This webinar will focus on various perspectives on when to disobey government orders that restrict the church. The panelists I have invited maintain nuanced and even different answers. This will be a time for men to present their cases, and to engage in some gracious debate on the matter.

While the church exists under totalitarian regimes quite often, Americans are stunned at what has happened. Pastors and congregations asking questions they have never had to ask before. How are they supposed to honor and obey the king and honor and obey the Lord at the same time in this particular situation in America? Is it possible? If so how is it possible? If not what should the church do?

Welcome. Hey, thank you so much for joining us everybody. We're here to talk about when the church should disobey the civil government. I know that's a question that is on so many people's minds and you know I know for my conversations with pastors in different parts of America pastors are experiencing a lot of the same things even though they're under some different laws and you know in most churches you've got varying opinions about this matter. You've got barbarians at the gate of different kinds.

You've got hyper patriotic barbarians on one side and hyper legalistic barbarians on the other. You can define legalism any way you want the way I just used it. But what we wanna do tonight is just bring some men together to bring some, their best thoughts on the matter. This is brand new. We haven't had very much time to really process this.

We've never had to think about this before. So my view is that men are going to go through a process of thinking this through, and they might shift their thinking in time, we shouldn't be too upset about that. And my view is that this is a time that's very difficult and confusing, And I'm really happy to hear some of the various nuances that will be presented tonight. I know that I've spoken with all of you about your views and I know that there are some differences, but I really appreciate how you've approached it and I would just like to encourage you to share those things with the audience that we have tonight. And what I would like to do is in terms of the management of the time, I'd like to give each of you 10 minutes.

And then there's some questions. There are already questions flowing in right now. And I'm gonna ask you some of the questions from the audience. And then at the very end, I'd like each one of you to just bring a word of pastoral care, exhortation toward the people who are listening. There are lots of pastors on the line as well.

So you're gonna have an opportunity to speak to many people who are shepherds of local churches and who really desire to to honor the Lord. So I really I'm just so thankful that we can have this meeting. I've delayed having this subject because I've needed to wait. I've needed to process lots of different things in terms of just the various issues that are here. So, but I think we've had a decent amount of time to process the matter.

And I think our thoughts are probably clearer now than they were the first day we heard of it. So I'd like to pray and then Sam, I'll ask you to start, but let's pray first. Father, we thank you uh for your word. We thank you for its perfection. We thank you for its beauty.

We thank you that you've given an everlasting truth for us to live by. We thank you that your word is sufficient for everything. Where would we be without all the goodness of your word? Where would we be without your Son who has come and laid down his life for our souls that we might be rescued from ourselves. Lord we're so grateful for that and we pray that tonight we would exalt your son, that we would praise you in all of your ways, and that your Holy Spirit would be honored for all of the loving kindnesses that he has brought to us.

So Lord, we just pray that you bless this time and use it for the equipping of the Saints for the work of the ministry in Jesus name Amen. Okay Sam so we'd like you to start. Sam is pastoring and Owensboro, Kentucky is the president of Covington Baptist Theological Seminary. And thank you Sam for coming and doing this. We've preached together many times and it's great.

It's always great to have you. And so what about the question? I'd first like you to just tell a little bit about your situation and the position that your government has taken, and then begin to speak of this question when the church rebels against civil authorities. So, Sam Waldron. Sure.

Our church is located in Owensboro, Kentucky. This makes us subject to the executive orders of our Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. Though we found his dictates confusing and inconsistent, in submission to an executive order issued March 19, we ceased assembling together as a church on March 22. We did this out of respect for the divine authority invested in our governor by God as our duly elected governor. Couple of years ago I preached a message on Acts 5 and 29 which you know reads, we must obey God rather than men.

The state was states in a broad, general and doctrinal way the relation of divine and human authority. I laid out for our church five principles of the relation of human authority and with them five practical observations on our duty with regard to human authority. Now, before I do this, let me get myself in lots of trouble and say I did my THM studies many years ago in the area of social ethics and my thesis was entitled, Political Revolution in the Reformed Tradition, and Historical and Biblical Critique. In it I argued that the revolutionary views which developed in the Reformers departed both from Kelvin and the Bible. The perspective on Acts 5 29 is informed by those views and by my understanding of Kelvin as well.

So the first thing is this. Human authority is divine in its origin, and no one has stated this better than Kelvin, who said in the Institutes, for to those to whom he gives any preeminence, he communicates his own authority as far as necessary for the preservation of that preeminence. The titles of Father, God, and Lord are so eminently applicable to him that whenever we hear either of them mentioned, our minds cannot but be strongly affected with the sense of His Majesty. Those, therefore, on whom He bestows His sight, He illuminates with a ray of divine splendor to render them all honorable in their respective nation. Thus, it is possible to recognize something divine, for it is not without reason that he bears one of the titles of deity." So this general principle is affirmed by Paul's great statement in Romans 13, 1, every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.

And the practical perspective that comes out of this is simply this. Because human authority is divine in its origin, it must be respected and generally obeyed. Peter's assertion of the right to disobey that authority for good cause must not be made an excuse to ignore or defy legitimate human authority which God has placed over us. There really is such a thing as human authority in the world. That human authority must be obeyed because it is divine in its character.

To put it another way, the assumption must be that their commands are to be obeyed unless there is good reason not to. The second thing that comes out of the text is this. Human authority is dignified in its character. All human authority is divine. As Calvin says, it is illumined by a ray of divine splendor.

Human authority comes ultimately from God, not man. It thus has a dignity which protects it from violent assault by those under it. This means that it's not a prerogative to attack or actively resist such human authorities. What God gives only God can take away. The sinfulness of all revolt or armed violence against human authority is the theme of Romans 13.1-7.

There Paul requires submission and subordination even to the imperial Roman authorities. He does not require us always to obey them, but he does require Roman citizens always to submit to them and never to engage in armed revolt against them. The right to disobey, and this is the practical principle that comes out of it, may not be made the pretext for violent revolt. Peter's statement in Acts 5 29 was not the opening statement in a Christian manifesto justifying armdural or insurrection against the Sanhedrin. If it were, this would have been to make Christ and Christianity exactly that of which Jesus, for which Jesus was falsely accused.

It would have been to remake Jesus, the Messiah, into a revolutionary exactly like Barabbas. In principle, human authority is derived in its nature. It is authority derived from God and to be used for God. As authority derived from God, it cannot therefore oblige us to sin against the laws of God. When human authority requires the violation of God's law, then it must be disobeyed.

This is the manifest meaning of Peter's statement in Acts 4, 19 and 20 and Acts 5, 29. Fourthly, human authority is diverse in its kinds. It is clear from even a superficial reading of the New Testament that God has appointed a diversity of human authorities, each with a defined and limited sphere of jurisdiction. For instance, in Ephesians 6, the scriptures address fathers and assume that it is fathers, not pastors or civil powers that are to bring up their children in the Lord. Similarly, the scriptures assume that it is the duty of pastors to watch for the souls of the people of their church.

Hebrews 13.17. Church power is not given to fathers or civil powers but to pastors. Likewise, it's the civil powers that bear the sword and do not bear the sword in vain. And so while on the one hand, civil authority is made, given the right to the sword, whom other human beings are not. And so the practical principle that comes out of this is this.

When human authority exceeds the limits of its jurisdiction, it may be disobeyed. This is implied in Luke 20-25, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and unto God the things that are God. It's also implied in Romans 13-7 where it says render to all what is to them. Various duties are due to the various authorities and we must render to all what is due them and this clearly means that no human authority may claim from us for itself what we owe to another human authority. Fifthly, human authority is distinguishing and it's bestowal.

