The Apostle Paul reminds the saints at Ephesus that they are at war. And not only at war, but a spiritual one; such that, even as we conduct life physically in this body, we engage in this battle on the spiritual plane. On top of this, we’re expected to stand, no matter how evil the day and no matter how complicated the issues of life are. We robe ourselves in the armor of God, armed with the Spirit of God and the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).
There is really no question that we are at war. All you have to do is listen to the interaction between two parties that are on opposite sides of vaccine debate. Often there is no irenic tone, the conversations lack charity, and there is more emphasis on fear than on faith. Brethren, these things ought not to be so!
In this battle of beliefs, we must remember the issue of conscience and Christian liberty. When the church where I pastor—Grace Bible Church, in Talent, Oregon—opened up our church building two years ago, after the COVID-19 crackdown, having been told we were on the cusp of a pandemic in which millions were going to die, we engaged in a brief study on conscience and Christian liberty.[i]
Furthermore, we need to factor in the issue of big government and its desire to force compliance using fear of repercussion. Yet, at many times throughout church history, we can observe that resistance to tyrants is, in reality, obedience to God.[ii]
The Bible clarifies and simplifies life’s issues by dividing many choices and actions into distinct moral categories of either sin or righteousness. God’s Word is the standard for establishing what transgresses His Law. But what about issues that are neither sinful nor righteous, which true believers can engage in, or not engage in, and still be right with God? If the Bible does not give clear commands toward or prohibitions against an issue, believers can proceed in faith and obedience to the glory of God. For example, one family might convictionally engage in homeschooling, another may choose to utilize public school, and a third Christian family send their kids to a private Christian school. All three of those families are able to maintain fellowship with the Lord as they seek to honor and glorify God by obeying biblical principles.
Regarding forced masking and vaxxing, however, we not only have a clash of differing convictions in the Body of Christ, but we also have a clash of worldviews. How so? Christians are part of a faith community that recognizes God as our Savior, Lord, and King. He supersedes all earthly sovereigns so that obedience to Him, many times, places us on a collision course with “Caesar”. Made in God’s image, man is a rational creature that is to exercise repentant faith in Christ, living all of life under His Lordship.
On issues that the Bible does not make a matter of sin and righteousness, each believer is to inform his or her conscience with biblical principles, researching, seeking godly counsel, praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and acting in ways that glorify the Lord. Each believer may make decisions that vary a bit from one another, as to whether they should or should not engage.
For historical context, Founders Ministries posted a helpful and encouraging article, revealing how Christian opinion has differed on vaccines along with a case involving the smallpox inoculation from three hundred years ago.[iii]
Despite the fact that some believers thought that receiving the inoculation was a way to obey the 6th Commandment, others were not persuaded, and built their case based upon the doctrine of the liberty of conscience. John Newton was a stellar example, who did not advocate for or against the inoculation, but warned both sides to be thoroughly convinced, basing their decisions on their convictions. Because, in the words of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe!” Trust the Lord with whatever action you choose to take.
This doctrine of liberty comes from God, not from man. In recent months, “Caesar” has not stayed in his own lane. The earthly sovereign has not recognized our heavenly Sovereign, requesting believers who opted not to take the vaccination to violate their convictions and conscience. Such practice is far different from the religious liberty with which our country was founded, and which our leaders recognized was granted by God, not the State! Choice in matters not covered in the Constitution rest on the individual, not the government. We are bound to follow our conscience, even if it goes against government mandates.
Friends, this is a very personal issue for me, as I have a son and a church member who will soon be kicked out of military service for their stance as “conscientious objectors” to the vaccine mandate. And many others are losing their jobs over the same convictions. Some are seeking religious exemption from mandated vaccinations based on the 1st Amendment. While others have appealed to the 5th Amendment, seeking due process; or the 14th Amendment, requesting the right to equal protection under the law.
A biblical anthropology informs us that the human body is created by God (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7). We are stewards of our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit (1st Corinthians 6:19-20). God-bought believers are to gratefully present their bodies for His glory, tending to and caring for it. This body, which is fearfully and wonderfully made, was created with a natural immune system and an innate ability to heal itself when given what it needs.
Several years ago, I had an experience in which I almost died. And because of that experience, I overhauled my eating protocol and literally ate myself out of pain. Thus, the systemic issues dissipated. If, after studying and listening to the many virologist and immunologists who attest to the dangers of the vaccines, you determine that injecting such a substance would cause damage to the body that God has made you a steward of, then you are conscience-bound to obey God over man, no matter the consequences.
