As many of you have maybe heard already, Pastor John MacArthur's church in Los Angeles, California has defied the governor's orders to close churches. This has led to backlash not just from the Christian circle, but from the secular circle as well being instigated by mainstream news outlets such as CNN. As I was searching for videos for this blog post, I started noticing a trend with the headlines: "How John MacArthur Loves the Bible but Not His Neighbor" from Baptist News.com, "What is Going on with John MacArthur and Romans 13?" from Way of Improvement.com, "Response to John MacArthur's Statement of Defiance" from ChristCommunity.faith. These times challenge Christians to consistently be thinking biblically about the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have noticed that many have quoted Acts and Romans, but yet aren't willing to see past the lens they are looking through and onto the broader picture. This article addressed the age-old debate of Ceasar Vs. God and when the line is drawn in government regulations.
A Small Note Before We Begin . . .
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The Government and How Christians Can Be Thinking Biblically About the COVID-19 Pandemic
The government was established to uphold the law mentioned in the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy. Due to a fallen sin nature, EVERYONE is born with, laisse-faire government and anarchy-style governments have failed. Instead of learning from history, humans fall back on pride and repeat the same mistakes. Christians are instructed to obey regulations by those who are placed in positions of authority. However, this comes with a catch: EXCEPT WHEN GOVERNING OFFICIALS ASK YOU TO SIN. This is where God draws the line. He states to render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give unto God what is God's. We are NOT instructed to uphold the deeds of a corrupt government. We ARE instructed, however, to uphold God's moral law and maintain justice.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:1-10, NIV).
"The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:27-31, NIV).
"Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians.“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.”They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away" (Matthew 22:15-22, NIV).
COVID-19 and the Christian
COVID-19 was declared by The WHO as a pandemic on March 11, 2020, with the first case occurring in Wuhan, China. This virus carried in its wake intense fear and greatly faulty procedures as well as health models of which Dr. Fauci and his staff have come under investigation for.
This leads to the following questions: how much should a person listen to the government when the full story hasn't been revealed? Are we to trust fallible man over an infallible God? The answer to the latter is no. It is repeated several times in the scripture. However, this does not mean to start riots and perpetuate social justice under Jesus' name. To do as such would be hypocrisy and we would be no different than the rioters of the Black Lives Matter marxist movement. So what is to be done?
What is to be done is to stand firm on God's commandments and follow His ordinances over man's. God illustrated this point in Matthew 10.
“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:26-28, NASB).
When we listen to the ordinances of men that is built upon a faulty foundation instead of listening to the eternal God, we will not only stand in judgment and be allowed to be overtaken, but the testimony we are to bear dwindles. Light has nothing in common with darkness and likewise, we are not to stand in the dark. If we are going to pick apart scripture and throw it around, we need to listen to it in its entirety and not just pick and choose which passages we are to follow. That is the entire reason why denominations exist today.
John MacArthur's Response
"We Must Obey God Rather Than Men" video from Grace to You
"John MacArthur: The Gospel, The Church, and This Present Crisis" video from Ligonier Ministries
"The Government Can't Intrude in Worship" Video from CBN news
Take note that the California government as well as the Seattle government has allowed protestors to violently conduct riots and destroy property without wearing masks as well as keeping abortion clinics open during the pandemic and are now targeting churches. I urge you to look beyond biases and see the bigger picture. We are living in a time where faith is being tested. What will your response be and who will you choose to stand with?
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The Value of Fear
Update from the Frontlines
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