“I’m open for a jail ministry – bring it on.” These were the fighting words from California pastor John MacArthur, after he was treathened with imprisonment for holding Church services.
John MacArthur, equating his experiences to those of the apostle Paul, said last week he is willing to go to jail to defend his decision to reopen Grace Community Church in Los Angeles.
After weeks of back-and-forth between MacArthur and city officials, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against the church, barring indoor worship services — a decision the 81-year-old preacher called “inexplicable.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Tuesday, MacArthur revealed his church has received a letter threatening additional fines as well as up to six months in jail for continuing to hold services inside the church’s sanctuary, according to Faith Wire.
“Of course, my biblical hero apart from the Lord Jesus Christ is the Apostle Paul,” MacArthur said. “And when he went into a town he didn’t ask what the hotel was like. He asked what the jail was like because he knew that’s where he was going to spend his time.”
The pastor went on to say he is “open for a jail ministry.”
“So I don’t mind being a little apostolic — if they want to tuck me into jail, I’m open for a jail ministry,” he continued. “I’ve done a lot of other ministries and haven’t had the opportunity to do that one. So bring it on.”
MacArthur further reiterated his oft-noted belief the California government, led by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), is “going against the Constitution.” He said he is “so thankful” to have the support of President Donald Trump, who has argued churches offer an “essential” service amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the temporary shuttering of most businesses and enterprises across the country.
“So with the Constitution on our side and the president’s backing, we’re open,” MacArthur explained.
On Sunday, Grace Community held an indoor service just days after Las Angeles Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff temporarily barred the church from holding indoor worship.
Speaking from the pulpit, MacArthur explained why “Grace Church does not just comply with the orders that have been laid down for churches.” He condemned the county’s ongoing restrictions six months after the first lockdown as “utterly impossible” to follow, adding that doing so would “completely shut the church down,” Christian Post reported.
“Obviously, this is not constitutional, but more importantly, it goes against the will of the Lord of the church, who calls us together,” the pastor said. “So look at the person next to you and say, ‘I don’t know who you are but I’m so glad I’m sitting next to you.’”
MacArthur has led in-person services since late July in violation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s second round of lockdowns and repeatedly criticized California for restricting worship.
“We’re under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He says to have church, and we will,” he told CNN on Thursday.