You’re probably not surprised that here in the middle of 2021 we have received many questions concerning the COVID vaccine. We’ve received them here at I’ll Be Honest through our web site, we have our people asking us within Grace Community Church here in San Antonio, Texas, and we have discussions outside our church setting. The questions can be boiled down the three main issues. The first question concerns the COVID vaccine in general – should I get it or not? The second question is, “My employer might make the vaccine a condition of employment – should I get it in that case?” and the third question is this: “Is the COVID vaccine the mark of the beast?”
I know this is a highly emotional issue and people have very passionate takes on it and no matter what I say, the comments here are going to light up. All I can tell you is what I tell our people at Grace Community Church.
You and I know opinions vary, be they personal, or those held by those in the scientific and medical communities. One thing I’ll say right up front is this: you are not more sanctified if you get the vaccine or if you don’t get the vaccine. You are not holy more than those whose opinion differs with yours. This should never – NEVER – be a point of division within the church. Nobody should be finger-pointing here in condemnation of their brother. PERIOD. I know many watching this video have their minds made up and live on both sides of this debate and will disagree with what I say. This video is for the person who is searching for answers and who has not made up their mind.
Let me address the first question. We hold that all vaccines are a matter of personal conscience and the COVID Vaccine is no different than any other vaccine in that sense. If you would like to get it, get it. If you don’t, then don’t. It’s just as simple as that. Why do we say this? We say this because we don’t want to fall into a form of legalism. One definition of “legalism,” is this: “man making rules where God has left man free.” That’s the definition I use as a general principle. We see this applied in places like Colossians 2, where Paul writes that no one should be a judge concerning food or drink or a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. He does the same thing in Romans 14, where in verse three he writes about not despising, or passing judgment upon, those who eat or don’t eat this or that. Then we have Galatians, where the Judaizers were insisting that the physical act of circumcision be binding upon the consciences of the Galatians – and Paul calls that falling back into slavery in chapter four, verses eight and nine. In chapter five, verse one, Paul tells the Galatians to stand firm in the freedom given them by Christ…and don’t go back again to slavery, and then Paul says in chapter six this is all important enough that he wants the Galatians to know he is writing everything in Galatians with large letters – a big font, to use our terminology, because he wants his points to be really emphasized. When the church tries to bind the consciences of God’s people with those things that just are not stated in Scripture – like mandating people get this or any vaccine, or mandating people to NOT get a vaccine…just yesterday I heard about a professing Christian we know who has a friend professes to be a Christian, and this friend told the man we know that he would never speak him again…if the man got the vaccine…things like that are extra-biblical legalism, as far as we are concerned. We do not bind the consciences of the people in our church on this or ANY vaccine because we believe it to be a personal choice. I am aware of all the science and studies out there. I know scientists and physicians and people who are born-again in these fields differ. I work in healthcare IT. I’ve been in countless meetings with doctors at my employer – Christian doctors – as they’ve wrestled with the issues over the last year and a half. But regardless of what my personal opinion is, or the professional opinion of the doctors at my employer, my fellow pastors and I here do not believe we have any place in laying down law here to bind the conscience of every single person in our church. I understand your church leadership may disagree with us and that’s OK. But in response to the question, “Should I or shouldn’t I,” My answer is, “It’s up to you.”
Concerning the second question and the person whose job is in danger if they don’t get the vaccine. This is not unique to COVID. Mandatory vaccines have been in place in certain fields of employment way before any of us heard of COVID, but the answer to the COVID vaccine question is the same as the answer to those who have been told by their employer in years past they must get this vaccine or that vaccine as a condition of continued employment. The answer is, “It’s up to you.” You have to decide whether your conscience says, “Yes” or “No” to this or any thing mandated by your employer. You may lose your job if you don’t get vaccinated, but Scripture commands all of the people of God to have a clear conscience before both God and men. Allow me an example from another area and I know it is clearly not an apples to apples comparison.
