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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God “has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

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

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Authority”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Sovereignty of God”

“The Sovereignty of God”
(A Most Necessary Attribute to Know)
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
I’ve been thinking about the Church’s response to the Marxist/Communist revolution we are currently experiencing in our nation. Understand its basis. Its root is what is called Cultural Marxism. Marxism has been used over decades to abuse people and subjugate nations under authoritarian rule. In all the social unrest we are seeing Marxists are at work. From philosophies such as the Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality to the so-called Social Justice movement a review of recent history will identify that Cultural Marxism is their motivating factor. Our nation is at a critical juncture. If the Marxists succeed, we are facing the end of the “American Way of Life”, our personal freedom will be a thing of the past.

I encourage you to study these philosophies so that you may appreciate the degree of evil which we are facing. Yet above all I pray that the Church will equip her members with the only foundation upon which hope will be secure and certain.

That foundation is God is in charge! By the plain meaning of the word, “God”, He must be in charge or He’s not God. He has ordained everything that comes to pass, yet He is not the source of evil. He works everything for good for those who love Him, those whom He has called, Romans 8:28.

Know and study God’s self-revelation. The Bible reveals God’s character. The Bible is God’s self-revelation. He has revealed His character by way of declaring His attributes. One of God’s attributes that is essential for believers to know in the midst of this assault on our culture is His sovereignty.

Years ago, a man in a church that I served was concerned about using the word “sovereignty”. He said no one understood that word anymore. My response to him was that we shouldn’t stop using words because people may not understand them. Rather our response would be more edifying if we explained the meaning of important words such as sovereignty. Sovereign means rule. God’s sovereignty, His rule is absolute. God is in charge of everything because He is sovereign. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and earth” had been given to Him, Matthew 28:18.

God not only revealed His sovereignty by declarative statements such as Matthew 28:18, but He also revealed it through historic narratives. One such timely historical narrative is recorded in Daniel 4:34-37. The human author, Daniel, a faithful worshiper of God, recorded an incident that involved a king who thought he was the be-all and the end-all. The king’s name was Nebuchadnezzar. He was a ruthless man, king of the ancient Babylonian Empire. This king had a very confusing dream about a huge tree that “a holy one from heaven” ordered to be chopped down. God empowered Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel’s interpretation predicted that the king would be humbled until he acknowledged the one true God. The tree in the king’s dream was him.

After a time, because of the king’s pride, God drove him mad. He made him act and appear animal-like. At the time appointed by God, the king’s senses returned to him. Daniel recorded what the king said. Nebuchadnezzar said this about God, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”’

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

God’s sovereignty is not dependent upon man’s will to submit to His rule. God is sovereign whether or not man submits to Him. God’s rule is absolute. He is in charge regardless of whether we think He is or not! Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, whether we believe it or not. Arm yourself with this truth as you stand against this current assault on our way of life.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Remember the Main Thing!”

“Remember the Main Thing!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Church acts wisely when she keeps the main thing the main thing. The main thing is NOT providing protection from contracting Covid 19 nor is it the Marxist mantras of social justice and Black Lives Matter. The Main Thing is the gospel! Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15 (ESV)

The gospel should be every Christian’s focus. The urgency to preach the gospel is foremost in every church that professes Christ as her head! God’s ordinary means to reach the lost is through preaching the good news of God in Jesus Christ, Romans 1:16; 10:17; 1Corinthians 1:18-2:2.

Jesus said the reason for His public ministry was to preach, Mark 1:38. His message was clear. “Repent and believe in the gospel!” Both verbs are in the imperative mood and present tense. The imperative is the mood of command. The present tense describes current and on-going action. Therefore, both repenting and believing are current on-going actions commanded by God.

Jesus gave two reasons for obeying His dual command. The first was the “time is fulfilled.” The second, “the kingdom of God is at hand”.

The first was a reference to Daniel’s prophecy, Daniel 9:25. It was confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:4. This time of fulfillment was in fact the time set in eternity by God for the Messiah’s arrival on earth. Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue, Luke 4:18-21. Jesus said He was the one prophesied by Isaiah who would proclaim the “year of the Lord’s favor”. In other words, Jesus declared that at His coming God was commanding men and women to call upon Him and be saved. The Apostle Peter boldly told the religious leaders in Jerusalem ,” there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12 (ESV).

