Category Archives: Pastor’s Blog

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The End Times”

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

There is, it seems, a never-ending flow of books on Prophecy and the End Times. Theological experts hold the Newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Warnings are issued to mankind that either the world will end on a specific date that is based on some current events or that an unsuspecting public will be “left behind” when the so-called Rapture occurs.

Very few of the prophecy experts or those who promote the “left behind” theory seem to ask the one expert. His name is Jesus and He gave very specific answers to questions concerning the end of the world.

“As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”’ Matthew 24:3

These questions were motivated by Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He said that not one stone would be left upon a stone, Matthew 24:2. Jesus declared what would happen in 70 A.D. The great siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army was led by Titus. The ancient Jewish Historian, Josephus recorded the total destruction of the temple and the barbaric actions of the Romans toward the Jews.

The disciples also wanted to know what Jesus’ return would be like as well as the day of the end of this world. The first answer concerning the sign of Jesus’ second coming was answered very directly by our Lord. He said that His coming would be like lightning! The book of Revelation describes Jesus’ coming in these words. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Revelation 1:7

The Apostle John was allowed to see Jesus’ future coming and he sought to explain the unexplainable in words. The fact is no words are adequate to describe pure glory. But, the Revelation of Jesus Christ which was given to John was intended to reveal the certainty of Jesus’ return. All the nations will mourn because of sin. There will be great wailing by all because the time for salvation will be ended. When Jesus comes again, He will come to judge both the living and the dead. He will come not as the Savior but as the Judge.

John saw more. He saw that Jesus’ return would not be a secret! Every eye would see Him in His glory. There is no “secret rapture” recorded in the Bible. I am aware that there are some who have built an entire theology on one word that is derived from the Latin translation from which our word rapture is derived. The word in the original language is translated “caught up”. It is found in 1Thessalonians 4:17. Paul was describing what would happen to the believers who were alive when Christ returned. He said that the dead in Christ would rise first and those who were alive would be caught up in the air to meet Christ as He descended.

Likewise, Jesus spoke in a figure of speech when He said that “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” Matthew 24:40-41 He followed that statement by calling the disciples to “Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 In other words, Jesus was exhorting disciples to remain prepared for His coming because no man knows when He will return. In fact, Jesus declared that in His human nature, He didn’t know when He would return. “No one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36 But, Jesus said that He would return when all the elect are gathered in. That is, when all those whom God chose from eternity have professed faith in Jesus’ person and work, the end will come.

Therefore, the vital question is not when is Jesus coming back; but are you ready to meet Him?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Man’s Responsibility”

“Man’s Responsibility”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
A famous comedian years ago made an extremely humorous but realistic statement. “The devil made me do it”, has come to be known as, “The Flip Wilson theology”. I have no reason to believe that this statement reflected Flip Wilson’s philosophy of life. When he said it, genuine laughter ensued. It remains funny for the same reason as before. It is how many live their lives.

Even the stages of construction projects reflect man’s tendency to shift the blame. I remembered that one of the stages was called the “reward of the non-participants”. Another was referred to as the “persecution of the innocent”. But each stage had an activity called “fixing the blame”. When a problem would cause construction to stop, there was an ongoing effort to fix the blame rather than solve the problem. It didn’t matter whether the blame was deserved. The important thing was to hold someone else responsible for the problem.

“Fixing the blame” is not only reserved for construction projects. It is as old as Adam and Eve. Adam sought to blame God for his failure. After all, it was God who gave him the woman, Genesis 3:12. Adam’s argument didn’t impress God. Adam bore the penalty for his sin and the entire human race fell with Adam and inherited his sin nature.

The Bible declares more about man’s sinful tendency to fix the blame to either eliminate his responsibility or mitigate it. God said, “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:2-4

God said to fix the blame, or deny responsibility was like a father eating sour grapes and his child experiencing the sour taste. God said that would not be so. Rather each one is responsible for his sin. Denying our responsibility will not make it go away. We will all stand before a holy God and give Him an account.

The way Lord and GOD are typed in your Bible is very important. Lord means Adoni, Master and the Sovereign One. GOD, with all capital letters signifies the personal and covenant name of God, Yahweh, and The Great I Am. Yahweh is a form of the Hebrew verb “to be”. Exodus 3:14, God declared that He is Yahweh, “I am who I am”. There is no debate on this issue that will amount to anything. The only true God, the Sovereign Creator, the Triune God fully revealed in Jesus who referred to Himself as “I Am”, will hold each one accountable for his actions.