For a decade I served in leadership within a prison ministry in Michigan. One of the requirements to be a volunteer was passing the security clearance and one of the requirements involved disclosing your social security number. We had a new volunteer who refused to disclose it and the prison told him if he didn’t, he would not be cleared. That man’s conscience told him he could not disclose it and maintaining the privacy of his social security number outweighed his desire to go into a prison to proclaim the gospel. Whether or not I agreed with his decision isn’t the issue – he had to do what his conscience told him. So it is here. Your conscience has to be clear. Following your conscience may cost you and family. But you must follow your conscience.
Lastly, “Is the vaccine the mark of the beast?” In order to answer that question, we have to deal with the doctrine of salvation and also how one interprets the book of Revelation and it’s hard to do that in a few minutes, but we’ll try.
Scripture says that the true people of God are sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance, in Ephesians 1:13 and 14. John’s gospel says the true people of God are secure in the hands of the Son and the Father in John 10:28 and 29, and no one can snatch those people out of the hands of the Son and the Father. In John 6, Jesus said His coming to do the will of His Father included losing none of those given to Him by His Father – verse 39. But let’s think about the seal in all of this – Scripture also tells us in Ephesians 4:30 that God’s people are sealed with the Holy Spirit. A divine seal. There is no power greater than the power of God, is there? No, there isn’t.
When John gives us the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the last book in our Bibles, chapter seven talks about the angel who declares the placing of a seal on the servants of God… a seal on their foreheads. Regardless of what you think about the book of Revelation, you can’t deny the seal of God on the forehead of His people. We have these multiple references to the divine seal… the seal from God… and there is no being or creature or force in all Creation more powerful than God Almighty. That’s essential as we look at the mark of the beast.
Whatever you believe about the mark of the beast, I’ll say this. Revelation 13 talks about those who have the mark of the beast and it contrasts them with the people in Revelation 14 who have the name of the Father of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, written on their foreheads. Who are these people with the name of God the Father on their foreheads? The ones with the seal of God the Father? The ones who were sealed by the Holy Spirit… who are secure in the hands of the Son and the hands of the Father. If you get the mark of the beast it’s because you have chosen to rebel against Jesus Christ and you’ve chosen to worship the beast – not that someone stuck a needle in your arm. I want you to think about this: if getting a needle stuck in your arm can give you the mark of the beast, what assurance do you have? What hope do you have? You don’t have any? If you believe the mark of the beast is something physical that can cause you to go to hell and you can’t do anything to stop it…because you don’t know what it is or isn’t, how can you sleep at night? Can’t God preserve His people? Is God so powerless that a fluid in a needle can send you to hell? No, no, a thousand times NO! To go even further, Revelation 13 talks about the number 666 and it doesn’t matter of someone holds you down and tattoos “666” all over your body, if you’re sealed by the Holy Spirit no man can rip you out of the hands of the Son and Father no matter what he might do to you no matter how many times they tattoo you with “666” – God is capable of preserving His people and that’s one of the points of Revelation – it was written to encourage people in the midst of great trial where indeed, people had to be marked in order to buy and sell…but people were marked because they chose to declare allegiance to Caesar and that’s idolatry! You maintain your faith, you persevere…that’s John’s message to these churches in chapters two and three…it might get hard…really hard…but stand firm and endure to the end…be the conquerors, be the overcomers…and you CAN’T get the mark of the beast because you’re sealed with the seal of Almighty God.
Just remember to love your brethren in all this. Not everyone in our church has the same opinions on these matters. Some are anti-vax, some are pro-vax and some are indifferent. We’re sure trying to love each other through all this. Nobody is justified by this view or that view on vaccines. We’re justified by faith in Jesus – Romans 5:1 – and one test of our justification is our love for the brethren according to 1 John 3:14. Love God and love your neighbor. Jesus commands that. Amen.
0:00 – Introducing the three questions being answered.
1:41 – First, all vaccines are a matter of personal conscience.
4:38 – Second, my employer makes getting the vaccine a condition of employment.
6:22 – Third, is the vaccine the mark of the beast?
1:29 – Conclusion, remember to love your brethren.