And here I'm kind of restating the obvious. God does not give the same authority to everyone. God has not given civil, fatherly, husbandly, pastoral authority to everyone indiscriminately. He has not made everyone fathers, parents, pastors or civil powers. Therefore until God bestows this authority upon us, our duty must be regulated by our peculiar vocation or calling in life.

And so, because conscience is disobedience, the duty to obey God rather than men must never be made the pretext for usurping the vocation, privileges, and function of an authority that God has not given us. So where does that leave us all? Well, by way of conclusion, let me say that it is on the basis of these principles that we have recognized several truths which have guided us in our response to the Kentucky governor's orders. First, we decided that it was within the prior prerogative of the civil authority to issue emergency quarantine orders. It is the premier duty of civil authority to protect human life.

The civil authority is not then exceeding its jurisdiction in issuing such orders. Second, we also recognize that it was not sin to refrain from assembling as a church for a temporary period of time. We would do so in the case of weather, snow storms, ice storms or tornadoes that threatened human life. We might do so also without sin in the case of a plague which threatened human life. This is an application of the principle that we all commonly recognize that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.

And then thirdly, we recognize that though we might disagree with the governor's judgment on this issue, it was his right and not ours to make such a judgment and issue orders based on that judgment. Fourthly, we recognize that should such order, orders be unnecessarily and inordinately prolonged, or should such orders single out the church's assembly we will then have a right to consider resuming meeting if we could do so without coming into active conflict with the civil authorities. Thank you Scott. Great thank you Thank you so much. Great to be here.

Grace Reform Baptist Church there in Owensboro. We really appreciate that. Also, a very interesting thing happened in your state yesterday the Attorney General brought a lawsuit against the governor that's right for for limiting civil liberties maybe we can talk about that a little bit later but yeah thank you so much Kevin Swanson Kevin Swanson for Reformation Church in Colorado Kevin I can you hear me yes I can hear you, I hope you can hear me. Yeah, I can hear you very well. Good to see you.

It's good to see you as well. Yeah, so what's your answer to this question? When? On everyone's mind, one more thing too before I go ahead. Please submit your questions to us.

There's a way to submit questions. We'd love to get questions and ask those to the panelists when it comes time. So okay, go ahead, Kevin. Well, these questions are very difficult. They've always been difficult through the years.

Many have criticized John Knox, Samuel Rutherford, the American colonists, the Russian Christians, others who are persecuted for their position, And sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons, the difficulty here as I see it is there are black and white areas, but then there are also some gray areas. And we're certainly running into gray areas. Every state, every county or many counties have different rules and regulations. My heart goes out to the pastors and the brothers that are attempting to make the right decision on these things. My recommendation is that we allow a great deal of latitude for Christian brothers who make a different call than we might in these areas.

The biblical principles are clear. What is not clear is often the state of our hearts. Are we responding out of rebellious, proud hearts? What is not always clear is also the right application of biblical principles. There are quite a few complicating factors involved in drawing these applications.

Some situations we encounter in life in church government where decisions are simple and straightforward. There are other situations far more complicated. This one's not easy and requires a great deal of grace, certainly within the church and among pastors and between the churches and pastors. I think it's time like these that call for much love of the brother and deference for each other, humility and acknowledgement that we should or we could be wrong at some points. The biblical principles as brother Waldron laid out for us very solid, they are agree with your adversary quickly while you're the way with him, honor to whom honor is due, lest we offend them, pay the tax, as our Lord made that point in his ministry.

Also love your neighbor as yourself. And also we ought to obey God rather than man in some contexts. There are clear areas in which the government is forcing us to disobey God. There are areas in which the government is exercising tyrannical control, going beyond its jurisdiction, and Yet we are not clearly forced to obey God by obeying the onerous requirements to walk the extra mile. There are also areas in which government is enforcing law according to the laws of God and the jurisdictional authority God has given to the state.

The question for us is, at what point is the magistrate forcing us to violate God's law? Might the magistrate force us to violate God's law, Ephesians 6, 4, say, by forcing our children to attend schools that teach children not to fear God, for example? Or at what point is the magistrate forcing us to violate God's law by forbidding the assembling of ourselves together as we're discussing now, or at what point should the Apostle Paul refrain from preaching because he's likely to cause a panic, mobs, riots, or even spread a pandemic? The safety of the people is a concern. Even when the magistrate crosses over its lines of jurisdiction, as laid out by God's word and inconveniences us quite a bit, we may be able to find a way to agree with our adversary quickly while we're in the way with him and walk the extra mile with him.

At some point, however, we ought to obey God rather than man. The question for us is has the magistrate overstepped his God-given authority or jurisdiction in this matter? That particular point's been up for significant debate among Christian leaders in my denomination and between denominations and such. I'm not convinced the magistrate has a carte blanche authority in such matters. The magistrate has a say in quarantining the sick, but I don't believe that it's always the case for the healthy.

The Moabite example in Scripture is an exception made for spiritual reasons. I don't believe it was a medical quarantine, it was more of a spiritual quarantine. The magistrate also has made significant errors in some states and counties, allowing grocery stores, marijuana dispensaries, wine shops, etc. To open while insisting that the churches remain closed for any relief to face spiritual instruction and feeding. In the case of COVID-19, risks concerning the sixth commandment run up against the requirement to assemble together.

This is the thing that we are trying to understand. A couple of things that tie into this particular situation. One is, I think every church, every session, every group of elders, Pastors need to make a judgment call elders cannot just allow the government to run roughshod without due consideration You don't just rubber stamp everything The government tells you to do is in the case of Peter and John refused to allow the civil magistrate to force them away from public evangelism on the temple grounds. Also, we need to be humble. There are points at which we don't understand pandemics.

This was our position six weeks ago. There's just a little data on it. There's no random testing to give us a substantial denominator. Thirdly, we need to be equitable in our treatment of risk. We're not respected as a person, thus we are interested in how this disease holds up to the flu, for example.

Fourthly, we are naturally suspect of governments that don't fear God. Here in Colorado, we live under a Nero. We have the most wicked government since Nero, Caligula, and others in Rome, so there's a natural distrust of governments that have abandoned the fear of God. Nevertheless, the biblical government principles still apply to government. Honor the king, We ought to obey God rather than man and apply your rights as a Roman citizen.

As Paul did speak up, use your right to appeal. As we make judgment calls, as much as we have some understanding and data, we need to return to rationality, rational consideration of the disease itself. The overall death rate in America is the lowest it's been in five years. 2016 is 8.5 per 100, 000. 2017 is 8.6 per 100, 000.

2018 is 8.7, and then 2019 is 8.8, and over the last 11 weeks, it went all the way back to 8.4. The death rate is even lower than it was last year, the year before that, the year before that, the year before that. It's the lowest it's been in five years, and that's over the last 11 weeks. People talk about historical times in which Christian pastors would join in with quarantines, but that was at times when 30% of London was dying in the 1663 pandemic, 40 percent of Europe was dying in the bubonic plague. Our death rate has gone down in the last three months, down to 2015 levels.

Also four random studies in the last two weeks, taking random samples in Santa Clara County, came up with a 0.1 percent death rate. Los Angeles County, 0.2 percent. Miami-Dade County, 0.17 percent. And New York did an extensive study, a random study and found anywhere between point one point five percent We're not finding the death rate is as high as the flu or in some cases maybe a little bit higher the flu, but not 20 times higher than the flu. Also, I think as Christians, and especially as Christian leaders, we need to keep things in perspective.

We're just about equal to the flu season death rate of last year right now at 62, 000 deaths. That was about equal to the flu season death rate last year. Also, while 62, 000 Americans died of COVID-19 virus, an estimated 216, 000 babies were killed by surgical abortions and a million five hundred thousand American children were killed by the use of IUD's conception control devices. And so until the concern for abortion is 20 times higher in the discussion than the concern for COVID-19, I'm not going to pay much attention to it. Again, we're not to be a respecter of persons when it comes to our judgments.

