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Why Your Church Should Safely Reopen Now

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2020 8:00 pm

Why Your Church Should Safely Reopen Now

The Christian Worldview / David Wheaton

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May 15, 2020 8:00 pm

Depending on where you live, it has now been nine weeks since government officials have ordered churches in America to cease worship services due to stated concerns about the spread of COVID-19. In many states, there is no timetable for when government will allow churches to reopen.

But have you driven by your local big box retailer recently, like Home Depot, Walmart, or Target? Parking lots are packed, people are lined up to enter, and dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, are shopping inside.

So is it “essential” and reasonable and equal treatment that Home Depot is allowed to be open—not to mention Planned Parenthood and bars (in WI)—but not your local church?

Mat Staver, attorney and founder of Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family, joins us to discuss why now is the time to safely open churches in America...

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Why your church should safely reopen now. Matt Staver from Liberty Council joins us today right here on the Christian Worldview Radio Program where the mission is to sharpen the biblical world view of Christians and to share the good news, the gospel, that all people can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. I'm David Wheaton the host and our website is thechristianworldview.org.

Thanks for joining us today on the program. Depending on where you live, it has now been nine weeks since government officials have ordered churches in America to cease worship services due to stated concerns about the spread of COVID-19. In many states there is no timetable for when government will allow churches to reopen way down the line in the phases of reopening. But have you driven by your local big box retailer recently like Home Depot, Walmart or Target? Parking lots are packed.

People are lined up to enter and dozens and dozens if not hundreds of people are shopping inside. So it is essential and reasonable and equal treatment that Home Depot is allowed to be open, not to mention Planned Parenthood and in bars in our neighboring state in Wisconsin but not your local church. Matt Staver is an attorney and founder of Liberty Council.

It's an international nonprofit litigation education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the family. He joins us today on the Christian Real View to discuss why now is the time to safely open churches in America. We're going to discuss the biblical and constitutional reasons for reopening along with safety recommendations for your congregation and what to do if government authorities intervene. Let's get to the first segment with Matt Staver. Matt, thank you for coming back on the program. You know, a lot has happened since you were last with us.

It was actually in March of 2019. We were talking about the Equality Act and the loss of civil liberties, especially the danger for Christians with regard to that. Now we find ourselves at a new moment in American history with this coronavirus and the government shutdowns of really almost all of society.

Things are beginning to open back up. But one thing that hasn't really opened back up, at least where we live and in many other states, are churches. I think the main thing Christians want to know is, why are Home Depot and Target and Walmart and stores like these allowed to be open with literally hundreds of people in the store at one time, but churches are still not allowed to be open?

Well, that's a good question. And in fact, that's the unconstitutional issue that we are dealing with here. To even categorize Walmart, Kmart, some of these other places, liquor stores, even abortion clinics as essential and not churches is a constitutional violation. It's unequal treatment to begin with, which at a minimum, the First Amendment demands. But frankly, churches are in the First Amendment with the free exercise of religion.

That doesn't mean you just simply are a passive viewer. It means to be able to have the free exercise of religion. And it also has a provision in the First Amendment that the government cannot establish religion and the government is attempting to do that by micromanaging and dictating the manner and form and the details of worship for all churches across its state.

And that's a real problem from a constitutional standpoint. So we have been litigating on behalf of churches all over America and literally working with thousands and thousands of pastors nationwide. Matt Staver of Liberty Council today, the founder, joins us.

Their website is LC.org, as in Liberty Council.org. So for the churches that aren't being represented, your regular church down the street, what do you recommend they do? I mean, in light of what the Bible talks about in Romans 13 and other places about obeying government, yet the government's transgressing way beyond the intention of our Constitution.

Is this a time for civil disobedience and to start meeting again? Well, let me address Romans 13 and 1 Peter, for example, because that is a Scripture that's often used, and it's been probably one of the most abused Scriptures in 2,000 years of Christianity. It was certainly very abused during the Nazi regime in 1933. That's when this famous Sherman was given in one of the Protestant churches with all the Nazi people there, with all the Nazi regalia and flags, and it was based on Romans 13.

