Obviously this is a very special day in the life of our church family. It is, for us a return to what we love the most: the fellowship of the saints and the worship of our Lord. There have been people all across the country and around the world affirming that we’re gathering, thankful that we’re gathering and are signing on with us, and there have been many people who don’t understand why we would do this. We understand that. We understand that the world does not understand the importance of the church. The world doesn’t understand that it’s not just essential, it’s the only hope of eternal life for doomed sinners. People have been very concerned to make sure people’s physical lives are protected, in the process shut down places where there’s hope for their spiritual lives to be transformed, that they can live eternally in the presence of God.
The Bible is very clear in describing the world of unbelievers. In Ephesians 2:1, it says, “They are dead in trespasses and sins, and they are children of wrath.” Ephesians 4 says, “They live in the futility of their mind, darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their heart.” Our Lord Jesus said about people outside His kingdom, “They do not know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Our Lord Jesus said in John chapter 3 that, “They love darkness rather than Light. They are doing evil, hating the Light, not coming to the Light, for fear their deeds will be exposed.” Jesus further said in the eighth chapter of John that, “Unbelievers do not understand divine truth. They are unable to hear the words of our Lord. They do not believe.”
In Romans chapter 8, the apostle Paul says, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God. It does not subject itself to the law of God, it is not even able to do so, and it cannot please God.” The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that even the preaching of the gospel, “The preaching of the cross is foolish to those who are perishing.” In his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, Paul said, “The gospel is vailed to those who are perishing. They are blinded in their minds by Satan.”
This is the divine diagnosis of the human condition: cut off from the life of God and headed toward eternal darkness. That condition is summed up perhaps as well as anywhere in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. Let me read you a few verses. “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
A natural man understands not the things of God, but those who are in Christ have His mind. We understand the mysteries of the kingdom. We don’t expect the world to understand us. We don’t expect the world to understand how important, how essential, how singularly important the church is that proclaims the only message that can turn people from sin to God and from hell to heaven. The Bible tells us the world will not understand that.
The Christian gospel, Christianity itself is not really comprehensible to all who are in Satan’s kingdom. We cannot expect them to understand the church, the Bible, the gospel. We cannot expect them to grasp the reality of Christian life and fellowship and worship. We can’t expect that they would know that Christianity is not a set of rules. It’s not a set of ethics. It’s not a list of moral behaviors or spiritual ideas or charitable thoughts. It is the worship of the true God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. True Christians believe in and love and worship and serve the Son of God, and we confess Him as our Lord and Savior, the only Lord and Savior. Sinners must come to Him to be delivered from their sin and judgment.
But the gospel is not acceptable to the fallen mind, blinded by fallenness, blinded by the love of sin, blinded by the darkness imposed by Satan. The gospel and all it contains does not seem rational or acceptable. We believe in a God who became a man. We believe the eternal God who died by dying provided eternal life to those who were dead. We believe in a King who became a slave. We believe in a Sovereign who exchanged the crown of glory in heaven for a crown of thorns on earth. We believe in a righteous Judge who became a criminal, a Holy God who became the sinner’s defender. We believe in a just executioner of sinners who became their Savior by taking their execution.
Christians believe in a holy law which provides complete freedom, a joyous freedom which is slavery to righteousness. Christians believe in a kingdom on earth with a capital in heaven. Christians believe in a little flock of innumerable saints. Christians believe they are wretched outcasts who became saints. They are enemies who became sons. They are slaves who became kings. They are poor who became wealthy. They are bankrupt souls who are given eternal riches. They are rebels who became friends. They are haters who became lovers and even lovers of those who hate them.
Christians believe they are victims who became victors. They are strong who rejoice in their weakness. They are the despised who receive honor. They are souls who die once but live twice. They are mortals who become immortal. They are corrupt who become incorruptible. They are the sorrowful who have eternal joy. And all of these realities have come to us because the giver of life gave up His life so that those dead in sin would live forever.
The glory of the gospel escapes the mind of natural man. But we have the mind of Christ. These are the truths in which we rejoice, and for which we worship. We’re different. Jesus put it this way: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
We’re in the world, we’re not of the world. We have a King and a Lord, and His name is Jesus Christ. And Scripture is crystal clear as to how we are to submit to our Lord. In Romans chapter 10, familiar words: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Salvation comes to those who confess Jesus as Lord.
