But Peter and John answered them,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God,
you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
— Acts 4:19–20 —
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
— Acts 5:29 —
Since March of this year, the church in America has faced a host of challenges related to COVID-19, gathering, and government. While health concerns legitimately initiated the emergency closure of churches, reopening them has too often been dictated by governors making up and then remaking requirements. Such pronouncements have not only impacted churches gathering, they have raised concerns about the very nature of the church. What does it mean to gather? Can we do church online? For how long? Et cetera!
While Americans have enjoyed unusual freedom to gather and worship in our country, this is not the first time churches have faced the (1) task of articulating their greater commitment to God in order to worship, and (2) in accepting the consequences of those actions. To that point, John MacArthur and the staff at Grace Community Church have written an article explaining why now is the time to obey God and not man—when man commands the church not to meet.
Their God-honoring, Word-saturated, church-protecting words are worth considering. You can find the whole article here, but let me highlight one point that has been of greatest concern to me during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what they say:
At Together for the Gospel this week, Kevin DeYoung preached a powerful message on the unity, authority, and power of the preached word. The title was “Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible” (it will be up online soon).
In his closing remarks, Kevin quoted a section of Hughes Oliphant Old’s comprehensive The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Church (the section can be found on the Pyromaniacs blog). Writing about the powerful ministry of John MacArthur, Old observed that MacArthur’s effectiveness in the pulpit has little to do with oratory skill (although, Old does admit that MacArthur has some effective means of keeping his audience attention). Instead, and to the credit of MacArthur’s view of Scripture, Old writes “Surely one of the greatest strengths of MacArthur’s preaching ministry is his complete confidence in the text.” Continue reading
In 1993, John MacArthur released the book Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. In his book, he showed how the apostles consistently speak of faith as resulting in good works. This is a doctrine—sometimes called Lordship Salvation; or, historically a defense against antinomianism—that I have embraced for a long time. This week, however, another passage supporting this doctrine came to the forefront of my mind. The passage is the much beloved Hebrews 11.
The use of this passage in the debate is certainly not new, but it was a passage that I had not really considered in the debates surrounding faith and works. Typically, I would look to Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 2:10; or James 2. However, after spending some time on Hebrews 11, I am convinced, it is just as persuasive. Consider with me. Continue reading