It's very important, especially for elders, voters, people who vote in democracies, and civil leaders. So when we say honor to whom honor is due in situations like this, this is not cut and dried as some like to think it is. It's quite a bit of wisdom called for when it comes to the question of honor to whom honor is due. There are what we call balance of powers in this country. There are local government, state government, and federal government.

There's executive power sometimes will not enforce the legislative law, for example, in the case of some sheriffs in relation to some gun laws in my state. There's also the judicial power that will not sustain a legislative initiative only because it's unconstitutional. So who do you obey? The local sheriff, the federal government, the judicial interpretation of unconstitutional law. In some cases it's not cut and dried.

That's not to make this a cop-out for every law imposed on us, but there are tension points and these have to be thought through. Also, more than at any time in legislative executive history, these directives have come out of the COVID-19 panic, have become very arbitrary and consistent, flimsy, complicated, often contradictory and hard to interpret and to apply. I'd recommend an article from constitutional attorney and president of the ADF, Mike Ferris, who acknowledged the rights of governors to initiate quarantines, but he says these directives will never hold up in the court of law. The essential versus non-essential services, very arbitrary and these should have been turned over to legislatures instead of left to the whims of a director or a dictator. And ADF is winning cases in various states right now.

So what have we done as a church? Well here's the conclusion. We want to be sure we're acting out of faith, that's basic. We can't move ahead out of spirit of rebellion, pride, spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. We want to allow for differences among the brothers.

We want to love the brother. We want to be careful with the elderly, highly recommending they don't attend for a while. Still finding ways to visit with them. For six weeks we have not abandoned the assembly of ourselves together. In our state we have complied with the state recommendations for six weeks to do what they call multiple services of 10 or less people.

So we've done that week by week for the last six weeks. Four meetings on Sunday with 10 or less people in which we serve communion. As we set up to love the brothers and to love our neighbor and render honor to him honor is due, we also took into consideration the local sheriff, state requirements, our neighbors and our church. We had a meeting with the local sheriff, We organized a meeting with seven pastors and local sheriff last Friday. We also consulted with an ADF attorney before moving ahead with the assembly of the saints, which we will do, Lord willing, this Sunday.

We have initiated a soft start for this Sunday, realizing that not everybody in the church is ready to come back. We're increasing to 10 units or 10 cars in the parking lot, or 10 family units, maintaining standards for social distancing, upping our standard of cleanliness, and keeping the pressure in the public parking lot down to the minimum so we don't disturb the neighbors. We're also doing our best to live at peace with all men while at the same time we're not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. So that's the approach that we've taken here in Colorado. Great, Kevin, thank you so much.

Kevin, I heard your radio show this morning. I recommend people listen to it. Really, Very helpful. Remember, submit your questions as we move along. Gavin Beers, thank you so much for joining us.

Gavin is a native of Northern Ireland and is here in North Carolina as the first, I guess, Church of the Free, Church of Scotland continuing right here in Mebane about an hour from us. So it's been a blessing to have Gavin close by. Gavin, what's your take on this? Okay, well, first of all, thanks for the invitation to speak on the subject this evening. In terms of our practice as a congregation, we have continued to meet.

Two services on the Lord's day. We went to the open air and we've been meeting in a field with families arriving, distancing, and basically just conducting worship. And it's worked really well. And our attendance has increased, more people have come because their churches are closed. And I think that we are in keeping with both the governor's proclamation and certainly the requirements of the county that we meet in.

However, I do want to make the case this evening that while there are times when the civil magistrate could make an order for church closures that I don't believe in general that this is one of them and that in many if not most places churches should be defying these orders and gathering to worship God. So I suppose having stated that it's up to me to make that case. And the way that I would go about it is first of all to establish the biblical relationship between church and state. The Bible teaches that church and state are two independent governments, but both under Christ. He is king and head of the church, and he's also king of kings and Lord of lords.

The church with respect to its authority has the keys of the kingdom and the state with respect to its authority has the sword of justice and neither is to encroach upon the jurisdiction of the other. But both, and I think this is key, Both of these institutions must exercise their authority according to the same moral law, and that is both tables of the moral law. There's an interdependence between the church and the state. The church has a prophetic voice to the state. The magistrate is to promote true religion within its bounds.

It has a power around the things of religion but it has no power in the things of religion pertaining to worship, discipline and so on. You get texts in the Bible that teach this. Prophetic texts Isaiah 49 23 kings shall be thy nursing fathers. Isaiah 60 the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee will perish, yea those nations shall be utterly wasted. But when you move into the New Testament, there are other texts that have a bearing on this.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God's the things that are God's. But who defines what belongs to Caesar? Not Caesar, God. And how does he define it? He defines it by his whole moral law, not just one half of it, not just the second table, but the whole of the moral law.

Similarly, when we come to Romans 13, the magistrate is to be obeyed as the minister of God who is a terror to the evil and a rewarder of the good. But those two qualities, evil and good, are moral qualities that must ultimately be defined by God according to both tables of the law. So that's the relationship between church and state. Secondly, there's a relationship between the first and second tables of the law. So I suppose we're moving on from the first premise that we've got two institutions that must rule by one moral law.

But when we look at that moral law there's a priority. There are first things, the first table of the law and our duty toward God and then there are second things, the second table of the law and our duty towards man and when we read the scriptures we find throughout the scriptures God placing a priority on the first table. And I'm not hearing that in all of the debate that we're having. So when you read Old Testament law, when you read the prophets, there's much oppression against men, and the Lord calls Israel out with respect to that. But Israel's chief sin is idolatry.

Similarly, the chief sin of the Canaanites is also identified as idolatry, first table sin. You find it in Christ's answer, what is the great commandment? The first commandment is love God with all your heart soul mind and strength. The second, love your neighbor as yourself. You find it in seek ye first the kingdom of God, all these things are added unto you.

The call to Christian discipleship, lay down your life, hate everything else relatively speaking in reference to first table duties towards God. Now this priority is not being recognized by the state and sadly I don't think it's being recognized by the church. So we have a duty to obey the fifth commandment but it's not absolute as our brothers have been telling us. We are to obey God rather than men. We have a duty to the sixth commandment, but again, it's not absolute with respect to the preservation of life.

We are to love and obey God more than life. But what about our duty to the first table of the law, especially in our assembling together for public worship? What is public worship? Public worship is the highest form of Christian service. It is the holy convocation of the Saints with the peculiar promise of His presence and blessing and it's issued by a divine call through the church, not the state, a divine call through the church and the state is to promote and encourage the fulfillment of that call.

Now that's not being factored in by the state and I don't think it's being factored in by the churches. What we're hearing is implicit obedience to the state, Fifth command on the basis of public health. Sixth command, even when this requires us to set aside the call to public worship, first, second, third, fourth commands. I don't think the church is appreciating that. And then the church mitigates it by the use of modern technology, which is a help at other times, but I think it's actually a hindrance today because virtual worship is not public worship.

At best, it's enhanced private worship or family worship. And furthermore, it actually blurs the fundamental principle. I want you all to think of having no internet, no phones, no computers, no iPods. Now address the fundamental question. We have no church, not by way of an institution, but we have no church gathering.

That's the basic question that we are wanting to ask. We mustn't let modern technology and whatever it gives us, blur the fundamental question. So my position, well, due to the biblical relation of church and state, the state should be consulting the church, the church should be instructing the authorities toward a lawful application of the law. And so it's my position, not that there's never a case when we shouldn't obey the government with respect to shutdown, but in this case, there's been no factoring in by the state of the importance of public worship, nor the fact that the present health risk can actually be managed in most places by observing procedures and protocols. The third thing is relation to history.

