The following is a transcript from a video featuring segments of a sermon from Jacob Reaume, pastor of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Pastor Jacob led his flock in recognizing the persecution that has come down on James Coates, pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, who has been put in jail for opening his church and preaching the gospel.
Just before Christmas, my friend Aaron Rock opened his church and was ticketed. In Windsor, we were outraged and there was a media storm. Now if a pastor opened his church and was ticketed, it would just be kind of like yesterday’s news.
It escalated with us—we opened for two weeks, then we opened again, and we opened in contempt of court, and we were convicted, and we’re still awaiting our sentence. There was a media storm. But that’s yesterday’s news.
And it’s escalated even more. Pastor James Coates is in jail for opening his church (weeps). When a faithful pastor ends up behind bars, you know it’s bad. It’s a sign of trouble. When churches and their pastors are silent, or when they cold-heartedly debate whether it’s real persecution, and when they sanctimoniously condemn the man for violating tyrants, you know it’s bad. You know it.
Such a thing has never been seen among us. This is dark. And I’m going to address the problem behind the problem this morning. The problem behind the problem is that the people are sheep without shepherds.
A friend of mine in Texas and I were communicating this week, and the churches have never shut in Texas, apparently. He voluntarily shut his church I think for 6 or 7 weeks, and after that they opened up, but he said they were never under mandate to close the churches. My friend in Texas said to me he doesn’t understand what’s going on up here in Canada. He was talking about the situation in Alberta and he says to me, “There’s less than a hundred people in the ICU in Alberta with COVID, and there’s 4.5 million people in Alberta, and the pastors are okay with shutting the churches? I don’t get it.”
He says, “Well, I’m a Texan, and Texans are rebellious. We won’t take this nonsense.” Do you know what I said to him? I said, “Yeah, this is Alberta. It’s supposed to be Texas North. I can’t explain it. These people are under a spell. Someone’s cast a spell over them. There is a spell upon the land. I cannot understand it.”
Why am I saying what I’m saying and doing what I’m doing today? Because there’s a pastor in jail for leading his flock, for calling his flock to gather and worship the Savior who died for him, and the churches are okay with it.
These people online—seminary students, pastors, theologians—they’re okay with just callously debating whether this is real persecution: “Let’s have a real cerebral discussion about whether James Coates’ family is being persecuted right now.” That seems like a really needy thing to do.
Then they’re okay with jumping on him for trying to be a martyr or something like that, or getting what he deserves for having the audacity to violate the almighty and ever-sacred public health orders.
But why is all of that going on? Why are the people doing this? Why are they okay with it? Why are they so callous and cold-hearted about it? Why are they so loveless and hateful? Because their pastors are an example to them in word and deed.
The Gospel Coalition Canada authors have been more concerned about critiquing minute points of exegesis than they have about defending the least of these. And, “I don’t like the tone of those people who are opposing the tyrants.” Fine, then give us a better tone, and do it on your own. Show me how it’s done. I’ll hold your beer. I’ll sit back and watch you take a beating for once.
A local seminary professor has been more vocal about comparing COVID restrictions to the legitimacy of fire codes—as if they’re the same thing—than he has about usurping the crown rights of Jesus Christ over His church!
When I heard that Pastor Coates was in jail, do you know what I felt? I felt shame. Could I have done more? I felt I should be there with him. That’s what I felt in my heart. I’ve been broken over this. But I can’t imagine the shame that some of these guys feel who’ve parroted state dogma to the detriment of their churches. Part of me wonders if that’s what they’re trying to cover up.
Right now our problem is what C.S. Lewis said—we’re being led by men without chests. They’re castrated geldings.
Someone has to point the nation back to God. Someone has to tell the political leaders what it is to be a man, and what it is to not act like a castrated gelding. What it is to be a man with a chest.
Someone needs to point them to the Great Shepherd who will lead them out of the valley of the shadow of death, and who tells them they don’t need to fear evil. He will comfort them. He will care for them. His name is not Williams or Cam or Kenny or Ford.
His name is Christ. And He doesn’t just have skin in the game. He’s got blood in the game.
For Jacob Reaume’s full sermon, click here.
For James Coates’ sermon in Romans 13, click here.
For Justin Peters’ interview with Erin Coates, click here.
For Founders’ interview with James’ wife, Erin, click here.