What does it mean to say that Jesus is Lord? Well, for one thing mentioned in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, maybe easily overlooked, it says in verse 5, “We are destroying speculations”—ideologies, ideas, philosophies—“and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” We are in this world to take the truth to destroy the lies, any lie lifted up against the true knowledge of God. And here’s what it means to acknowledge Jesus as Lord: We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. To say that Jesus is Lord is to take everything, starting with your thoughts and your deeds as well, captive to the obedience of Christ. We obey Christ. We love Christ. We lovingly and gladly obey Him.
Philippians chapter 2 and verse 9: “For this reason also”—because of His death and resurrection—“God highly exalted Him”—that is Christ—“bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God highly exalted Christ and demanded that every conscious being in the universe bow the knee to Him as Lord.
Back to Ephesians for just a moment, chapter 1. Here is the apostle’s prayer for us, verse 15: “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.” This is the apostle Paul praying for the church. And what are you praying for? “That the God”—verse 17—“of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fill all in all.”
Paul’s prayer for us is that we would be enlightened to understand what it is to be a Christian; and what it is to be a Christian is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And everything is in subjection under His feet, including the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Just as a body is in submission to the head physically, so the church submits to its head, the governing, ruling authority of the Lord Jesus Christ now and forever.
He gave the Son. Notice that it says in verse 21, that He’s far above—huperanō; huper-, super high above—in this age and even in the age to come. Eternally, He is the Supreme One. Everything is in subjection to Him. John Calvin said, “Hence should anyone call us anywhere other than to follow Christ. He is empty, full of wind. Let us therefore without concern bid him farewell.” Jesus is Lord. That’s the Christian confession, isn’t it; always has been. And we are His slaves, gladly so.
As pastors and elders, we shepherd His flock. We love His flock as He loves His flock, we care for His flock as He cares for His flock, we endeavor to protect His flock as He would protect His flock, and we feed His flock as He would feed His flock, because He does all of those things through those undershepherds He’s placed in His church. And that is why the end of the book of Hebrews you read this, Hebrews chapter 13, verse 7, instruction to believers: “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” So we are the ones who feed the church and we are the ones called to live a life of faith that they can imitate.
In the seventeenth verse it goes even further than listening to their teaching and following their example. It says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” James said, “Stop being many teachers, theirs is a greater condemnation.”
There is an accountability like no other accountability, to those of us who lead the church. We stand accountable to God, to Christ. How we treat His sheep is how we treat Christ. The church is the flock of the Lord given to the care of undershepherds. This is our life. This is our calling. This we must fulfill.
In that same book of Hebrews, back in chapter 10, essential to fulfilling the responsibility to feed, set the example, and use the Word of God to command the character and behavior of the flock is this statement, verse 24 of Hebrews 10: “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds”—that means we need to be together—“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” The closer you get to the end of the age, the more meaningful assembling together is. No one should forsake that. The habit of some doing that is cause for deep and profound concern. We need to encourage each other, stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
When we gather we are to have fellowship in order to do those things. We are to greet one another with signs of warm affection. We are to sing—and you were singing at the top of your voices this morning. We are to pray. We are to fellowship. We are to take the bread and the cup in the Lord’s Table. We are to give. We are to read Scripture, and we are to hear it proclaimed by pastors.
As the church we do this openly because we are lights in the world. We fulfill our calling to worship and become the strongest force, in fact, the only force for truth and righteousness in the world. Everything else is bound up in the kingdom of darkness. We are the pillar and ground of the truth. We are fulfilling Christ’s design when we meet not only for our sake and for our worship, but for the world’s sake and their desperate condition. I can’t think of anything worse than to put an entire world into fear and then shut down the only place they could go to have their fear finally and completely removed. We are fulfilling our Lord’s design.
I want to draw your attention to what He said in Matthew 5 in the famous Sermon on the Mount, and I want to talk about this a bit. Matthew 5, verse 13, Jesus speaking to those of His disciples who were gathered with Him, said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This is the church influencing the world.
This is not easy. We know it’s not easy because before our Lord said that, go back to verse 10 and see what He said. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Yes, we are salt and light in the world. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be accepted by the world; we understand that. I showed you why. The Scripture gives us a diagnosis of the human heart that makes it impossible for the world to accept us. It will not be easy. But we are the most essential force in all the world. We are—put it simply—Jesus Christ in the world. We are His body, the church, and we are the only salt and light.
Salvation in Christ transforms us from being part of the decaying, corrupt, diseased world. We become salt. We’re transformed from being part of the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. We are living influences in the world, we’re the only hope. Sinners have no hope but the church. No virus should stop us.
