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Discussion Forum : News and Current Events : Grace Church (John MacArthur) - Facing Covid-19 Without Fear

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Joined: 2012/7/22
Posts: 136

 Grace Church (John MacArthur) - Facing Covid-19 Without Fear

We get many requests from church leaders around the world asking for advice as they deal with COVID-19 lockdown orders and other government-mandated restrictions on worship. This is a short record of how our church responded to the government’s efforts to keep our congregation from gathering, an index of some things we have learned, and a few important biblical principles to bear in mind as you consider how you and your church must respond biblically.

We are convinced that governmental encroachment on basic human freedoms constitutes a more intimidating threat to individuals, a greater impediment to the work of the church, and a larger calamity for all of society than any pestilence or other natural disaster. These are difficult times, calling for a thoughtful, biblical, and wise response from church leaders and their congregations.

A Short History
COVID-19 began to make international headlines in early 2020, and by mid-March, state and local governments across America were issuing emergency orders restricting large gatherings of people. At the time, health officials were warning that COVID might cause a wave of death and disaster ranking high on the spectrum between the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and the Black Death in 14th-century Europe. Major media outlets reported that people were literally dying on the streets in China. One report featured a morgue in New York City where bodies were stacked like cordwood. Naturally, such stories provoked a high level of public fear.

In mid-March, Californians were put under a statewide mandatory lockdown. Initially, government health officials said they expected a two-week quarantine (“fifteen days to slow the spread”). The original goal was not to eliminate the virus completely (epidemiologists knew that was impossible), but to make sure hospitals were not overwhelmed until more treatment facilities could be set up. Since the true gravity of the threat was still unknown and the quarantine was supposed to be reasonably short, Grace Church’s elders decided to suspend public services while we continued live-streaming sermons from the pulpit in the Worship Center auditorium.

More than six weeks passed with no letup on the government-ordered quarantine. While media reports and health department predictions continued to be dire, the actual impact of the virus on our congregation was only mildly worse than the annual flu. Relatively few congregants tested positive, and those who did typically recovered quickly. It was soon obvious (and CDC statistics proved it) that healthy people in their fifties or younger were not in imminent mortal danger from the spread of COVID-19.

By mid-May, large numbers of worshipers began returning on Sunday mornings spontaneously. The auditorium was well filled by early June. Hardly anyone came wearing a mask, and because of limited space on the church campus, social distancing was not an option. So county health officials stepped up their efforts to close the doors of Grace Church to worshipers. On July 24, faced with new emergency mandates aimed specifically at tightening restrictions on churches, Grace Church’s elders issued a statement, “Christ, Not Caesar, Is Head of the Church.” The statement gives a brief biblical rationale for why the church must gather, and concludes, “We cannot accept and will not bow to the intrusive restrictions government officials now want to impose on our congregation.”

The aftermath featured a protracted court case in which the church argued that the state has no legal authority to impose such a long-term closure on places of worship. Almost exactly a year after the elders’ statement was published, the court case was settled in the church’s favor, thus vindicating the stance Grace Church took.

The course of action we followed reflects our unshakable biblical conviction that we must not render to Caesar that which belongs to God. The Lord has not granted to civil government any authority to regulate the terms and circumstances of the church’s worship. That prerogative belongs to Christ alone.

What follows is a brief digest of some facts about COVID that convinced us the virus, while not negligible, is not so much of a threat that it warrants churches to refrain from gathering as the people of God.

The death rate from COVID is nowhere near the original dire predictions. In early 2020, most policy makers were citing predictions from a researcher named Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College London. Ferguson confidently predicted that more than 2.2 million people in the United States would die from COVID within three months’ time. Even though that prediction quickly proved to be grossly overblown, government officials continued to cite the Ferguson model as justification for prolonging the lockdowns. Rather than acknowledging that COVID-19 is not the doomsday pandemic so many had foretold, they claimed the diminished numbers were proof that the lockdowns were working.

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 2021/10/5 11:27Profile

Joined: 2016/6/15
Posts: 860

 Re: Grace Church (John MacArthur) - Facing Covid-19 Without Fear

I quote from the preface of the book “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun:

For more than one thousand years the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has spread its influence across China, through many ups and downs, victories and trials.
In 1949 persecution of God’s people commenced and the churches have suffered from all kinds of attacks since. By 1958 the government had closed all visible churches. Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, told foreign visitors, “Christianity in China has been confined to the history section of the museum. It is dead and buried.” In the 1970s a visiting Christian delegation from the United States reported, “There is not a single Christian left in China.”

But God was working. The number of Protestant Christians in China increased from less than one million in 1949 to about 58 million in 2010.

In contrast, after centuries of severe persecution, Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD and Christianity became a legal religion within the Roman Empire. Persecutions ceased and people were free to worship in churches. But instead of becoming the light of the world, the church quickly became corrupted.

My point is:

It is possible to win the fight against covid-19 lockdowns but lose the fight of faith.

Luke 18:8 –
"……………when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”


 2021/10/6 10:55Profile

Joined: 2012/7/22
Posts: 136


Dear sister Jade,

You said:

"It is possible to win the fight against covid-19 lockdowns but lose the fight of faith."

Very true. God help us focus rightly in these times!

Also, praise the Lord for brother Yun! I've read that book and it contains many powerful testimonies!

Blessings to you, sister!


 2021/10/7 18:23Profile

Joined: 2021/10/7
Posts: 11
I'm right here!


Unfortunately... sad to say... John MacArthur is a false teacher!

He fails to teach the whole counsel of God in favor of calvinist talking points.

Hope he repents and asks for forgiveness before he dies!

 2021/10/7 19:40Profile

Joined: 2016/6/15
Posts: 860


Thank you, brother Caleb, for your reply.

God is good!

Ps. 36:7-9 –
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

Let us give unto the Lord the glory due to His name.
Let us worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
(Ps. 29:2 NKJV)

In His presence is fullness of joy.
At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Ps. 16:11)

Praise the Lord!



 2021/10/8 11:20Profile

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