The worship of God is the chief end of man as created in the image of God.
Worship is to give God the glory due to His name. God in His grace planned the redemption of a great number of people whom he would gather from every nation to worship Him eternally.
That redemption would be accomplished through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ offering up Himself as a sacrifice to God upon the Cross to purchase eternal salvation for all who would believe. God calls sinners into fellowship with himself and by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice and the experience of the new birth the image of God is restored, and redeemed sinners are recreated in Christ to worship God.
The Word of God is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. God commands his people (called the Church) to come together on the Lord’s Day to worship Him (Exodus 20:8-11, Leviticus 19:30).
Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of his Church is the sole Head of his Church (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Therefore, the public worship of God must not be set aside by any earthly power, nor neglected by the true people of God.
The publication, ‘Coronavirus and the Leadership of the Christian Church’, rightly states that; ‘God has called us to worship corporately and publicly and nothing of this virus has providentially hindered us from being in the meeting house.
God’s mandate for weekly public Sabbath worship is not a thing indifferent.
Rather it is the very act of choosing to follow the command to worship – the nature of which is the core essence of shepherding and gathering the sheep in fellowship to the praise of his glorious grace’ (p.30).
Church closures have been to the detriment of the flock.
Church leaders were quick to close the doors of the meeting house, without any Scriptural warrant, and thereby preventing God’s people from gathering to worship Him as He has commanded.
Two main arguments were presented by churches seeking justification for closing their churches. Firstly, the Biblical exhortation: ‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1).
True that Christians are to be law abiding citizens, but only in so far that laws are not contrary to the Word (or Law) of God.
The Executive in directing the citizens of Northern Ireland not to meet for the public worship of God, acted beyond their God given mandate, because the Executive’s prohibition on the public worship of God is contrary to Scripture.
God has never entrusted to the civil magistrate the authority to legislate concerning the worship of God.
To resist the civil magistrate because it overstepped its authority is not something one takes lightly, but with the help and strength of the Lord, we must.
It is easy for Churches to pay lip service to the great basic principle that ‘our sole rule on all matters of faith and practice is the Scriptures alone’, but quite another thing when tested and tried, to refuse to bow to the ungodly authority of the civil magistrate. Christians have no duty or obligation to obey the civil magistrates in any matter that would cause them to sin against God.
The Apostles declared, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).
Secondly, many churches sincerely motivated, chose to close their places of worship claiming that it was out of love to their neighbour.
The sum of all God’s commandments are: ( 1) to love God with all one’s heart and (2) to love our neighbour as ourselves.
One never negates the other, and the Bible nowhere supports the reasoning that in loving our neighbour we may violate the command to ‘love God’ and certainly not in regard to the fourth commandment, which requires the people of God to gather for public worship on his Day.
We must obey God and worship Him, and in doing so endeavour to love our neighbour.
While there have been a few outbreaks of Covid due to churches meeting, (it is 0.02%), no one is put at risk by meeting to worship the Lord providing basic guidelines are met.
Covid did not take him by surprise and nor does it negate the commandments of God.
Whether people decide to come to worship God is a matter for them before God, trusting by faith and willing to endure the providences of a sovereign God.
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