THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: IS GOD CHALLENGING THE MODERN GODS OF OUR DAY?

Sports, entertainment, materialism, education…these are your gods America. These are the gods of many within the Church who perhaps have not yet even entered the kingdom. This Coronavirus crisis is exposing these gods. Not just here in America but globally it seems God is shutting these things down.

Movies theaters and malls are closed. Restaurants are closed. Colleges, universities, and schools are closed. It’s not necessarily sinful to enjoy these centers of entertainment and institutions of learning, but remember Lot’s wife. Remember the lessons and Biblical accounts from Noah’s day and Lot’s day and what Jesus warned us of. 

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).

Now that our lives are less consumed with these gods, less busy with our own agendas… now that we have more down time at home… perhaps people are learning to be a family again, perhaps parents and children are having more communication and time to evaluate their spiritual lives, and even erect a family altar of soul searching, repentance, and prayer as well as Bible time. At least that is my hope.  

Some may disagree, but this crisis is not really God’s severe judgment, but actually an act of mercy to prepare us for something more. Something far worse is coming in the not-so-distant future. Right now we need to be purged and cleansed from our idols and positioned for a tumultuous decade that has only just begun (The Tumultuous 2020s). God grieves over the condition of many hearts in this hour, the sin and idolatry in our lives, the many distractions and lack of wholeheartedness in us. God wants our hearts, because without this surrender He knows it will not be well for us going forward. 

Many are praying amiss concerning the Coronavirus. It is a time of testing, soul searching, repentance, and submission to God — not a time of wrangling and debating this crisis, wondering whether it is a big conspiracy that China or our own government is behind, and/or flippantly rebuking, binding, and loosing everything that upsets our comfortable, cozy little life. 

It is a time for sobriety and sincere repentance from the god of mammon, and looking away from the temporal toward that which is eternal.

“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18).

God is silencing the temporal so we can hear the eternal. He is silencing the voices of these gods and idols we’ve made, so we can hear His voice clearly. He’s removing the distractions that have kept you from Him. If American Christians would now give time and space for humility and repentance, fasting, praying, and seeking God we could stay the hand of God’s judgment. Realize though, that some things can be stopped or delayed but not changed. 

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GREAT TRIBULATION COMING 

Some will label me a doomsday preacher for my next words, but in actuality, I’m very excited about my future. The Bible paints a very positive picture for the saints without skipping over how bleak and terrible the future is for the sinful, the evil, and the unrepentant. Call that doomsday if you’d like, but while the Scriptures declare God’s mercy in abundance, it does not avoid the reality of God’s judgments.  

This world is on the verge of the greatest tribulation it has ever faced in its entire history, and God loves us too much to not give us opportunities to turn whole-heartedly to Him. God does not want to allow devastation to come to this earth without granting us a chance to get our hearts right. What makes us think that we are exempt from what the Bible has already foretold.  A time of tribulation and then great tribulation is coming. The sky is blackened. Storm clouds are appearing on the horizon. The worse may not come tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or even in the next few years (although I personally believe we’re at the door), but be assured that the storm is coming… one unlike anything most of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. This is not a scare tactic or gloom and doom hyper-drama, but it is reality. It is what Jesus foretold. 

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Lk. 21:25-26).

Too many people are afraid of a little pandemic that is a light affliction compared to what is coming, but they are not afraid of God Almighty. People are afraid of a virus that causes flu-like symptoms, which has been way overblown by globalist interests and the lying media, but they’re not afraid of a hell that burns with fire and brimstone. They’re afraid the economy might sink, but they’re not afraid they’ll sink into Satan’s damnable abyss, forever lost without God. 

With every worsening crisis God is telling us that Jesus is coming soon. With every worldwide calamity His voice speaks that His coming is near. The Church is slumbering and sleeping and many foolish virgins lack the oil of the Holy Ghost, and they are not hearing the Bridegroom’s knock nor ready for His entrance. 

May I encourage you to shut off the voices of these modern gods. Shut off the voices of the media pundits and talking heads who know nothing of the kingdom of God. Shut off the voices of entertainment and technological gadgets and games. Please start listening to God. 

Once again, this virus doesn’t compare to the catastrophes that will unfold in these end times. There is a time when the very earth will shake with the greatest seismic tremors ever, the seas will roar with the greatest tsunamis ever, the heavens will be shaken, too and the stars will fall, and there is even a time where men will wish for the rocks from the mountains to fall on them so they can die.  

And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:15-16)! 

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ETERNAL CROWNS AND REWARDS: THE REVELATION THAT REVOLUTIONIZED MY LIFE

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

Several years ago the Lord began dealing with me about preaching on “lost themes” (the end times, the rapture, the second coming of Christ, heaven, hell, holiness, the judgments of God, etc.). He said that there’s got to be more preaching on these themes for they are emphasized in the Scriptures. He said that there has been a diabolical silence on these topics. As I studied the Word of God I was amazed at how much content and emphasis is given to these vital themes. When is the last time you heard preaching on these themes?

