"An additional point needs to be made in this context. Christ is always faithful and true (Revelation 19:11). Human governments are not so trustworthy. Scripture says, "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19). That refers, of course, to Satan. John 12:31 and 16:11 call him "the ruler of this world," meaning he wields power and influence through this world's political systems (cf. Luke 4:6; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). Jesus said of him, "he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). History is full of painful reminders that government power is easily and frequently abused for evil purposes. Politicians may manipulate statistics and the media can cover up or camouflage inconvenient truths. So a discerning church cannot passively or automatically comply if the government orders a shutdown of congregational meetings--even if the reason given is a concern for public health and safety." - John MacArthur
You mean that Christ is always faithful unless you do not like the way Romans 13 affects your ability to meet in public. That aside, look at the dripping arrogance here. The brushing aside of concerns for the public health from a pastor is staggering. Of course we discern but there is no discernment being displayed here. This is simply a pastor who garnered a great deal of criticism for originally complying who now seeks to use the bile to justify reversing his position.
"The church by definition is an assembly. That is the literal meaning of the Greek word for "church"--ekklesia--the assembly of the called-out ones. A non-assembling assembly is a contradiction in terms. Christians are therefore commanded not to forsake the practice of meeting together (Hebrews 10:25)--and no earthly state has a right to restrict, delimit, or forbid the assembling of believers. We have always supported the underground church in nations where Christian congregational worship is deemed illegal by the state. When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord." - John MacArthur
The first error here is in thinking an assembly must only be in a corporate church building. Are you seriously making a biblical argument that God looks badly upon virtual corporate worship? That only gathering in your mega church qualifies? That is a specious argument at best. It is not impossible for the church to gather during this time. A plethora of congregations still meet online, with teaching being streamed and pastors actually behaving like pastors in outreaching all of their saints. Church after church still operate benevolence ministries helping the community during this time as well. You can obey the word and obey the state at the same time. You just need to get over yourself. What MacArthur also never mentions is that these orders are temporary. They are to help defeat the deadly virus killing so many people.
"Although we in America may be unaccustomed to government intrusion into the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is by no means the first time in church history that Christians have had to deal with government overreach or hostile rulers. As a matter of fact, persecution of the church by government authorities has been the norm, not the exception, throughout church history. "Indeed," Scripture says, "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Historically, the two main persecutors have always been secular government and false religion. Most of Christianity's martyrs have died because they refused to obey such authorities. This is, after all, what Christ promised: "If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). In the last of the beatitudes, He said, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12)." - John MacArthur
Are you serious? In the face of 150,000 dead and four million infected you want to argue that being asked to stay home is persecution? Really? This peddling of the victim mentality for the church is usually reserved for the NAR dominionists. Sad how far MacArthur is willing to fall here. Maybe he can rest in this being predestined.
"As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, we must recognize that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church. Succumbing to governmental overreach may cause churches to remain closed indefinitely. How can the true church of Jesus Christ distinguish herself in such a hostile climate? There is only one way: bold allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even where governments seem sympathetic to the church, Christian leaders have often needed to push back against aggressive state officials. In Calvin's Geneva, for example, church officials at times needed to fend off attempts by the city council to govern aspects of worship, church polity, and church discipline. The Church of England has never fully reformed, precisely because the British Crown and Parliament have always meddled in church affairs. In 1662, the Puritans were ejected from their pulpits because they refused to bow to government mandates regarding use of the Book of Common Prayer, the wearing of vestments, and other ceremonial aspects of state-regulated worship. The British Monarch still claims to be the supreme governor and titular head of the Anglican Church. But again: Christ is the one true head of His church, and we intend to honor that vital truth in all our gatherings. For that preeminent reason, we cannot accept and will not bow to the intrusive restrictions government officials now want to impose on our congregation. We offer this response without rancor, and not out of hearts that are combative or rebellious (1 Timothy 2:1-8; 1 Peter 2:13-17), but with a sobering awareness that we must answer to the Lord Jesus for the stewardship He has given to us as shepherds of His precious flock. To government officials, we respectfully say with the apostles, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge" (Acts 4:19). And our unhesitating reply to that question is the same as the apostles': "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Our prayer is that every faithful congregation will stand with us in obedience to our Lord as Christians have done through the centuries." - John MacArthur
Sigh. John MacArthur is better than this. At least he used to be. The verse from Acts is when the religious leaders told the apostles to stop preaching the Gospel. It has nothing to do with the state and more importantly, this situation is not preventing the spreading of the Gospel. It is about the fact that we are going through the worst pandemic in 100 years and in the face of so many people dead, you would think the first place for compassion would be the church of Jesus Christ. So sad that so many mega-church false teachers gathered together starting with Rodney Howard Browne to demand an unbiblical defiance of authority thumbing their nose at the state, the bible and all other human beings. So sad that from Browne it has now ended with the once respected MacArthur. He added an addendum to this statement, trying to explain away why he complied originally and now defies the order. Within that addendum is this unbelievably callous statement: