While most of the world, particularly the lost and dying world, is living in extreme fear of a disease that carries with it the possibility of death, John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Church in Los Angeles wants us to know that born again believers have nothing to fear.
But this fear doesn’t just plague the world, many professing Christians have seemingly been given over to a spirit of fear as well. Some churches are requiring proof of vaccinations, irrational use of face masks, and other extreme measures including social distancing–which are all mechanisms created by powerful people to instill fear in the masses–before they can return to worship. Some Christian, even Evangelical, ministries are relentlessly pushing vaccines and other measures and disregarding the individual conscientious objections.
MacArthur, however, has published a manifesto titled COVID-19 Without Fear encouraging people to, while taking reasonable precautions, let go of the fear because fear is ungodly.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” –Romans 8:15
“Western evangelicals now need to have that same resolve—and prepare ourselves for more pressure from the government and more persecution from the rest of society,” MacArthur writes. “When COVID has run its course (if it ever does) other crises are already lined up for government officials to exploit, claiming “emergency powers” to assert more and more regulatory authority over the church.”
He continues, “Fears over climate change, the campaign to normalize sexual perversions, imaginative applications of “social justice,” and a host of other major ideological shifts have speedily and dramatically changed the climate of virtually every Western democracy already.”
The manifesto gives four ways the Church must respond to the COVID-19 debacle:
- The church must stand firm on the truth. Scripture says the church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). In that role we are often pitted against popular opinion and media narratives. It’s a task that normally calls for boldness rather than subtlety.
- Joy, not fear, should dominate the fellowship of believers. The New Testament is full of instructions and encouragements for Christians to cultivate joy, even in the midst of persecution and distress. “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). One mark of a faithful church is that they are “rejoicing in hope” (Romans 12:12), not cowering in fear.
- We must be “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The COVID crisis has been (and continues to be) a malignant source of division and conflict in otherwise sound churches. It is frankly preposterous and deeply troubling that any church leader would regard COVID as a greater threat to the church than disunity.
- A company of believers is not a “church” if they don’t gather. The word for “church” in the original New Testament manuscripts is ekklēsia. Even before the founding of the New Testament church, that word signified an assembly, a gathering of people…Faithful churches must assemble even if they have to go underground to do it.
Recently, we clipped a moment out of one of John MacArthur’s sermons where he stated that those who fear COVID-19 are actually fearful of death because of the coming judgment. A spirit of fear demonstrates a heart that is not right with God and that one fears the wrath of God after death.
Go read the entire manifesto, and watch the clip below if you haven’t already.