Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Christian Response to Evil”

The Christian Response to Evil
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
One of the seven woes issued by God to His people is “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Woe means impending distress or gloom.
God’s word is the standard of good and goodness. Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19). We also know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Both good and evil represent actions, behavior. They are moral categories. Good and evil are not created beings. In fact, evil is rightly understood as the deprivation or absence of good, as St. Augustine said.
As a Christian I am always amazed by the depth of man’s evil. When I see it from afar my heart burns. John Calvin, the great reformer of the 16th Century, wrote, “All who really serve and love God, ought to burn with holy indignation whenever they see wickedness reigning without restraint among men.” The Psalmist wrote, “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Psalm 97:10a).
The Bible declares that those who know God are to hate evil. The Bible also puts forth a standard of Christian behavior that exhorts believers never to return evil for evil and to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43ff; Romans 12:17ff; 1 Peter 3:9). On the surface these two teachings seem to contradict each other. We know that the Bible is altogether true. There are no contradictions. God does not contradict Himself. So then there must be two different things being expressed concerning evil.
The difference in calling for loving enemies on the one hand and hating evil on the other is a matter of context. God’s exhortation to love enemies is directed to those in the church who find themselves under the hand of evil men. They are the ones experiencing evil firsthand. The primary response of believers to evil and persecution is to “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17). Peter used the word “bless” to describe the response of those in the church who find themselves under the hand of evil men (1 Peter 3:9).
Concerning those of who profess Christ and see evil from afar, Thomas Aquinas saw two Christian duties. The first is to combat it by every means and the second is to believe that God will vanquish it according to the perfect (but hidden) wisdom of His providence. Aquinas’ reflection on the issue of responding to evil reflects the Bible’s exhortation to hate evil. The Prophet Amos wrote, “Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15).
When evil occurs, there are always those who admonish Christians who are outraged and use the Bible to call for loving enemies. Christians are to love all men. Christians are also to be people who stand for truth and justice. Micah 6:8 says, “He 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?”
Believers in the Risen Lord Jesus are never to “wink” at evil. Christians are not to respond with a man-centered idea of love. Often this response is recommended by those who haven’t actually been the objects of evil. We worship a holy God. He is holy and He is love. He defined love in the cross of Christ. When you see evil done on others, seek justice. Know that God will pour out His wrath upon all evil and wickedness.
It is never right to spiritualize a response to evil. Evil is real, but evil is not a thing. It is behavior that opposes God. As stated above, the short definition of evil is the absence of good. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).
The Christian response to evil is two-fold. First, Christians respond to evil by doing good. Second, Christians are called to expose evil, simply to recognize what is evil and expose it.
When evil is observed, expose it and do that which is good, right, and true knowing that God will execute perfect justice when Christ returns. Everything hinges on knowing what is good. Therefore, the Church is responsible to teach the truth of God and the Person and Work of Christ.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “A Hope that will not fade”

A Hope that will not fade
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Apostle Paul wrote to believers in Rome and said that suffering is not the last word for those who belong to Jesus. God has given us hope that “does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

The psalmist asked himself a question that many have asked. He received God’s answer. His question was, “Why am I depressed?” God’s answer was because he had no hope! Psalm 42:11 says, “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.”

Whenever there is persecution and suffering in the Christian Church, God has the last word! Those who are in Christ have been given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance, which is heaven. Believers have been given an eternal perspective. We know that this life is not all that there is. Our eternal perspective is God’s means by which we will have the courage to stand against evil with whatever resources He has provided.

Hope is an eager expectation of fulfillment of a future blessing. When people hope they are expressing trust in or reliance upon the one whom they believe will bring fulfillment. Without hope, we wander aimlessly in life and are tossed around by every one of its circumstances. Possessing genuine hope is God’s means to “count it all joy” in the face of trials and tribulations.

We intuitively know that there must be more to life than what we see. This world is not all that there is. There is more to life than this world. There is a greater hope than our political, economic, or personal relationships can offer. God’s promise of hope is more than this world offers and is far above and apart from it. The Christian’s hope transcends the evil we see and experience. The Christian’s hope is transcendent because of the One from whom it proceeds, namely the Triune God.

Only God who has revealed Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can give ultimate hope. God said that ultimate hope is eternal glory. The Apostle Paul writing God’s words said “the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to His saints” is ultimate hope. Ultimate hope is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26).

Christians possess ultimate hope. God gives hope to all those whom He chose “before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him. In love God predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

Those whom God chose to be in Christ are children of God. Believers have been set apart by God for His glory. In Christ, we have been given everything that we need. One of those needs is a hope that cannot be shaken.

It seems clear that we are facing evil more and more every day. We need God’s protection. We need to have the courage to stand against evil. In so doing, the church universal must be assured of the hope that cannot be shaken. The church must teach her members that God has given a hope that will never fade.

