"Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services. Said another way, it has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship. When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar. Caesar himself is subject to God. Jesus affirmed that principle when He told Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11). And because Christ is head of the church, ecclesiastical matters pertain to His Kingdom, not Caesar's. Jesus drew a stark distinction between those two kingdoms when He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mark 12:17). Our Lord Himself always rendered to Caesar what was Caesar's, but He never offered to Caesar what belongs solely to God." - John MacArthur
I am sorry John but your description is duplicitous. The Executive Order has nothing to do with ordering, modifying, or forbidding your service. It has to do with protecting you and your community. By the way, if you truly did not want Caesar's input on your church maybe you should not have entered into the 501c3 status your church currently enjoys. You cite the reference to rendering unto Caesar but ignore the glaring problem with your argument. The entire nation of Israel was under the thumb of Rome at that time! Did Jesus stand up and preach about how matters of the temple could have no influence from the state, or Rome? Of course not. Jesus did not care nor weigh in one whit about the politics of His age. Christ is the head of the church and he has told you what to do in Romans 13. You are choosing to ignore it because of this bogus argument about your three siloed society. Sorry, it does not work that way.
"As pastors and elders, we cannot hand over to earthly authorities any privilege or power that belongs solely to Christ as head of His church. Pastors and elders are the ones to whom Christ has given the duty and the right to exercise His spiritual authority in the church (1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:7, 17)--and Scripture alone defines how and whom they are to serve (1 Corinthians 4:1-4). They have no duty to follow orders from a civil government attempting to regulate the worship or governance of the church. In fact, pastors who cede their Christ-delegated authority in the church to a civil ruler have abdicated their responsibility before their Lord and violated the God-ordained spheres of authority as much as the secular official who illegitimately imposes his authority upon the church. Our church's doctrinal statement has included this paragraph for more than 40 years: We teach the autonomy of the local church, free from any external authority or control, with the right of self-government and freedom from the interference of any hierarchy of individuals or organizations (Titus 1:5). We teach that it is scriptural for true churches to cooperate with each other for the presentation and propagation of the faith. Each local church, however, through its elders and their interpretation and application of Scripture, should be the sole judge of the measure and method of its cooperation. The elders should determine all other matters of membership, policy, discipline, benevolence, and government as well (Acts 15:19-31; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 5:4-7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1-4). In short, as the church, we do not need the state's permission to serve and worship our Lord as He has commanded. The church is Christ's precious bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-27). She belongs to Him alone. She exists by His will and serves under His authority. He will tolerate no assault on her purity and no infringement of His headship over her. All of that was established when Jesus said, "I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18)." - John MacArthur
Again, methinks thou does protest too much. This country is in the middle of a plague. Over 150,000 people are dead from it with four million more infected. Just think about what you are advocating for. To gather thousands of people indoors, in close proximity to each other and have them sing and shout amen, with hugs and all of the Christian accompaniment. The state has obligations to protect the corporate health. If five thousand people gather for your service you also seem to not care who they then take the virus to. Pastors who obey Romans 13 have not ceded anything. The church is not your building Pastor MacArthur. You can easily organize virtual services and still teach through streaming. Ideal? Hardly but at least it would be biblical. It is not infringing on the headship of Christ to obey Him when it comes to taking care of our neighbors. It is not infringement to obey authority that knows more than you do regarding epidemiology.
"Christ's own authority is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And [God the Father has] put all things in subjection under [Christ's] feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:21-23).
Accordingly, the honor that we rightly owe our earthly governors and magistrates (Romans 13:7) does not include compliance when such officials attempt to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church in any other way. The biblical order is clear: Christ is Lord over Caesar, not vice versa. Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church. Conversely, the church does not in any sense rule the state. Again, these are distinct kingdoms, and Christ is sovereign over both. Neither church nor state has any higher authority than that of Christ Himself, who declared, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18)." - John MacArthur
C'mon, enough already. The Executive Order does not seek to subvert sound doctrine, corrupt biblical morality, exercise ecclesiastical authority, or supplant Christ as head of the church. That is an asinine argument. It is interesting however that MacArthur is subverting sound doctrine by teaching his congregation to not care about their fellow man. To be so blindly arrogant as to think they know better about health matters they know nothing about. To damage their witness for Christ to the unsaved by acting so petulantly. MacArthur is also subverting biblical morality by pretending that only their opinion matters. It is interesting that MacArthur claims to have no authority to rule the state but that is exactly what he is doing. The state has decreed something and he has said no.
"Notice that we are not making a constitutional argument, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution expressly affirms this principle in its opening words: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The right we are appealing to was not created by the Constitution. It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state's authority (Romans 13:1-7). Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon. The exercise of true religion is a divine duty given to men and women created in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 4:18-20; 5:29; cf. Matthew 22:16-22). In other words, freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state." - John MacArthur
So you are not making a constitutional argument and then make a constitutional argument? In doing so it brilliantly displays the need for us to stay in our lanes. No rights are absolute and the public good often outweighs our individual rights. In fact, the Supreme Court just ruled that churches cannot ignore health orders from the state. Regardless of the state versus the church argument, worshipping God is not contained in the building that John MacArthur holds court. One can worship God anywhere. Now I agree that nothing beats corporate worship but the literal lives of people must take precedent both biblically and according to the state.