The spectrum of response the church is giving to the virus and its’ effect is manifesting the sleeping giant of error couched in the church. In other words, the Coronavirus is manifesting a greater problem and that is the doctrinal array of error that resides in the church. The confusion has been reflected in the irony of churches canceling their healing services, to some Pentecostal churches teaching the “virus” can’t touch you – “if you’re truly a believer”. Of course, these two are terribly misleading and outright erroneous. Others claim this is the end-times prophecy plagues with a host of other things that are going on.
The Biblical understanding, we at TCGF teach, preach, and uphold is the very Word of God and will uphold you amid these “sufferings of this present time”. Therefore, there are a few things to consider and renew your minds with: 1) Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, 2) The Sufferings of this Present Time, 3) Suffer with Christ, 4) The Body of Christ and the Day of the Lord, and 5) The Mercy of Sickness.
1. Christ is the Resurrection and the Life: For those that are justified by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus our hope isn’t in this world, nor our life, but it is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). We expect trials and tribulations to be experienced in this life which are allowed by God to teach us to lean further upon our Father and produce an unfading, strong hope in our God and the life to come (2 Cor. 1:8-10).
2. The Sufferings of this Present Time: The Coronavirus, along with all other sickness and disease are the symptoms of a much greater problem, that is, sin and the world in which sin resides. These things along with other things produce sufferings that are common to man in which man neither Christian or non-Christian are exempt from. God in time past would bless Israel for their obedience by removing these sicknesses but would also curse Israel for their disobedience by punishing Israel with sickness. This is NOT how God is operating today seeing He reconciled the world unto Himself and is having His dispensation of His grace. Therefore, we are to expect to get sick, experience the spread of viruses, and all the other impacts that come with sickness combined with news/media.
3. Suffer with Christ: As those that belong to Christ, we ought also to abide in Him, by abiding in the riches of His grace revealed in His Word. Part of the life of Christ is suffering well, suffering with Him. The doctrines contained in God’s Word provide might and strength for our inner man – His life to be made manifest in the midst and in the face of sickness, disease, tribulation, etc. Also, God’s Word provides us to respond genuinely, sincerely, and godly among the impacts of these things coming upon unbelievers some of which are mass hysteria, hoarding selfishness, and vehement anger toward others. Rather, godliness loves our neighbors as ourselves, even our enemies (Rom. 12:3-13:10).
4. The Body of Christ & The Day of the Lord: One of the oldest doctrinal errors was produced and propagated by a couple of men in Paul’s day – that was in the face of a mystery resurrection of the body of Christ, Hymenaeus and Philetus erred concerning the truth, “saying that the resurrection is past already” (2 Tim. 2:15-18). This placed Christians at that time in the Day of the Lord and thus interpreted the tribulations they were facing as Day of the Lord tribulations, instead of the sufferings of THIS PRESENT TIME (Rom. 8:18). The result – “and overthrow the faith of some.” This thousand-year-old error rears its ugly head in Christians who are void of a sound Biblical theology of God’s dealings with man in times past, but now, and ages to come. God has promised those justified in the dispensation of the grace of God to be “delivered from the wrath to come” (Rom. 5:9; 1 The. 1:9-10, 2 The. 1-3). We are children of the day, but not children in the day, or children of the day in the night (1 The. 5:1-6). Now, although this is the case, we get tastes and glimpses of those “times and seasons” due to the devolution of the course of this world and of how troubling the future times will be.
5. The Mercy of Sickness: One of the main accusations against ambassadors for Christ and the gospel is fearmongering. Accusations of fearing people into heaven. The false façade works to intimidate the proclaimer of the gospel as if this isn’t to be a legitimate part of the gospel they are rejecting. As ambassadors, we are the message bearers to herald the good news of the faith of Christ and fear does play a vital factor. Interestingly, the world uses the same tactic but is disingenuous for its vain, earthly purpose and objective. Fear can sway the masses for its gain, but all worldly fear is subservient to godly fear. Simply put, sickness and the fear of death is a mercy, a wake-up call to the world not to fear that which can kill the body, but Him that can destroy both body and soul (Matt. 10:28).
Therefore, as the church, we are not to possess a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim.1:6). We possess a glorious, expected hope that yields comfort, strength, endurance, and abounding joy for those that yield to it, believe it, and mind it – that it may be their minds stay. We also comprehend the right division of God’s Word and His dealing and promises given to the Israel of God compared to those given to the members of the body of Christ. The comprehension of these things generates clarity about the times we live not being “the times and seasons” of the Day of the Lord. Also, we always possess the greatest news in Christ, revealing its strength, in times of darkness and struggle. Therefore, we are to wield the gospel no matter which season the world is going through, no matter the times we face. Moreover, we have clear doctrine that teaches us to put on charity toward our neighbor, even our enemy, even those that hoard the toilet paper.
Hold the truth, renew the mind, suffer well, love deeply
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher