MacArthur: Should Churches Reopen?

John MacArthur on churches reopening despite government suggestions and policy:

“Yeah, let me make very clear this question because it keeps coming up. If the government told us not to meet because Christianity was against the law, if the government told us not to meet because we would be punished, fined for our religion and our religious convictions, we would have no option but to meet anyway. And that takes you to the fifth chapter of Acts where the leaders of Israel said to the apostles, “Stop preaching.” And Peter’s response was very simple. He said, “You judge whether we obey God or men,” then he went right out and preached.

If the government tells us to stop worshiping, stop preaching, stop communicating the gospel, we don’t stop. We obey God rather than men. We don’t start a revolution about that; the apostles didn’t do that. If they put us in jail, we go to jail and we have a jail ministry. Like the apostle Paul said, “My being in jail has fallen out to the furtherance of the gospel.” So we don’t rebel, we don’t protest. You don’t ever see Christians doing that in the book of Acts. If they were persecuted, they were faithful to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it took them to jail; and that’s been the pattern of true Christianity through all the centuries.

But this is not that. Might become that in the future. Might be overtones of that with some politicians. But this is the government saying, “Please do this for the protection of this society.” This is for greater societal good, that’s their objective. This is not the persecution of Christianity. This is saying, “Behave this way so that people don’t become ill and die.”

Now you may not think that you’re going to have that impact on somebody, you’re not going to be the one that becomes a carrier and causes something to be passed on to somebody else down the road and somebody dies. You may think that’s going to be you. But you cannot defy the government. And I don’t think pastors should do this. You cannot defy the government and say, “We’re going to meet anyway because God has commanded us to meet, no matter what damage we do to people’s lives.”

I mean, what should mark Christians is mercy, compassion, love, kindness, sacrifice. How are you doing that if you flaunt the fact that you’re going to meet; and essentially you’re saying, “We disregard the public safety issue.” You don’t really want to say that. That does not help the gospel cause.

What helps the gospel cause is to say, “Of course, we don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s sadness, anyone’s sorrow, anyone’s sickness, and certainly anyone’s death. So we will gladly comply. This is consistent with what Scripture says, that we are to live quiet and peaceable lives in the society in which we live. We don’t rebel, we don’t do protests, we don’t fight the government, we don’t harass and harangue, we don’t march, we don’t get in parades, we don’t stop traffic; we lead quiet and peaceable lives, and we pray for those in authority over us, and we submit ourselves to them.

In Romans chapter 13, Paul says, “You submit yourself to the government, the powers that be.” But Peter adds to that, “You submit yourself to the governor and the king,” whoever that personal authority is. I’ve heard people say, “Well, this isn’t constitutional.” That’s irrelevant. That is completely irrelevant. When you’re told by an authority to do something and it’s for the greater good of the society physically, that’s what you do because that’s what Christians would do. We are not rebels and we’re not defiant, and we don’t flaunt our freedom at the expense of someone else’s health.

How do we back out of that to communicate the love of Christ? Look, Jesus came and basically banished disease from Israel. He was a healer. The last thing the church of Jesus Christ would want to be is a group of people that lived in defiance and made somebody sick, caused somebody’s death. So you restrain yourself from that.

Again, the issue is so clear that even going back to Richard Baxter back in 1600s, Richard Baxter has a great section in one of his books where he says, “If the magistrate,” as he calls it, “asks you to refrain from meeting because of a pestilence, you do not meet. On the other hand, if the magistrate tries to force you not to meet because of persecution of Christianity, you meet anyway.” I think that’s the dividing line.”

-John MacArthur

Almost Out of Time

Gleanings from Jonathan Edward’s sermon “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It” made by Donald S. Whitney.

1. Use Time wisely “Because the Days Are Evil”

Ephesians 5:15-16 – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

2. Wise Use of Time is the Preparation for Eternity

Whitney warns, “During time (that is, in this life) you must prepare for eternity, for there will be no second chance to prepare once you have crossed eternity’s timeless threshold.”

As the general shouts, “Brothers, what we do in life… echoes in eternity.”

3. Time is Short

James 4:14 – “You are a midst that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

4. Time is Passing

1 John 2:17 – “The worlds and its desires are passing away.”

Whitney writes, “We speak of saving time, buying time, making up time, and so on, but those are illusions, for time is always passing. We should use our time wisely, but even the best use of time cannot put pages back on the calendar.”

5. The Remaining Time Is Uncertain

Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Whitney warns, “There are thousands who entered eternity today, including thousands who were younger than you, who yesterday had no idea that today was their last day. Had they known that, their use of time would have become far more important to them.”

6. Time Lost Cannot Be Regained

John 9:4 – We have the day for work but a night is coming when no one can work.

Whitney says, “If you misuse the time God offers to you, He never offers that time again.”

7. You Are Accountable to God for Your Time

Romans 14:12 & 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 – We will all give an account for how we use our time.

Edwards resolved to live each day as if at the end of that day he had to give an account to God of how he used his time.

8. Time Is So Easily Lost

Proverbs 24:33-34 –A little wasted time here, a little there and soon all will be gone.

Whitney reminds, “You don’t have to do anything to lose time.”

9. We Value Time at Death

Proverbs 5:11-13 – Regret comes at the end of a wasted life.

Edwards determined, “Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

10. Time’s Value in Eternity

Luke 16:19-30 – The parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

Richard Baxter asks, “Does it not tear their very hearts for ever, to think how madly they consumed their lives, and wasted the only time that was given them to prepare for their salvation? Do those in hell now think them wise that are idling or playing away their time on earth?”

-Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (NavPress, 1991), 125-133.