaching. There are many who understand that there is only one seeker, God, and that He has commanded the way in which He is to be worshiped. There are even many churches that understand that worship on the Lord’s Day is not for evangelism. Not all evangelical churches have replaced expositional preaching with skits complete with “stage props.”
Still, one might think that sound doctrine, biblical preaching, and worship are discoveries of the modern church. Maybe it’s legalistic to suggest that the entirety of God’s word is not only relevant, but also necessary and sufficient to live in Christ. All these issues were dealt with by God in the Old Testament. God said that closing the doors of the church was preferable to vain worship (Malachi 1:10). If the church in the Old Testament was held accountable for her worship and teaching, we should certainly take heed.
Concerning sound doctrine, I was recently studying one of the Psalms of David: Psalm 12. I observed that the first three words of verse 1, “Save, O LORD”, declare sound doctrine. David cried out to God for salvation. He knew that man could not save himself. David knew that man’s only hope was for God to act. David didn’t suggest that he chose God and therefore was the instrument of his own salvation. No, David cried to God. Only God saves. All men are born dead in sin. The Fall of Adam is inherited by all men born of a man and a woman. In another Psalm — Psalm 51 — David declared that he was conceived in sin. David didn’t mean that he was born outside of wedlock. He was simply stating what God declared in Genesis 6:5, “… that every intention of the thoughts of men’s hearts was only evil continually.”
David also knew God was his only hope. Why did David know that and not, say, Saul? They both were anointed to be king. They were both members of the Covenant Community, the visible church. Yet David knew of his dependence upon God, and Saul did not. Surely Saul knew there was a God as did David. Yet, knowing of the existence of God did not lead Saul to depend upon Him as David did.
The reason David knew to cry out to God was because God gave him eyes to see. God did not look down the corridor of time and see that David would choose Him. For there were many times when David chose himself over God.
The first three words of Psalm 12 reveal two essential truths, called sound doctrine. First, God alone saves. Second, God extends saving grace to those whom He chooses. God calls, regenerates, converts, justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and glorifies (Romans 8:29-30). Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone (Ephesians 2:1-9). This is sound doctrine.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Do we have free will?”

Do we have free will?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

To answer a question, especially one that concerns the issue of man’s free will, it is necessary to clearly understand the words used. Man’s will is the faculty of the mind by which choices or decisions concerning a course of action are made. The word free means unencumbered, not enslaved, or not controlled by obligation.

Substituting the meanings of the words, the question, “Do we have free will?”, can be restated as, “Do we have an unencumbered mental faculty by which we are able to make choices?” Still, every person who honestly seeks an answer to this question will likely respond in view of their own opinions or experiences.

Therefore, since everyone has an opinion and we all have reasons for the choices we make, we ought to seek the one opinion that matters. In other words, what has God said, if anything, concerning the issue of man’s will? After all, He is the Creator. He is the one who gave us all wills!

You might try to find the instances of the words “free” and “will” in the concordance of your Bible and discover that there are none. Our starting place should be the Garden. After God made Adam, He told him that he was free to eat of every tree of the Garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 2:16-17. God gave Adam the ability to eat to his satisfaction of every tree except one.

We know what happened. Adam and the woman, later named Eve, ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. At the end of Chapter three of Genesis, we read that God “placed the cherubim (mighty angels) and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” God insured that no man would be able to eat of the tree of life and live forever, Genesis 3:22-24.

We next look at God’s destruction of the earth by the universal flood, He surveyed all mankind and declared “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, “Genesis 6:5. Further, the prophet Jeremiah spoke for God and said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament. Men have not changed. The Apostle Paul wrote, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Romans 3:10

God’s view of man’s will is that it is in bondage; it is not unencumbered. Yes, we will do whatever we desire. One of the greatest, possibly the greatest American Theologian, Jonathan Edwards wrote a book entitled, “The Freedom of the Will.” The basic premise of his book is that men do whatever they want to do. The problem is that before God regenerates a man or woman, the only thing that they desire is sin!

The reality revealed by the word of God is, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us … while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son…” Romans 5:8, 10. Man’s will is in bondage to sin! Jesus said that “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32.

All this may strike you as just some philosophical rambling, but this truth is much more. Understanding our human nature is essential if we are ever to know the depth of God’s grace.

So, what are we to make of the question? Do we have free will? Even in a purely physical sense, we are limited. No one can honestly claim that he can do whatever he wants. All of us have certain restrictions placed upon us. Next time, may God forbid, that you’re pulled over for driving above the speed limit, try telling the officer that you are free to do whatever you want, because the speed limit doesn’t apply to you.