This fact of Man’s responsibility was written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Rome. “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile), but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile). For God shows no partiality.” Romans 2:9-11

God’s holiness requires that He act with perfect justice. God, as the Apostle declared, does not favor any nationality, position, or individual person. All are judged based upon His perfect standard. His judgment is final. God never “winks” at sin.

The end of the Bible has these terrifying words of judgment. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” Revelation 20:12

Every human being deserves punishment for sin. The only way to be spared from the wrath of God is through Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice. He is the only appeasement of God’s wrath. Man’s hope is Jesus. He alone paid the price for sins. We all deserve hell. But God is rich in mercy. Jesus took the blame for His people. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2Corinthians 5:21 No one will be able to stand before God who requires perfection and blame someone else for one’s sin!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Reformed Theology”

“Reformed Theology”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“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?”’ Daniel 4:34-35

These are the words of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of ancient Babylon. He thought that he was a god and everyone and everything was subservient to him. God drove him insane but restored him after Daniel’s prophesied period of time. This great king was brought to his knees by the only sovereign God!

As a pastor of a Church, a member congregation in a Reformed Denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, I am often asked by visitors what is Reformed Theology? Why are we so adamant in describing ourselves as Reformed? My response is that Reformed Theology is Biblical Theology recovered by the Protestant Reformers. Primarily, Reformed Theology is grounded in the absolute sovereignty of God. We are adamant about our name because we are adamant in teaching, preaching and living the truth revealed by the Sovereign God who humbled the great king Nebuchadnezzar.

Nebuchadnezzar learned this truth the hard way. God humbled this man who was full of pride. God caused him to live like a wild animal. Even his appearance was changed. The Prophet Daniel described the king with these words, “He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” Daniel 4: 33

We can choose to believe whatever we want to believe. But we are not free to define God in our own image or comfort. God has revealed Himself and one fundamental attribute of God is His sovereignty. Sovereignty means rule. When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we are referring to His absolute rule of all of His Creation.

You may be thinking, “Doesn’t every church believe that God is sovereign?” You’re right. Every church that professes belief in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ also believes in the sovereignty of God. So then, what’s this “Reformed Theology” all about? Those who claim to be reformed in faith and practice look at every aspect of life through the lens of the sovereign character of God.

For example, our salvation depends upon a sovereign God. The Bible teaches that men are incapable of turning to God. All men are born spiritually dead. Only a God who is absolutely sovereign can save us. God breaks into the life of a man causing him to see the truth of life in Jesus. We do not have the ability within us to believe in God’s only begotten Son, Jesus. God must raise us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Only a sovereign God can promise that nothing will ever separate us from His love, Romans 8:38- 39 and keep His word.

In fact, I can’t think of anything in life that doesn’t depend upon the sovereign God. The Prophet Jeremiah was in mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem. He wrote, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” Lamentations 3:37- 38 Jeremiah declared that God ordains everything that happens!

I can hear the skeptics, “If the sovereign God ordains everything then what’s the point of doing anything?” God did not create robots. God’s sovereignty does not contradict our wills. Every single human being will do whatever he desires. God holds us accountable for what we do. But, God’s will stands above man’s will. He acts without any encumbrances. Whatever He wills is done.

God’s rule is absolute and inclusive. The fact that all men do not submit to God’s rule does not nullify it. There will come a time when God’s sovereign rule will be seen. When Jesus, the sovereign King, returns, every creature will submit to Him. Until then the visible rule of God is seen in the church. Reformed theology affirms that the church is the visible kingdom of God.

So, “What’s in a name?” Our name represents what we believe. The one true God is absolutely sovereign in everything. Jesus Christ is the King and Head of the church.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “No Peace, No Holiness, No Heaven” (Sanctification)

“No Peace, No Holiness, No Heaven” (Sanctification)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
Hebrews 12:14
There are so many warnings given to Christians in the Bible! This one is perhaps the clearest and yet the most violated and misunderstood. Of course, the striving for peace is offered as the real impact of Christianity. After all Christians are supposed to be peace loving people, aren’t they? Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

The Nobel Foundation awards a Peace Prize to one who seeks to establish peace. Although in recent years, it appears to have lost a degree of objectivity by focusing on words regardless of actions. Nevertheless, the prize is still highly esteemed. Our culture values the virtue of striving for peace.