A lot's made of this. Richard Baxter's being quoted oftentimes and he has much that's good to say. I've done a lot of reading over the last few weeks on plagues from the 16th to the 19th century and it's all confirmed at my position because what I've discovered there is first of all that these men knew a lot more about disease than they're given credit for because they instituted very similar measures to exactly what we're instituting today. There were civil orders to limit commerce, borders were closed, large gatherings were shut. However, churches were rarely, if ever, included.

If they were closed, they were the last to close, and on many occasions, they were encouraged to go to a more commodious place where they might worship. Then we find that more public worship services were appointed at those times, assemblies for prayer and humiliation before God. Now what's the reason for that? Well I believe the reason for it is that the magistrate had a biblical understanding that he was to rule according to both tables of the law and that there was a duty upon him to maintain public worship as an essential thing and his responsibility and in a sense promotion of the chief public good. But there's been a complete paradigm shift in association with the godlessness of our states.

Then you've got concerns with respect to hypocrisy. What do I mean by that? Well, the government has deemed so many things essential that we're able to do and at the same time we're not able to gather in public for worship. So you can go to Walmart and mingle with as many people as are there for your food because that's essential. You can go to work in printing firms, meat plants, Lowe's hardware store.

You can go shopping there as well. And many of the people who are members of our churches are doing that because salary is essential but not the public worship of God. Then we live in a nation, I've come to your nation, and you're very concerned with rights, gun rights. We can flood the streets for gun rights. In Michigan, people can go to the state, whatever it is, capital place, and they can protest to have the lockdown restrictions removed so that they get their rights back.

But there's not much noise being made about God's rights for public worship. Furthermore, we're told that we should obey the public health mandate as a church, but I don't think many of your listeners would take the same line when it comes to the family. What if vaccinations were made mandatory in terms of the sixth commandment? I expect that there are a good number of your listeners who would be happy to do to disobey that government command. Why?

Because the government would come with the same arguments, it's for the preservation of life, there's a risk of public health if we don't do this. But the family would be willing to disobey. When I was in Scotland, I disobeyed the government constantly because physical discipline of my children was outlawed, and I was happy to disobey. Now, it wasn't persecution of Christians. We were not being targeted, nor would that be the case with respect to vaccinations?

Nor is it the case for the church today, but I doubt we would hear Romans 13 wheeled out in the same way in these family areas as we are with respect to the church. We disobey then but the church is saying comply, comply, comply, and the logic is fundamentally inconsistent. And I think many people in the pew know this. I'm hearing a lot of it. But what discourages me is I'm not hearing it as much from the leaders of the church.

Okay Gavin thank you so much that was very helpful. I really appreciate you know all of that. You know all these guys you know are men who embrace this you know the same fundamental confession that you do and I know that they resonated you know with much of what you had to say so I really really appreciate that. Let's let's move on now. Remember to ask questions if you have any and I'll try to get as many as I can.

So let's move to Jason Dohme. Jason Dohme is a pastor of Sovereign Redeemer Community Church here in North Carolina and so Jason there you have it. The floor is yours. Thank you. I appreciate being here and having the opportunity to weigh in on this.

I have a lot to say that will be overlapping things that have already been said better, so I won't belabor those points, and I'll try to keep pressing through to offer some thoughts that might not have been so heavily emphasized. I'd like to start by walking you through the theological framework that my co-elder and I have for thinking about how we should conduct the life of the local church that we're overseeing and then I'll tell you exactly what we're doing as an application of that. In terms of the theological framework, we're thinking in terms of three pillars. The first pillar is this. All Christians should have a disposition of thankfulness and prayerfulness and obedience towards the civil government.

So I think this has already been said by a number of men, but it really should start with a heart disposition where we're thankful for our civil government as a gift from God. It is that. Where we're prayerful for our government and where we have a natural inclination to obey as far as we possibly can because all authorities are appointed by God. And we would root these in Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, 1 Timothy 2. If you go to those passages, you don't need insight.

That principle is lying right on the surface. Pillar number two is even though we should have that heart disposition of thankfulness, prayerfulness, and obedience towards the civil government, Christians are not at liberty to obey authorities that attempt to compel us to disobey the Lord. So at the point where we're backed into a corner and we have to pick, obey the civil authority or obey the Lord, of course our choice is clear, we have to obey the Lord. And when the authority says you can't pray to the God of scripture, Daniel 6, not even at liberty to obey that civil authority. When the authority says you can't preach Jesus, Acts 4, Acts 5, you're not even at liberty to obey that civil authority.

You have to obey God rather than man. So pillar number three is this. Church leaders are Christians, of course, but they have also been given authority by God. And it's authority to govern local churches under Christ and according to his word. You see this in Acts 20-28.

This is Paul's exhortation to the Ephesian elders. This one is worth just reading the words so we get the words of Acts 20-28. Paul writes to the Ephesian elders. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock Among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers To shepherd the Church of God which he purchased With his own blood So Paul positions the Lord's people as a blood bought people and he says that the Holy Spirit has actually made you overseers to to shepherd these people that Christ has bought with his blood and So church leaders have authority over meetings of the church, over the churches that they serve, and the civil government has no more authority over whether we meet or don't meet than what we preach. I hope we accept that proposition, that the civil government doesn't have any more authority over whether we meet or don't meet in an ultimate sense than they do over what we preach.

Because if you give up this ground, you're going to find yourself having given up the other ground as well. So in light of that view, a question for me and my co-elder has been, is physical gathering essential to the Lord's people? Is it a nice to have or a have to have for the Lord's people? Our governor, the governor of North Carolina, has answered that question, no. Physical gathering is not essential.

But I think at the heart of that question is what is proper for the observance of the Lord's Supper? To me, we're sort of now starting to peel back the layers of the onion. And so is physical gathering essential for the Lord's people? And to answer that question, you have to ask what's proper in the observance of the Lord's Supper? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul describes the Lord's Supper as a symbol of our oneness and our communion together.

So you're gonna have to explain to me how Zoom gets us there. Although we've been doing a lot of Zoom, I'm thankful for Zoom, but I don't know how Zoom gets us to a picture of our oneness in Christ and our communion together. And then in 1 Corinthians 11, he rebukes them for not gathering to observe the Lord's Supper. And the implication of that is you ought to be gathering to take the Lord's Supper. And so here's what we've been doing at Sovereign Redeemer, the church that I and my co-elder, who I serve alongside, are serving.

And I hope it reflects that theological framework that I just laid out. We have been complying with our governor's order. We didn't like the order, but we didn't think it was outrageous under the circumstances, given the limited time frame that it covered. His initial order covered six Sundays and then he extended it to a seventh Sunday. And that's right where we're sitting now.

During that time, all of our meetings have been online, even our Sunday worship, and we've attempted to keep our services as normal as possible, including many men leading during the course of the service. And there are certain parts of our service which are normally interactive and we've tried to keep them interactive even though we're online. The big exceptions are that we haven't observed the Lord's Supper. We just didn't feel like the right thing to do was to do that in separate houses in different parts of the city with no officers of the church present. And so it's been, we're coming up on our seventh Sunday of not having observed the Lord's Supper, which is problematic for us.

And we have not had our normal fellowship lunches and fellowship time afterwards. Two weeks ago, my co-elder and I submitted a letter to the governor of North Carolina, and we notified a number of other state leaders that we had sent that letter to the governor. In that letter we expressed appreciation for his service and acknowledged that he's really in a pinch. In other words, this health crisis is a health crisis, we believe. It's not imaginary.