Apply that same logic to life in Christ. Tell God that you’re free to choose Him or not. Tell Him that you did not inherit Adam’s sin. Tell him that your will is not in bondage to sin that you are able to take and eat of the tree of life and thereby you can choose to live forever!

So, what’s your answer to the question?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “He is Risen… Now What?”

He is Risen… Now What?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The bodily resurrection of Christ is an historic fact. Jesus completed everything necessary for redemption. He completed God’s plan of redemption established in eternity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that everything Jesus said is true, that His atoning sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He is very God and very Man. He was the Passover Lamb which has been sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7). The Risen Lord Jesus is our hope!
Those who live in the person and work of Christ have been made His followers by the Holy Spirit. Disciples, followers and learners of Jesus Christ, are made not born. Only God makes Christians. No one is born a Christian. No one is righteous; no one seeks God. The Bible describes all mankind as naturally children of God’s wrath. But God is rich in mercy. He pours out His mercy on His people, those whom He chose before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1, 2).
The Bible defines salvation as deliverance by God from God for God. The Apostle Paul wrote that believers have been crucified with Christ. Christians no longer live for themselves but for Him. Christians live for God. We have God-centered lives. The Apostle wrote to Christians in Corinth exhorting them to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The believer’s life in Christ is made possible by the perfect life of Christ and His perfect sacrifice. His bodily resurrection is the proof of this absolute truth.
So now we who are in Christ live in Him. We are commanded to work out our salvation because God is at work in us (Philippians 2:12-13). The Evangelist Luke wrote the practical application for living in Christ by the power of His resurrection. Christians are disciples (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a learner and a follower of a master. Therefore, a Christian is a learner and follower of Jesus Christ our Master. Therefore, the Christian life is to live continually learning from and following Christ.
A friend of mine called a Christian “A work in progress.” Jesus taught a parable that explains this “work in progress.” This progressive work according to the Bible called living “in Christ,” is God’s work of sanctification.
Jesus gave a comprehensive view of kingdom life in Matthew 25:14-30. Kingdom citizens desire to live the kingdom life, living each day before the King expecting His return at any time. Further, the King calls His servants to invest what He has given in His kingdom. Each of us have been uniquely blessed by the Creator. As prayed by king David, “all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1 Chronicles 29:14b).
The parable of the talents precedes Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment. It not only teaches God’s expectation for His people to invest what He has given them in His kingdom but also emphasizes His absolute sovereign rule and authority. The parable of the talents is well known. In summary, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to an owner who went on a journey and gave his property to three of his servants. They were given a specified sum of money, “according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15). The master then left on a journey but returned after a time and sought to settle accounts.
Two servants invested the master’s money and presented him with a return on investment. They heard the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master.” The third servant hid the master’s money and had no increase to give to the master. This servant did not hear comforting words. He heard words of judgment.
The two faithful servants invested what their master gave them. They represent those who live the Christian life. Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings. He has entrusted His people with gifts and talents and yes, money. God’s call to Christians is invest what you have been given for God’s glory.
This description of the Christian life is the answer to “He is Risen… What now?”
I pray that we will enjoy a blessed celebration of the resurrection of the Lord. The question is: “Has the bodily resurrection of Jesus changed your life?” May you live for God. May you seek to glorify Him in all that you do. May your life be an investment in the kingdom as the Master has commanded!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Kiss the Son (Before It’s Too Late)!”

Kiss the Son (Before It’s Too Late)
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“Kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:12a) is a solemn warning to all leaders, especially in the church. The Psalmist issued this directive considering the sovereignty of God. He asked a question, which is as relevant today as it was when the Psalmist wrote it. “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1a). The Psalmist’s question is about God’s sovereign authority.

Surveying the evangelical church, I believe that God’s authority has fallen on deaf ears. This disregard for God’s sovereign authority is evidenced by the way worship services are conducted in most churches today. Many church leaders conclude that worship is primarily about us! The effect is that worship has become a convenience rather than a necessity. Worship services are advertised to attract people by using pithy sayings filled with emotional attractiveness but with little substance.

The past couple of years has set the stage for churches to “re-think” worship. Now we are seeing man’s creativity in advertising for worship. The problem as I see it is that God is missing from the advertisements. This is especially relevant during this holiday season which is all about God’s redemption culminated in the bodily resurrection of His only Son, Jesus.

I believe that these advertisements unveil man’s fundamental problem: our desire to be autonomous. We think that we are the center of the universe, and the most important things are physical health and felt needs. Feeding our desire for autonomy, Charles Darwin sought to eliminate the reality of the Creator God. His theory was purposed in proving that all creation came about through chance and natural selection. He supposed that if his theory of evolution was true then man could eliminate God.

Most people reject pure Darwinism. Over the years there have been caveats made to Darwin’s original theory. As we learn more about God’s wonderful and marvelous creation, pseudo-intellectuals have modified Darwin’s theory to accommodate the observed intricacies of our universe.

Darwin wrote of one of the weaknesses of his theory. He admitted that the theory of evolution could not explain the complexities of the human eye. He was sure that as technology advanced, those complexities would eventually be explained in evolutionary terms. Today the functions of the human eye are known but the eye’s ability to do all that it can points to God’s purposed design. As we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, Psalm 139:14a gives us great assurance that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a sovereign Creator.

Still, men suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). This is precisely the Psalmist’s point in Psalm 2. Faced with our true place as creatures before a sovereign Creator, we seek to be gods and think that we can “make ourselves safe.” Christians must remind themselves that God is sovereign. He is sovereign over everything especially worship. How we worship is a testimony of God’s sovereignty. He is the object, and He has told us How He wants to be worshiped.

God’s word reveals the reality of “living in Christ” in all circumstances. Psalm 2:11-12 says, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way. For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Serving the LORD begins with worship. Worship is humble submission to God. The New Testament calls believers to offer themselves as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God because that is our reasonable worship (Romans 12:1). I pray that the Church will seek God’s deliverance so that we might gather to worship and praise Him as He has commanded. “… Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

The Psalmist declared what was at stake for failure to know the truth. He said that Jesus’ anger, judgment, and wrath would be experienced by those who persist in thinking themselves to be gods.

This is not news. Yet, we have allowed the world to shape our behavior. Too many in the Church have embraced the world’s view of man-centeredness in their worship.

Jesus said to fear the one who can destroy both our bodies and souls in hell. Don’t be deceived, Jesus is the Sovereign Lord. Fear Him trusting in His deliverance. He will have the final say. Christian, persevere in being a true disciple of Jesus. Remain in His word. “Kiss the Son!” Guard and cherish your worship of Him especially as you celebrate Easter.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Divine Organization”

“The Divine Organization”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Christian Church is both an organism and an organization. She is an organism. The Bible defines her as the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18). The Church is an organization. The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus gave gifts to men as the conquering commanders of the ancient world divided the plunder. God revealed His organization of the Church. “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). These four offices established by Christ were demonstrations of the diversity of God’s grace as well as His designed organization of the visible body of Christ.

The Church stands upon the teaching of the Apostles. The Twelve Apostles and Paul were chosen by Jesus and appointed by Him to be His messengers proclaiming the word of God. These men received the gospel by direct revelation from God. They were witnesses of the Risen Lord Jesus. God empowered them to do miracles validating the word they preached. Paul described himself as one who was “untimely born”. He was not with Jesus during His earthly ministry. He saw and heard the Risen Lord Jesus on his journey to Damascus.

A prophet was one who spoke for God. The Old Testament records God’s words through the Prophets. The Apostle Paul described New Testament Prophets (1 Corinthians 14). New Testament prophets were subordinate to apostolic teaching. Since the close of the Canon of Scripture, prophecy in the church is not to give new revelations from God, but to proclaim the truth of His word written.

Evangelists are those who carry the gospel where it has not been heard. They are those who “bring glad tidings”. Evangelists declare that Jesus Christ has come. He came to die for the sins of His people. He was buried and He rose on the third day, all in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

The fourth office in the church is called “Pastor-Teacher” or “Shepherd-Teacher”. This office is the ongoing role of Presbyters/Elders called by God to preach and teach the word of God. They are accountable before God to care for the members of the church.

These four offices in the church describe her basic organization. The fourth office requires divine guidance in selecting those who hold it. The Old Testament church gives us the characteristics of the men who hold the office of Pastor-Teacher, and it applies to all who exercise leadership in the church.

God used Moses’ father-in-law Jethro to give these principles of selection. Exodus 18:21, “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe.”

The qualifications for elders and deacons in the church declared by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and by the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5 are more detailed descriptions of the basic principles given by Jethro.

Leadership in the Church requires men of ability. Those selected must have capabilities that demonstrate leading rather than following. The word translated “able” comes from a root word that is used to describe battlements, ramparts, or fortresses. Able men are men of conviction, strong principled men who can protect and care for the people.