What about salt? What is our Lord saying? Well, we take salt rather lightly—no pun intended. But the Greeks used to call salt divine. Homer said it was divine. In ancient times couples carried salt to their wedding. In Germany brides’ shoes once were sprinkled with salt. There’s a French tale about a princess who came to the king and said, “Your majesty, I love you like salt.” He was angry and banished her from the kingdom. Story goes he ran out of salt and realize that was an expression of love and got her back.
Roman Catholic Church has had holy salt. The Romans used to say nothing’s more valuable than sun and salt. Roman soldiers were paid in salt; and if a soldier was derelict in his duty, he was not paid because he wasn’t worth his salt. Salt was a sign of friendship in ancient times. Today, even, a man in the Arab world, when he partakes of the salt of another man in a meal comes under that man’s protection and care. We saw that, by the way, with some of our military who were protected in the Middle East. If a man’s worst enemy ate his salt, he would be obliged to be protecting.
Covenants were made with salt. God speaks of a covenant of salt with David. I read about a caravan of forty thousand camels—that’s a lot of camels—carrying salt across the Sahara. Each camel had two 200-pound blocks, and the camels went 435 miles. That’s how important salt was. Wars were fought over salt. Salt was a form of currency. Salt is significant.
Listen to what Leviticus 2:13 says about salt being part of a sacrifice: “Every oblation of your meat offering shall you season with salt; neither shall you allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your meat offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” And here Jesus says, “You’re the salt of the earth.” What’s He talking about?
Salt is used to season food. Salt is used more importantly, and has been used through the centuries, to preserve. Ezekiel 16 talk about the fact that when babies were born they were rubbed with salt as a disinfectant. On Friday nights, the Jews dipped their Sabbath bread into salt.
What is going on with this salt? Some suggest that it could mean purity because of its glistening white property. Some think it could mean flavor; "Can that which has no flavor be eaten without salt?" is even a biblical comment. Those things could be true. Some suggest it has to do with the fact that salt stings, and so it is a sort of purifying element in society. Others suggest that salt creates thirst, and that the primary function of salt is to create thirst; if you don’t have enough salt, you don’t get thirsty, and you get dehydrated, and death can come. That would be particularly true in some desert climates.
But I think when you look at all of it, it’s really the preservative character of it. We are in the world, in the sense of salt, the way salt has been used throughout all of human history—to preserve something from corruption. We’re in the world to prevent corruption, to restrain wickedness. We are the force for anti-decay. The holy living of believers halts the corruption. We hold it back to some degree. We check the rottenness of a decaying, perishing society. By virtue of our lives, by virtue of the fact that we will not accept blatant, overt, godless, immoral, sinful behavior as a norm. We fight that. We retard moral degeneration if we’re acting as salt. Take all the salt out, and you get the Great Tribulation. Our presence should restrain crime. It should restrain evil. It should put a gag on vile words, wicked deeds.
The church is the only preservative in society. We have to be rubbed into the world. That is to say, we have to mingle. Even salt has to dissolve to do its work. The whole world is like a rotting, putrefying, relentlessly deteriorating carcass, and we’re the only moral spiritual disinfectant. We must influence the world and not be influenced by it. There’s a sense in which this is a quiet witness, the power of the influence of a godly, righteous, virtuous life in your family, in your neighborhood, at your job, your school. The power of influence holds back the corruption to some degree.
But we need to be more than salt, we need to be light. We are the light of the world, and we need to be set on a hill. That’s why we’re here today, right? This is our hill; and the light will shine. This is our calling.
Salt is somewhat hidden. Salt works quietly. Light openly, visibly shatters the darkness. The influence of godly character, though quiet, is powerful, and it does retard the spread of evil; and it starts in the home where you raise godly children. But salt can’t change evil into good, only light can do that. There is no believing person who has made another person righteous by influence or example. Sooner or later the light of the truth must shine. Example alone isn’t going to change the sinner. Salt, in a sense, is negative. It retards corruption. Light is positive, it displays the truth, it delivers from corruption. So we are salt in our character, we are light in our message.
What’s the danger? Oh, great danger: salt losing its saltiness, acquiring a kind of stale alkaline taste becomes good for nothing. And light put under a basket? Pointless. Salt has to be salt, light has to be light for God’s glory. I love what was said of John the Baptist: "He was a burning and shining light."