Just simply follow what the government is doing, and we see the disaster that that ultimately resulted in. So what we see in Romans 13 is very similar to 1 Peter, and it's also very similar to what Jesus says in Matthew 22, 21, and Jesus gives a real balance to that, and I'll mention that in a second. Romans 13, the first seven verses is where we're talking about obey the government, and the reason why the government is established by God is for civic order.

Why? To punish the evildoer and to protect the good. That's the purpose of government.

Punish the evildoer, protect the good. In that same context, it also talks about therefore that's why you pay taxes, and Peter says something similar to that, to pray for our elected officials, which we should always do. Jesus ultimately is presented with that question, and they're trying to trick him, and they say, should we pay taxes to Caesar or not? He says, let me see one of the coins. Whose inscription is it?

Caesar's. He says, render to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God the things that belong to God. That is really the jurisdictional question. If you go back from the Old Testament all the way through Christianity, tell the present what we have in the Old Testament, for example, is a division between the civic and the religious. You have the king who does not have authority over the temple and worship. You have the priest who does not have authority over the king. Those are two separate jurisdictions, and we see sometimes where kings ultimately really stepped across the line and got into a lot of problems and trouble when they tried to interfere with and go into the actual temple to micromanage and dictate worship. So you have two different spheres, the civic and you also have the religious. Jesus is saying the same thing.

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. So the real question is, what about the church? Well, the church is not under the jurisdiction of the government. The government has no right, historically, that even predates our Constitution throughout history, but also the First Amendment draws the line.

You have no right as a government to prohibit the free exercise of religion, and you have no right to micromanage or establish a religion, and that is exactly what you are doing. When you are saying to churches across the board, your form of worship has to be online, or you can have a parking lot service but no in-person service, or you can have ten people but no more than that. Or if you're going to have a choir, they shouldn't sing. Believe it or not, those are some restrictions that are out there.

Or if they sing, no particular wind instruments only, you know, percussion instruments, string instruments. That really goes far and beyond what the Constitution provides. In fact, the Constitution says government has no authority in those areas. What do you think the motivation is here for why churches aren't being allowed to open?

I think the government would probably excuse it as, well, we're not allowing large-scale sporting events, so we group churches into that. But what do you think the reason is behind this? It does seem a big overreach. Well, it's a very big overreach, and you know, the most restrictive states that we're dealing with from the beginning and even now are states in which you have an individual at the top who doesn't respect the sanctity of human life, is very radically pro-abortion, and if they don't respect life, they're not going to respect your freedom or your liberty. So that's really a commonality that we see. If you don't respect life, you don't respect freedom and liberty.

And that's what we see happening. There are people for several reasons. One, they have an animosity to Christianity and church.

Or two, they have very little interaction with it. And from their perspective, they're just not essential. So they wipe them off the map as though they don't exist. Yet at the same time, saying that elective surgeries can't happen, but you can have an elective abortion, or that you can go to the liquor store because that's an essential activity that you need to do. And we couldn't just shut that down during the pandemic. I mean, those are the kind of crazy things that are these arbitrary decisions that government is making. And frankly, you know, the liquor stores, the Walmart, Kmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, all of those different places, grocery stores, they do not have a constitutional right to exist. Churches do. And there's two clauses of the First Amendment. They give them special treatment over any other non-religious entity. And one of those is the free exercise of religion. Government has no right to tell you that you can or can't take communion, that you can have only 10 people in a 5,000 seat sanctuary. It doesn't matter whether it's a 50 seat church or a 5,000 seat church, or that you can't have parking lot services. And I can give you examples of all of these things because we've been litigating with them.

We've been pushing back on a lot of these restrictions. Matt Staver with us today on the Christian worldview, the founder of Liberty Council, an excellent organization that seeks to advance civil rights in the areas of religious freedom, sanctity of human life and the family. Correct me if I'm wrong to summarize what you're saying is you think churches should be opening back up now. And if the police come and try to interfere, what should churches or pastors do then? We are having conference calls with pastors three times a week now because we have so many that we're dealing with throughout the country. And we're going through different options that they have. And they vary from place to place and state to state and locale to locale.

