Despite the California Court of Appeal's eleventh-hour ruling to set aside a lower court's decision to allow Grace Community Church to hold in-person worship services, Pastor John MacArthur defended the church's Sunday gathering, saying "We are holding church… because our Lord commands it."
Last Friday, Judge James Chalfant of the Los Angeles Superior Court denied the county's request for a restraining order that would have forced Grace Community Church to stop holding indoor services amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a late-night ruling, however, the state's appeals court overruled the lower court's decision.
"As between the harm that flows from the heightened risk of transmitting COVID-19 (namely 'serious illness and death') and the harm that flows from having to conduct religious services outdoors instead of indoors, the balance at this early stage favors issuance of a stay," court documents read.
During his sermon Sunday morning, MacArthur said the state just wants to "shut us down" but "we're here to bring honor to the Lord."
"It's actually hard to figure out exactly what the city is trying to do with us and to us but we know they don't want us to do exactly what we are doing right now. We aren't meeting because we want to be rebellious, we're meeting because it's what the Lord has commanded us to do," MacArthur said as the congregation erupted in applause.
? MacArthur and the elders at Grace Community Church announced on July 24 that they would no longer obey the state's order banning all indoor church services. MacArthur expounded further on their reasoning in his first defiant sermon titled, "We Must Obey God Rather Than Men," in which he, among other reasons, cited the statistical deadliness of COVID-19, the fact that churches in California have been shut down while abortion clinics and liquor stores have been deemed "essential" and allowed to remain open, and the biblical grants and limitations to government authority over Christians.
Last Sunday. MacArthur referred to GCC's church services as "peaceful protests."