The Church is More Essential than a Hospital: Responding to Criticisms
In the midst of the current pandemic, various local governments have been shutting down those businesses and services it deems "non-essential." This has stirred a lot of discussion as to what is considered essential and what is not. It was in the spirit of those debates that I made the following comment on Twitter:
"The church is essential.
More essential than a hospital."
When I made this tweet, I was speaking primarily to Christians, as most of what I teach is for those who fear God and love His word. We as Christians should never forget that the church of Jesus Christ is essential. Notice here that I said "The church is essential," not "a church is essential." I do believe even church buildings are important, but that wasn't my argument. I chose my words very specifically. The church is not defined by a building. We are defined by Christ.
A flurry of comments began rolling in by unbelievers. Seeing that I had their attention, I followed this up with two more tweets, saying, "A hospital might prolong your life, but only Jesus can save it." And, "You may die in a hospital, but in Christ you will live—forever." In addition to the comments, my inbox began filling up with messages, mostly by persons trying to gaslight me and start an argument. When I didn't respond, they would message me again saying something like, "Jesus would respond!" I have several dozen of these.
I do not have the time to reply to every comment I receive. I'm not going to surrender my time to those who only want to belittle and not learn. But given that there are those who may listen, I will post a few remarks here. Even regarding some of the more foolish comments you will see, I hope this is convicting and will lead someone to repentance. (Not included will be any of comments telling me to f-word off to someplace else.)
"Let's fill up the church with the sick and see what happens." —Russell West, Canada
My church receives the sick every week. Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners'" (Matthew 9:12-13).
If you do not know that you need the church, it's because you do not know that you are sick with a deadly disease called sin, and Christ is the only cure. The church is the instrument God has chosen to administer His gospel to the world. You won't find that in a hospital. Sure, you may talk to a chaplain in a hospital who will share the gospel with you. But more than likely, that chaplain comes from a church—at least he should.
By the way, Mr. West's bio says, "Music is my medicine." If Mr. West catches COVID-19 and doctors were to follow his logic, they should just get him some troubadours and see what happens.
"Don't you dare go to a hospital or doctor if you get sick then... Ever." —Jen from Nevada, IA
Because I said, "The church is more essential than a hospital," the secular humanists insist I'm a hypocrite if I go to a hospital when I need treatment. By that same logic, if you think, "Hospitals are more essential than hardware stores," you're a hypocrite if you go to a hardware store when you need nails.
It's utterly absurd, not to mention slanderous, to think I said, "If you get critically injured or seriously ill, you must go to a church first." As I stated above, a hospital might prolong your life, but it cannot save your soul. Only Jesus can do that. Where are you most likely to find the words of eternal life?
"Yet we have absolutely no verifiable data at all of Jesus genuinely saving a person's life. If you disagree, I am open to being shown that I am wrong. Just don't bring phony, subjective testimony but hard data." —Rene, claims to be an atheist from a place called Reality
I'm always humored when a person who believes something came from nothing, life came from non life, and humans came from monkeys demands hard data. We have absolutely no verifiable evidence that atheism, abiogenesis, or Darwinian evolution are true. But we have mountains of evidence that the Bible is true. Not only does the Bible affirm itself, history and archeology continually affirm the Bible, it has stood the test of time, and it still stands against every other test thrown at it for nearly two thousand years. Those who hate God deliberately overlook the facts (2 Peter 3:5).
Ultimately, the Bible's most fundamental proof is the Holy Spirit, given by God and poured into the heart of every believer. You only come to believe the Bible because God has made you to believe. He transforms your wicked mind and hard heart to believe in the gospel of Jesus. The Bible says, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 1:18, 2:14).
