Why We should NEVER AGAIN Allow Our Churches to be Shut Down! It’s More Than a Constitutional Thing!
First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, forbids Congress from restricting an individual’s religious practices, and gives citizens the right to assemble peaceably.
We have constitutional rights! We should not ever be forced to shut down our churches according to the 1st Amendment. We caved too easily during the Coronavirus shut down. We should have taken a stand as a handful of pastors did and refused to close our doors.
There are HUGE spiritual reasons we should resist, reject, and stubbornly refuse to allow our churches to ever be shut down again! What has happened is no one else’s fault but the churches. I am also a member of the church, the body of Christ, and I was a pastor for 17 years. So, I am not speaking and writing as someone that cannot relate.
Yes, our constitutional rights to assemble and freedom of religious practice have been terribly violated over the last few weeks, but few did little to stop it. It was as if the churches were like children following the piper to their own demise. They were shut down with hardly a peep. Frankly, it was and is very disturbing to think that in America we allowed public violation of our rights as though we were communist China or North Korea! We did little or nothing to revolt against the tyranny of many local governments.
Some take the stand that this was a national emergency, and all but essential businesses were left open during the shutdown. Do you mean to tell me the churches that minister spiritual and eternal truth from the Word of God that lives and abides forever, that they are less “essential” than the gas station and the local grocery? Are you kidding me? If there is ever an essential that should stay open to help and minister to people, it should be the church of the eternal God! There may be some worthless churches out there that probably should be shut down, but there are many others that bring people to the Lord Jesus, worship God, minister to the sick, preach and teach God’s Word, and provide other vitally important services like feeding the hungry, giving out emergency help and supplies, having baby dedications, weddings, and funerals. Most cannot be done via streaming video! Churches were always meant to minister up close and personal, not just over the impersonal internet!
A pastor in Scripture is the same as a shepherd or an elder. In spiritual terms using a natural analogy, a pastor ministers to people, and they are called the flock of God. (See Acts 20:28; Ephesians 4:12-14; 1 Peter 5:2.) I bring this up as necessary to understand the 34th chapter of Ezekiel. That chapter tells us what pastors or shepherds should be doing to minister to the flock, though many were not doing it in Israel. In the same way, many are not ministering to the flock as they should. Many so-called churches are far from providing these essential services to their flocks.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds… The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.” (Ezekiel 34:2-6 NKJV)
Feeding the flocks, strengthening the weak, healing the sick (including those infected by any pandemic), binding up the broken (including those brought to worry and deep stress because of a pandemic), bringing back that driven away, and seeking the lost are done through personal ministry in churches or meetings where people gather. Weekly services can be digitally recorded and presented via streaming, but the ministry to the people is done in person. Seeking and searching for the flock is done in person! Search and rescue can only be done in person. People in an accident or a tragedy where their life hangs in the balance cannot be fully helped over the net. You may transmit some helpful information over the internet or via cell communications with them, but the life-saving help happens when the EMT arrives on the scene, or medical evac helicopter takes the injured away to the hospital where doctors and surgeons can work on them in person.
We know this, but it seems like in our digital age we have taken personal ministry for granted. If anything, the shutdown brought this back into focus for us. We began to see the necessity and preciousness of our right to assemble as churches and ministries. I don’t know about you, and I believe you may feel the same way, I yearn for the church we attend as a family to reopen. I miss the gathering of the saints, and I will never take it for granted again. I repent for sometimes taking the gathering together of the people of God for granted. As ministers and pastors, we should also realize what an honor and a privilege it is to minister to people personally, and we should NEVER minimize it again. Never!
Why should we never allow our churches to be shut down again? Let’s think about it. Following are things that you cannot do or obey from the Word by livestreaming over the internet:
Laying on of Hands for Healing
Jesus laid hands on the sick for healing, and He commanded His followers to do the same.
“They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:18 NKJV)
Laying hands on the sick for healing was and is a part of ministry of the church. Jesus and the apostles did it, and so do many in our day. Laying on of hands cannot be done over the internet. I don’t care how many times you tell the viewers to lay their hand on the TV screen as you pray, it can never take the place of a physical hand being laid on a physical head or body.
And begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” (Mark 5:23 NKJV)
When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. (Luke 4:40 NKJV)
And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. (Luke 13:13 NKJV)
And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. (Acts 5:12 NKJV)
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul. (Acts 19:11 NKJV)
Laying hands on workers and during ordination to ministry in the church.
Here again, we cannot follow the Biblical pattern of laying hands to separate unto service or ordain ministers over streaming service! We are to lay hands during these occasions, and we are to do it publicly. We are to lay our physical hands on physical heads, not digital ones. (See Acts 6:6, 13:3; 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Tim. 1:6 as examples.)
Laying hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit and tongues.
This has been the usual way (though not the only way) for people to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak with other tongues.
Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. However, when Simon saw that the [Holy] Spirit was imparted through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he brought money and offered it to them… Acts 8:17, 18 AMP
And Ananias (a disciple and not an apostle) went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17 NKJV)
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6 NKJV)
With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.] (Hebrews 6:2 AMP)
Laying on of hands was never a side issue but a principal doctrine of Jesus Christ. We are never to put this under a bushel but let the light shine as we lay hands on people for these different things. One more thing you cannot do virtually is to lay on of hands to impart a spiritual gift or bless the people. (2 Timothy 1:6)
What am I saying to you? For weeks during this ungodly shutdown in America, the devil has managed to be the thief he has always been. He robbed us of ministering to people in these ways. Let’s get back to business, and never allow the devil to shut us down again.
More reasons why we should never again allow our churches to be shut down:
How about anointing with oil?
How can you anoint someone with oil via the internet? You cannot do it. Again, it is anointing with physical oil on physical heads!
And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. Exodus 29:7
Yep, it is physical olive oil on physical heads! No virtual olive oil or digital heads are there!
It shall come to pass in that day That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder, And his yoke from your neck, And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. (Isaiah 10:27 NKJV)
And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mark 6:13 NKJV)
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14, 15 NKJV)
None of that can be done via video conference or through streaming! I am speaking to Holy Spirit baptized, tongue-talking churches that have shut down because of either fear, being overly protective of the flock, or because of abusive local government shutting down our churches. Satan used this Coronavirus to shut down ministry to the people. Yes, there is a certain amount we can do today via technology, but it is not PERSONAL ministry, and we are missing out on results seen through the above work of the ministry and of believers in general.
How about getting together as a church?
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 NKJV)
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29, 30 NKJV)
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers… 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42, 46,47 NKJV)
The church was assembling to pray, hear the Word, fellowship, and break bread (the Lord’s Supper or Communion- See also 1 Corinthians 11:20-30) and it was all to be done as they gathered in a physical place. You cannot have a communion service at home over the internet and expect it to have the same effect as it does in person. The communion service was never designed to be done long distance, but up close and personal.
In this terrible shutdown, I am sad to say that the churches have neglected their duty of personally ministering to the people. Church, it is time to repent and get back to our spiritual business and do the Word without fear or falling for world’s intimidation. The church has shown itself to be very weak and with no power to stand up to government abuse.
I know there are churches in other parts of the world being severely persecuted, put in prison, and even martyred for their faith. They live under totalitarian and demonic governments that hate Christians and all they represent. That is not yet our experience in America, but it could go that route if we don't take a stand now. We need to reject all ideas of socialism and the control of government. We have to take a stand now on our constitutional rights as what we are, a constitutional republic. We have to vote for government that will uphold the Constitution without compromise so we can live in an America that protects our religious liberty.
Frankly, pandemics are going to happen again, the government will attempt to shut us down again, BUT we better not bow or we will get burned badly. The shutdown has demonstrated to our enemies and THE enemy that the church in America is weak, and can be pushed into disobedience and defiance of the Scripture. Put a little bit a pressure on them and they cave.
The world and churches are being prepared by the enemy to receive a one-world government and one religious order under the antichrist. The spirit of antichrist and the man of lawlessness or sin is preparing the stage for his assault on the planet. The only thing that has stood in his way in the past was the church of the living God. (Revelation 13; 2 Thessalonians 2) The church in the West has shown that it will allow the boot of oppression to be placed on its neck, and needs to repent and get back on track in the Name of Jesus. Repent! We need to step it up and take a stand based on what Jesus said about the gates of hell (hades) not prevailing against the church. (Matthew 16:18) Instead of the being the overcoming church we showed ourselves as the overcome! That must change immediately and for good until the return of the Lord!
