Recognizing His Rule and Heeding His Voice
Vaccine and other issues
It’s the commitment of FBC to submit to Christ’s rule, to heed His voice, and to proclaim His message–regardless whether you like it or not, or agree with it or not. Though the elders don’t get everything right, we try to make certain you hear His Word, which is His will. Like waiters, we do our best to get His truth to the table of your hearing, without messing it up. We work hard not to make preferences into principles, which is called legalism–nor turn principles into preferences, which is called liberalism.
Had we not been shoved around by the Covid-19 panic, we’d still be doing our seasonal evening services, which would have allowed us to biblically address current issues like the vaccine/masks, without having to break up our regular study through the books of the Bible, like James. But all your leaders have sensed the heavy burden you bear and the intense need for clarity. I’ve lost some sleep, prayed more–as I’ve been trying to address the issue of the vaccine for weeks.
So today, the elders determined I should give an overview of God’s Word for 25 minutes, then have four elders answer key questions on the topic of the vaccine for 25 minutes. The challenge today is, through God’s Word alone, to provide you with a clearer lens so you might please Christ through the difficulties you are facing over the vaccine, face masks and more.
#1 Christ is RULING–submit to Him FIRST
Revelation 1:18 says, “I [Jesus Christ] hold the keys of death and Hades” right now.
Hebrews 9:27 says God appoints the death of every man. Death is not from a virus or a gun or a vaccine–it is God appointed. All death and life are in the hands of God. When someone dies, it is God’s will–not an accident. If you die from a vaccine, a virus, old age or young–it was exactly when God intended, the exact time and day. But you say, “Yes but the government is mandating it.”
Psalms 47:8 says, “God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” God is the ruler of the nations–God is running things.
Proverbs 21:1 tells us, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord, God turns it wherever He wishes.” And God has the right to do what He pleases . . . the psalmist agrees in
Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
You can have confidence–God is in control. God’s sovereignty is absolute. His rule involves total control of everything–every circumstance, every event, every person, and every government order and employee mandate. God’s control means He either directly causes or consciously permits everything that happens in human history.
Paul taught in Ephesians 1:11 that God “works all things after the counsel of His will.” God is allowing or causing every single circumstance in your life. God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and always as He pleases.
One goal of the true Church and each believer is to show the world what it is like when you live under Christ’s rule–even as your children are being told to wear masks and employers are demanding their employees get vaccinated. As a Christ follower, you want what Christ wants over what you want first. Isaiah 40 says the nations are a drop from a bucket to the Lord–do not fear government–fear God. Government is not in charge–Christ is. Do not live in the fear of man, but live in the fear of God.
“Yes,” you say, “but our government has become oppressive. We can’t just sit back and watch all our rights disappear.” If you’re called to be a Daniel, then go get voted into office. But for the Church and Christians, your job is not to protest, criticize, whine, rebel or disobey. But read Titus 3:1 and 2, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”
You’re also to pray and honor our governing authorities, because they are appointed by God. And when they again mandate for you not to do what God commands, or to do what God commands us not to, then as Peter said in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” In the truest sense, our goal is not to disobey government, but to obey God first, by following his Word. If the government orders you to affirm homosexuality as normal, or to not gather for worship, or put the mark of the beast on your foreheads or wrists, then FBC will obey God, not the government, regardless.
You are grieving, Christian, and I am grieving with you! You are grieving the loss of a government, a nation which used to support your beliefs. Those days are over, to some degree. Romans 1 describes the decline, as God is currently judging sin with sin. Verse 24, God gave them over to unrestricted immorality starting in the 60s. Verse 26, God gave them over to homosexuality starting in the 70s and 80s. Verse 28, God gave them over to applaud all that is evil starting in the 90s and forward. God is at work in this decline toward evil.
Culture and country must turn bad for the end times to occur. You say, “We have to do something.” Yes, God commands us. But He doesn’t command you to fix our government–Jesus didn’t, Paul didn’t, the New Testament doesn’t, nor the Early Church . . . and neither should you. You are not here to fix your government, any more than the Chinese Christians can fix their government, or Russian Christians, or Cuban Christians fix their governments.
You are here to demonstrate the rule of Christ, to display His Kingdom, His rule, to live as a citizen of Heaven. That means be light and salt, point to the beauty of Christ and the tastiness of following Him. Let’s read out loud, Matthew 5:13 and 14, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.14You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Then 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
God is sovereign and totally in charge of every government. There’s nothing our rulers are doing that God is not allowing or initiating, including the requirements of the vaccine. There are some believers who’ve idolized America, and the Lord is calling you now to put your hope in Christ, not country. Much of the anger toward the vaccine is not the actual shot, but the government or employer control. Now remember, Christ loves you and has made you secure forever. There is no reason to live in fear–you can’t die one moment before God intends, whether that’s from Covid or the vaccine.
Do not live in fear Christian—”perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). “Cast your care upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And Christian, you’re to live differently than the unsaved who are scared of death. For believers, it is “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
#2 Listen to Christ’s VOICE–FOLLOW only Him
You all know sensationism sells. Media makes money and fear is a major selling point. TV media will take the rare exception and make it the norm. Social media will extol every extreme theory and teach it as true. Friends and family will talk of deaths they know and use it to sway you to embrace their fears. Be careful, Christian, who and what you are listening to.
All that God is doing concerning vaccines is for your good and for His glory. Your God is providentially working his will through this test. Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes all things [vaccine and mask requirements] to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
The vaccine is not a biblical issue–it’s not a sin to take it and not a sin not to take it. The issue is not truth. Christians are giving the vaccine too much energy, discussion and concern. Live for Christ, proclaim the Gospel, share the Word–but don’t center your life around a preference issue. The vaccine is a preference, because it is not talked about in Scripture. There is no commandment to vaccine or not.