We read in John 5:6 and 9-11, "The Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that He has borne concerning His Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning His Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
"Jesus may never have existed, and if he did, he's been dead for two millennia. He can't do anything." —Stuart from Beyond the Outskirts
According to skeptic Bart Ehrman, who doesn't believe the Bible is true, Jesus "certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees." Ehrman has said atheists make fools of themselves when they claim that Jesus did not exist. It means you've never actually done any serious study. You're letting your feelings, namely your hatred of Christianity, drive your beliefs and opinions, deliberately overlooking the facts.
Now, while Ehrman does believe Jesus really existed, he doesn't believe Jesus is the Son of God or that He rose from the dead. It is here that Ehrman himself won't heed the evidence. That Jesus died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and rose from the grave is historical fact. You can be more certain of that fact than you can be certain that the sun will rise tomorrow.
Acts 17:30-31 says, "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead."
Not only did Jesus truly exist, not only did He really die and rise from the dead, He is your judge. He will save you now, forgiving you of your sins which were paid for by His shed blood on the cross. Repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.
"I've lived my whole life without any god or church. I'm still happy and alive. However, without a hospital, my mother, brother, sister, and wife all would've died by now. Without a hospital, my daughter would've died in child birth. No god saved my family. Hard working doctors and nurses did." —Anonymous person, claims he lives under my bed.
God has extended your life, and the lives of your mother, brother, sister, wife, and daughter so that you would come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, lest you perish in judgment for your sins. Romans 2:3-4 says, "Do you suppose, O man, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"
The work that doctors and nurses do is wonderful work. God is providentially working through them to bless you with health and another chance, that you may turn from your sins and give glory to Him. If you have a lot of family in your life, they are looking to you for guidance. Your willful ignorance will be to their destruction as well if you don't turn from your sin and believe in Jesus—and tell your family to do the same.
You may think that you are happy now, but as the old saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed for every man to die once, and after that comes judgment. You may think you're fine for now, but you will not escape the judgment of God. Only faith in Jesus Christ will save you.
"Remember you said that, Gabriel, next time one of your family members has a medical emergency." —The Atheist Buddhist
You mean, when I take my family member to a hospital that was started by a church?
"There's a giant 10 foot invisible dragon in front of me right now. Prove me wrong." —Ohio State fan from Southington, OH
You want me to disprove your mockery? Is this the kind of logic they teach at Ohio State?
"No one thinks that. If you think a church is more important, keep your delusional butt out of a hospital bed if you get sick and pray it away. Save the bed for us rational folks... imbecile." —The Tokyo Sex Whale from Parts Unknown
That's right, a man who calls himself the Tokyo Sex Whale claims I'm delusional and he's a more rational person.
"I wonder if your thoughts will change when someone in your family gets the virus." —Anonymous
There were several comments from people who seem to think I've never actually dealt with sickness or death before. What else am I to believe in if not in the One who heals the sick and raises the dead? As Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68).
"And this is why I struggle to remain a Christian sometimes. I've been to churches my entire life and love my church family, but it's not a competition and if it was, healthcare professionals would win." —From someone calling themselves a Church of Christ Liberal.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Corinthians 13:5). If your faith is on shaky ground because of a tweet I made that you clearly didn't understand, examine yourself, because you're probably not a Christian.
"Let me hit you with my car and then see where you wanna go after." —Zack
"Why is a church more essential than a hospital? I've lived as a Christ-follower for 10 years after destroying an abusive pastor and his pastorate. Why would I want to have to put myself through that again with submitting to yet another authoritarian?" —David, Minneapolis
There are indeed men who become pastors who shouldn't be. There are men who at first qualify to become pastors, but then they fall into grave sin and disqualify themselves. I have never been hesitant to call out false teachers or those who use their position to abuse others. It's part of my job. Titus 1:9 says of pastors, "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that He may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it."
While there are lying, cheating, abusive "authoritarians," there are also loving shepherds, who fear the Lord, care for His flock, and faithfully preach His word. The liars are no reason to not go to church, for you are a liar yourself (Romans 3:4). As I've said elsewhere, if you're not going to church, you're probably going to hell. If you are not part of the body of Christ, then you are not part of Christ. If you do not love His bride, the church, then you do not love Jesus (Matthew 25:40). You are still dead in your sins, and you are not saved.