Christians are called to be people of peace, putting their words into action. Rather than simply talking about peace, they are to actually demonstrate it in their lives by striving for it. The word translated “strive” also means to pursue, run after or chase. Christians are to be known as people who live peaceably with others, as much as it is possible, or as much as peace depends upon us, Romans 12:18.

King David in Psalm 34, verse 14 wrote, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
Those who have been declared right with God, justified, are at peace with Him. It is “the justified” to whom the author of Hebrews declared the command to strive for peace. I believe that it is intuitively obvious even to non-Christians that the Bible teaches God’s people to live in peace. The striving for peace is an outward sign that Christians possess the inward knowledge that we are at peace with God.

But looking at the referenced quote at the top from Hebrews, the hard part of the command is the second part – to strive for holiness! Christians are sinners who have been changed by God. We have been made new creatures, 2Corinthians 5:17. We who are Christians have been given new desires. These new desires compel us to run after Jesus, to seek to obey Him.

We know that God’s declaration that a sinner is right with Him is called justification. That is just the beginning. God’s will for His people is our sanctification, 1Thessalonians 4:3. In other words God’s will for us is to be holy. This is a work of God in the life of every sinner whom He justifies. No one can get to heaven by justification alone. Justification is not all of salvation. God continues to change us from the inside. He causes us to die more and more to sin and live more and more unto righteousness (doing what is right).

I recently heard a man say that the Christian Life is not about being changed. He went on to say it’s about Jesus. True, the Christian Life is about Jesus as He is revealed in the gospel. Jesus’ name means God saves. God saves us from His wrath. We are saved by God from God. Looking to Jesus alone is the means that God has chosen to save us for eternity. No unholy or unclean person can be in the presence of the Living God. Before we can enter the gates of heaven and be in the presence of God, we must be made holy. God has promised to make those who trust in Jesus holy.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, Chapter 2, verses 12 and 13, “… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Revelation 22:14 makes this declaration, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” Only those who continually repent of their sins and trust in Jesus will be allowed entrance to heaven.

The writer made it clear by the exclusive statement, “… without which no one will see the Lord.” Without striving for peace and holiness it will be impossible to see Jesus in heaven!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Justification”

“Justification”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
There is no peace without God’s pardon. These are strong words if they are true. They are true irrespective of who says them or believes them. No one will find true peace unless God pardons his sin. Peace is not simply the absence of conflict. Peace is having a right relationship with God that is only given by God. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

The word that this describes and that is the cornerstone of Christianity is justification. Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein He pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone. (The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question and Answer #33)

Pardon, righteousness and imputation are at the heart of what God has revealed concerning justification, being at peace with Him.

First, when God justifies a man or woman, He pardons their sins. Every human being stands guilty before God. God is the supreme judge and sin is an offence against Him. Sin is lawlessness, 1John 3:4. The Apostle John wrote about every one of us. He wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1John 1:8. We are all guilty. We will all face God’s judgment, from which there is no escape.

I’m sure that you’re familiar with the biblical narrative of King David’s life, especially his great sin. David committed adultery and murder. He fully expected to receive God’s justice which would’ve been death. But, by God’s grace, David was given eyes to see God’s mercy, his only hope. David recorded his prayer in Psalm 51 in which he appealed to God’s mercy.

You may not be a murderer or an adulterer, but you are a sinner. You and I have no basis upon which to cry to God for fairness. Not only are we guilty before God, but we’re all born dead in sin. Like David, our lives rest solely upon the grace of God even to be able to see our sin. God who is rich in mercy must act for us.

The next word under review is “righteousness”. The meaning of righteous is to do what is right, to do what God requires. The Apostle Paul quoted the Old Testament in his letter to the Christians in Rome and said that no one is righteous, Romans 3:10. This means that no one does what is right. No one does what God requires. We can only look at actions, but the Apostle is considering the heart. Paul declared that no man is motivated to do what God requires from his heart. In understanding this inclusive statement, it is necessary to see what God has said concerning the heart of “natural” man. We don’t need to move too far past the Garden of Eden to read God’s view of mankind. Genesis 6:5, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In other words, the natural man is incapable of being righteous before God. But justification is God’s act of free grace by which He pardons our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight.

