John Piper, author, speaker, and founder of Desiring God, offered "four biblical realities" in a special episode of "Ask Pastor John" on Friday to help Christians make sense of the coronavirus outbreak.
Here is the full segment with a summarized outline below:
Preface: God is sovereign.
- "Jesus has all knowledge and all authority over the natural and supernatural forces of this world. He knows exactly where the virus started, and where it's going next. He has complete power to restrain it or not. And that's what's happening. Neither sin, nor Satan, nor sickness, nor sabotage is stronger than Jesus. He's never backed into a corner; he is never forced to tolerate what he does not will."
Point 1: The fall of man brought disease, disasters, and death.
- "When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, God ordained that the created order, including our physical bodies, as persons created in his image, would experience corruption and futility, and that all living things would die."
- "The difference for Christians, who trust Christ, is that our experience of this corruption is not condemnation. Romans 8:1: "There is therefore now no condemnation." The pain for us is purifying, not punitive. "God has not destined us for wrath" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We die of disease like all men, not necessarily because of any particular sin — that's really important. We die of disease like all people because of the fall. But for those who are in Christ, the sting of death is removed (1 Corinthians 15:55). That's building block number one for understanding what's going on."
Point 2: God sometimes inflicts sickness on his people as a mercy.
- "God sometimes inflicts sickness on his people as a purifying and rescuing judgment, which is not a condemnation, but an act of mercy for his saving purposes."
- "Some of us die of illnesses 'so that we may not be condemned along with the world' (1 Corinthians 11:29–32). If he can do that in a few of his loved ones in Corinth, he can do it to many, including by the coronavirus. And not just because of abusing the Lord's Supper, but also for other kinds of sinful trajectories — though not all death is for a particular sin. That's building block number two."
Point 3: God sometimes inflicts sickness as judgment.
- "God sometimes uses disease to bring particular judgments upon those who reject him and give themselves over to sin. I'll give two examples. In Acts 12, Herod the king exalted himself in being called a god ... Another example is the sin of homosexual intercourse. In Romans 1:27, it says, 'The men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.' Now, that's an example of the wrath of God."
- "That's building block number three, that God can and does use illnesses to bring judgment sometimes upon those who reject him and his way."
Point 4: All natural disasters are acts of divine mercy calling all people everywhere to repent and trust Christ.
- "All natural disasters — whether floods, famines, locusts, tsunamis, or diseases — are a thunderclap of divine mercy in the midst of judgment, calling all people everywhere to repent and realign their lives, by grace, with the infinite worth of the glory of God."
- "Here's Jesus's answer in Luke 13:4–5: 'Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent [he shifts from them to you], you will all likewise perish.'"
- "Now, that's the message of Jesus to the world at this moment in history, under the coronavirus — a message to every single human being. Me, and you, and everybody who's listening, and every ruler on the planet, every person who hears about this, is receiving a thunderclap message of God, saying, 'Repent.' Repent and seek God's mercy to bring your lives — our lives — into alignment with his infinite worth."
In addition the video above, you can listen to full audio and read a full transcript of the segment at Desiring God.