And that we let him know that we have been complying, but our view is that the meeting of the Lord's people being physically present together is actually essential, which is something that he's denying. And certainly more essential than other things that are being permitted. And we close the letter by saying that our willingness to comply is, can now be measured in days and weeks, not in months. And it's clear by the criteria that the state has laid out with phases for different things reopening that all of the restrictions won't be lifted before the end of May at the earliest and we've reached kind of a limit for my co-elder and I where we say we're not willing as leaders of this local church to comply with this any longer. And we've been willing to comply to this point, but we've, because it was time bound, but as the time boundaries get more nebulous, we've reached the end of our willingness to comply.

And so that's what we're doing. We're essentially starting to meet again right away in person. Sunday is going to be beautiful and we've just received clarification from the office of the governor that we can meet outside. I think Gavin said they've been doing that and found that to be compliant and we have confirmation of that So we'll be doing that on Sunday Okay, Jason, thank you so much well John we've appointed you to play cleanup to bring the final word the final correction of all errors and everything like that. But keep sending questions in, we really appreciate that.

Some good ones are coming across. John's a pastor of Christ Church in New Albany, Mississippi and John thank you so much for joining us. What's your answer? Well I do appreciate being able to be a part of the group not because I have anything really to add, but because I wish that we would have done it six weeks ago and I could have written down your answers, I really have been scared to think about how these different viewpoints, you know, are the common area that we do hold and the benefit of, you know, hearing that in different angles. Let me say that I am convinced, me and my fellow pastor, we are convinced that it is a medical issue and not a religious or a political issue.

Ultimately, in the fundamental motivation for our government, in spite of its really godless views. And so I do take it not as an Acts 5 issue at this point, but a Romans 13 issue. That, you know, but I've run up against a number of questions and I think that's why Scott got me on here. I told him twice I couldn't do this but let me just represent the average guy that haven't thought through perhaps as much as you have. These are some questions having kind of stated you know so you know what what Sam said at the beginning would have been a very elaborate way of what we thought.

So these are some questions that have bothered me since. One question is, does the devaluation of the church, the government really placing us just as another social proof. Obviously, that's almost what we would expect. And they don't see the difference between the church or a school or a church or a gymnasium. Does that change the way we respond to the governmental restrictions?

My answer to that has been no, in spite of their poor motivation and their lack of clarity on the rights of God. Because of the medical issues, I've not taken that as a reason to reject their restraints at this point, though it is grievous that they don't understand the nature of the church or recognize God's rights. Does the overreach of our government at times, does that change our obligation toward Romans 13? You know, Lex Rex, I did a PhD in the Puritan era, but you know, and I named my third child after Rutherford, but I have never read Lex Rex. I've just reread his letters and his other books.

Obviously I think that you know some of you are in situations where I Scott and I talked where your state constitution refuses the governor the right to refuse us the right to worship together. And so, you know, is he overstepping his bounds? Is there overreach? In Mississippi, the governor has not, right now, is not kind of legally forbidding, but strongly asking that we not meet together in groups larger than 10 for weddings or for church services and things like that. I do think sometimes the overreach would call for us to have to take a strong stance against that, you know, an unwillingness to abide by their requests.

I don't think at this point it does. I think what it does is it does put, personally, here's how I viewed it. It has placed this in the category of laying down our rights voluntarily together with other believers for a short period of time for the medical issue rather than you know just kind of a black-and-white issue of does my governor have the right to request this rather than it going through maybe more appropriate channels? So we have continued to abide by the governor's requests to this point, regardless of whether that is a bit of an overreach or not. We have felt that we had a freedom to lay down our rights together.

But then, you know, I feel that if I don't approach this as a Romans 13 thing, then I get into a lot of murky spots and there are plenty of kind of cloudy walls for me to begin with. But so for instance, until two weeks ago, no one in the church that I pastor, I pastor a small church, about 200 people. And no one in the church has complained. I think they felt as their leadership felt, as we expressed in an early letter to the church, that this was a necessary thing to do for the medical purposes and to show honor to the state where we felt we could up to this point. But now what we're finding is I'm getting emails and statements like, this is ludicrous, we've risked so much, we've gained so little, and really disagreements with the government's medical policies, more than disagreements with my past dream.

And I understand those questions. It doesn't really touch the fundamental principle that we've operated on and That is that we would accept the government's right at this point to do that, to restrain us. I am encouraged that the government first shut down its own religion before it shut down the Christian gatherings because sports no longer exist on television, you know, and well that you can watch reruns, but you know my wife and I didn't really think very much of this until March Madness was canceled and I thought you know America shut down its church and so you know they've taken it that seriously. I think if I don't follow the Romans 13 policy principle at this point then I'm really kind of putting myself and my fellow elder in the position of reading the massive amount of kind of information we're getting about the danger or lack of danger, where we are on the curve, and then making kind of a call for our people based on that or based on the pressure that I'm beginning to receive from the from the church members which I'm not comfortable to be in that position in that way.

I think that I am concerned about the testimony and I'm kind of drawn in two ways in this. You know, will our community, I live in North Mississippi so everyone claims to be a Christian, will our community see this as an expression really of our lack of devotion to God and our very small view of God and very big view of us and I am afraid it would read it that way but I'm also and probably more afraid In the small town where I pastor, 8, 000, the little perch I pastor being Reformed and Baptistic, we have kind of caused a stink at times in the way that we have defined a Christian, in the way we've defined church membership. And in a small town everyone knows, you know, we don't have an altar call. So everyone asks in town, how can you get saved at the church without an altar call? And you know, I do bite my tongue and say, how could you be saved with an altar call?

But I don't think that. But for personally, for me as a pastor, with this local situation, I am concerned that if we stepped out and said, okay, enough is enough, which I think we would have the right to do that, but we voluntarily lay down that right. I think that it would not show the people the value of Christ, but I think that they would see it right now as kind of a self, as a proud move that we're the church and so we can do what we want to do, but you can't go see your grandkids, but we can meet. Now I don't take the culture's response to our choices as the guide, but it does rest in the back of my mind, you know, what would it say to people if everyone else is willing to set aside certain things? But again, you know, are we setting aside God's rights when we lay aside our rights?

At this point I feel that it is a legitimate choice to accept the restrictions. As things are lightening up I'm really hoping that our meeting is in a sense is unnecessary. I'm hoping in a couple weeks you know as as you mentioned in Mississippi you know gun ranges are still open, Academy sports store is still open. I went there and got something now that they would only let 10 people in the building at a time, and they had blue markers on the floor where you could stand, and they wiped down the desk every time a person brought a product up. And so, you know, they were trying to take it seriously, but As things are opening up, I certainly think that the church, we will be facing, those who have accepted the restrictions, will be facing an obligation to make clear to the government that we have laid down these things in a respectful manner because of our allegiance to our God, but they cannot put the church last.

So I don't know if things would change in my situation. How we've done it in just in practical terms, I still meet one-on-one with cases of church members or even non-church members who were in, we could say kind of emergency room, spiritual situations, and they couldn't afford just to, I don't just wanna meet with them on the phone. So I do still meet with them. We keep the social distance, but I still do meet with those that are in peculiar need. We do online Sunday morning services, we do Sunday evening, We have in-home Bible studies.

So we have done that through like Zoom where we can still have interaction though it's not that of course it's not what we really want. And my son is getting married in two weeks and another young couple got married recently in the church. So we have accepted the restrictions of the government when it comes to the weddings, even though I feel like an outdoor wedding where we could space the chairs out would be obeying the spirit of the law. But we have contacted our local officials and asked them, could we do it with 13 people because one of the families is large? And So we have 13 people, we've asked for special permission from our local authorities, they have given it for that.

