The undersigned realise from overwhelming worldwide evidence that the Coronavirus pandemic is a reality. The pandemic and the world’s reaction to the pandemic have had, and continues to have, far reaching consequences e.g., loss of lives, income, jobs, etc.
It is not our intention to be provocative, unsympathetic or be “know-it-alls” – not in the least; the effects of the virus are something we also feel for ourselves and in our communities.
With this statement we want to be a prophetic voice (Prov. 29:18) heralded from the church so that the Kingship of Christ can shine unequivocally. He is the eternal King and demands obedience from His subjects – with regards to the gatherings of the church as well.
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and now reigns as King over all authorities and powers. (Dan. 7: 13,14; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1: 20,21; 1 Tim. 6: 13-15; Heb. 1: 3-4; Rev. 7:14).
THEREFORE, all creatures owe obedience to Him regardless of rank, title, or position, since not one single molecule can move if He does not will it so.
Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world although He appoints authorities, powers and forces to maintain law and order in this world. (Prov. 22:15; Dan. 2:47; Matt. 18:18; John 8:23; 18:36; Rom. 13: 1-7; Belgic Confession Art. 32, 36).
THEREFORE, I submit to the authority that has been appointed over me, because I know that all authority comes from God.
THEREFORE, I acknowledge the three spheres of authority that the Lord establishes in His Word: the Church, the Family, and the Government. In order to exercise His authority in these areas orderly, the Lord Jesus Christ grants the Church the “keys” (Matt. 18:18), the Family, the “rod” (Prov. 22:15) and the Government the “sword” (Rom. 13: 4).
THEREFORE I may not obey the Church, Family or Government, when the Church, Family or Government requires from me disobedience to God.
With the incarnation of Jesus Christ, His Kingdom broke through in this world and He also proclaimed it to the people. (Dan. 7:27; Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 8: 1; 11:20; Belgic Confession Art. 30).
THEREFORE I acknowledge that Christ rules us through His Word and Spirit.
THEREFORE I strive for His kingdom and His kingdom principles as Christ outlined them in the Word.
The eternal King can never be without subjects and therefore He sanctifies and gathers people from every tribe, language and nation to be His Bride/Body/Church in this world. (Deut. 6: 6-7; Acts 2: 1; 2:47; 12:12; 20: 7; 15:30; Eph. 2; Heb. 10:24, 25; Belgic Confession Art. 27).
I know THEREFORE that He guards His church against the wrath of the whole world and He provides her with everything she needs for this and the future life.
THAT IS WHY I also have a responsibility to my children to set an example for them on what the Lord expects of His church, and to lead them on the right path by my actions. I am after all commanded by God to educate the covenant-children that He entrusts to me by always teaching them His commandments and reminding them thereof (Deut. 6: 6-7).
The Kingdom of God becomes visible in this world where this community of saints assemble locally (i.e. the Kingdom at that place). (Ps. 40: 10,11; Acts 2; 42; Heb. 10:25; Heidelberg Catechism V&A 23, 54, 103; Church Order Art. 7, 68).
THEREFORE, the church should not be spiritualised, but must always (even in times of trouble) proclaim God’s Kingship and Kingdom and continue to live in obedience under his Kingship, where the church meets locally (in time and space).
THEREFORE, it is beneficial for the church to meet as often as possible throughout the week and we should gather for worship services on the Lord’s Day of Rest.
Jesus Christ alone governs the church spiritually through the ministering of the Word and sacraments, which are administered by His called servants. (Isa. 49:23; Acts 2:42; 4: 17,19; 17: 7; 18:13; 1 Cor. 4: 1,2; Titus 1: 5,6; Belgic Confession Art. 30, Church Order Art. 1,3).
THEREFORE, I zealously seek the ministering of the Word and the sacraments (especially in times of trouble).
The worship service takes place, when the community of saints together, gather locally in true faith around the means of grace to worship the Triune God in truth and love. (Acts 2: 42,47; Heb. 10: 24-26; Heidelberg Catechism V&A 55, 103; Belgic Confession Art. 27-29).
THEREFORE, believers must physically come together in time and space in worship service.
THEREFORE, video broadcasts or anything similar that seeks to replace the local, physical worship services can under no circumstances be equated to or recognised as a Biblical worship service.
The saints’ love for one another is especially expressed in the gatherings during I.A. communal singing, prayers, ministering of discipline, ministering of sacraments and acts of fellowship (Matt. 18: 12-18; Acts 2:42; 12:12; Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11: 17-34; Col. 3: 16; Heb. 10: 24-26).
I THEREFORE specifically gather with fellow believers in the worship service to worship God. Especially in times of trouble, we desperately need the community of saints.
It is THEREFORE necessary that we worship God openly, as a testimony to the world that our help is not in ourselves, but in our Heavenly Father.
The authorities, powers and forces of this world do not rule over the Kingdom of God and therefore do not rule over this local church. (Dan. 3: 16-18, Acts 2:42; 4: 17,19; 17: 7; 18:13; Belgic Confession Art. 30).
I THEREFORE listen, even unto death, to the voice of my Good Shepherd and not to other voices that oppose Him and His commands. If it is the Lord’s will, He will also protect me from these disobedient authorities, powers or forces.
I am commanded by Christ, to join myself to the true church, wherever it is established, even if any authorities, powers or forces in this world forbid it. (Ps. 22:23; Acts 5:29; Eph. 4:12; Heb. 2:12; Belgic Confession Art. 28).
I THEREFORE affirm the age-old confession, that God commands His children to “… join their very selves to this assembly and congregation of the faithful, wherever God has established it, regardless of whether hostile decrees of princes and magistrates forbid it, even those who would do so indicting with a punishment of beheading and death of the body. And so, whosoever withdraws from this true Church, or refuses to join their selves to it, openly fights against the command of God. ” (Belgic Confession Art. 28).
I THEREFORE reject any law or regulation made by any authority that aims to prevent or restrict the regular gathering of the church, either by means of limiting numbers or otherwise. Also any decision made by a church council in following authority and not based in Scripture. Along with the Apostles, I testify to those who make such laws or forbid the gatherings: We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
God is unchangeable, incomprehensible and completely wise. (Belgic Confession Art. 1; Isa. 40: 8; 46: 3-4; 46: 9-10; Ex. 3:14; Num. 23:19; Ps. 33:11; Mal. 3: 6; Mark 13:31; James 1:17).
He will THEREFORE not ask anything of us that is against His commands or make exceptions to His commandments. The intentions of people or governments, extraordinary circumstances, and the fact that the world is changing cannot affect the commands of the unchanging God. God demands obedience to Him, even if we do not always understand it. “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15: 22-23).
Sign this Declaration:
Formulators and Initial Signers
Ds. G.M. (Marnix) Boersema – Predikant van Gereformeerde Kerk Graaff-Reinet, South Africa
Br. J. (Jaco) de Beer – Vrye Gereformeerde Kerk, Belville, South Africa
Br. G. (Gerben) Boersema – Gereformeerde Kerk Graaff Reinet, South Africa
Br. D.B. (Ben) Groot – Ouderling, Gereformeerde Kerk Bellville, South Africa
Ds. J.L. (Jan-Louis) Lee – Predikant van Gereformeerde Kerk Brits, South Africa
Ds. G.D. (Orrie) Oosthuizen – Predikant van Gereformeerde Kerk Vaalharts, South Africa
Ds. G.P. (Gerhard) van Rhyn – Predikant van Gereformeerde Kerk Komatipoort, South Africa