The third word “imputation” describes the means God uses to justify a sinner. As every professing Christian knows, justification is by faith alone! We also know that faith is believing the truth, acknowledging it and trusting in it. We also know that the truth is a person, Jesus Christ the only Son of God. God does not ignore the sins of the faithful. He covers those whom He justifies with the perfect righteousness of Christ and at the same time, God takes their sin and places it upon Christ. He has declared that this is done by faith alone. That faith is a gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. Since the faith that we profess is God’s gift by which He declares us right with Him, we affirm that this great action of God is all grace. No man has any room for boasting. “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ…” Galatians 2:16a

Martin Luther said, this is “the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls.”

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “How to Interpret the Bible”

“How to Interpret the Bible”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Bible is the breathed out word of God. God has revealed what He wants us to know about Him and His plan of redemption. God has told us that all men are creatures. He is the Creator. The Bible reveals His only Son, Jesus, through whom we know God personally. This unique and precious book is a collection of 66 books. Men whom the Spirit of God carried along wrote it. It contains everything necessary for life and salvation. God has preserved what we have today.

God gave us the Bible because He is a God of revelation. He desires that we understand what He has said. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Bible is understandable. Yet, it seems that many are lost when it comes to interpreting the Bible. One would think that God’s book would have specific interpretations. But, Christians are faced with a myriad of interpretations. We are faced with choices. Who has the “right” interpretation? Whom should we follow? What is “right” doctrine? If we look at this issue of biblical interpretation logically, we must conclude that all interpretations cannot be right. When there are contradicting views of the Bible, one or both may be wrong. One thing for certain is they all can’t be right. There is only one right interpretation of a passage of Scripture. For difficult passages, we may never arrive at the right interpretation this side of heaven.

But, don’t lose heart. The entire Bible does not fall into the category of “difficult”. The vast majority of biblical doctrine is clear. For example, the doctrine of salvation is one such doctrine. It is clear that God has revealed that men are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

As a general rule, how do we know what God has said?

The answer is hermeneutics, interpretation. There are two principles by which we are able to interpret Scripture. The first is called the biblical principle. The second is called the literal principle. The biblical principle is also called the analogy of faith. The Protestant Reformers recovered this principle of interpretation. They understood that the Bible interprets itself. This means the clear passages of Scripture shed light upon the more obscure ones. It is also understood that one place of Scripture must not be placed against another. In other words, there are no contradictions in the Bible. There may be apparent contradictions, but once studied we find that the Bible is consistent with itself, because God does not speak with a “forked” tongue.

The second principle, the literal one, is also called the historical/grammatical principle of interpretation. You may have heard the saying that, “Text without context is pretext.” The words of Scripture find their meaning within the broader context of the passage. For example, because of the difficulty in understanding Hebrews 6:4, it would not be accurate to base a theology on the possibility of losing one’s salvation! Keeping that verse within its context makes it clear that the writer is speaking of one who may profess faith, but does not possess genuine saving faith. In other words, the writer was speaking of those who are called apostates.

Further, to interpret literally means to understand that which is plainly meant. It is how we read and understand any literature. Therefore, in interpreting the Bible: grammar, meaning of words, context, time in which it was written, etc. are involved in understanding the meaning. It is important to remember that the literal interpretation of the Bible is not the same as a literalistic interpretation. For example, we know that when the prophet Isaiah wrote that the “trees of the field shall clap their hands” he didn’t mean that trees have hands. God was describing the joy of all Creation when His plan of redemption is finally consummated. Or, when Jesus said that He was the “door of the sheep”, He did not mean that He looked like a door! John 10 was declaring that Jesus is the only way for His people to have safety and security.

Finally, the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice that God has given to His people. He means for us to understand it. I encourage you to apply these principles of interpretation so that your life will be lived for His glory and your blessing.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “There is One God in Three Persons!”

“There is One God in Three Persons!”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The feast of Pentecost, sometimes called Whitsunday, was rooted in in the Old Testament. The Bible refers to it as the Feast of Weeks. It was ordained by God to be one of the three mandatory celebrations in Israel along with Passover and the Feast of Booths. It was on the occasion of this feast that the Apostle Peter delivered his famous sermon recorded in Acts 2:14ff. On that particular day, God poured out His Spirit on “all flesh” in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, Joel 2:28 which was also foreshadowed by God’s empowerment of elders recorded in Numbers 11.

