Over the last few years a team of individuals from Fellowship Church Lubbock have undergone training to keep the church secure. One of the recurring themes from the sessions is that people need to think about what they will do in an emergency situation, because apart from thinking through those situations in advance, people tend to panic, shut down and put themselves in the worst possible place. In such a way our natural tendency as fallen creatures are exposed. When a trial presents itself, apart from remembering the truth, there is a tendency to panic. Perhaps that is one reason the apostles were so compelled to write letters to New Testament churches that faced trial and persecution in their day, to help believers understand what following Christ looked like during challenging times. The epistles present truth to believers and urge them to live faithful lives grounded on what God has said.
Unless you have been off the grid for a while, you know that Coronavirus is the top news item. It has impacted everything from the NBA to the stock market to education. While it is yet to be seen how widespread the virus will be and how many will be impacted, the ripple effects are already being felt near each one of us. We don’t know yet if the next 30 days will find cases diminishing or spreading. Either way, I want to take a few moments to think through how we (as believers) should live during such a time in view of the word of God. While the world is panicking, there is a rare gospel opportunity before each of us where I pray we are found faithful. Here are a few texts and thoughts for you.
The Reality of Sin. The devastation of this disease, like any disease, reminds us that the Bible is true when it tells us that we live in a fallen world. This takes us to Genesis 1 and a world that was created void of sin, disease or death. It then brings us to Genesis 3 where death entered the world through sin and spread to all men (Rom 5:12). The fall leads to all sorts of horrible situations that you find in the Bible from leprosy and paralysis and blindness to diseases in our day. We live in a world that groans from the effects of the fall (Rom 8:19-23). While this virus and countless others will increase and diminish, they will not end till Christ returns and establishes His kingdom where there will no longer be any curse (Rev 22:3). Today we live in a fallen world, our hope is for a new creation.
The Provision of a Savior. Not only does the Bible tell us that creation is fallen, but that there is hope found through God the Father sending His only begotten Son to do something about it. 1 Corinthians 15:21 reminds us that, “since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
Mark 9:42-48 reminded us a few weeks ago that there is something far worse than a virus that leads to death. Jesus says that sin results in not only losing life in this world, but eternal punishment. At the same time the gospel of Mark that has shown us the Son of Man who is authoritative over sickness (Mk 1:31, 34; 2:11-12) also has authority to forgive sin (Mk 2:5, 10). Later in Mark 15 the sin of His church is dealt with on the cross and we later find the Father’s approval through the empty tomb.
When we have an opportunity to talk to people who are in a frenzy for not having toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or bottled water, and who are worried about their well-being, tell them where your hope is found. God has provided an all sufficient Savior for a problem whose consequences have to do with eternal life. Our hope is found in a glorious Savior and we offer Him to others in their time of need.
The Sovereignty of God. The Bible is gracious to remind us multiple times that God is sovereign, having absolute rule and authority over all things. Nothing is too hard for Him (Jer 32:17), He is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think (Eph 3:20). This extends to eternal life, that He both rescues sinners who are unable to save themselves and at the same time preserves those He saves so that they cannot lose their salvation. Will we live in belief of this truth when the world responds in chaos, panic, and fear? Believers are those who put doctrine into practice. A belief in His rule and authority over all things is expressed by trusting and looking only to Him. Hearts that are far from God are going to look to scientists for vaccines, Presidents for policies, and supercenters for abundant supplies and then get frustrated when leaders and institutions inevitably fail. Our hope is a good, gracious, and powerful God who is in control of all things and will make all things right in His good time.
The Gospel is hope. A rare opportunity is before each and every one of us. Whatever the degree of this virus, people are being reminded that they will not live forever and that death is real. Perhaps the most comparable moment in many of our lifetimes came September 11th, 2001 when the reality of death was playing out over and over on television sets. When a culture of comfort is confronted with the reality of death the deep soils in which to sow the good news of salvation in Christ alone sometimes expand beckoning sowers to scatter seed. Will we live in fear or hope? Will we preach fear or hope? Even should we be confronted with the reality of the end of our time on earth, will we attempt preserve our life at all cost or be able to live in the truth that Paul proclaimed: “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better…” (Phil 1:21-23) Our hope is in the Gospel.
Church, during World War II, with bombs dropping in London, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones continued to stand in the pulpit at Westminster chapel. It is said that one Sunday an explosion was particularly near and as the building shook, dust fell from the rafters on his preaching Bible. He paused only briefly, dusted his Bible off and continued to proclaim the word of God in confidence. He knew the reality of sin, proclaimed the provision of a Savior, rested in the sovereignty of God and hoped in the Gospel.
Whatever the outcome of the unique situation in which we find ourselves we can be certain that God works all things for good (Rom 8:28 – strangely the churches of false teachers have been the first to shut their doors and the health and wealth gospel has all the more been exposed as a fraud!). I often pray that the Lord would prepare us for whatever the days ahead hold so that we would be found faithful and a witness to a lost world. In difficult times may we live in the light of the word that we preach. Moments throughout history that have pressed men and women of faith have expose the genuine condition of their heart. May we be found faithful, following and glorifying Christ.
In His Grace,