So there's no one size fits all. We do have a website that we created called reopenchurch.org, reopenchurch.org. It's part of our Liberty Council website, which is lc.org. You can get to it either way, lc.org or reopenchurch.org. And that page is dedicated just to the process of beginning the process, the idea of beginning the process of reopening the church, not full blown like we had them before.

That'll come, but to begin the process. And so we have different ideas on there and also different health recommendations and guidelines that you can follow so that everyone can be safe, but that you can also begin the process of reopening and having in-person services. In a number of states, the restrictions are starting to relax. Florida, for example, is a state that we've been working in. And of course, that has changed ever since April the 1st.

Churches have been considered essential. And there's no mandatory restrictions on any church in the state of Florida. And that's one of the largest states in the entire country. It's been like that since April the 1st, arising out of one of our cases out of Tampa, Florida. And there's other places around the country that are doing something similar. But on the other hand, there's some states like Illinois, Maine, Virginia, California, so many other states that have very restrictive regulations. And for some of these pastors, I know they just are saying, enough is enough.

We're going to be peaceful, but we're going to also not be treated like second-class citizens. Because everyone knows when you—if you drive by a Walmart or Home Depot, and I'm not picking on those, I'm just saying everyone knows those. It's like Christmas for three or four months in a row. They're having their busiest month ever.

The parking lots are always packed. And yet, in many states or locales, they say you can't even have parking lot services. Or if you have in-service, you can only have five people in New Mexico, or ten people, for example, in Chicago. Those are just absolutely outlandish restrictions and unconstitutional. So what should a church do?

They have their service, they think it's unconstitutional, the police come. What do you recommend as an attorney as to how a pastor or a church should deal with a confrontation with the police? Okay, Matt Staver is our guest today on The Christian Real View.

He will answer that particular question, a very real possibility in this world we live in, right after this first break of the day on The Christian Real View. We're talking about why your church should safely reopen now. We have a couple more segments with Matt.

It's been excellent. Hope you're listening very carefully today, especially people who are involved in churches. We'll get into the biblical and constitutional basis for reopening, how you should reopen, what to do if the police comes.

Matt will answer that question next. So much more to get to here on The Christian Real View today. By the way, their website, again, is LC.org. Great resources there.

You also have ReopenChurch.org, which is part of that website. More coming up on The Christian Real View next. People everywhere have anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic.

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It's been a very popular booklet, American Gospel Films, DVDs, kids' resources, lots to do there at thechristianworldview.org. Why your church should safely reopen now, that is our topic today. On the program, Matt Staver, one of the most prominent leading experts, attorneys on these particular subjects from the Liberty Council is our guest.

And let's just get to the second segment of the interview with Matt Staver. So what should a church do? They have their service, they think it's unconstitutional, the police come. What do you recommend as an attorney as to how a pastor or church should deal with a confrontation with the police? You want to avoid confrontations, obviously, and that's going to, you know, I can't speak for a pastor or church leadership, that's a decision that they have to make. I can tell you, and from a legal standpoint, I haven't seen one regulation that I consider to be constitutional. I think they've all been way beyond their constitutional authority. So that's from a legal standpoint.

Now from an active standpoint, in terms of what do you do, that's, I can't tell individuals what to do, I can only say that's going to be a decision that you're going to have to consider and pray through. And obviously, in some cases, like for example, let me give you a case in Virginia. Virginia has a 10 person limitation. This church, Lighthouse Fellowship Church that we represent, on Palm Sunday had 16 people in a 293 seat sanctuary, 16 people, and they see 293 people.

So they were very far spaced out. Well, the police came there and they gave a criminal summons to the pastor and he now faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. We're going to represent him on that. And I believe we will clearly win that case. But on the other hand, we've also filed a federal lawsuit and that's pending moving forward in that particular situation. So some cases like that, that may be something that you have to consider as the possibility. But there comes a time when you have to, like Martin Luther King Jr. say, enough is enough.

