Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Submit and Worship!”

“Submit and Worship!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

God made every one for worship. This is the truth in plain language. Yet, God not only made man to worship, but to worship Him alone. Because of this truth, men and woman will worship someone or something. To worship is to bow down to and serve the object of worship. But the object of true worship is God who revealed Himself fully in Jesus Christ, His only Son. We were all made to bow down and serve the Living God.

The problem in applying this truth is sin. We have all inherited the sin of Adam. Every single human being is born spiritually dead in sin. In the Sixteenth Century, John Calvin wrote concerning worship and the state of man after the Fall of Adam. He wrote, “Every man makes a god of himself, and virtually worships himself.” (Taken from Calvin’s teaching on the Psalms, Ps. IV; 132) God must raise a sinner from spiritual death for him to see the object of true worship.

The church in the Old Testament was commanded by God to “keep holy the Sabbath Day.” The “Sabbath Day” was changed by the Apostolic Church to the First Day, Sunday in light of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church refers to each Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Each Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each Lord’s Day is given over to the worship of the Triune God.

The Christian Sabbath is set apart to the Lord for Christians to gather to worship God in the way He has commanded. We praise Him; we pray to Him; we read His word; we hear His word expounded; we celebrate the two Sacraments; we give of our tithes and offerings. All of these are called the elements of biblical worship.

Since God made man to worship Him, it is not optional for a Christian. Worship is not something that we design in accordance with our feelings or imaginations. Christian Worship is not designed to attract people. Worship on the Lords’ Day is not part of a list of things to do of which one item may take priority over it. True worship is the principal outpouring of a heart and, in the case of Corporate Worship, hearts that have been changed by God. In other words, Christian Worship is the offering to God of oneself as a living sacrifice in response to the saving grace of God, Romans 11:33-12:2. Worship expresses love for God, Deuteronomy 6:5.

Christians, those made “new creations” don’t go to church. Christians are the church. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. As such, those who genuinely confess Christ necessarily gather to worship the Risen Lord with their fellow believers on the Lord’s Day.

Indeed, God made every one for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. The question is, “Do you know the One to whom all worship is due?”

The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms answers this question. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”’ God places in each believer a desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed. A believer hears the call of God to worship as more than a duty. He hears God’s call as a joy. In worshiping God, the believer is moved from duty to devotion.

God has commanded worship. His people obey His command. They express their love for Him. Worship becomes the central part of a life of devotion to the Lord. And, finally, worship is necessary for a believer to grow up in Christ.

Along with Prayer, Service, Bible Study and the Sacraments, Corporate Worship is a means of God’s grace by which He matures each one of His children in Christ. God has made us to worship Him for His glory!

So many have placed a priority to worship God on Easter Sunday! Yet every Sunday is a celebration of the Risen Lord Jesus! Submit to God and worship Him. If you are in Christ, find a church that glorifies God in worship!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “He is Risen…”

“He is Risen…”
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 absolutely true. He is fully God and fully Man. He was the Passover Lamb which has been sacrificed, 1Cor. 5:7. The Risen Lord Jesus is our hope!

Those who stand firmly 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 even seeks God. The Bible describes all mankind as naturally children of God’s wrath. But, God is rich in mercy. He chooses to pour out His mercy on His people whom He chose before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1, 2.

The Bible defines salvation to be 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 Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 2Cor. 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 must live in Him. We are called to work out our salvation because God is at work in us, Phil. 2:12-13. The Evangelist, Luke wrote of 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. Proceeding further, living the Christian Life is namely the life of a learner and follower of Jesus.

A friend of mine calls a Christian, “A work in progress.” Jesus taught a parable that concerns this work in progress. This progressive work according to the Bible is called living “in Christ.”

In the parable of the Talents, Mt. 25:14-30, Jesus gave a comprehensive view of the Kingdom Life. We who submit to the King Jesus live the Kingdom Life. Christians are called to live each day before the King expecting His return at any time. Further, the King calls His servants to invest what He has given each one in His Kingdom. This again is the Christian’s life “in Christ.”