And then we have other people in cars watching, heading and honking and waving, I suppose, afterward. I don't know how they're gonna throw rice, but so we have tried to maintain that stance. So I think that I represent probably a pretty average pastor's thought process. Good, thank you so much, John. Okay, so I'll just throw out some questions.

A lot of questions, more questions that I can deal with here but there's several questions that deal with the matter of pure sovereignty. You have these three jurisdictions, the church, the family, and the state. All of them have their authority. There are overlapping duties, we know that. The question has to do with, to deal with, is it a trigger to disobey when the state oversteps its jurisdiction?

We all agree about what those jurisdictions are. I'm very confident. But is the trip cord for disobedience the overstepping of a jurisdiction? And I'm gonna ask each one of you to weigh in on that question. And I think we'll start with Kevin, and we'll just kind of go around the horn here.

What's your answer to that question? Scott, I'm not sure all of us agree on where those jurisdictional lines are drawn. It's hard sometimes. We have disagreements between pastors on whether the state has a right to quarantine. It seems the Old Testament draws in the priest for that.

So I think there's some debate as to where those jurisdiction lines lie. Now, is it a trigger? There's a point at which maybe the Magistrate does not have the right to force a Christian to carry a soldier's gear for a mile. But we might be able to find a way to not only carry it for a mile, but carry it for a second mile. So in other words, in cases in which the state is demonstrating some level of tyranny.

Jesus does tell us that we should find a way to agree with our adversary quickly while we're in the way with him if we can, as much as is in you live at peace with all men, while not compromising the law of God, while not compromising the sixth commandment, while not compromising the first commandment. I think there's points at which we do shut down a worship service. If the lives of people are being harmed because the building's being bombed and the sixth commandment is a problem, People's lives lost because there's somebody shooting up the sanctuary. We may have to discontinue the service at least for a single Sunday. So the sixth commandment is a consideration, But if we can find a way to live peaceably, if we can find a way, and that's what we've done in our service, is the magistrate was pushing hard, but we've found a way to keep people fairly happy while still maintaining face-to-face meetings in our church.

We did not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We continue to have communion face-to-face with elders or pastors, duly ordained pastors offering the elements. So we, I think, were able to find a way to keep people happy, even when we may have believed that the magistrate was crossing jurisdictional boundaries. Sam, how would you answer that question? Well, I think I can put this fairly briefly.

Let's see if I can. If the civil authority commands us to sin, we must disobey. However, in situations where what they're commanding is not so much commanding a sin but transgressing their jurisdictional boundaries, I think the right way to put it is that we may obey. We may disobey. But we may also obey.

And I think in that kind of jurisdictional situation, there may be occasions where while we would have no obligation to obey them, because they're transgressing jurisdictional boundaries, that we may choose to obey them for any number of reasons. So commanded to sin must disobey. A government transgressing its jurisdictions may disobey, but not must disobey. Okay. Gavin, you spoke to that.

I really appreciated that. Go ahead and just continue to speak about that if you'd like. I agree with Sam and I actually jotted down that was my answer. If they ask you to sin you must disobey. If they transgress jurisdiction and it doesn't involve sin then you may choose to roll with that or you may choose to disobey.

I don't think you're sinning if you choose to disobey if they transgress a jurisdiction. So really it comes down to how you define what they're asking you to do. And I think that that's fleshed out in how the men are looking at this issue this evening. Yeah, and I know that many men have tried to consider that. And Kevin, you brought up the matter of the priests you know they in in the law it's it's very clear that you know the authorities had you know had jurisdiction over the really the plague in a house, cleanliness of a house, and would actually declare your house clean or unclean, declare you under quarantine or not, and even have the freedom, the authority to come and tear down your house if after a process of trying to clean that house was not successful.

So I, you know, I think one of the difficulties in this is that, you know, many pastors have said, well, this is, this is a matter of public health. This is a matter like unto the priests. And so they do have the authority to come and tear down your house. That seems to encroach on the jurisdiction of the family. Anyway, these things are...

The line is difficult because this has seemed to be a medical issue. Well, let's move on. Jason, what about you? How would you answer that question in terms of jurisdictions? So I agree with everything that's been said.

I think of it this way. There are two things that would be disastrous. One thing that would be disastrous is if every jurisdiction rigidly enforced the boundaries of their jurisdiction every time. Every time either a father or church leaders or a civil magistrate didn't understand where their boundary was and so they crossed into one of those other jurisdictions, then we have to fight it out every single time that happens. I mean, we would do nothing but do that, I think.

The second disastrous situation is if the jurisdictions never enforce their boundaries and so there's just sort of You're a steward of your jurisdiction You're a steward of the authority given to you as a father or as a civil magistrate or as a church leader. And if you're never willing to enforce the boundary of your jurisdiction, you'll have no jurisdiction and no time flat. So how do you deal, Jason, with the fact that our government has encroached over many jurisdictions of the family and the church. You know, the government has already usurped massive authority and role in all, we could list them. I mean, the welfare state is one expression of it, but we could list many, many things.

So the government has already overstepped its jurisdiction in a dozen places. Why aren't we fighting over those? We're speaking to those in our churches for sure. Right, and yet I'm not sure which one you're talking about, so I'm not sure which one to address. But what I am saying is, I don't think you can address every overreach from every jurisdiction, or you have no other function.

You would just be doing that all the time. But In laying out what our church has done in patiently complying up to this point, but hitting a point where we're unwilling to comply, that's essentially what's happening. We're saying as stewards of this jurisdiction and having been given this authority, if we don't enforce, we're feeling like we're coming to the place and we don't enforce this boundary, then the boundary will permanently move and we're not willing for that to happen. Amen. Okay.

Okay, John, How would you answer that question in terms of jurisdiction? Yeah, I would agree with those as well. I don't see that as a fundamental trigger. It would depend on where the overreach is. As you read the New Testament, You do see Paul at times claiming his rights as a Roman citizen, but pretty rare.

And I can't imagine that the Roman local authorities never overstepped their, overreached their authority, you know, with an unjust response. So I do think that our response ought to be, in a sense, we are a subversive element. We are wanting to undermine the enemy's rule in our land with the gospel and you know with the lives that the aroma of Christ. So no I don't think it's an essential trigger. Okay here's another question And there are actually several questions that deal with this issue and that is when a governor violates a law that in his oath of office subscribe to, what do you do?

I mean like in North Carolina, it looks to me like our governor has actually violated three oaths of, three laws. First of all, you know, the First Amendment, he's violated, secondly, the North Carolina State Constitution. And he's also violated another law regarding who can call a state of emergency. I think that's pretty clear here. So How do you respond when a governor has become lawless in the imposition of a law toward the people?

Kevin? You appeal it. You take it to the judicial courts. That's the way it happens. The Alliance Defending Freedom has won a number of cases already surrounding these issues.

So yeah, you take your rights as the apostle did in Act 16. And then once you've pressed your rights as a Roman citizen, you ask the city council to come down and offer an apology to you or the governor. Yeah. Okay, Sam, what about you? Well, yeah, if the Attorney General is bringing suit in Kentucky, and he is, as you pointed out, against the governor for some of the excesses of the executive order and the enforcement of that order, I think that Christians are allowed to, through that means, appeal.

And if the governor is actually violating the laws of his office, because we don't live in a totalitarian society, we do have constitutions and laws, then we're at liberty, particularly if the courts rule in the favor of the Attorney General, to disobey those laws, unquestionably. Okay, Gavin. The lawful application of law is what we should require. And if the governor is violating the law of the land, then the citizen is obeying the law of the land and disobeying the government. One of the brothers was mentioning Rutherford earlier.

We should all read Lex Rex. Because he is really dealing with this tension between the law and the King. The King is under the law. In your case, presidents and Congress and governors. I'm just getting lost in all the levels of government that you have.

