COVID-19, Christians, and Churches – Concise Sequel

GBC Group

While we accept the necessity of the present situation, there must be an inner mourning in genuine believers that their ability to gather for the covenant assembly of church worship is disrupted. There is something degenerate in a heart that welcomes this disruption from the regularity of church assembly. Every covenant member of a genuine church will make it a matter of prayer, and yearning, that soon society will get back to normal – and the church may assemble again.

 

The viral spread of COVID-19 can be minimized, and hopefully, contained, by avoiding mass gathering. Thus, the government has taken extreme measures of enhanced lockdown and community quarantine. This affects the assemblies of churches. Having taken the position that love of neighbor necessitates the suspension of large gatherings of churches, a qualification is necessary. This is a concise sequel to my previous blog.

Whatever may be put in place of the gathering of the church – live-streaming; etc. – it is not a substitute. It is a disruption of what the church, by nature, must be – a gathered church. Therefore, whatever is disabling this gathering of the church must be seen as a disruption – a necessary disruption, perhaps – but a disruption still.

We can see this in the language that is deliberately chosen for the church in the biblical languages. The word from Old Testament Hebrew that is translated in the Septuagint (LXX) as the Greek word ekklêsia is the Hebrew word qahal. The latter denotes assemblies gathered for various purposes; e.g. war (Gen 49:6; 1Sam 17:47; 2Chr 28:14). The most significant are those that refer to Israel when assembled to accept the covenant with Yahweh (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:2; 31:30); especially in the three annual feasts; and in the dedication of Solomon’s temple (1Ki 8:14, 22, 55). There is an OT word which has an even more strictly religious connotation, ‘edah (Ex 12:19; Lev 4:13; Num 8:9). But this is not the word that ekklesia takes over from. There is something in qahal that is not essential in ‘edah – that is the idea of assembly, especially for Israel, with a covenantal orientation.

Thus, the New Testament writers, following the LXX, use ekklêsia for the New Covenant community. The word itself is used in the Greek literature of the period for political gatherings (cf. Acts 19:39; cf. vs. 32, 41). The scholarly Dictionary of Paul and His Letters gives this essential element of ekklêsia:

 The term was applied only to an actual gathering of people, or to a group that gathers when viewed as a regularly constituted meeting. Although we often speak of a group of congregations collectively as ‘the church’ (i.e. of a denomination) it is doubtful whether Paul (or the rest of the NT) uses ekklesia in this collective way. Also, the notion of a unified provincial or national church appears to have been foreign to Paul’s thinking. An ekklesia was a meeting or an assembly. [ p. 124 ]

Let every church make arrangement so that the members will continue to have their feeding of the Word of God. But genuine preaching is live preaching in the assembly of God’s people. And genuine church worship is the corporate worship in the assembly of the people of God. Any other arrangement than an actual assembly of the church is still a disruption, not a substitution.

While we accept the necessity of the present situation, there must be an inner mourning in genuine believers that their ability to gather for the covenant assembly of church worship is disrupted. There is something degenerate in a heart that welcomes this disruption from the regularity of church assembly. Every covenant member of a genuine church will make it a matter of prayer, and yearning, that soon society will get back to normal – and the church may assemble again.

It is every believer’s delightful response: I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ (Psa 122:1).

2 thoughts on “COVID-19, Christians, and Churches – Concise Sequel”

  1. “THE SORRY STATE OF THE (DISOBEDIENT) CHURCH UNIVERSAL IN 2020”
    — by David Birse 20 March 2020—

    “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
    -Ben Franklin

    These are timely words in an hour in which the churches of the world have collectively chosen to fold like an accordion in the face of persecution,oppression and pressure.It has been said by another: ‘ Never let a good crisis go to waste.’In the wake of the apocalyptic COVID -19 massive Panicfest 2020 currently consuming the world 24-7 in all Four Corners of God’s Creation, it surely is not being wasted.It is a prime opportunity for the power hungry to manipulate the masses and for oligarchies to control whole nations by use of a health crisis.What better way to manipulate than this.Masterful stroke of genius!

