What do masks, lockdowns, and social distancing have to do with scripture and our calling as Christians? How can we use this as an opportunity for the gospel?

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Todd: Hey, everybody. You asked for it. Now it’s here. Welcome to season three of the Prophecy Pros Podcast. I can’t wait to talk to you today with my cohost, Jeff Kinley, so hold on tight. We’re going to hit on some relevant topics today.

Todd: Hey, everybody. Today we’re talking about masks, lockdowns, social distancing, and the Gospel. How does all that line up with Scripture? We just went through 2020. We’re into 2021, which is just about as crazy. We have several topics that are on everyone’s minds for the next several episodes, but today we’re going to look at those in particular, masks, lockdowns, social distancing, and the Gospel. How should we really respond to all that’s going on in our world?

Todd: Jeff, have you experienced anything recently where you’re just like, “What the heck is going on? This is so different than it was a year or two ago”?

Jeff: Well, you and I both, we’re just with everybody else in this thing. We’re trying to navigate these waters as well. I’ve been anxious, Todd, to get back into the studio with you because we’ve both been getting a lot of requests from people, almost frustrating, say, “Hey, where is season three? We’re waiting on you guys here.”

Jeff: We’re excited to talk about this because we’re in it. We are right in the middle of the storm right now, so this is so relevant to where people are. And yeah, just the whole mask thing… In fact, I was in the airport yesterday and just looked around and just saw hundreds and hundreds of people, and every one of them had a mask on. This thought just came to my head. I just thought, “How did we get here? How did we get to this point where it was this open and free America, and all of a sudden everybody is covering their face?” I joked the other day, you used to get in trouble for walking into a bank with a mask on; it’s like now everybody has to have a mask.

Jeff: So how does that relate to us as Christians, with the whole lockdown situation, with social distancing, with the Gospel? Because, Todd, as a Christian, this is really just the antithesis of what we are commanded to do in Scripture. The Bible tells us, Jesus said in the Great

Commission to go into all the world, to penetrate society and to make contact with people. It just seems like these lockdowns, these restrictions, even with businesses shutting down, churches are shutting down right now, this seems very counter-scriptural, if you will.

Todd: Yeah, it really does. This morning as we were planning, Jeff and I were talking about, what if somebody went into a coma at the end of 2019 and then just woke up now? They wouldn’t believe the changes that have happened and how different everything is.

Todd: And you’re exactly right, it’s funny… This isn’t a mask versus no mask, let’s judge each other for how comfortable we are wearing masks and all that. But it really is, what does the Bible say? With masks, the Bible doesn’t want us wearing masks. I’m speaking more metaphorically. He wants us to be real. He wants us to do face time with people. There’s a reason we smile. There’s a reason God gave us facial expressions, that kind of thing. Of course, there’s an element of keeping people safe, and that’s a whole other discussion. We’re strictly talking about spiritually speaking and what does the Bible say about it.

Todd: Even the other things, social distancing, God doesn’t want us to social distance in terms of being with each other, being around each other. You’ve heard the analogy before where if embers are together, they stay hot, but if you take one ember out, it gets cold and stuff like that.

There’s a reason that the church is supposed to be together. Hebrews 10:25 says “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” It’s talking about the day of the Lord. If nothing else, we can see, more than ever before, the day of the Lord approaching, so it’s almost like this is a prophetic verse for this time in history-

Jeff: I agree.

Todd: … like, “Hey, just a reminder, don’t stop getting together. The church needs to be together.”

Jeff: Absolutely. Of course, some high-profile Christian leaders have been in the news about saying that it’s really not important that we meet together; we can just keep on not meeting. Where I live in our city, you drive by the marquees of churches and it just says, “Closed indefinitely.” When is the last time you ever saw something like that? It reminds me of what I’ve seen in Europe, where you see churches that have been turned into restaurants and condominiums and things like that. The whole idea, Todd, is that it seems like there is an outside force that is encroaching in on the church’s mission. Almost like hands around the neck, it’s beginning to strangle the church.

Jeff: Now, obviously, you can still have contact with people, and we will talk about that in just a minute, but there is a certain dynamic that God intended for us to have when we come together. That’s when that true fellowship kicks in for us. In fact, we talk about the connection that believers have with each other. In the New Testament, there’s a lot of physical contact that believers have with one another. The Corinthians, he said, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” There’s this embrace that you have and a spiritual level of connection that you have when you’re with people.