They've gone too far. But that's not my decision. That's a pastor's decision.

And fortunately, a lot of places around the country, you don't have to have that kind of decision that you're having to make because there are jurisdictions around the country where there are very few restrictions and you can work within some of those restrictions. And so we're here to try to help you scope out the landscape of what's going on in your particular area and work through those situations. And then you have to make a final decision as a pastor and church leader. Matt Staver with us on the Christian Real View today from the Liberty Council.

He's the founder. Their website is LC.org. Here in Minnesota, Matt, the governor just announced they're going to be partially reopening the state on Monday, but that does not include churches. To kick that back to the end, if you go to Illinois, it's very similar.

There's a template that's happening around and Minnesota is one of those states like that where this template is happening. And what they're doing is, first, they don't have churches in the essential category and that has been from the very beginning. But when they start opening, churches are nowhere down on that list.

And where you find them is in phase four, phase five, however many phases they have, but they're always in the last phase. And like Illinois, they say, well, we're never going to get past 50 people in a church for at least 12 to 18 months, at least 12 to 18 months. And that's only going to happen when we have additional tracing, testing, and a vaccine that is universally available. And frankly, I don't think it's just going to be voluntary. I think they're going to require it.

So that's going to be another battle coming down the road. And that's what they're saying. Until we get all this tracing and testing and we get a universally available vaccine, churches, you're not going back to normal. You're not even going back in Illinois beyond 50 people.

And again, it doesn't matter whether you have a 5,000 seat sanctuary and everything else virtually in the community is open. They're putting churches down at the very end of the list. That is shocking. We shouldn't stand for it. That doesn't comport with anything we've ever known in this country or what this country is about. And it's certainly unconstitutional.

I agree with you. You brought up the next question I wanted to ask you about this contact tracing, the intimation of universal vaccination. Now, I mean, that just on the face of it does not seem constitutional where you're forced to get a vaccination.

What are your thoughts on that? Well, I'm opposed to forced vaccinations. I think our freedom is, you know, if people want to be vaccinated, that's their free choice.

If they don't want to be vaccinated, that's their free choice as well. This whole mandatory tracing, testing and vaccination is something that has predated the COVID-19 virus. It's something that has been in the planning phase globally by people such as Bill Gates, George Soros, Bill Clinton and many others like that pushing this universal tracing that's happening already in China. It's already happening in other parts around the world where they are requiring an app on your phone that tracks every single move. Everyone that you come in contact with would even alert you if you're close to somebody that they don't want you to be close to and would be your digital immunity passport, if you will, to actually be able to fly on an airplane or go into a public place or go into a restaurant.

In China, the mandatory app, you have to show that when you go into different public places like a restaurant, it has a green, yellow and red light that comes up to give the person notice as to whether you have access to come in. And that mandatory tracing, tracking and testing and then the vaccination is all part of this global movement that's happening and they're using COVID-19 to literally accelerate their plan globally. We could talk a long time about what's going on with that particular plan but here's the shocking thing. Believe it or not, even South Dakota, that is one state that didn't have any restrictions, even South Dakota is moving forward with tracing and also this tracking, the same thing. One of the stimulus bills already gave money to the Center for Disease Control to give out to the various state and other entities, private entities, for tracing and testing. And right now there's a bill in the House that already has about a week ago had 45 sponsors, now it's got 60 or more sponsors in the House and it's called HR, get this, 6666, no joke, HR 6666 and it's a bill that involves tracing. They want to do $100 million minimum a year to give to these governments so they can do exactly that, trace every single movement and that becomes your digital passport as to whether you have your vaccinations, whether you have been around someone that they don't want you to be around and that gives you your access or gives you a denial to actually go out in public. Here's one other thing, New York is paying $27 an hour to people who will go out and knock on doors and track down people using this digital information. There are right now tens of thousands of people that are already hired and currently being trained by these different states to do this very thing that I'm talking about. So there's a tracing aspect, who have you been in contact with and then they track you, they mandate a vaccination or else you're not going to be able to do X, Y and Z and now you've created a two tier society of those who are privileged to have the vaccination, those who are not.

