The Coronavirus, God, and a World out of Our Control
The coronavirus has now spread to over 60 countries, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Northern Italy, and Iran. The global numbers are staggering: nearly 90,000 reported cases and over 3,000 deaths. As of Monday afternoon, there were over 90 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, with six deaths. Of course, given the current pace of developments, these numbers are already out of date.
Naturally, people are alarmed, even frightened. Despite our recent bouts with Swine Flu and even Ebola, this one just feels different, partly because it’s obvious that scientists, reporters, and national leaders are learning on the fly with this one, partly because, at least in America, media pundits and presidential candidates are seizing the opportunity to point fingers and gain political advantage, and partly because social media is very, very good at spreading panic.
Panic, however, is almost always the wrong response. Though we know that the COVID-19 virus has spread to every inhabited continent and will soon earn the title “pandemic,” that word, as one public health expert told Bloomberg News, is too often used in movies as “a proxy for a deadly apocalyptic virus.” So, it can be misleading. Is COVID-19 serious? Absolutely. Unprecedented? Maybe. Apocalyptic? No.
“The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!” Galatians 2:20
Is Jesus precious to my heart?
Is He the object of my supreme admiration and delight?
Does He have my warmest affection?
Do I love Jesus above all?
I must light the torch of my affection for Christ–at the altar of Calvary. I must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to me–the vastness of that love–the self–sacrifice of that love–how that love of Jesus . . . labored for me,
and wept for me,
and bled for me,
and suffered for me,
and died for me!
Can I stand before this love–this love . . .
so changeless–and know that. . .
His sin-atoning sacrifice was for me,
His cross was for me,
His agony was for me,
His scorn and insult was for me,
His death was for me–
and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love to Jesus? Impossible!
Do not be cast down, then, in vain regrets that your love to Christ is so frigid, so fickle, so dubious. Go and muse upon the reality and the greatness of the Savior’s love to you–and if love can inspire love–while you muse, the fire will burn, and your soul shall be all in flame with love to Jesus!
Dr. MacArthur makes a play on words here to make his point that today’s modern movement(s) have no real biblical foundation. Instead of being driven to repentance for their sinfulness, as were those in the Great Awakening; today people are driven by pure emotion. – Mike
Many charismatics today claim that the Great Awakening was a forerunner to their own movement, marked by the same emotional outbursts and experiences that dominate their worship. Moreover, as we’ve already seen, they argue that the movement was quenched by an emphasis on theological precision. But such arguments betray a woeful misunderstanding of the Great Awakening—a revival rooted in strong preaching and sound theology. Far from challenging orthodox theology, it reestablished the Puritan heritage of Calvinist orthodoxy and put a halt (at least temporarily) to the serious erosion of doctrinal clarity that was the hallmark of the age. The emotional displays began inresponse to the clear preaching of God’s Word.
Edwards, Whitefield, and all the other leading preachers of that era were known for the vividness and directness of their preaching. When they applied their plainness of speech, graphic imagery, and logical precision to the truths of Scripture—all under the Holy Spirit’s sovereign power—the impact on audiences was dramatic.
One of the earliest recorded incidents of congregational outcries, swooning, and weeping happened during the Sunday evening worship service at Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741. Jonathan Edwards was the visiting preacher, and the text he preached from was Deuteronomy 32:35: “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” Edwards’s sermon that night has become the message for which he is most famous: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Anyone who has ever read the text of that sermon knows it is as far from the don’t-worry-be-happy spirit of our age as it is possible to get.
Matthew 18:5–6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned” (v. 6).
Just as the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write five books of the Bible (Genesis through Deuteronomy), so too did He move Matthew to group Christ’s teaching into five major discourses so that we might recognize Jesus as the new and better Moses, mediator of a new and better covenant. The first of these sections, the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), highlights kingdom ethics and the true meaning of God’s law. Chapter 10 is sometimes called the “Missionary Discourse” because it focuses on principles for preaching the Gospel in a hostile world. Matthew 13 is the third major discourse, collecting many of Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of heaven, and discourse number five in chapters 24–25 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and the final judgment.
Relationships among God’s people in the church are emphasized in our Savior’s fourth discourse recorded in Matthew 18, the subject of our study over the next week. In verses 1–4 we are ordered to become like children — who are absolutely dependent on their parents for survival — and admit our complete dependence on the Father. Today’s passage develops this analogy to clarify how Christians are to relate to one another. Jesus is not only talking about children in verse 5; He is also referring metaphorically to His own people. Above all, we must welcome other believers and “show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). To do so is to be hospitable to Jesus Himself, for, as the church father Jerome explains, “whoever lives so as to imitate Christ’s humility and innocence, in him Christ is taken up” (Commentary on Matthew 3.18.5). We respect our Lord when we respect other believers. Contrariwise, to hate fellow Christians is to hate Jesus (Matt. 10:40–42; 1 John 4:20).
If we fail to welcome Christ when we do not welcome other believers, how much worse off are we if we lead other professing Christians astray? So horrible is the fate of those who lead others into sin or who do all they can to demolish the faith of others in the church that it would be better to be drowned than to make another stumble (Matt. 18:6). Let us honor Jesus with our words and deeds that we might never cause crises of faith in others.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
One commentator says that leading others into sin can be done in ways that do not involve false teaching. Failure to provide adequate pastoral care, for example, can make us unable to see trouble in the lives of others, leading us to overlook the need to rescue a sheep in danger of going astray. To one degree or another, Jesus has made each believer accountable to every other believer. We honor the Lord who bought us when we care for one another.
Here is my comment to this article:As you already know from my previous post on this subject we are in complete agreement. The further we have moved (my opinion) from the Regulative Principle of Worship to more modern day its all about making self feel something we have become a society driven by this social gospel. At the same time (I am sure you will agree) we are not in any way advocating for Christians to turn their backs on those in need (Good Samaritan, Love thy neighbor, etc.)
(from “The Preciousness of God’s Word” by Octavius Winslow)
As a system of ‘consolation’ Christianity has no equal. No other religion in the wide world touches the hidden springs of the soul, or reaches the lowest depths of human sorrow, but the religion of Christ.
“As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
That very church which the world likes best, is sure to be the church which God abhors most!