God’s Spirit is given to all believers to accomplish God’s work of building the church of Jesus Christ. The visible church in the Old Testament, that is Israel, had only a few chosen people upon whom the empowerment of the Holy Spirit was given by God. For example, those who were anointed kings and those who spoke God’s words fulfilling the office of a prophet were uniquely empowered by the Spirit of God to fulfill God’s purpose for their function.

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

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

The Sunday following Pentecost Sunday is called Trinity Sunday. Every Lord’s Day that follows Pentecost Sunday is marked as Sundays after Trinity Sunday. The traditional name of this “season” in the Church Year is Trinity Season. The early Church and the Reformers continued the practice of referring to the days following Pentecost Sunday as Trinity Season.

Their purpose and the ongoing purpose of celebrating Trinity Season in the Church is that God has revealed Himself as three persons. We worship a Trinitarian God. The word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible. But every aspect of what the word means does. For example, Matthew 28:19 which forms the first part of Jesus’ “Great Commission” commands disciples to make disciples by identifying them with the Triune God! Jesus’ words in this verse also comprise the Baptismal formula in the universal Christian Church.

God created us for worship. The only one to whom worship is due is the one, true God who revealed Himself as: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, paragraph 3 declares the Bible’s teaching concerning the Triune God. It states in part, “In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity…”

The Doctrine of the Trinity stands against the Cults and False Religions. Every Christian Church holds this Doctrine as basic and fundamental. Knowing and believing it is not optional for a Christian!

The Doctrine of the Trinity teaches that the Father initiated my life in Christ. The Son lived a perfect life and died for my sin. The Holy Spirit applied the work of Christ to me. The life I live is in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God, the Father.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 The Father is the initiator. The Son obeyed the Father perfectly and the Holy Spirit gives life in Christ and keeps us for Him.

In this time of questioning the integrity and truthfulness of our leaders, it is good to know that God who is always true and faithful has revealed Himself clearly in His word. May the Lord empower you to draw your confidence and security in Him, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Doctrine of Scripture”

“The Doctrine of Scripture”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The Bible is referred to as the best-selling book of all time. I haven’t checked the statistics lately, but, I’m fairly certain that statement still holds true. Witnesses swear on the Bible. Our government leaders make oaths while laying their hand on the Bible.

The Bible also holds prominence in being the most misrepresented and attacked document in history. We live in an age where personal interpretation of the Bible is common place. Some in churches teach that there is no “right” interpretation of the Bible. Some say that the Old Testament contradicts the New Testament. Liberal Christianity teaches that the Bible is an old book; ancient man’s book about God.

However, the Bible declares itself to be God’s word to Man. The Apostle Paul said that all Scripture is God-breathed, speaking of the Old Testament. And the Apostle Peter equated Paul’s writing with the whole of Scripture. God warned His people in Deuteronomy and Revelation not to add to or subtract from His word. The Psalmist declared that all of God’s words are true.

The Apostle Paul and the Psalmist wrote that Creation testifies to the existence of God. The Bible, however, gives saving knowledge of God. It is the Bible that declares God established a plan to redeem His people. It is the Bible that declares God will re-create the world and make all things new. It is the Bible that teaches that God will crush evil finally and eternally. It is the Bible which declares God’s promise of heaven to His people and man’s desperate need for a Savior.

The Bible is more than a book. In fact, it is a collection of 66 books. Each one was written by a human author under the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit. The Bible has been called 66 love letters from God to His people.

There are four words used to describe the Bible: inerrant, infallible, perspicuous, and sufficient. Each word points to the nature and essence of its ultimate author, God.

First, the Bible is inerrant because God is truth and He has revealed the truth. The church has understood that the Bible is without error in the original autographs. The autographs were the actual writings of the human authors in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Skeptics say at this point, “We don’t have any of the original autographs.” True, but we have thousands of ancient manuscripts for the New Testament and the extremely precise oral tradition copied by Hebrew scribes. The Dead Sea Scrolls supported the oral tradition almost exactly. By using all that is available, the original texts of the Bible are reconstructed.

The next word, infallibility, is connected to inerrancy. The Bible is infallible in that it is always reliable. Everything taught in the Bible can be relied upon to give good guidance for life. This doctrine of infallibility rests upon the previous doctrine of inerrancy. We can have confidence in the reliability of the Bible to guide us in the right path.