I just have to try and get my breath when I work through state and county and federal. Yeah, but in essence, you're being the faithful citizen when you obey the law by disobeying the violation of that law. Yeah, very interesting. Rutherford has very definitive declarations regarding the three jurisdictions, the three governments, and Lex Rex, in Lex Rex he breaks those out and defines the violations that the government was taking in his time. And the way that Rutherford explains this is in terms of a covenant.

His proposition is that when is that the government has a covenant with the people and the people have a covenant with the government. And Rutherford's proposition was, when the government breaks its covenant with the people, then the people have a right to rebel. That's his proposition. And I think that stated as clearly as I can. But Lex Rechts really is a fascinating book to read.

I would recommend that you read it. I think, you know, Sam pointed out to me in a private conversation that Calvin really disagreed with Rutherford and Knox about the civil disobedience matter that Calvin felt that revolution was not a part of the jurisdiction of God's people. Now, I think we should distinguish civil disobedience with revolution. While Knox and Rutherford would advocate revolution, what Calvin was advocating is really defying a law more on the level of civil disobedience. That's the way I understand it.

Sam, does that comport with your understanding from your research? Yeah, basically, I do think that Calvin's views expressed in his letter to the French Reform Movement in Romans 13 and in the Institutes, Book 4 Chapter 20, are quite different than the later views developed by Rutherford and Knox. But I do want to say, and I think there's an important point here, Calvin would have said that if there was such a covenant, if there was such a covenant, if there were officers appointed in the constitution of a country to limit and to resist tyranny, then it would be lawful for the people under those officers to resist tyranny. He was just very concerned that this, that any such resistance be led by lawful officers. Where I think the whole issue of covenant gets into problems is when you say there is no lawful government but that which is covenanted.

Now I do think there are lawful governments that are covenanted and I think in a sense we have that in our country, praise God. But I don't think you could show that the Roman imperial government was covenanted, but it was still lawful. It was still a legitimate government and still had to be obeyed. And that was the terrible situation which the early church was in. I should have said it had to be submitted to, not always obeyed.

Hmm. Very interesting. Jason, what's your answer? Yeah, let's get Jason and John to weigh in on that and then maybe we can loop back. I honestly don't think I have very much profitable to say on this subject.

I'm gonna pass it right to John Okay That's nice of you Jason Yeah, I would say As where Paul used his Roman rights, we can use a due process to deal with people in an elected position who are going against the very thing that they were elected to stand for. But so I would just caution this that the believers you know together who are using that due process make sure that the motivation really is Christ and his kingdom and not the fact that we're not being treated the way we want to be treated. I mean if you listen to kind of conservative Christian radio, so to speak, a lot of times the flavor, the focus seems to shift from the rights of Christ to the rights of American Christians, you know, And so I would be concerned about that. Not only the motivation, but then flowing from that, the manner in which we make use of those things. We can do that in a way that represents Christ.

Or we can do that in a way that really just represents, you know, what, Republican values, you know, conservative old white guy values, you know, and where the world can't really see Christ in the methods or the manner in which we're pursuing Christ's calls. So I, that's, that's only my, that's my concern. I do think of in the next coming weeks as more pastors are really having to face the question of, well, as they open up stores, etc., have we waited long enough, as Jason mentioned? So I think that's a legitimate question now, but how we go about that can be, can give a very different message to our culture. So that does concern me.

Amen. There's this question I think has arisen in a lot of our conversations and that is, what are we duty-bound to protect? The Constitution or is it the Word of God? Well, we are duty-bound to protect the Word of God, to obey as Gavin said, you know, the two tables of the law and that's where we are duty bound. The Constitution is secondary.

I'm grateful we have constitutional rights and I think that we should try to protect them particularly for our children, but if they're lost let's just realize that in most places in the world, Christians don't have those rights, but they do have the Word of God, and that's what they need more than anything. The Word of God and the proclamation of the gospel, that's our weapon. It's not government orders. We as Christians are able to prosper outside of all government orders because we operate by the word and the spirit. So we're never without means as Christians in this world.

Any final comments about that? And then I wanna turn toward a time of just pastoral advice, final comments from each of you. Any more on this matter? David Coles-Caballero Could I just say something further to the whole issue of civil disobedience, revolution, covenanting, and the difference from Calvin to the later writers, which I'm not convinced it is as great as it is made out to be. It may have been in how they practised certain things, but of course you had that in Huguenot, France.

There was, as their crisis deepened, you got more and more radical response to that crisis. But the issue of covenanting and not recognising the legitimacy of any other government. That's not actually true because the document that the Solm League and Covenant give us is the Westminster Confession, which makes it abundantly clear that obedience is to be offered to a magistrate and that he's still a legitimate magistrate even though that he is not a Christian magistrate. The issue of revolution and rising up against the magistrate that the Covenanters took on was fundamentally a constitutional issue, that there was a contract between king and the people that the king violated. And they were rising up not as the church, but as citizens of the nation.

And I think that's something that we need to remember. And the doctrine of the lesser magistrate develops from the 16th into the 17th century. So I just wanted to make that point. Good. Thank you, Gavin.

Well, let's go around. Let's do a round house. I'd just like to hear your final words of pastoral care and any encouragement you have for pastors themselves. You're talking to both pastors and people in their congregations here tonight. So Kevin, what would you like to just finally say to everyone?

Well, I resonate with all the pastoral comments that have been made throughout this conversation, brothers. My major concern is always with the flock and how the flock is responding to the current crisis. I think that's the biggest issue in front of us. First, we need to remember that God is bringing His judgments upon the nations. And these are very severe times economically, as well as medically, maybe more so economically over the next six months or so, but this has been a warning sign for the entire world.

We had the most significant Pride marches in the world in 2019. Tens of millions of people on the major streets and the capitals of London, Madrid, New York City, etc. These are the places that have been hit the hardest with the COVID-19 virus. And so what we have is a humbling of the nation. We would like to be humble marches, but there wouldn't be any humble marches because everybody would be on their knees and it's hard to march when you're on your knees.

So that's the position where we need to be. God is bringing his judgment upon the nation and a severity. There's something of his wrath that certainly is being displayed and demonstrated as we read in Romans 1, perhaps even more obvious today than it normally is. But judgment begins in the household of God. So we just seek out a humility amongst God's people first and foremost.

Before we start, you know, shouting matches as to whether the civil magistrate has done this right or that right, let's humble ourselves first and foremost. So, look for humility. I don't want a spirit of pride at all. Yes, we do want to correct our magistrate. Yes, we do want to be a faithful John the Baptist and Elijah bringing our leaders to an account as we have opportunity.

But let's start with ourselves. And so we look for humility here. We also want to be sure that there isn't a fear of the virus, but rather a fear of God. It's 10 million times more important than a fear of the virus. And so we'd like to see that we'd like to see a spirit of faith, of love and power and a sound mind amongst the people of God.

So this is what I'm looking for, as I teach and counsel and disciple during times like these. Thank you, Kevin. Sam. As I thought about that part of this, brother, I was just led to Titus 3.1, which I think gives the kind of practical reflection on Paul's other teaching. It simply says, remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, of course, to be obedient, Paul means generally, of course, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, and to be peaceable, gentle, and showing every consideration for all men." And it seems to me that in those words, Paul is saying, you know, don't insist on your rights always.

Try to take into account, at least in a secondary way, how this is going to appear to other people. It's not the primary consideration. What is this going to look like to your fellow men? Be ready for every good deed. Try to find ways to serve the community and serve other people.

And as much as you can, be submissive to the government and as much as you can be obedient. I'm thankful to say that we do have new orders from the government of our state government that's going to allow us to commence meeting again with some general conditions, May 24, and we're certainly looking forward to that, and I know where people are as well. Amen. Gavin. I would echo the sentiments of the brothers there in terms of seeking the Lord, caring for his flock.