The Parable of the Talents Immediately precedes Jesus’ teaching on the final judgment. The Parable of the Talents not only teaches God’s expectation for His people to invest what He has given them in His Kingdom. It further emphasizes the absolute sovereign rule of God.

I’m sure you all know the story. 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”, Mt. 25:15. The master then left on his journey, 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 hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joy of your master.” Unfortunately, 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 believer’s response to “He is Risen.”

I pray that we’ve all enjoyed a beautiful Celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. Now 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, “It Is Finished!”

“It Is Finished!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The last word spoken by the Lord Jesus from the cross was “Tetelestai”. This Greek verb was recorded by the Apostle John in the perfect tense. The literal translation is “It is finished.” John 19:30 Jesus made a declaration of something accomplished that would have on-going implications. He said that redemption was accomplished!

Redemption implies that a price or ransom was paid. The price required by God to redeem His people from the bondage to sin was paid more than 2,000 years ago. This is the reason the Friday before Easter Sunday is called “Good Friday.” Jesus lived a perfect life and He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice.

Those chosen before the foundation of the world to be in Christ have Christ’s finished work applied to them. It is applied by the Holy Spirit when God effectually calls those whom He predestined and regenerates them. God then converts the sinner into a saint and gives the sinner the gifts of faith and repentance. Through God’s gift, expressed by the sinner now a saint, God sovereignly declares him justified. God adopts those whom He justifies. He sanctifies them and assures them that He will bring them to glory.

The completed work of Christ, redemption, extends from the individual to the corporate body. It extends even to Creation itself. The Apostle Paul declared that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself,” 2Corinthians 5:19.

Redemption which is God’s saving act is for His glory and by His sovereign grace. He extends grace to a spiritually dead person which causes him to see the beauty of Christ!

Good Friday reminds me of what God did in me. Good Friday is personal for everyone who professes Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is indeed personal. Thirty-one years ago, God snatched me from the pit of hell. He used a devastating auto accident. He broke me physically and caused me to see the Kingdom as Jesus said to Nicodemus, John 3:3.

Before God’s action on that day, I had no desire for Jesus. I believed that I was a good person. I believed that as long as my “good” outweighed my “bad” God would accept me. I didn’t realize that God is holy and requires perfection!

My thoughts of God were proceeding from a heart of stone. I was spiritually dead and didn’t know it. I used to think that all that “born again” stuff was for the weak-minded.

God caused me to see my helplessness. For a time, I was confined to a hospital bed. Through my accident, God gave me a word picture of my sinfulness that stays with me to this day. God caused me to dig into His word to learn more about His character. Jesus’ words, “It is finished” have been burned into my mind and heart. Good Friday is a day in which I reflect upon the steadfast love of the Lord poured out on me.

There is a foolish teaching that pervades the evangelical church. People are told that if they believe they will be born again. This is analogous to speaking to a dead person, lying in a casket and saying, “Get up!” Even worse, it is the height of manipulation to tell people that we are made new creations by our own wisdom and ability. How can a dead person believe? The truth is “Ye must be born again” in order to believe! The Bible says: “… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8. Every person is born spiritually dead. We are unable to reach out to God and live, Genesis 3:22-24. God confirmed the truth of His word through a tragedy which continues to point me to Him. God alone saves those whom He chooses. No one can stay His hand! He chose to save a sinner, namely me! This is the on-going effect of Jesus’ words, “It is finished.”

God used a traumatic event to cause me to see His sovereignty in my salvation. That is not to suggest that a person must undergo some tragedy to be born again. Some raised in covenant families don’t have a time of which to point for when they first saw the truth. Yet, God did regenerate them and because of His grace, they profess faith in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.

I exhort all who profess Christ to take this “Good Friday” to reflect upon the finished work of Christ!