Third, the Bible is called perspicuous. Perspicuity is an unusual word, even hard to pronounce. But its meaning is simple. Perspicuous means clear. The Protestant Reformers recaptured the ancient church’s doctrine that light is shed upon the hard parts of Scripture by the clearer parts. In other words, because the Bible is perspicuous, it interprets itself. As the doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility rest upon the character of God, so too does the Bible’s perspicuity. God, the one true God, is a God of revelation. He gave us the Bible so that we might come to know Him. No man can know all of God. He is infinite and we are finite. But, we can know what God wants us to know.

Finally, the most assailed doctrine of Scripture is called its sufficiency. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, that it was the Scriptures that would make him and every Christian complete, 2Timothy 3:17. Evangelical churches hold to the first three doctrines of Scripture. Yet, by the tremendous and unending list of church programs, the insufficiency of Scripture is demonstrated. Christians seem to be more concerned with meeting “felt needs” in particular life-situations than learning to apply the Bible so as to live wisely. I believe that now more than ever, we need to major on the sufficiency of the Bible, learning sound doctrine for God’s glory and our enjoyment of Him.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Feeling Discouraged?”

Feeling discouraged?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Discouragement is a common life experience. I’ve been discouraged and I know that you have as well. Sometimes the circumstance seems so dark that you think you’ll never be lifted out of it. I know some who suffer with a chronic illness. There seems to be no rational explanation for the suffering. The constant pain and suffering leads one to say, “I give up!”

This sentiment is stated by the Psalmist in Psalms 42 and 43, three times. “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.” In the midst of declaring his deep desire and desperate need for God, the psalmist recorded his state of mind. He was in the depths of discouragement and despair. He could do nothing but ask himself “Why?” I notice that he didn’t give an answer to the “why” of it but rather, he gave the cure.

The “cure” is to have a hope that is certain and there is only one certain hope. The psalmist declared the object of certain hope. It is God. He knew that God alone saves. God alone has promised to be with His people no matter what circumstance in which they find themselves. God has promised to bring His people to glory with Him. Jesus said that He was preparing a place for His followers and that He would take them to His Father’s Mansion in Heaven.

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” God gives life to each one He calls to Himself. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

God’s children have certain hope because He has revealed that heaven is their home!

However, while we live in this world, one of the reasons we often get discouraged is unfulfilled or broken promises. We must remind ourselves of the futility in trusting in man. Placing trust in man or man’s systems will result in discouragement. Even the “best” of us may fail to keep our promises. God alone is always faithful. The Bible declares the truth of God’s faithfulness in the midst of man’s unfaithfulness. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” 2Tim. 2:13

Knowing God and what He has said is our only defense against discouragement. For example, even though “our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” The Bible declares that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2Cor. 4:16-17

In other words, whatever is causing discouragement God said that it is temporary. If you are in Christ, He is renewing you every day. He is preparing you for glory. God has given His people this certain knowledge so that all of the distortions of this world would not overwhelm them. As a Christian, I know that whatever I am facing will pass; and more, God is using every circumstance good or bad to prepare me for glory. Remember, God is faithful and He will “never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

As a child of God, I didn’t always look at the beginning of my hope. I’m speaking of the gospel. Paul wrote to Christians that “the gospel is the power of God…” Rom. 1:16. The Lord used every manner of adversity in my life to teach me that He revealed the means and certainty of my hope including my rising from discouragement. He revealed to me the gospel. That He saved me by Jesus’ blood and righteousness is not simply a past action, but the truth upon which I live. The gospel is God’s power to save. I am saved. I am being saved and I will be saved. There is no other power to lift me or anyone else out of discouragement. After all, God raised me from death to life. Will He not also raise me out of the pit of discouragement?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Do We Have Free Will?”

Do we have free will?
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
If I was asked to make a list of the ten worst questions to ask in church this would be on that list. It might even be near the top! I really want you all to read my entire article, so I’ll refrain from giving the short answer to the question.

When seeking to answer a question, especially one that concerns the issue of man’s free will, you ought to be clear on the meaning and use of the words. The will of man 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.

So if I substitute the meanings of the words, the question can be rephrased in this way, “Do we have an unencumbered mental faculty by which we are able to make choices?” Still every person that answers this question will give a response based upon their own personal opinion.

Therefore, since there may be many opinions expressed, 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?

You might try to find the instances of the words “free” and “will” in the concordance of your Bible. The place to start is 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.

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?