A biblical anthropology also affirms that human life begins at the moment of conception (Psalm 139). Since fetal tissue has been used in the development of the vaccine, that ought to activate the conscience of believers who affirm man’s dignity, which was made in the image of God. Even though the State may have cheapened human life by legalizing murder in the womb, believers must always treasure life as a gift from God, and therefore hold to this truth in all matters relating to life.
Have you counted the cost? Are you willing to walk off the job if it requires you to violate your conscience? Are you willing to trust God for another job to provide for your family (Proverbs 3:5-6)? Whether you choose to receive the vaccine or reject it, are you compelled by your faith to do so? As you make an informed decision, have you followed the available science? In a September 9, 2021, presidential press conference, President Biden repeated that we need to just “follow the science” (Fauci’s advice), as he sought to shame those of us who are not imbibing the current narrative of the global pandemic (in which millions are supposedly going to die) and shamed those who have made the decision to the contrary based on actual scientific data.
You are responsible before God to determine which science persuades you—not a simple task, as the “evidence” is all over the map.[iv] This includes some deceptive reporting that many of us have become privy to. There are Forbes Magazine reports that the vaccine is only, at best, 39 percent effective (July 23, 2021). With a survivability rate of over 99 percent, is the vaccine worth the risk of the—as yet uncalculated or documented—side effects? Unexplained deaths are skyrocketing. Do we know how the vaccine is related? Currently the CDC confirms that COVID-19 cases are nearly 6 times higher than this time last year. Ironically, last year the New York Times reported there was “no one left to vaccinate in Portugal.” It boasted one of the most vaccinated populations on earth, yet there have been multiple COVID-19 waves since that Times article. A country with nearly 100% vax rate and yet no convincing reason for taking the jab in the first place.[v]
You can probably tell I am a bit biased. I’ll admit that. Personally, I am against being bullied into receiving a vaccine that I am convinced will do damage to my body. Far greater than my opinion on the validity of the vaccine is my desire for Christians to recognize their responsibility to pray, study, and seek the Lord’s guidance for themselves. And after coming to your convictions and making your choice, please don’t force others to comply with your particular view. And especially don’t base fellowship upon whether someone chooses to vaccinate or not. We are interdependent upon the Body of Christ, as we serve Him together, and we should not be discriminating based on extra biblical matters.
Are you receiving your information through resources that share your Christian and biblical worldview? Because there’s a spiritual component to our healthcare decision. Remember, Paul warned us of the spiritual warfare that we are engaged in (Ephesians 6). In our kingdom agenda, we must be for the glory of God (1st Corinthians 10:31). Our decisions in battle must proceed from faith (Romans 14:23).
There’s a clear divide between “Caesar’s kingdom” (that mandates and bullies people into compliance as they lord their authority over others) and the Kingdom of God, populated by Christ-centered servants whose aim are to serve Christ and His people (Mark 10:35-45). Let’s not allow issues of conscience (vaccines or otherwise) to be so polarizing that we might lose our ability to be winsome ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Would you like to sharpen and inform your understanding of the conscience so that it operates the way God intended it to? Consider John MacArthur’s The Vanishing Conscience, along with Conscience: What it is, How to Train it, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew Naselli and J. D. Crowley. These biblical resources should be on the top of your reading stack regarding liberty of conscience. Soli Deo Gloria!
[i] “Christian Liberty & Conscience” https://www.biblicalexpositor.org/page/teaching?media_series=null&categories=13ac12ec-cb70-11ea-a47f-0614187498c1&year=null&author=null .
I am privileged to have been raised in a Christian home and local Bible Church, yet I did not come to saving faith until some point in my later teen years. When I went off to Word of Life Bible Institute I planned on going to law school afterwards, yet the Lord gave me a love for His Word and people and began growing in me a desire to instruct others in His timeless truth. That year began His calling of me into full-time ministry. I’ve had the opportunity now to be in ministry for 3 decades. I’ve been happily married to my wife Cynthia for over 25 years and the Lord has graciously given us bookends of girls, with 5 boys between them. I have pastored in my home state of Maine, but am currently on pastoral assignment in southern Oregon; in particular as the main teaching pastor of Grace Bible Church in Talent, Oregon. It is a particular joy as well to offer counsel and discipleship through Sovereign Grace Biblical Counseling & Discipleship, along with adjunct instruction at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and elsewhere as the opportunity arises. My gratitude also extends to the various ministries that have poured into my life, like the Master’s Seminary and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. It has been an exciting ride, as the Lord has been growing and fashioning me and given me the supreme privilege to preach, teach, and counsel the Word of God. If I could serve you through articles, audio, or video teaching, please visit www.biblicalexpositor.org where there are numerous sermons, lessons, handouts, articles, & much more. You can also visit my YOUTUBE page.