Is that a basic summary of what it is? Yeah, that's right. I mean, even in Washington State right now, when they're starting to open up even some places, you have to give your name and contact information as a prerequisite to come in to eat at the restaurant and so forth. And that's happening in other places as well. We pushed back on that in Kansas City, Missouri, and they ultimately made it voluntary.

But now you got it statewide in Washington and you're getting it pushed throughout other parts of the country as well. That's the low tech version of it. And we already have instances in some places where they've had to give their name and contact information to go into stores or a restaurant where someone took that and now starts stalking the women who patronize those locations. That's the low tech version.

The high tech version will be something that tracks every single move and every person you come in contact with. What is your overall view of this whole coronavirus pandemic? As you think about this, as you look at governmental reaction, even societal reaction to this and initiatives that have been put forward in the last two or three months in America, what is your overall perspective on this whole thing? Okay, Matt Staver, our guest today on The Christian Real View, the founder of Liberty Council, will answer that question after this next break. He's giving very powerful, concerning responses today about this particular issue of civil liberties in this country, specifically with regard to churches, but even beyond that.

And we're going to be going to a dark area of our society and our history unless something is done about it. Now I want to give you an alternate viewpoint on this because you've heard Matt talk about the threat to constitutional liberties of religion and assembly and everything else. Well, here's Michigan Governor Whitmer.

She's on the left. She's been very much in the news, very restrictive in her own state. Here's how she thinks she is so constitutional in every decision that she makes in keeping her state shut down.

The Michigan state legislature has actually filed a lawsuit against you claiming that your state of emergency extension to May 28th is unlawful. Since they did not approve it, are you acting beyond your authority here? And do you understand why there are so many concerned citizens about government overreach at this point? Of course.

And you know what? I think that that is a robust debate that we should absolutely have. The fact of the matter is every decision that I've made has been on the right side of the Constitution and always centered by epidemiology, facts and science and to save lives. We've taken these actions. We can't let all of the sacrifice that's been made be made in vain and watch people drop social distancing and go back to life as normal and run the risk of the very real risk of a second wave. Okay. It's like living in an alternate universe. The left sees us as, Oh, this is perfectly constitutional and justified. People like Matt Staver obviously believe otherwise with good reason. Much more coming up today on the Christian real view.

Stay tuned. I'm David Wheaton. It is a pain to know that there are people who do not know Jesus. It is a greater pain to know that oftentimes Jesus and Christianity is being distorted. Your destiny is calling out.

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Your email and mailing address will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time. Call 1-888-646-2233 or visit theChristianworldview.org. We're back on the Christian worldview radio program today. Our topic is why your church should safely reopen now.

Our guest is Matt Staver. He's the founder of Liberty Council. In case you missed their website, it'd be a great resource for your church. LC as in Liberty Council.org is the website.

They also have kind of a sub website on their site. You can go to the LC.org and go to this or you can go directly to reopenchurch.org. We have these links at our website, theChristianworldview.org as well, right in the preview for today's program on our home page. While you're there, you can subscribe to our weekly email and get resources and do all sorts of things that are taking place right now within the Christian worldview ministry. We have one segment left with Matt Staver and then we're going to get into three points about why your church should safely reopen now with regard to a biblical and constitutional basis. Matt's been talking about that, how you should reopen and what you should do if the authorities come to intervene. We have more sound bites coming up, so much more to get to on the program.

Let's get to the last few minutes of our time with Matt Staver of Liberty Council. What is your overall view of this whole coronavirus pandemic? As you think about this, as you look at governmental reaction, even societal reaction to this and initiatives that have been put forward in the last two or three months in America, what is your overall perspective on this whole thing? Certainly, you know, we have to take the pandemic seriously.