Through all the history of God’s redemptive work in the world, civil rulers have worked against God’s people, have sought to overrule God, to abuse their sphere of power by stepping into the world of God’s kingdom and trying to take authority. Pharaoh abused his authority over Israel, and he was drowned. Saul overstepped the limits of his God-given sphere and lost his throne. Solomon corrupted his reign with gross immorality and destroyed the kingdom. Subsequently, all the kings of the north, Israel, were evil, and there were nineteen of them in a row that came under the judgment of God. Fourteen of the twenty kings in the southern kingdom of Judah were evil, overstepped their bounds, came under the wrath of God along with the people who were their subjects. Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself above God and became a madman. Belshazzar exalted himself above God and suffered the consequences. And that, by the way—those two kings take us back to the book of Daniel.
As we read, Daniel disobeyed the king because the king told him to disobey God: not to pray. He only asked for thirty days of submission, temporary mandate. Daniel threw open his windows, and for those thirty days prayed publicly and openly three times a day. In the New Testament in Acts 12, Herod, a king, became proud, overstepped his limits, and instantaneously was eaten by worms. The apostle Paul often disobeyed rulers who wanted him to deny the Lord Jesus Christ and stop preaching; and he refused to do that, and he was beaten with sticks and with whips, stoned, run out of town, put in jail; and eventually the Romans decapitated him for disobeying them to obey his God.
In the book of Acts—and I want you to look at this for a moment—the apostles, after the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord, went about preaching boldly. And if you pick up the story in chapter 4, say, at verse 13, the rulers of Jerusalem had told them to stop preaching.
“But they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, ‘What shall we do with these men?’"—this is the Supreme Court of Israel—"‘For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name’"—the name of Jesus. “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak to teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people”—they were afraid of reprisals from the people—“because they were all glorifying God for what had happened.”
Over in chapter 5, the story continues with the apostles in verse 17: “The high priest rose up, along with all his associates (the sect of the Sadducees), filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles, put them in a public jail. During the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life. Go right back to the most public place and start preaching again orders from heaven.’ Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.
“Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the court, or the Council, together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. But the officers who came didn’t find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, saying, ‘We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.’ Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, ‘Oh, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!’ Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
“When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’" Here it is: “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” Get that?
“We must obey God rather than men.” Does this mean we have no responsibility to our leaders? Not at all. God has ordained human government for the peace and wellbeing of temporal society. Romans 13, “We are to recognize the authorities are designed by God. We are to submit to them in the sphere in which God has designed them to operate.”
We’re to do more than that. We’re to honor them, show them respect. Through the years we’ve done that here. We continue to do that with the authorities in our city every opportunity we have. We render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. We even have been called, 1 Timothy 2, to pray for their salvation, as I did this morning. When orders come, however, to us that contradict the orders of our King, we have to obey God rather than men.
The feedback on this has been really wonderful. One argument continues to be made: “Why didn’t you do this at the beginning?” Number one, we didn’t know the extent of the disease, the illness. We were told millions were going to die. It was just sensible and rational to be protective. As time when on, however, we found out the virus was not as deadly as predicted. And the commands not to assemble didn’t apply to protestors and riots; and little by little, Sunday by Sunday, you kept coming back. We didn’t send out an order; you just kept showing up. The first two weeks, I preached to no one. I preached to Patricia, which is pretty routine for me. But by the third week, all of a sudden there were people here, and the fourth week and the next week; and here we are. You kept coming back.
Why did you come back? You came back because your heart cries out to be here. This is where you live and move and have your being. You came because you’re not afraid, because God takes care of all of us. The Lord brought us back little by little to worship, fellowship, ministry, Bible study, youth groups, and then this incredible week with 350 little kids running all over this place. The unanimous will of the people has expressed itself.
Why not sooner? Predictions of death. Why now? Aren’t we putting people in danger? The real danger in this world is spiritual, isn’t it? But let’s talk about that danger from the virus. Twenty-seven states have a higher death rate than California, twenty-seven states. California has had about 8,300 persons die, and I just got this information from the state sources yesterday, 8,300 persons have died with COVID, not necessarily from it, but with it—at least that’s what we’re told. And for California, the California statistic is that’s 21 people out of every 100,000. That means the death rate is 0.02; 99.98 percent of people will not die from this. But there’s another statistic: Half of those people who died are over eighty. So if you’re under eighty, you have a 99.99 percent chance that you’re going to live through this whole thing. That just does not equate to the response this society has had.
Now 270,000 people in California, about a quarter of a million, little more than a quarter of a million die every year. Sixty-five thousand die of heart disease, sixty thousand-plus die of cancer, sixteen thousand die of stroke, sixteen thousand die of Alzheimer’s, fourteen thousand die of respiratory illness, ten thousand die of diabetes, five thousand die from liver illness. That’s from last year. This year they’re all going to be higher because the hospitals were shut down.
Fourteen thousand people die every year from accidents. Five thousand people from suicide—and that’s going higher this year as well. How could they close the hospitals when these people are in jeopardy for something that can affect only 0.01 percent of the population? By the way, alcohol kills three million people a year; and all the liquor stores were open. I know they were open because I couldn’t get any Fresca; and when I wanted to get Fresca, you know what I was told, that all the aluminum is eaten up in beer cans. Fact. Because the bars aren’t open, the beer producers are taking all the aluminum. I want my Fresca.
So far this year the death of quarter of a million people can be traced back to smoking. Cigarettes are for sale. Alcohol’s for sale everywhere; you can have all you want. You can have a run on alcohol to the point that it eats up the aluminum cans. Smoking kills a quarter of a million people, cigarettes are available. By the way, the state had an interesting statistic: 441,000 kids under eighteen will die prematurely from smoking. Almost half a million kids currently under eighteen will someday die from smoking. Where’s the ban on cigarettes?
But here’s the real issue. You know what the great killer in California is? I’ll tell you what it is. The most deadly force in this state is death by medical people who do abortions; and I will give you the statistics of this state. Three hundred and sixty-four abortions a day. About one in four pregnancies in California ends in abortion. So every infant conceived has a one-in-four chance of never getting out of the womb. Eighty-eight percent of those abortions are with women who are not married. California has more abortions than any state in the United States, tax-payer funded.
On May 31, 2019, Governor Newsom issued a proclamation. His proclamation was to let everyone know California’s abortions were available to women from states where abortion was restricted. I’m quoting from his proclamation: “California is welcoming women to come to fully exercise their reproductive rights as a model for other states to follow.” We have more abortions than New York, New Jersey. We have more abortions than any state in America. Let me tell you something: death by abortion outstrips every other kind of death. You could take all the cancer deaths and all the heart disease deaths, put them together, and they don’t come to the killing of children in the womb.
There’s no moral high ground among leaders in this state. They’ve kept all the abortion clinics open. Through all these months they’ve been deemed, along with the liquor stores, essential, so babies could continue to be slaughtered. But churches can’t meet? This is the reality of a corrupt world when babies have a one-in-four chance in our state of not even getting out of the womb. And hopefully, I guess, they would wish that the ones who do get out are politically correct. Slaughter is staggering: nine hundred thousand in this country in a year, almost a million babies.
This is a direct assault on the creative work of God, isn’t it? But God overrules that. And I believe, and I know you do, that He gathers those little ones into His arms. I wrote a book, if any of you are interested, called Safe in the Arms of God. The Lord overrules the efforts of the killers and gathers the little ones to Himself.
Kill people with alcohol. Kill people with cigarettes. Kill people with diseases because the hospitals don’t function. Lock people up so that everybody’s under stress, and make sure churches can’t meet where it’s the only place they could find hope and help. We will not bow to such bizarre standards. We’ll follow our Lord and trust Him.
In a case that went through the Supreme Court this week, Judge Alito was part of the minority opinion on whether churches could meet like casinos could meet, and his statement, I thought, was interesting. He said, “The problem is no longer one of exigency”—meaning a flu or a virus—“but one of discriminatory treatment of places of worship.” That from a member of the United States Supreme Court, who sees it as nothing but discrimination.
Some positive things coming out of this. The church always refines its convictions under duress. This is not a problem to be feared, this is a triumphant hour for the church to be the church. Standing for the glory of our Lord is more important in this hour than I’ve ever known it in my life. For His glory we will stand and meet and worship and preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen. Let’s pray.
We rest in peace and confidence and joy in the comfort of the truth and the comfort of the Spirit, thankful that we can bear the reproach of our Savior and our Redeemer. How wonderful it is to take some wounds for the One who took the wounds for us, to join in the fellowship of His suffering in a hostile world. Lord, may this be a time for Your church to rise up, Your true church. May it by its godly salt influence and its clear light of truth separate itself from all that is corrupt and deceptive, whether it be secular forces or even religious ones. May Your true church rise up for Your honor and Your glory.
Thank You for giving us an opportunity to proclaim Your name, take Your truth and accomplish what You will. We’re grateful to carry the glory of the gospel forward in this desperate hour. And we pray that this might be a time when You look on us with grace in this country and mercy, and You let the light shine and the salt do its work in ways that we desperately need. And may Your gospel reach the darkness of this day with its light, for Your glory we pray. Amen.
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