Pastor John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, announced Friday that it would remain open for in-person worship services. The church’s decision is in clear defiance of Gov. Newsom’s executive order, a directive the church sees as government overreach.
In a blog post published on the church’s website, MacArthur said the government has no jurisdiction over when, how, and how often Christians can meet for worship. Due to the government’s overreach of authority, the church has only one way to respond. It must “obey God rather than man.”
“Therefore, in response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction, and faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services,” the post reads.
MacArthur also quoted Matthew 16:18, which says, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” He argued that this verse prohibits any outside authority from dictating how the church can operate.
“We do not need the state’s permission to serve and worship our Lord as He has commanded. The church is Christ’s precious bride,” MacArthur emphasized.
“She belongs to Him alone. She exists by His will and serves under His authority. He will tolerate no assault on her purity and no infringement of His headship over her.”
MacArthur doubled down on his position to continue in-person worship services during his most recent sermon on Sunday. From behind the pulpit, he said that Christ, not the state, is the head of the church.
“When any government official issues orders regulating worship (such as bans on singing, caps on attendance, or prohibitions against gatherings and services), he steps outside the legitimate bounds of his God-ordained authority as a civic official and arrogates to himself authority that God expressly grants only to the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over His Kingdom, which is the church,” MacArthur preached.
He added that it makes no sense to shut down the very thing that can bring people hope.
“I can’t think of anything worse than to put an entire world into fear and then shut down the only place they could go to have their fear finally and completely removed,” he added.