Jeff: Even with you and I, as speakers and podcasters and that type of thing, I know that when I’m standing in front of an audience, my message is much different. There’s a whole different spirit and dynamic than there is when I’m making a video for someone as well. Even from a human standpoint, I know businesses have experienced this, too, and other work teams and that type of thing, but even more so in the church.

Jeff: Now we have to think about, okay, we’re commanded to do this as believers. We’ve kind of taken this hiatus and we said, “Okay, we’ll do this for the sake of COVID and all this kind of thing.” At some point, we’re looking around going, “Wait a minute. They don’t really ever want us to come back together again.” There’s almost a spirit of “I can do without the church.”

Jeff: In fact, a lot of online church attendance has dropped dramatically during this time. You would think people would say, “Well, I’ve got to have my church on Sunday.” Guess what? They’re just skipping. So yeah, there is a call that we need to be intentional about getting back together with one another.

Todd: There really is. If you think about it, this is the first time in church history that churches worldwide were all shut down at the same time. Think of Easter last year, the first time ever in history that all churches were shut down, even for a period of time. I think of Matthew 18:20, where it says, “Where two or three are gathered together, I am there in the midst of you.” There’s something supernatural that happens when two or three, minimal, believers are together. There’s something about that.

Todd: There’s also an accountability factor. Most people struggle with temptation and sin and need accountability, need help, need other believers to keep them strong and to share their burdens with. Yeah, you can do that through Zoom or FaceTime or whatever, but it’s just not the same as being live, flesh and blood.

Todd: Matter of fact, that’s why you and I are here together today. Season two, we recorded remotely because of the COVID stuff, and we pulled it off. We liked it. We enjoyed it. But both of us were like, “You know what, we have a better energy together when we’re in the same room with the amazing crew at Unmutable recording this and talking about stuff.” Something happens in the body of Christ when people are literally there together.

Jeff: It really does, Todd. I think about my son who was deployed to Guam for a year, and his daughter had just been born. Of course, he had her picture with him, then he did FaceTime. That’s fine too. There’s nothing like being together with the people you love. That’s part of the body of Christ, is we learn to love one another when we’re together.

Jeff: Let’s talk about, so how do we as Christians pivot? How do we navigate? How do we course-correct in this season that we’re living in? How do we continue to be the church? How do we continue to be the Christians that God has commanded us to be in the culture that all of a sudden is not friendly towards the whole concept of the church? What are some ways that we begin to do that?

Todd: Yeah, that’s a great question. We’re still the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13 and 14 talks about us being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt needs to flavor things. Salt needs to fall on things. We need to be… Even the Great Commission, we look at the Great Commission, in Matthew 28, it says, “Go into all the world.” Well, yeah, there’s an aspect you can do that digitally, but it’s not the same as missionaries going into a people group and loving them, meeting their needs, and that kind of thing.

Todd: I think you’re right. I think we need to get creative as believers. I think for one thing, we need to take this calling to share the Gospel more seriously than we ever have before. Maybe that’s one good aspect of this happening, is that we’re realizing, “Okay, we need to be the church. We need to really do what the Bible says.”

Todd: For example, I think I’m more salty, so to speak, when I’m at the gym or on my kids’ soccer fields rubbing shoulders with the world than I am in church, where everybody’s already a believer, or most people, or doing online church, where I can’t even rub shoulders with the world. I think it’s one of those deals where we’ve got to look at our own personal calling, our own personal sphere of influence, and say, “Lord, how can you use me in this?” Of course, everywhere in Scripture, we see where Satan attacks or Satan does something, God always uses it for good. So there’s got to be some good outcome where we can pivot and do church maybe a different way, be Christians a little more seriously. What do you think, Jeff?

Jeff: Yeah. I was just thinking about a quote one of my seminary professors, Norman Geisler, who just passed a few years ago, used to say to us. He said, “Look, if you can’t be a missionary across the street, you’ll never be a missionary across the world.” When I think of Jesus and the commission He obviously gave His disciples in Acts Chapter 1, He said, “Go to Jerusalem.” He said, “Then the Holy Spirit will come upon you.” He said, “You’ll be my witnesses.” Then, Todd, He begins to list out where are they going to be witnesses. He says both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the outermost part of the earth.

Jeff: One of the principles there is that you begin where you are. You don’t have to say, “Okay, well, let’s just jump to this other time of existence when all these restrictions are gone.” You can’t do that. So what about where you are right now? Where has God placed you in this unique moment in history that would have never happened had this COVID thing not happened to us?

