Released March 1, 2022

God vs. Government

Taking a Biblical Stand When Christ and Compliance Collide

How can we as Christians know how best to respond when the state encroaches upon the church? God vs. Government looks to the Bible for answers about remaining discerning and faithful to our heavenly Father’s commands even when society tells us to do otherwise.

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About The Book

Release Date: March 2022

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Social Issues/Apologetics

ISBN: 978-0-7369-8632-8

“Welcome to our peaceful protest.”

In the spring of 2020, government mandates forced churches across North America to close their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As societal fear and unrest increased, Christians were forced to grapple with how God wanted them to respond to these state-imposed restrictions. After all, didn’t the closure of churches pose a serious threat in a time when people needed spiritual direction more than ever?

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God vs. Government follows two churches’ courageous decisions to reopen despite orders to remain closed. Guided by the command in Hebrews 10:25 that churches not forsake meeting together, pastors John MacArthur and James Coates led their congregations to return to in-person meetings—and were swiftly met by unsympathetic governing authorities ready to shut them down again. The ensuing legal battles raised important questions about religious freedom, and more importantly, illuminated what it looks like to take a stand when Christ and compliance collide.

How do we react with wisdom and discernment when the state encroaches upon the church? God vs. Government tells two incredible accounts that affirm our need to be faithful to the Lord’s commands no matter the circumstances.

God vs. Government follows two churches’ courageous decisions to reopen despite orders to remain closed. Guided by the command in Hebrews 10:25 that churches not forsake meeting together, pastors John MacArthur and James Coates led their congregations to return to in-person meetings—and were swiftly met by unsympathetic governing authorities ready to shut them down again. The ensuing legal battles raised important questions about religious freedom, and more importantly, illuminated what it looks like to take a stand when Christ and compliance collide.

How do we react with wisdom and discernment when the state encroaches upon the church? God vs. Government tells two incredible accounts that affirm our need to be faithful to the Lord’s commands no matter the circumstances.

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Chapters

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CHAPTER 1

THE GRACE COMMUNITY STORY

If someone had told us, in the fall of 2019, that within six months nearly every church in North America would shut down, we would never have believed them. It would have been difficult to imagine a scenario in which government officials could openly bypass religious freedoms, suspend in-person worship services, and force churches to close their doors. But 2020 was a year filled with unexpected twists and turns. Topping that list was the global pandemic.

PANDEMIC
March–April 2020

When the novel coronavirus first appeared in the headlines, it seemed like a distant threat. But by March 2020, it had taken the world by storm. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the situation a global pandemic. The next day, California governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide directive, calling for any gathering of more than 250 people to suspend meeting until the end of the month. At that time, little was known about the new virus. The headlines varied in their assessment of the danger, but many presented the situation in apocalyptic terms. News reports sounded like scenes from a science fiction novel or a Hollywood film. We all had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama.

Despite the public panic, our pastoral leadership team at Grace Community Church was reluctant to stop meeting. The regular gathering of the saints is commanded in Scripture (Hebrews 10:25). The decision to cancel our weekly assembly, even temporarily, was not something our elders took lightly. The email correspondence with our elder team included this update sent on the morning of Thursday, March 12: “There are no plans to cancel church or other meetings. Early this morning, the CA health department recommended no meetings with more than 250 people but that is not mandatory. It is quite possible that we will be ordered to close the church. Unless, and until, that happens we will continue to meet. Obviously, those with health issues or who otherwise do not want to be at risk are free to stay home.” The email continued with this pastoral word of encouragement: “The overwhelming fear that has gripped this country is sad. But it is also an opportunity to encourage and strengthen the people of GCC. It is also an opening for the gospel in our community. For those who are afraid, [we] cannot imagine a better place to be than at church with God’s people reflecting on the providence and goodness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

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About the authors

“How do we react with wisdom and discernment when the state encroaches upon the church?”

Nathan Busenitz is the executive vice president and provost of The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles. He also serves as part of the pastoral staff at Grace Community Church and has written or contributed to numerous books, including Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. He and his wife, Beth, have four children.

James Coates is the pastor-teacher of GraceLife Church of Edmonton, Canada. He graduated with MDiv and DMin degrees from The Master’s Seminary. He and his wife, Erin, have two sons.

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Get the Book

God vs. Government is available as a hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Get The Book

God vs. Government is available as a hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.