At the same time, I was never, ever afraid, one minute, one moment throughout this. That's, I think, one of the problems that we have, fear. Fear has ultimately fueled people and blinded people over this. I think that we knew before we did all of these outrageous lockdowns and restrictions, we knew that those numbers were overblown.

At least I did. I was opposed to those numbers. I spoke against them from the very beginning.

I spoke against these restrictions from the very beginning. Not once was I in favor of what has happened. I think we have, we've gone way beyond what we should have. And frankly, I think, and I think there's no question about that, more people will die, not only in the United States, but globally. By far, it's going to dwarf the numbers of the people that have died and will die of COVID-19, then will die from the restrictions secondary to COVID-19. Right now, in some places in South Africa, there are roads of people.

I'm not talking about a single line. I'm talking about as wide as a road, two and a half miles long of people not being able to get food, standing in line to try to get food. There are millions, hundreds of millions of people, I think, that will die worldwide from starvation because of what's happening in other countries that don't have the infrastructure we have. There are people I know already in this country that have died because they weren't able to get medical treatment.

I have personal information about some of these individuals because they stopped all the cancer treatment. They stopped, you know, other kinds of surgeries. They stopped cancer surgery and heart surgery and all these other kinds of things, at the same time allowing abortions to continue on. So I think it's been way, way overblown. And I think there's been a political agenda and a biased media that's really fueled this because of a broader agenda. And that broader agenda is what? I think the broader agenda is control.

The broader agenda is depopulation and control. For example, if you make a vaccine, you have immunity from a lawsuit. If you're a company that makes a vaccine, there's no liability because Congress passed a law a number of years ago to give liability to pharmaceutical companies that create vaccines. If you create a drug otherwise outside of a vaccine that hurts somebody, they can sue you, but not for vaccines. So if you make a vaccine, you have protection from liability, and then you want to mandate it on everyone, you have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions into the trillions of dollars that's at stake here. In addition to that, you have people like Bill Gates that want to reduce the global population by at least 15%.

And we see what's happened in India with their vaccinations where they were laced with infertility drugs so that these people would become sterile. Wow, it's really incredible all that's taking place right now. We appreciate your time today, Matt, coming on the Christian Real View.

You are really, in your organization, Liberty Council, are really in the flashpoint right now of what's taking place in our society. So I know our listeners will be praying for you and your staff as you litigate these various civil liberties issues going on right now. And thank you as well for your comments and your encouragement for people and their churches at this time right now to reopen. Well, thank you.

It's good to be with you. Again, our website is LC.org and ReopenChurch.org is the one just for churches. We will certainly direct people there. Thanks again, Matt.

Okay, we would direct you to go there if you have more questions. I hope you heard every minute of what Matt Staver said today here on the Christian Real View radio program. It's really important at this time in our history that you're well aware of what's going on, what your constitutional rights are, what your duty to God is as a believer. And if you missed any of it, just go to our website, TheChristianRealView.org. We'll have the audio up on there later today. Hopefully by this afternoon, we usually put it up after the program airs live. The program airs live on Saturday mornings between eight and nine a.m. Central Time. Some of you hear the program at later times over the weekend, but that's when it airs live.

And then once we get it up there, you can hear the program anytime. Now, let's get to some points here about why your church should safely reopen now. And let's get to the biblical and constitutional basis for reopening, first to the biblical basis. I think the passage in Acts chapter 4 is an important one to read and understand with regard to this issue, because at that particular time, the disciples were being told by the religious leaders of the day not to preach in the name of Christ. And their response is very interesting.

So I thought I'd just read part of that chapter because it really does apply well. We're being told today as Christians, don't do a compulsory, really a commanded part of our faith to assemble together. So it's a slightly different command, but it's something that's essential to the Christian faith is to gather together. Ekklesia is the word for church. That word means to assemble, assembly, gather, congregate, be in a group, form a body.

