Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in California, announced Friday that it will not submit to Governor Gavin Newsom’s order to stop worship services, boldly stating that “Christ, Not Caesar, is head of the church.” This pastor has declared the church to be essential!
Newsom recently ordered that all indoor and in-home religious gatherings, as well as other select businesses in 30 counties, must close down again.
On 7/24, Friday, in a church blog post, Pastor MacArthur stated the Sun Valley church would continue meeting and worshiping in person:
Christ is Lord of all. He is the one true head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). He is also King of kings—sovereign over every earthly authority (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Grace Community Church has always stood immovably on those biblical principles. As His people, we are subject to His will and commands as revealed in Scripture. Therefore we cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings. Compliance would be disobedience to our Lord’s clear commands.
MacArthur noted texts like Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 acknowledge the authority granted by God of civil government, however, he argues that “government officials have no right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders.”
“Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely,” MacArthur goes on, “we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.”
“The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church. Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both.”
“As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, we must recognize that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church. Succumbing to governmental overreach may cause churches to remain closed indefinitely. How can the true church of Jesus Christ distinguish herself in such a hostile climate? There is only one way: bold allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“We said from the very start that our voluntary compliance was subject to change if the restrictions dragged on beyond the stated goal, or politicians unduly intruded into church affairs, or if health officials added restrictions that would to attempt to undermine the church’s mission.”
MacArthur explains the departure from Grace Community Church’s previous stance on complying with orders to shut down:
“We simply took the early opportunity to support the concerns of health officials and accommodate the same concerns among our church members, out of a desire to act in an abundance of care and reasonableness (Philippians 4:5).”
“But we are now more than twenty weeks into the unrelieved restrictions. It is apparent that those original projections of death were wrong and the virus is nowhere near as dangerous as originally feared… roughly forty percent of the year has passed with our church essentially unable to gather in a normal way. Pastors’ ability to shepherd their flocks has been severely curtailed. The unity and influence of the church has been threatened. Opportunities for believers to serve and minister to one another have been missed.”
“The suffering of Christians who are troubled, fearful, distressed, infirm, or otherwise in urgent need of fellowship and encouragement has been magnified beyond anything that could reasonably be considered just or necessary.”
MacArthur points to the cancelation of events as far ahead as 2021, which he marks as an ominous warning that “officials are preparing to keep restrictions in place into next year and beyond.”
2 minutes – Excellent!
He ends, “That forces churches to choose between the clear command of our Lord and the government officials. Therefore, following the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, we gladly choose to obey Him.”
May God change the minds of the governing authorities in California and work in their hearts to know Him!
Watch the return of in-person Sunday worship service here: https://www.facebook.com/gracecomchurch/videos/300476037827611 Start at 41:00.
“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.” ~Mark 12:17
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