Do We Disobey?

We live in turbulent times. To say that life is “no longer normal” would probably be a gross understatement. This would be especially true for the overwhelming majority of those of us who live in the west.

Yet, for those who are true believers, we find ourselves in a quandary. Government officials give mandates but many wonder if we are called to obey God first or follow ALL the dictates of human government.

Romans 13 is often used as a blanket statement to make the decree that any and all opposition to government is ultimately a sin against God. If we stand for what is right, then some would seek to condemn such behavior as being ungodly. I have heard from more than one individual that “no matter what the government decrees, we are to obey with the exception of sharing the gospel.”

Recently, Todd Friel of Wretched Radio broadcasted a video in which he made his position very clear and that he believed there were no exceptions.

For the record, “Truth in Grace” does NOT agree with Friel. I do not agree with Friel. More importantly, the Bible does not line up with Friel’s interpretation.

Yes, this is about much more than the wearing of a facemask.

But, what is right? At what point do we take a stand against forms of tyranny?

Down through the centuries of church history, persecution for the sake of Jesus Christ has always been a part of the church. During times of intense persecution, the Church has always grown stronger.

However, the Church (even in the New Testament) never simply stood at the door of their houses and waiting for the soldiers of Caesar to take them to the Coliseum. Husbands NEVER just stood by while their wives and daughters were ravaged. They had a higher command from Christ to protect their families.

Believers around the world are constantly in violation of government mandates when they 1) refuse to accept an abortion under a one-child mandate, 2) continue to teach children of the Bible when the government says those under 18 are not permitted in worship services, 3) when they seek to protect the lives of others (think Christians protecting Jews under the Nazi regime), and 4) when they still meet for worship although the government mandates they cannot meet.

These are but a very small collection of times when we ought to obey God rather than man. Yes, we recognize that this world is not our home, but even the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded saying, in at least three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), that persecution is coming and that those who understand are to FLEE!

Some may have you believe that if the government becomes tyrannical and orders all Christians to show up for extermination in an interment camp that we are to willing, obediently, and without reservation simply turn ourselves in for the grand event.

This is NOT Biblical!! And absolutely no part of true church history shows such a thing taking place. Yes, Peter gives advice for when we go through suffering, but there is NOT one single mandate in Scripture that commands true believers to simply give up for the government to kill us.

All our brothers and sisters who have suffered persecution are suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ. They are living their lives in such a way as to bring honor and glory to the Lamb who was slain. If they live, they live as to the Lord. If they die, they die as to the Lord.

As an example, the wearing of a mask is not the real issue. The real issue is how far the government goes in taking away freedoms to worship and obey God.

What do we obey and what do we disobey?

The simple answer is found in Dr. John MacArthur’s message shared below.

“We disobey the government when the government tells you to do what God forbids you to do, or mandates that you stop doing what God commands you to do.”

If believers are commanded not to sing, praise, and worship – we disobey!

If pastors are told what they can and cannot preach – we disobey!

If believers are told that we cannot meet – we disobey!

If we are to undergo persecution, let it be for the sake of Jesus Christ and not for mere issues that do not matter in the light of eternity.

The Scandal of the Semi-Churched!

Kevin DeYoung writes this excellent post on “The Scandal of the Semi-Churched.” Every true believer should read and prayerfully consider these strong words of exhortation and edification.

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churchThe Scandal of the Semi-Churched

This is one of those posts I’ve wanted to write for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to say what I think needs to be said. The danger of legalism and false guilt is very real. But so is the danger of disobedience and self-deception.

I want to talk about church members who attend their home church with great irregularity. These aren’t unchurched folks, or de-churched, or under-churched. They are semi-churched. They show up some of the time, but not every week. They are on again/off again, in and out, here on Sunday and gone for two. That’s the scandal of the semi-churched. In fact, Thom Rainer argues that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that church members don’t go to church as often as they used to.

We’ve had Christmas and Easter Christians for probably as long as we’ve had Christmas and Easter. Some people will always be intermittent with their church attendance. I’m not talking about nominal Christians who wander into church once or twice a year. I’m talking about people who went through the trouble of joining a church, like their church, have no particular beef with the church, and still only darken its doors once or twice a month. If there are churches with membership rolls much larger than their average Sunday attendance, they have either under-shepherds derelict in their duties, members faithless in theirs, or both.

I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25. We should not neglect to meet together, as some are in the habit of doing. Gathering every Lord’s Day with our church family is one of the pillars of mature Christianity.

So ask yourself a few questions.

1. Have you established church going as an inviolable habit in your family? You know how you wake up in the morning and think “maybe I’ll go on a run today” or “maybe I’ll make french toast this morning”? That’s not what church attendance should be like. It shouldn’t be an “if the mood feels right” proposition. I will always be thankful that my parents treated church attendance (morning and evening) as an immovable pattern. It wasn’t up for discussion. It wasn’t based on extenuating circumstances. It was never a maybe. We went to church. That’s what we did. That made the decision every Sunday a simple one, because their was no real decision. Except for desperate illness, we were going to show up. Giving your family the same kind of habit is a gift they won’t appreciate now, but will usually thank you for later.

2. Do you plan ahead on Saturday so you can make church a priority on Sunday? We are all busy people, so it can be hard to get to church, especially with a house full of kids. We will never make the most of our Sundays unless we prepare for them on Saturday. That likely means finishing homework, getting to bed on time, and foregoing some football. If church is an afterthought, you won’t think of it until after it’s too late.

3. Do you order your travel plans so as to minimize being gone from your church on Sunday? I don’t want to be legalistic with this question. I’ve traveled on Sunday before (though I try to avoid it). I take vacation and study leave and miss 8 or 9 Sundays at URC per year. I understand we live in a mobile culture. I understand people want to visit their kids and grandkids on the weekend (and boy am I thankful when ours come and visit). Gone are the days when people would be in town 50-52 weeks a year. Travel is too easy. Our families are too dispersed. But listen, this doesn’t mean we can’t make a real effort to be around on Sunday. You might want to take Friday off to go visit the kids so you can be back on Saturday night. You might want to think twice about investing in a second home that will draw you away from your church a dozen weekends every year. You might want to re-evaluate your assumption that Friday evening through Sunday evening are yours to do whatever you want wherever you want. It’s almost impossible to grow in love for your church and minister effectively in your church if you are regularly not there.

4. Are you willing to make sacrifices to gather with God’s people for worship every Sunday? “But you don’t expect me to cancel my plans for Saturday night, do you? I can’t possibly rearrange my work schedule. This job requires me to work every Sunday–I’d have to get a new job if I wanted to be regular at church. Sundays are my day to rewind. I won’t get all the yard work done if I go to church every week. My kids won’t be able to play soccer if we don’t go to Sunday games. If my homework is going to be done by Sunday, I won’t be able to chill out Friday night and all day Saturday. Surely God wouldn’t want me to sacrifice too much just so I can show up at church!” Not exactly the way of the cross, is it?

5. Have you considered that you may not be a Christian? Who knows how many people God saves “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). Does going to church every week make you a Christian? Absolutely not. Does missing church 35 Sundays a year make you a non-Christian? It does beg the question. God’s people love to be with God’s people. They love to sing praises. They love to feast at the Table. They love to be fed from the Scriptures. Infrequent church attendance–I mean not going anywhere at all–is a sign of immaturity at best and unbelief at worst. For whenever God calls people out of darkness he calls them into the church. If the Sunday worship service is the community of the redeemed, what does your weekly pattern suggest to God about where you truly belong?

HT: The Gospel Coalition