That's exactly what it is. Watching church online is not the way church is meant to be. That's not church. Church is a gathering of believers together. So let's read this passage in Acts chapter 4, and they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees came up to them, came up to the disciples, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus their resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message of the disciples believed, and the number of the men came to be about 5,000.

Imagine that evangelistic outreach. Verse 5, chapter 4 of Acts. And the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, quote, By what power or in what name have you done this?

unquote. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man that had healed someone, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone, and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Verse 13, Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the men 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?

For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and 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, and when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or 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, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened.

For the man was more than forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. When they had been released, the disciples went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted up their voices to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, it is you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said, Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers that were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ. For truly in this city they were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your purpose predestined to occur.

I'm going to skip to the end because we're running out of time in this segment. And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. Now is the time to follow the model of these disciples and see what happens. The word gets spoken with boldness. We'll come back, we'll get more into these points about how you should safely reopen your church now.

You're listening to the Christian Real View. I'm David Wheaton. David Wheaton here to tell you about my boy Ben, a story of love, loss, and grace. Ben was a yellow lab and inseparable companion at a stage in my life when I was single and competing on the professional tennis tour. I invite you to enter into the story and its tapestry of relationships with Ben, my aging parents, with a childhood friend I would finally marry, and ultimately with God who caused all things, even the hard things, to work together for good. Order the book for your friend who needs to hear about God's grace and the gospel, or the one who has gone through a difficult trial or loss, or just the dog lover in your life. Signed and personalized copies are only available at myboyben.com or by calling 1-888-646-2233.

That's 1-888-646-2233 or myboyben.com. People everywhere have anxiety about the coronavirus pandemic. What will happen to their health, their job, their finances, the future? There is also heightened spiritual awareness. Why is God doing this?

Am I right with Him? We encourage you to order Ray Comfort's 20-page booklet, How to Be Free from the Fear of Death, which explains how one can have peace with God and a confident hope for this life and the next through the good news of the gospel. If you have never contacted the Christian Real View, request the booklet How to Be Free from the Fear of Death for free by calling us at 1-888-646-2233.

For everyone else, you can order as many as you'd like for 50 cents per booklet, perfect for sharing with others. To order, go to thechristianworldview.org or call 1-888-646-2233. That's thechristianworldview.org. All right, final segment of the day here on the Christian Real View radio program. Our topic is Why Your Church Should Safely Reopen Now. We've already heard from Matt Staber of Liberty Council, and in the summary wrap-up here, we're answering that question with three points. The biblical and constitutional basis for reopening, how you should reopen and point three, what you should do if the authorities try to intervene.

We're still on the first point here. We gave the examples of the disciples being told not to preach by the religious leaders of their day, and they said, well, you may think that's right, but we cannot do anything but preach the name of Christ, so we're going to continue to do it. That's a command of God for us to do that, just as gathering together in church is a command of God for believers. So the biblical basis is that we should be gathering together.

Now, the state is saying the opposite. It's unsafe for people to gather in church. Therefore, we are ordering you not to gather for an undetermined length of time. There is no—there is no—many places, we have no idea when churches will be deemed safe by government. They're saying the church is non-essential.

This is an order that Christians cannot do, at least for any length of time. Church Online is not a church as the New Testament prescribes. The New Testament prescribes church as, again, the example in Acts 2, so then those who had received his word were baptized, and that day they were added three thousand souls, another time of great outreach. They were—here's what church is.

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayer. Church is a corporate body of believers doing these things together. As I mentioned, the word for church is ekklesia. In Greek, that means assembly. They go to a thesaurus for assembly.

The words are gathering, meeting, congregation, group, body. Not only that, the Scripture says in Hebrews 10, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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. Now, I think it's fine for a church to decide for a short time in extraordinary circumstances, as it was when the coronavirus first hit America, trying to figure out what's going on here, but we're way past that time now. To classify the church as non-essential perfectly describes the world's view of biblical Christianity, but it's just the opposite. The most essential part of life is exercising one's faith in God, and part of that exercising of the faith is the church. The government response, I think Matt Staver for sure believes this, is now an over-response, and it's unconstitutional, and I believe that now it's time for the church to obey God rather than men. Matt explained the principle of Romans 13 that Christians should be good citizens, they should honor authorities, and they should not be troublemakers, but that needs to be balanced against whether our authorities are exceeding their constitutional authority, and commanding that we do something different than what God commands us to do. I mean, look at the First Amendment of the Constitution, the very first one, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievance. I mean, these are exactly, I mean three or four of those issues are exactly what's going on. This is literally the First Amendment, the first freedom of this country.

