Pastor John MacArthur has returned to the pulpit after several weeks of absence. Rumors from rumor mongers have been whispering scurrilous lies against the faithful leader of Grace Community Church, claiming that he had COVID-19 and was hiding it from the congregation and all that. These have all been responded to and debunked by our friend Tim Hurd here.

But Macarthur, calling the previous week a day of God’s providence, shares with the congregation that he watched the live services and thanked God how the pastors giving the messages were all speaking either about exalting Christ, pressing to the goal, the glory of Christ, the majesty of Christ, etc.

If you were kind of tuning in to watch Grace Church last week you would have said ‘what election,’ ‘what’s going on politically?’ ‘What pandemic?’ ‘What virus?’ Christ is all in all. Amen?

The Lord did an amazing providential work because we didn’t plan all that. But Christ was exalted at Grace church and the kingdom of God is in no way linked to the kingdoms of men.

And this is what sets the Church apart. Jesus said ‘my kingdom is not of this world.’ We face another inconsequential event politically in a few days – meaningless to the kingdom – and we’re here again today to worship our King.

Commenting that it’s rare and painful to go a few weeks without preaching, due to his love of the word and congregation, he then lists some things to be recognized. Here they are, in bulletpoint form: The video can be seen below.

  • Says this is a season unlike any other, where everything has been taken out of their control, with people being forbidden to meet, sing, fellowship, have social events, attend funerals, weddings, etc.
  • Details the saga of the multiple court cases and legal struggles, including having 8-9 court hearings.
  • Says they’ve been fined every Sunday since August, but the money has been put into an escrow account so the LA County Health Department can’t get their fines, and they have not been paid yet.
  • Court appearance canceled this week, with another canceled next week, and the judge is saying “don’t come back to me with this.”
  • Says there is no more scrutinized church in the USA than GCC.
  • LA Times, ABC, and CNN tried to discredit them.
  • “Ungodly bloggers tried to discredit us. They’ve said terrible things against us. Lies. Misrepresentations. Inaccuracies. And if they were all honest they’d have to retract everything, because it’s just amazing how the Lord has protected us.”
  • The church is flourishing like never before.
  • They have 3000 people who plan to show up for Shepherds’ Conference in a few weeks. MacArthur says they weren’t sure if hotels would be allowed. But with recent court rulings and the church being essential, the hotels will be open and all the attendees will have places to stay.
  • 11 attorneys have been doing tons of legal work: cost to the church is $0, with everything being done pro-bono.
  • Church has not had an offering or passed plate in 10 months, but the congregation gave more since March 2020 than any 10 months in the history of the church.
  • The Lord has grown church immensely, with the GCC gaining 1000 new members in the last 10 months.
  • MacArthur says they have a new evangelical term: “Grace Refugees” which refers to new people or members who had no other church to go to, so they came to GGC as “refugees.”

This is the closest thing to the experience of the church in war. We’ve been under a massive assault. And it took all the prerogatives out of our hands in some ways.

Now all of a sudden, all kinds of people were telling us what to do, what we could do and couldn’t do. This has been a season of trials without any equal in my rather long life. Everything has been taken out of our control. So many attacks. I told somebody that you might think we feel like a cork in the surf, bobbing up and down with each new wave.

Forbidden to meet, forbidden to sing, forbidden to fellowship, forbidden to have social events, forbidden to be with each other, forbidden to have funerals, weddings. Los Angeles County told us we could not meet. To make sure that we got the message they sued us. They filed an indictment against us essentially.

And they have find us every Sunday since August for violation. By the way, that money went into an escrow account, because they can’t get to it. Because it’s held up in court. And I’ll say more about that in a minute. But just so you know, we’ve been fined every Sunday since August.

October came around and the city tried another approach. They declared to us that after 45 years of leasing the land across the wash for parking, that we had 30 days to vacate that. This was another attempt to shut us down coming from another angle. There was no reason given in the letter. But we had 30 days to comply.

Well, no court would honor that either. So they tried the health route, and no court would validate that. They tried the cancellation of a parking lot contract, the court wouldn’t honor that. Went through eight or nine court hearings, as you know, one was canceled from this week and another one canceled in the future. The judge is saying, “don’t come back to me again with this.” They couldn’t succeed in any of these. They tried every way to close Grace Church.

And I think it’s true that there is no more scrutinized church in the United States than Grace Community Church. I have been on some of these TV programs. And you’ve seen me there. While you see me on TV with those people I’ve never been with any of those people. I’m sitting in the back of a van because of COVID looking into black hole, talking to somebody in New York, and hoping I can make sense out of what I’m saying.

It has brought about some amazing incidents. A technician, one of those evenings said to me, “my life isn’t what it ought to be,” after we did the video. “Can you pray for me? Would you pray with me?”

ABC tried to discredit us. CNN tried to discredit us. The LA Times has tried numerous times to discredit us. Ungodly bloggers tried to discredit us. They’ve said terrible things about us. Lies misrepresentations, inaccuracies. And they’ve all, really if they were honest, would have to retract everything.

Because it’s just amazing how the Lord has protected us, isn’t it? Hey, we’re here. Sorry, world. You’re there and I’m still here.

I just wondered what once in a while what Satan is saying – “What’s this MacArthur guy got?”

What I have is divine grace and protection just as you have right? When I think about ministry, I have to say I don’t, I can’t say that in my years here I’ve ever seen anything like the flourishing of the hand of God in ministry through all of this.

Let me just let me just run down some things because I think it’s important for us, isn’t it to remember what God has done? Put up a banner and say, The Lord has helped us.

Early August, got into the lawsuit. Since then, we’ve had inspectors religiously visit us. Fifteen times. Supreme Court has issued two decisions favorable to churches. Los Angeles County was forced to change the guidelines to permit churches to meet.

And oh, by the way, there’s a little caveat to that. We have 3000 people gonna show up here in a few weeks for Shepherd’s conference. We weren’t sure about hotels, because they’re not able to be open unless it’s essential. Thank you, Supreme Court. Hotel Association says, “Hey, Supreme Court says you’re essential. All those hotels are available.”

There has been an immense amount of legal work done by Jenna Ellis and 10 other attorneys. Total cost to that to the church: Zero. And oh, by the way, you guys are getting a bad habit. We haven’t had an offering in 10 months. We haven’t had an offering in 10 months. We haven’t passed the plate in 10 months. And you have given more in the last 10 months than any 10 month period in the history of this church. Now we’re gonna retrain you. Just stunning.

In the middle of a lawsuit, the Lord has grown our church. If you came to Grace Church during the last 10 months, put your hand up. So this was a very, very small, tiny local church until COVID. You see how many hands raised? They’re out in tents, out in the patio? A thousand people and a thousand new members. Baptisms. Did you hear the testimonies and baptisms Sunday nights?

There’s a new evangelical term. I love it. It’s “grace refugees.” It’s the people who had no other church to go to. So they came here as church refugees. And aren’t we happy about that and aren’t we blessed? The Lord adds to his church. We’ll take you, whoever you are, even if you’re a Presbyterian refugee.