I would like to recommend it... you can view it here:
(You didn't hear about it from me.)
QUESTION: “Do you believe it’s biblical when some pastors in America are continuing to hold services even though the government instructs them not to?” From Rich.Yeah, let me make very clear this question because it keeps coming up. If the government told us not to meet because Christianity was against the law, if the government told us not to meet because we would be punished, fined for our religion and our religious convictions, we would have no option but to meet anyway. And that takes you to the fifth chapter of Acts where the leaders of Israel said to the apostles, “Stop preaching.” And Peter’s response was very simple. He said, “You judge whether we obey God or men,” then he went right out and preached.If the government tells us to stop worshiping, stop preaching, stop communicating the gospel, we don’t stop. We obey God rather than men. We don’t start a revolution about that; the apostles didn’t do that. If they put us in jail, we go to jail and we have a jail ministry. Like the apostle Paul said, “My being in jail has fallen out to the furtherance of the gospel.” So we don’t rebel, we don’t protest. You don’t ever see Christians doing that in the book of Acts. If they were persecuted, they were faithful to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it took them to jail; and that’s been the pattern of true Christianity through all the centuries.But this is not that. Might become that in the future. Might be overtones of that with some politicians. But this is the government saying, “Please do this for the protection of this society.” This is for greater societal good, that’s their objective. This is not the persecution of Christianity. This is saying, “Behave this way so that people don’t become ill and die.”Now you may not think that you’re going to have that impact on somebody, you’re not going to be the one that becomes a carrier and causes something to be passed on to somebody else down the road and somebody dies. You may think that’s going to be you. But you cannot defy the government. And I don’t think pastors should do this. You cannot defy the government and say, “We’re going to meet anyway because God has commanded us to meet, no matter what damage we do to people’s lives.”I mean, what should mark Christians is mercy, compassion, love, kindness, sacrifice. How are you doing that if you flaunt the fact that you’re going to meet; and essentially you’re saying, “We disregard the public safety issue.” You don’t really want to say that. That does not help the gospel cause.What helps the gospel cause is to say, “Of course, we don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s sadness, anyone’s sorrow, anyone’s sickness, and certainly anyone’s death. So we will gladly comply. This is consistent with what Scripture says, that we are to live quiet and peaceable lives in the society in which we live. We don’t rebel, we don’t do protests, we don’t fight the government, we don’t harass and harangue, we don’t march, we don’t get in parades, we don’t stop traffic; we lead quiet and peaceable lives, and we pray for those in authority over us, and we submit ourselves to them.In Romans chapter 13, Paul says, “You submit yourself to the government, the powers that be.” But Peter adds to that, “You submit yourself to the governor and the king,” whoever that personal authority is. I’ve heard people say, “Well, this isn’t constitutional.” That’s irrelevant. That is completely irrelevant. When you’re told by an authority to do something and it’s for the greater good of the society physically, that’s what you do because that’s what Christians would do. We are not rebels and we’re not defiant, and we don’t flaunt our freedom at the expense of someone else’s health.How do we back out of that to communicate the love of Christ? Look, Jesus came and basically banished disease from Israel. He was a healer. The last thing the church of Jesus Christ would want to be is a group of people that lived in defiance and made somebody sick, caused somebody’s death. So you restrain yourself from that.Again, the issue is so clear that even going back to Richard Baxter back in 1600s, Richard Baxter has a great section in one of his books where he says, “If the magistrate,” as he calls it, “asks you to refrain from meeting because of a pestilence, you do not meet. On the other hand, if the magistrate tries to force you not to meet because of persecution of Christianity, you meet anyway.” I think that’s the dividing line.
So this is how it works: Jesus speaks, and then He tells John to write what He has spoken. The implication is that the angel of the church is to speak what he has read. So Jesus speaks, John writes, the angel reads, and the angel speaks.Alright… Just so you know the context… I had just read in this book previously:
So we know that the seven lampstands are the seven churches and that the Lord Jesus was walking around in the midst of His churches. The seven stars that He held in His right hand are the seven “messengers,” or pastors of these churches. The sword in His mouth is His Word, which He gives to the successive pastors in the upcoming passages.That is the paragraph right before that little paragraph that I read. This means that the “angel” that John refers to in this portion of Revelation is the pastor of a church. Douglas Wilson writes in another portion of the book (explaining in more detail):
The word angel need not refer to what we would call an angelic or celestial being. John the Baptist was called an angel (Mark 1:2). Human beings are called angels in the Old Testament also (Job 1:14; Is. 42:19; Mal. 2:7; 3:1). And the word is used by Luke to refer to ordinary messengers. Jesus “sent messengers (angels) before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him” (Luke 9:52; cf. 7:24). Now of course it is possible that the angels of the first chapters of Revelation are celestial beings, but in my view this creates many more problems than it solves.I knew this about Revelation, so I understood that idea when I read my little paragraph. I read "angel" but thought "pastor" when I was reading that... that little paragraph that I am beginning to believe God had queued up just for me. I think you should read it again, but this time, take into consideration a couple of things. One: I had just been praying, “God, please just tell me what to say… Give me the words to speak.” That thought was still rolling around in my mind as I read that paragraph. And two: I was hearing "pastor" when I read "angel"... Here it is again:
So this is how it works: Jesus speaks, and then He tells John to write what He has spoken. The implication is that the angel [pastor] of the church is to speak what he has read. So Jesus speaks, John writes, the angel [pastor] reads, and the angel [pastor] speaks.I’ve been reading all week… not knowing what to speak. I don’t want to oversimplify the process or underplay the importance of study and the ongoing development of improving my communication skills… but in a real way: Jesus speaks, the writers of scripture write, the pastor reads the scriptures, and then the pastor speaks.