Our founders knew it was so important, they put it there right at the top. So these executive orders by governors and other elected officials is really supplanting the first right of citizens of this country in our Constitution. We're not in a state of martial law right now, many businesses and organizations are open, we've mentioned this, bars are open in our bordering state of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood is open, they're seen as essential.

We now have experience with the virus, we can see the statistics of deaths per the population size. Any fair court or judge would have a very difficult time justifying the continued shutdown of churches. It really is, at this point, unjust treatment, or showing impartiality to order churches to remain closed. And if Matt Staver, a constitutional attorney specializing in religious rights, is encouraging churches to open, he must strongly believe there is a strong legal precedent to do so. That's the first point, the biblical and constitutional basis for reopening. Let's get quickly to the second, is how to reopen. Number one, I think there's a case here to be made for respectfully petitioning your governing authority.

The disciples didn't in the case I read in Acts 4, but Moses seemed to when he wanted to have the people go and worship the Lord. He petitioned Pharaoh, God told him to do that. Where you can petition the government, talk about your safety plan, why it's essential to open, but if they turn down your reasonable petition, then it's on to step two. Remember, the early Americans petitioned the government of England as well. So there is basis for petitioning the government rather than just going forward.

But if they just refuse unreasonably, then step two. Determine in your area, using wisdom, whether your area is being strongly impacted by the virus. If you're in a virus-ridden part of New York City where it's still infecting large numbers of people, wisdom dictates that you may want to wait longer to meet in person just for the safety of your own congregation and for other people. But if you're almost anywhere else in the country, like in Minnesota where there's been 650 deaths about and 550 have been people who have lived in elderly care facilities and Home Depot and Walmart and Target are open for business, it's a different story. You have to ask the question, why is it more safe to be at a church than at Walmart? Point three, how to reopen. Don't open in a defiant, rebellious, or self-aggrandizing way, or with a self-aggrandizing motive. A church's motivation should be, we need to obey God. We need to serve people's spiritual needs.

Should not be trying to draw attention or conflict, making grand announcement, daring authorities to intervene. Just inform your congregation and open up safely. Number four, establish a well-thought-out health and safety plan for your church, such as, I'm going to give you a bunch of bullet points here, warning anyone who is sick or older or has underlying health conditions not to come early on. Avoiding physical contact like hugging or shaking hands when you get to church. Spreading people out by family in your church, giving their physical distance, maybe doing multiple services so your building can be more open and not so closed in with people together. Spreading the choir out, suggesting people go to the bathroom before they come to church.

Administering communion by having people walk up through the front instead of passing a plate to each other where everyone's touching it. Sanitizing the building before and after. And recording everything by video and picture in case of lawsuits.

And then evaluating week by week, are people getting sick? Look at what's taking place. And if you're not ready to meet on the inside of a church building, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be meeting on the outside in at least a church parking lot service. And then finally, the third point is what to do if the authorities come. Have your video cameras on. That's the only thing that's going to stand up in a court of law. You don't want to get into a you said, they said type of situation. Be respectful. Don't be confrontational. You're not looking for a fight. Realize that civil authorities might try to even incite you. So don't talk too much.

Explain why you're opening and contact the Liberty Council or some other legal authority to be able to represent you. You know, we do live in a changing and challenging world, everyone. But it's time to think biblically and live accordingly about opening the church right now. We'll be right back. Thanks for listening to the Christian worldview. Until next time, think biblically and live accordingly.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-23 05:28:12 / 2024-03-23 05:48:07 / 20

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