The vaccine is an issue like eating meat was in the 1st century–some did, some didn’t. Paul taught both groups in 1 Corinthians 9 and 10 and Romans 14 to 15, to ”accept one another” (Romans 15:7), as well as . . .
*To remain one in Christ with those you differ with
*Do not teach your preference as a principle to others
*To manifest love, joy and peace with your differences
*To live under Christ’s rule and manifest His mission to proclaim the Gospel to everyone
The vaccine is not the mark of the beast and is not a sin, whether you get vaccinated or don’t get vaccinated—unless you violate conscience. Like with any medicine you might take, there’ll be a few who will have a negative reaction or suffer negative results. Yes, yes, I hear you–is the government exercising overt control? Yes. Is it being inconsistent? Yes. Is our nation moving from being supportive of our faith to being opposed to our faith? Yes. Are there frightening agendas seemingly driving some of these decisions about the vaccine? Yes.
You have a choice–let me state it in the extreme. There are two possible directions for this conscience issue–do or do not.
#1 Take the vaccine as if it were a flu shot, and move on–like taking a polio vaccine or a flu shot, take the vaccine.
#2 Don’t take the vaccine and quietly embrace the consequences, even if it means losing your job.
There’s no third option, where you get to whine, protest or live in misery. Under #2, do not, you can try to be a conscientious objector and write a letter. You can run for election and try to overturn mandates. But you can’t violate your conscience. Just make certain your conscience is guided by faith in the truth of the Word and not a conscience guided by boiling fears from other voices–even trusted ones.
#2 means you view the vaccine as an “I just can’t”–then you embrace the consequences, regardless of how unfair they are. What about sterility, auto-immune issues, government agendas? And what about the end times? The end times will happen. There will be a Tribulation, there will be an antichrist who controls the planet by making the world accept a mark on their forehead or their wrist (the most easily accessible areas in cold climates) in order to buy and sell.
Are there leaders who are talking about using the vaccine in this manner? Yes. Are we moving toward the end times? Yes. There will be many antichrists until the final, and they all want control and worship. But there will be a buy-sell control via a literal mark on the wrist or forehead–not a shoulder shot. Now if you get your vaccine in your wrist or forehead, you should go through the Tribulation–you deserve it. Is the vaccine the mark of the beast? No. You’ll be raptured anyway.
I liked Alistair Begg’s article on drawing the line, because it reminded me that Daniel and his three friends were willing to change their names, embraced the education of Babylon, and even served in the Babylonian government. But when it came to food and diet, they said no, because God’s Law said no. They drew their line not on preference, but on God’s Word. God expects you to do the same–showing the world you’re living under Christ’s rule and following only Christ’s voice.
And what’s our mission? Proclaim Christ, share the Gospel. The mission of the Christian is not to change the government, but to proclaim the Gospel. Changing laws does not make better people, only the Gospel can make better people. People don’t need better government, they need to become better people–and that only happens through the transformed heart of salvation. Matthew 28:19 and 20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [vaccinizing—no], baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
It doesn’t matter if the government supports your beliefs or not–your first allegiance is to be a citizen of Heaven. You and I change the world by proclaiming the Gospel. God saves, you share–and instead of talking so much about shots, let’s talk about salvation. And instead of being worried, let’s take our stand on His Word. Is your thinking sensible? Consistent? Let Philippians 4:8 be your guide. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Christian, do not to allow a preference to destroy your peace, your future, your relationships, or your sanity. You are the most wonderful people on the planet–please do not allow a vaccine to destroy you or discourage you. Make certain you love and accept those who vaccinate, and love and accept those who don’t. Accept each other, and don’t make your preference the right choice for anyone else. Don’t make your decision a must for everyone else. Some of your elders are vaccinated, and some of them are not vaccinated–and we are one heart and one mind. You don’t need to know who so that they become your favorite elder and you can be the same.
Right now, the unsaved world is in fear of death and missing the abundant life–but for the born again believer, to live is Christ and to die is gain. The only way to survive these times is to know the One who conquered death. The only way to have peace in the midst of chaos is to submit to the One who died in your place. The only way to be forgiven for all your sins is to exchange all that you are for all that He is. The only way to not be afraid is to be indwelt by the One who knows no fear.
The only way to not fear judgment for sin is to have God’s judgment fall on Christ, instead of you. John 14:6, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” What do you need to do to be saved now and forever? A.T.F.
A–ADMIT your awful sinfulness before a Holy God
T–TRUST in Christ and His Work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead
F–FOLLOW Christ as a slave follows His master
Let’s pray, and as the elders come up front, will you . . .
Praise Him for His sovereign control and love for you
Ask Him for wisdom in dealing with this issue
Confess to Him any sin, but especially your fear
Choose to love and accept others who are different than you
Now let me introduce four of our elders–John, Robert, Nigel, and Shawn. We are going to attempt to answer several key questions in four minutes per question. Then we will make ourselves available to you afterwards for follow-up.
QUESTIONS for ELDERS
#1 There are so many opinions about Covid vaccines, how do I make a decision?
#2 What should I do if my employer mandates that I get vaccinated?
#3 How do I shepherd my kids and collegians whether to be vaccinated or not?
#4 How do I maintain a good witness on masks, vaccines and other government/employer demands?
#5 How can I tell if my conscience is biblically informed or being driven by either fear or a love of freedom?
#6 How can I respond with kindness to those who have a different conviction and lack grace in their comments?