Jeff: Of course, I know a lot of people that are obviously working from home. People there at home, God may want you to focus in on your own family, on your own home relationships in a way that perhaps you never had before. They may get to know a part of you that they don’t want to know, your work self or whatever. But you have to be there at home, so just begin to focus on where you are right now, where has God placed you, and to be the salt and the light, as you mentioned, Todd, where you are at the moment. I think that’s one place that we begin, in just saying, “God, now what can I do where I am now?”

Jeff: The second thing, I think, is to begin to use wisdom to think about, now, how can I become creative on ways that I can connect with other people until I can get to that point where I can be with them in person? Now, this may be an opportunity for a lot of Christians, Todd, to think about, how can I have a greater ministry than I’ve had before digitally and through social media, through blogs, through websites or whatever? But just to begin to think about, how can I expand my influence, to extend my reach with the Gospel in my own sphere of influence? Again, whether you’re in person or whether you’re online, if you’re listening to this podcast, you have an influence that I don’t have, that Todd doesn’t have, that the Prophecy Pros don’t have, and so you can reach people in ways that we never could.

Jeff: I think it involves a little bit of wisdom, it involves creativity, and I think, finally, it involves a sense of believing that we still need to move forward by faith, and not to be content or compliant completely with where we are, because if Satan had his way about it, we’d never leave the house and we’d never meet together as a church and we’d never share the Gospel. Obviously, that’s not God’s will. So we as Christians, without being violent or radical or anything crazy like that, we have to think of ways to continue to push the envelope in getting people back into the marketplace again.

Jeff: Hey, this is Jeff Kinley. I am so excited to tell you about a special event that’s going to take place that Todd Hampson and I are hosting as the Prophecy Pros. It’s going to be the Ozark Mountain Prophecy Summit. It’s going to be held in Branson, Missouri, April 15th through the 18th.

Jeff: It features some of the leading voices in Bible prophecy today as our speakers, myself, along with Todd Hampson; Dr. Dave Reagan, which, by the way, is going to be one of his last appearances to ever speak, at our conference; Pastor Billy Crone from Las Vegas will be there; also, Gary Stearman, who’s the host of Prophecy Watchers, is going to be there. All five speakers are coming together for a few days of incredible time of Bible study, Bible prophecy, and also some really cool events. It’s going to be unlike any other prophecy conference you’ve ever attended.

Jeff: Go to ozarkmountainprophecysummit.com. Sign up today, or ask for more information. We’d love to see you there and to meet you personally. You’re going to get a chance to hang out with the speakers, ask them questions. Again, it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

Todd: Yeah, that’s a great call. I think it’s going to take a lot of prayer too. This is where I would challenge people practically, is just spend some time in prayer and ask God, “Lord, show me how you plan to use me during this time. Show me how I should pivot. Show me who to reach.” I guarantee you if you pray and then connect your prayers with what happens next, as some of the old Bible studies would say, then you’ll get some inclination on what your calling is at this time.

Todd: And also just to believe you were called to this time. God is still on the throne. He’s not up there surprised. He saw all this coming, and He has us here at this specific time for a specific purpose. I think if people just pray for God to reveal what they’re supposed to do in this time, I think that’ll go a long way.

Jeff: I agree. As you look around, you see a lot of people that are fueled by fear right now. Again, at the airport yesterday, a lady was asked by the TSA official to lower her mask so they could match her driver’s license with her face. She didn’t want to do it. She was so afraid that if she lowered her mask, magically she would contract the virus or whatever.

Jeff: I think the world is fueled by fear right now. Who is moving forward by faith? Who is moving forward with confidence in our culture? Christians need to lead the way on this thing, and so we need to model that with people, again, not to be reckless or to be obnoxious or to be abrasive, but at the same time, just to model a sense of confidence, a sense of knowing that God does have this thing, just like examples we see in Scripture where these people are walking countercultural, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel. You’ve got Peter and John in Acts. All of the apostles, they continued to walk counter-culture. When the culture said shut up and stay home, they said, “No, we’re not going to do this.” Of course, most of them met their demise. They were persecuted and martyred for their faith.

Jeff: I do think, to a certain degree, there’s going to be an increasing level of persecution. We’ll talk about that in another podcast. But at the same time, this is a time for Christians to have a gut check and say, “You know what, what do I believe? Am I going to just continue to flow in the lazy-river narrative that the world’s going to give to me, or am I going to listen to God’s agenda?” I think we need to take our cues from the Scripture, and it forces us, Todd, really to be who God’s called us to be, which is that salt and light.