But I would really exhort people to put first things first. You will have picked up from my initial 10-minute speech that I have a concern that we are elevating second table considerations and forgetting the first table considerations. God is to be worshiped in the assembly of his people. And I don't see how Romans chapter 13 conflicts with that, rather I would see it as reinforcing it. The other issues need to be held in relation to that, not that coming in in relation to other issues.

So first things first. Second thing would be repentance. We hear the president speaking and others and we are going to beat this. We are strong. And then we look at the church and we are talking about how are we going to manage all of this?

And we are looking at statistics and we are doing virtual things and we are trying to cope with the situation. Well, the reality is there is evil in the city and the Lord, the Lord has brought it. That's a biblical principle. There's a pestilence, there's a disease, churches are closed. There's a famine of the Lord's Supper.

And I think we should sit down and seriously ask the question, what would the Lord have us learn about this? And that we would repent of our sins, examine ourselves as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Israel were to do when pestilence came. You know, Solomon at the prayer, that the dedication of the temple says, we'll go to the temple and we'll cry unto the Lord and you see subsequent kings doing that and when you read the plague narratives from 16th century on every one of them is marked by this humiliation before God. The church saying what are our sins?

Crying out to God for mercy and that he would use this providence. And so I would really encourage people, keep first things first and examine ourselves as the people of God. What is God saying to us at this time? Thank you, Gavin. Amen.

Jason. I wanted to read from Leviticus 26. The chapter starts with God talking about how he will bless the people who walk in his ways. And that's where I'm picking up. Leviticus 26, verse 9.

I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm my covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest and clear out the old because of the new. I will set my tabernacle among you and my soul shall not abore you. I will walk among you and be your God and you shall be my people. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you should not be their slaves.

I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. But if you do not obey and do not observe all these commandments. And if you despise my statutes, or if your soul abords my judgment so that you do not perform all my commandments, but break the covenant, I also will do this to you. I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever, which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. You shall sow your seed in vain for your enemies shall eat it.

I will set my face against you and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you. You shall flee when no one pursues you. After all this, if you do not obey me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And the chapter continues on with an escalating pattern of God bringing judgments to bring the people around through repentance, but they won't hear and so then he Punishes seven times and they won't repent and he punches punishment seven times and they won't repent And hey, this this is what is happening And if you stand in a stream of theology that says this isn't the world, this is just the Lord's people, well, I don't agree with that, but fine.

How is the church? Is the church healthy? Is the church humble? Is the church repenting? The answer is no.

We are hearing these things that Gavin just mentioned. Are we gonna come out of this more humble or proud having defeated the coronavirus? Heaven help us that that would be so. We're setting ourselves up for seven times more. And I heard a very prominent Christian leader say, this isn't happening because God is angry with us.

God, we're in a storm, God's with us in the storm. I generally speaking, I've had a great appreciation for Franklin Graham, but this is not what pastors should be saying. Pastors should be saying, unless you repent, you likewise will perish. Pastors should be saying God is angry with the wicked every day, Psalm 7. And so I just want to exhort myself, my co-elder, you know, all the elders who are on the webinar, we should be, God is trying to awaken in us a desire for awakening.

He doesn't want us to sleep through the warnings. Thank you, Jason. John. Yeah, I completely agree. We, at the little church where I pastor, we shifted, we took a break in our sermon series to look at the heinousness of sin, you know, the plague of plagues, Ralph Benning's Puritan book, I believe it was Benning that wrote that, you know, very instructive little book to look at during this time.

What I thought of pastorally, a number of things. One is other than the fact that we deserve this and much worse and it is a call to repentance and it is shockingly arrogant to, you know, and you almost, you wanna plead with the Lord not to listen to what our leaders say when they boast that we'll overcome things. But one thing I look at is the emptiness of our idolatry. So many people have lost the fillers that they've been filling up on and have been forced also to kind of look in the mirror of the honest look at themselves. When it first started I remember a report from Britain that they were gearing up to prepare for record numbers of divorces as husbands and wives had to stay in the same house for a significant time.

And of course, that's not a joke. I mean, you know, you can imagine the man that only sees his kids 30 minutes a day, an hour a day, and that's when they're looking at their iPad, he might be quite shocked to see what kind of teenagers he has when he has to stay at home with them each day. So I do think that the complete and utter emptiness of what the world has promised them is a wonderful opportunity for us to speak to them of something that is real and to tell them the glories of Christ and to tell them how He has satisfied us. And that leads me to a second thing. Obviously it's not just the world, it's not just the unbeliever who has filled himself up, but the believer.

Allowing nice things to crowd in the heart and to push Christ to the perimeter shamefully. And for us, we have an opportunity to repent of that and to be a living sermon to the people of how satisfied we are with the rule of our King. And that would look like in a number of ways. One would be that we would not be afraid of what they're afraid of. Isaiah 8, the Lord is the one we would fear and we wouldn't run around saying it's a conspiracy with the rest of them.

So we look at the realities of sickness and death and we look at the face of our king on the throne and our distinctly different responses being a witness to the frightened worldling. But also I think just a practical issue of murmuring. And I don't mean with regard to them restraining our Sunday worship gatherings. I just mean when they restrain our businesses and our ability to do what we want to do. And the common lot of everyone else around us, and we join in with the murmuring of every other person, as if we had no king ruling over all of this, as if our happiness was rooted in the same stuff their happiness was rooted in.

So a lot of opportunities. Finally, I do try to encourage myself and the people that this is a unique time. Every day really is unique And I only have one chance of offering my love and allegiance and my childlike submission to the King. I only have one chance to offer this event to him, to lay this at his throne as best as I understand how. And I don't want to look back on these weeks and say, you blew it, you were so careless.

You could have offered that to Christ as an expression of individual love. So I try to encourage them to think of that. But I really have appreciated that time. I hope everybody can join us again next Thursday night. Plan to do this again at 8 o'clock.

So somebody posted a PDF of Lex Rex on the comment section. So if you haven't seen that, you might go and snap that off. I wanna leave us with the thought that this is my Father's world, that God is in control of absolutely everything that takes place in the world. And everything that God is doing has to do with the rescue of a bride and of destroying the works of the devil. And this crisis has come upon us as a church to sanctify us, to drive us to prayer, to cause us to examine our ways.

I think we've all been doing that as pastors as well. Am I thinking rightly about the civil government? Am I thinking rightly about jurisdictions? Am I thinking rightly about the laws of the land? Am I thinking right about holiness and obedience to God and God alone.

All of these things have been pushed into our face like they never had before. Here's the reality in the history of pandemics in the Bible. All of them were sent to drive the people of God to repentance. I can't help but think that what has happened is to refine and sweeten the church, to drive her really to her knees, drive her into her Bible and drive her really to the only solution that is effectual and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the only thing that matters.

You know, I'm so grateful right now in our church, we're going through the Gospel of John and we hit this crisis right at the point where Jesus is on the cross and to be able to hover over all of the implications of the cross of Jesus Christ has been such a blessing to understand that God hates sin and that God delights to rescue sinners. And in the cross you find really a representation of every manifestation of the character of God. And that's where we need to have our focus for sure. Learn along the way, be patient with our people, be patient with one another, teach one another vigorously, spur one another on to loving good deeds, and at the same time for iron to sharpen iron. I really appreciate the opportunity that you brothers have given to us tonight for that.

I really enjoyed and benefited by the conversation. So anyway, we're gonna have another broadcast next Thursday night at eight o'clock. I really hope you can join us. It's really been a blessing. Thank you so much.

We'll see you next time.