We saw all over the world the words of Jesus coming to pass.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives, and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. (Luke 21:16, 17 NKJV)
Some fellow ministers, pastors, and the saints have been betrayed by their brothers, friends, and even relatives in the Lord just like Judas betrayed Jesus.
Tampa Bay pastor Rodney Howard-Browne (RHB) was arrested a few weeks ago. He was charged because he refused to close the church doors and continued to hold services. He was one of the few in our country that took a stand. Hillsborough County authorities issued an arrest warrant against the pastor with misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order. To say I was disgusted by this is VERY mild. I felt like cursing the ground that Sheriff and the state Attorney walked on. I was not alone. Some did. Pastor RHB forgave them graciously, but that does not mean they will not be held accountable before the law for violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Others took the arrest warrant for misdemeanors too far and sent death threats to pastor RHB, the River Church, and its staff.
The Sheriff and state Attorney held a press conference to announce the charges. It was like living in the twilight zone in a parallel universe where evil and oppressive government reigned in America! I pinched myself and woke up to the reality that it is happening right here in the land of the brave and home of the free!
The same hypocritical and deceptive Sheriff that had RHB arrested released at least 164 convicts from prison. Hypocrisy is a mild description for this “public servant.” What was he thinking when he released criminals into the general population, but then arrested a man of God with a proven track record of blessing the community? That violates the public trust. Hopefully, that Sheriff will be permanently removed from office.
Amazingly, two pastors from “the First Church of the walking dead” (because they certainly couldn’t be from the church of the LIVING God) stood next to the Sheriff of Hillsborough County to make the public announcement of the warrant for the arrest of Rodney Howard Browne!
I would hate to be in those pastor’s shoes. IF they ever get the chance to stand before Jesus on that day (I say “IF” because I don’t know if they are born-again believers) they will have to do some serious explaining as to why they did such an evil thing. I wonder if the Lord will say to them, “Well done you good and faithful servant.” I do not think so. They may hear something else, and it will get very ugly quickly when the Lord says, “Depart from me you workers lawlessness!” Jesus would never agree to speaking evil and accusing falsely one of his own anointed ministers.
Frankly, those pastors who agreed with the accuser of the brethren (Satan) need to repent, and they should be quick about it.
The official announcement by the Hillsborough county government was a direct violation of the U. S. Constitution. They did this under the guise of a “public health emergency order.” Since when did the founding fathers of America add a provision to the Constitution that suspends our religious rights when it is a public health emergency! Where did our civil liberties go to in all this? They were thrown out the door and flushed down the toilet.
It reminded me of a silly old song. It's funny to hear it. Do you remember it?
On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table, and on to the floor,
and the last time I saw it, it rolled out the door.
It rolled to the garden and under a bush,
and the last time I saw it, it was nothing but mush.
Somebody sneezed and another coughed, the world went crazy and freaked out, and our civil rights according to the Constitution went to mush! Christian people’s rights were violated and trounced as they were brought under government control as though we were living in the former USSR, or modern-day communist China, North Korea, Venezuela, or Cuba!
Hillsborough County and other local government officials around the country have given priority to grocery and liquor stores, gas stations, convenience stores, but they have oppressed the church! Officials have threatened with arrest and closed gun shops, small businesses, and churches because they were violating orders to stay at home, and they refused the close their stores and public services. News have reported on this repeatedly.
Chicago’s mayor and police chief warned that people would be arrested if they ventured outside to exercise. Other local government ordered face masks in public or face arrest and fines. One woman was arrested in Ohio because she dared take her children to a public park. I fully understand the frustration. I have triplets at home and everything has been made more difficult without parks, beaches, and other public facilities being available. Can you imagine such a thing? Mandatory curfews, banning meetings of more than ten people, releasing 1700 inmates into the streets of Los Angeles (PURE and unmitigated madness), gun stores ordered to close (violating our Second Amendment rights), government offices refusing to issue concealed carry licenses, and the list goes on. Did you read or see the news report about a birthday party for a one-year-old being forcefully shut down by police for having more than ten people?
The list is massive of our civil liberties being violated all over the country!
We must take a stand against government officials in their insane and unconstitutional power grab and their ungodly demand that churches shut their doors! We must do it NOW!
Time is ticking.
Be mightily blessed with the podcast Repentance Part 7!