Todd: Amen. Those examples you used were perfect. Those guys, they didn’t do anything purposely obnoxious, but they came to a line in the sand where, “This is where my faith is. I’m not budging,” and they lived out their faith. I think it is becoming more like the first century, and maybe that’s a good thing, where God is shaking us out of our cultural Christianity and forcing us to really live it out in a way that maybe we haven’t in our entire lifetimes. That’s a healthy thing.

Todd: Now, one last question… I should also say we should be the ones, just to reiterate what you said, that live with hope and joy and courage. We win. We know God’s got all this under control. We need to really put our faith in Him and know that His hand is still on the wheel. Since this is on… We’re the Prophecy Pros, so, Jeff, how does this line up with end-time Bible prophecy? Do you see any foreshocks, so to speak, or things setting the stage?

Jeff: Yeah. Obviously, when you look at the Book of Revelation, you see there’s a massive crackdown on Christians, because the narrative in that day, and leading in our next episode, is the mark of the beast. The Antichrist is going to put massive pressure on people to conform and to accept what the world government is giving to them. This I believe is, and we’ll talk about this again in the next episode, but just a foreshock of what’s coming.

Jeff: We have to be wise about that and to not be naive, to think, “Oh, well, our government knows what’s best for us, or the world knows. Or the news agencies, they know what’s best for us.” It’s like, no, only God’s Word will give us the real truth, because there’s so much fake news that’s out there concerning all this.
Jeff: I do think, again, it’s sort of like these birth pangs that women have before they give birth. Sometimes they’re called Braxton Hicks contractions. They aren’t really leading to the birth. They’re fake news-

Todd: But you know the birth is coming.

Jeff: But the birth is going to come. When you start feeling that pain, then at least tells you that we are in a season that these things are beginning to build.

Todd: Yeah. We’re noticing a lot of people are asking questions, really, that have never asked these questions before because of everything going on, so you and I threw together this quick reference guide, which is a short little booklet that we’re encouraging people to give to pastors and small group leaders and anybody, even just everyday lay Christians who maybe never before really thought about eschatology or the end times, but all of a sudden, the past year or so, they’re like, “This sounds a lot like some of the stuff I saw in an old movie about the end times, or that I heard my pastor talk about.” It’s thicker than a tract, but it’s a little booklet. It’s really easy to give away. We wanted to put that out as a resource for people.

Jeff: It is. It’s just like a 64-page little booklet that you can get. In fact, lots of people I’ve known are buying them in bulk and saying, “Hey, I want to give these out to my friends.” They’re like six bucks a piece or whatever.

Jeff: That’s a really great tool that people can use as a way to open the conversation. Again, we’re talking about being wise during this time. Yeah, you can send a book or you can drop it by someone’s house. That’s a way just to at least open the door, perhaps, for people to say, “Yeah, these things these guys are talking about, they’re happening in my world today.”

Jeff: And that’s just a part of wisdom. We as Christians, again, we need to be the wisest people on the planet because we have the mind of Christ, and because of that, Todd, I think we can make inroads, penetrate the darkness with the light, and continue to be who Christ has called us to be.

Todd: Amen. Be encouraged. Do not let what’s going on around us, from the masks and the lockdowns and social distancing… We’re recording this in January. I would suspect that within a few months we might see more lockdowns and more things happening. In my gut feel, that’s kind of what we see coming.

Todd: But don’t let that discourage you. Just know that God’s hand is still on the wheel. He knows what’s going on. He has us here at this time for a purpose. Let’s serve Him like we’ve never served Him before, and let’s be the ones that lead the way in terms of being full of hope, full of joy, full of courage, and full of just confidence in God’s Word and God’s Word alone.

Jeff: Amen. And just to know, too, Todd and I are cheering you on. We are cheering for you and praying for you and encouraging you through these podcasts, but even more, the Holy Spirit who lives within you is bearing witness with your spirit that these things are true and that you need to continue to be who God’s called you to be.

Jeff: God’s richest blessings on you. Continue to listen to the Prophecy Pros Podcast. We’ll be here with another episode for you next time.

Jeff: Did you know you can find the Prophecy Pros on the Edifi Network? That’s right. We’re there now, and we’re getting massive exposure. So cool. It’s E-D-I-F-I, the Edifi Network. Check it out, subscribe, and listen with other podcasts, as well, on that great network.

Todd: As always, we want to thank Harvest House Publishers for making this possible. We could not do this without them.