    The GOVERNMENT -CONTROLLED globalist media is in full hysteria mode,gladly willing to be an arm of the state,whatever state your country is in.So how are things where you live,wherever you live? I serve as a missionary in The archipelago known as the Philippines,located in Southeast Asia.I first arrived almost five years ago in May, 2015.I am 61 years old,and by God’s grace I’m in reasonably good health.I’d like it to stay that way.My wife makes sure we keep amply hydrated and have plenty of vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits,fresh and native.

    I am an avid runner, former elite marathoner and fairly strong.God has been very good to me.We have a medical martial law(my term) going on here now.If you are an egomaniacal dictatormasquerading as a liberty-loving President,well,now is your time to shine; go seize control andfoist your ways upon the unwitting masses.Most here(including the lily- livered churches and their minions) are too happy to sacrifice those liberties mentioned above for a perceived security,which is no such security at all.

    We are in now what is called an ‘enhanced community quarantine’, (doublespeak if ever I heard it)
    a fancy term that sounds harmless but basically means we are all wards of the state,whether we want to be or not.We are now slaves.We are now in a jail without visible walls and can’t go anywhere.

    Try to get by the heavily armed men stationed at the entrances and exits in your town.You’ll be turned back.Or else? Exactly. Turn back or be turned off.You will comply and you will like it.You keep your mouth shut and submit…………..or else.

    Consider the fast moving turn of events which have unfolded the past week here.They are as surreal as they are dramatic. Curfew is 8 pm.No public transportation.Checkpoints with rifle-toting men.And now quarantine passes.Permission to move.One individual per family allowed to shop only.Vehicles with loudspeakers driving around all day shouting orders.Nobody allowed to go to work. They are bullies and feeling mighty empowered.We are all confined;no leaving one municipality or entering into another town.

    Churches have been rendered impotent; it’s illegal to meet.The only response? Vertical head-nodding by the churches.Cowardly obeisance.Hitler used Romans 13 to gain the cooperation of the churches and seize power
    which he never relinquished.Think hard.Does liberty mean nothing to anyone? How about you?

    All churches are canceling and urging parishioner “submit to the government.”It is no mystery that the world scoffs at the church in 2020.They should.O ye of little faith. Do you not trust in God to spare you? Ahhhhh…you don’t? Fake claims of faith.What does God think of those who profess His Name?

    Excuse me,but isn’t Christ the Head,and aren’t all things under His subjection? Read Colossians Ch. 1 and tell
    me if any sane person can study that and come away with a view that places Caesar above King Jesus.It isn’t there.Everyone is too busy committing to memory Romans 13 pre-textually.But that is what we are doing now;it is what has been going on worldwide for some time now.
    I have seen the lack of love for God and for one another.

    Now it is coming to the fore in all its ugliness.How can God in Heaven bless a church or receive its worship when they can not and will not meet in His name……out of twofold FEAR… FEAR of a purported bodily virus..and FEAR of man’s government? The church willingly withdraws its professed faith on The Lord’s Day–which He has commanded they do…no matter the obstacle.Can you see the irony? We are obeying man, rather than God(the opposite of what Peter and the other disciples did in Acts 5:29.Principle was at stake! It cost them in the Apostolic Age.Why not us then?

    We blab about how much we know and love and trust God..that He will deliver us from the snare of the fowler,from the noisome pestilence(ps 91:3),etc.So much lip service.The unbelieving world has got to be enjoying a good laugh at the church’s expense.They should.We deserve mockery.The devil must even be amazed at what wimps comprise the church. I feel as if I am dreaming.Are the wheat being separated from the chaff before my very eyes?