One of the great themes I’ve given much thought to recently is concerning the judgment seat of Christ. This judgment does not involve our salvation but our works and subsequent rewards. Each act of our lives has been recorded and will be judged from the standpoint of both our zeal and our motives. All our works will be weighed on the basis of whether we have labored for the love and glory of God or for self-praise and the glory of man (Mat 6:1-6, 16-18). What have we built on the foundation of Jesus Christ? Have we given the Lord gold, silver and precious stones, or wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor 3:12)? Are our lives filled with hidden motives of pride, or pure motives of love?

The Word of God has much to say about crowns and rewards. For instance, did you know that there are at least five types of crowns mentioned in the scriptures? Here they are:

Incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:25): A crown given to those who have kept their bodies under subjection.
Crown of rejoicing (1 Thes 2:19-20): A crown given to the soul winner.
Crown of glory (1 Pet 5:4): A crown given for full time service.
Crown of life (Rev 2:10): A crown given to the martyr.
Crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8): A crown given to those who love His appearing.

Did you know that at the judgment seat of Christ there will be terror (2 Cor 5:9-11), loss (1 Cor 3:15), and shame (1 John 2:28) for some believers? That is a solemn thought.

Did you know that in the world to come men will achieve different positions (Lk 19:11-19, Mat 25:23)? There will be a great difference in the rank and honor received by the saints in the next age. Man will not be rewarded or promoted on the basis of his natural talents and capabilities, but rather on his faithfulness to what was given him. Works that are done in faith, in love, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit will stand the test of God’s fire.

Above all these things, the apostle Paul hints of yet a greater prize which he himself was seeking.

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THE GREATEST PRIZE

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead…I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:11, 14).

What is this prize that Paul exerted all his efforts to attain? It appears that he was seeking diligently to be a part of a first-fruits resurrection. The Scriptures teach that there is a definite order to the resurrection (1 Cor 15:22-23). Many believers don’t even realize that this is a prize to be won. If the apostle Paul was making every effort to attain to this prize, how much more ought we?

What is necessary to attain unto this first-fruits resurrection? Note Phil 3:7-10. In spite of all that Paul had attained to in ministry—visions and revelations, miracles, churches planted, ministry workers raised up—at the end of his life he was still in hot pursuit of yet a greater prize—to win Christ, to gain Christ, to know Him! This is more than salvation. Did you know that this is the greatest prize—to win closeness to Christ throughout eternity? Not every believer will have achieved an eternal position close to Christ. Just as it was during Jesus’ earth walk, so will it be throughout eternity that each follower will fall into a special group and classification. Jesus had 500 disciples, and then 70 closer, and then 12 even closer, and then the 3 who were closest to Him, and finally John the beloved who was Jesus’ closest disciple and friend. Let me tell you that my heart burns every time I ponder these things.

OUR WORKS ARE TRANSLATED INTO BUILDING MATERIALS TO FURNISH HEAVEN

“…You are God’s building…I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward” (1 Cor 3:9, 10, 14).

Did you also know that God uses things we give Him here on earth to add to the substance of heaven? God put David’s tears in a heavenly bottle and wrote them in a heavenly book (Ps 56:8). God took Cornelius’ prayers and money and translated them into a memorial in heaven (Acts 10:4). The prayers of the saints are transformed into heavenly incense before the throne (Rev 5:8). The righteous acts of the saints are translated into fine linen to array the Lamb’s wife (Rev 19:8). Know that every sacrifice and trial you handle in Christ here on the earth is translated into building material for God in heaven. All our earthly victories and maturity in Christ will add heavenly materiality to our spiritual house in heaven (1 Pet 2:5).

Our new home in heaven (John 14:2) will be established according to the works we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ while on the earth. Even the heavenly city of Jerusalem is being built with our earthly works of gold, silver, and precious stones with the wall of the city having its foundations serving as a memorial to the lives of the apostles (Rev 21:14). Isn’t it interesting that the New Jerusalem is called the Bride of Christ (Rev 21: 2, 9-11)? That’s because the entire city is made with materials furnished by real men and women of God who lived consecrated and surrendered lives to God.

Dear friends, there are times we may wonder if the Lord really sees every trial we endure and sacrifice we make to serve Him, but be assured that He does. And if we want to be wise servants, we would do well to consider our reward and eternal position.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Cor 9:24).

Let us run to win.

We must possess an unwavering stand for truth and righteousness to thrive in the new era. Read about it in my new book. I believe it will be a great blessing to you. Here’s what Dr. Jeff Thompson said about it:

Please let me take a minute to recommend what I believe to be one of the most powerful prophetic addresses that i have ever read. Bert Farias pulls no punches and lays out a non-compromised Biblical Worldview regarding the “hot-button” issues of our day. Bible-believing Christians cannot afford to be complacent.

Bert’s books

 

EARTHLY CASUALNESS LEADS TO ETERNAL CASUALTIES: THE KOBE BRYANT STORY AND WHAT WE ALL NEED TO LEARN

I am greatly saddened by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his young daughter, but I am just as saddened and grieved by the irresponsible and nonchalant response from the world and even from the church to such misfortune. Untimely deaths of young celebrities like Kobe Bryant are supposed to cause a deep pause and sincere reflection of our sinful lifestyles and earnestly consider the eternal consequences of going off into eternity without Christ.