Leaders in the church must be God-fearers. These men stand out in the congregation as those who openly profess faith in Jesus, live in accordance with their profession and know the importance of Corporate Worship.

Finally, Jethro advised Moses to look for men who were trustworthy. He added that a trustworthy man “hates bribery”. This man is one who is above reproach. He can’t be “bought”. The word translated “trustworthy” is from the root word for truth. Trustworthiness is a behavioral quality that can only be seen over time. Likewise, the virtue of faithfulness to God is an attribute of a trustworthy man’s character.

The Church is the body of Christ organized by Him. She is made up of sinners whom God made saints. He has ordained that the men who lead the people of God must be able, God-fearing, and trustworthy.

This father-in-law’s advice is timeless. This three-fold principle of leadership selection confronts those who have been called to lead and those who are led. It can only be received and applied with humility.

May all who profess Christ pray for the peace and purity of the organized Church. Pray for her leaders to be men of ability, faith, and trustworthiness. Seek to invest in a local Church that displays biblical leadership.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Cultural Confrontation”

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

God’s word confronts secularism. It has been said by cultural observers that the first four words of the Bible are its most despised words. “In the beginning God…” These words turn the world upside down. They are revealed truth. Reality is truth that hits you in the face like a brick wall. Some think that reality is what you make 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 believing that you’ll just pass through that wall. The result is obvious. So too is the confrontation of these four words that are the foundation of all reality.

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, “Where are the Leaders?”

“Where are the Leaders?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
When difficulties arise the question often asked is, “Where are the leaders?” The history of the church includes testimony of the essential need for godly leadership. The church in the Old Testament experienced the disasters associated with ungodly leadership. Current events have led me to observe an absolute principle: What is true is true for all. That is, biblical truth not only applies to believers but to all people. All mankind is subject to the word of God. God’s word is absolute!
The Bible has much to say concerning leadership. Both Old and New Testaments contain God’s principles for godly leadership. The Apostle Paul gave instructions to both Timothy and Titus concerning the critical nature of selecting men to lead local churches.
Perhaps the most striking example of God’s revealed principles for leaders is Exodus 18:21: “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”
God revealed these principles through Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. Jethro observed Moses’ leadership of the people of Israel and told him that what he was doing would wear him out. Jethro recommended that Moses find men who would be able to lead the people with him.
Jethro gave four characteristics of the kind of men Moses should select. Here are the four characteristics given by Jethro to Moses: able, God-fearing, trustworthy, and those who can’t be bought (hates bribery). Each of these characteristics requires further explanation.
First, he should choose men from among the people. That is, those chosen should be recognized by the people as men who have a history of accomplishing assigned tasks. We can understand this as men who had resumes of accomplishments that demonstrated their abilities. Note that they should be chosen from among the people. That is, Jethro intended that their resumes could be verified as genuine. These men were known to the people whom they served.
“Able” is translated from the root word that means a rampart or fortress. In other words, the able man is a man of strong character in whom people can trust.
A God-fearer is a genuine believer. A man who fears God is a humble man. Fearing God includes trembling, awe, and worship. A man who fears God knows both intellectually and intimately that God is holy, sovereign, and the one who is full of majesty. This man has a right assessment of himself before God, which is the definition of humility.
Thirdly, trustworthy men are men who love the truth. These are men of integrity and faithfulness. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).
It is surely obvious that for one to love the truth, one must acknowledge that there is absolute truth. A man who loves the truth is not a relativist who changes his mind because of peer pressure or one who lacks principles by which a lover of truth lives his life.
Fourthly, a leader is a man who does not covet. He hates bribery. Not only will he not be bribed, but he will also not attempt to bribe anyone else to get what he wants. This is a leader who stands against those who constantly covet what others have. This leader finds his satisfaction in God, enjoying what God has provided to him.
These are the kind of men God calls to lead His church. These are likewise the kind of people who we do well to recognize to lead our Country. These are the kind of men and women we look to for leadership in our communities, in military service, and wherever groups of people are called to move in unity to accomplish anything.
Where are the leaders? They are in our midst. They are able, God-fearing, trustworthy, and honest.
All things are from God. “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). Biblical leadership is defined by this principle. God provides the church with capable men, God-fearing men, trustworthy men and those who hate bribery. May we recognize them and follow them for the glory of God. Also, may we use this revelation of leadership to guide us in electing those who seek governmental office.