    I can’t move on from this,to the next thing.For me, this is everything now.Not the stupid Corona virus.
    But the church that is not a church at all.All talk.All head knowledge.This timid reaction of a people world wide who want no part of persecution,no part of retribution, no part of suffering for His Name’s Sake, no part of cross-bearing, no part of tribulation,despite what Acts 14:22 says.The 2020 church is a paper mache tiger.It has no bite.

    We are just playing church,playing games.When push comes to shove, we back down.All these great minds with towering intellects far superior to mine are proving false. Fear reigns inwardly in hearts versus Christ ruling in hearts and giving that peace which surpasses all understanding.I hope this will inspire a few to take up the banner and march forward and onward.If I am a pastor,I don’t cancel.I seem to be very much alone in this but that will not stop me from expressing the fire that burns within me.

    Schools shut.Businesses closed.Sidewalks rolled up.Who’d have thought this?We know the food supply control will be targeted next.We have a full blown police state; it’s lock-down in the Philippines,but everyone denies it.The gov’t via the media told them so.The media has fibbed.The same thing happens in the USA,in Europe,the world over. Grab hold of the media first;they will be your amplifier.

    So folks are like Eve in Genesis 3.They are deceived into exchanging the truth of God for a lie;they’ll do whatever they are told,gladly sacrificing everything to live another day,for another slice of bread and cup of water.Anything at all.Keep pretending.

    Bad infrastructure here…folks don’t see they are manipulated,force fed a steady diet of panic radio and anxiety-inducing behavior that makes them nuts and run home,suck the thumb and curl up into the fetal position crying.

    Most agree to it all just swimmingly.They are slaves at such a point.And nobody has a gun.Vulnerable.
    Hitler also took away guns.All tyrants want their citizen-subjects defenseless.Only the police and military;
    the better to make you get in line,my dear. I am seething with fury at all this,disgusted and disappointed..but not surprised.

    Worse,few know The Bible or The God Of The Bible.But even the ones who know it really well are proving they ain’t no Joshua.
    Ignorance is bliss? It may be if you don’t yearn for the truth,don’t care about consequences,
    and don’t mind selling your soul.Constant patrolling.It never ends.It can’t help but wear people down.It will.

    A small caravan went by our very humble home in a subdivision here to check on everyone last night.
    That was 2 am.Lights flashing.Shades of Nazi Germany.We are being conditioned for the new normal.
    All flights in and out are on hold for 30 days…wooops– check that–!
    The President just changed that to 6 months.His word is law.Stay tuned.Nobody fights back.
    Each day the noose gets just a little bit tighter. Nobody seems to mind.Until they turn various shades of blue.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.Unchecked,it slides into genocide.History repeats if and when
    we fail to learn its lessons and apply them.You should see the pastors and leadership of the churches.
    Almost without exception they urge full milquetoast acquiescence to govt, using ROMANS 13..out of context.

    This seems to be a universal plan and response.The governments of the world rule the churches.
    Not Jesus.He’s about fourth or fifth on the list.If this were His church……they would FIGHT FOR HIM((familiar-sounding verse?).

    Romans 13 didn’t stop Uncle Adolph from taking it out of context. Germans fell for it:the lie of unlimited submission to Caesar. And it worked.All the good sheeple obeyed……….all the way to the concentration camps.If we don’t read the Bible,we won’t know what it says,and can’t properly interpret the text in light of the context.So we then become easy prey for the likes of sinister bully government officials.

    We are pliable putty in their hands.they can do with us as they please.That is precisely what is occurring now.When do I wake up from this dream?

    Submit and do what you are told if you value your life.
    Submit and do what God tells you if you value your eternal soul. Mark 8:36.

    It proves most churches are government-run corporations;they worship Caesar,not The Lord God.
    They preach another Jesus!It’s easier that way.Ya can’t blame ’em,for heaven’s sake.They never have to worry about persecution.Why? That’s only a badge of courage worn by bona fide Believers.Only true Christians will stand on Bible truths,and will be willing to sacrifice the last measure of their devotion for their Lord.