Instead people are talking incessantly about what a great basketball legend he was and his immortality on the court. I understand recognizing Kobe’s talent and honoring what he contributed to the game of basketball, but it’s extremely callous not to consider our lives in the light of eternity and speak of that, too.

One tweet said this: “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever. Rest in peace.”

Really? Listen, basketball is just a game. Heroes and legends and every other famous person that’s ever lived come and go. Kings and mighty rulers of the earth come and go. The rich and the poor alike come and go. Life is very brief on this planet. Let’s not forget that there were 7 other people that lost their lives in that helicopter crash, not just Kobe and his young daughter. He is getting all the attention and honor because of his celebrity status, but in eternity there is no such regard for greatness in this life as men count greatness.

In this 2018 photo, Bryant poses with the Best Animated Short Film Oscar Award for Dear Basketball. [Mike Blake /Reuters]

What do earthly honors matter in the end? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul? 

Yes, I know Kobe’s influence stretched far beyond sports, touching art, culture, business, and his family. But what does that all matter in the end if he knew not Christ?

In light of Kobe Bryant’s untimely death and all those who went down with him, it’s time to consider again the brevity of this earthly life and the eternal consequences of living a life without Christ.

“Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

C.T. Studd said it this way:

“Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Leonard Ravenhill also had the right perspective:

“Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?” 

NO EARTHLY DISTINCTIONS IN THE ETERNAL REALM

God and Satan are not partial to anyone. There are no distinctions in the eternal realm. Kobe is not a superstar in eternity. They are not celebrating his life and greatness in the game of basketball. The only thing heaven celebrates is the life you lived for Christ. The honor you gave to Christ. The steps and pursuits you made for Christ. The people you led to Christ. Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents.

“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

I honestly hope Kobe came to repentance before this fatal crash. I hope he was a real Christian and God found some honor in his heart for Christ; or perhaps he called on the Name of the Lord moments before that helicopter exploded in fire. If not, he is experiencing another kind of fire that is eternal where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:44).

The God of all flesh has no regard for world celebrities, famous leaders, or mighty kings on this earth. Note the word of the Lord to the king of Babylon:

“In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you” (Isaiah 14:9).

The surest thing in the world is not death and taxes, it’s death and eternity. Yet, we remain so unconcerned. We are not eternity conscious enough.

Not only are there no earthly distinctions made in heaven concerning our status, position, or achievements in this life, but even in the church world God makes no distinctions. There are no church or denominational distinctions in heaven. There is not one section in heaven for Presbyterian Christians, another section for Anglican Christians, and yet another for Baptist Christians. Unless a person has sincerely repented of his sins and placed his total trust in Christ for his salvation, proving it by his works, all of life was lived in vain.

JOHN WESLEY’S DREAM THAT REVOLUTIONIZED HIS LIFE

John Wesley had a dream which affected his life’s work tremendously. He dreamed that he died and came to the gate of heaven. He was anxious to know who had been admitted, so he questioned the keeper:
“Are there any Presbyterians here?”
“None”, replied the keeper of the gate.
Wesley was surprised. “Have you any Anglicans?” he asked.
“No one!” was the reply
“Surely, there must be many Baptists in heaven?”
“No, none”, replied the keeper.
Wesley grew pale. He was afraid to ask his next question:
“How many Methodists are there in heaven?”
“Not one,” answered the keeper quickly.
Wesley’s heart was filled with wonder. The angel at the gate then told Wesley that there were no earthly distinctions in heaven. “All of us here in heaven are one in Christ. We are just an assembly who love the Lord”.
Wesley was then taken downward, downward to the entrance of Hell. He met the keeper of the gate there.
“Have you any Presbyterians here?” asked Wesley.
“Oh, yes, many,” answered the keeper.
Wesley stood still, “Have you any Anglicans?” he asked.
“Yes, yes, many”, answered the keeper.
“Are there Baptists in there”? Wesley continued to ask.
“Of course, many,” replied the keeper.
”Wesley was afraid to ask the next question. “Are there any Methodists in hell?”
The keeper of the gate grinned. “Oh Yes, there are many Methodists here.”
Wesley could hardly speak. “Tell me, have you any here who love the Lord?”
“No, no, not one, not one” he answered. “No one in hell loves the Lord”
CONCLUSION OF ALL MATTERS IS TO LOVE AND FEAR GOD
Do you love the love the Lord? If so, you will have the highest regard and reverence for His holy Word and you will obey what is written therein.
But our obedience to God is not only a manifestation of our love for Him but also our fear of Him. And frankly, that is what is missing in American culture right now and even within church walls.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

It’s time for America, the church world, and all the nations of the earth to fear God, so they can be spared eternal damnation and live a life worthy of the reward of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s time for all of of us to realize that there are only two distinctions in the eternal world, the saved and the damned. Those who have received the life of Christ and those who have not.

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).

I pray for all those close to Kobe, and most especially for his grieving family during this devastating time in their lives. May they find Christ and receive the hope, strength, and comfort they so desperately need.