Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Love of God”

The Love of God
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
John 3:16 is an oft’ quoted verse of the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The love of God is a pure love. God is holy therefore He never excuses evil. God does not affirm evil behavior. Yet, the Bible is clear. Love is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8). The Apostle John defined God’s love. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
The apostle John also recorded the nighttime conversation of Jesus and a man whose name was Nicodemus. It was in the context of this conversation that these famous words of Jesus were uttered. Jesus told Nicodemus that God was the initiator of divine love. He expressed His love by giving His only Son!
God’s actions are always purposed. His purpose is His glory (Romans 11:36). So then God initiated His demonstration of love for His glory. That demonstration was His giving His only Son, Jesus and it was ordained in eternity. He and His Son made an agreement, called a covenant. The Son agreed to give His life as a ransom for many. God’s love was ordained by Him in the Covenant of Redemption.
At just the “right” time, ordained by God, the Son took upon Himself human nature. The Son is fully God and fully man. As Adam, the first man, is the federal head of the human race. Jesus is the Federal Head of the church, the elect of God. What Adam failed to accomplish Jesus Christ did perfectly. He completed God’s plan of redemption. Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Jesus told Nicodemus exactly what God’s love would accomplish. God demonstrated His love in sending Jesus Christ so that those who would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.
Here’s the problem. Men have been defining the extent of God’s love such that the meaning is distorted. Some suggest that God loves everyone unconditionally. The verse expressly opposes that idea. There are some who believe and others who will perish. God loves the entire world and everyone in it. But He doesn’t love everyone the same. After all, Jesus said that some would perish. God’s condition for receiving eternal life is faith in Christ.
The first Chapter of John’s Gospel reveals the basis for God’s condition. “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). Whereas John 3:16 does not identify those who would believe, John 1:12-13 does. Those who will believe are those who are “born of God.”
Nevertheless, Jesus said that God loved the world. The word translated “world” is the word from which we get cosmos, referring to the entire Universe. Jesus declared that God’s love extended to the entirety of His creation. If not for the love of God, the world would not exist. This is called common grace. All of creation exists by God and for God. Therefore, Jesus told Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, that all he saw existed because of the Father’s love.
John 3:16 also details the extent of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus died for His people, those who were chosen from the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4ff). So then, the truth revealed in Scripture concerning the atonement of Jesus Christ is that it is sufficient for all mankind but effective for the elect. That is there is no other sacrifice for sin. He is the once for all sacrifice (Hebrews 10:12). Only Jesus’ sacrifice appeased the wrath of God (1 John 2:2).
When I see signs and bumper stickers with John 3:16 written in bold type, I rejoice. I rejoice that God’s word is going forth. I rejoice that those whom God has chosen will believe and have eternal life. I celebrate the love of God and desire to obey Him for His glory.
If you know the saving love of God bow before Him in worship as He has commanded! Believer, God has made you His ambassador who tells the saving work of Jesus Christ, His only Son! To God alone be glory!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “All That Is Necessary”