Now, perhaps more than ever in our nation, Christians must think biblically about the world around us. We are a people who are sure that God will have the final word. He will stamp out evil. Christ defeated Satan 2,000 years ago. The devil and his fallen angels are on a short leash. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

To think biblically, we must know what the Bible says. We are to meditate upon God’s word. We are to fill our minds with what God has said. There is no short cut to “holding every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Christian, ground yourself in the word of God so that you might hold fast to the hope that will not fade. Read and study the Bible privately. Find a church that teaches the Bible accurately and faithfully. May we all stand against the current evil we face in the power of God’

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Justice or Mercy”

Justice or Mercy…Timeless Topics
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“He 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).
God spoke through the prophet Micah during a time of prosperity. He required His people to do justice and to love kindness (mercy) and to walk humbly before Him.
This divine imperative is simple and bears repeating. Do justice. Love Mercy. Live with a right assessment of ourselves before a sovereign God. God said that this is good. In light of this clear declaration, no one needs to struggle to know what is good.
Our good God commanded His people to do justice. God’s people are accountable to seek and apply justice. As God ordained civil authorities, He placed upon them the responsibility to rule and govern justly. What then is justice? In part, justice is fair treatment based on the law.
Therefore, the application of justice requires a standard. Our civil government operates under such a standard. It is the rule of law. When authorities consider themselves above the law anarchy is not far behind. An orderly and safe society requires all citizens and their leaders to obey the rules of law that govern them.
So, it is for the church. The authority of the church is under the word of God. Christ is the King and Head of the church. He exercises His Lordship through His word. Authority in the church is a granted authority. What is just and right is determined from the Bible, the church’s standard.
The Bible teaches that to do justice is to do what is right. That which is just is right and fair based upon the standard which is the word of God written.
Micah 6:8 also declares another critical concept. The Prophet called God’s people to love kindness. The original word is also translated loving kindness, steadfast love, or mercy. The word reflects the very character of God. Justice and mercy are not opposite sides of the same coin. Mercy stands in contrast to justice. Justice applies the rule of law. Mercy is granted to law breakers. Justice is deserved. Mercy is underserved and can only be granted by the benevolent action of a ruler. Mercy and grace are the unmerited favor of God.
Following the revealed truth of God’s word, all men deserve justice. The just and right action of the holy God is condemnation. The Bible is clear on this point throughout. From Genesis to Revelation, God has revealed that all men are born spiritually dead. All men are born in bondage to sin. Sin is defined as lawlessness by the Apostle John (1 John 3:4). Adam’s sin is inherited by every human being. The Apostle Paul wrote that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Left on our own we are all children of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). It’s at this point that the cry of “It’s not fair” is often heard. The offense of the truth causes men to define God in their own view. I’ve heard the statement, “My God is a God of love. He wouldn’t send people to hell. It’s not fair or loving.” My response is that definition of God is not the God of the Bible. God has revealed Himself as holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).
In the light of God’s holy justice, how can we hope to be saved? The Apostles, Prophets, and Jesus called people to repent and believe in the gospel. This is God’s ordained means to deliver men and women from this present darkness. The question that lays beneath God’s command to repent and believe in the gospel is “How”? How are men born dead in sin able to repent and believe? The only possible answer is by God’s grace. God extends grace to those whom He chooses. God said that He will have mercy on whom He has mercy (Romans 9:15).
King David wrote Psalm 51. He was confronted in his sin. David did the only thing that is possible. He threw himself upon the mercy of God. This is the truth of man’s only hope. There are only two alternatives. You will either experience God’s perfect justice or receive His mercy.

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Speaking the Truth”

“Speaking the Truth”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
All Christians would likely affirm that we are called by God to always speak the truth. One would think that there is no question that this must be the case. Yet so many think that speaking the truth is unloving. We are encouraged to be tolerant. Which now means to accept all views as equally valid rather than to respect opposing views. It is especially unloving when a major figure lies, and we are told that exposing the lie and the liar is unloving and a failure to take “the high moral ground.” From my perspective, this not only borders on insanity but causes people to deny reality. This new definition of tolerance, that every point of view is equally valid is a step towards holding a world view that is fundamentally amoral.

We face this both inside the church and in society. It is called “bad form” or even worse to expose a false teacher in the church. We are exposed to the prosperity teachers and the word faith cult teachers on an ever-increasing rate. We hear leaders teach that the new view of “social justice” is a gospel issue! It is neither a biblical issue nor is it in any sense a gospel issue.

Years ago, the late Peter Jennings did an investigative report on the Evangelical Church, as the secular press understood it. In his broadcast, a Vineyard Church was filmed. The members were rolling on the floor and barking like dogs. It was alarming and offensive to me. It was alarming as I was shocked in disbelief that some of those who were acting so preposterously may have professed to be genuine believers. It was shocking to me that a major news agency would use this kind of perverted behavior to represent Evangelical Christianity.

These false teachers are often categorized as being part of Evangelical Christianity. The leaders of this theological cult are too numerous to mention. They teach the secret wisdom to “have your best life now”. Some focus on physical healing. You may hear statements made that reflect “name it and claim it” faith. Some exhort people to “sow a seed” and God will return what is sowed ten-fold. Of course, the so-called sowing is done in their personal field.

Their basic teaching is that faith is a force and words are the medium through which the force of faith is released. You can believe that you’re well and if your faith is strong enough you will be!

Now we face another gospel, “social justice”, which is no gospel. Social justice is based on Critical Theory not Scripture. Biblical justice is doing God’s will, that which is good, right, and true. Micah 6:8; Philippians 4:8

Christian, what should be your response? “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11 (ESV)

Jesus called His disciples to be salt and light in the world, Matthew 5:13-18. The means He has given to be salt is the truth of His word. Those who know the truth are accountable to stand against lies. “Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

Christians are accountable for what they hear. We are called to discern truth from error. We are responsible to expose error. In order to be able to discern the truth, we must be “people of the book”, the Bible. The Psalmist declared that the word of God is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 The word of God, the Bible, is “breathed out by God.” 2Timothy 3:15

As a Christian Pastor, I believe that what we know to be true concerning the Christian Faith should be lived in the Church and carried into the public sphere. It is not unloving to speak the truth. It is not a low road morally to expose a liar. Christians are to be people of integrity. People of integrity don’t live one way on Sunday and a different way during the rest of the week.

I encourage you to find and join a church that equips you to be salt and light, teaching you the truth of God’s word.