“To God be the Glory”
By the Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Jesus told Nicodemus, “… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 Nicodemus was one of the Jewish leaders. He was a member of the governing council in Jerusalem. He was, as Jesus said, a teacher of the word of God. Yet, this educated, religious man did not know that all men are born dead in sin. The Holy Spirit must raise a sinner from spiritual death to life.
This fact is not a matter of interpretation. If one is a believer in the Risen Lord he must be given eyes to see and ears to hear by the Holy Spirit. The technical and theological phrase that explains this truth is: regeneration precedes faith. In other words, it is impossible for men to believe and then be born again (regenerated)! In order to believe in Jesus the Spirit of God must act first. The Spirit of God acts in concert with the Word of God causing a man to see the Kingdom of God.
In order to bring this truth to a very practical understanding, I have chosen to use my own faith in Jesus. But, make no mistake, my story differs in details but the act of God is the same for everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord!
I was snatched from the pit of hell on January 29, 1986. The day started normally. But, on my way to my office at the Nuclear Power Plant in Crystal River Florida, I was broad-sided by a semi-truck. It occurred about 7:30 in the morning. I was told that the paramedics had to cut me out of my car. I awoke four days later in a hospital in Gainesville, FL with one desire and many broken bones. My one desire was for Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. The God of truth and grace opened my eyes to the world, to His beauty and to see His Kingdom.
Let me be frank, before that day, I had no such desire for Jesus. Oh, I thought that I was a good person, most people do. I thought that as long as I was better than most, the god of my making would welcome me. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that God is love? Surely it does! (1John 4:8) But the Bible also says that God is holy, holy, holy, Isaiah 6:3. Before God acted and regenerated me I didn’t consider the justice of God. He never sets aside His justice. He extends mercy only because of the sacrifice of Jesus which alone satisfies God’s justice.
Before my “accident,” I didn’t know God. I was spiritually dead. I used to think that all this “born again” stuff was for the weak minded. But the reality, the truth of what I lived was that dead men don’t do anything. I was unconscious. I couldn’t have saved myself. I couldn’t even get out of my hospital bed. On my best day, I didn’t know that I was lost and headed to hell. God had to act. He did and I look back in amazement that He chose me! Yes, I responded to Him. But I was responding to His action. “Ye must be born again” 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. My position in Christ is dependent upon God and Him alone!
As I looked back on what God did in saving me through the lens of God’s word, I saw every aspect of my life as part of God’s sovereign plan. Even when I didn’t know God, He was directing my path in accordance with His will. I thought that I was making choices. And I was, but my choices had already been planned by the Sovereign God. Think about this when you are wondering how you got to where you are: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (ESV) The words of Jesus, John 6:44, made perfect sense as I looked at my life in Christ. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (ESV)
Personal testimonies offer praise to God. May He be glorified by what I have written. Soli Deo Gloria!