The second reason given by Jesus was not separate and distinct from the first. The Kingdom of God, namely the rule of God was at hand. Jesus the King and Lord, the one who rules all things, was physically in the midst of His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority commands repentance and faith! (Matthew 28:18; Mark 1:15)

Repentance and faith go hand-in-hand. Repentance is a change of mind, a turning away from sin. Faith is trust in the object who is Jesus. When God converts a sinner into a saint He gives two gifts. One is repentance. The second is faith. Those converted by God turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. Paul explained the action of the converted sinner. “So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11 (ESV) Both God-given gifts continue throughout every Christian’s life. We live in Christ repenting and believing, turning from sin while relying upon the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Jesus was very specific. He commanded believing in the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16b (ESV)

I’m sure that you’ve heard that the word “gospel” means good news. So what’s the good news? It is, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV). This is truly good news because we all deserve to go to hell. But, God who is “rich in mercy”, Ephesians 2:4, chose some for heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus as He is offered in the gospel! That is relying upon the only begotten one, Jesus, not born but eternally proceeding from the Father. Those destined for heaven rely upon Jesus’ perfect life and His perfect sacrifice for sins. This reliance is not by our strength and power. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The gospel is good news because God applies it to those whom He has chosen.

Therefore, he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) This is the Main Thing!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Christian and the Government”

“The Christian and the Government”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The church in the Old Testament lived under a theocracy. That is, both the church and state were one. God anointed kings. Civil laws and religious laws were one and the same. Today we don’t live in a theocracy. In fact, there is only one society in the world that is considered a theocracy. It is Islam. As you may know, in Islam-controlled countries the civilian population lives under religious law.

In the New Testament, God revealed three circles of life over which He rules: the family, the church and the government.

The Apostle Paul wrote of the Christian’s relationship to civil government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1 (ESV)

The first principle under which Christians live in relation to the civil government is to submit to the governing authorities. “To be subject to” is to live under by submitting oneself to authority. This command is crystal clear. Yet what if the governing authority is evil?

Before answering this, it is necessary to understand the historical context under which Paul wrote this letter. The likely date for the writing of Romans is approximately 57 A.D. At that time, the Roman Empire was ruled by Nero. Nero’s rule was between 54 and 68 A.D. One need not do a great deal of research to discover the behavior of Nero.

Tacitus, a Roman Historian who lived during Nero’s reign wrote of some of Nero’s atrocities. “Before killing the Christian, Nero used them to amuse the people. Some were dressed in furs, to be killed by dogs. Others were crucified. Still others were set on fire early in the night, so that they might illumine it…” (Annals 15.44) I include this as evidence that we are not living in the most evil of times in our nation, especially concerning the world’s persecution of Christians. Yet we must face the fact that more and more Christians are facing increased persecution.

None of this is a surprise to God! He is sovereign over all the affairs of men. He ordains those who are in authority both good rulers and evil rulers. He ordains everything for His good purpose. But, God is never the author of sin. He ordains all things and that includes the evil behavior of second causes. We refer to those second causes as evil men.

The principle outlined in Romans 13:1 is not a sliding scale. That is, it is an absolute standard. Christians are to submit to the governing authorities because God has ordained all authority.

God has given instruction concerning what believers are to do when forced to submit to a human authority that commands that which is opposed to God’s law. For example, when a ruler commands killing for evil purposes, we who profess Christ are to obey God rather than man, Acts 5:29. In so doing we must understand that the evil ruler will likely execute his own wrath against us. I immediately think of those who resisted the Nazi mandate to exterminate the Jews. Many were executed by the Nazis for harboring Jews. Now this is an extreme picture. But it serves to remind us of consequences for doing what God requires. Jesus told His disciples not to be surprised when the world expressed hatred for them because it hated Him first, John 15:18.

So then, from God’s word here are several things He has commanded concerning the Christian’s relationship with Civil Government:
1. Believers are to submit to the governing authorities.
2. God ordained civil authorities for the good of all.
3. Civil authorities have a granted authority under the Sovereign God.
4. Believers must obey God rather than man when man’s laws conflict God’s Law.
5. Christians are to “pay to all what is owed them…” Romans 13:7.
6. Christians are to live in peace with others to the extent that we are able, Romans 12:18.

As citizens of the United States of America, we live in a nation that God chose to bless with a government that is by the people and for the people. Our submission to the governing authorities is expressed by obeying the rule of law. We elect government officials to make laws and enforce the laws constitutionally enacted. Therefore, choose leaders wisely. Above all, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God…” 1Peter 5:6 (ESV)