It appears, David, as if your pride is getting the better of you, "after destroying an abusive pastor and his pastorate." The reality is this pastor destroyed himself—God used you to expose it. Swallow your pride, humble yourself before the Lord, and when this pandemic is over, go back to church. You need the sanctification that comes through the word of God and the community of Christ's church.
"This thinking will kill people." —Stengel from Brooklyn
No one will die as a result of what I've said. Not one person. At the time of this blog there's a very low possibility that you will contract the Wuhan virus. But there is a 100% chance that you will die and stand before God in judgment. Romans 5:8 says, "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." You will receive the mercy and grace of God by faith in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, "who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). This is a life-saving message. Don't ignore it.
"You are out of touch with reality and a danger to society." —An anonymous person named Impiety who claims to be a humanist.
On this person's Twitter feed, Impiety referred to people as "human animals," and equated unborn children with pigs. Impiety also cheered for the end of the abortion ban in Ireland, calling the ban, "cruel, religious doctrine." This is a worldview that is out of touch with reality and a danger to society.
"Not everyone thinks binary as if medicine and faith are opposed. Why not say, 'Both churches and hospitals bless our communities in different ways but stand in solidarity together'?" —Robbie from Spring Hill, TN
Because that's not what I was trying to say. Both churches and hospitals serve an important function, but they are not equally important. The hospital came from the church. How did you get from what I said that I think medicine and faith are opposed to one another? Even the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to take his medicine (1 Timothy 5:23).
"This is the type of reckless rhetoric that gets people killed. If you were truly a man of God, you would care more about the people's well-being than your offering plate." —Ken from Dade County, FL
You know, it's possible to remind people to give to their local church and care about people at the same time. In fact, many local churches are utilizing their resources to care for people during this time. What are you doing?
The Christian non-profit organization Samaritan's Purse set up a 14-tent, 68-bed emergency field hospital in Central Park in New York City. They are "staffed by a team of more than 70 doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel and relief specialists. This respiratory care unit, which includes 10 ICU beds equipped with ventilators, has admitted 119 patients during our first two weeks of operation."
Despite the care Samaritan's Purse has been showing to anyone who needs it, "gay Christian" Jonathan Merritt criticized them for setting up their hospital, claiming they "open the door to substandard care or discrimination." What is this discrimination Merritt says Samaritan's Purse is guilty of? They believe Islam is a wicked and evil religion and that same-sex "marriage" is detestable before God. In other words, Samaritan's Purse is guilty of being Christian. How many non-profit field hospitals have Muslim or LGBTQ groups set up?
In response to the critics, Samaritan's Purse said that they "love and serve everyone in need, regardless of their faith or background." Samaritan's Purse is not-for-profit, but what they are doing still requires funds and resources in order to operate. Would you consider giving them a gift? Go here and click the "Give" tab in the top right.
"A brain is essential." —Medina, location unknown.
This woman also contacted my wife and told her she only married me for my money. We both had a good laugh about that.
"You are a very high level of dumb. You are in fact the highest dumb I have seen in days. You are so dumb, I wonder how you don't drown when you take your shower." —An anonymous person from Montreal.
Because I'm dumb, not short.
"Yeah, I bet if you catch COVID-19, a church will be the last place you go." —A person whose name is "Trump Is An Enemy of the People" from North Carolina.
Of course! I don't want to get any of the people in my congregation sick! Haven't you heard this virus could kill someone?
"Yes, and isn't it cool how the church is not a building?" —Jess
Now you're getting it!
"Remember that the church is not a temple made of human hands (Acts 17:24)." —Isaias, San Juan del Rio
Amen! And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Though the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the doors of many churches, The Church will not go away. We will prevail, in Jesus name.