John MacArthur, influential author, theologian, and pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, held Sunday service in defiance of a state order banning all indoor church functions.
"This is a very special day in the life of our church family. It is for us a return to what we love the most, the fellowship of the saints and the worship of our Lord," MacArthur said from the pulpit.
The service was described as "full" by elder Phil Johnson, and none of the congregants within camera view appeared to be wearing masks or social distancing.
Titled, "We Must Obey God Rather Than Men," MacArthur's sermon addressed reasons why the Grace Community elders decided to defy Governor Newsom's order, why they did not previously do so, 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.
The closing 14 minutes of the sermon specifically addressed these questions:
"Why not sooner? Predictions of death. Why now? Aren't we putting people in danger? The real danger in this world is spiritual, isn't it? But let's talk about that danger from the virus. 27 states have a higher death rate than California. 27 states. California has had about 8,300 persons die — and I just got this information from the state sources yesterday — 8,300 persons have died with Covid. Not necessarily from it, but with it. At least, that's what we're told. And for California, the California statistic is, that's 21 people out of every 100,000. That means the death rate is .02[%]. 99.98% of people will not die from this. But, there's another statistic: Half of those people who died are over 80. So, if you're under 80, you have a 99.99% chance that you're going to live through this whole thing. That just does not equate to the response this society has had."
MacArthur detailed the large number of annual deaths from alcohol and smoking, stressing that liquor stores remain open despite the lockdown on churches. He then moved to the topic of abortion:
"Do you know what the great killer in California is? I'll tell you what it is. The most deadly force in this state is death by medical people who do abortions. And I will give you the statistics of this state: 364 abortions a day. About one in four pregnancies in California ends in abortion. So, every infant conceived has a one in four chance of never getting out of the womb. 88% of those abortions are with women who are not married. California has more abortions than any state in the United States — taxpayer funded.
On May 31, 2019, Governor Newsom issued a proclamation. His proclamation was to let everyone know California's abortions were available to women from states where abortion was restricted ... death by abortion outstrips every other kind of death. You could take all the cancer deaths, and all the heart disease deaths, put them together, and they don't come to the killing of children in the womb. There's no moral high ground among leaders in this state. They've kept all the abortion clinics open! Through all these months, they've been deemed, along with the liquor stores, 'essential,' so babies could continue to be slaughtered. But churches can't meet?"
"Kill people with alcohol, kill people with cigarettes, kill people with diseases because the hospitals don't function, lock people up so that everybody's under stress and make sure churches can't meet — the only place they can find hope and help. We will not bow to such bizarre standards. We'll follow our Lord and trust him."
The full sermon can be viewed below or at this link.
? Grace Community Church on Friday also released a detailed statement announcing why they would not be complying with orders to shut down.