    Government -run churches sell their souls gladly to please their brutal task masters,who just may let them live another day.Sadly,by doing so these citizens without souls betray the Christ they claim is their Lord in the process.

    Why don’t they get it?! Is this it,I wonder? Is this Armageddon?
    Most churches hold services these days and Jesus isn’t even present.
    It seems few or none are rugged Christian soldiers. Animal Farm. 2020 is 1984.It’s here. Orwell -though not a Christian– proved prophetic.Do his words fall upon deaf ears?Judgment Day will prove that many in churches were on the broad path,ignoring II Cor 13:5.

    Folks,examine yourselves, grow a spiritual spine.See if you really ARE in the faith.
    Are the world’s governments using COVID-19 to scare the pants off you and me.
    Are we allowing fear to imprison us to the point of excluding the liberating Gospel ? It seems we are.

    But this shouldn’t be surprising.We have had prior warning.We should have seen the dominoes mentality all along.Everybody caves.Churches have been afflicted with spiritual Covid -19 for decade upon decade,even centuries now.

    The church craves the approval of the world rather than “Well Done,Thou Good and Faithful Servant” from King Jesus.In America the 501 c3 incorporation of the churches by LBJ muzzled the preachers of the country.
    Since then,nobody dares speak against the vile practice of abortion or the sick and perverted evil of sodomy.

    A social gospel has replaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Expository preaching has gone the way of eight tracks and Yugos.Holiness in the pulpit and pew are outmoded.Hip is in.Bible-centered,Christ-exalting churches are nigh impossible to find.

    The Prophets,Apostles, early church fathers,saints throughout the church age,
    unto to the present have had to suffer,obey God rather than man,and pay the price with their own blood,
    with their own lives. Suffering and agony.Why, oh why–should we be any different,and be carried to heaven on soft ivory beds of ease?(to paraphrase the old hymn).

    Jesus took a narrow,courageous bloody road.Confronting error constantly throughout His ministry
    eventually cost Him His life. If we are faithful,it may well cost us ours. He expects this of us.It is requisite.
    Easy believism is partly to blame.Jesus the Savior but not Jesus the Lord.The Garden path and not the narrow way.Soft and not hard. Smooth sailing and no stormy seas. Comfort and zero trials.

    Big Brother is here…he is at the door..will you let him and his brother fear rule in your heart over COVID-19?
    Or will youhave Jesus rule over you.The consequences for the former choice can be see in Luke 19:27.
    ” But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them,
    bring hither, and slay them before me.”

    So who will you serve– will it be the authentic Jesus who requires our all? The one who saves?
    Will it be another Jesus,the one who doesn’t save.The one to whom most go every Sunday.

    I leave you these next words without comment,for they are the words of The One Who has no superior, The Master.Any attempt to do so would be feeble and insignificant by comparison.Here they are,and ponder them in the light of the “Christian” world bowing to Baal,Molech and Dagon.Since when should Jesus be placed under Caesar? He rules over all.

    “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” John 15:20

    Here I Stand,

    David Birse

    Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
    by Isaac Watts (circa 1721)
    Am I a soldier of the cross,
    A follow’r of the Lamb?
    And shall I fear to own His cause,
    Or blush to speak His name?
    Must I be carried to the skies
    On flow’ry beds of ease,
    While others fought to win the prize,
    And sailed through bloody seas?
    Are there no foes for me to face?
    Must I not stem the flood?
    Is this vile world a friend to grace,
    To help me on to God?
    Sure I must fight if I would reign;
    Increase my courage, Lord;
    I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
    Supported by Thy Word.
    Thy saints in all this glorious war
    Shall conquer, though they die;
    They see the triumph from afar,
    By faith’s discerning eye.
    When that illustrious day shall rise,
    And all Thy armies shine
    In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
    The glory shall be Thine.

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