All That Is Necessary
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
A frequently asked question by Christians is, “What do I need to live as a Christian?” All too often the search begins without first looking for the God-given answer. We often get bogged down by the details of life, albeit challenging or dire. God has provided all that His people need to live in Christ.
God revealed His sovereign grace in making a people for Himself. God calls, regenerates, converts, adopts, sanctifies, and promises to bring His people to glory. Romans 8:28-30 clearly reveals God’s sovereign actions in making a people for Himself. Therefore, Christians know that God has provided every means by which believers are brought to glory. Jesus said that God knows our needs and He will provide everything we need for this life (Matthew 6:25-34).
Yet, many Christians are ill-informed concerning the means that God has given for everyday life in Christ. The basic yet complete answer to the question, “What do I need to live as a Christian?” is the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.
The Bible is God’s word to Man. The Apostle Paul said all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Peter equated Paul’s writing with the whole of Scripture (2 Peter 3:16). 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.
Creation testifies to the existence of God. And the Bible gives saving knowledge of God in Jesus Christ.
The Bible is more than an ancient book. In fact, it is a collection of 66 books. Each one was written by a human author by the inspiration of God, the Holy Spirit.
Four words are used by the Christian Church to describe the Bible: inerrant, infallible, perspicuous, and sufficient. Each word points to the nature and essence of its ultimate author, God.
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 were reconstructed.
Next, 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 because it is inerrant.
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 doctrines 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 has revealed about Himself.
Finally, because the Bible is sufficient, we may apply it with confidence knowing that the word of God will “light our path” (Psalm 119:105). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy not only declaring the nature of Scripture but also its efficacy. It was the Scriptures that would make him and every Christian complete (2 Timothy 3:17).
Most 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 more concerned with meeting “felt needs” or life-situations than learning to apply the Bible to live wisely. 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. Therefore, know that the Bible is all that is necessary to live in Christ for His glory! Christians hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God’s word!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Face of Evil”

The Face of Evil
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Our nation has seen the face of evil. We’ve experienced evil in fascism, socialism, and communism. We’ve had to fight in world wars and conflicts in foreign lands. Twenty years ago, we witnessed evil perpetrated on our homeland. Today there are troubling conversations that indicate those evil events on 9/11 when Islamic terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the hijacking of Flight 93 either didn’t happen, were organized by our government, or were done by just a small group of fanatics. Those of us who remember the terror of the falling towers in New York City have a responsibility to remember that evil day and tell younger generations of the reality of the evil.
Evil men like those on 9/11 and more recently in Afghanistan will be with us until Christ returns. The evil in the world done by men is a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. In the face of evil our God has promised comfort. His comfort is the certainty of knowing that evil and all ungodliness will come to an end. Further, the comfort that God gives is in knowing that He walks through these evil circumstances with His people. Those who believe that Jesus is who He said He is and rely upon Him have the assurance that nothing will ever separate them “from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
God declared through Isaiah His promise for believers. Isaiah 40:31 is in contrast to those who appear strong like youths and those who are powerful (v. 30). Those who are strong in worldly terms will all grow tired and weary. But those who wait for the LORD will remain strong in Him.
Sometimes it looks like evil is winning. But God’s promise of deliverance is certain. The prophet Isaiah began chapter 40 with God’s word of “comfort”. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” This chapter of Isaiah is the beginning of the “Suffering Servant” passages. The “Servant” is revealed to be Jesus! He declared that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant (Luke 4:18-21). The Servant of God, Jesus, is the one who brings comfort. The comfort He brings is the assurance of deliverance which leads to glory in heaven and the elimination of evil.
The end is certain. On the one hand God will establish perfect righteousness and on the other He will judge all ungodliness. There will be no escape for the ungodly. He will lift the curse of original sin and usher in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21).
God has promised the elect comfort, peace, and glory. This is what we are waiting for! We know that God never fails to keep His word. His word declares He has claimed His people as His possessions (Isaiah 43:1). Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
God’s people wait upon Him with eager expectation of the fulfillment of His promises. The promise now is comfort. We eagerly await His promise of final deliverance. These promises are for all those who belong to the LORD. Those who belong to the Lord wait upon Him. The word translated wait means trusting God now by obeying Him while waiting for His final deliverance.
The comfort is grounded in knowing that His word is always true. He promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). By God’s grace, the experience of Christ’s work in our lives causes us to know that He holds us in the palm of His hand.
We persevere knowing that glory awaits us. Perfect justice and peace will come. We wait upon the Lord who will bring them to pass. While we wait, we have the comfort of the Lord given in His promise to be with us!
Rejoice in and remember God’s providence in the darkest of times. Remember the brave men and women who stand against evil, especially those who died on September 11, 2001. Thank God that He continues to provide those who place their lives between us and evil.